Jason took part in a slow mock draft with other fantasy experts and is now here to share what he learned from the experience.
I recently had the pleasure of doing a slow—and I mean slow—mock draft over the past four weeks with a few of my friends and colleagues in the fantasy baseball industry. That group included most of the mlb.com folks, Fernando DiFino, and the legendary Joe Sheehan. The draft started on February 17 and survived a few lost weekends, DiFino’s nuptials (congrats!) and several copy and paste issues from some of us that are still using not-so-smartphones.
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Why a policy of "Don't Ask Dotel" is a good idea on the other side of the border.
Alex Anthopoulos’ first offseason in charge of the Blue Jays brought a gargantuan challenge to the table. Trading the franchise’s best pitcher after a tumultuous summer of trade rumors is a daunting task for any general manager, but even more difficult for a newcomer. But Anthopoulos did move Roy Halladay, and he followed it up by building up a unique offensive brand of bopper-based offense. Now, his second offseason is nearly over, and it has to be considered an initial success—Anthopoulos moved a nightmare contract, acquired draft picks, and rebuilt a bullpen suffering from a rash of free agents.
The Jays keep making moves, and Texas tries to fill a hole.
Welcome to this week’s “Value Picks”, in which we cease to pretend we’re going to talk about other teams and just acknowledge that now and forever, we’re just going to bring you the latest and greatest in Toronto Blue Jay news. We’ve had six articles since we returned from postseason hiatus, and in that time we’ve already looked at five relievers who have either just arrived in Toronto or just left. That doesn’t even include Frank Francisco, who was originally discussed on December 2nd as a Ranger, and who features prominently today.
Baseball's free agent compensation system works well enough for most players, but middle relievers are disproportionally finding themselves in the lurch.
Relief pitching can be a particularly volatile sector in baseball’s open market. More than position players or starting pitchers, relievers can see their year-to-year production swing from good to bad and back again. For clubs, that makes constructing a bullpen a tricky business. For relievers themselves, it places a premium on timing the market.
Mike Petriello looks at some surprisingly valuable yet available relievers in Toronto, Texas, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.
This week, Hot Spots turns to finding underappreciated value in the bullpen. You certainly don't need us to tell you that grabbing Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Broxton in your draft might have been a good idea, but there's plenty of other lesser-known arms who—by virtue of situation, talent, or both—can help you fill out your roster at the mere cost of a waiver claim. Some weeks, that's going to require us to dig pretty deep, but some weeks—like this week—the fantasy gods smile upon us by providing several injured or ineffective incumbents and sparsely-owned replacements.
Let's start in Toronto, where Kevin Gregg has never exactly been a favorite of the stats community. While many fans saw save totals of 32 and 29 in 2007 and 2008 and viewed him as a quality closer, a closer look beyond the basically meaningless saves stat showed mediocre peripherals (BB/9 between 3.9-4.9 over the last three seasons) and the xFIP numbers which would of course go along with them: 4.74, 4.59, and 4.16. We all cringed when the Cubs chose Gregg to start 2009 as the closer over the superior Carlos Marmol, and Gregg was lousy—losing the job in no small part to a 1.7 HR/9 rate.
Our first bullpen shake-up of the year belongs to the Rangers
While Sunday’s scheduled implosion of Texas Stadium was supposed to get the headlines, it was the unscheduled implosion of the Rangers bullpen - namely Frank Francisco - that caught the attention of fantasy owners the first week of the season.
We know closers are a volatile commodity in fantasy, but for a ninth inning man to lose his position based on his performance in less than a full week of games… That has to be some kind of record. However in Francisco’s case, the demotion is justified, even with the small sample size. He’s been dreadful over his last two appearances, failing to protect a lead and taking the loss in both games. In this case, it’s best to lay the evidence out so you can see the carnage for yourself. (Although I suspect if you have him on your fantasy team, you’re already all too familiar with the ugliness.)
Lee Panas looks at the bullpen situations in Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Texas.
With Kerry Wood out for six to eight weeks due to a strained muscle in his back, Chris Perez is the new Indians closer. The rest of the bullpen will also take on a new shape from the set-up man down. Jensen Lewis is a fly ball pitcher with a 1.2 HR/9 rate since 2007. However, he also owns an 8.2 K/9 rate and has experience in high leverage situations having been the Indians closer in 2008. Heater Indians writer Brian La Shier believes that Lewis will be the set-up man in Wood’s absence.
Joe Smith has a 67% ground ball rate and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings since 2007. However, he gets hit hard by left-handed batters making him unsuitable for a full-time set-up role. Southpaw Tony Sipp boasted a 2.92 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 40 innings as a rookie reliever for the Indians in 2009. Sipp pitches equally well versus left-handed and right-handed batters but has struggled this spring as evidenced by his 2.29 WHIP. Smith and Sipp will pitch in high impact situations versus right-handed and left-handed batters respectively when Lewis is unavailable.
Divorce takes a bite out of both SoCal NL franchises' future commitments.
The National League West features a curious mix of divorce dramas, humidors, water-shot homers and dry heat. Continuing our 2010 payroll outlook (we’ve covered the NL Central, AL Central, NL East, and AL East), let’s check out the financial forecast for the Dodgers, Rockies, Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres.
A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
Late-inning stoppers can be one of the most high-risk positions you need to fill when building your team.
Now that we've finished with the starting pitchers and the positional players, it's time to rank the closers. There are a few teams that haven't finalized their closer role yet, and in those cases I took the candidate that is most likely to secure the job, rather than listing all of them. The number of saves a closer might get was obviously a big factor, but just as with starting pitchers, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts have a great deal of influence on the rankings. Luckily, there seems to be a good number of closers this year who are capable of helping you on all fronts, based on PECOTA's projections.