Jon Lester should be just fine without David Ross and the rest of baseball can learn something from the Cubs' catching plan.
For the past three or four years, one of the things we have known about baseball—just known, without question or reservation—is that David Ross was a vital part of Jon Lester’s success. Recall that Ross (who, we all knew, was an elite pitch framer) stepped in as the Red Sox’s primary catcher when Jarrod Saltalamacchia (in addition to being a terrible defender) got exposed by good pitching during Boston’s 2013 World Series run, and then became Lester’s personal catcher beginning in the spring of 2014.
Lester had a 2.02 ERA and held opponents to a .581 OPS when working with Ross that season, before being traded away from his new partner at the trade deadline. He still pitched well for the A’s, who paired him up with Derek Norris, but his opponents' OPS rose by about 50 points, and then the 2014 Wild Card Game happened.
Dave Roberts and Joe Maddon went move for move in Game 1, and then Miguel Montero made Wrigley Field explode.
The Cubs and Dodgers kicked off the NLCS last night, and be honest, you thought the Cubs would win. You might be a Dodgers fan, and you might be riding high from Clayton Kershaw in relief, or think Corey Seager has prettier eyes than Kris Bryant. But you read the previews and remembered the Dodgers slashed just .213/.290/.332 in the regular season vs. left-handed pitching, and further remembered Jon Lester on the mound, and got a little sick to your stomach.
The Snakes feature a new closer and a power-hitting first baseman with a case to be the no. 3 pick in drafts this spring.
The Diamondbacks’ moves the last two years have been a bit peculiar and yet seemingly despite their best efforts, they still have a rather formidable team. They have established star talent, quality veteran talent, and emerging young talent. It’s far from a flawless team, but it has the makings of a contender. Additionally—and more importantly—it is ripe with fantasy goodness.
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Notes from the fantasy staff on several backstops you should consider selecting in your drafts this spring.
As our eminent leader Bret Sayre outlined in the Baseball Prospectus draft prep guide, the fantasy staff here at BP is aiming to bring you a comprehensive look at each and every position on a weekly basis. From prospects to veterans, superstars to scrubs and sleepers to potential busts, we want you to have a thorough understanding of every player at every position when you hit your drafts this winter and next spring.
With that in mind, we’ve polled the fantasy staff here for a player to target and a player to avoid for each position, to run every Monday and Friday, respectively. We don’t always agree on every player, which is why you’ll see some names pop up more than once, but we hope those debates give you even more insight as to who you should or shouldn’t select on draft day.
Pedro Strop gets the no. 1 spot in this year's final Stash List, as Bret unveils the top 20 and prepares for his second taste of fatherhood.
This week, the Stash List turns 18, and to celebrate, I’m kicking it out the house and telling it to get a job. Like I mentioned a week ago, the closer we get to the end of the season, the more luck-based and less skill-based stashing becomes. It also becomes less helpful to actually use a roster spot on a stash once the beginning of September rolls around. Those roster spots are generally better used by grabbing pitchers who will have attractive upcoming match-ups and hitters who have pronounced platoon splits that you can sneak into your lineup once or twice a week when the situation permits.
This goes double for those of you in head-to-head leagues, where you may have been stashing a player or two on the off chance that they carried real fantasy value for the playoffs. Since we’re now less than two weeks from the likely start of your playoffs, that potential value needs to be shifted to real value. Once the bell rings in that first playoff match-up, it’s all hands on deck every week. And that goes for anyone who is not currently on an active roster. The worst thing you can do is become too confident in your team and look ahead to the semi-finals or finals.
Both owners who splured on their fantasy backstops and those who went bargain hunting have seen mixed results so far this year.
Drafting catchers in fantasy baseball is treated like drafting kickers in fantasy football. A few owners recognize the value of having the best at the position and will spend money to acquire them. Some owners treat catchers like kickers and draft them in the final rounds. Some leagues have gone so far as to eliminate the second catcher on standard fantasy rosters and made the position a second utility player, an extra pitcher, or a flex position, allowing owners to juggle the spot on a weekly basis.
Personally, I do a mixture of the first two strategies, as I tend to draft one of the better catchers and then pair him with a $1 mate. Two seasons ago, I drafted Joe Mauer at $23 and Adam Moore for $1 in AL Tout Wars, and neither worked out. Last season, I went back to the Mauer well at $20 and paired him with a $2 Ryan Lavarnway. This season, determined not to spend $20 on a catcher, I saved money and spent $18 on Jesus Montero and $1 on Carlos Corporan. It took three seasons, but I finally made a great catcher selection—with my second catcher.
Which player do scouts feel is the best unknown major leaguer?
The question was posed to a dozen front-office types and scouts during the final days of spring training: Who is the best player in baseball that nobody knows about? The winner of the highly informal poll was a bit of a surprise, especially since he entered this season having played in just 43 major-league games. Yet there is a strong feeling that Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie won't be a secret much longer.
While several backstops have been locked up lately, the Diamondbacks might not be so lucky with Miguel Montero.
On Wednesday, I wrote favorably about the Brewers’ five-year extension for catcher Jonathan Lucroy, which essentially assured the team of average-or-better production from the position at a reasonable rate through 2017. The Diamondbacks aren’t so lucky; according to Jon Heyman, their catcher, Miguel Montero, has done his time and is looking forward to a payday next winter.
The 28-year-old Montero has been Arizona’s primary catcher for the past three seasons, though he missed a significant chunk of the 2010 campaign while recovering from knee surgery. Already a solid, 2.8 WARP player in 2009, Montero put forth a career-best 3.8 WARP effort in 2011, and his production was one of the key factors behind the Diamondbacks’ division title.