Monday, April 28, 2008

On The Shelf: We're Baaaaack...

By: Dan King

“Finally”, you say after a 3 ½ week hiatus, On the Shelf is back for more MLB injuries and their fantasy relevance. I quite honestly have no excuses other than the fact that I have been fixed to my television set (yeah, yeah, it’s a 50” plasma, but “set” just sounds better) watching my Boston Bruins (yeah, yeah, it’s baseball season, but I can still watch hockey) get my hopes up, only to mercilessly crush them after losing to Montreal last week. I think a week in mourning is enough.

One quick note on the ongoing Roger Clemens “saga”… Roger, get on a plane, go to Bora Bora with the whole family, and don’t come back for six months. Seriously, get out of Dodge. Get a tan, go snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, ANYTHING! I’d much rather be on reading about <> the NBA playoffs than anything Roger Clemens – it’s irrelevant and ridiculous. We all like a good juicy drama once in a while, but this is Britney Spears/Amy Winehouse drama.

Anywho, on to baseball, and on to our injury report:

John Smoltz: The Braves hurler reported that he was having shoulder soreness during his start this past Sunday – this could be bad news for Smoltz owners as he is getting long in the tooth (read: getting old) and a little soreness now could mean a lot later. Monitor the situation, but don’t go dropping Smoltz quite yet.

Jimmy Rollins: J-Roll is eligible to come off the DL next Monday, but was having his ankle re-evaluated today. He’s still a top three SS in fantasy land; just make sure he’s been activated before putting him in your starting line-up.

Jorge Posada: Posada was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday due to a slight tear in a muscle in his right shoulder. It’s Posada’s first trip to the DL in his entire career, so this injury could be more serious than first thought. A reasonable pickup off the waiver wire to replace him would have to be Jose Molina, of the infamous Molina Brothers catching clan – he’s going to have to be, as Molina is the only other catcher the Yankees had on the roster as of Monday.

Bengie Molina: Speaking of the infamous Molina Brothers catching clan, Jose’s older brother has been sitting out the past couple of games due to general soreness in his legs. Needless to say, a catcher in the NL with general soreness in his legs can’t DH, so, Bengie has been riding some pine lately.

Aaron Rowand: Bengie Molina’s San Fran teammate took a fastball to the ribs on Sunday – X-ray results were negative, so don’t despair, Rowand will be back in the anemic Giants lineup soon enough.

Justin Upton: The younger Upton brother sat out the D-backs game this past Sunday with what manager Bob Melvin explained to be “either kind of a deep cramp or a real mild strain.” Frankly, I’ve never heard of a “deep cramp,” so let’s assume that Upton’s injury is a strain. The speed numbers may be slightly down over the next few weeks as Upton’s hamstring heals up.

Scott Kazmir: The Rays (God forbid I write “Devil Ray”) ace is expected to rejoin the team this coming weekend after making his final rehab start on Monday. His elbow should be good to go for activation off the DL this weekend.

Scott Rolen: The new Blue Jay 3B recently came off the DL to provide Alex Rios some protection in the batting order. Let’s face it, with Frank Thomas gone, Rolen is going to have to be big in the Toronto lineup if they are going to compete in the AL East.

Mike Jacobs: Jacobs sprained the middle finger on his right hand when he fouled a ball off at the plate. He is considered day to day, but may eventually need a stint on the DL to heal up completely. If he’s still available, Wes Helms will provide capable backup at your 1B/CI position, particularly in NL-only leagues.

Joe Borowski: The Indians’ closer has been suffering from a strained triceps muscle and will not be available until at least mid-May. Rafael Betancourt is the Cleveland closer of the future (and apparently present) and is a must pick-up in all formats.

David Ortiz: Big Papi has sat out the past two games with a bruised right knee. I can’t say I’m not skeptical of Ortiz’ recent absence from the Red Sox lineup, as they’ve lost five straight, but I hope for Boston’s sake that Ortiz’ injury isn’t more severe than just a bruise. He hasn’t been the same hitter in 2008 as he has been over the past three years, and it shows – I hate to say it, but bench him until he starts to turn things around.

Nomar Garciaparra: The son of Ramon Garciaparra is injured once again. Anyone… anyone… Bueller… Bueller…. Nomar tweaked his calf on Friday’s game and has paved the way for Blake DeWitt’s recall to the Dodgers at 3B. Grab him if you can.

Alfonso Soriano: Speaking of oft-injured superstars, Soriano is currently rehabbing his calf and is scheduled to come off the DL on Thursday. Make sure he is active before inserting him into your lineup. He’ll provide a nice boost to a Cub roster that has held its own in Soriano’s stead.

Ben Sheets: Does this look like a trend to you? Sheets threw a bullpen session and felt good. The Brewers starter is slated to pitch in Tuesday’s game against the Cubs. If I owned Sheets, I’d keep him benched for this upcoming tilt against Chicago; the Cubs bats are just consistently too good to be bringing in Sheets for his first start post-injury.

FB101 league update time!

We’re holding steady in 3rd place, only 6 points behind the league leader. Recently drops and additions have been Mark Lowe for Rafael Betancourt, the new Indians closer as well as Jeremy Accardo for Doug Brocail. It was rumored that Brocail may be in line for the Houston closing job if Jose Valverde falters, so let’s keep our hopes up for that. Frankly, I’m shocked that Betancourt was available, but we got him – now he just needs some save opportunities. Frankly, a few bum outings from Tom Gorzelanny and Accardo haven’t helped, along with “slumping” Jose Reyes and Ichiro Suzuki, we’re in pretty good shape heading into May I’d say.

Until next time...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

FBAs Week 4

By: Russell Sandman

National League

1. Fantasy MVP in 2008: Hanley Ramirez

i. Runners-up: Chase Utley, Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman, Pat Burrell, and Derek Lee

2. Fantasy Cy Young in 2008 – Brandon Webb

i. Runners-up: Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Dan Haren, and Johan Santana

3. Fantasy Rookie of the Year – Justin Upton

i. Runners-up: Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Kosuke Fukudome, Hiroki Kuroda, and Joey Votto

4. Fantasy Relief Man of the Year – Brad Lidge

i. Runners-up: Brian Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Capps, Kerry Wood, and Billy Wagner

American League

1. Fantasy MVP in 2008: Casey Kotchman

i. Runners-up: Manny Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Nick Markakis, B.J. Upton, and Carlos Guillen

2. Fantasy Cy Young in 2008 – Cliff Lee

i. Runners-up: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Chien-Ming Wong, Ervin Santana, Zack Greinke, and Javier Vazquez

3. Fantasy Rookie of the Year – Clay Buchholz

i. Runners-up: Joba Chamberlain, David Murphy, and Nick Blackburn

4. Fantasy Relief Man of the Year – Jonathan Papelbon

i. Runners-up: Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, George Sherrill, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera

This week in the National League saw the resurgence of 2007’s pick for fantasy NL MVP, Hanley Ramirez. So much for the effects of shoulder surgery and an offensively anemic supporting cast on Han Ram’s performance. No change atop the leader board for fantasy NL Cy Young or fantasy NL Rookie of the Year. But, fresh off of rehab after another knee surgery, Brad Lidge has emerged as a credible candidate for fantasy NL Relief Man of the Year.

Results in the American League represented a shakeup of leaders almost across the board. Relative unknown Casey Kotchman took the top spot among contenders for fantasy AL MVP, while surprise fantasy AL Cy Young Award candidate Cliff Lee appears to have made significant strides toward regaining his 2005 form. Clay Buchholz and Jon Papelbon once again regained top spots among contenders for fantasy AL Rookie of the Year and Relief Man of the Year, respectively.

Tune in for more coverage of the FBA’s next week!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Breakout Watch

By: Ben Distler

I’m sure we’ve all dumped a girlfriend way too early and seen her blossom into a beautiful young woman, slapping ourselves for letting her go. I know how this feels. Not because I dumped a girl though. No, I’m speaking of the time I dropped Jim Thome in 2002 after the first few weeks. I was a young rapscallion back then, always looking for the next best thing, and his .192 average just wasn’t cutting it. I was new to the game of love… er, I mean, fantasy baseball, and certainly learned my lesson when he hit 52 home runs that season. In some ways, I’ll never quite get over that. Hopefully I can impart some of my experience to help you from making this heartbreaking mistake.

Speaking of Thome, let’s first discuss the man who pushed him out of Philly, Ryan Howard. A slugging lefty just like Thome, he also shares his propensity for slow starts. As of April 20th, Howard has an anemic .182 average to go with his 9 R/4 HR/9 RBI line. For someone hitting in a home park roughly the size of my backyard, I can see where this would be cause for concern. There are a few other factors going into this lackluster performance, however. Howard got off to a similar slow start last year, and went on to hit 47 home runs. In fact, Howard is only a career .241 hitter in April. Last year’s MVP, Jimmy Rollins, has been in and out of the lineup with various tweaks and pulls, which means Howard sees much fewer good pitches to hit. Once Rollins gets back in the lineup for good, and the weather starts to heat up, these struggles will seem like a distant memory and you can fully enjoy the 3/4, 2 HR nights. Expect 40 homers and 120 RBI as a minimum, with a .275 average when it’s all said and done.

Slow Aprils are nothing new to Ichico Suzuki either. April is by far his worst month over this career, barely mustering up a .296 average. While that may sound pretty good, he has no other month over the course of his career where he bats less than .319. This alone should keep him in your good graces. As an added bonus, though, I expect Ichiro to eclipse his total of 37 stolen bases in 2007. Last year, Ichiro had a caught stealing streak going, and was too conscious of trying to extend it. I expect him to break 40 again this year, further boosting his value with the .330 average you just know is right around the corner.

I’m typically pretty high on San Diego Padres pitchers. My fantasy rosters have more Peavys than your local garage band (musician joke… moving along), and I’ve heard rumors that some outfielders get lost and never return in the vast wilderness that is Petco Park. Then why is the 6’10’’ beast that is Chris Young sitting on a 4.57 ERA and 1.62 WHIP? The answer is because it is almost the exact same way he started out last season. Last year, he gave up 3 HRs in the first month of the season, and this year he’s given up the same amount. The real important part is that over the next three months of the 2007 season, he gave up exactly one home run. That’s right, one. So even if he does three times as bad as last year over the coming months, he’ll still have only given up 1 home run per month. I believe those are number I can live with. His strikeout numbers are healthy (7.06 K/9) and close enough to his career numbers (8.05 K/9) to suggest that if he can overcome what looks like some minor elbow issues, he’ll start to put up his monster midsummer roto numbers again.

I’m sure it’s hard for anyone to get excited about an 0-3 pitcher with a 6.14 ERA, but Chad Billingsley may just be the most exciting pitcher with those numbers of all time. Sure, he’s young but he comes loaded with more talent than “Mind of Mencia” is loaded with unfunny jokes. And believe you me, in both cases, that is a shocking amount. He already has 20 Ks in just 14 1/3rd innings. He plays in a park that is pretty conducive to pitching. He has a lineup around him that, while struggling at the moment, should be able to give him appropriate run support. He plays in a division with gigantic Petco Park, and the so-bad-its-funny San Francisco Giants. Even the up and coming Diamondbacks have a tendency to strike out a ton (Mark Reynolds anybody?). So while right now Billingsley is getting knocked around, he has the potential to become an ace. Not just in future years, but this year too. Feel free to bench him until he get his BBs under control (11 so far this year), but once he does, he’s going to be absolutely dealing, mowing down hitter after hitter in an iffy NL West.

But of course, there are times when dumping a player based on his April stats might be warranted. Much has been made about the struggles of C.C. Sabathia, not only on the mound, but at his weekly Weight Watchers meetings as well. Try as he might, he just can’t resist that cookie dough blizzard at Dairy Queen. All jokes aside, this guy has to be pushing 3 bills, and that’s just not terribly acceptable for a professional athlete. The last pitcher I can remember being truly successful at that weight would be David Wells, and we know what a train wreck he was at some point in his career. In addition to his lackluster conditioning, Sabathia dealt out 256 1/3rd innings last year, counting the playoffs. That’s enough to wear out even the most fit pitchers in the game, much less our plump and portly friend from Cleveland. Since his K/9 numbers don’t really blow you away (7.31 K/9), and his WHIP is becoming more bloated than him after a night at the sizzler (1.28 career), he can really eat you alive in a roto league with an innings limit. I would advise benching him until he strings together a few quality starts, and dealing him away for what you can get. Can you imagine how dead his arm might be in the 100 degree summers, having pitched roughly 380 innings in the last season and this one combined? And also, with him knowing full well that the sooner he is pulled from the game, he can make a McDonalds run? I for one don’t want to be a part of that.

So remember to practice a little bit of patience when it comes to your slow starting stars. It’s just like any relationship you have – you got to take the good with the bad. Fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, and giving up too early one someone could have you looking back on 52 Jim Thome bombs wondering, “what if?”

Friday, April 25, 2008


By: Drew Volturo

Oh, I’m sorry, did I disturb you? You looked so peaceful, but I had to let you know:

Your fantasy baseball team is in last place.

In the professional world, falling asleep on the job can get you fired. In the roto world, falling asleep at (or better yet, away from) the computer can land your team in the cellar. This is a challenge for anyone who has a packed work, personal and social schedule – I wish I could say it was all three that were chock-full, but I don’t want to start lying to you. Moving homes while working is stressful enough, and by the time you get settled down for the night, sometimes the last thing you want to do is check the Web and do a midnight session of add/drop.

But neglecting your teams can lead to disaster. I plummeted from #2 to #7 in my 10-team NL-only league in a week, with two players (Tom Glavine and Peter Moylan) landing on the DL and another (Jayson Nix) hitting so far under the Mendoza line that he might need a ladder to see it again. Rather than hitting the “panic” button, I calmly benched Nix and picked up Kip Wells and Hong-Chih Kuo (it’s a very deep NL-only league). Other than that, I did nothing.

Nothing. I didn’t bench Bill Hall for hitting .200. I didn’t dump Moylan because he’s possibly facing Tommy John surgery (I’ll wait the week and see what happens with the stretching and exercising routine). I haven’t shopped Jose Valverde because his ERA looks more like a meeting time for lunch (12.27) than a dominant closer’s earned run average. It’s not time to hit the panic button. Evan has a great piece up (When Do Stats Begin To Matter: March 19, 2008) about how fantasy baseball owners never fail every season to detect an early April trend and pounce, most disastrously dropping proven players who are off to a slow start in favor of the next hot thing – which then promptly cools off.

So while I fell asleep at the wheel this past week, that doesn’t mean I am waving the white flag. It’s far too early to start ceding anything to anyone. And even though I’m stuck in the second division (does anyone even get that pre-1969 reference? I was born 8 years after divisional play began and I still get it), that doesn’t mean that you can’t come roaring back with some well-placed posts on your discussion board to get your creative juices flowing and hopefully get something started.

Rule #32: Blatant thievery is so good, no cop would ever turn you in.

If you have an active league (and I sincerely hope you do), chances are that another team out there has a catchphrase or something they throw out there often in their posts. This is a perfect opportunity to pounce.

For example, a team owner in my league loves to close his e-mail with “FEAR THE TURTLE! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!” because his alma mater’s mascot is the University of Maryland terrapin. (Don’t look at me, my college mascot was a Fighting Blue Hen, but I don’t run around clucking at my opponents.) Anyway, I was closing out a post and started to repeat his closing, cutting it off mid-sentence: “FEAR THE TUR… oh wait, that sucks.” I then closed it off with a one-liner that should have insulted everyone’s manhood, but it did the trick. It’s early, and I’m a slow-starter when it comes to discussion board posting. Just wait until June.

Sound stupid? I’m setting my stopwatch for how long it’ll take before that team responds with something that I can use against him and jumpstart things on the boards. And nothing cures fantasy baseball insomnia like a discussion board that is alive and kicking with posts you can’t wait to read. If that happens, you can damn sure bet I won’t let a week go by without checking the league again.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

First Week Impressions: NL Edition

By: Ed Sul

Since the first week reflections given last week were just for AL teams, these are basically two-week reflections for the NL teams. Even still, it is too early in the season to make any reasonable decisions about whether a .500, 4 homer, 15 RBI start will continue that way for the entirety of the season, or if you should drop your No. 3 pitcher after a horrendous 0-2, 8.98 ERA start. But here are some thoughts after two weeks.

Atlanta Braves

The rotation is solid early on in the season. John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, both from the Mesozoic Era, are still putting up solid numbers and are worthy No. 2 starters on fantasy teams. Tim Hudson’s 12 strikeouts to 2 walks with an ERA under 3 is very encouraging, and give rookie Jair Jurrjens a chance. He is 1-2, but his ERA is under 4, and he has a promising future. The bullpen is a mess for now, so don’t look there for any relief help, although when Rafael Soriano comes off the DL, he would be the only one with much fantasy value.

Chipper Jones is having a monster start, batting over .400 with 10 or more runs and RBIs. Yunel Escobar is batting .333 with 2 homers, 9 RBIs, and 11 runs as a full-time starter this year, so he is looking like a potential No. 1 fantasy shortstop on any team. Meanwhile, Brian McCann and Jeff Francoer have displayed their power early on, with three homers each, and their batting averages are not too bad either. Mark Teixeira is struggling, with a batting average under .200, but don’t be too concerned if you have him.

New York Mets

Nobody knew who he was when the season began, but now, you better keep an eye on Angel Pagan. He has no homers, but is batting nearly .400 with 9 runs and 10 RBIs. Don’t pick him up yet, because once Moises Alou returns from the DL, Pagan might become a reserve again. Another outfielder who has no homers is Carlos Beltran, which is baffling. His value has dipped over the years, but he is still a respectable No. 3 outfielder on a fantasy team. Meanwhile, David Wright is off to a huge start, batting .311 with 4 homers and 15 RBIs. (Beltran has actually hit his first homerun very recently but only one in three weeks?)

Johan Santana is 1-2, that does not mean much, as his 18 strikeouts to 4 walks and an ERA a shade over 3 shows. John Maine and Oliver Perez are mediocre, but somewhat valuable, pitching options on a fantasy team. Keep an eye on Mike Pelfrey, however, as the youngster has gone 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He doesn’t strike out many, though.

Philadelphia Phillies

Pat Burrell is off to a huge start, batting .349 with five homers and 15 RBIs. We expect those stats to decline though, so if you have plenty of outfielders and have a glaring hole in your team, think trade bait with Burrell. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are both meeting expectations with their starts, but Ryan Howard is struggling. He still has three homers, but his batting average is below .200. He is still a No. 1 fantasy first baseman for teams, but he does not seem to quite be Albert Pujols.

Cole Hamels has an ERA under 1 in three starts and has the stuff to be a No. 1 fantasy starter on most teams. The rest of the rotation is mediocre, and if any of them are on your team, don’t be too excited for any of them. But it is hard to say at this point whether they should be dropped period. Brad Lidge is doing well as a closer, with two saves in five innings and an ERA of 0, while Tom Gordon has completely lost his flash.

Florida Marlins

Scott Olsen is having a good start, and he is probably the only Marlins starting pitcher worth having on your fantasy team. If you have any other Marlins starter, just drop him for better option. And yes, that includes Andrew Miller, as the one-time top prospect is struggling with an ERA above 11, although his 15 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings is encouraging. If you want to keep Miller, fine, because he will be a star one day, but don’t expect him to reach his potential anytime soon.

Who is Mike Jacobs? He has five homers already, while maintaining a great batting average (.320). I don’t know if he is available in many leagues, but if he is, definitely pick him up. He should be a household name soon. Besides Jacobs, nobody has really been too surprising. Hanley Ramirez is putting up MVP-like numbers already again, Dan Uggla is hitting for decent power, but his average stinks, and young outfielders Josh Willingham and Jeremy Hermida are out to respectable starts, making them worthy No. 4 outfielders on your fantasy team. There is a mess at center field right now, but just wait for Cameron Maybin to be called up, and then acquire him.

Washington Nationals

John Rauch has been terrible as temporary closer, but that issue should be solved with Chad Cordero coming back to close. Rauch owners should just get rid of him now. The rotation, like Rauch, is a mess. Tim Redding and Matt Chico are off to encouraging, but not eye-popping, starts, so don’t jump on the bandwagon just yet.

Christian Guzman is off to a .333-2-6 start with 10 runs scored. He probably won’t be as good at the end of the season, but do get him if he is available. He will fill in nicely as a reserve or middle infielder on your team. The only other hitter with any value for now is Ryan Zimmerman, and he is off to a slump to start the year. But do get Lastings Milledge if he is available, because he looks promising as a starting outfielder.

Chicago Cubs

Alfonso Soriano is likely headed to a DL, which is just insult to injury (or injury to insult?) after his .175 average in 13 games. On the other hand, Kosuke Fukudome has only one homer, but he is batting a solid .333 with 8 runs, 6 RBIs, and 2 steals, showing his respectable all-roundedness. Rookie Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa are off to quick starts, but only Soto really has any value, as we expect DeRosa’s numbers to decline. Aramis Ramirez is batting for a low average (.231), but his three homers haven’t made us too disappointed about his start yet. Derrek Lee’s start, meanwhile, is flat out amazing, with fiver homers, 12 RBIs, 11 runs, all with a batting average over .350.

Carlos Zambrano has 18 strikeouts to 2 walks is just nasty, and Ryan Dempster has been a surprise with a 2-0, 2.37 start to the season. Be careful before picking up the inconsistent Dempster, however. Meanwhile, give Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, and Rich Hill a couple more starts before dropping any of them. Also, Carlos Marmol owners should just pray that Kerry Wood struggles, because Marmol, who has 12 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings and a 1.74 ERA, will be one of the top closers in fantasy if Wood loses his job.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals use five outfielders – Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, Chris Duncan, and Brian Barton – regularly, which diminishes the value of all of them. If I was to choose one guy that you should pick up, it would be Ankiel, who has four homers and 11 RBIs while batting over .300. Schumaker also plays more than the others, but his lack of power decreases his value. Ludwick has good power, but he needs to get consistent playing time before anyone can take him seriously.

With Clement, Mulder, and Carpenter on the DL, it was hard to like anyone of the Cardinals’ rotation whose name wasn’t Adam Wainwright, but for the most part, the Cardinal pitchers have done very well. Kyle Lohse has a 1.04 ERA, and Braden Looper is 3-0 with an ERA well under 3. Todd Wellemeyer’s ERA is a modest 4.00, but he has 20 strikeouts. A lot to like about the Cardinals starters, and it is tempting to pick them all up, but wait a few more starts to see how they can really do.

Milwaukee Brewers

Prince Fielder is in a huge slump, with a .222 batting average along with 0 homers. Is Fielder a one-year wonder? You can’t help but think that until Fielder can break out of his slump. On the other hand, it is hard to call Ryan Braun’s .226 start a slump on the same level as Fielder’s, as he does have three homers. Braun’s average should rise over the season. The feel-good story right now is Gabe Kapler, who has a .423 average complemented by four homers. Kapler may be a short-term solution in the outfield, but his value will diminish as Mike Cameron returns from suspension.

Other than Ben Sheets, who is posting Cy Young-esque numbers with a 2-0 record, a 1.17 ERA, and twenty strikeouts, no one else in the rotation is worth anything. Wait until Yovani Gallardo returns from injury, and then he will be worth picking up to help your pitching staff. Eric Gagne is settling down, but you can’t help but think he is on a short leash with David Riske, Salomon Torres, and Derrick Turnbow setting up nearby.

Houston Astros

Youngsters Hunter Pence, J.R. Towles, and Michael Bourn are struggling to open the year in terms of average, which are .170, .207, and .216, respectively, but you have to like Pence’s first half of 2007, Towles’ three homers, and Bourn’s seven stolen bases. Meanwhile, stars Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Miguel Tejada have not disappointed to open their seasons.

Roy Oswalt is 0-3 with an ERA of 9.00. This is definitely a concern, but we have to expect him to perform better. Shawn Chacon and Brandon Backe, meanwhile, are off to pretty good starts, each with ERAs of 2.25. Their 10+ walks are a concern, however, as their lack of control might signal a spike in ERA sooner or later. Wandy Rodriguez might be worth a look, however, as he has a 2.33 ERA with 19 strikeouts and just 2 walks to open the year.

Cincinnati Reds

Johnny Cueto has 24 strikeouts and one walk. Amazing, right? Not so fast. Cueto has done worse every start, so his value will continue to decline back to mediocrity. Someone probably has jumped on the Cueto bandwagon already, but if he is somehow available in your league, wait a couple more starts to see who the real Johnny Cueto is. Same goes for Edinson Volquez, who has a 0.87 ERA in just over 10 innings of work.

Brandon Phillips and Ken Griffey Jr. are doing okay to start this season, as those two and Adam Dunn were really the only three Reds’ batters with any fantasy value whatsoever. No one ever has high expectation for Dunn in terms of average, but his one homer thus far is unacceptable. Meanwhile, Jeff Keppinger has exceeded all expectations, as he has two homers, nine RBIs, eight runs, and a .327 batting average. He is worth picking up at the moment, but who will start at shortstop when Alex Gonzalez returns? Keep an eye on that.

Pittsburgh Pirates

I said before the season to avoid Zach Duke at all costs. Now, try to get him at all costs. Well, not all costs, but he does seem to offer quality value with his 2.89 ERA in nearly 19 innings of work. Other than Duke and ace Ian Snell, don’t bother with the Pirates’ rotation.

Nate McLouth has a .391 average, 2 homers, 12 runs, 14 RBIs, and two stolen bases. It is only two weeks in, but I am sold on McLouth and will convince you to definitely get him if he is not yet already gone. Xavier Nady is also off to a huge start, with four homers, 14 RBIs, and 10 runs, with a .345 batting average. Unfortunately, those are the only to Bucs with any value, unless you still think Jason Bay can turn it around.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Chad Billingsley went from sleeper of the year to most dropped player in leagues within a couple weeks. Billingsley started the year in the bullpen, and his ERA is around 5.50 after a couple weeks. This news may be good for you, especially if someone in your league has dropped Billingsley, because then you should get him. Billingsley has recently reentered the rotation and seems to be getting back on track.

Blake DeWitt had gone 5-for-9 to open the year, and there was a lot of hype as a result. But the reality is that once Nomar Garciaparra and Andy LaRoche return, DeWitt will probably head back to the minors. DeWitt has cooled off, with a batting average of .261 and no homers. On the brighter side, Rafael Furcal is looking like a huge steal, batting .403 with 15 runs scored. Furcal usually starts out slow and then improves over the course of the season, but this year with Furcal hitting well from the start of the season, look out.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are just ridiculously good. The duo is a combined 7-0 with an ERA just around 1.80. The rest of the rotation is off to a fairly good start as well, including Micah Owings and 90-year old Randy Johnson. Doug Davis is out for a while with thyroid cancer, but even he was pitching well before his DL trip.

There is also a lot to like among the young Diamondbacks hitters. Mark Reynolds has 16 RBIs on 5 homers and 14 runs with a respectable .291 batting average and is looking like a star in the making. Chris Young is at it again with five homers and 14 runs, but that .234 average must improve. Justin Upton is also off to a tremendous start, with a .377/5/13 stat line. Hard to believe from a guy drafted in the late rounds in most leagues. Conor Jackson is batting .364 with 15 runs scored, 3 homers, and 17 RBIs, and Eric Byrnes and Stephen Drew are also enjoying good starts. This young group of hitters could be having a lot of fun this summer, which is good news to D’Backs hitters’ fantasy owners.

Colorado Rockies

Pitching is the Rockies’ weak point, and we can see why. There is no one who is worth starting on a fantasy team in the entire rotation. Young Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales are promising, but are too inconsistent right now. Aaron Cook and Mark Redman are known for inconsistency, and this year has been no different. Ace Jeff Francis is 0-2 with a 5.89 ERA. Francis is a second-half kind of guy, and he has been for the most part consistent in the past two or three seasons, so besides Francis, don’t bother playing any of the Rockies’ pitchers.

As for the offense, it is off to a pretty slow start. Other than Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday, who are having good, but not wowing, starts to the season, no one has met expectations. Brad Hawpe, one of the greater sleepers last season, and Troy Tulowitzki, the young shortstop phenom, are struggling to bat .200. One year wonders? It is too early to make any conclusions, but it is in the back of our minds right now.

San Diego Padres

Jake Peavy is ridiculous. 30 innings, 27 strikeouts, 3-0 start. He will be a No. 1 fantasy pitcher for the next 10 years. Chris Young, meanwhile, has been the Chris Young of the 2007’s 2nd half rather than the All-Star Cy Young Candidate of the first half. Young is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA with 13 strikeouts, but 12 walks. Keep an eye on young Justin Germano. He is 0-1, but with a 1.35 ERA. The concern is his six strikeouts in 20 innings.

The Padres’ offense is mediocre, if not subpar, and other than young soon-to-be-star Kevin Kouzmanoff and powerful Adrian Gonzalez, no one is worth owning. But even these two are good at best and are not superstars, at least not now. There is a possibility that Brian Giles is available in your league, and if you want a consistent veteran, do go for him, but don’t expect him to make or break your season.

San Francisco Giants

This team is a mess, even without Barry Bonds. The offense, in fact, is so bad that you would wish Bonds would be around to give the team some kind of juiced boost. New acquisition Aaron Rowand is homerless with just four runs and RBIs. Half of the rest of the lineup is batting under .200. The rotation has a bright spot. Tim Lincecum has 22 strikeouts with a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings. The next Jake Peavy? Possibly. But with the Giants' offense a debacle, don't expect Lincecum to pile up wins. Unfortunately for Lincecum, he is probably the only guy who could win for the Giants, as Matt Cain has an ERA over 6.50, and Barry Zito is... well, Barry, Zito, the most overpaid human being ever. Jonathan Sanchez and Kevin Correia are not consistent major league starters either. So basically, besides Lincecum, stay away from these Giants.

Like a Virgin: Panic Button Time? By Lora Barnhart

We at FB101 want to again thank you for your visits and again remind you that in order to properly update the website we are going to be providing our articles on the blog first and updating the site less regularly. Thanks, The FB101 Team

Now on to Lora's article:
This week was mostly more of the same, you guys. I am doing ok in two of my leagues and pretty darn badly in the third. I got a little discouraged, but this week Evan's article covered exactly this topic: Stinking Up The Joint In April. According to Evan, the stats don't start to matter in most league types until June-ish, so I guess there is still hope. Check out his article if you haven't done so! Anyway, this is what went down in each of my leagues in the last few days.

Roto League (me vs. 7 intimidating owners): Currently 3/8

This team more or less cares for itself. I am sort of in love with my team in this league. Chipper Jones is currently on fire, which is nice; Hanley Ramirez is living up to expectations; Alex Rios has been working for me; Roy Oswalt looks to be on an upswing; and Dan Haren has had quite a few good outings. Overall, this team is pretty solid, so I mostly just leave it alone (except to check the lineups every day to have it be as full as possible, of course). I am giving some thought to dropping Brad Hawpe because he has been in a slump lately, and I am keeping an eye on Heath Bell, who is underperforming a little bit as of now. The problem is, I don't think the guys available on the FA list are any better than those guys, and I doubt anyone would take them in a trade, and I am not willing to part with any of my quality starters just yet. I think I will go with status quo for now in this league.

A trade was proposed to me in this league for the first time, and it required a good ponder. Another owner offered me Rickie Weeks and Paul Konerko for Grady Sizemore and Placido Polanco. I gave this trade some thought, but ultimately I decided to decline the offer. Sizemore is doing pretty well (already 5 SB), but Polanco has been a little injured all year. Weeks has been hitting HRs, but Konerko is off to a bit of a slow start. All things considered, I think Sizemore is the best player in the trade, and that was the determining factor for me. This was a pretty close call, and maybe I will regret it if Konerko turns around, but for now I am standing by my decision.

Points League (me vs. 9 owners from "Albuquerque"): Currently 4/10

I have been doing pretty well in this league so far, but you can't be too careful. I have Jones in this one too, and of course he is off to a good start. Edgar Renteria, Magglio Ordonez, and Ryan Zimmerman are really reliable. Manny Ramirez is doing really well for me (which I appreciate, even though -- of course -- I'm not a Sox fan). Jermaine Dye is hitting really well, which is great. I am watching the situations with Jorge Posada (he's playing 1B now while he rests his shoulder, which is fine, but I need him to get back to C) and Jose Reyes (he hit his head on Chase Utley's knee stealing third and might not be able to play). I am holding onto Ty Wigginton...yeah, he's injured, but he might be back, and I love that he's eligible at so many positions on my lineup. On the pitching side, Jake Peavy is really doing well for me. Otherwise, though, my pitching is rather disappointing. Jason Isringhausen is doing just sort of average, as is Brian Wilson, but I don't think there's anyone better on the FA list now, so I will stick with them. John Maine is not the factor I'd hoped he would be...but I'm going to hold on to him for now. Similarly, J.J. Putz is still on the DL, but I think he's going to be worth the wait. For now, my team is doing well enough on the batting side that I am not too worried, but it is certainly a situation to watch.

Head-To-Head League (me vs. 9 friends of FB101): Currently 9/10

Of course, I am doing the worst in the league in which I actually know the owners personally. Mortifying! I lost my first matchup in spectacular fashion. This league differs from the others in a few ways, but one of the things that annoys me a little is that the lineups are set for the entire week every Monday, and the lineup is the same for every game in the week. In other words, I can't play Polanco when Robinson Cano isn't playing because the Yankees have the day off. This feature makes the league the lowest-maintenance of the three, which I thought would be good, but it is actually quite frustrating. It really changes the strategy for the whole season. I am sure this sounds like I am just making excuses for my ridiculously bad ranking, and I probably am, but that doesn't make it less true!

Anyway, last week I had my first matchup in this league, and I lost in 8 out of 10 categories -- I managed to tie my opponent in HRs and win in saves, but otherwise it was not good, not good at all. It was not even close in any of the 8 categories I lost in. The second matchup is over today, and I am losing in 9 out of 10 categories. It is pretty bad, you guys, especially in light of Evan's article, which said that only in H2H leagues do the April stats matter. Oh no! I am not even sure what to do about this team, because it is clearly weak in so many areas. It is actually a little paralyzing because I don't have any idea where to start.

I did accept one trade in this league this week, picking up SP Jered Weaver for RP B.J. Ryan, so perhaps my pitching stats will improve in my third matchup. It is pretty clear that this team needs the most attention this week. I am going to evaluate the league carefully and might propose some trades. I don't think it can get much worse. It is sort of a mystery to me how this team can be so bad, since I used exactly the same rankings for the autodraft in this league and my Roto League, and I followed those rankings when I did the live draft in my Points League. I don't know if it is an effect of the scoring format or what...I will look into this a little more for next week. I hope to have better news on the H2H front soon!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Awards, Week Three

This posting is the start of a new trend: more content on the blog! For a short time, while we upgrade the home site (, we will be publishing content here first. However the home site will remain active and interactive. Visit both!

This season, the FBA’s will undertake a statistical experiment. Instead of waiting until seasons’ end to tally final figures and declare winners, we will track contenders from day one to see when trends unfold, and when incumbents step up to compete in their respective category. From the first week of the season through to now, here are our leaders for each of the various Fantasy Baseball Awards, as we track leaders each week:

National League

1. Fantasy MVP in 2008: Derek Lee
i. Runners-up: Chipper Jones, Pat Burrell, David Wright, Albert Pujols, and Chase Utley

2. Fantasy Cy Young in 2008 – Brandon Webb
i. Runners-up: Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, Dan Haren, Johnny Cueto, and Johan Santana

3. Fantasy Rookie of the Year – Justin Upton
i. Runners-up: Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Kosuke Fukudome, Hiroki Kuroda, and Joey Votto

4. Fantasy Relief Man of the Year – Eric Gagne
i. Runners-up: Jason Isringhausen, Matt Capps, Kerry Wood, and Francisco Cordero

American League

1. Fantasy MVP in 2008: Manny Ramirez
i. Runners-up: Carlos Pena, Nick Markakis, B.J. Upton, Carlos Guillen, and Alexis Rios

2. Fantasy Cy Young in 2008 – Daisuke Matsuzaka
i. Runners-up: Cliff Lee, Chien-Ming Wong, Ervin Santana, Zack Greinke, and Javier Vazquez

3. Fantasy Rookie of the Year – Nick Blackburn
i. Runners-up: Joba Chamberlain, David Murphy, and Clay Buchholz

4. Fantasy Relief Man of the Year – Joe Nathan
i. Runners-up: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon, George Sherrill, Joakim Soria, Mariano Rivera

This past week in the National League, the changes atop the leader board are obvious. Derek Lee pushed aside reigning NL fantasy MVP Hanley Ramirez to take the top spot with a major league leading 7 long-balls. Brandon Webb pushed aside Jake Peavy for the lead in NL fantasy Cy Young, while Juston Upton held strong to maintain his position atop all others for fantasy NL Rookie of the Year. The surprise of the week – a presumably substance-free Eric Gagne taking the top spot among contenders for NL fantasy Relief Man-of-the year.

In the American League, Manny Ramirez went on a rampage this past week to claim the top spot among AL contenders for fantasy MVP. Matsuzaka continued his sophomore dominance among all AL starters, and Joe Nathan topped AL closers to take the top spot among relief men. AL Rookie of the Year still remains wide open, so we expect more flip-flopping here than most other categories, but stay tuned for more as the season unfolds.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Reviewing an Early Season Trade

Before the season began we were asked who won the below trade.

The Question:
David Ortiz
Kelly Johnson
Boof Bonser
Franklin Moralas


Brandon Phillips
Brett Meyers
Tim Lincecum

I am getting the Phillips side... I'm not realy happy with how my staff turned out so I need some pitching.

Our Answer:
We think you win, and win big frankly. In fantasy, Ortiz for Phillips alone is nearly a fair deal. Add to that you are getting Myers and Lincecum, both aces and terrific in strikeout leagues. Bonser and Morales are big question marks and your league appears deep enough that they are probably borderline waiver material. While Kelly Johnson is solid, he's not enough to make up f
or the three top tier players you are getting with Lincecum, Phillips and Myers.

To defend your trade partner, Ortiz is the best overall player (slightly) and that is usually a good goal for someone making a trade - receive the best player. That added to the fact that your partner is getting two hitters and you are getting just one also minimizes a bit how much you have won the trade. Still, I would have liked to have known what stat categories you league utilizes. There would be no reason for a league to veto this trade.


Thursday, April 17, 2008


At one of our offerings is to help you make good trades. Whether the trade has already been consummated and your league is mulling veto, or you want a second opinion before committing to a trade, you can contact us and get detailed thoughts on the trade.

This has been a successful venture for our site thus far in the early season, and we want to spread the love. Below I will begin sharing with you some of the trade questions we've seen and our responses so that you may learn some useful bits of information yourself. You can also chime in on your own about trades by visiting our forum:

The Question:
Is it advisable to make any of these trades:
1) paul lo duca for ryan doumit
2) barry zito for brandon backe
3) aaron rowand for bill hall
4) j.j. hardy for jeff keppinger
5) brandon lyon for trevor hoffman
Which ones should i make?

Our Response:
The one trades worth making for you is : Hoffman for Lyons.
The others are skewed in favor of the other team. This trade nets you more than the all-time saves leader. It also nets you a player with a defined role that is unlikely to change as quickly as Brandon Lyon. Putting aside the fact that folks like Kevin Gregg crop up every season and do well, there are few "staples" in closing as reliable as Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, etc. When you have the opportunity to trade a Brandon Lyon for a Trevor Hoffman, as the owner of Lyons, I would jump on such a deal. Lyon will have to fight off Tony Pena and Chad Qualls for work in the 9th inning, whereas Hoffman will be the closer in San Diego until he can't throw a baseball, at which point they will choose a successor. Heath Bell and Cla Meredith are not real competitors at this point for the job, so to me, this is open and shut. Take Hoffman, trade Lyon, and table the other deals as they seem to serve you little purpose (with special emphasis on the deal of Hardy for Keppinger - who may well be out of a job should Alex Gonzalez ever return).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bonds to Cardinals!

Earlier today the St. Louis Cardinals announced that they have signed Barry Bonds to a one-year contract. Bond is expected to hit third in the Cardinals lineup, and will relegate Skip Schumaker to the bench. Despite his age, Bonds managed 28 homers in only 340 at-bats last season with a .276 BA. With Albert Pujols and Troy Glaus providing more lineup protection than he was afforded in San Fran, Bonds should be good for another 25 homers and an outstanding OBP%.

APRIL FOOLS! We hope you didn't drop someone for Bonds -- we just couldn't resist.