Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm relieved he's starting...

Before I get on to this week's discussion let's recap the post from two weeks ago...I recommended we go fishing on Medlen. If you picked him up and started him you were rewarded with 8+ innings of crap over two starts and then he showed up this afternoon. Medlen managed to go 6 innings, allowing one run and 9 Ks against 1 walk and 4 hits in his first career victory. Apparently Chipper Jones gave him some advice after watching him walk the first batter of the game: "Throw strikes." Now, if you are crazy like me, today's game is enough to keep hoping Chipper's advice sinks in and Medlen becomes the pitcher we want him to be. So, he will remain stashed on my bench to see if he is real or Memorex.

Oh and for a footnote, apparently my bias for former and current Royals may not be a good strategy. After one very promising 10 strikeout performance, De La Rosa has returned to the state of most Rockies pitchers. Oh well can't win 'em all.

Now, on to this week's person of interest...on again, off again starter/reliever, Randy Wells. After 5 great starts in Iowa, the 27 year old rookie has continued to put up some impressive numbers in his 4 big league starts posting a 1.80 ERA and 23 Ks in 25 innings. Trouble is he is still seeking his first victory.

Unlike Medlen, I am less convinced of Wells. Not that he hasn't been fantastic. It's just that his minor league career shows a great strikeout ability consistent with all the relieving he has done and I suspect the league will begin to figure him out once they have seen him once or twice. It is possible at his age he has "learned to pitch" but I'm not so sure. Either way, if you believe the Cubs will begin to turn things around he's worth the risk. He's also a two start pitcher this week and I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and start him. Do the same at your own risk.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Price may be right, but he's not Medlen

I know. In my previous post I said perhaps I'd review David Cone. Well, Mr. Cone is going to have to wait because I want to talk Fantasy for a moment...

If you remember my 3 tenets for winning fantasy, I am going to focus on 2 of them right now: #2. Good in season management, and #3. Luck.

This is about the time where you should be looking at the free agents out there and searching for a player or two that no one else realizes just how good they may be. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, everyone knows who all the good players are. Everyone can see who is putting up big numbers. Everyone even knows the best prospects. But that is not the case. There are plenty of diamonds in the rough sitting there waiting to be picked up. Take a chance. You may strike gold. Now, this is not to say you should simply go with trial and error. You have to look closely at the numbers to find what you need. Let's focus on one prospect most of your fellow fantasy owners aren't paying attention to...

The Atlanta Braves are calling up Kris Medlen to replace an ineffective Reyes in the rotation this week. He will be a two start pitcher. If he is available in your league, I recommend you pick him up and start him. Sometimes there are prospects that are "hot" like David Price. Price has been historically phenomenal and has rightfully been sitting on the bench for most teams in CBS leagues all season. (He is owned in 82% of all leagues. Over at ESPN he is owned in 80% of the leagues. Like I said, "hot" and well-known.) Meanwhile, though Medlen may not be as highly touted as Price, he does possess one advantage...he is in the Major Leagues. Also, Price has been rather ordinary this season: 1-4 with a 4.66 ERA. His K/BB ratio is 26/16 and averaging just over 4 innings per start. Medlen on the other hand? 5-0 at AAA Gwinnett with a Greinke-like 0.97 ERA and a 44K/10BB ratio. If your thinking that this may be a fluke, I don't think so. His career minor league numbers are: 15-9 with 263 Ks in 226.1 IP against just 51 BBs. His career ERA is 2.39. Granted, this is his first season in AAA and he has never even sniffed the Majors. But those numbers look promising. When taking a chance on a player like this I look for 3 things: 1. Good career record (check), 2. Good recent numbers (double-check), and 3. Good team (check).

My point here is, taking a chance on a player like this is the #2 tenet: good in season management. Even if you just stash him on your bench, it is a good move because it LOOKS like a good move. If he gets bombed, drop him; no harm, no foul. But if he pitches well, then he was easily worth the risk. And like I said, luck has to enter into it also. Create your own luck by making smart decisions. Create your own luck by making intelligent pick ups.

Now, I am not saying Medlen is the next Greg Maddux. Nor am I saying that he is a "can't miss" prospect. What I am saying is, if you are looking for that next stud pitcher, he could be it. If you are looking for an unexpected jolt to your team, he could be it. If you are looking for a good keeper next season, he could be it. More importantly, the chances of him being successful are greater than 50/50. And right now he is sitting there for the picking: He is currently owned in just 11% of the leagues at CBS Sportsline. He is certainly worth the gamble. Putting my money where my mouth is, I am now a proud member of that 11%. In fact, he is starting for me next week. Here's hoping that number goes up rapidly.

On another note, I also recommend taking a look at Jorge De La Rosa. I know he is a Rockie, but he looks like the real deal. He's 28 this year, so perhaps he is ready to live up to his Minor League potential. He is the first Rockie pitcher I have ever picked up. I don't plan starting him at home, but there is something there. He really only had one bad start (the first one of the year) which would make his numbers otherworldly rather than just incredible. (One caveat, as he is a former Royal, I may be biased.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Geovany or Giovanni?

He started as an "ok" hitting catcher in the minors when in 2007 it all came together. During his third season in Iowa he suddenly went from a .270 hitter with a good eye and not much power into a .350 stud with 26 Homers. In fact, he had more extra base hits in 2007 (60) than he did in 2005 and 2006 COMBINED (45).

Next season he made the logical step to the Majors and the torching of pitchers continued: 23 bombs, .285/.364/.504, an All-Star and a lock for the Rookie of the Year. Geovany Soto was on top of the world. He was being touted as the next great hitting catcher. And why not? He was a rookie with patience and power who gets to play half of his games at Wrigley Field. He helped vault the Cubs into contention. He finished #13 in the MVP voting. Then suddenly in 2008 he is looking more like Mario Soto at the plate.

I realize it is only a couple of weeks into the season, but Soto looks overmatched. 3 singles in 26 ABs. That's it. Now, I am not suggesting Soto is done. I am not recommending you rush out and trade him away. He is certainly not going to end the season with a sub-.200 batting average and no home runs. But he may not be the next great hitting catcher. In fact if we look a little closer at the facts we see 4 potential signs why he may not be who we thought he was:

1. He's 26. Now, I know what you're thinking. 26? He's entering his prime. He should be ready to put up some career numbers. Normally I would agree. And he still may. But 26 means he was 25 last year. He was an old rookie. Most great players (not all, just most) make it to the big leagues as a regular a lot sooner than 25. I haven't checked but I would expect the average age of Hall of Famers becoming Major League regulars is closer to 22. (excluding the obvious - Umpires, Negro Leaguers, Peter Gammons, etc)

2. Bob Hamelin. Ok, this one is similar to the one above, but "the hammer" stormed the scene in a very similar fashion in 1994 as a 26 year old rookie and smashed 24 homers in 300+ ABs. Then the league got to see him again...and again..and it just got worse and worse. Until Bob, as so many pretenders before him, finally returned the hammer moniker to it's rightful owner.

3. He's a catcher. Last season he wore down. He injured his hands in August or early September (twice if memory serves) and he never quite recovered. As a matter of fact, in his final month he hit an ordinary .241 with just 7 extra base hits in 58 at bats. Looking at his monthly stats, after a smokin' April .341/.424/.635, he seemed to get worse and worse each month until an August bounce .355/.444/.566 followed by the aforementioned lackluster Sept/Oct.

4. It is possible the league is starting to figure him out the more they see him. There are tons of examples of alleged "sophomore slumps". (See Bob Hamelin above). Fellow KC fans probably associate Kevin Seitzer with this group, but Kevin was almost as great in his 2nd season. He just lost his perceived homerun power (from 15 as a rookie to 5 as a sophomore).

In the end it wouldn't be that surprising to think Soto essentially had 8 or 9 months of amazing baseball in him (2007 and 2008) and his numbers last season were more a function of timing than a representation of actual sustainable ability. Then again, in 20 years I may be at Cooperstown witness to his induction.

And maybe its still April and I'm just making a molehill out of a mountain. But the more I think about it, I wouldn't want Geovany on my team this year any more than I'd want Mr. Ribisi. Wait until he gets hot, displays some more respectable numbers and trade him. Or see if you can convince someone to swap you Brian McCann for him right now in a change of scenery trade.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First One To Leave The Yard

Welcome to the first ever post for "Last Ones To Leave The Yard." If you are looking to talk about fantasy baseball, (or fantasy football when that rolls around), you've come to the right place. A little about me...I am just some guy who does very well in Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football leagues. I try to limit my participation to no more than 2 leagues per season. It takes a lot of work to play to win.

This is probably not new for anyone bothering to read this, but to set the tone for what you can expect from me...Philosophically I believe there are 3 major components to winning a league (Or at least finishing in the money):

1. A good draft (including good planning)
2. Good in-season management
3. Luck

I have definitely had my share of #3.

At any rate, thank you in advance for checking out this blog. I'll try to post regularly depending on interest. Feel free to ask any questions. I only have 2 requests: 1. Please refrain from advertising and 2. Please refrain from being mean-spirited. This is a family show, let's keep it clean.

So, that's it; I promise the next post will be more baseball oriented.