Monday, April 27, 2009

Will Sandoval become Zito's personal catcher?

Tonight might be the night we discover if Pablo Sandoval is going to become Zito's personal catcher. Bengie Molina says he's cool with it, and plus, Molina caught twelve innings yesterday, so it makes sense that he'd get a rest.

My thoughts? I'd say Sandoval has a 39% chance of catching tonight. Here is what others think:

  • Rotoworld's Pouliot: "Pablo Sandoval catches and Barry Zito pitches well; it's a trend that dates back to the second half of last season. Still, the Giants don't want to take Bengie Molina out of the lineup and they've never tried Molina at first base. I'd be surprised if Sandoval is behind the plate for Zito's start Monday."

  • Molina gives his blessing to Sandoval and Zito.

  • "Barry Zito may be the first pitcher who prefers being caught by a third baseman."

  • As many of you know, Sandoval is already catcher eligible in Yahoo leagues, so this information is aimed at leagues that need five or more catcher appearances this year to become eligible (which is the case in Sandbox leagues and probably some others). Sandoval has one catcher appearance so far this year.

  • Ten Spring Training thoughts on Pablo Sandoval...sort of interesting to read now that we've gotten a chance to see him play a bit this year.

  • UPDATE 4/27, mid-game (11:24pm): Yes! Sandoval catches Zito. And, perhaps more importantly, Zito is pitching well (4 innings, zero runs) so far, which makes it more likely for this trend to continue.

  • UPDATE 4/28, late-game (12:32am): A solid Zito start. He pitched six scoreless innings with 92 pitches, but he was left in the game for the seventh and gave up a walk, a homer, and a single. He was pulled for Merkin Valdez, who promptly allowed the inherited runner to score, plus a few more. So no win for Zito. But still, all in all Zito's start was MCE (more conclusive evidence) that he is better when Sandoval is his catcher.

    I think we have our answer to the question posed in the title. For now.

    The Morning After:

  • "I asked Manager Bruce Bochy how he weighs the benefit of having Pablo Sandoval working with Barry Zito against the negative of taking Molina, the club’s cleanup hitter, out of the lineup. Bochy insisted this is not a “personal catcher” scenario and he would have rested Molina anyway because he caught all 12 innings Sunday. Bochy did say there was a benefit to giving Sandoval his starts with the same pitcher, because it helps with familiarity."

  • "Once again, though Bochy didn't fully commit to naming Sandoval as Zito's personal catcher, the manager did say, "It makes it easier for the pitcher or the catcher if Bengie gets the same off-day each week." Bochy added that besides Zito, Sandoval would be most likely to catch Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez, while Molina has been charged with the responsibility of working with ace Tim Lincecum and fellow veteran Randy Johnson."
  • Friday, April 24, 2009

    Kinsler on pace to join 50/50 club

    Here are the highest draft picks to have been dropped so far in my Yahoo! 12-team mixed H2H league (22-player rosters): Justin Upton (Round 11), Chris Iannetta (11), Derrek Lee (11), Milledge (12), Carlos Guillen (13), Kawakami (14), Jose Lopez (14), and Delmon Young (15).

    Of this list, the players that I am most confident will rebound are Jose Lopez and Chris Iannetta.

    Other Notes:

    After a rough start, Motte has quietly settled down. After giving up 4 runs in his first appearance, he's pitched 6 innings, given up only 1 run, and has 1 walk and 6 Ks. He's probably not an option when not getting saves, but he's worth watching.

    I've read more talk about how Chris Ray will take over the closer role from Sherrill, and maybe sooner than most folks think. I believe it because it makes sense. Sherrill is most valuable (to Baltimore) when not in the closer role. Don't believe me? Check out how bad he is against right-handed hitters (1.73 WHIP, 26 BB, 28 K in 2008) and how good he is against left-handed hitters (1.06 WHIP, 7 BB, 30 K, in 2008).

    Other closer types that are worth watching include Santiago Casilla, Garrett Mock (Nats), Nunez, CPerez, Motte, Arredondo, Zumaya, Balfour, Izzy (TB), Aardsma, RMadson (PHI). Oh, and with Joakim Soria missing a minimum of 3 games, look into Juan Cruz.

    Brandon Wood hasn't played single inning in three games so far. He supposedly will play a little this weekend. I don't get it. If you aren't going to play him, why call him up?

    Other middle infield news: Aviles is playing horribly. I predict he will be dropped soon by most managers. Also: Ass Cab (Asdrubal Cabrera) has been solid of late.

    When it comes to a steals-only type player to pick up, consider Iwamura (5 steals) to be potentially more valuable than Gardner (4 steals) or Elvis Andrus. Iwamura hits for decent average (.280-ish), scores a lot (91 times last year), and is on pace for 50 steals right now. Speaking of on-pace stats...

    Fun With Stats:

    The season is already 10% complete, as teams have played 15-to-17 games. The cool thing about this is we can add a zero to any counting stat and get that players' 2009 pace. For example:

    Han Ram: 20 HR / 20 SB
    NCruz, Inge, & Pujols: 60 HR
    Abreu: 80 SB
    Kemp: 30 HR / 40 SB
    Kinsler: 50 HR / 70 SB
    Markakis 180 Runs, 190 RBI
    Pujols: 180 Runs, 210 RBI
    Aaron Hill: 290 Hits
    Kevin Millwood: 300 Innings
    JSantana: 270 K
    CBills, Wandy, & Haren: 40 Quality Starts
    Heath Bell: 70 Saves

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Rafael Soriano gets the save: should you save a roster spot for Soriano?

    Here is what Rafael Soriano's Yahoo player note had to say after he got the save tonight:

    "Soriano threw a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts to earn his second save in Wednesday's win over Washington. Mike Gonzalez pitched in the eighth inning to get the win.

    "Soriano got the nod over Gonzalez when the Braves wanted to bring a left-handed pitcher in to face left-handed Adam Dunn in the eighth inning. This could be a sign the closer role may be split between the two players, and Soriano may have more upside if both are healthy since Gonzalez may be used earlier in games against left-handed batters."

    My guess is that either this is a bit of a false alarm and Soriano only snipes a quiet one-to-two saves a month for the rest of the season OR Mike Gonzalez and Soriano split of the save opportunities equitably going forward. Either way, this news makes Soriano valuable in mixed leagues, especially in leagues that have saves and holds; Soriano has had either a save or a hold in four of his seven appearances in 2009.

    What? You want me to speak in an informal, off-the-record type way? Here ya go: ride the Intermittent Raffy Sores closer horse until he gets injured. And he will get injured. Dude's ligaments have the tensile strength of tissue paper.

    Stat-y Type Stuff:

  • Check out Rafael Soriano's career stats (in 263 innings):
    K/9 = 9.27
    BB/9 = 2.74
    K/BB = 3.39
    AVG against = .204
    Career fastball speed: 93.5 MPH (he's been throwing 92.1 so far this year)

  • 4/24 UPDATE: Well, R. Soriano got the hold tonight (while giving up one run in the eighth) and M. Gonzo got the save. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

  • Fantasy Hurler thinks RSoriano will save more games than Gonzo in 2009 (by the count of 20-ish saves to 10-15-ish).
  • Monday, April 20, 2009

    The RP/SP Eligible Fantasy Baseball Update: Garrett Mock Might Close

    As I mentioned in a previous post, RP/SP dual eligible pitchers can help your fantasy baseball team. Here are a few relief pitchers that have SP eligibility that you might want to keep an eye on:

    Brandon Morrow - The best SP eligible relief pitcher of the 2009 season. Look for him to put up Joakim Soria type closer numbers this year.

    Hong-Chih Kuo - Dodgers coach Joe Torre has been avoiding using Kuo on back-to-back days to protect Kuo's elbow (which has had four (4!) operations), but as a result Kuo has looked out of sorts. Kuo himself has admitted that he is currently lacking in confidence. Don't push the panic button on Kuo just yet, but if he still is struggling by the time May rolls around, you can begin to get worried.

    Carlos Villanueva - Villanueva was so bad as a closer that he has, most likely, been banished to 7th inning duties even with Trevor Hoffman still out for at least one more week. Rotoworld claims Villanueva is still worth using, but I'm not so sure.

    Garrett Mock (pictured) - With Joel Hanrahnrahan stuggling as the Nats closer, the possibility exists that the RP/SP eligible Mock gets a shot at the closer role. Mock has two saves in five relief appearances in the Minors so far this year. He also had a Chien-Ming Wang-like 31.50 ERA after his first three minor league appearances this year. So it is not like Mock was tearing up Triple-A. Still, given that Mock has had decent control and a solid K/9 ratio throughout his minor league career, I'm cautiously optimistic that he would be useable if he ever were to get the closer role. Not that it is all that likely he'll get a shot to close: I'd say he has a about a 15% chance of ever closing in 2009, as I'd speculate that Joe Beimel gets first crack if Hanrahanrahan continues to falter. UPDATE 4/21: Beimel was just placed on the 15 day DL. So maybe Mock will get a shot. Then again, Joel H. was able to lock down a save last night, so maybe Mock won't get a shot. Mock did, however, retire the only batter he faced to get the last out of the eighth inning--picking up a hold in the process--in his 2009 debut. It appears he'll be Joel Hanny's setup guy for the near-term.

    Dan Meyer - Unlike most of the other RP/SP eligible pitchers, Meyer has started out the year strong: 5.1 innings, 2 ER, 4 K, 2 BB, and 3 Holds. This is a very small sample size, but if you are looking for holds from an RP/SP eligible pitcher, you might try riding Meyer's strong start. Just know that he will probably regress to numbers closer to his career averages of a 1.68 WHIP and a 7.19 ERA.

    Others: Jeff Bennett, Justin Masterson, Dennis Sarfate, and Sean Marshall each have 1 Hold in 2009.

    Other Readables:

  • The top RP/SP eligible pitchers of 2009

  • Rotoworld thinks Mock might close.

  • Suddenly Mock info is cropping up everywhere! Here is a Yahoo post about the Nats closer situation.

  • Here is Yahoo's team-by-team closer summary. They've even added a nifty RP/SP icon. And they got rid of the horrible yellow color and went with blue. Good work, guys.

  • UPDATE 4/21: Hanny-rahan is on a roll! He held on for his second save tonight (1 BB, 1 hit, 0 K). Mock didn't pitch.
  • Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Funked-up Starts To The 2009 MLB Season: Six Players Who Are Currently Ranked Below A-Rod

    Every year, a few very good baseball players start the MLB season in a bit of a funk. When this happens, you have three choices:
    1. Run away from them, screaming
    2. Do what you can to get the funked-up player on your team as cheaply as possible
    3. Do nothing.

    This year I am mostly going to do nothing. Why? Because nearly every player who has started the 2009 season in a funk is already on my team. You don't believe me? Check this out: my entire team is batting .194 over the last week. Thank you Pablo Sandoval (.216 for the season), Chris Davis (.176), Garrett Atkins (.222), Alexei Ramirez (.143), and BJ Upton (.176). Wow.

    So, according to the Yahoo! ranking system, Alex Rodriguez is ranked #962 even though he hasn't played a single game yet this year. For those of you who are in position trade for some funked-up players, here are six players who have played so poorly this season that they are ranked below A-Rod in the Y! ranks. Yes, that's right: the players on this list have been so cold at the plate so far this season that you would have been better off if you'd been starting the injured A-Rod over them:

    6. David Ortiz (#1085): You might be able to get Ortiz really, really cheaply. He's batting .158 (6-for-38) so far this season, and people are starting to whisper that his career is done. Kaput. Razzball compares Ortiz's career trajectory to Mo Vaughn. Scouts, apparently, are concerned. What do I think? I don't really know, but I'm staying away for now. (That could change, as I always like a bargain.)

    5. Justin Upton (#1109): JUpton started the season by batting .130 (3-for-23). His swing, apparently, needs fixing. People are suddenly saying that 21-year old still isn't ready. Funny to think that if he'd just had three more hits, people wouldn't be having this conversation at all. The only reason I hesitate to endorse him is that his manager isn't playing him regularly. This could either turn into a 2008 Matt Kemp situation, where JUpton plays himself into more playing time, or it could result in a Lastings Milledge situation, where JUpton is demoted. I'll sum up my feelings this way: I'm in love with the guy, but he is currently sitting on the waiver wire in my 12-team money league.

    4. Chris Iannetta (#1109): Iannetta started the season by batting .048 (1-for-21). Hey, look on the bright side: his defensive skills have improved since last year. (Full disclosure: I was one of those people who fell for JR Towles in the past.) I am not honestly not worried about Iannetta.

    3. Jimmy Rollins (#1110 in Y! game): Rollins has started the year 5-40 and doesn't have a single stolen base. Jimmy claims it is all about timing, and quite frankly, I believe him. I am actively pursuing him in trades. Sure, he's cold now, but he'll heat up soon enough.

    2. Alexei Ramirez (#1100): Alexei has started the year batting .143 (5-for-35). Am I worried? Yes, but only because he's on my team, and when players are on my team I worry about them constantly. But someone with more perspective would point out that Alexei made some great adjustments last year, and that he's a great bet to do it again this year.

    1. Geovany Soto (#1117): Soto is currently batting .118 (2-for-17), but I blame a "sore" shoulder. If the shoulder injury isn't serious, he'll be fine. If his shoulder injury is serious, he might 2008-Victor-Martinez your team. I say the odds are 80/20 that he'll be fine.

    Honorable Mention:

    Prince Fielder (#673), Carlos Lee (#762), Stephen Drew (#661), Chris Davis (#628), Jay Bruce (#679), and JJ Hardy (#674).

    Other Readables:

  • Fantasy Hurler thinks that Alexei, CDavis, and Ortiz might be droppable at some point this year.

  • Fantasy Baseball 365 suggests that Justin Upton might be better off if he were in the minors for another year...or two.

  • Yahoo suggests you should buy Chris Davis and Chris Iannetta and hold Alexei Ramirez.

  • Razzball on Alexei: don't despair!
  • Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Wang or Pettitte?

    Chien-Ming Wang was just dropped in my 12-team mixed league. Andy Pettitte was already on the wire. My co-manager was pushing for us to pick up Pettitte. I've been resisting, wanting to pick up Wang instead. Here is my argument:

    2006: 214.1 innings, 3.20 ERA, 1.44 WHIP
    2007: 215.1 innings, 4.05 ERA, 1.43 WHIP
    2008: 204 innings, 4.54 ERA, 1.41 WHIP
    2009: 14.1 innings 2.51 ERA, 0.77 WHIP

    Which WHIP seems out of place?

    2006: 218 innings, 3.63 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
    2007: 199.1 innings, 3.70 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
    2008: 95 innings, 4.07 ERA, 1.32 WHIP
    2009: 4.2 innings, 28.93 ERA, 4.50 WHIP

    Which WHIP seems out of place?

    Conclusion: The over / under on Pettitte's 2009 WHIP should be about 1.43. Wang's over / under for his 2009 WHIP should be about 1.31. You think it is a bit misleading to only show WHIP, ERA, and innings pitched? Fine. How about this: Wang is 29 and hasn't been linked to steroids and Pettitte is going to turn 38 soon and has been linked to steroids. You think this is ageist, and that I should get over my ageism by watching this link? Ok. You have me there.

  • Here is how Y! saw it before the season started: Wang is ranked 63rd and Pettitte is ranked 71st.

  • Bill James projects a 1.35 WHIP for both Pettitte and Wanger.

  • Of course the day I post this, Wang gives up 8 runs in 1.1 innings in what will probably end up being a 22-4 loss to the Indians (there are two outs in the ninth), raising his ERA to 34.50. Now I'm beginning to wonder if he is hiding an injury.

  • Yes, that is Joba wearing the checkered sweater in the background in the picture above.

  • "To reach his career E.R.A. coming into the season (3.79), Wang would have to roll off 48 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings."

  • Wang is able to correct his flaw in practice, just not in the game.
  • Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Q: Should I trade Alexei Ramirez for JJ Hardy & Rich Harden?

    I'm lacking a little bit of context here (is this a daily league? Do you have DL slots? Roto or H2H?), but I'll give a stab at answering Anonymous' question anyway: I wouldn't trade Alexei for JJ & Rich.

    Why? Well, blame Rich Harden. My own personal over/under on how many starts he makes this year is 11, and I'd take the under. But remember, I'm the same guy who drafted Harden for both his 2006 (9 starts) and 2007 (4 starts) seasons, but not his 2008 (26 starts) season. I'm also the guy who wrote stuff about Alexei and then drafted him in his own draft. So you can certainly take my advice, but remember that I'm pretty biased here.

    As for stats, I wouldn't read much into their stats so far this year:
    Alexei: 0-3 (1 game)
    Hardy: 0-5 (1 game)
    Harden: Yet to pitch in regular season, but did give up three HR in each of his last two spring training starts.

    I admit that I'd be tempted because of the Hardy/Harden thing. I'd be especially tempted if your team already has both Uptons on it. Then again, if you have both Manny and Alexei Ramirez I'd be less tempted. On a more serious note, Hardy will get some nice stats at the end of the year, but he seems to get most of them in the same week, so I'd personally avoid him if you are in a H2H league.

    I'm all over the place. Bottom line? Stick with Sexy Alexei. Harden is a great player when healthy (top ten SP? top five? He's captain of the all-value-per-appearance team), but you'd be taking a big gamble by trading for him. Arguably (and according to ADP, which is meaningless now that the season has started, but still), Alexei is the best player in the deal, and you rarely want to be on the side of the deal that is giving up the best player.

    Good luck, Anon!

  • 4/19/09 Update: Don't give up on Alexei Ramirez yet!
  • Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts

    So I was listening to Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz's ESPN: Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast the other day, and I heard Matthew tell Nate that he (Matthew) is signed up to receive google alerts when his name is mentioned on the web. So, I thought I'd conduct an experiment:

    Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts. Talented Mr. Roto Matthew Berry Has Google Alerts.

    Hi, TMR. This is kind of funny, right Matthew? That I got your attention in this way? Maybe you're right, maybe it isn't funny.

    Anyway, now that I have your attention, I though I'd tell you a quick story: I'm currently co-managing a fantasy baseball team with my wife. She is fairly knowledgeable about baseball, but she'd always scoffed at fantasy sports, so I was amazed that she agreed to team up with me. It wasn't until last night, when she said she'd refuse to let me pick up Emilio Bonifacio until I agreed that we'd buy a dog, that I understood why she had agreed so readily manage with me.

    I initially said no to the dog (we live in a small apartment), but a few hours later (right after Bonifacio stole his third base) I broke down. I had to have Bonifacio. So I made a deal with my wife that we could have a dog as long as Bonifacio was on our roster.

    My wife left our apartment and returned thirty minutes later with a full-grown golden retriever mix.

    “Should we name him Bonifacio?” I asked.

    “Nah. Golden Mucho is his name,” my wife said.

    The plan was for Golden Mucho to sleep on the linoleum in the kitchen, but after we’d gone bed, he opened our bedroom door and joined us in our bed.

    “Did he just open our bedroom door?” I asked.

    “Maybe it was open a crack already.”

    “Shouldn’t we kick him out?”

    “Let him stay.”

    I was too tired to argue.

    In the middle of the night, I woke up and went to use the bathroom. When I opened the door to the bathroom, I found Golden Mucho squatting over the toilet bowl and using it for its intended purpose. When he was done, Golden Mucho used his nose to flush the toilet, and then he bounded out of the bathroom, past my legs, and into our bed.

    This morning, as I ate breakfast and started to get ready for work, the stereo began to play at an acceptably loud level. I don't know what it is with this dog, but he's really good with knobs and levers. How cool is that? There is no way I'm dropping Bonifacio now. He can bat .217 for all I care. We're keeping Golden Mucho.

    Okay, Matthew. Thanks for listening. As you were.

    Related Reading(s):

  • Matthew and Razzball have some polite back-and-forth.
  • Sunday, April 5, 2009

    Livan Hernandez might surprise Met fans

    Rather than define what an eephus pitch is, it is easier just to show you what it looks like.

    Not many dudes throw the eephus pitch. Here are some guys who threw it back in the day (click on name to see video or info on pitch): Rip Sewell (founder), Pascual Perez, Steve Hamilton, Phil Niekro, Orlando Hernandez, Dave LaRoche, Bill Lee, Dave Stieb, Kazuhito Tadano, and Bob Tewksbury.

    Here are some dudes who are currently in the majors who have been rumored to throw an eephus pitch from time to time: Mark Buehrle, Casey Fossum, Liván Hernández, Randy Johnson, Armando Galarraga, and Tim Wakefield.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is sure, Livan Hernandez is the pitcher who originally ranked dead last among those projected to throw at least 100 innings, but at least Met fans can look forward to his eephus pitch potential.