Archive for February 28, 2009

Quick Hit: Cliff Lee

by Jimmy Hascup

It’s amazing what a career-year could do for a player and his perception to fantasy owners, right?  Less than two years ago, Cliff Lee was sent to the minor leagues due to a disastrous season where he sported an 11.70 ERA over his last four starts before the demotion (and finished the season relieving- with a 6.29 ERA and a 5-8 record overall). Does anybody even remember that?  I’m not sure what the Indians AAA affiliate (then the Buffalo Bisons and now the Columbus Clippers) was serving Lee up in New York, but whatever it was he liked it.  All jokes aside, Cliff Lee was very, very good last year.  Let his stats tell the story:

22 Wins
223.1 Innings
2.54 ERA
1.11 WHIP
170 Strikeouts (6.85 K/9)
34 Walks (1.37 BB/9)
.305 BABIP

While I’m sure Lee is a nice guy and all and I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but let’s be serious here: there is no way he repeats last season’s production in 2009.  I don’t even see him fitting into the top twenty 2009 SP Rankings this year.  Heck, he doesn’t even belong in the sixth round (where he was drafted in the Mock Draft #2) – and before guys like Beckett, Shields, Liriano, and Billingsley?  Puhhhleasse!  Lee will be a very solid pitcher for fantasy owners this year, but don’t expect him to be one who could carry your team.  If you’re counting on him to be your ace, Cliff Lee has bust written all over him. Read more

Will Michael Young Hold Value in 2009?

There was a time that Michael Young was one of the top SS in all of baseball, but he enters 2009 as the Rangers 3B.  That certainly is going to bring a major hit to his fantasy value moving forward, but since he will maintain eligibility at SS for one more season he should hold some value.  Exactly how much is a completely different story.

Let’s take a look at what he produced last season:

645 At Bats
.284 Batting Average (183 Hits)
12 Home Runs
82 RBI
102 Runs
10 Stolen Bases
.339 On Base Percentage
.402 Slugging Percentage
.326 Batting Average on Balls in Play

As a SS, those are useful numbers (as a 3B they’d be pathetic, but that’s an article for 2010), though far from elite levels.  He doesn’t bring tremendous power.  He doesn’t bring tremendous speed.  Heck, he doesn’t even bring a tremendous average anymore.

Last season marked the first time since 2002 that he failed to eclipse the .300 mark.  While his BABIP was lower then it had been in years past, it is far from a substandard mark.  His strikeout rate was similar to his ’07 mark, at 16.9% (he was at 16.7% in ’07).  He also walked at a similar rate, at 7.9% (he was at 6.9% in ’07). Read more

Fantasy Baseball Bounceback Players – Outfielders

by Ryan Lester of Lester’s Legends

Here’s a look at Outfielders who should bounce back from subpar 2008 seasons.

Carl Crawford – Despite Tampa Bay’s success last year, Crawford didn’t perform at his typical level.  Crawford was limited to 109 games, which can explain the 69 Runs, 121 Hits, 12 Doubles, 8 HRs, 57 RBI, and 25 SBs.  His .273 average was off his .293 career mark, but that can be expected from someone dealing with injuries.  I fully expect him to return to form and hit in the low .300s with 90+ Runs, 180+ Hits, 28+ Doubles, 15+ HRs, 75+ RBI, and 40+ SBs.  One interesting note is despite his struggles, he did still hit 10 Triples last year.  I expect that number to jump to 15+ in ‘09.

Vernon Wells – Wells had a solid season batting .300 with 20 HRs and 78 RBI.  He was actually better in 108 games in 2008 than he was in 149 games in 2007.  He worked with a trainer to get in better shape.  Unfortunately he hurt his hamstring.  As long as it doesn’t bother him all year, he should be solid.  I’m putting him on a .280, 85 R, 160 H, 32 2Bs, 25HRs, 90 RBI, and 12 SBs season. Read more

Ask the Expert: Cincinnati Reds

We return with the latest Ask the Expert, this time with John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (to read his blog, click here).  He gave us some insight into the team’s plans for their young starters, their line-up, what to expect from Jay Bruce and so much more.  Let’s take a look at what he had to say:

1) There are always fears about pushing young pitchers too hard and risking injury.  After bursting onto the scene in ’08, can we expect any limitations put on Edinson Volquez or Johnny Cueto this season?  What type of production do you expect from them?

John Fay: Neither Cueto nor Volquez pitched very much in Winter Ball. I think you’ll see them approach 200 innings, if healthy. My guess is Volquez takes a slight step back. You can’t expect him to go 17-6 again. I think Cueto will be better, if he matures. His emotions cost him at times last year.

2) After years of having Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn filling the middle of the Reds line-up, have you heard anything about how the team may construct their 2009 line-up?  Where are players like Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Phillips expected to slot in?

John Fay: The lineup will be Taveras, the left fielder, Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Encarnacion, Gonzalez and Hernandez to start. My guess is Dickerson and Jerry Hairston Jr. will share left. Read more

Fox Sports/Bleacher Report Mock Draft Results

Last night I participated in a Mock Draft which featured writers from foxsports.com and bloggers/writers from Bleacher Report.  It was an honor to be invited and had a great time.  The league was set up as your basic 5×5 and I had the 12th pick.  Normally, I hate that spot, but some how I managed to snag both Ryan Braun and Jimmy Rollins with my first two picks.

That was certainly a great (and surprising) start.  How’d the rest of the draft go?  Let’s take a look:

C – Mike Napoli (11)
C – Kelly Shoppach (17)
1B – Justin Morneau (3)
2B – Orlando Hudson (23)
SS – Jimmy Rollins (2)
3B – Garrett Atkins (7)
CI – Prince Fielder (4)
MI – Jhonny Peralta (10)
OF – Ryan Braun (1)
OF – Shane Victorino (5)
OF – Corey Hart (6)
OF – Hunter Pence (8)
OF – Andre Ethier (13)
U – Billy Butler (20) Read more

A Sleeper for Every Team: Milwaukee Brewers

Angel Salome – Catcher – Prospect/Deep Sleeper
The Brewers have Jason Kendall as their starting catcher, meaning that any offensive production a minor league catcher can bring to the table will give him an inside track.  In 516 AB, Kendall hit .246 with 2 HR, with the team even toying the concept of hitting the pitcher eighth and him ninth.

Meanwhile, Salome raked in Double A, hitting .360 with 13 HR, 83 RBI and 67 R.  The average came courtesy of a BABIP of .401, so we all obviously know it is going to drop.  He did show a solid eye, however, striking out just 15.5% of the time, while walking 8.3% of the time.  Yes, the average is going to fall significantly, but with that type of ratio and his career .322 minor league average, he has proven that he can hit.

His biggest detriment may be his defense, much like another Brewers top prospect, Mat Gamel.  Baseball America recently said, “Salome often gets his footwork messed up behind the plate, resulting in inaccurate throws and stolen bases. He threw out 26 percent of basestealers while allowing 90 swipes in 78 games last year. He still needs to work on his game-calling.” 

In a line-up that features Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Corey Hart, the team may be willing to trade offense for defense, especially from their catcher.  With a young pitching staff, they will need someone who can handle the load and get them through the tough times.

Still, what happens when the team is struggling to score runs?  Will they continue to be able to stomach AB from a player who has hit a total of 18 HR since the start of the 2002 season?  How about the fact that he has hit under .250 each of the past two years?

Salome has his problems, but if things get tough, the good should outweigh the bad.  He’s worth keeping an eye on. Read more