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The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Feed, this feed aggregates the work of the top fantasy baseball bloggers and columnists available via RSS.



Updated: 2017-03-29T17:20:00+00:00

 



Fantasy Baseball: Don’t Overlook These Future Second Basemen

2017-03-29T17:20:00+00:00

Second base lacks the depth of talent available at the other positions in fantasy baseball this season. Don’t overlook these players who will quickly gain 2B-eligibility. We have all been there. You load up on the best-available players in the first 12-15 rounds and then one-by-one, watch the players left in your queue disappear. After […]

Fantasy Baseball: Don’t Overlook These Future Second Basemen - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Second base lacks the depth of talent available at the other positions in fantasy baseball this season. Don’t overlook these players who will quickly gain 2B-eligibility. We have all been there. You load up on the best-available players in the first 12-15 rounds and then one-by-one, watch the players left in your queue disappear. After […]

Fantasy Baseball: Don’t Overlook These Future Second Basemen - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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The possible red flag for Freddie Freeman

2017-03-29T17:00:00+00:00

The Braves first baseman has a problem... that is, unless he doesn’t. No team in baseball has changed more over the past four years than the Braves. In 2013, Atlanta went 96-66 and won the NL East. By 2015, the team had plummeted to 67-95, its worst finish in 25 years. Now heading into the 2017 season, the Braves should take a step toward respectability on the diamond — FanGraphs projects 73 wins, Baseball Prospectus 76. Plus, the club’s put together the best farm system in baseball, according to BP’s Jeffrey Paternostro, ESPN’s Keith Law, and Baseball America’s John Manuel. Through the ATL’s highs and lows, one player has remained steady: Freddie Freeman. The first baseman broke out in 2013 with a 150 wRC+ and 5.0 fWAR. From then until now, he’s been the National League’s third-best hitter (144 wRC+) and sixth-most valuable position player (18.6 fWAR). In particular, 2016 went rather well for him: He rode a late-season hot streak to a 152 wRC+ and 6.1 fWAR. The latter was the third-highest mark in the Senior Circuit and the best of his career. But last year’s success obscured a possibly disturbing trend. Even though he excelled with the bat, Freeman got a lot worse in one area. Whether that’ll affect his production in 2017 and beyond, we’ll have to see. Looking at Freeman’s 2016 offensive statistics, we’ll notice two things that changed from years prior: He hit for a lot more power (career-best .267 ISO), and went down on strikes a lot more often (career-worst 24.7 percent strikeout rate). Like so many hitters before him, Freeman adopted the swing-for-the-fences approach last year, which meant he had quite a few misses: Image via FanGraphs A high whiff rate in and of itself isn’t a death sentence. NL MVP Kris Bryant (149 wRC+) swung-and-missed at 13.0 percent of the pitches he saw for the Cubs. Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez (142 wRC+) matched Freeman’s 14.1 percent swinging-strike rate. So long as you make contact where it counts — i.e., you hit the pitches you want to hit — you can overcome a glut of whiffs. That’s where things get tricky, though. Freeman didn’t start swinging-and-missing at pitches outside the strike zone — he became much less effective on pitches inside the zone: From 2011 to 2015, Freeman whiffed at 11.4 percent of out-of-zone pitches, and 12.3 percent of in-zone pitches. Come 2016, the former increased to 12.0 percent — while the latter spiked to 17.5 percent. How bad is that? Freeman’s zone whiff rate ranked third in the majors, putting him with a group of four other hitters: Data via FanGraphs Shown are the 146 qualified hitters in 2016.Freeman is one of the five dots in that isolated cluster to the right. If you prefer something a little more numeric, try this on for size: Those names are… not encouraging. Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 5 are a combination of has-beens and never-really-weres — guys who just didn’t have enough power to make up for all the Ks. The highest wRC+ of the group belonged to Freeman, obviously; after him, it was Davis at 123, then Carter at 112, Dickerson at 101, and Upton at 84. The reason why this seems like a bad thing is pretty obvious. Last year, when hitters put a pitch outside the strike zone into play, it had an average exit velocity of 83.7 mph; that’s the same figure Ben Revere had overall. Pitches inside the strike zone? Those had an exit velocity of 91.6 mph — in line with Evan Longoria. If a batter misses when he swings in the strike zone, the thinking goes, more of his balls in play will be outside the zone, and the weak contact will sink him. But this hypothesis may not hold water. Freeman didn’t just get lucky in 2016 — he hit the snot out of the ball. Of those 146 qualified hitters, only David Ortiz had a higher hard contact rate than Freeman’s 43.5 percent. And his performance wasn’t exactly a fluke. Since 2008 (when complete PITC[...]



Pirates Release Jared Hughes

2017-03-29T16:52:00+00:00

The Pirates have requested release waivers on righty Jared Hughes, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Pittsburgh had previously agreed to a $2.825MM arbitration with Hughes and will remain responsible for at least a portion (roughly one-sixth) of that amount, unless another team places a claim. Hughes, 31, has turned in stellar…

The Pirates have requested release waivers on righty Jared Hughes, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Pittsburgh had previously agreed to a $2.825MM arbitration with Hughes and will remain responsible for at least a portion (roughly one-sixth) of that amount, unless another team places a claim.

Hughes, 31, has turned in stellar results over the past three seasons, working to a 2.41 ERA over 190 2/3 frames. Though he has recorded only 5.0 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in that span, he has continued to draw grounders on about three of every five balls put in play against him.

Though Hughes largely continued to perform last year, which he ended with a 3.03 ERA, there were some signs of trouble. His groundball rate fell to 57.9% after sitting at over sixty percent in the preceding two years, and he allowed a career-high 0.91 homers per nine. Though he worked at a career-high 93.0 mph average fastball velocity, Hughes also allowed more hard contact (30.1%) and drew less swinging strikes (9.6%) than ever before.

Still, it wasn’t surprising to see Pittsburgh agree to terms rather than non-tendering the veteran reliever. The concerns blossomed this spring, though. Over 9 1/3 innings, Hughes was knocked around for a dozen earned runs on 16 hits while recording just five strikeouts against four walks.

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Jeurys Familia Receives 15-Game Suspension

2017-03-29T16:36:00+00:00

Mets reliever Jeurys Familia will receive a 15-game suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy, as Billy Witz of the New York Times first reported (links to Twitter). Familia has agreed to accept those terms, per the league’s announcement. The decision comes after months of speculation. Familia was arrested last fall on charges of assaulting his wife,…

Mets reliever Jeurys Familia will receive a 15-game suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy, as Billy Witz of the New York Times first reported (links to Twitter). Familia has agreed to accept those terms, per the league’s announcement.

The decision comes after months of speculation. Familia was arrested last fall on charges of assaulting his wife, but the charges were dropped upon his wife’s request. That did not preclude action under the domestic violence policy, however, which oes not require arrest, charges, or a conviction for the commissioner to impose a suspension.

In addition to the lost time, Familia has agreed to make a charitable donation and speak with league rookies. He already completed a dozen counseling sessions over the offseason. The suspension will cost Familia at least $730K, per Witz, based upon his $7.425MM arbitration salary.

Familia’s 15-game suspension is half that received last year by Aroldis Chapman after his charges were dismissed. In this case, commissioner Rob Manfred found that the evidence “does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm.” While “inappropriate” action was still found, evidently it did not rise to the level present in Chapman’s case (in which he brandished a firearm). Manfred’s statement also stresses Familia’s actions in the wake of the incident, noting that he “received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.”

In his own statement, Familia emphasized that he “never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife” on the night in question. But he also acknowledged that he acted in an “unacceptable manner” and took full responsibility. “I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening,” he stated, adding that he has “taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again.”

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My 2017 Ottoneu Portfolio

2017-03-29T16:15:00+00:00

As I did last year, I went through the rosters of all eleven ottoneu teams I’ve drafted to see which players most frequently found their way onto my roster. These aren’t always the the best or most exciting names, but they are the ones I felt had more value than acquisition cost. Pedro Alvarez (Owned […]As I did last year, I went through the rosters of all eleven ottoneu teams I’ve drafted to see which players most frequently found their way onto my roster. These aren’t always the the best or most exciting names, but they are the ones I felt had more value than acquisition cost. Pedro Alvarez (Owned on 10 teams, $4 average salary) Right off the bat while compiling this info I realized I didn’t do a great job of diversifying my portfolio this year, as my top owned players in 2016 were in seven out of ten leagues, and we start off with a player I ended up owning in ten out of eleven leagues. Alvarez is a tricky case for me, as his per PA and per game projections are strong, and his 3B (and possible OF) eligibility are better than when he was 1B-only, but he might be stuck in AAA most of the season and even if he is on the Orioles roster he may be little more than an occasional platoon bat. There is an opportunity cost to devoting a roster spot to Alvarez, and I wish I didn’t own so many shares, but for $4 I think there is a chance to earn $5 in profit. Cal Quantrill (10 teams, $3 average salary) Shiny new toy syndrome is alive and well in the game of ottoneu, and can lead to some hot prospects going for $10+, even when they are a year or two away. I like owning assets that have market value and the potential for future surplus, but only if the cost is reasonable. I also like to target cheaper prospects that I believe will jump up the prospect rankings mid-season and the following off season, and Quantrill checks those boxes for me. The eighth overall selection of the Padres in the ’16 draft, Quantrill is already appearing in the top 25 on some prospect lists (including FanGraphs’ own from Eric Longenhagen), and I think he could also be on a fast track to the Padres rotation by late this season or early ’18. Jaime Garcia (eight teams, $4 average salary) Garcia is a repeat from last year, despite having a poor 2016. So why do I still find myself owning him in so many leagues? Mostly because he’s a boring name in a sea of sexier starting pitchers, and like Jeff Zimmerman I don’t mind owning an underappreciated veteran. Shawn Kelley (eight teams, $6 average salary) As of the time I’m writing this Dusty Baker has still not announced who the Nationals closer will be, but there is strong speculation that it won’t be Kelley. I believe Kelley is clearly the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen, so I think even if he starts the year setting up for Koda Glover or Blake Treinen he could end up with a dozen or so saves. Kelley has quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past two seasons, as he’s compiled a 2.55 ERA/ 2.78 FIP/ 2.86 xFIP. Tyler Skaggs (seven teams, $7 average salary) Skaggs first appeared in the majors back in 2012 with the Diamondbacks, but has thrown only 230 innings in his MLB career. Once a top 15 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, Skaggs has struggled with injuries the past few seasons including Tommy John surgery in 2014. The projections, and myself for the most par, believe Skaggs can be a valuable pitcher this year, and the $7 price tag is cheap enough for me to speculate. Michael Pineda (six teams, $13 average salary) Pineda, along with pitchers like Robbie Ray, serve as a test case for peripherals (like xFIP) versus results (like ERA/FIP). If you believe in the results (4.60 ERA/ 3.58 FIP over the past two seasons), Pineda is not worth counting on as part of your rotation. If you believe in the peripherals (3.14 xFIP over the past two seasons, eight best among[...]



Quick Hit: Could Christian Vazquez Make A Fantasy Impact In 2017?

2017-03-29T16:00:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) The assumption was that Sandy Leon would be the starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox and Blake Swihart owns the biggest name (despite his struggles and recent demotion).  However, could Christian Vazquez actually prove to be the starterby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) The assumption was that Sandy Leon would be the starting catcher for the Boston Red Sox and Blake Swihart owns the biggest name (despite his struggles and recent demotion).  However, could Christian Vazquez actually prove to be the starter and a fantasy asset? He is the superior defensive catcher, though it was fair to doubt that he’d get back to that level after losing a year due to Tommy John surgery.  That doesn’t appear to be an issue any more as manager John Farrell was recently quoted by Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (click here for the article) as saying: “You’re always hopeful that the second year off of Tommy John, there’s going to be the less arm-strength swings or the peaks and valleys. That’s been on display. His arm strength is close to where it was pre-surgery. His footwork has been very quick from the first day of camp. He’s come into camp in great shape. He’s doing the things he’s capable of defensively, for sure.” It’s often that defense can get a player into the lineup, but that doesn’t make him a fantasy option.  It’s if he can take advantage of the opportunity and prove he can produce with the bat as well that’s important.  Through Sunday, a .233 average with 1 HR over 30 AB doesn’t quite show that type of upside, does it? A career .266 hitter in the minor leagues, he’s also never shown the ability to hit for much power (40 HR over 2,193 PA).  It’s not like he’s shown any type of potential at the upper levels of the minors either: Double-A (481 PA) – .275/.360/.371 Triple-A (445 PA) – .273/.339/.376 While he has shown that he can make consistent contact in the Majors (6.7% SwStr%), is that really enough?  He consistently drives the ball into the ground, both at the upper levels of the minors (1.42 GO/AO at Double-A, 1.73 at Triple-A) and in the Majors (2.06 GO/AO), making it impossible to hit for much power.  Even without power he’d be passable, assuming he can hit .280+, but he’s simply not good enough of a hitter to reach that type of level. A .260 catcher, at best, with no power and no speed?  Simply put, no thank you.  Vazquez winning the starting job is good news for the Boston pitching staff, but from a fantasy perspective it takes away a potential option (Sandy Leon) at an already shallow position. Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference *** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!!   Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! *** Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings: PositionStandard LeagueOBP League Catcher03/20/1702/28/17 First Base01/16/1703/07/17 Second Base03/22/1703/09/17 Third Base02/06/1703/12/17 Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17 Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17 #21-40 |03/16/1703/19/17 Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17 #21-40 |03/02/17-- Relief Pitcher01/02/17-- [...]



AL East Notes: Yankees, Duffy, Sucre, Rutledge, Smith, Price

2017-03-29T14:55:00+00:00

The rotation picture is slowly coming into focus for the Yankees, who still haven’t made clear who’ll round out their staff. As George A. King III of the New York Post reports, though, the organization has decided that Adam Warren will open the year in the bullpen while Luis Cessa will start out in the minors.…The rotation picture is slowly coming into focus for the Yankees, who still haven’t made clear who’ll round out their staff. As George A. King III of the New York Post reports, though, the organization has decided that Adam Warren will open the year in the bullpen while Luis Cessa will start out in the minors. That leaves four remaining possibilities for the final two rotation jobs: Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green, and Jordan Montgomery. While Montgomery has produced intriguing numbers in the upper minors last year as well as during camp this spring, he’s considered a “long shot,” per the report. Here’s more news out of the AL East: There’s some positive news for Rays shortstop Matt Duffy, who received a clean MRI on his still-ailing heel, Topkin tweets. But there’s still no timeline for his return with camp about to break. Given the delayed healing thus far, it seems likely the club will exercise plenty of caution. Meanwhile, the Rays have informed catcher Jesus Sucre that he’ll be on the active roster, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. He’ll function as the backup to the just-acquired Derek Norris, with Luke Maile and Curt Casali heading to Triple-A for depth. While the focus has been on the pitching staff, it appears the Red Sox will be dealing with a few tough roster questions on the position-player side to open the year. Infielder Josh Rutledge is likely to start the year on the DL with a hamstring issue, skipper John Farrell told reporters including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal (Twitter links). What’s of added intrigue here is the fact that first baseman Mitch Moreland has been sent home with the flu, while Hanley Ramirez appears likely to be limited to DH duties. It seemed Rutledge had been slated to back up Moreland at the position; now, the club may be forced to press someone else into duty — Marco Hernandez and Steve Selsky were suggested as possibilities to take Rutledge’s roster spot — at least in a reserve function. Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is likely only a short-term issue. As for the Red Sox’ pitching, there are a few minor updates worth noting. Righty Carson Smith is backing down a bit on his Tommy John rehab after experiencing tightness following his first pen session, Britton reports. It’s considered more a typical part of the process than any kind of setback. Starter David Price, meanwhile, is continuing a long-toss program (two days on, one day off) for the time being, Britton tweets. It’s not clear just when or how the team will decide to ramp things up for the lefty. [...]



Orioles Release Michael Bourn, Release & Re-Sign Chris Johnson

2017-03-29T14:29:00+00:00

TODAY: Johnson has re-signed on a minors deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. As Kubatko and others have noted on Twitter, Bourn seems likely to follow suit; neither player’s locker was cleared out despite their respective releases. MONDAY: The Orioles have announced the releases of outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Chris Johnson. In Bourn’s case, he utilized…TODAY: Johnson has re-signed on a minors deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. As Kubatko and others have noted on Twitter, Bourn seems likely to follow suit; neither player’s locker was cleared out despite their respective releases. MONDAY: The Orioles have announced the releases of outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Chris Johnson. In Bourn’s case, he utilized his opt-out clause, with the team evidently unwilling to place him on the 40-man roster. Of course, Bourn has missed most of spring camp with a broken finger, which sapped any chance at making the Opening Day roster. But it had seemed there was a chance he’d remain in the organization while rehabbing to see whether there’d be an opportunity when he returned to full health. That said, the fit in Baltimore was never that great — at least from an outside perspective. In Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith, the O’s already have a pair of lefty bats that ought to occupy the corners whenever there’s a righty on the mound. And while Bourn could have spelled Adam Jones in center, that wasn’t exactly a burning need. The righty-swinging Craig Gentry could fill that role while also providing a more sensible platoon option in the corners. It still won’t come as much of a surprise if Bourn resurfaces in the majors before long. Whether he’ll wait to sign until he’s ready to return isn’t clear, but in either event he could represent an intriguing depth option for a variety of organizations. After all, though his bat has steadily declined of late, he finished strong last year with the O’s and is still capable of contributing in the field and with the glove. As for Johnson, a solid spring (.269/.310/.493) wasn’t enough to move the needle for the O’s, who seem likely to prioritize flexibility and defense with their bench mix. The 32-year-old had been a rather productive major league hitter before signing an extension with the Braves early in the 2014 season. Over the past three campaigns, he has scuffled to a .252/.288/.348 batting line in 1,068 plate appearances.[...]



Trade Retrospective: The New York Yankees trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates

2017-03-29T13:00:00+00:00

The Yankees were so tired of Burnett’s disappointing performance that they traded him for salary relief and lottery tickets. For the second straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. In February 2012, tiring of his lack of performance, the Yankees traded A.J. Burnett to the Pirates. They were clearly desperate to unload him, because all they received in exchange was salary relief — which the Yankees of all teams don’t need — and Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones, neither of whom were considered to be serious prospects. They even sent $13 million to help cover the rest of the contract. In this trade retrospective series, trades will still be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. The Deal The Yankees first signed A.J. Burnett in December 2008 as part of an offseason spending spree the likes of which the game had never seen. In a single month, the Bombers spent a combined $423.5 million on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett, who penned a five-year deal worth $82.5 million. Burnett was coming off a solid three-year run on the Blue Jays, over which he had a 4.30 RA9 (which was better in the mid-2000s than it would be today). He was the rare combination of pitcher who was adept at striking hitters out and at keeping the ball on the ground. Even though he was going into his age-32 season, a contract with $16.5 million AAV was manageable for a rich, contending team like the Yankees. I would be remiss if I did not bring up the fact that Burnett’s DRA liked him a lot more than his run average during his time in Toronto, so much more so that his WARP (13.3) is about twice his bWAR (6.7) over that three-year period. The biggest factor in this gap is how hitter-friendly the Rogers Centre played in 2007 and 2008. DRA uses in-season park factors for its calculations, which one can argue skew the results too much based on one year of results. In contrast, Baseball Reference uses three-year park factors. The contract certainly worked out for the Yankees in 2009. Burnett had his best season ever by bWAR, though his strikeout and walk rates worsened as opposed to his previous two seasons. Unfortunately, Burnett was terrible in the postseason, giving up 16 runs over his five starts. It didn’t matter in the moment, because the Yankees won their 3,524th World Series. But as it turned out, Burnett’s postseason performance was a harbinger of things to come. Burnett’s performance fell off a cliff over the subsequent two seasons. He had a 5.56 RA9 and was a replacement-level player by Baseball Reference’s WAR. Obviously, that is really bad for a pitcher making $16.5 million per year. He did have 2.1 WARP in 2011, but again, DRA gave him an enormous amount of credit for pitching at Yankees Stadium. Clearly Burnett was no longer suitable for the rotation, and the Yankees did not want to pay him that much money to be a reliever. Put another way, the team didn’t even think that Burnett was worth the roster spot anymore. The Pirates were not going to contend in 2012, but 2013 looked promising. Even if that were not the case, the Yankees were offering Burnett for so little in exchange that no rebuilding team should have said no. Pittsburgh took Burnett — who had been outstanding as recently as 2009 — on a two-year, $20 million contract in exchange for two insignificant prospects. It is exactly the kind of deal that a small-market team like the Pirates needed to be making. The deal looked good for Burnett too. He would be going to a more pitcher-friendly ballpark, and[...]



Nationals Release Vance Worley

2017-03-29T12:56:00+00:00

The Nationals have announced the release of veteran righty Vance Worley. With several other pitchers re-assigned to minor-league camp, fellow righty Jeremy Guthrie is left as the only non-roster hurler in MLB camp, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post notes (Twitter links). Clearly, Worley won’t make the club as a long man, though perhaps he…The Nationals have announced the release of veteran righty Vance Worley. With several other pitchers re-assigned to minor-league camp, fellow righty Jeremy Guthrie is left as the only non-roster hurler in MLB camp, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post notes (Twitter links). Clearly, Worley won’t make the club as a long man, though perhaps he could still be re-signed to serve as depth. Also missing on the Opening Day roster are veteran minor-league signees Jacob Turner and Neal Cotts, while young 40-man righties Trevor Gott and A.J. Cole have officially been optioned to Triple-A. That seemingly leaves Guthrie as the team’s long reliever of choice — if, that is, the Nats decide to carry one. Alternatives include carrying a third lefty (the out-of-options Enny Romero) or an additional bench player (Wilmer Difo or Michael Taylor). Worley, who’s still just 29, received a long look this spring, throwing 15 frames for the Nationals. But he allowed nine earned runs on 16 hits while recording as many walks as strikeouts (six apiece). Though Worley got results last year, compiling a 3.53 ERA over 86 2/3 frames in a swingman capacity for the Orioles, he’ll have to return to the open market in search of a better opportunity. As for Guthrie, who didn’t pitch last season, reports of a resurgence were borne out in his spring stat line. Over 18 2/3 innings, he allowed just five earned runs on a meager ten hits while racking up 15 punchouts to go with five walks. Whether or not he can carry that success into the regular season in his age-38 campaign remains to be seen, but it could be interesting to see how the longtime starter fares in a relief role.[...]



Offseason In Review: Miami Marlins

2017-03-29T12:31:00+00:00

This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s Offseason In Review series. The full index of Offseason In Review posts can be found here. Faced with the daunting prospect of making up for the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins focused on bolstering their pitching staff in hopes of staging an elusive run at the…This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s Offseason In Review series. The full index of Offseason In Review posts can be found here. Faced with the daunting prospect of making up for the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins focused on bolstering their pitching staff in hopes of staging an elusive run at the postseason. Major League Signings Edinson Volquez, SP: two years, $22MM Brad Ziegler, RP: two years, $16MM Junichi Tazawa, RP: two years, $12MM Jeff Locke, SP: one year, $3MM A.J. Ellis, C: one year, $2.5MM Dustin McGowan, RP: one year, $1.75MM Total spend: $57.25MM. Trades And Claims Acquired SP Dan Straily from Reds for SP Luis Castillo, SP/RP Austin Brice, OF Isaiah White Acquired RP Severino Gonzalez from Phillies for PTBNL/cash Claimed RP Elvis Araujo from Phillies (later released to pursue opportunity in Japan) Options Exercised Ichiro Suzuki, OF: $2MM (added $2MM club option for 2018) Notable Minor League Signings Brandon Barnes, Ramon Cabrera, Scott Copeland, Brandon Cunniff, Matt den Dekker, Stephen Fife, Javy Guerra, Ryan Jackson, Kyle Lobstein, Steve Lombardozzi, David Lough, Nick Maronde, Kelvin Marte, Tyler Moore, Caleb Thielbar Extensions Martin Prado, 3B: three years, $40MM (reported late in 2016 season) Notable Losses Andrew Cashner, Chris Johnson, Mike Dunn, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Jeff Mathis, Fernando Rodney Marlins Roster; Marlins Payroll Information Needs Addressed The Marlins pushed to contend in 2016, but as the campaign drew to a close, it seemed destined to be defined by on-field disappointment. Then came the unthinkable, late-season death of Fernandez at just 24 years of age. His loss continues to tell in myriad ways. A move back toward stability, though, came not long after Fernandez’s passing, when the club reached agreement on a deal to keep third baseman Martin Prado off of the upcoming open market. It was hardly a bargain rate for the sturdy (if unspectacular) performer, but Miami clearly prioritized his steadying presence at third and in the clubhouse. Prado is entering his age-33 season, but is a well-balanced player who has compiled consecutive 3+ WAR campaigns. The Prado deal kicked off the winter a little early, and signaled clearly that the Marlins were intent upon continuing to add to their controllable core. But it also represented the organization’s only significant move on the position-player side of the equation. Otherwise, the club brought back Ichiro Suzuki after his surprisingly productive season (or was it, really?) at 42 years of age. And a largely parallel change was made in the catching corps, with veteran A.J. Ellis stepping in for the departing Jeff Mathis. From that point forward, it was all about arms. Mid-season trade acquisitions Andrew Cashner and Fernando Rodney were allowed to leave after disappointing tenures, and key setup lefty Mike Dunn found big money with the Rockies. In the aggregate, there were multiple openings in both the rotation and the bullpen. Miami directed fairly significant investments to both sides of the pitching staff. The 2017 rotation will feature at least two new members. Edinson Volquez, 33, landed a two-year deal off of the free-agent market, while Dan Straily brings four years of control — the first at the league minimum — with him from the Reds. (When Colin Rea was shipped back to the Padres after coming down with an injury last summer, the Marlins lost the controllable arm they wan[...]



2017 AL-Only Tout Wars Recap

2017-03-29T12:15:00+00:00

This past weekend, a collection of fantasy baseball veteran nerds gathered in New York City for our annual Tout Wars auction and after-party fun. It’s always one of the best weekends of the year, and this year I got to hang out with fellow RotoGraphers Paul Sporer, Jeff Zimmerman, Al Melchior, and Justin Mason. We […]This past weekend, a collection of fantasy baseball veteran nerds gathered in New York City for our annual Tout Wars auction and after-party fun. It’s always one of the best weekends of the year, and this year I got to hang out with fellow RotoGraphers Paul Sporer, Jeff Zimmerman, Al Melchior, and Justin Mason. We represented! Oh, and dare I forget my AL-Only league competitor and representer of every fantasy baseball site on the Internet, Jason Collette. The AL-Only Tout Wars league is a standard 12-teamer with 23-man starting rosters, with the only wrinkle coming from the usage of OBP instead of AVG in the 5×5 categories. Oh, and we only have four starting outfield slots instead of five, instead switching one of them to a Swingman role. That could be filled by either a hitter or a pitcher and can be changed each week. But because hitters contribute in four counting stats and pitchers only three (starting pitchers only two!), I play a hitter there like 99% of the time. As usual, I had no particular strategy, aside from amassing as much value as possible. I had my Pod Projections in hand, the dollar values of each player’s stat line, and the goal was to simply bid on players below my value and hope to win as many as possible. Oh, and there was one more unique thing about this year. You’ll find out what exactly that is shortly. 2017 AL-Only Tout Wars Team Position Player Cost C Mike Zunino 11 C Geovany Soto 1 1B Joe Mauer 12 3B Chase Headley 10 CI Greg Bird 12 2B Tyler Saladino 7 SS Francisco Lindor 28 MI Matt Duffy 4 OF Mike Trout 47 OF Rajai Davis 17 OF Shin-Soo Choo 16 OF Aaron Judge 3 UT Matt Holliday 14 SW Matt Joyce 6 P Felix Hernandez 16 P David Price 13 P Nate Karns 4 P Matt Shoemaker 11 P Tyler Skaggs 3 P Luis Severino 2 P Matt Bush 2 P Sean Doolittle 3 P Craig Kimbrel 18 R Aaron Hicks R Glen Perkins R Travis Wood R Andrew Romine GOOOOOOOOOOO YANKEES! I ended up with four of them in my starting lineup, with a fifth on the bench. At least it’ll make it easy for me to decide which game to watch each night! If you know me, you’ll recall that I value catchers highly. Or to put another way, my values reflect the dollar value boost they require to get the last one to be worth a buck. Since I almost always find that catchers are undervalued, I end up getting two pretty good ones, since I’d rather pay $20 for a $25 player then $2 for a $7 player. Surprisingly, this undervaluation just wasn’t happening on Saturday morning. Literally every single catcher nominated ended up selling for $3 to $5 higher than my values, which I’ve never seen before. Perhaps it was an overadjustment to the fact that wow, AL catchers really stink once you get past the top two. Whatever the explanation, I wasn’t going to join the overpayment party. The thing is, in a deep league like this one, the catcher bump is actually far smaller than it is in a 12-team mixed league. That’s because replacement level at catcher here is actually pretty close to every other position. In fact, there’s almost no positional adjustment whatsoever. It doesn’t matter what position a player plays! Ready for some cray cray? I just changed Mike Trout‘s position to catcher on my spreadsheet. Could you imagine if Trout qualified at catcher?! His value jumped…two bucks. TWO MEASLY BUCKS! Missing out on any semblance of a decent catcher early on meant[...]



How Umpires’ Ejection Rates Change with Age and Experience

2017-03-29T10:00:00+00:00

A careful study shows that umpires are human, like the rest of us.No one ever said being an MLB umpire was easy. (via Keith Allison) A few years ago, I did an extended dive into the statistics of manager ejections in the major leagues. One of the strongest correlations I found was that, as managers age, they tend to be thrown out of games less often. Long-serving managers almost always suffered fewer ejections as their careers proceeded, with the historically volatile Bobby Cox being the highest-profile exception. It takes two people to make an ejection, and I came to wonder about the other side of the equation. Umpires’ personalities can contribute to the confrontations that lead to managers, or others, being banished from a game. Certain umpires work on a hair-trigger; others strive to still troubled waters. Do these personality traits evolve with age and experience? Does getting a couple thousand games under your belt make you better able to defuse a clash, or make you obstinate and quicker to flex your ultimate authority? Does advancing age dim your argumentative fires, the way it does with managers, or from the opposite side of the confrontation does it have the opposite effect? I took an extensive look at ejections over the last five seasons, 2012 to 2016, to find some answers. Along the way, I also found a couple extra questions. Set-up I combined two sources for collecting data on umpire ejections. The first was Retrosheet, for easy ordering of umpires, base assignments, and so forth. The other was a more obscure site, though one I’ve used before, called the Umpire Ejection Fantasy League, which is pretty much what the name implies. It tracks ejections throughout the season, and made for an excellent check on Retrosheet’s data. Where the two sources disagreed, I made deeper searches into the games in question to settle which one was more likely correct. A discovery I made quite early in my data gathering, one that will be little surprise to any serious observer of baseball, is that the base the umpire is covering has a huge effect on the chances he’ll be tossing somebody. Home plate umpires make the great majority of ejections, including thumbs for balls and strikes and for pitchers throwing at batters. First base comes in a distant second place, with third and second bases bringing up the rear. UMPIRE EJECTIONS BY BASE ASSIGNMENT, 2012-2016 Year HP 1B 2B 3B All 2012 130 29 8 12 179 2013 127 28 14 11 180 2014 157 18 11 15 201 2015 173 17 7 19 216 2016 156 22 7 5 190 Total 743 114 47 62 966 Umpiring assignments are rotated to generally give umpires equal time at each base. There are exceptions to this statistical rule: most just random fluctuations, but some with margins wide enough to make one suspect intent. For example, in 2016 relatively new umpire Gabe Morales had 37 games at first base, but only 29 at home plate. Veteran Laz Diaz worked 30 games behind the plate, but 25 at first base. (And no, they weren’t on the same crew, Diaz taking Morales’ turns at home. In fact, the concept of a four-umpire crew working steadily together throughout the season has weakened greatly in recent years. We can probably credit, or blame, the expansion of instant replay in 2014 for this turn. I shall return to this theme later.) These differences in assignments have the potential to skew the results, especially if less-experienced umpires are being put more at some bases and less at others. I therefore weighted games at various bases by how often in a season ejections were made by umpires working those bases. The resulting Adjusted Eject+ metric is how I will be judging the quickness of the umps’ thumbs. Also, I kept postseason umpiring separate from the regular[...]



Why Trevor Story Could Become One Of The Elite Shortstops In 2017

2017-03-29T09:30:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Prior to his season ending injury the fantasy world was abuzz in regards to Trevor Story.  Could he continue the torrid pace he set over the first few months?  Has he emerged as one of the truly elite shortstopsby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) Prior to his season ending injury the fantasy world was abuzz in regards to Trevor Story.  Could he continue the torrid pace he set over the first few months?  Has he emerged as one of the truly elite shortstops in the league?  The fact that we can’t fully answer those questions leaves a slight cloud hanging over him as we head towards 2017.  With the potential to be one of the elite at his position, there also is a lot of risk.  Let’s take a look and try to pinpoint exactly where his value falls.   2016 Statistics 372 At Bats .272 Batting Average (101 Hits) 27 Home Runs 72 RBI 67 Runs 8 Stolen Bases .341 On Base Percentage .567 Slugging Percentage .343 Batting Average on Balls in Play   PowerThe biggest question comes with his home runs, and despite playing half his games in Coors Field it’s going to be hard to anticipate him maintaining this type of rate.  A 23.7% HR/FB ranked him 11th among players with at least 400 PA, and he had never shown quite that much power before.  In 2015, splitting time between Double and Triple-A, he hit 20 HR over 575 PA.  The Triple-A locale is a favorable one, so looking at his HR/PA at the level, compared to his mark in the Majors, is a fair one: Triple-A – 27.5 Majors – 15.4 That’s quite a bump, and a regression is coming.  Then again, if he was to get 600 PA all he would need to do is set a pace of 1 HR every 20 PA to reach 30 HR on the season.  Over that 2015 campaign in the minor he added 40 doubles and 10 triples (21 doubles and 4 triples in the Majors last season), so that’s a realistic expectation.   AverageLike with his power it’s fair to assume that his average is going to regress.  As it is he had a notable home/road split: Home – .313 Road – .235 There are significant concerns across the board, including his drop in power (as well as a home run approach, with a 47.1% fly ball rate), inflated strikeout rate (31.3%) and potential for a drop in his BABIP. There is hope that the strikeouts will improve, as there was no one pitch that he was truly awful against (his worst Whiff% was 18.02% against breaking balls).  That’s not to say that he’s going to be a contact machine, but a 28% strikeout rate is believable. The BABIP, given the fly ball approach and drop in power, is going to fall.  He does hit the ball hard (44.9% Hard%), and that’s going to help, but there’s a regression coming all the same. When you put it together you get more of a .260ish hitter, as opposed to a .280+ player.  With his other skills, and potential to chip in both runs and RBI, that’s not a bad mark.   Speed Often overlooked, Story has the ability to chip in double-digit stolen bases.  He had 8 SB last season, prior to getting hurt, and had 22 in the minors in ’15.  Even if all he does is swipe 12-15 bases, going along with his power there’s a lot to like.   ConclusionEven with an expected regression, it’s hard not to love the potential Story brings to the table.  A 30/10 shortstop is a unique skill set, and with the potential for him not to sink your average as well as chip in RBI/R, he brings the total package.  It’ll be easy to target players like Xander Bogaerts or Corey Seager over Story, but the latter’s upside is higher [...]



NFBC Draft Recap: I’ve Tripled Down On My Love Of Odor

2017-03-29T07:01:00+00:00

This draft is a crock pot vs. a microwave.  A love sesh vs. a 'hold the moan.'  A nature hike vs. "I'm gonna sit in the car as we drive past some mountains."  Guys and five girl readers, it's a slow draft.  This slow draft took about twenty-three days, 18 hours, four minutes and--okay, only a lunatic counts seconds.  Not almost 24 days of straight drafting, mind you.  I don't need to ice my clicky finger.  It's five minutes of drafting, twelve hours of waiting.  It does allow you to second-guess your picks.  Actually, more like triple-guess.  (Who are we kidding, you quadruple-guess, fiveruple-guess, sextruple-guess, ochocinco-guess your picks.)  And, still, of course, I drafted Rougned Odor.  *takes a long inhale*  Damn, that smells good!  For those not in the know, it's a weekly, 15-team, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there's no waivers.  Anyway, here's my NFBC draft recap:(image) This draft is a crock pot vs. a microwave.  A love sesh vs. a 'hold the moan.'  A nature hike vs. "I'm gonna sit in the car as we drive past some mountains."  Guys and five girl readers, it's a slow draft.  This slow draft took about twenty-three days, 18 hours, four minutes and--okay, only a lunatic counts seconds.  Not almost 24 days of straight drafting, mind you.  I don't need to ice my clicky finger.  It's five minutes of drafting, twelve hours of waiting.  It does allow you to second-guess your picks.  Actually, more like triple-guess.  (Who are we kidding, you quadruple-guess, fiveruple-guess, sextruple-guess, ochocinco-guess your picks.)  And, still, of course, I drafted Rougned Odor.  *takes a long inhale*  Damn, that smells good!  For those not in the know, it's a weekly, 15-team, two-catcher league that lasts for 50 rounds and there's no waivers.  Anyway, here's my NFBC draft recap:(image) (image)



Quick Hits: Pagan, Tigers, Giants, M. Upton, Rangers, Brewers, BoSox

2017-03-29T03:35:00+00:00

The expectation is that free agent outfielder Angel Pagan will choose his next team in the coming days, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. The Tigers are among the clubs that have shown interest in Pagan, according to both Bowden and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, a Pagan-Tigers union “doesn’t sound like a…The expectation is that free agent outfielder Angel Pagan will choose his next team in the coming days, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. The Tigers are among the clubs that have shown interest in Pagan, according to both Bowden and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, a Pagan-Tigers union “doesn’t sound like a real possibility,” per Fenech (Twitter link). While Bowden also relays that the Giants are in on Pagan, Andrew Baggarly of the Bay Area News Group tweets otherwise.  Pagan, of course, spent the previous half-decade in San Francisco. More from around the majors as Opening Day draws closer: It’s likely that outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. will make the Blue Jays, but it’s not a lock, according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. The last spot on the team figures to go to either Upton, whom Toronto acquired last summer from San Diego, or out-of-options middle infielder Ryan Goins. While Upton will make $16.45MM in 2017, the final season of the five-year, $75.25MM contract he signed with the Braves in 2012, the Padres are on the hook for most of that money. The Blue Jays only took on $5MM of the remaining $22MM-plus Upton had coming his way when they traded for him. The 32-year-old was amid a decent season at that point, but he closed the campaign by slashing just .196/.261/.318 in 165 plate appearances as a Jay. The Rangers are in talks with right-hander Dillon Gee about restructuring his contract, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gee, who has an opt-out for Wednesday, is in line to make a guaranteed $2MM if he takes the last spot in the Rangers’ bullpen. That’s unpalatable to the Rangers, who might want to send Gee to the minors during the season; however, Gee would be able to refuse such an assignment because of service time and still collect the $2MM. Grant suggests the two sides should work out a minor league split, meaning Gee would earn a prorated $2MM in the majors and a lesser salary in the minors. First baseman Jesus Aguilar has made the Brewers’ roster, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Aguilar cracking Milwaukee’s roster seemed like a long shot at the outset of camp, but the February waiver wire pickup from the Indians has since recorded a video game-like, major league-best 1.395 OPS in 54 spring at-bats. The right-handed, out-of-options Aguilar could pair with fellow first baseman Eric Thames, a lefty-swinger, to give the Brewers a powerful tandem at the position. Red Sox infielder Marco Hernandez came up as a trade candidate last week, when it appeared he had no place on the club’s roster, though an injury to Rule 5 pick Josh Rutledge may have created room. Rutledge suffered a strained left hamstring Tuesday, and Hernandez could be the beneficiary, notes Scott Lauber of ESPN.com. The problem is that the Red Sox want a right-handed hitter to complement corner infielders Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval, but Hernandez is a lefty. [...]



Fantasy Baseball 2017 Tier Rankings: Relief Pitching

2017-03-29T02:38:00+00:00

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Shortstop, Outfield, Starting Pitching Drafting relief pitching has evolved into more than just drafting a closer. Set-up men now have more value in fantasy. Here are my reliever rankings. Back in the day, fantasy owners would draft only the closer of each team. They were the […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017 Tier Rankings: Relief Pitching - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

Other Positions: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, Shortstop, Outfield, Starting Pitching Drafting relief pitching has evolved into more than just drafting a closer. Set-up men now have more value in fantasy. Here are my reliever rankings. Back in the day, fantasy owners would draft only the closer of each team. They were the […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017 Tier Rankings: Relief Pitching - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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West Notes: Giants, Halos, D-backs, Dodgers, Mariners

2017-03-29T01:58:00+00:00

The Giants have informed 38-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins that he won’t make their roster, Andrew Baggarly of the East Bay Times was among those to report. San Francisco is now awaiting word on whether the longtime Phillie and 2007 NL MVP will accept a minor league assignment, per manager Bruce Bochy, but Baggarly notes that…The Giants have informed 38-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins that he won’t make their roster, Andrew Baggarly of the East Bay Times was among those to report. San Francisco is now awaiting word on whether the longtime Phillie and 2007 NL MVP will accept a minor league assignment, per manager Bruce Bochy, but Baggarly notes that Rollins has a Thursday opt-out in his contract. This could conceivably be the end of the line for Rollins, who posted subpar seasons with the Dodgers and White Sox over the past two years. Chicago released him last June after a 41-game stint on the South Side, and he went on to ink a minors pact with the Giants in December. More from the West divisions: Angels utilityman Dustin Ackley will not opt out of his minor league deal, reports Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). The former star prospect will instead go to Triple-A. Ackley, 29, is still recovering from the shoulder surgery he underwent as a Yankee last June; consequently, he hasn’t played the field this spring. The Diamondbacks optioned Ketel Marte to Triple-A on Tuesday, meaning they’re primed to divide shortstop between Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. Manager Torey Lovullo isn’t sure which of the two will get the lion’s share of playing time at short, though “he sort of intimated” Owings will be in the lineup everyday at various positions, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). Since debuting in 2013, Owings has seen action at both middle infield spots and center field. It’s clear that the Dodgers will go with right-hander Brandon McCarthy over southpaw Alex Wood for the fifth spot in their rotation, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Wood seems resigned to the idea that he’s headed to the bullpen, observes Plunkett. While the 26-year-old Wood isn’t thrilled, he’s staying upbeat. “If I were anywhere else, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion,” he said. “You can look at it as the glass being half empty or glass half full. It’s one of those things where I’m excited because this is the best team I’ve ever been on. Whatever they want me to do, that’s where we’ll go.” Wood isn’t new to the bullpen, having totaled 35 of 112 career appearances as a reliever, and he could return to the rotation if the injury bug once again bites McCarthy. For now, it appears McCarthy will slot in behind Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Hyun-jin Ryu. Mariners reliever Shae Simmons is progressing in his recovery from the forearm strain he suffered March 11, relays Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. An MRI on Tuesday confirmed no ligament damage, but the righty will still go at least a few more days without throwing. As Dutton notes, the 26-year-old Simmons missed almost all of the previous two seasons with the Braves while recovering from Tommy John surgery, so the latest development is an encouraging one. [...]



Cubs Return Rule 5 Pick Caleb Smith To Yankees

2017-03-29T01:12:00+00:00

The Cubs are returning left-hander Caleb Smith to the Yankees, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Chicago selected Smith in the Rule 5 draft in December. The 25-year-old Smith potentially could have made the Cubs’ bullpen as a southpaw swingman, but they’ll instead go with Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing as their lefty…

The Cubs are returning left-hander Caleb Smith to the Yankees, reports Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Chicago selected Smith in the Rule 5 draft in December.

The 25-year-old Smith potentially could have made the Cubs’ bullpen as a southpaw swingman, but they’ll instead go with Mike Montgomery and Brian Duensing as their lefty relievers. Smith didn’t see much spring action with the Cubs, having tossed 6 1/3 innings and given up three earned runs on eight hits. Impressively, he struck out seven batters and only issued two walks.

Smith, whom the Yankees chose in Round 14 of the 2013 amateur draft, ascended to Triple-A in 2015, though he has only thrown 4 1/3 innings at that level. In 367 1/3 Double-A frames (94 appearances, 69 starts), he has logged a 3.41 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Smith is the second Rule 5 pick the Yankees have gotten back in the past few days – the Diamondbacks returned righty Tyler Jones to them last Friday – and will now head to their minor league camp.

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Tigers To Use Anibal Sanchez In Relief; Shopping Mike Pelfrey

2017-03-29T00:31:00+00:00

The Tigers appear to be waving the white flag with a pair of longtime starters set to rake in sizable paydays this year. Right-hander Anibal Sanchez will open the season as a long reliever, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Meanwhile, the team is shopping fellow righty Mike Pelfrey, and it’s willing…The Tigers appear to be waving the white flag with a pair of longtime starters set to rake in sizable paydays this year. Right-hander Anibal Sanchez will open the season as a long reliever, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Meanwhile, the team is shopping fellow righty Mike Pelfrey, and it’s willing to eat his $8MM salary, tweets Fenech. Sanchez is entering what should be the last year of his contract, though the Tigers will still have to pay a $5MM buyout for 2018 if they don’t exercise his $16MM club option. In 2017, the 33-year-old will collect $16MM as part of the five-year, $80MM deal the Tigers awarded him in 2012. Sanchez had established himself as a terrific starter at that time, as he combined for a 3.75 ERA, 7.59 K/9, 3.31 BB/9 and a 44.5 percent ground-ball rate over 869 innings with the Marlins and Tigers. While his quality pitching continued through 2014, he has since posted a 5.42 ERA in 310 1/3 frames. A bloated home run-to-fly ball rate and drops in grounders, velocity and swinging strikes are among the prime culprits for Sanchez’s recent decline. To his credit, he did generate infield pop-ups at a 14.2 percent rate the past two years and log decent strikeout and walk rates of 7.92 and 2.96 per nine. The bullpen isn’t totally foreign to Sanchez, who totaled nine of his 11 career relief appearances last season. Left-hander Matt Boyd, whom the Tigers acquired from the Blue Jays in 2015 as part of a deal centering on David Price, will take over for Sanchez and join Justin Verlander, Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Jordan Zimmermann in Detroit’s rotation. The 26-year-old Boyd owns a 5.64 ERA and 5.43 FIP in 154 2/3 big league innings, but his repertoire provides reason for hope, as FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan explained earlier this month. As for Pelfrey, 33, his two-year, $16MM contract has been a head-scratcher since the Tigers signed him to it an offseason ago. Pelfrey was OK at times with the Mets and Twins from 2007-14, but the former top prospect has never been either a high-strikeout or low-walk hurler in the majors. He spent most of last season in the rotation (22 starts in 24 appearances) and registered a 5.07 ERA, 4.24 K/9 and 3.48 BB/9 in 119 innings. If he makes the Tigers this year, he’ll work from the bullpen. The Tigers ate reliever Mark Lowe’s $5.5MM over the weekend after a lousy 2016, though, so it’s possible they’ll also release Pelfrey if a taker isn’t found via trade.[...]



Rockies Sign Ryan Hanigan To Minor League Deal

2017-03-28T23:59:00+00:00

The Rockies have signed catcher Ryan Hanigan to a minor league contract, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (on Twitter). Hanigan, who came available when the Phillies released him Monday, will earn at a $1.25MM rate if he cracks the Rockies’ roster, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 36-year-old Hanigan didn’t last long as a…

The Rockies have signed catcher Ryan Hanigan to a minor league contract, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (on Twitter). Hanigan, who came available when the Phillies released him Monday, will earn at a $1.25MM rate if he cracks the Rockies’ roster, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com.

The 36-year-old Hanigan didn’t last long as a member of the Phillies, with whom he signed a minors pact in January. Hanigan will now try to find his way back to the majors in Colorado, which lost one of its top two catchers, Tom Murphy, to a fractured forearm two weeks ago. Murphy is likely to miss a few more weeks, leaving Tony Wolters, Dustin Garneau, Rule 5 pick Anthony Bemboom and Hanigan among the Rockies’ backstop choices.

Hanigan is easily the most experienced member of the group, and he did enjoy some fine seasons in his Reds tenure from 2007-13. However, Hanigan wasn’t all that effective over the previous three years with the Rays and Red Sox. After Hanigan hit a meager .171/.230/.238 in 113 plate appearances with Boston last season, the team declined his $3.75MM club option for 2017. He also saw his once-pristine pitch-framing marks decline significantly over the prior two years.

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Central Notes: Quintana, ChiSox, Reds, Pirates

2017-03-28T23:13:00+00:00

The White Sox are primed to open the season with top starter and well-known trade candidate Jose Quintana in their rotation, notes Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Chicago has been shopping Quintana over the past few months, but it still hasn’t found a proposal to its liking and likely won’t by Opening Day.…The White Sox are primed to open the season with top starter and well-known trade candidate Jose Quintana in their rotation, notes Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Chicago has been shopping Quintana over the past few months, but it still hasn’t found a proposal to its liking and likely won’t by Opening Day. Few teams, if any, have drawn more connections to Quintana than the Astros since he has been on the block, though they’re “not budging” from their offer, Nightengale hears. Several more items from the Central divisions: The Reds have officially tabbed Amir Garrett and Rookie Davis to start the year in their rotation, tweets C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Neither hurler has any major league experience to this point. The 24-year-old Garrett, Baseball America’s 81st-ranked prospect, ascended to Triple-A last season and put up a 3.46 ERA with 7.18 K/9 against 4.12 BB/9 in 67 2/3 innings. Davis, 23, was part of the Aroldis Chapman trade between the Reds and Yankees in 2015. Like Garrett, he reached Triple-A in 2016, though his results over a small sample weren’t ideal (7.50 ERA, 5.63 K/9, 2.63 BB/9 in 24 innings). In 134 1/3 Double-A frames, Davis owns a 3.28 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The Pirates optioned left-hander Steven Brault to Triple-A on Tuesday, thereby cutting a contender for the final spot in their rotation. They’ll now choose among Tyler Glasnow, Drew Hutchison and Trevor Williams to slot in behind Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova and Chad Kuhl in what will be an all-righty rotation. The Reds reassigned veteran outfielder Desmond Jennings to the minors on Tuesday, which could bring about the end of his short tenure with the organization. Jennings, who joined the Reds in February on a minor league contract, can opt out of his deal before Opening Day, and Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer expects that to happen (Twitter link). Carlos Rodon, the second-best lefty in the White Sox’s rotation, received good news on his bicep Tuesday, relays Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Rodon got a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who confirmed that the 24-year-old doesn’t have any structural damage. El Attrache diagnosed Rodon with bursitis, and he’ll embark on a throwing program the next two weeks before the team reevaluates him. Given that timeline, Rodon will open 2017 on the disabled list. Yet another note on the Reds, whose manager, Bryan Price, expects reliever Raisel Iglesias to be ready for Opening Day (Twitter link via Rosecrans). The righty hurt his elbow and hips when he fell in the shower a few weeks ago, thus putting his status for the start of the season in question. Undoubtedly the Reds’ premier relief weapon, Iglesias posted a 1.98 ERA, 9.72 K/9 and 3.42 BB/9 in 50 innings out of the bullpen after transitioning from the rotation a year ago. [...]



Yankees To Re-Sign Jon Niese To Minors Deal

2017-03-28T22:17:00+00:00

The Yankees are bringing back left-hander Jon Niese on a minor league contract, reports George A. King III of the New York Post (Twitter link). New York released Niese on Sunday, but the expectation was that he’d quickly rejoin the organization if he couldn’t land a major league deal elsewhere. Niese’s new pact comes with…

The Yankees are bringing back left-hander Jon Niese on a minor league contract, reports George A. King III of the New York Post (Twitter link). New York released Niese on Sunday, but the expectation was that he’d quickly rejoin the organization if he couldn’t land a major league deal elsewhere.

Niese’s new pact comes with the same salary figures as the minor league accord he signed with the Yankees in February, as he’ll earn a $1.25MM base salary and could make $750K in incentives if he cracks the majors, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The agreement also comes with a May 15 opt-out (Twitter links).

The 30-year-old Niese had been working to earn a bullpen role with the Yankees prior to Sunday, and it stands to reason he’ll resume those efforts. In order to get back to the majors, though, it’s likely Niese will have to regain his fastball velocity, which was only in the mid-80s range before the Yankees cut him. Niese typically sat in the high-80s with the Mets and Pirates from 2008-16.

A full-time job as a reliever would be uncharted territory for Niese, who has worked almost exclusively as a starter to this point. Of Niese’s 211 career appearances, 197 have come from the rotation. Niese has largely served as a competent starter, having logged a 4.07 ERA, 6.92 K/9, 2.78 BB/9 and a 50.1 percent ground-ball rate in nearly 1,200 innings. However, he picked up a personal-high nine relief outings (out of 29 appearances) between New York and Pittsburgh last year amid the worst season of his career. After recording a 5.50 ERA and a 22.1 percent home run-to-fly ball ratio across 121 frames in 2016, Niese was unable to take advantage of a weak class of free agent pitchers and land a guaranteed contract over the winter.

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East Notes: Mets, Yanks, Marlins, Orioles, Nats

2017-03-28T21:37:00+00:00

Major League Baseball could suspend Mets closer Jeurys Familia as early as Tuesday for an alleged domestic violence incident last October, report Kristie Ackert and Christian Red of the New York Daily News. The Mets are only expecting the league to ban Familia for approximately 15 games, per Ackert and Red, who note that the…Major League Baseball could suspend Mets closer Jeurys Familia as early as Tuesday for an alleged domestic violence incident last October, report Kristie Ackert and Christian Red of the New York Daily News. The Mets are only expecting the league to ban Familia for approximately 15 games, per Ackert and Red, who note that the 27-year-old’s wife, Bianca Rivas, has said during MLB’s investigation that he didn’t hit her. Familia was alleged to have caused bodily injury to Rivas, which led to an arrest on a charge of simple assault. That charge was dropped and expunged from Familia’s record in December, though, after Rivas told a New Jersey judge she wasn’t interested in pursuing the case. More from the East Coast: The Yankees informed right-hander Adam Warren on Tuesday that he’s no longer in the running for the final two spots in their rotation, writes Randy Miller of NJ.com. That’s not particularly surprising, as Warren always seemed like a long shot on account of his vast experience as a reliever. He’ll once again take on a bullpen role this year, while two of Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Chad Green and Jordan Montgomery will fill out the Yankees’ starting five. The Marlins will open the season without a left-handed reliever, having optioned Hunter Cervenka to the minors on Tuesday, per Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. They also sent Justin Nicolino down, thus clinching the fifth spot in the rotation for Adam Conley. Although Conley looked like a shoo-in for a starting job at the outset of spring training, his struggles combined with Nicolino’s effectiveness nearly produced an unexpected outcome. “[Optioning Nicolino] was probably our toughest decision. He pitched really well in spring,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I shouldn’t say surprised because we know it’s there, but coming into camp I kind of looked at him as an outside chance, really, and he’s really opened a lot of eyes and a lot of conversation about who that fifth guy should be.” It doesn’t appear the left oblique strain Mets outfielder Juan Lagares suffered Saturday is anything serious. Lagares underwent an MRI on Tuesday, and while results aren’t yet known, he told ESPN Deportes’ Marly Rivera that he’s “almost 100 percent” (via Ackert). Of course, if Lagares is OK, he seems likely to start the year as the Mets’ fourth outfielder, which could lead to a demotion to the minors for Michael Conforto. The Orioles hope to re-sign outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Chris Johnson, tweets Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Baltimore released the pair Monday (Bourn exercised his opt-out clause) after neither cracked its big league roster. The Nationals released veteran reliever Matt Albers on Monday, but he could return to the organization on a minors deal if he’s unable to land a major league contract elsewhere, a source told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). [...]



Tyler Thornburg Likely To Open Season On DL

2017-03-28T20:33:00+00:00

3:33pm: Thornburg has a shoulder impingement, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Thornburg won’t throw for another 10 days, and Abraham notes that this injury could sideline him for a month (Twitter link). 9:59am: Red Sox righty Tyler Thornburg is likely to open the season on the disabled list after an “upper right trapezius…3:33pm: Thornburg has a shoulder impingement, according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Thornburg won’t throw for another 10 days, and Abraham notes that this injury could sideline him for a month (Twitter link). 9:59am: Red Sox righty Tyler Thornburg is likely to open the season on the disabled list after an “upper right trapezius spasm” prevented him from taking the mound yesterday, as Ian Browne of MLB.com was among those to report on Twitter. It’s not clear that the trap issue is a significant one; far from it, in fact. But he will go for an MRI, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Even if it turns out to be a blip, though, a DL stint seems the likely result. Thornburg has been slowed throughout camp as his shoulder strength has failed to catch up to speed. With the anticipated absence from Thornburg, and without a clear indication to when he might be able to return, the back of the Boston relief corps seems noticeably less potent than had been expected. Still, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says he believes there’s sufficient depth on hand, as Mastrodonato reports. “Well, I think we’re fine,” Dombrowski said. “Some guys have to step up is what it comes down to. You go through these type of things in any particular year. I’ve done it every year in my career.” With uncertainty also best describing the current status of key lefty David Price, though, Boston’s pitching depth chart will be tested early. The club did announce that it sent veteran righty Kyle Kendrick to minor-league camp this morning, which suggests Drew Pomeranz will be ready to join the rotation. But it still seems possible the organization will look to make a depth move of some kind with roster churn happening around the league.[...]



Searching For Saves: Archie Bradley, Closer Of The Future?

2017-03-28T19:30:00+00:00

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) After failing to earn a spot in the rotation, Archie Bradley will open the year as part of Arizona’s bullpen.  Obviously that eliminates his potential value, in the short-term, though the team doesn’t have a long-term solution for theby Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor) After failing to earn a spot in the rotation, Archie Bradley will open the year as part of Arizona’s bullpen.  Obviously that eliminates his potential value, in the short-term, though the team doesn’t have a long-term solution for the closer role.  Could Bradley, a former top prospect, be primed for that role? Control and repertoire have been the biggest questions facing him, though if you believe the quotes the latter is no longer an issue.  Here’s what Bradley had to say recently, courtesy of Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (click here for the article):  “But I’m so far ahead of where I was even at the beginning of this camp. I came in wanting to lock down a third pitch and although they aren’t set in stone now, I’ve got four pitches now. I’ve got the changeup down, I’m throwing it for strikes. I’m throwing a cutter/slider now, whatever you want to call it. I feel like I’m in the best shape pitching-wise that I’ve been in in my life probably.” Last season Bradley primarily threw his fourseam fastball/sinker (69.21%) and his curveball (23.68%), rarely mixing in a changeup (7.11%).  The slider would be a new pitch, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to utilize all four pitches in a bullpen role.  Regardless, if he truly has developed a third and fourth pitch he would significantly improve his potential outlook. His fastball averaged over 93 mph last season and he has an ability to generate swings and misses (though his 8.2% SwStr% doesn’t back up his 9.08 K/9 in the Majors last season).  He does own a career minor league K/9 of 9.6, including a 9.4 at Triple-A.  The development of his repertoire would help him maintain that type of mark in the Majors, and the potential is there to carry an 8.0 K/9 or higher as a starter (and even more out of the bullpen). The big question has been his control, and 4 BB over 16.2 IP this spring indicates an improvement (4.7 BB/9 over his minor league career).  Even in his quote he notes that he’s getting ahead of hitters, which is obviously going to be key. It’s a promising development and one that could lead to success for him as a starter.  It’s a role he’s ready to embrace, as per Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (click here for the article): “With the way I’m throwing the baseball right now, the way I feel, the way the ball is coming out, I’m comfortable in any role, in any capacity,” Bradley said. “Just put me on this team.” It will be interesting to watch, but with his growth and the ceiling he’s possessed it’s possible that he finds a home in the bullpen and never relinquishes it.  Keep a close eye on the situation, especially for those in long-term keeper/dynasty leagues always on the hunt for closer options.  It’s possible a new one emerges in Arizona. Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com, Arizona Republic *** [...]



Orioles Acquire Alec Asher

2017-03-28T19:22:00+00:00

The Orioles have acquired righty Alec Asher from the Phillies, per a team announcement. Baltimore will send a player to be named in the transaction, which gives Philadelphia an open 40-man spot. This is the second trade the 25-year-old Asher has been a part of since the Rangers chose him in the fourth round of…

The Orioles have acquired righty Alec Asher from the Phillies, per a team announcement. Baltimore will send a player to be named in the transaction, which gives Philadelphia an open 40-man spot.

This is the second trade the 25-year-old Asher has been a part of since the Rangers chose him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Texas sent him to Philadelphia as part of the package to acquire Cole Hamels in 2015, though Asher scuffled that year in his major league debut with the Phillies. Across seven starts and 29 innings, he logged a 9.31 ERA, 4.97 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 36.1 percent ground-ball rate. Asher was far more effective at the big league level last season (2.28 ERA, 4.23 K/9, 1.3 B/9 and a 35.2 percent grounder rate), but he did serve an 80-game Triple-A suspension after testing positive for a testosterone-related performance-enhancing drug.

With two minor league options remaining, Asher figures to see further Triple-A time with Baltimore, though general manager Dan Duquette expects him to contribute to the Orioles this year.

“Asher is a solid major league pitcher who our scouts have liked for a few seasons that we believe will help our club this season,” said Duquette (via Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun). “He has good size, three major league pitches and command of himself and his pitches.”

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 441 – Talkin’ Tout Wars

2017-03-28T19:10:01+00:00

3/28/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB   Strategy Section: Tout Wars Preview & Review Breakdown of Paul’s H2H Team Review of Jason’s AL-Only gameplan — As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions. You can subscribe to […]

3/28/17

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

Follow us on Twitter

 

Strategy Section: Tout Wars Preview & Review

  • Breakdown of Paul’s H2H Team
  • Review of Jason’s AL-Only gameplan

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think!

Approximately 33 minutes of joyous analysis.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 441 – Talkin’ Tout Wars

2017-03-28T19:10:00+00:00

3/28/17 The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live! Follow us on Twitter @sporer @enosarris @jasoncollette @almelchiorBB   Strategy Section: Tout Wars Preview & Review Breakdown of Paul’s H2H Team Review of Jason’s AL-Only gameplan — As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions. You can subscribe to […]

3/28/17

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

Follow us on Twitter

 

Strategy Section: Tout Wars Preview & Review

  • Breakdown of Paul’s H2H Team
  • Review of Jason’s AL-Only gameplan

As usual, don’t hesitate to tweet us or comment with fantasy questions.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or via the feed. Please rate & review the show in iTunes letting us know what you think!

Approximately 33 minutes of joyous analysis.

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2017 Draft Goals by Category for 5×5 Fantasy Baseball Leagues

2017-03-28T19:00:00+00:00

This is a post for the fantasy baseball drafters who use Excel, Google Docs, or some other war room software that automatically totals a drafted team’s stats while in the middle of a draft. Or perhaps for those of you who do mock drafts or simulated drafts. The below grid represents my projected 75% mark in each stat category across 10/12/14/15/16 team ESPN and Yahoo default roster format leagues. These numbers should only be used directionally. Please note that each projection source projects to a different league average so your team may look great if using a ‘bullish’ source and look poor if using a ‘bearish’ source. These are based on the Steamer/Razzball projections. While I stand behind these numbers as they are part of the foundation behind my Player Rater $ estimates, I do not use these as part of my draft. I prefer to add up the dollar values per category. Same difference I suppose but it is easier to see counting totals for ratios and it lets me fixate less on the numbers (e.g., I see $7, I know they are good...I don't fixate on 20 SBs vs 25 SBs).(image) This is a post for the fantasy baseball drafters who use Excel, Google Docs, or some other war room software that automatically totals a drafted team’s stats while in the middle of a draft. Or perhaps for those of you who do mock drafts or simulated drafts. The below grid represents my projected 75% mark in each stat category across 10/12/14/15/16 team ESPN and Yahoo default roster format leagues. These numbers should only be used directionally. Please note that each projection source projects to a different league average so your team may look great if using a ‘bullish’ source and look poor if using a ‘bearish’ source. These are based on the Steamer/Razzball projections. While I stand behind these numbers as they are part of the foundation behind my Player Rater $ estimates, I do not use these as part of my draft. I prefer to add up the dollar values per category. Same difference I suppose but it is easier to see counting totals for ratios and it lets me fixate less on the numbers (e.g., I see $7, I know they are good...I don't fixate on 20 SBs vs 25 SBs).(image) (image)



MLBTR Chat Transcript: 3/28/17

2017-03-28T18:59:00+00:00

Click here to read a transcript of today’s chat with host Jeff Todd.

Click here to read a transcript of today’s chat with host Jeff Todd.

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Trolling Your Auction Draft And Other Related Scenarios

2017-03-28T18:45:00+00:00

We’re entering the final stretch of draft season. For many of you, the so-called advice in this post may be too late. However, it’s my hope that everybody will enjoy discussing the options for good-natured trolling in auction drafts. The nomination process offers several ways to mess with your rivals. One Catcher Leagues In a typical 12-team, one […]We’re entering the final stretch of draft season. For many of you, the so-called advice in this post may be too late. However, it’s my hope that everybody will enjoy discussing the options for good-natured trolling in auction drafts. The nomination process offers several ways to mess with your rivals. One Catcher Leagues In a typical 12-team, one catcher league, the 12th or 13th best catcher isn’t remarkably different from the sixth best. I usually opt for a $1 backstop unless my leaguemates are being timid about bidding up Buster Posey or Jonathan Lucroy. Nominating catchers with your first 10 or so picks can ensure your league spends a few extra dollars on the weakest fantasy position. The best use of this strategy is to punish autodrafters. On Yahoo, the autodraft isn’t smart enough to only bid on one catcher. Over the years, I’ve loaded rosters with three or four catchers – usually all for $4 or more. Let’s say those are the seventh, eighth, and ninth best catchers. That forces a couple teams to reach slightly below replacement level. That’s obviously a sub-optimal play. When you see this happening – whether it was you or somebody else who instigated it – I recommend skipping catcher entirely. Instead, find a $1 player that fits the autodrafted roster. For example, if they missed out on saves, snag Jeanmar Gomez or Fernando Rodney. Then you can recover a mid-tier catcher for $1. And if the owner rejects your offer in favor of the waiver wire, you can drop a couple FAAB. You might even find a decent 2-for-1 while waiting for the waiver claim to process. Nominating “Sleepers” Every season, there are woke “sleepers.” This year, some of those include Jose Peraza, Greg Bird, Tommy Joseph, Drew Smyly, Shelby Miller, and… well there’s a lot of them. Keon Broxton headlines the list. He’s been the single most cursed about player in my drafts. Undoubtedly, you would love to have Broxton for a couple dollars. And there’s a chance you’ll get your wish. I managed to snag Broxton for $2 and Bird for $1 in a league with my former college teammates. While it’s not LABR, it’s much more competitive than the average fantasy league. Many of your leagues are probably pretty comparable. It’s possible you’ll get your sleepers. You have a choice – do you try to manipulate your budget so you can win these players cheaply, or do you let your rivals go wild while they’re still sitting on their full hoard? Nothing is more enjoyable than watching Broxton go for $17 and Bird for over $20. While they could easily perform to those price tags – Wil Myers did it last season – the risk is massive. For $5, they are high risk, high reward picks. For over[...]



Fantasy Baseball 2017: Bold Predictions for Each AL East Team

2017-03-28T18:37:00+00:00

With the MLB season almost upon us, it is always fun to offer bold fantasy predictions for the upcoming season. Here is one bold fantasy prediction for each team in the A.L. East. Conjuring up bold fantasy predictions is one the more intriguing offseason exercises as it blends conjecture, player situations, and stats together. While […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Bold Predictions for Each AL East Team - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

With the MLB season almost upon us, it is always fun to offer bold fantasy predictions for the upcoming season. Here is one bold fantasy prediction for each team in the A.L. East. Conjuring up bold fantasy predictions is one the more intriguing offseason exercises as it blends conjecture, player situations, and stats together. While […]

Fantasy Baseball 2017: Bold Predictions for Each AL East Team - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks - Practical and useful fantasy baseball advice and analysis.

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Nationals Place Clint Robinson On Outright Waivers

2017-03-28T18:27:00+00:00

The Nationals have placed first baseman Clint Robinson on outright waivers, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. That opens a 40-man spot and also seemingly resolves the competition between Robinson and recent signee Adam Lind, who’ll presumably back up Ryan Zimmerman at first base, function as a lefty bench bat, and perhaps even see some…

The Nationals have placed first baseman Clint Robinson on outright waivers, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. That opens a 40-man spot and also seemingly resolves the competition between Robinson and recent signee Adam Lind, who’ll presumably back up Ryan Zimmerman at first base, function as a lefty bench bat, and perhaps even see some time in the corner outfield.

This had long seemed the likely result, as the Nats have little use for both Robinson and Lind, the latter of whom had secured a guaranteed contract over the winter and has a much longer track record of MLB success. Whether or not the organization will end up with an opportunity to hold onto Robinson in the upper minors remains to be seen, but for now the team will allow a more versatile player to take the final bench role. It seems that outfielder Michael Taylor and infielder Wilmer Difo are battling for the final job.

Robinson, 32, had gone to the major league plate just 14 times before he joined the Nats in 2015. But he won a job in camp and ended up playing a significant role for the club. Over 352 plate appearances that year, he slashed a robust .272/.358/.424 with ten home runs while recording only 52 strikeouts against 37 walks. But Robinson produced more soft contact and less line drives last year, slumping to a .235/.305/.332 slash that just wasn’t enough, particularly given his lack of value on the bases and in the field.

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A Spring Training Stat That Matters (I Swear)

2017-03-28T18:15:00+00:00

I welcome all constructive criticism. This research is not especially rigorous, but given the nature of the claim — a legitimately significant spring training statistic! — it merits the disclaimer. I found a statistically significant spring training statistic. I’d rather not rehash the history of research and speculation regarding The Spring Training Stat(s) That Matter. […]I welcome all constructive criticism. This research is not especially rigorous, but given the nature of the claim — a legitimately significant spring training statistic! — it merits the disclaimer. I found a statistically significant spring training statistic. I’d rather not rehash the history of research and speculation regarding The Spring Training Stat(s) That Matter. Just know that, outside the modest results from this Dan Rosenheck piece in The Economist, it’s generally accepted that Spring Training statistics mean virtually nothing, and you’ll read all manners of baseball writers bashing this notion. The big caveat is most of this research concerns individual players. Mine: team-level statistics. Alas, it’s an inherently different beast with which I’m dealing. Despite small within-year populations (30 teams rather than hundreds of players), the observation-level sample sizes are much larger (hundreds of plate appearances rather than dozens), making the odds of finding meaningful correlations much better despite fewer data points. Per usual, I buried the lede: a team’s rate of stolen base attempts (calculated from stolen bases [SB] plus caught stealing [CS]) during spring training is actually meaningful. I’ll get to the implications of this later because there are many. First, let’s dig into the guts of the research. I gathered team-level spring training statistics from 2006 through 2016 and paired it with regular season statistics from the same span plus 2005. A couple of quick correlations, using the Pearson correlation coefficient: Current-year spring training SBs vs current-year regular season SBs: r = 0.41 Current-year spring traning attempts (SB+CS) vs current-year regular season attempts: r = 0.48 Both of these results surprised me. A Pearson r of 0.41 is not particularly strong, but nearing 0.5 — close to a 0.25 r-squared — is an indication of a weak-bordering-on-moderate correlation. (Which isn’t promising, when I say it like that, but it is something.) Then again, this isn’t particularly surprising. You could probably do the same for many statistics and at least see some sort of statistically significant correlation without scaling for playing time because (1) every team plays 162 regular season games, usually; (2) every team plays 30-something spring games, making any kind of scaling not really necessary; and (3) spring skills in aggregate probably carry over relatively well into the the season. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised to know that teams in spring training at least slightly resemble their regular-season selves. Ultimately, the whole purpose for this is, for the most part, identifying teams that [...]



FOX Sports Hires A.J. Pierzynski As Full-Time Analyst

2017-03-28T18:10:00+00:00

Per an announcement from the FOX Sports Network, veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to serve as a full-time analyst for the upcoming season. He is expected to do color work and appear on the “MLB Whiparound” show. Pierzynski, 40, spent each of the past two seasons with the Braves. While he was quite productive…Per an announcement from the FOX Sports Network, veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to serve as a full-time analyst for the upcoming season. He is expected to do color work and appear on the “MLB Whiparound” show. Pierzynski, 40, spent each of the past two seasons with the Braves. While he was quite productive in 2015, he tailed off significantly last year. There were signs that he would likely call it quits, though that soon shifted. To this point, nothing had — or, still has, so far as we know — been formalized. With today’s news, though, it seems safe to assume that Pierzynski will wrap up his career after parts of 19 MLB seasons. He has certainly enjoyed the kind of run that few backstops are able to pull off, having played in over 100 games in every single campaign between 2001 and 2015. An exceptionally durable receiver, the left-handed-hitting Pierzynski also featured as a steadily useful hitter. All told, he has accumulated a solid .280/.319/.420 batting line with 188 home runs in 7,815 total MLB plate appearances. Though he wasn’t always beloved by opponents, Pierzynski never had much trouble finding organizations interested in utilizing him. His longest and perhaps most memorable run came with the White Sox, where he was part of the team’s 2005 World Series winner, caught historic pitching performances from Mark Buehrle and Philip Humber, and picked up one of his two All-Star appearances. Pierzynski also spent six years with the Twins — the organization that selected him in the third round of the 1994 draft. Some of those were among his most productive as a pro, and the organization was able to cash him in to the Giants for a trade package featuring Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. In addition to his one-year run in San Francisco, Pierzynski spent single or partial seasons with the Rangers, Red Sox, and Cardinals. If this is indeed Pierzynski’s career terminus, as seems reasonable to assume, MLBTR extends him its congratulations and best wishes for the future.[...]



RCL Update: Trade Early, Trade Often

2017-03-28T18:00:00+00:00

We’ve called off the animals and what’s left standing are 74 Razzball Commenter Leagues.  That’s down from 85 in 2016.  We didn’t have VinWins creating 15 leagues all of his own this year though.  All in all, not too shabby.  If you missed the boat on joining, what took you so long?  If you’re really hankering for a league though, post below and if we get enough interest maybe we can get one last league brewing for all the procrastinators out there.  It will have to be a popular draft time (likely night, think ~9 PM EST) and it should give everyone plenty of time to join (Thursday/Friday/Saturday).  Let me know in the comments and we’ll get you hooked up. Of our 74 RCLs, 46 of them have drafted.  Simple math tells us that we’ve got a lot of drafts going off this week.  Which means a lot more ADP data to look at.  The RCL ADP sheet has been getting lots of love.  There’s anonymous animals all over that thing from 7-10 PM every night.  I’m glad you’re all finding that useful.  We’ll be going over some more of that data today as well as some early trades that have taken place in the RCLs.  Let’s get to it!(image) We’ve called off the animals and what’s left standing are 74 Razzball Commenter Leagues.  That’s down from 85 in 2016.  We didn’t have VinWins creating 15 leagues all of his own this year though.  All in all, not too shabby.  If you missed the boat on joining, what took you so long?  If you’re really hankering for a league though, post below and if we get enough interest maybe we can get one last league brewing for all the procrastinators out there.  It will have to be a popular draft time (likely night, think ~9 PM EST) and it should give everyone plenty of time to join (Thursday/Friday/Saturday).  Let me know in the comments and we’ll get you hooked up. Of our 74 RCLs, 46 of them have drafted.  Simple math tells us that we’ve got a lot of drafts going off this week.  Which means a lot more ADP data to look at.  The RCL ADP sheet has been getting lots of love.  There’s anonymous animals all over that thing from 7-10 PM every night.  I’m glad you’re all finding that useful.  We’ll be going over some more of that data today as well as some early trades that have taken place in the RCLs.  Let’s get to it!(image) (image)



Article XX(B) Free Agent Decisions

2017-03-28T17:43:00+00:00

With five days to go until Opening Day, decisions are due at noon eastern on players who qualify as Article XX(B) free agents. The rule applies to players who a) have six or more years of service; b) finished the prior season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL; and c) signed Minor League deals over…With five days to go until Opening Day, decisions are due at noon eastern on players who qualify as Article XX(B) free agents. The rule applies to players who a) have six or more years of service; b) finished the prior season on a 40-man roster or on the 60-day DL; and c) signed Minor League deals over the offseason. If a team does not release such a player prior to the deadline, then they must either put the player on the active roster (or DL) to start the year or be on the hook for some extra benefits — a $100K retention bonus and June 1st opt-out date (at a minimum). Here are updates on players who’ll be paid the bonus or have instead learned that they’ve made their respective teams … Righty Brandon Morrow will not make the Dodgers roster, but he will remain in the organization, as Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets. Morrow will take a minor-league assignment, and his $100K retention bonus, to open the season. Giants minor-league signee Aaron Hill is set to receive his $100K bonus, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News tweets, though that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to take an active roster spot to open the year. Baggarly suggests the veteran still has an excellent chance of earning an Opening Day nod after his solid performance in camp. The Angels have informed righty Yusmeiro Petit that he’ll be added to the roster for Opening Day, as Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times was among those to tweet. He figures to work as a long reliever and swingman in Los Angeles. Petit struggled in the second half last year for the Nationals, ending the year with a 4.50 ERA over 62 innings. Righty Tom Wilhelmsen and lefty Jorge De La Rosa have both been added to the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster, the team announced, though only the latter is an Article XX(B) player. They’ll both join the bullpen for the start of the season. Wilhelmsen posted better numbers in the second half of 2016, but still wasn’t quite his former self. Meanwhile, De La Rosa is set to transition to the bullpen after serving mostly as a starter over his 13-year MLB career. The Padres will add shortstop Erick Aybar to their roster, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter). The expectation is that Aybar will be the team’s regular at short to open the season. Clearly, that could change either now or in the future if the organization is able to pick up a somewhat younger player deemed worthy of a shot at a significant MLB opportunity. The 33-year-old Aybar has struggled badly in the past two seasons, though he was a productive, everyday player for years before that. Utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and lefty Eric O’Flaherty hav[...]



D-Backs Claim Christian Walker, Designate Evan Marshall

2017-03-28T17:41:00+00:00

The Diamondbacks have claimed first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker off waivers from the Reds, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer was among those to tweet. The move opens a roster spot for the Reds’ addition of infielder Scooter Gennett. Arizona has designated reliever Evan Marshall to create roster space, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic…

The Diamondbacks have claimed first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker off waivers from the Reds, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer was among those to tweet. The move opens a roster spot for the Reds’ addition of infielder Scooter Gennett. Arizona has designated reliever Evan Marshall to create roster space, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets.

It’s not the first time that Walker has changed hands over the offseason. He bounced previously from the Orioles to the Braves before moving to Cincinnati. Though he hasn’t seen much MLB time, Walker has hit fairly well at Triple-A. In what amounts to about two full seasons at the highest level of the minors, he owns a .260/.324/.429 slash with 42 home runs.

The trouble is, Walker hasn’t quite hit enough to push out an established big leaguer from a first base job. And he is new to the outfield, leaving it unclear just how he’ll fit on a National League roster. While Arizona had previously parted with a similarly hard-to-fit player in Peter O’Brien, the club now evidently felt there was roster space to spare.

As for Marshall, who’ll soon turn 27, the results have just not been there over the past two seasons. He turned in a high-quality 2014 season (2.74 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9) that seemingly made him a long-term piece. But while his velocity has largely stayed consistent, he tumbled to an 8.8% swinging-strike rate in 2016 and was hardly dominant during his time at Triple-A. In his 5 1/3 spring innings, Marshall had permitted only two earned runs, but did allow nine base hits while compiling three strikeouts to go with one free pass.

 

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Reds Claim Scooter Gennett

2017-03-28T17:18:00+00:00

The Reds have claimed second baseman Scooter Gennett off waivers from the Brewers, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter. It’s not yet clear what the corresponding 40-man roster move will be. Gennett, 26, agreed to a $2.525MM contract over the winter to avoid arbitration; that’ll now be the responsibility of his…The Reds have claimed second baseman Scooter Gennett off waivers from the Brewers, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter. It’s not yet clear what the corresponding 40-man roster move will be. Gennett, 26, agreed to a $2.525MM contract over the winter to avoid arbitration; that’ll now be the responsibility of his new club. He comes with two more seasons of arb control and also remains optionable. Milwaukee had utilized Gennett quite frequently over the preceding four seasons, during which he carried a .279/.318/.420 batting line over 1,637 plate appearances. That’s roughly league-average production, though the vast bulk of his time — and his productivity — came against right-handed pitching. Gennett has hit just .187/.237/.254 against southpaws, greatly reducing his function. While it seems there’s still hope that Gennett can expand his repertoire by learning to move around the diamond, he evidently hadn’t done enough to convince Milwaukee to keep him on the 40-man roster. The club is set to turn over second base to Jonathan Villar, which left Gennett without an obvious role. The path to playing time isn’t really much more clear in Cincinnati, where the starting jobs are all accounted for. But Gennett could spell righty-hitting infielders Jose Peraza and Eugenio Suarez while perhaps also appearing in the corner outfield at times. Plus, if the organization finds a taker for Zack Cozart, or an injury occurs, it’s possible that Gennett could end up receiving an expanded opportunity.[...]



Steve Selsky is a weirdo

2017-03-28T17:00:01+00:00

It’s late March, which means it's time to talk about fifth outfielders/utility infielders with strange stat lines and career outlooks. Enter Steve Selsky. Steve Selsky is not a household name, to put it lightly. He was first drafted in the 34th round in 2011, didn’t sign, and in the next year’s draft, rocketed all the way up to the 33rd round and signed with the Reds. He toiled in obscurity in the minors for more than five seasons before making his debut last year, in his age-27 season. He didn’t undergo any Trevor Story-esque explosion once he was here, either. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s probably because you are living a fulfilling life not immersed in the minutia of every single roster slot of every single team. But! It’s March, and Steve Selsky is in line to possibly get some playing time with the Red Sox, who claimed him off waivers from the Reds in January. And while he didn’t grab everyone’s attention in his brief stint in the majors, what he did do was pretty interesting. To whit: Alright, maybe not pretty interesting. But interesting! A 3.7 percent walk rate and a 40.7 percent walk rate are not encouraging signs — that’s two walks in 54 PAs, and twenty-two strikeouts. How do you get from that to a 114 wRC+? One possibility is prodigious power, but Selsky didn’t have that, with a fine-but-not-outstanding .157 ISO. No, Selsky went the absurd-BABIP route, with fourteen of his twenty-seven non-HR balls in play turning into hits. Now, normally, that would not be worth an article. But first, again: late March. Second, there are reasons to think Selsky’s unique skill set can combine with the circumstances faced by the Red Sox to give him some playing time. And third, he’s having himself quite the spring, for whatever that’s worth: More like Buysky after Steve's fourth home run of the spring.— Tim Britton (@TimBritton) March 27, 2017 After a game Monday against the Orioles (in which he went 3-for-5 with a home run and a stolen base), Selsky is hitting .356/.431/.689, with four long balls in 50 PAs. Of course, spring stats don’t mean much. But Selsky’s minor league career, though not incredible, shows that he has some legitimate skills, and that his 2016 might not be entirely a small-sample product. Across three seasons at AAA (2014–16, 686 PAs) he hit .283/.369/.425, with a lofty .369 BABIP that was the product of solid contact and some speed. While at AAA, Selsky walked more than he did in his major-league cup of coffee (an 11.6 percent BB rate), but the strikeouts were not wholly out of character (a 27.6 percent K rate). He found his power stroke late in career, hitting nine dingers in 339 PAs in 2016 after hitting only three in 347 PAs the previous two seasons and only one in 304 PAs at AA. All that, combined with some of the underlying process behind his 2016 results, yields some reason for cautious optimism. Selsky is[...]



Podcast: “You’re The Worst Man, Man”

2017-03-28T17:00:00+00:00

Grey is back from his East Coast gallivanting!  Just listen to the crazy Saturday night Grey had in NYC....  On today's show, we chat on Grey's NL-only Tout Wars squad, filled with mystery, intrigue, and Cody Reed - who just gave up 10 runs in his last Spring start!  We also catch up on injuries to lefties, J.D. Martinez's food, and Gregory Polanco waking up with a sore shoulder.  Get this guy a Tempur-Pedic!  Finally, we have Rudy join us on the show with Peter Rosenbloom and Jared Cross - two of the founders of Steamer - to talk projections systems, and how they're formulated and tweaked based on new data sets.  I like the new unit of time we came up with!  Plus our membership subscriptions for our own special sauce Razzball tools are now live!  We're geared for the best tools you can find for fantasy baseball, both for season-long and for DFS.  Check them out at that linkity link there!  Here's the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast: Download from iTunesGrey is back from his East Coast gallivanting!  Just listen to the crazy Saturday night Grey had in NYC....  On today's show, we chat on Grey's NL-only Tout Wars squad, filled with mystery, intrigue, and Cody Reed - who just gave up 10 runs in his last Spring start!  We also catch up on injuries to lefties, J.D. Martinez's food, and Gregory Polanco waking up with a sore shoulder.  Get this guy a Tempur-Pedic!  Finally, we have Rudy join us on the show with Peter Rosenbloom and Jared Cross - two of the founders of Steamer - to talk projections systems, and how they're formulated and tweaked based on new data sets.  I like the new unit of time we came up with!  Plus our membership subscriptions for our own special sauce Razzball tools are now live!  We're geared for the best tools you can find for fantasy baseball, both for season-long and for DFS.  Check them out at that linkity link there!  Here's the latest edition of the Razzball Baseball Podcast: Download from iTunes[...]



Indians Extend Jose Ramirez

2017-03-28T16:28:00+00:00

MARCH 28: Cleveland has announced the signing. MARCH 25: Ramirez receives a $2MM signing bonus and a $571.4K salary for 2017, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Ramirez will earn just under $2.429MM in 2018, so he’ll make a combined $3MM in salary over the next two seasons.  The rest of the contract breaks…MARCH 28: Cleveland has announced the signing. MARCH 25: Ramirez receives a $2MM signing bonus and a $571.4K salary for 2017, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  Ramirez will earn just under $2.429MM in 2018, so he’ll make a combined $3MM in salary over the next two seasons.  The rest of the contract breaks down as $3.75MM in 2019, $6.25MM in 2020 and $9MM in 2021.  There is a $2MM buyout of the $11MM club option in 2022 and the 2023 club option (with no buyout) is worth $13MM.  Each club option year could be increased by $1M based on escalator clauses.  The deal will become official when Ramirez passes a physical. MARCH 24, 8:09pm: The guarantee includes Ramirez’s salary for the upcoming season, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. 5:55pm: The Indians are close to finalizing a four-year deal with infielder Jose Ramirez, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. When it’s completed, the contract is expected to promise Ramirez $26MM, Passan tweets. It will also include a pair of options valued at $11MM and $13MM, respectively; escalators could push the total value of the deal’s six possible seasons to $50MM. Ramirez, 24, has two years and 74 days of MLB service on his odometer. The deal will begin with the 2018 season, meaning it’ll cover his three seasons of arbitration eligibility and one campaign of potential free-agent eligibility. With the two options, the Indians will pick up three new years worth of control, meaning Ramirez could be in Cleveland through his age-31 season. The Indians continue to rate as one of the game’s most aggressive pursuers of new contracts with existing players. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Brandon Guyer, and Josh Tomlin are all playing on deals that extended the club’s control rights. Now, Ramirez appears set to join that group — most of which is set to stay in Cleveland for quite a few years. Whether the club will make a concerted effort to do the same with star shortstop Francisco Lindor remains to be seen, but he surely seems to be the club’s most appealing remaining extension target. Ramirez seemed an unlikely candidate for a sizable commitment this time last year, when he was coming off of a season in which he hit just .219/.291/.340 over 355 plate appearances. But his fortunes changed in a big way last year. Slated to play a reserve role at the outset of the season, Ramirez ended up seeing action in all but ten of the club’[...]



Cubs Release Munenori Kawasaki

2017-03-28T16:20:00+00:00

The Cubs have released infielder Munenori Kawasaki, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times was among those to report on Twitter. In addition to avoiding Article XX(B) obligations, the move allows Kawasaki to look for a shot at making another organization’s Opening Day roster. If Kawasaki isn’t able to find greener pastures, says Wittenmyer, the Cubs…

The Cubs have released infielder Munenori Kawasaki, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times was among those to report on Twitter. In addition to avoiding Article XX(B) obligations, the move allows Kawasaki to look for a shot at making another organization’s Opening Day roster.

If Kawasaki isn’t able to find greener pastures, says Wittenmyer, the Cubs would like to bring him back. That’s not surprising given that the veteran utilityman, a noted clubhouse character, accompanied the team on its successful journey to the World Series even though he wasn’t on the postseason roster and had appeared in just 14 regular-season games.

That’s not to say that Kawasaki doesn’t have his uses as a player. He has only seen limited action over the past two MLB seasons, but has taken 738 trips to the plate at the game’s highest level. While Kawasaki has hit just .237/.320/.289 in that span, he is known as a good and versatile defender.

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Odd Lots: The Birchwood Brothers’ Ten Bold Predictions For 2017

2017-03-28T16:15:01+00:00

“Be not too bold.” So wrote Edmund Spenser in his 1590 best-seller The Faerie Queene, a work so obscure, so archaic, and so tedious that even we can’t stand reading it. And anyway, it’s bad advice, at least when it comes to something called Bold Predictions, and at least for us Birchwood Brothers, whose stock […]“Be not too bold.” So wrote Edmund Spenser in his 1590 best-seller The Faerie Queene, a work so obscure, so archaic, and so tedious that even we can’t stand reading it. And anyway, it’s bad advice, at least when it comes to something called Bold Predictions, and at least for us Birchwood Brothers, whose stock in trade is identifying the unheralded and unsuccessful before they become heralded and unsuccessful. Thus, we pledge: nobody among our ten bold predictions cost more than $1 in the just-completed Tout Wars mixed auction. Indeed, some were reserve-round picks, and some weren’t chosen at all. And to keep our promise, we’re starting with a bonus pick, which includes guys who went for more than $1, though not much more. Thus, in ascending order of improbability, we have: 11. The Padres Outfield Will Steal, In The Aggregate, At Least 100 Bases. When Padres Manager Andy Green has fast guys on his team, he loves to run with them. And he has fast guys. Travis Jankowski you know about, though you didn’t this time last year. Manuel Margot—have you seen this guy run? He’s only 22, and if he develops any discretion on the basepaths, 30 SBs is his downside. Alex Dickerson is plenty fast, too. Ah, you say: Dickerson’s fast, but he’s sidelined with a back problem, and as noted orthopedist Paulie Walnuts observed, “when it comes to backs, nobody knows anything, really.” And, you add, Dickerson’s replacement is Hunter Renfroe, who has many sterling virtues, among which is not included extraordinary swiftness on the basepaths. But we’re not so sure that Renfroe makes the cut, at least at the start of the season. He strikes out a good deal (though less this spring than heretofore), doesn’t draw walks, and isn’t much of an outfielder. A little more seasoning won’t hurt. And his replacement, if Dickerson is hors de combat: the now-healthy and very fast Corey Spangenberg, an infielder by trade who’s been playing some outfield precisely because, it appears, Green wants to get him in the lineup. 10. Andrew Toles will do as well in 450 plate appearances as he did in 115 last season. So that’s .314/.365/.505 with about 10 home runs and (we envision) 10 stolen bases, more if he bats towards the top of the order and manager Dave Roberts lets him run. What is there in this guy’s record that makes you think he won’t keep hitting? And what is there that makes you think he’s not a good fielde[...]



Bargain Hunting: Five for $5

2017-03-28T16:15:00+00:00

This post was inspired by Trey Baughn’s Bargain Shopping: Five for $5 from December. With just days remaining before the start of the 2017 baseball season, most fantasy auctions and drafts are completed. However, since some will take place this week, and since most fantasy owners are always interested in making savvy moves to improve […]This post was inspired by Trey Baughn’s Bargain Shopping: Five for $5 from December. With just days remaining before the start of the 2017 baseball season, most fantasy auctions and drafts are completed. However, since some will take place this week, and since most fantasy owners are always interested in making savvy moves to improve their rosters, now is as good a time as any to talk about fantasy bargains. To qualify for this list, players must simply cost less than $6 on the Ottoneu Average Salaries page (sorted by “All game types”) and be beyond rookie status. Getting right into the list: 1. Lucas Duda ($4.12; 1B) The only thing holding Duda back is health, and he appears to be healthy. As of Monday afternoon, Duda has played 14 of the Mets’ 22 spring training games and batted .250/.325/.556 with no health setbacks. In his career, Duda has a .345 wOBA and 122 wRC+, and he was even better in 2014 and 2015 before missing most of 2016 with a back injury. Duda’s best attributes as a hitter are his patience (11.3% career walk rate) and his power (.203 career ISO), and both should return to form if he’s healthy in 2017. Additionally, the league average ISO spiked dramatically from 2015 to 2016, from .150 to .165, so Duda could be primed to display even more power than before if the league-wide trend continues. While being a first baseman limits Duda’s upside, he has definite bargain potential at under $5. 2. Ivan Nova ($4.88; SP) Before being traded to the Pirates, Nova had a 4.41 ERA and 4.40 FIP in 729 career innings for the Yankees. After being traded, he had a 3.06 ERA and 3.13 FIP in 64 2/3 innings. Nova’s batted ball profile in Pittsburgh was almost identical to his batted ball profile in New York, but he reduced his walk rate from 2.9 BB/9 to 0.4 BB/9 and his home run rate from 1.1 HR/9 to 0.6 HR/9. While the extremely low walk rate is not repeatable, there is reason for general optimism since Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Searage has turned pitchers’ careers around before, and Nova is automatically helped by the move from the American League East and a small home ballpark to the National League and a large home ballpark. Nova has picked up in spring training where he left off last season: he has allowed just one walk and one home run in 14 Grapefruit League innings. Depth Charts buys into the changes (to an extent) by projecting 2.13 BB/9 and 0.91 HR/9 for Nova in 2017. He’s worth a speculative l[...]



Phillies Release Chris Coghlan

2017-03-28T15:52:00+00:00

The Phillies have announced the release of veteran outfielder/infielder Chris Coghlan. He was an Article XX(B) free agent, meaning today was the deadline for the organization either to promise him an active roster spot or commit to paying him a $100K retention bonus. Coghlan, 31, had signed a minors pact over the offseason and seemingly…

The Phillies have announced the release of veteran outfielder/infielder Chris Coghlan. He was an Article XX(B) free agent, meaning today was the deadline for the organization either to promise him an active roster spot or commit to paying him a $100K retention bonus.

Coghlan, 31, had signed a minors pact over the offseason and seemingly had a good chance of cracking the rebuilding Phillies’ roster. But he didn’t do much to win a job with his performance in the Grapefruit League. Coghlan ended up with a .231/.319/.282 batting line in camp.

Still, the veteran has done enough in recent years to think he’s still plenty capable of functioning as a handy MLB bench piece, featuring defensive versatility and quality production against righties. While he got off to a terrible start last season, he finished strong with a .252/.391/.388 batting line over his final 128 plate appearances.

With Coghlan on his way back onto the open market, the Phils may be set to turn to Brock Stassi as a bench option. He certainly has done all he can this spring to earn a shot, with a .320/.370/.680 batting line in game action.

That said, there could be something else afoot, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). The organization may end up dealing a pitcher off of its 40-man roster in a swap that would deliver an alternative bench option, Gelb suggests.

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Diamondbacks Release, Re-Sign Gregor Blanco

2017-03-28T15:08:00+00:00

TODAY: The D-Backs have indeed re-signed Blanco to a new minors deal, per a club announcement. It contains the same terms — a $1MM potential base salary and $2.7MM in available incentives — as the old one, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). YESTERDAY, 9:29pm: Arizona would like to re-sign Blanco, per Nick…

TODAY: The D-Backs have indeed re-signed Blanco to a new minors deal, per a club announcement. It contains the same terms — a $1MM potential base salary and $2.7MM in available incentives — as the old one, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter).

YESTERDAY, 9:29pm: Arizona would like to re-sign Blanco, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links). With an oblique injury slowing Blanco, the club wasn’t “comfortable making the call on him for the Opening Day roster tomorrow” (the Article XX(B) deadline), thus leading to tonight’s move.

9:11pm: The Diamondbacks have released veteran outfielder Gregor Blanco, per a team announcement. He’ll return to the open market in search of another opportunity after failing to crack the team’s Opening Day roster.

The 33-year-old Blanco was an Article XX(B) free agent, meaning the club would have had to pay him a $100K roster bonus to keep him in the minors (assuming he’d not have opted out at that point). Though it seemed entering camp that Blanco would have a reasonable shot at making the team, he hit just .225/.295/.400 in spring action.

Blanco’s offensive production tanked last year, as he scuffled to a .224/.309/.311 slash. But he had been quite a steady performer over the four preceding seasons with the Giants, often as a semi-regular player. Blanco slashed a solid .264/.343/.367 with 18 homers and 69 stolen bases in 1,565 trips to the plate from 2012 through 2015.

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We’ve never seen anything like Jose Altuve

2017-03-28T15:00:00+00:00

Baseball has never had anyone of Altuve’s height perform the way he does. Jose Altuve stands at 5 feet 6 inches tall. That’s really short, especially when you consider the fact that the median baseball player in 2016 is 6 feet tall, and has been getting taller for years. This makes Jose Altuve quite an outlier in today’s game. But Altuve doesn’t have the profile that one would necessarily expect, making him an outlier even among the diminutive. Typically, players who are shorter are thought to be lacking in hitting ability but make up for it with their fielding and speed. But that’s never been Altuve. In fact, none of the fielding metrics seem to think he’s a good defender. For his career, FRAA’s got him at -15.2, DRS at -25, and UZR at -28.7. There’s a lot of noise and uncertainty when it comes to defensive metrics, but when they all unanimously agree like this, it probably means you should take them seriously. Basically, it’s safe to assume that Altuve is a pretty poor fielder. When it comes to his baserunning, there’s some disagreement with his metrics, but the overall conclusion is that Altuve is probably above average (he steals a lot), but not great (he gets thrown out a lot). This leaves us with his hitting, which is where Altuve truly shines. In 2016, he finished with an OPS+ of 154, which ranked seventh in all of baseball among qualified players. That’s a great hitting performance for just about anyone, but when you include Altuve’s height in the equation, that’s when you really start to realize just how special he is. There is literally no one as short as Altuve in today’s game when examining all qualified hitters. Let that sink in for a second. There were 139 qualified players in 2016, and none of them were even near Altuve’s height (or lack thereof). Player’s like Altuve simply don’t exist in today’s game. They either don’t get drafted, don’t make it through the minors, or don’t get playing time. Ironically, there also doesn’t appear to be a great relationship between overall hitting and a player’s height; short guys appear to be able to hit just fine. Now, this is a small sample size of just a single season, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that teams and scouts have an unwarranted bias towards taller hitters. But further investigation would need to be conducted in order to come to that conclusion with any kind of certainty. Shorter players are also not thought of as great power hitters, but once again, Altuve breaks that mold. While there isn’t a great relationship between height and hitting, there is a pretty good relationship between height and p[...]



Rays Acquire Peter Bourjos

2017-03-28T14:47:00+00:00

TODAY: The deal is official. Cash or a player to be named will head to Chicago in return for Bourjos. YESTERDAY, 11:09pm: Bourjos is indeed heading to the Rays in exchange for cash considerations, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports on Twitter. 10:41pm: The Rays are “working on a deal to acquire” outfielder Peter Bourjos from the…TODAY: The deal is official. Cash or a player to be named will head to Chicago in return for Bourjos. YESTERDAY, 11:09pm: Bourjos is indeed heading to the Rays in exchange for cash considerations, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports on Twitter. 10:41pm: The Rays are “working on a deal to acquire” outfielder Peter Bourjos from the White Sox, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). Bourjos, who’ll turn 30 in a few days, signed with Chicago on a minor-league deal over the winter. Valued mostly for his speed and defense, Bourjos has been inconsistent with the bat and owns a lifetime .243/.300/.382 batting line. But he has had his moments at the plate over parts of seven MLB seasons. And he owns a productive .313/.340/.521 slash this spring, seemingly opening the door to semi-regular playing time with the rebuilding White Sox. It could be, though, that the Sox have other ideas up the middle. 25-year-old switch-hitter Jacob May has topped Bourjos’s stat line and could be ready for a shot at the majors despite meager production last year in his first attempt at Triple-A. With the Article XX(B) free agent decision deadline looming, it seems Bourjos didn’t really factor into the Sox’ plans. It seems that Bourjos will function as a reserve outfielder in Tampa Bay. As Topkin notes, Colby Rasmus is expected to open the season on the DL, which creates some need for depth. And the club evidently isn’t content with utilizing Mallex Smith as the only center field-capable reserve; like Kevin Kiermaier, he’s a left-handed hitter. What the addition means for Smith remains to be seen.[...]