Ask the Experts chat transcript

by Tim Heaney on March 25, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


Twice a week, KFFL fantasy baseball experts Nicholas Minnix (Mondays, 12 p.m. EST, 9 a.m. PST) and Tim Heaney (Wednesdays, 12 p.m. EST, 9 a.m. PST) chat live with fantasy baseball players to answer their most pressing questions.

Go to the Ask the Experts Landing Page to access these exciting chats and have your questions answered by Heaney, Minnix and the rest of the best in the industry!

craig

I am in a Keeper League. My question is are there any players that will start the year on the DL that probably aren't going to be drafted, example Tim Hudson. I have 3 DL spots and I like to keep them full with guys that may make a impact in June or July.

Morning/afternoon, chathletes! Let's start this party!

Craig, it depends on which teams are playing for next year. It's usually a decent idea to throw a buck or a late pick at injured impact players to stash them. Don't make them the savior of your team if your draft doesn't go as well as you expect, but they can be nice bonus options.

Hudson would be a good stash option, along with Kelvim Escobar (who might even be back in April) and Ben Sheets. I'd be more hesitant to say Billy Wagner, depending on what his role will be. If the Mets release or trade him, keep your eyes peeled.

Still, you wouldn't want to reach for any of these players - they're end-game material. Plus, given the injuries during the season, you may not be able to save all three DL spots for stashing purposes.

anthony

lineup ?...pitching stats r: w k era whip saves, cg, pg, nono, shut out. i have pulled off 2 trades. i got josh hamilton for j santana and pablo sandoval . and i got carlos beltran for rivera and papelbon. stud hitters. now ? is, for my 6 "p" spots. should i run relivers all the way down the board for low stats and saves and punt the other categories or still try to get some hits on the other pitching ststa? thnx

Anthony, I like both trades for your offensive prowess. Though I think Hamilton is a bit overvalued, it still makes for a good pull. You traded overvalued pitchers and Sandoval for two elite OFers.

As for punting, I wouldn't be so sure, especially if there's a minimum innings mark. Relievers can even blow up your ratios if they have an extended slump. Since pitchers can go more innings, they even out bumps in the road during a start. Middle reliever talent is hardly a sure thing, though. Two of the best examples of what you're trying to accomplish rest with the Rays' J.P. Howell and Grant Balfour. They aren't proven commodities, even with their recent success.

That being said, streaming pitchers can be a risky venture - you can't just throw them in there because they're starting that day. You need to pick and choose the matchups if you're following this route.

I'd suggest trying to obtain pitchers cheap in your draft or from the waiver wire with solid skills and ratios if you're going with the "LIMA-esque" plan.

mikko

Edwin Encarnacion....Can he possibly put together an entire season...I am targeting him for a late round pick up...what do you think?

Mikko, with the more research I do, the more I become a fan of Double-E. Edwin is just 26 (odd to think he's that young, right?), and he made a significant batting eye improvement last year. His flyball rate skyrocketed, too, which may help or hurt, depending on how he works with it. He's dealing with some shoulder issues, but they're reportedly minor.

He said he tried to pull the ball last year, so maybe some of those flyballs will turn into well-hit extra-base knocks this year. He had a .267 BABIP last year, down from his .298 career average. Expect an improvement this season. He may even fall in some drafts - I nabbed him in Round 16 as a CI in our 12-team KFFL Internal League and was happy with the value.

His ADP actually has him around 110, so you may not be able to wait if people spend an early pick on him. I wouldn't go that high on him, but if he slips a few rounds, give him a hard look.

phillip

What are your thoughts on Stephen Strasburg for 2009? 2010? 2011?

That seems to be the $64,000 question, Phillip!

My thoughts are keep an eye on him, but don't pounce in any draft. There's a chance the Washington Nationals may not draft him because of the money it would take to sign him (Scott Boras client), but I think they'd pony up for the future in this case.

It's unrealistic to think he'll make an MLB impact this year. David Price was drafted in 2007 and didn't pitch in the bigs until late the next season.

I honestly haven't watched much video of him, but there's a huge hype machine around him, that's for sure. He has been called the best pitching prospect of the last decade, and as with Price, a college on-field education certainly helps. I just read a stat report that had him at a 1.57 ERA and a 74-to-7 (yeah, read that again) K-to-BB ratio at San Diego State.

We all know there have been mixed results with super-prospects. Don't overvalue him in fantasy when reality needs to kick in for him first. Maybe in a deep, deep, DEEP keeper league, MAYBE spend a last-round pick on him, but nothing more. If you're playing for this year, only choose him when there are absolutely no upside players left that can help you. If you're playing for the future, maybe you draft him in the round before that. Don't include him on your 2009 cheat sheets otherwise.

jim

I'm in an Al-Only league and would like your predictions for this years Carlos Quentin's and Alexei Ramirez's (i.e. surprises).

Jim, I expect a bit of a drop-off for both of them. I'm skeptical of Al-Ram improving based on how poor his batting eye was last year. People are reaching/overpaying for him because of his tri-eligibility and the premium positions he plays. This can be sound strategy if you plan it right and if you don't reach, but otherwise it's drafting for positional scarcity, not the actual player. In the first four rounds, you can grab quality all-around fantasy players that have already had that success instead of banking on a great rookie season. Not doubting his talent, but you can be more secure with your first picks.

Quentin is in the same boat. Monstrous talent, but I'd like to see a second year of it. Personally, I'd take someone like Alex Rios or Curtis Granderson before I take Quentin. This is why you focus on power in the first three/four rounds of your draft - you avoid relying on Quentin types to repeat what many are questioning will happen again.

I think Nate McLouth should drop off a bit, too, but he has a bit more of a track record than the other two. We've seen McLouth flash this talent for two straight seasons, so I'd be more confident in him repeating those numbers to a certain extent.

I see Shane Victorino disappointing those who pick him in the fifth round or earlier. The power isn't stable enough to go this high on him.

Greg

In a 12 team, mixed league, H2H each week with 12 categories--6 pitching (Wins, K's, ERA, WHIP, Saves, Innings)--how many starters would you target in the draft with 23 roster spots? Thanks!

Greg, it depends on how many P slots you're allotted. I'd typically say six starters and three relievers, but that depends on how the roster spots are split.

It also depends on how your draft falls out. You shouldn't stick to this plan if the player pool is altered - if there are value relievers left, maybe you could go 5 SPs/4 RPs. I typically lean toward taking more quality starters late as you can rent relief help if needed and find some temporary sources for saves on the waiver wire.

I usually take one elite starter and one elite/near-elite closer within the first 8-10 rounds, then I grab highly skilled pitchers in the middle rounds. You want to focus more on offense first. If you draft six or seven starters at proper value who won't hurt you just because you're drafting for innings, then bully to you. If you're forcing yourself to change your draft strategy and picking starters you don't want just to catch up in innings, you're following a dead end path.

Personally, I'd be inclined to bring a vote to your league next about dropping the innings category and replacing it with a skills stat, like K/BB, or even the dreaded holds category. Innings aren't always a byproduct of skill (neither are wins), and it doesn't take much to accumulate innings if you're streaming pitchers.

Larry

Please rank the following to fill out my draft. I'm in a 13 team mixed roto 5x5 keeper league. CI: Wiggington, Kouzmanoff, Lowrie and K.Morales OF: Church, Hermida, Ross and Gerut C: 2 of the 3: Pudge, Laird and Varitek Thank you.

Larry,

CI

  1. Wigginton
  2. Kouz
  3. Lowrie
  4. Morales

Wigginton earns the slight edge over Kouz for his versatility, but I could envision taking either one. If you already have bench flexibility, then go Kouz. Lowrie earns the same edge, though he's better value as a MI. He's a good desperation 3B. I don't understand the fascination with Morales. I'd like to see him prove his worth to me before I draft him.

OF

  1. Hermida
  2. Gerut
  3. Ross
  4. Church

Hermida still has 15-15 potential, and people have seemingly forgotten about him. Gerut has a nice contact rate and is finally coming back into the majors. Ross earns the edge because of his power/PT. I don't trust Church to stay healthy.

C

  1. Pudge
  2. Laird
  3. Varitek

Pudge looked rejuvenated in the WBC, and I think Houston is a good opportunity for him as a fantasy No. 2 catcher. Laird's PT and occasional streaky play puts him right behind him. Varitek has little left in the tank. If he gets hot during the year, spend a waiver wire pickup on him.

Rookie

I'm drafting in the 7 slot this weekend. I'm assuming that Hanley, Pujols, Wright, Reyes, and Cabrera will be off the board. If so, I could take whoever is left between Sizemore and Braun. Besides those two, do you see any other possibilities that would make sense with the 7th pick?

Hey, Rookie (I feel like Lou Piniella calling you that. Thanks!)!

I honestly think someone will make that decision for you. Sizemore and Braun are likely to go sixth and seventh, in some order. You should be happy to settle for one of them. Maybe some slight consideration goes to Jimmy Rollins or Mark Teixeira, but those two are better suited for the eighth and ninth picks because of their reliability.

If they both somehow fall to you, I'd go Sizemore, by a hair. Any uptick in batting average makes Sizemore a mid-first-round version of Hanley Ramirez. The odd part about Sizemore's last three years: His BA has dropped, but his batting eye has steadily grown and his BABIP has actually declined. Once those even out, watch out.

Braun isn't exactly a silver medal, though. You're in the wheelhouse to nab one of them, meaning you already have a great foundation.

Rick

I currently have Nick Swisher on my bench in a 14-team mixed league. Do you view Cody Ross as an upgrade for a 4th outfielder? Hitting categories are: R, HR, RBI, SB, TB, AVG, OBP, K).

Good question, Rick. Swisher's dual eligibility is the main reason he would beat out Ross, but the other main argument is experience. I don't know how Ross will react to playing everyday. Swisher is a patient hitter who had a terrible experience as a member of the White Sox. I think the change of scenery will help him; he has already said the Yankees are better at communicating with their players.

Ross definitely has the playing time, though. He had a nice stint in 2007 but couldn't help you in average for a near-full season last year. Based on skills, though, Swisher has a much better batting eye, meaning he can rebound from slumps better. The Swish edges Ross because he's a bench OF and 1B, but I couldn't blame you if you pick up Ross during a hot stint. You can probably get away with dropping Swisher because of his non-guaranteed playing time.

Eric

I have Brian Fuentes in 2 of my leagues. He's having velocity issues this Spring. Should I be concerned? And somebody else already picked up Jose Arrendondo. Is it worth drafting Scott Shields for insurance? My other closers are Jose Valverde & Joel Hanrahan who is also having velocity issues this Spring. I also picked up Dan Wheeler late in the draft. 12 Teams 5x5 Roto.

Eric, I would be concerned. KFFL has plugged Fuentes as overvalued all season, but you did a nice job by not relying on him and going with two closers we're high on to back him up.

Remember, Fuentes has had trouble holding onto the job in the past. His K rate last year was a bit fluky, though he was typically solid in the category. He was in a contract year.

A lefty closer losing velocity spells trouble. I'm not keen on him, and I haven't been all offseason.

Arredondo would've been the logical handcuff, but Shields wouldn't be bad if you can't find a better alternative from another team. Wheeler is a solid option; I think he'll snag the majority role from Percival sometime this year. Shields can help your ratios and eat innings when needed, but you may want to pool your resources for other players with better opportunities. Shields is essentially third on the saves depth chart.

Carlos Villanueva would be a good late-round addition. He's excelling as a reliever and with Trevor Hoffman injured he could see himself with the majority of opps in the meantime. If your leaguemates aren't paying attention, then Jason Motte would be someone to target, but you may have to reach a few rounds into the middle portion of your draft.

If you're REALLY desperate, take a chance on David Aardsma, who has been the most impressive Mariners reliever battling for the closer job. No guarantees there, but you're looking for upside, not stability, with those types of picks.

Eric

What are the chances that Jason Motte will actually close for STL? Can the kid handle the pressure of Closer duties? In this league I have Lidge, Fuentes, Qualls, Dan Wheeler & J Arrendondo (it's a lot I know). Motte is a free agent today, I could pick him up, but if he's only a middle reliever I don't think he'll help me much. Should I grab him? 12 team 5x5 Roto.

Eric, solid question.

In the spirit of "always pick up a shiny jewel," I say make the move. Who would you consider dropping for him?

I have been a big fan of Motte since last season - his K rate is phenomenal, and he seems to be harnessing his breaking stuff this spring. He's a former catcher, so hopefully that game management translates well to the mound. I'd rather draft him than Chris Perez, who is battling injuries and still has some fundamental work to do

The problem I have with Motte's situation rests with Tony La Russa, who isn't afraid to shuffle bullpen roles midseason. Without Jason Isringhausen, I think TLR is going to rotate closers.

If you can drop someone and pick up Motte, do it, and try to work out a trade including one of your stoppers, maybe even Motte. If you end up hording closers because of value, it's a good idea to swap them for offense or SP help.

Steve

Hi Tim! Someone offered me this trade: I get- Polanco, CCrawford, JShields; I give - Utley, SVictorino, KSlowey. The Polanco for Utley part is out of the question so I will cut that part of the trade. Crawford's skill set seems equal to Victorino's but Crawford seems to get more SB opportunities & has a higher SB ceiling, but he also always has nagging injuries. Slowey & Shields look equal too but Slowey hasn't fully proven his consistency yet, but Shields will pitch vs a tougher division. What do you think, and should I do the trade (minus Utley)? 12 Team 5x5 Roto.

Hey, Steve! Welcome!

Minus the Utley-Polanco part, I'd say do that in a heartbeat. I'm not a big believer in Crawford, but I certainly think more of him than Victorino. Shields is a legit low-end No. 1 fantasy SP. Slowey is an emerging control-based pitcher who doesn't strike out as many people as a No. 1 fantasy SP should.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Slowey's skills, but Shields has proven himself more. Don't hesitate. Pull the trigger.

Eric

How would you rank the following starters? Buehrle, Kawakami, Zimmerman, Lewis, Arroyo?

Eric,

1. Buehrle

2. Zimmermann

3. Arroyo

4. Lewis

5. Kawakami

Buehrle is the boring No. 1 pick just because of his stability. I would put Zimmermann at No. 1 if he had a guaranteed rotation spot for the Nats. Lewis' skills are intriguing. Arroyo is streaky. Kawakami is a mystery that I'm not taking a chance on.

Eric

Who do you like for sleeper steals while not killing your BA? Andrus, Casilla, Burris. Or should I draft OCab for better all around stats. The other option is to draft Aaron Hill or Fontenot and trade them for steals.

If you're leaning toward late-round sources, Eric, then go to Casilla or Burriss before Andrus, who will probably destroy BA because of his youth/inexperience. Casilla is assured of a starting spot, so maybe go with him before Burriss, but I'd lean the latter because he's likely eligible at both 2B and SS.

O-Cab could be your starting fantasy MI. We still think he can top 15 swipes this year, but he's likely going to decline elsewhere and OAK doesn't run as much as his previous teams.

Thanks for the questions, everyone! Be sure to check out KFFL's FREE Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide at www.kffl.com!

Join Nicholas Minnix (Monday, noon EDT/9 a.m. PST) and me (same time/date) next week for more last-minute advice. Good luck in your drafts!

Stay tuned for Paul Greco of FantasyPros911 at 6 p.m. EST!!!

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


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