Ask the Experts chat transcript

by Tim Heaney on April 8, 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!


Escobar (ATL), K Greene (STL), Y Betancourt(SEA), E Renteria (SF) or should I try to ride Hardy despite the ups and downs? And could you comment on Felipe Lopez' start and whether you think it is an indicator of a solid year in a new setting (My current 2B is J Lopez (SEA) ) I'll hang up and listen. Thanks.

Good morning everyone! Hope everyone enjoyed the first few days the season. Lots to sort through....

Vince, thanks for the question. You defined Hardy perfectly. You can't just plug him in and play him; constant observation is necessary.

I would go with Yunel Escobar and Khalil Greene, in that order. Yunel edges Greene because of his better contact potential, but both are solid because they can accumulate XB hits. Betancourt hasn't kicked his plate discipline issues yet, and I'm not sold that Renteria can return to his NL glory.

Jose Lopez is a solid second baseman who still has some room to grow his power.

We've had ample discussions about Felipe Lopez this offseason and this week. We're sticking by the fact that he's a free swinger who had a hot opening game. He had ample playing time in the last few seasons but failed to repeat what he had in 2005. We're supposed to think he'll go 20-20 when he's hitting atop an already undisciplined order? I'm not saying he can't go double digits in power again, but I think he's being a bit overvalued. If you pick him up, treat him like you would Hardy.


What are your thoughts on Howie Kendrick this year, is he totally healthy and do you agree with the possibility that he could compete for a batting title this year?

Von: I preferred to avoid the risk with Kendrick in any of my draft this year. He never fell to a respectable draft spot, so I never took him.

He is the definition of potential, but his peripherals don't encourage me much. In his limited playing time in the bigs, he hasn't shown enough growth or presence in batting eye and contact rate - or on the basepaths - to give him value to counteract his iffy power potential. He had a brief spurt of pop over three years during a quick climb through the Angels system, but that lasted from 2004 to 2006; there have been no other real indications of that since.

There are some untapped resources, and yes, he does have a quick bat, but I hope you have a feasible backup plan if you have him on your team.


Who would be your pick for a bounce back player of the year?

Rob, I see a return to 30 homers for Paul Konerko. He had a league-worst BABIP last season and played through several injuries. If those maladies don't crop up this year, he makes for a nice CI player. He had a bit of a resurgence in the second half last year.

Also, expect 20-plus homers and 80 RBIs from Jeff Francoeur, though that may come with a .270 clip.

I'm not so sure about Travis Hafner, though. The strength in his shoulder isn't back to where it was yet. I took a flier on him in several leagues, but I made sure to back myself up in that department.


Kyle Lohse gets two starts this week...what are you projecting his stats to be this year?

Chris, I would probably ride Lohse for his other start (mediocre matchup against HOU), but I'm not sure if he's going to carry over his success from 2008.

Yes, Dave Duncan has done wonders for him and so many others, but Lohse's lack of dominance scares me. If you aren't able to rear back and punch hitters out, I'm not so sure about your ability to sustain a 3.78 ERA with a WHIP of 1.30 or so. Like Dice-K, the ratios don't really match.


What is your take on Howie Kendrick this year. Is he totally healthy right now and do you subscribe to the idea that he can compete for a batting title. I'm considering a move to trade B.Phillips for a starting pitcher and then replace my vacated second base spot with Howie.

Scotty, please refer to the previously answered question on Kendrick's potential.

Tying it into your trade question, it depends on the rest of your team. It's hard to replace a valuable 20-20 player like Brandon Phillips for second base; in this instance, I prescribe to the positional scarcity mantra. Do you have other sources of steals on your team? Do you have another 2B besides Kendrick? Who's on your SP staff?

It's hard to answer that directly without seeing the rest of your team, but I can't say Kendrick gives you the same firepower that Phillips offers. I might even suggest trading Kendrick if he starts to heat up - cash in on a Kendrick hot streak for a mid-level pitcher with nice skills (K/9, K/BB). Howie hasn't proved reliable enough to stay on the field for extended periods of time; I'd rather know what I'm getting from a top player (low batting eye ratio but elite power/speed from a shallow position) than a big bag of hype. I'm more willing to gamble on an arm than a bat.


i was offered a trade of Brandon Morrow and Brandon Phillips for Dustin Pedroia should i take it.

Eric, it depends on who else you took in the first four rounds of your draft. Though we think Pedroia will come down to earth a bit, he still offers an elite foundation for runs scored and batting average. He's a professional hitter to the highest degree.

Phillips gives you 20-20 or more, which we have seen him do before. Cons with Phillips: batting eye and contact rate.

Pedroia's stolen base history is a little checkered, though, so that's a definite advantage for Phillips.

I would see if you can needle someone else from him, though I would barely lean yes on this one. You can pump up Pedroia's name to gain more in the deal. It depends on what your needs are.


Why does every site rank Carl Crawford as a top 30 or so player? He actually fell to my team in the 4th round and I grabbed him but I want to trade him. I don't see the fascination with him anymore.

Brett, we sympathize with you. It's the elite SB production that probably skews mathematical ranking systems. He comes out 23 on our list, but I wouldn't draft him there. I'm not sure that 30-homer power everyone raves about will ever show up. He still lacks above-average plate discipline that would alleviate the absence of elite home run skills.

Positives: Speed, moderate contact, runs scored. He looks healthy, too.

Crawford falling to you in the fourth round is actually the ideal place to grab him this year. Who were your first three picks? If you loaded up on power early, then that's a fantastic balance. In fantasy, you can't completely write off players; you write them off for where they're taken (on a relative case). I'm not a big Crawford fan, but in the fourth round, I'm willing to take the chance if I already built up my pop.

I would still field offers, though, for sure. Assess your needs, but don't trade him for a lesser player just because you don't like him.


I must choose between NL three farm players. Who will give me the best fantasy return over 3 years: Andrew McCutcheon, Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies version) or Steven Strasbourg

Good question, Matt. What's your biggest need?

Andrew McCutchen has made gains in each level he has played in the minors, and the Pirates are taking their time with him. Gonzalez is still extremely raw, but any playing time in COL makes him enticing.

That being said, it's hard to argue against Stephen Strasburg if you're going for the big bang. His control and velocity look unreal. There were some fleeting concerns about his mechanics and tempo potentially causing long-term problems, but scouts have noted he has improved in his work and windup. It's tough to put too much stock into young pitching (Brien Taylor, Bryan Bullington and Homer Bailey so far), but if you're going for boom or bust, go with the SDSU hurler.


Besides the Braves' Kawikami, as a Japanese pitcher expected to thrive in the majors this year, are the other pitchers from Japan that intrigue you? Perhaps, Koji Uehara of the Orioles starting against the Yankees today? And are the others we might expect to emerge in the coming months?

Dan, first off, I'm not sure I'd be inclined to pitch Uehara today.

Still, Uehara has potential to be a solid No. 5 fantasy pitcher. His control is his big facet, but he has enough dominance to counteract it. You always need to detract from Japanese baseball numbers a bit, though, so when you scale those back you could still see a pitcher with solid skills.

I'm not particularly sold on any other imports. Junichi Tazawa will eventually have an impact but probably not until 2010. You MUST keep an eye on Yu Darvish for the coming few seasons.


I'm in a dynasty AL-only league selecting minor-league players by player rankings. My team I purchased at auction is a bit thin on dominant strikeout pitchers, especially relievers (lots of innings-eaters). How would you rank the following--Carlos Santana, Brett Cecil, Nolan Reimold, Tyler Flowers, Jake Arrieta, Jeremy Hellickson, David Cooper, Sean Doolittle, Jordan Walden, Michael Bowden, Aaron Cunningham, Daniel Bard, Eric Hosmer and Tim Beckham? I pick 11th and 14th, so LaPorta, Tillman and the top 2008 college draftees will be gone--anyone else I should consider? Keep in mind the league activates callups immediately and you cannot reserve anyone for under-performance, and Main, Feliz and several of the 2008 top prospects are kept.


My rankings:

Tier 1





Tier 2







Tier 3





I included Santana in Tier 1 because of his potential from the C position. Cecil is the most polished of the three Tier 1 pitchers, so he'd be my first choice if you're going for dominance.


I'm in a 12-team mixed 5x5 roto leagueI where have 1b+3b/C. Davis starting at 1B with 1B+2B/F.Lopez as a backup strictly riding the bench. I recently dropped 1B/M.Jacobs to pursue some RP for SVs, which I lack in a major way (Qualls, Wheeler, Franklin & Putz). Should I consider going with C+3B+OF/B.Inge solely at C and dropping C/R.Hernandez to pickup Jacobs as an insurance policy on C.Davis (batting seventh) or stick with him?

Dan, I hate to recommend sticking with Brandon Inge in any league, even with his great multipositional eligibility. 20 HRs, .210 clip - that's the best-case scenario from Inge, and that's not so likely to happen. It's hard to put trust into someone like that.

Sometimes it's easy to become infatuated with positional eligibility while ignoring skill. I'd rather take my chances with Ramon Hernandez. Is there anyone else you can drop for Jacobs? He's still worth rostering in a deep league, as long as you play him by his streaks. You can even play Lopez at first (not ideal, but an option that doesn't require a transaction) if needed when he's on a good run.


I've got Navarro at C but Napoli was just dropped. Do I pick him up? Why hasn't he played?

Greg, reports say Mike Napoli will suit up today, but it looks like Mathis is starting for now. Napoli wasn't anything more than a part-time player to begin with, and it doesn't look like he'll see many DH at-bats now that the Angels have a four- or five-outfielder rotation. Mathis is the better defensive catcher.

Mathis has proved himself so far, and Napoli has struggled catching up after undergoing shoulder surgery this past offseason.

I wouldn't pull the trigger on Napoli yet. Navarro doesn't offer much excitement, but he's stable. Napoli's uncertain playing time and ability to stay healthy are reason to avoid him for now. Keep an eye on him.


Hey Tim, The question I'm about to ask could probably have an entire site devoted to the answer. Every year I studiously prepare for the draft, usually draft what I deem to be a competitive team and then most years struggle to compete. This occurs in both my rotisserie and head-to-head. I think I lack in running my teams. I often don't trade very much but I'm quite active on the wire. There are so many theories and strategies about how to draft, but what about running your team? This question is so subjective, but do you have a couple items you can list that would be things I should definitely be doing to help better run my teams?

Scotty, if my bosses will pay me, I will gladly take a sabbatical in KFFL's hometown of San Diego, sit on the beach and develop a more thorough answer to this :)

In all seriousness, you really can't win on draft day alone. Injuries happen, slumps pop up and depth charts change. At that time, however, I try to draft four top offensive players that remain healthy most of the time - the consistent 600-at-bat threats who contribute across the board. Then you dabble into an ace starter and an ace closer while building up some upside/value offensive players. Then I spend most of my time netting skills pitchers and rounding out my offense.

During the season, you try to time when to trade/ trade for someone. Is the player a second-half stud or dud? Is a player overperforming - and if so, can you trade them before they falter (ie. Nate McLouth last year) - or underperforming? Who can you buy low and sell high?

Do you play roto or head-to-head? For roto, if you build a huge lead in a category by the middle of the season, you should try to trade some of your accumulated stats there to help you in other places (ie. trading steals or saves for homers, a recommended midseason move). Head to head is closer to a series of sprints than they are marathons, so the pace is a bit more frantic than roto. Owners are usually more aggressive in head-to-head leagues in terms of trading (from my experience at least).

Accurately selecting solid spot starters is also key. This is why you don't overpay for pitching. Examine the matchups, scour the wire and look for good situations. If there's an innings limit for the season, you don't need to start every pitcher early in the season. Pick and choose your probable starters carefully.

You should keep one or two roster spots open to cycle hot hitters or pitchers - plucking waiver wire gems usually turns the tide (you may want to grab Emilio Bonifacio or Edwin Jackson for those purposes. Check out KFFL's blogs for more on these players.)

Hope that helps, Scotty! Best of luck. Remember - keep a watch list, notes and a journal of what other teams need in order to create trade opportunities. Know thy opponents as well as your own team.


Jurassic name game: Helton, Dye, Konerko, or Thome?

Rapid-fire round, Lonnie. Thanks for the question!

Dye by far over the rest, then the other three are virtually tied but ranked Thome, Konerko, Helton. I wouldn't mind acquiring any one of the last three, though. Helton is the one to target for average, but the others should slug 30 homers this year.


Which one of these two do you think has more upside this year - Lind or Kubel? Seems like a coin flip to me with similar skill sets.

Frank, it's a near-flip, definitely. I'd go with Lind for the upside for batting average, and he has less to worry about regarding playing time. I see Kubel losing some time, but not much. Lind is safer.

Thanks for stopping by, folks! Great questions, as usual! Nicholas Minnix (Monday, noon EDT) and I will be back next week at our usual times. Hope you're enjoying the season!

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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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