Ask the Experts chat transcript

by Tim Heaney on February 18, 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!


I really like Paul Konerko but worry he could break down. What kind of season are you projecting for him and where should he be drafted?

Konerko was extremely unlucky last year - oblique and hand injuries, the worst BABIP in the majors. Yes, he's declining, but he still has 30-homer upside, especially at the Cell - he clubbed 13 after the break in '08. Fantasy players are giving up on him too soon. Not saying he should be your starting first baseman, but you could find less experienced sluggers for a corner infield spot in the late rounds. You could probably pluck him there as a steal this year.


Elvis Andrus....of the Rangers....what do you think of him and could he be a sleeper pick for me..I like his speed....

You're dead on about his speed. That's pretty much the only thing in which KFFL is extremely confident regarding his '09 contributions - along the lines of an Emmanuel Burriss-type player. His skipping of Triple-A worries me, but it's not a bad idea to take him if late steals are what you're targeting. Don't expect much else.


Now that Adam Dunn is with the Nationals what do you think that does to his production numbers?

I'm not extremely worried about it. Nationals Park is typically a terrible power haven for lefties, but Dunn's flyballs are typically bombs, so it's not like he has been aided that much by them. He can be a masher anywhere. His increasing groundball rate is a bit disconcerting, but he's such a patient hitter that he should at least approach 40. KFFL knocked him down slightly from 40 to 39 dingers - is that really a deterrent from taking him? If he slips in value or draft round because of his team/home park, take advantage - you can grab him for a great value if others are hesitant.


I saw on KFFL recently that you guys listed Evan Longoria as a possible bust this year...should I steer clear of him if he is available even in the later rounds?

Good question, Ben. We're not saying Longoria is a complete bust, but we've often seen him go early in the second round. He has all the potential in the world, but we're advocating to wait for proper value for him. Still, I highly doubt he'll fall past the first three stanzas. His batting eye still needs to mature a bit for him to even approach .300, and he's being drafted as if that will already happen. If you can somehow get him in the late second or early third round, it's probably worth it if you have other risky propositions surrounding him. Calling him a bust is merely warning fantasy drafters of overvaluing him.


Any thoughts on how Josh Johnson is going to do this year?

I view Johnson as a solid No. 4 starter. He's finally healthy after TJ surgery, and he's a solid K artist with improving command. I won't say he'll have a Ricky Nolasco-esque year, but he's certainly an upside candidate after you've secured your staff core.


Can you share a few of your late rounders in each league, who will have early round value. Thx.

Mixed - If people are still forgetting about him, Delmon Young. He spent much of last season incorporating an inside-out swing, which sapped his power. After he stopped using it, his power returned. He's a .290 hitter, and obtaining a possible minimum 20-homer, 20-steal guy that late is something you can't pass up.

I also look for Justin Upton's coming-out party this year. These two are great picks for five-outfielder setups - you can grab them late instead settling for a Randy Winn or Jose Guillen.

As for pitching, KFFL is on the Kevin Slowey bandwagon - great control, great bullpen among the reasons. We'll have a deeper examination of him posted today, so check back later.

We're also confident in Joey Devine and Joel Hanrahan as late closers - great K potential there, and Hanrahan has no imminent competition for the WAS job. Devine will have to share with Brad Ziegler, but Devine profiles better as a closer. He just needs to stay healthy.

AL-only - I think Mariners SS Yuniesky Betancourt is someone to target for a middle infield spot. Great contact rate, and Don Wakamatsu is going to emulate the Angels' aggressive baserunning this year, meaning Yu-Bet could return to double-digit steals.

Hate to go back to the Mariners well, but expect a rebound from C Kenji Johjima, whose BABIP was heavily responsible for his struggles. His PT may not be as much as expected if SEA acquires a more accomplished DH, though.

NL-only - Gaby Sanchez is a late CI to target. Great skills in the minors, and the Marlins love to give youngsters a chance to play.

If Emmanuel Burriss wins the starting 2B job for the Giants, that's 30 late-round steals.

Taking a chance on Tommy Hanson won't hurt, because in single-universe setups, prospects are more important. Don't pay too much, but if you have stash room, it's worth it in deep leagues.


Do you believe in ballpark factors? And if so, is there not going to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding the stats of players on both New York teams who will be performing at new stadia in 09? Which players may be particularly impacted based on current available info?

Ballpark factors don't completely negate skill. Someone like Adam Dunn probably won't be affected too much by Nationals Park - he hits absolute bombs. Someone like Matt Holliday, however, may not hit as well in OAK as he did in COL because his home/road splits were so polar. There is some factor, but you should always draft skills first, opportunity second and surroundings, maybe third or fourth in the list of factors to consider.

Yankee Stadium is keeping the same dimensions, but Chapter 11 Field looks to be a bit farther back. Shea was always pitcher-friendly, so that wouldn't change things much, anyway. I don't see how the ballpark switch would affect NY players, except for maybe the occasional direction of the wind.


Do we know anything more about Rich Harden? How bad is the "minor tear" in his shoulder? Does he still even qualify for the "high reward" part of the "high risk/high reward" tag that is perennially assigned to him?

As of the last KFFL report, Harden is throwing off a mound, and the team says he feels healthy. Well, do you really want to put much stock into that? In the middle rounds, why would you risk him as a No. 3 starter? I think he reached his upside last year - and THAT was after missing some time. Unless he falls into the late rounds (doubt it), the upshot isn't worth it.

Cubs booster

Over/under on Milton Bradley's production as the Cubs' cleanup hitter .... I figure he's good for 100 to 120 games, about right?

It looks like Bradley is slated to bat fourth or fifth. I would go with the average of those two figures for games played. He led the league in BABIP last year, so it's risky to count on him for that production again. Twenty homers is realistic, and he's an OK pick as a No. 5 outfielder, but if someone reaches for him in the middle rounds, let that drafter take him.

Mariners' Fan

Is Morrow a good sleeper if he ends up in the Mariners' rotation, given his dramatic splits between work as a starter and a reliever last season?

If you can draft three solid starters before taking Morrow, it may be worth it. I'd be more comfortable with him as a No. 5, though. I think he'll have a few rough patches with his control, but I love his strikeout potential. Regarding the 'pen, Seattle is keeping their options open (Read: scrubs) until 2008 first-rounder Joshua Fields comes around, which may even be this year. Morrow could pull a Papelbon, but don't draft him counting on that notion.


Do you think Chris Davis will be a top 50 player this year?

That's a great question that we have debated in the office. Davis' power can't be denied. He absolutely beats the tar out of the baseball - his line-drive rate is above-average for someone so young. Still, his limited sample size showed that he still needs to work on actually MAKING CONTACT and take walks at a better pace. Davis certainly has the talent and ballpark to reach that goal, but many are drafting him way too soon, partially because of his eligibility at both corners.

I can't see myself taking Davis within the first five rounds of 12-teamers just because of his potential average detriment. If he can somehow gain patience at the plate, he could post Adam Dunn-like numbers. I think this won't be the year it happens, but if he's not top 50, then top 75 is certainly a safer bet just from his power standpoint. If you plan on taking Davis, boost your batting average first.


15-team mixed 5X5 full redraft. Who do you target in the 7, 8 and 9 drafting slots of Rnd 1? What kind of player profile would be a suitable 2nd rounder?

The end of the first round is tricky this year - there's actually more certainty in the first six or seven picks - and oddly enough at the back end of the second, just because how ADP is placing the values. At the seventh spot, you should be able to grab either Grady Sizmore or Miggy, because the top five on average is Hanley, A-Rod, Pujols, Wright and Reyes in some order. Sizemore or Miggy is where the near-certainty for elite numbers ends.

Ryan Howard will give you arguably the best power foundation. Jimmy Rollins will give you steals, runs and average and is the last elite SS available before a big positional drop-off - but many are still overvaluing him because of his two-year power surge that was an outlier.

Ian Kinsler is almost guaranteed to miss some time but has 30-30 potential at 2B. Josh Hamilton shouldn't go 7, 8 or 9 but often does. IMO, Ryan Braun or Mark Teixeira the best to go after the first seven - Braun is the best all-around combination of power and speed there with little injury risk, and Teixeira's the type of proven run producer that should be a first-round pick.

The second round should be stable to give you a foundation to go with the first round. If you end up taking a Hamilton in the end of the first, you may want to target someone like Chase Utley, undervalued because of his iffy start to the season. The first two rounds are the building blocks for your team - you can't rely on your following picks to be your foundation.

Cub Clubbed

Mike Fontenot: is this the year he becomes a 400 AB plus player? Where does he rank amongst your top 2Bs in both leagues?

Not if Aaron Miles has anything to say about it. I think Fontenot is a much more accomplished hitter than Miles, who's in there mainly for his defense and moderate leadoff ability.

Fontenot has more upside and I think he'll eventually get a chance, but you can't draft him as anything more than as a late-rounder. He's someone you take in an NL-only league as a starting middle infielder and you keep on your watch list in mixed leagues - or a bench spot in deep setups.

Thanks for the great questions! Stay tuned for the next pow-wow at 6 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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