Thursday, March 31, 2011

Line of the Day: 03/31/2011

C Ramon Hernandez was 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBI, a run and seven total bases. Oh, by the way, the homer was a walk-off, three-run blast that gave the Cincinnati Reds a 7-6 Opening Day victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Line: 5 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 3 RBI, 1 HR

Hernandez is only owned in 0.2% of ESPN leagues and 5% of Yahoo! leagues. If you skimped out on or punted a catcher in a two-catcher league, Hernandez might be worth a look. I know it's just one game but an offensively-productive catcher is always worth a look.

Agree? Disagree? Nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2011 Draft Results: First Basemen Targeted

If you are new to the world of fantasy baseball, you should be very aware that first base is traditionally a position of great depth filled with some of the most impactful players. Heading into the 2011 season, this still holds true. is showing 10 of the top 50 players being drafted currently qualify as first basemen. If your league uses a corner infielder (CI or 1B/3B), extra infielder (IF), designated hitter (DH) or even a utility slot (UTIL) or two, there's a great opportunity to add one or more of these highly coveted players.

I went into all of my drafts having some players within the different tiers of first basemen as targets but draft position was really going to determine who I grabbed in the early rounds and how that would shape my entire roster. I wound up drafting 1st, 6th, 8th and 7th in my four snake drafts which meant three of my four drafts would have a lot of familiar I thought.

But before getting to the snake draft results, I wanted to talk about my online auction draft, which had me aggressively biding for the players I deemed "must have" and produced some interesting results:
I was in on all of the big name first basemen (Pujols, Miggy, AGon, etc) early but wound up bailing when I realized the prices were going to go a lot higher than I was willing to go. That strategy allowed me to focus in on and win such big names as Tulo ($39) and CarGo ($34) and drop down into the next tier of players and outbid everyone for a nice Dunn/Konerko duo to fill my 1B and CI roster slots. Moreland was a definite "sleeper" target while  Johnson was simply a late-round flier to add some possible depth to my bench, IF he wins the starting job in Tampa Bay. There were 390 players drafted in this league, so I fell pretty confident in what I was able to acquire and look forward to putting this plan into action.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Draft Results: Catchers Targeted

This season, I participated in five fantasy baseball leagues of varying types of formats but, for the most part, the players I targeted were pretty much the same. Now, that doesn't mean that I got all the same players in all five leagues but there were some commonalities.

I also want to go on record as saying I think two-catcher leagues of any type are ridiculous. Why as a commissioner would you want to force managers to carry what in my opinion are statistically the worst offensive bunch of players in the game? That being said, the first draft I participated in this season was an "experts" league with an online auction draft and wouldn't you know it...a two-catcher league. The difficulty level was escalated by the fact there are 13 teams and 30-man rosters per team (equals at least 26 catchers being drafted).

My strategy for this league was to get involved in the bidding for the two catchers I valued as being the best (as do most), Joe Mauer and Buster Posey, and hope to walk away with one and spend a little money later in the draft on a guy like Miguel Montero or Carlos Ruiz. Both Mauer and Posey were thrown out early and I was pretty aggressive in the bidding as planned, assuming each would go in the $20-$30+ range in this format. Well, when the dust settled, here's what my two-catcher strategy yielded:
  •  Mauer ($24) and Posey ($20)
Now, I'm not shedding any tears over having this duo on my roster, unlike the owner who's rostering Josh Thole and Devin Mesoraco (um, who?). I regret being so aggressive and using $44 of my $330 budget (13%) on a position I was hoping to get bargains but I'm very excited to see what these two can do, offensively, this year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2011 Starting Pitcher Sleepers

(In my continued effort to bring additional voices and perspectives to COSFBA, this article is being brought to you by guest writer KJ Hanna. KJ was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter and actually lives in the same part of Brooklyn, NY where I grew up. He's had his fantasy baseball work featured on both and I hope you find as much value in his contribution to this site as I do.)

Ahh, the dreaded word ALL fantasy experts and drafters love and hate…SLEEPER.  Another word equally as poisonous… BOUNCEBACK. The great thing about the fantastic sport of baseball is there will always be players who fall into one or both of these categories. Luckily for you, the owner, we have already crunched the numbers and taken out most of the guess work.

You’ve all heard this already but, starting pitching is deep this year and you shouldn’t reach early for a SP early. That is, unless your league’s scoring settings heavily rewards SPs or you’re in a keeper/dynasty league. That being said, it’s in my opinion that you make your move in the middle to late rounds for pitchers and these are a few you should target.

The objective to identifying a sleeper starting pitcher is to determine which players have the upside to outperform their current draft position and provide your fantasy team with an advantage over the rest of your league at a low cost/draft pick.

AL SP Sleepers

Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
Hellickson, the Rays stud prospect du jour got a huge boost once Matt Garza was traded to the Cubs in the offseason. He now has the chance to build upon his impressive numbers when called up in 2010, 3.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 33 strikeouts and eight walks in 31 1/3 innings.

Notably revered to be more of a control pitcher, Hellickson is deceiving in his assortment of pitches and has the potential to become an ace, however, expect peaks and valleys, especially as he gets more acquainted with the AL East mashers.

Beyond the occasional long ball and a few rookie hiccups, the only negative I can see with “Hell Boy” is that the Rays may shut him down early, limiting his innings. In that case, all formats should feel confident in grabing him in mid-late rds and sell high come July (except in Keeper/Dynasty leagues).

Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
I know, most of you are thinking, "Scherzer, a sleeper?". That’s right readers! After an awful start to 2010 (7.29 ERA in April and half of May) and a minor league demotion, Scherzer came back to the majors with a blazing fastball and an appetite for strikeouts.

In Scherzer’s return to the majors, he posted a 2.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 158 strikeouts and FINALLY showed his potential and quieted the “bust” whispers. Scherzer has the talent to become an elite fantasy starter and should be on everyone’s radar in all league formats in mid rounds on draft day. Draft with confidence.

Edwin Jackson – Chicago White Sox
EJax is an enigma. Is he an Ace or a tease? After moving to the AL, Jackson put together some fantastic strikeout and walk numbers which was a great sign of things to hopefully come. Jackson’s K/9 with the Dbacks was 6.98, with the White Sox 9.24! Not only did his K/BB improve but his fastball launched from 94 MPH to 95.3 MPH AND he lowered his overall ERA by almost 2 runs!

Jax is going late enough to take a risk/reward approach with him. His skills are pointing the way to a very productive season with plenty of run support from a stacked White Sox lineup. Grab him in the late rounds and reap the benefits in all league formats.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finding Keepers: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays are a team filled with question marks about many of their young stud players and what type of production they will contribute in 2011. This could be a year where fantasy owners catch lightning in a bottle but only if they are willing to accept the risks associated with that happening. Let's take a look at all this lineup has to offer.

3B/OF Jose Bautista exploded on the fantasy baseball scene in 2010 with an MVP-caliber season, producing the following line, .260/109/54/124/9, and added 100 walks with a .378 OBP. Okay, 54 home runs are an unreal number and we all have to be expecting a regression, right? Well if he has a 20% regression in his home run numbers, that still projects him in the low 40's. The third base eligibility alone makes Bautista a "must-have" if you miss out on the proven elite.

1B/DH Adam Lind had a very productive 2009 (.305/35/114) and a disappointing 2010 (.237/23/72). Most 2011 projections have him sort of splitting the difference (.270/26/92). I think there's way too much uncertainty to lock him up as a keeper but definitely target him late in drafts as a DH until he gains his 1B eligibility, giving you a little more wiggle room to get him into your lineup.

If fantasy baseball has taught us anything, it's that there are tiers of players at each position and those tiers are used to determine if a position is deep or shallow. 2B Aaron Hill is projecting 20+ HR, 70+ RBI, 70+ R but an average in the .250's, .260's and .270's. So the question to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to keep Hill should be, "Can I live with an unpredictable average if it means getting at least 20/70/70 out of my second baseman?". I can live with that.

While preparing to write this article, I was teetering on whether to make a case for keeping SP Brandon Morrow or not when I saw this tweet appear in my updates. It took a few hours for the Blue Jays to issue an update on his condition and it looks like he may only miss one start. So Morrow's potential to reach 12+ Wins and 200 K's is still there but at what cost to your ERA (4.00+) and WHIP (1.40+)? His 10.9 K/9 ratio draws you in but his 4.1 BB/9 causes concern. I don't think Morrow is ready to be your fantasy ace but should be a nice middle-of-the-rotation starter with plenty of upside.

OF Travis Snider is another young Blue Jays hitter that has the potential to put up .270/20/70/70 numbers but hasn't proven it yet. I'm not a fan on using my keeper selections on young, unproven players with lots of potential. I hope the Jays commit an entire season to Snider so evaluating him as a keeper for next season is clearer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finding Keepers: St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals were one of only two teams to finish the 2010 season with three players in the Top 20, according to
ESPN's Player Rater system. Unfortunately, for the Cards, only two of those players will be fantasy relevant for the 2011 season.

1B Albert Pujols has undoubtedly been the greatest player in baseball over the past decade, fantasy or not. In the first 10 seasons of his career, he's averaging 156 games played with a .331 batting average, 41 HR, 123 RBI, 119 Runs and even 8 SB a year. AVERAGING! If you have the first pick in your draft, you take Albert and smile. If you have the second pick in your draft, you hope someone gets cute with their pick and Albert falls in your lap. If you have the third pick in your league, sorry but Albert is gone. Better luck next year (or next draft).

OF Matt Holliday finished 2010 as the 7th-ranked outfielder and begins 2011 ranked as the 4th best. To me that says he's projecting better numbers this season than he had last year or staying steady and others are projecting worse numbers. His slash line looked like this: .312/95/28/103/9. Keep him around for years to come, as he's showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

I want to take a moment to discuss the danger of drafting (or even locking in keepers) in February. I'm just as excited as the next guy to want to draft and get the fantasy baseball season rolling as soon as all the major services announce they are open for business but it makes no sense to do it so early. (All five of the leagues I'm participating in this year have drafted in the last two weeks or are still yet to draft.) And this is not just about possible injuries. There are jobs to be won and lost, too. SP Adam Wainwright suffered an injury that will require Tommy John surgery and keep him out the entire 2011 season and possibly beyond. This all happened by February 24th. Fantasy leagues, as a whole, benefit from not having a team use a precious top pick or keeper selection on an injured player. Show restraint and draft as late as possible.

SP Chris Carpenter is on the keeper bubble since he, too, is dealing with an injury that could linger. I've already witnessed experienced fantasy players skip over him in live drafts. So either they were assessing the risk as too high or the uncertainty caused them to focus their efforts elsewhere. More than likely this injury won't linger all year and some owners got a fantasy ace at a bargain price.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ups and Downs: 03/18/2011

As we continue to get closer to Opening Day, now seems like an appropriate time to publish another edition of Ups and Downs. Jobs are being won, injuries aren't healing as quickly as expected, veterans are being released and rookies are being sent to the minors. Here are the ones catching my eye and the impact they could have on your fantasy baseball roster.

Stock is Rising:
  • C/1B/3B/OF Jake Fox, BAL leads the MLB in home runs this Spring with seven while hitting .356 (16/45) yet still fighting to make in onto the Orioles' Opening Day roster. Let's get something straight, though. Spring stats don't matter. If Fox catches on with the Orioles as a super utility guy with catcher eligibility, he could be worth a very late round pick in deep mixed leagues with two-catcher rosters. Is he really much worse than having to select Jeff Mathis?
  • 3B Chipper Jones, ATL is hitting .386 this Spring with three home runs and 11 RBI and looking healthy...for the moment. There will always be the risk of injury with Jones but at the moment, he's playing himself back into fantasy relevant. We all keep hearing that third base is going to be shallow in 2011 and even shallower if your league uses an extra CI or IF position. Keep an eye on his health as Spring winds down or at least until your league drafts.
  • 1B Chris Davis, TEX has been touted as a sleeper for the last few years and hasn't produced enough when given the chance to help most fantasy owners. Well, this Spring, Davis is hitting .410 (16/39) with four home runs and an MLB-best 15 RBI as rumblings of "play me or trade me" start coming out of Texas. Will there be enough at bats to hand out with Michael Young and Mitch Moreland in the picture? Keep a close eye on how this one continues to play out over the next couple of weeks and you could truly have a sleeper on your hands as most owners are targeting Moreland late in drafts.
  • OF Michael Morse, WAS seems to be playing himself into the Nationals' starting left fielder with a very hot Spring. He's hitting .385 (15/39) with five home runs and showing the 20-25 HR potential he displayed last season (15 HR in 266 AB).
  • SP Jered Weaver, LAA is currently the 11th starting pitcher being drafted, according to So far this Spring, Weaver has pitched 13.1 innings and produced a 17/0 K/BB ratio. Somehow Zack Greinke is still being drafted ahead of Weaver. Absorb that information when you select Weaver as your fantasy baseball ace.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fantasy Forum: The Bryce Harper Edition

For this edition of Fantasy Forum, I reached out to fellow
Baseball Blogger Alliance
members to get their opinions on the Washington Nationals phenom outfielder Bryce Harper and what they think is in store for the 2011 season and beyond. Here's what they had to say.

William Tasker (@FlagrantFan) of The Flagrant Fan says:
Bryce Harper sure was fun while he lasted. All the experts say he's not ready. He needs more time. But the kid did everything right in his brief time in the Nationals' camp. He said the right things, he handled himself well. It was a blast to watch. It would have been great if the Nationals could live outside the box. The fan interest would have been huge. But we all know about the clock that the teams have to delay for financial reasons. We all know about the history and that no eighteen year old has ever played well in Major League Baseball. But there's always a first time. There's always a phenomenon waiting to happen if given a chance. And yes, this is all emotion and the voice of a fan. Sometimes it feels good to throw analytical thinking into suspension for a brief few moments. But, alas, sanity and business has trumped the dream.

Aaron Somers (@BlogFTBleachers) of Blogging From The Bleachers says:
Ultimately I think the Nationals are taking a smart approach to Bryce Harper. Yes, we all understand that he is an immense talent and potentially an offensive standout before the age of 20 - something we have not seen since Alex Rodriguez. But, he is highly inexperienced and highly unproven to date. Allowing Harper to spend some time in the minor leagues will prove to be wise for a number of reasons. He will be able to grow and mature as a player - learning the professional game, coping with life on the road, adjusting to being an outfielder full time, and growing as a player. He'll also be able to mature as a person which can only be a good thing for anyone who is destined to be in the spotlight as much as he will be.

The Nationals have some solid building blocks in place to build around going forward - namely Strasburg and the two Zimmerman(n)s - and Harper will prove to be a nice compliment to that trio. The team is not ready to win it all right now, which further reinforces their intentions to let Harper gain some seasoning in the minor leagues rather than rushing him to the Majors. I'm not certain what their specific plan is for Harper this season, but I think we could see him on something similar to the schedule Strasburg found himself on last season. He'll begin in A ball, gain X number of plate appearances, and then he'll move up to AA. Again he'll remain there for a predetermined number of plate appearances before moving on to AAA to finish the season. This lets him gain some experience and confidence, work his way through the various levels of competition, and ultimately put Harper in a position where he can come into Spring Training in 2012 primed to win a starting role in Washington.

Kyle Phillippi (@Kyle_Phillippi) of says:

Bryce Harper is a great story, but he'll be nothing more than "a #1 pick" this season. He certainly has all the potential in the world to make it to the majors... but not this season. There's no need for the Nationals, who most likely will not compete in 2011, to rush him out onto the field for the simple fact that he will sell seats.

Let the kid gradually enter the big leagues, just as every other prospect does. So far, Harper appears to have a good head on him, but even the slightest bit of favoritism could cause him to turn into a young, arrogant player. Washington should treat him the same way as the guy sitting next to him in Single-A.

For now, he's got all the hype in the world. His time will come, trust me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Finding Keepers: San Francisco Giants

The 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants surprised many by becoming the champs but an in-depth look at their roster from a fantasy perspective shows they have plenty of pieces in place to make another run at the title.

SP Tim Lincecum is settling in as a guy you can pencil in for 16+ Wins, an ERA right around 3.00, a 1.20ish WHIP and nearly 250 K's. Roy Halladay has been the pitcher most likely off the board first (according to Mock Draft Central) but Lincecum goes next, even before reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. No one would blame you for locking up Lincecum as a keeper and the ace of your fantasy baseball pitching staff. Just a few points of caution, though.

ESPN's Player Rater ranked CL Brian Wilson as the Giants best fantasy player in 2010 and 33rd overall. The fantasy value of Closers and Saves in a standard 5x5 rotisserie league are always hotly debated. Wilson's numbers would have actually helped you in four of the five standard categories. His 48 Saves led the majors while sporting a 1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and striking out 93 in just 74.2 innings pitched. There's plenty of risk in using a keeper selection on a closer but Wilson is currently one of the best and definitely worth consideration when evaluating your roster.

Last March, fantasy baseball was all abuzz about when C/1B Buster Posey would be called up to the majors causing most owners to invoke a draft and stash strategy and hope he was going to be worth all the hype. Well, Posey was called up and saw his first game action on May 29th, promptly going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and never looked back from there. In 108 games, he racked up 18 HR and 67 RBI with a .305 batting average and looks to be the next big thing at the always shallow fantasy baseball catching position. Lock Posey up in every possible scoring format and enjoy the above-average production he'll provide for many years to come.

SP Matt Cain is showing signs of becoming a consistent fantasy baseball starting pitcher option. He's putting up 14 Wins, an ERA around 3.00 and a WHIP near 1.10 with 170+ Ks over the last two seasons. At just 25 years old, there's no reason not to expect more of the same or even better. He easily can be considered a tier two fantasy baseball ace and a very nice option to anchor your staff in 2011.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ups and Downs: 03/08/2011

Ups and Downs is a regular column that I wrote during last season (and will continue to do so this season) identifying the players being added and dropped the most over a particular time frame but I thought it was time to write one about what's going on this Spring and target a few players whose stock is either rising or falling as we get closer to Opening Day.

Stock is Rising:
  • 1B Freddie Freeman, ATL is doing everything he can so far this Spring to catch the eye of fantasy owners looking for a late-round or cheaper auction option at first base. He's currently hitting .458 (11/24) but has yet to hit a home run.
  • 3B Pablo Sandoval, SF dropped a reported 20-30 pounds in an effort to rebound from a disappointing 2010. He's hitting .333 (9/27) this Spring with two home runs and currently has an ADP of 139.97 on Mock Draft Central.
  • SP Gio Gonzalez, OAK has started two games, pitched a total of five innings, hasn't given up a hit or run, only walked two batters while striking out 10. Mr. Gonzalez, you have my attention!
  • C Jesus Montero, NYY was slated to start the season at AAA but Francisco Cervelli's broken foot will keep him out for more than a month and Russell Martin is still recovering from his injuries. All this means that he should break camp as the backup catcher and maybe even the starter if Martin struggles.
Stock is Falling:
  • 2B Chase Utley, PHI is listed as day-to-day while dealing with tendinitis in his right knee.This could be a serious blow to all if this turns out to be more than the Phillies are reporting. Even Keith Olbermann is tweeting about it.
  • 1B Kendry Morales, LAA still isn't running at 100% as he works to returning from his fractured left leg, putting his return for Opening Day in jeopardy. I wouldn't drop him too much in drafts. 140-plus games of Morales are worth a lot more than 162 games of, say, James Loney.
  • OF Corey Hart, MIL suffered a setback on March 5th with his strained rib cage muscle and is out indefinitely. Some fantasy owners were already questioning whether or not his 31 HR/102 RBI season was legit and I am sure this injury will do nothing to inspire confidence that those numbers will be back.
  • OF Domonic Brown, PHI was battling to take over right field for the Phillies as Jayson Werth's replacement but a 1/16 (.063) start this Spring and now a fractured bone in his right hand all but ended those hopes. The job looks to be Ben Francisco's to lose (Stock Rising) now.
I know there are many other players whose values or ADPs are rising and dropping but these players stood out to me as the ones most people are discussing right now. I plan to do one of these each week until Opening Day, so keep an eye out for more and please use the comments section to discuss the fantasy impact these players (or others) are having in your drafts and the way you view their stock.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why I Had To Quit Fantasy Baseball

(In my efforts to bring additional voices and perspectives to fantasy baseball on COSFBA, I present to you another guest writer. This article was written by William J. Tasker of The Flagrant Fan and gives a unique perspective on his struggles of being a baseball fan and a fantasy baseball player.)

     I envy you folks that can still play fantasy sports. Growing up with an advanced love of baseball statistics, playing fantasy baseball was the bomb. It was also the natural progression from growing up with Strat-O-Matic baseball, a game that reached its fiftieth anniversary this season. Pouring over the statistics every day along with the box scores fit right in with my lifestyle and that’s what made fantasy baseball very exciting and a passion. It was fun to compete against friends and also anonymous people on the Net and the victories made me feel like a genius. Of course, the losses were always blamed on luck.

     But a funny thing happened. I noticed that I was developing a mental disorder the more I played the fantasy game. I’ll have to admit that I am a lifelong Yankee fan. Before you hate me for that, my love for the team began in the 1960s when the team was absolutely terrible. So I was a Fan even before they became the Evil Empire. When I root for a team, it goes down to the roots of my being. In essence, a part of my life force is wrapped up in my desire for the team to win. Being a Fan of any team has its shares of heartbreak. No team is going to win all the time and failure is built into the system. Even the best teams are going to lose 35% of the time. Now add to this passion the element of fantasy baseball.

     Here is how the mental problems came about. Say my fantasy team included Miguel Cabrera and his Tigers were playing my Yankees. But Cabrera is a big dog on my fantasy team and earns me a lot of points. Say the Yankees are fighting the Red Sox or the Bay Rays for the pennant and there are only a game or so separating all the teams. Naturally, I am pulling hard for the Yankees, but now, in a scoreless game with a man on, Cabrera crushes an A. J. Burnett pitch into the left field grandstand. Immediately, I jump up and start pumping my fists and scream, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

     But then, just as suddenly, my head catches up with my fantasy baseball glee and says, “Whuh?” The guy hit a two run homer…against the Yankees…who are fighting for a division title. Why are you cheering you idiot!?

     Say the next day is Sunday and the ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball is on and the featured game is the Red Sox against the Rangers. Absolutely, I have to admit that I HATE the Red Sox. Not only do they compete head to head with my team, but a lot of their fans have become this obsessive, obnoxious group they call, “The Red Sox Nation,” which is a direct rip off of the “Cardinal Nation” which has been around a whole lot longer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding Keepers: Washington Nationals

(Stop me if you've heard this one before. COSFBA would like to introduce another guest blogger to you all. This edition of "Finding Keepers" was written by Geoff Bloom of I hope you enjoy Geoff's style of writing about fantasy baseball as much as I do.)

The Washington Nationals improved by ten games in 2010 and hope to do the same in 2011. Their lineup is slowly improving and the addition of RF Jayson Werth will provide protection for 3B Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup. This lineup has some fantasy keepers lead by Werth and Zimmerman. However, Werth's home run total fell from a career high 36 in 2009 to 27 in 2010 and Werth is projected by some to have even fewer in 2011. The change in scenery could be a huge detriment to Werth's fantasy stock. Werth hit 50 points higher and twice as many home runs in Philadelphia last year than he did on the road. He won't see a lot of pitches to hit with RISP in the Nationals lineup. He probably will drive in 87 runs, but Werth is going to have to be extremely efficient when his opportunities present themselves. A hamstring injury slowed Zimmerman's production a bit in 2010, but he continued to be a four-category monster. If the top of the Nationals order had gotten on base more, he would have easily had 100 RBI based just on his clutch hitting last year (.365 BA two-out with RISP). With Werth and 1B Adam LaRoche protecting him, expect Zimmerman to have a monster year. LaRoche does not have Adam Dunn power, but he has hit at least 20 homers each of the last six seasons and should continue to provide respectable production numbers as long as he can cut down on his strikeouts.

SS Ian Desmond stole 17 bases and knocked in 65 runs, but he had nearly four times as many K (109) as BB (28). 2B Danny Espinosa rated as the #66 prospect by Baseball America is a potential future fantasy stud. In 2010, he posted huge numbers between Double-A, Triple-A and the majors: 151 G, .259 BA, 96 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI and 25 SB. Look for him to have a productive 2011. Desmond and Espinosa can provide double-digit power and speed as well as strengthen the Nationals defensively up the middle.

With RHP Stephen Strasburg expected to miss the entire 2011 season after reconstructive elbow surgery, the ace of the Nationals injury-riddled staff is RHP Livan Hernandez. Enough said.

The Nationals bullpen is led by RP Drew Storen. He pitched well enough last year to warrant the closer role when this season begins. He went 5-for-7 in save chances. His 22 walks were uncharacteristic of what he did in the minors, but he did strike out 52 batters in 55.1 innings. If Storen stumbles, RP Tyler Clippard is next in line for saves. If your league includes the HOLDS category, look no further than Clippard who had 23 holds last year.

Geoff Bloom writes his own fantasy baseball blog,, dispensing fantasy baseball advice. I recommend checking out his blog and following him on Twitter. Geoff is also a member of a COSFBA-sponsored fantasy baseball league.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finding Keepers: San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres may find ways to win a lot of games in the NL West this season and stay competitive but they will be doing so with very few keeper worthy players. Funny how trading 1B Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox turned him from an upper-tier option at first base into an elite one.

With Gonzalez off the roster now, the Padres highest-ranked fantasy player according to the ESPN Player Rater was CL Heath Bell. Now, in a game that most pundits will say "never pay for saves", having your closer be your best option for a fantasy keeper is not necessarily a good thing. On the plus side, Bell was 6-1 with 47 Saves, had a 1.93 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and an 11.1 K/9 ratio. So if you want to use a keeper selection on him, you'll probably get very good numbers in return for doing so. Probably? That word doesn't exactly instill confidence.

SP Mat Latos went from being virtually undrafted in most leagues in 2010 to producing an 8th-place finish in the 2010 NL Cy Young Award with a 14-10 record, 2.92 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 189 K's in 184.2 innings pitched. Those strikeout numbers translated to robust ratios of 9.2 K/9 and 3.78 K/BB. Those kinds of numbers matched with his potential for a big 2011 currently have him being drafted on at 72.17 with such fantasy pitching studs as Justin Verlander (66.12), Josh Johnson (72.40) and Francisco Liriano (79.91). Lock him up and enjoy the ride.

The only player on the Padres projecting to hit 20 or more home runs in 2011 is OF Ryan Ludwick. That surely doesn't bode well for a team that had the 22nd-ranked offense in 2010. Unfortunately, a 21 HR, 82 RBI, .270 hitting outfielder with no speed doesn't deserve a keeper selection but it will get him drafted as a third or fourth outfield option.

If SS Jason Bartlett was able to put up 2009 numbers again (.320/90/14/66/30) he'd be a no-brainer keeper option for 2011 at what's projecting to be a very thin position. Unfortunately, those numbers look more and more like a statistical anomaly. He'll probably get drafted in very deep, mixed leagues or NL-only leagues and could reward some owners with a decent, if not surprising, return on investment. But probably not.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Finding Keepers: Texas Rangers

(For the second time in COSFBA's short history, an article is being presented to you by someone other than me. I've recently been in contact with some writers that have shown interest in possible  guest writing opportunities, so you may see a few more in the near future. This post was written by Joe Tetreault, a fellow Baseball Bloggers Alliance member and accomplished writer/blogger. Enjoy his take on a "Finding Keepers" article.)

Texas Rangers logo
Defending AL Champs. That suggests plenty of keepers to be found by reviewing the roster of the Texas Rangers. But the pickings are slimmer than one would expect. The obvious ones jump out right away. But even in the most obvious there are caveats aplenty.

Josh Hamilton is a feel good story, and the reigning AL MVP. His outstanding .359/.411/.633 slash line signals the offensive prowess that Hamilton brings to the plate. But he's entering his age 30 season and injuries have chewed up chunks of his last two seasons. They weren't enough to derail his MVP quest, but as year end approached and Miguel Cabrera chased his numbers down, plenty called for the award to go to Detroit's troubled slugger instead of Texas'. And like Cabrera, no caveat list is complete without alluding to the troubles that Hamilton had with drugs when he was a minor-leaguer. They seem to be in the past, but the worry of relapse should be taken seriously when considering Hamilton as a keeper.

Legitimate keepers are much harder to find. One can make a case for Nelson Cruz, but age (he'll be 29 this year) and his own set of persistent injuries diminish the credibility of that recommendation. Julio Borbon and Mitch Moreland are younger lads, but their track records reflect their youth. Borbon was barely replacement level in 2010, so he's not worth the keep. Moreland didn't make it to 50 games played in 2010, so his solid batting line screams small sample size.

That leaves two players who have both youth and an established track record of success available. The first is even more appealing because he plays the most challenging position on the defensive spectrum. That's Elvis Andrus. And he'll be but 22 during the coming season. He doesn't bring the power, with just 49 career extra base hits in his two full seasons. But he's swiped 65 bases in that same stretch of time and he's reasonable enough at getting on base that he'll pile up runs. In short, he's a great table setter at a typically difficult to fill fantasy position. Draft him. Keep him. Be Happy.

Like Andrus, the Rangers other keeper of renown started his pro career as a Brave and was part of the bounty the Rangers won for Mark Teixeira. But Neftali Feliz is not a defensive wiz afield. He's not a Ruthian figure at the plate. He's a flamethrower of some skill who's actually undervalued this year because no one really knows what the Rangers are poised to do with him. Will he continue to close or is his destiny in the rotation. His greater value to the club is likely as a starter, but unless he becomes a front of the rotation star, his fantasy value is tied to the saves and strikeouts he racks up along with a miniscule ERA and WHIP. He's only 23, so nabbing him now amid the uncertainty may be the steal of your draft.