Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding Keepers: Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays logo
The Tampa Bay Rays went for it all in 2010 and won the AL East before being knocked out of the playoffs by the Texas Rangers. Everyone knew the Rays would be making some wholesale changes this offseason (letting Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, Carlos Pena and Joaquin Benoit walk while trading away Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett) but the future looks bright for a team that has 12 of the first 89 picks in the 2011 MLB Draft.

So for all of the talk about what this team has lost, they still have some fantasy keepers on the roster and it all starts with 3B Evan Longoria. Longoria is definitely a keeper and a first-round pick for 2011 and for many years to come. Mock Draft Central puts his current ADP at 4.89, being drafted as high as third and as late as 11th. He's projecting a batting average in the .280s with 25-30 home runs, 100+ RBI and runs with 10+ stolen bases. Third base is a very shallow position this year so I can see why people are jumping on Longoria early.

In 2010, SP David Price was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young Award with a 19-6 record, 2.71 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 188 K's and is now being looked upon as the ace of the Rays' staff. That's a lot of pressure to put on a 24 year old but Price has shown he's ready to handle it. His win total may come down a bit to around 15 since he'll be matching up against other number ones in the AL East but I'd expect his ERA to hover around 3.30 and a WHIP near 1.25 with 200 K's in 2011. Lock him up as a fantasy roster ace.

What's not to like about an outfielder that can produce 18 HR, 62 RBI, 89 R and 42 SB? How about his awful .237 batting average? Such is the case with OF B.J. Upton. If only he could get his batting average up to his career mark of .260, it would make the 20 HR/40 SB potential so much more attractive. If you're willing to accept some bad with all that good and the potential Upton possesses for greatness, he makes a great keeper selection.

OF Desmond Jennings could probably steal 50 bases given an entire season of regular playing time this season. The giant question mark, though, is how much playing time will he ACTUALLY get? I think the Rays are going to bring him along slowly while seeing how the Damon and Ramirez signings play out for 2011. If you are in a dynasty league, Jennings would be a great keeper selection to lock up for 2012 and beyond. I'm not sold that you'll get your return on investment if you are simply keeping him for his 2011 potential.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finding Keepers: Pittsburgh Pirates

One of the more enjoyable aspects of fantasy baseball is that even the bad teams can have very valuable assets to own. Such is the case when looking at a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates. They haven't had a winning season since 1992 but do have some players worthy of a "keeper" selection and several others that will have fantasy value throughout the season.

The Pirates best player and a no-brainer keeper selection is OF Andrew McCutchen. He finished 2010 as the 39th-ranked player on ESPN's Player Rater and the 15th-ranked outfielder. His 162 game career averages of .286/104/17/68/34 makes him a must-own player in all fantasy baseball formats. Check out his projections and rankings on his player page. Impressive!

Depending on the depth of your league, 2B Neil Walker deserves consideration as a keeper. A second baseman that can hit .280+ with 15+ HR, 75+ R, 75+ RBI, 10 SB potential can be a very valuable asset to own come draft day. In no way am I suggesting that Walker is or ever will be an elite option at second base but he should easily finish ranked in the top 10 come season's end.

If you're the type of fantasy owner that loves to keep young players with potential (and risks) then these next two players are probably right up your alley and deserve keeper consideration. OF Jose Tabata and 3B Pedro Alvarez each showed they have major league-ready talent in around 100 games last season. Tabata showed the potential to score 100 runs, steal 30 bases and hit around .300 while Alvarez flashed 25 HR/100 RBI power. Of the two, Tabata is probably the safer bet to succeed in 2011. Alvarez only hit .256 and struck out at rate that would have surpassed 200 K's over 162 games. If I'm the Pirates, I run them out there for 150+ games and see what they can do.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding Keepers: Seattle Mariners

Even though the Seattle Mariners' 2010 offense as a whole was inept, they still managed to produce several very good individual fantasy baseball performances worthy of a keeper selection.

What little offense you do squeeze out of this team can probably be attributed to OF Ichiro Suzuki. He's led the MAJORS in hits seven out of his ten seasons since joining Seattle in 2001, while averaging 224 hits per season. He's also carrying a career .331 batting average and has hit .350 or better four times! reports his 2011 5x5 projections around .319/90/7/48/33 and ranks him as the 6th-best outfielder overall. Ichiro is one of those fantasy baseball players that you really know what you are getting when you draft (or keep) them and this season should be more of the same excellence.

Who knew that the major's worst offense would wind up being at the center of the AL Cy Young Award voting too? SP Felix Hernandez received the lowest Run Support Average of all qualifying pitchers in the majors for 2010 and it was reflected in the fact that he recorded 30 Quality Starts in 34 Games Started but produced just a 13-12 record. "King Felix" led the AL in Innings Pitched with 249.2 and the majors with a 2.27 ERA. At just 24 years old, the sky's the limit for a pitcher that deserves so much more support than the anemic Seattle Mariners offense can provide him.

2B Chone Figgins was just one of the many Mariners that had an awful offensive season, hitting a career-low .259 and scoring a career-low 62 runs. Positively, Figgins still managed to steal 42 bases and could come at a discount in auctions and new league drafts. There's talk that he'll be moved back to third base for the 2011 season, so he should gain 3B eligibility early enough in the season to give owners some nice roster flexibility with a guy that could easily produce a .280/90/2/45/40 line.

Friday, February 11, 2011

COSFBA Readers/Followers Leagues Are Now Open For Business

The beginning of February is always an exciting time for fantasy baseball players - free agency is winding down, rosters are taking shape, players are reporting to camps, keeper selections are due and new fantasy leagues are forming.

Over the last few years, I've dedicated myself to creating FREE, competitive leagues (on ESPN) filled with mature adults looking for a unique, fun experience and have been very successful in doing so. I like Head-to-Head leagues with lots of teams, large rosters and more than the standard 5x5 scoring categories so those are the kinds of leagues I've created.

I've already filled one 14-team league for 2011 and am filling up a second one with more readers of my blog and Twitter followers. I plan on occasionally writing about these leagues too and will be asking league members to get involved too. I've met some really great people over the years through my leagues and look forward to meeting many more (especially in the Colorado Springs/Denver area).

If this sounds like the kind of league you've been looking for and would like more information, please send me a message by visiting the "Contact Me" page on my blog at

Looking forward to hearing from and competing against some new people now and for years to come.