Articles by Patrick Cain

A listing of all the articles written by Patrick Cain for the RotoWire Blog.

A Warning To Yahoo Leagues

Excuse me if this has already been discussed, but if not….

You need to change the Scoring and Settings from "Playoffs: None" to "Playoffs: 3 Rounds." If you don’t, there will be no playoffs.

It’s an error by Yahoo that’s going to have a ton of angry people in about 3 weeks. If you choose "same settings as last year" in the beginning of the season, for some reason Yahoo defaults to no playoffs.

Juan Big Problem

The Dodgers have a problem. It’s the kind of problem managers don’t mind having.

Manny Ramirez. Andre Ethier. Matt Kemp. Juan Pierre. Four outfielders no DH.

This is a real-world management problem that affects the fantasy world.

When Manny Ramirez was suspended for a performance enhancing drug for 50 days, the problem fixed itself – temporarily. Now, Manny’s return is imminent and so are problems for manager Joe Torre.

Juan Pierre is an above average fielder who gets on base then, with his speed gives pitchers and catchers a massive headache. But of course, he has little-to-no power, unlike the other three outfielders. On top of that the team signed him to a 5-year $44-million contract in 2006. At that price they can’t trade him without eating a good part of his contract.

They also can’t sit him every game. He’s been vocal before about not getting in games.

"Last year was torture for me," Juan Pierre told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "If this organization thinks I’ll be happy making money and sitting on the bench, they signed the wrong guy."

Keeping Pierre happy is important for the club. He’s a team leader on the field and in the clubhouse. When Pierre is happy, everyone is more jovial. Torre knows this and GM Ned Colletti knows it.

But Torre’s not a believer in chemistry as much as others.

"Winning creates chemistry, more so than the other way around," said Torre.

He will play. Not everyday, but I’m guessing at least twice a week he’ll start. That means one of the other three OF will sit. Right now, my guess is that if it’s two games a week, Ethier and Kemp will sit once. That lessens their fantasy value. Doesn’t sound like much, but say (for the sake of simple math) teams play about five games a week, missing one reduces their value 20|PERCENT|. So if Etheir was going to hit at a 25 homerun pace from here on out, his actual production will be only about a 20 homerun pace.

The other option is trading someone. Manny’s obviously out of question. With Pierre’s contract, he should be off limits too. There was talk in the preseason about a Kemp for Robison Cano (because the Yankees clearly need another outfielder?…remember their top prospect is an OFer). If there was anything to that rumor, then maybe they are open to moving him. He’s massively talented, could get them that pitcher that they need if they want to make a legit playoff run.

But trading either Kemp or Ethier is a bit risky because they are centerpieces to the Dodgers youth movement. But if they could deal either for a quality, young arm, they should. Pure speculation: Seeing that Colletti seems to work with the Red Sox, would one Kemp for Lester be fair? How about Masterson or Bucholz.I’m sure the Red Sox wouldn’t mind a to-be all star OF. Unfortunately the only clear opening would be JD Drew in right, but he’s three years into a 5-year $70 million deal.

Tips for Matt Wieters

Dear Matt, MattyWEEEE, Beaters or whatever other nickname you go by,

Congrats, you’ve finally arrived. It’s a big day for you and, of course fantasy managers like myself. There are huge expectations, heck, my Carsten Charles In Charges are in need of some of that Wieters magic.

But, as difficult as it maybe, block my team’s future out of your head. There are probably other things to think about. You’re probably a bit nervous. A bit anxious. And maybe just a bit excited to go out there and prove everyone that you can live up to expectations. Well, don’t push it.

I did some leg work for you. Here are some guys who have made it and have some words of advice.

Justin Masterson:

Something Josh (Beckett) told me that (Ryan) Dempster told him is when you get called up, that means you’re doing something right. But you’ll want to make changes, just continue doing what you’ve been doing.

Dustin Pedroia:

Everything is a bit faster, but be yourself. Do what you did in Little League.

Jake Peavy:

You’re here for a reason, don’t forget that. It’s like any other step up, like AA to AAA. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

Andre Ethier:

The way the guys up here can execute pitches, make plays to take away hits and not have they’re not special plays, they’re routine. Listen to the advice of the older guys, don’t think you know it all. But remember, baseball is baseball.

Kevin Kouzmanoff:

Breathe. But remember when pitchers up here miss with a pitch, they’ll be just barely off the plate. It’s not like the minors where a ball is a way out of the zone.

James McDonald:

The lifestyle is one of the biggest changes. Be ready for people to come out of the woodwork asking for things. Talk to them, because they’re family but be honest. Us rookies don’t make millions, you can’t be afraid to say "No."

Jacoby Ellsbury:

Just have fun.

Jason Varitek:

At some point in everyone’s career development, you’ll face major adversity. Being able to push threw it is big.

And well, enough of the coddling, here’s Heath Bell for you.

Heath Bell:

You’re a catcher, you’ve seen a lot of sick pitches. But, if you’re facing me – watchout! I’m a wild boar coming right at you. I’m scarier than anything you’ve seen. That and remember, just tell yourself, "Dude, I’m a professional baseball player." Just imagine you’re back in Norfolk, don’t get distracted by the surroundings.

That’s it. Good luck tonight and with the career you have in front of you. So relax, close your eyes and forget out my team, despite us needing 5 hrs by Sunday to survive.

 

With love,

 

Fantasy managers of the world and Oriole Nation.

Baserunners Gone Wild…Or Have They?

Some friends and I were talking about the insanity that is Carl Crawford and his 25 stolen bases. Are people running more often or is it just a few outliers throwing off our perspective.

I’ve talked to some ball players and they don’t think there’s much to it. But they didn’t see today’s box score: Mark Reynolds steals 4 bags.

Mark Reynolds? Really? Were the Marlins using a catcher? Look deeper, he’s the only guy who ran? So what’s going on…are the players right or is there really a running trend? If so that has major implications for players like Jose Reyes. As SBs become devalued, so does his stock.

Last year through April and May there were 1,407 SB attempts. This year there are 1,061 so far (as of May 19 stats). That’s a projection of 1,471.

1,471 vs 1,407…that’s not much of a difference, just 4|PERCENT|.

But through April last year there was no Carl Crawford, take out those guys and guess what? It’s about in line.

Enough for the stats, here’s some fun facts:

Carl Crawford is 25-0 on SB attempts. Rickie Henderson didn’t even do that during is 1982 130 SB season. But to be record breaking Crawford has a long way to go. That honor belongs to Ichiro who’s baged 45 straight twice (2006, 2007).

Crawford has stolen more bases than 16 ball clubs. Heck, he has more than the Brewers and the Braves combined (11, 9 respectively).

Cold Starts That Could Be More Than Just Rust…


Me @ my blog

Cliff Lee – Last year was special, but when something comes completely out of nowhere, it’ll likely return there soon enough…think Esteban Loiza . Many have credited Lee’s season to new pitch, and whatever it was, it worked. However, the scoutting report got out and the first game was no good. Be worried Lee owners, sell him now for 90 cents on the dollar before its too late. This is actually the best time to sell. He had a nice  game against the Yankees yesterday. But how good was it? He put 10 men on base in 6 innings. That’s not the components that make up a 1-run outting. AAAAND as good as the Yankees are, let’s remember right now their bottom third is the struggling Hideki Matsui, Cody Ransom and Brett Gardner.

Cole Hamels – I’ll give you the ingredients, you guess the stew: pitcher who’s been labeled as fragile, pitcher who throws into October, pitcher who has arm trouble in spring and then on top of that he gets shelled in his first outing…


FantasyPros911.com
We’ve only just completed Day 12 of the baseball season, so I can’t possibly say that anyone’s “cold” start concerns me. The sample size is simply way too small to mean anything whatsoever. Aside from changes in role or playing time, my projections would remain the exact same at this point as they did in the pre-season. The only players I would worry about are those with obvious injury issues. Closers such as Matt Lindstrom and B.J. Ryan (who claims is healthy) have seen drops in their velocity and are off to poor starts, but again, it’s in so few innings it could mean nothing. These are the only types of players fantasy owners might be concerned about. It is simply too early to make any judgments as all hitters go through peaks and valleys through the season, while all pitchers mix in good starts with bad.

http://www.rotoauthority.com/
One cold start that jumps out to me is Cliff Lee. (answer submitted before start against Yankees) I thought he was going too early in March – 6th, 7th round. I was willing to write off his lousy spring, but now his two regular season starts are worse than any two-start stretch he had in 2008. And he doesn’t seem to be flashing the elite command he had in his Cy Young season.

I am also worried about Cole Hamels, even though it’s only been one start. The risk of significant injury seems strong and he threw more pitches than anyone in baseball last year.

So those two cold starts are the most concerning to me. But if I were to trade those guys I’d still hold out for fair value. I’m talking some kind of hitter I considered worthy of the first eight rounds in March drafts. Otherwise I would just hold ‘em and hope for the best

razzball.com

I typically ignore cold starts except in two cases: 1) the player has a good chance of losing playing time/getting demoted because of the cold start. Players who fit that category include Seth Smith on Colorado, Cameron Maybin on Florida, Alex Gonzalez on Cincinnati, Rick Ankiel in St. Louis, Brian Fuentes in Anaheim, and Huston Street in Colorado. 2) the player might be hiding or downplaying an injury – Cole Hamels, Chien-Mien Wang, Scott Baker and Mike Pelfrey fit this category..

advancedfantasybaseball.com
What “cold” starts are most concerning to you? Who would you look to trade before their value plummets even further? What makes you convinced that this is not just a slow start to 2009?

Unless I panicked during a draft, I will not have any players I am willing to give up on less than two weeks into the season. I think a fantasy owner should show a little faith in the strategy that led him or her to select a given player in the first place. That said if there was little strategy involved or if auto-draft or mistakes made during the draft/auction resulted in an undesired player being rostered I would drop the offending player with quickness.

I avoided some players in drafts that have begun the season rather slowly. We have very little information about Alexei Ramirez’s career in Cuba. I had him lower on my draft list than most because I had no minor league or career numbers to compare with his rookie season. But Ramirez was so popular in drafts and auctions that his present owner should have very little problem moving him if their faith wanes. Based on last year Ramirez is a strong contact hitter with some power but little patience. However even this could be faulty information. Little information should mean difficult to draft but instead owners went crazy for him drafting him before Derek Jeter and other very safe (if no longer spectacular) choices.

Newsday
One of the most concerning players to me that is off to a putrid start is David Ortiz. He doesn’t look the same. He’s having a hard time catching up to fastballs. His numbers declined last season, but part of that is attributed to the wrist injury. There are no excuses this season. It is a small sample, but Ortiz is hitting .176 with one extra-base hit and no home runs in 34 at-bats. He has struck out eight times. The other concern his is body type. You can get away with that weight when you’re younger, but it gets much tougher after you hit 30. We have seen players his weight start to go through a steep decline around his age (33). See Mo Vaughn and Cecil Fielder.

‘Boni’-fide Day 1 Action

Mama Bonifacio isn’t going to be happy to hear this, but her boy Emilio will not hit 162 hrs and steal 486 bags. But acting fast on your wire is KEY. If you were in a standard 12-team mixed league last year and you were willing to take a few fliers on some guys who probably weren’t going to keep it up, you could have ended up with: Nate McClouth, Carlos Quentin, Jorge Cantu or Cliff Lee.

Not a bad grab off the wire, aye?

After one day of action I’m willing to put my neck out on the line and tell you who is for real and who’s not. I do this for you.

There are three types. Fo’Reals. Wait and Sees and Sheltonian, dubbed after Chris Shelton who put together one of the most impressive starts in recent memory to a season only to end the season in the minors.

Wait And Sees

Hank Blalock – Remember when he had 25 hrs or more between 2003 – 2005? Yes, he used to be quite good. Last year, in the limited time he played, his SLG was actually better than it was in two of the three years in the that stretch (.508 vs .522, .500 & .431). And in his even more abbreviated 2007, his SLG was .543.

Jeff Francoeur – As much as I want to jump on this band wagon, as I waved his flag in the preseason, I’m gonna temper my expectations for the time being. The lead off HR and then monster foul ball were great to see. He changed his approach at the plate, focusing both of his crazy eyes on the pitcher and shifting his weight to a more balanced stance. If this helps him take a walk and cut down on strikeouts then you have yourself a winner.

Sheltonian

Tony (The Tiger) Clark – A.) He’s not going to play everyday. B.) it’s feast or famine when he does. C.) he’s 36.

Emilio Bonifacio – The stat line says 1 HR, 3 SB.  Only half of that is important, that’s the SBs. The homerun was an inside the parker. If he runs, which it looks like he has the green light to do, he could be valuable in a deeper league or NL-only set up.

Kevin Millwood – This dude will drive you nuts. He puts up great outings then gets whacked each year and the end result is never anything you want to be involved in. In ’08 he started the season with a three-game stretch that amassed 3 ER in 21 innings. Fast forward two starts and he put up a three-game skid of 15.1 innings and 17 ER.

Fo’ Reals
Adam Lind – When he came up analysts drooled, and so should they have he was the No. 39 prospect in baseball in 2007 and No. 1 in the Toronto system. After some decent, but nothing special years, the 25-year-old Lind opened the season up with a long ball and 6 RBI. Write him in for 20-25 this year.

Adam Jones – The O’s outfielder is a top prospect. 2008 was a little rocky, but that’s not unusual for a 23-year old rising star. He was the main piece in the Eric Bedard trade and rightfully the Baseball wizzes at USSMariner.com were furious when management let him go.

Felipe Lopez – Ok, so the power isn’t going to stay that high, but can you get 15-20 hrs in that ball park? Maybe. That’s quite the steal in leagues where he’s sitting around. In 2005 he had 23 bombs (in another hitter friendly environment), which was certainly an outlier with his isolate power and HR/FB |PERCENT| being way above his season norms. But with 2 hrs already in the bag, getting 13-18 more could happen. Either way, he’s a great grab as he’ll contribute in steals too.

Disagreeing with Baseball Prospectus on Delmon Young

BP’s Analysis:

“Young might be the most useless .290 hitter in the game”
“He was impatient as ever”
“He’s the farthest thing from a winning ballplayer”

And then some hedging that he’s still young, etc etc…
What?

Yes, Young has disappointed. Yes, he has flaws in his game. But such negativity doesn’t seem warranted. The guys at BP know more than I do, but let me make the case and I’d love to have them rip me to shreds…

Delmon Young swings at a lot – OK  a ton – of pitches outside the strike zone , but he’s doing it less often. In the past three years he hacked at 50.3|PERCENT| in 2006, 41.3|PERCENT| in ’07 and 39.9|PERCENT| in ’08. Each year showed a growth. The difference between 2007 and 2008 is very small, so there is probably a case to be made about margin of error.

But between 2007 and 2008 when he did swing at crap balls, he made more contact, 57.1|PERCENT| vs. 51.3|PERCENT|.

He may also be sitting back a bit more. From ’06 to ’08 he cut down how often he swings at the first pitch from 77.1|PERCENT| to 61.3|PERCENT|. Still high, but baby steps.

Other peripherals improved too. His walks increased, strikeouts decreased etc. Again nothing too great, but remember he’s still just 23, just months older than many top prospects who haven’t even made the majors yet such as Dexter Fowler.

When he came up to the majors, scouts had high hopes for power. For example BP said in 2005 he is “an absolute monster of a hitter.” Right now his measly HR/FB rate of 7.6|PERCENT| looks more like a furry gremlin than the nasty late night eating version.

Last year his GB |PERCENT| also shot up at the expense of hit-making line drives. If his GB|PERCENT| stays up, that’s trouble. But it could be an outlier, we’ll know in a few years.

If you get a chance to grab him late, do so. But understand there are downsides and he may not even be this year’s starter. Nonetheless if I’m in a dynasty league, it’s too early to stop believing.