Fantasy Baseball Blog Fantasy Baseball

Round Tripper – Saturday 1/24

We’re roughly a month out from spring training.

Teams are holding their awards banquets and respective fanfests, with players on hand to meet fans and update the media as to their health, hopes and expectations heading into 2015. Thus, you’ve probably seen quite a few “Injured Player X says he’s ready for spring training” notes on the site. It’s a beautiful thing.

Round Tripper – Friday 1/23

Before getting to the actual news from the day, I want to start with a rumor that has been festering for over 24 hours, but has yet to come to fruition. The Brewers want Jonathan Papelbon, but he does not want them, at least not without them guaranteeing his $13 million vesting option for 2016. Milwaukee not only does not want to guarantee this, but they want the Phillies to eat some of the $13 million Papelbon is due in 2015. It is all very messy. But I don’t want to talk about Papelbon or Ruben Amaro, Jr. or bad reliever contracts or how bad Jonathan Broxton will be as the Brewers’ closer in 2015 if given the chance. Let’s talk about something happy and exciting. Let’s talk about Ken Giles. He is the phenom that the Phillies want to replace Papelbon in the ninth inning. Giles is the big fantasy prize here. Of the 11 relief pitchers who pitched 40-plus innings in 2014 and had K-rates above 35 percent, only Wade Davis had a better ERA (1.00 to Giles’ 1.18) and only Sean Doolittle (0.73) and Dellin Betances (0.78) could best his 0.79 WHIP.

It’s kind of like that quote from Matt Damon’s character, Mike, when he is reliving beating Johnny Chan in a hand of poker in the movie, Rounders: “I sat with the best in the world, and I won.” Well, Giles didn’t win, he wasn’t playing poker and he wasn’t pitching against those other stud relievers, but the analogy still applies. He is the new kid on the block, with just 45.2 big league innings under his belt, but he has proven his worth. Fail to take him seriously at your own risk. Giles can be mentioned among the best fantasy relievers in the game if he is saving games in 2015, and now is the time to acquire him in all dynasty formats.

Notes from Friday:

Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder as well as “considerable” inflammation in the area. He is not expected to be ready for the start of the season, which leaves newcomer Tyler Clippard as the likely replacement option in the ninth inning while Doolittle is out. The A’s closer has been treated with platelet-rich plasma injection and he will be re-evaluated when the inflammation dies down. Doolittle’s track record and ability is unquestioned to this point, and conventional wisdom suggests he should get the ninth inning job back if he can demonstrate full health at some point this season, but these things often have a way of taking on a life of their own  — think Francisco Rodriguez and Jim Henderson in Milwaukee last year. Clippard could take the job and run with it, and he also has a very favorable track record. The 29-year-old righty saved 32 games for the Nationals in 2012, and has a 2.88 career ERA and 1.08 career WHIP. This is something to follow as more reports surface regarding Doolittle’s status as spring training approaches, but for now it is a major blow to his value for 2015. 

Round Tripper – Thursday 1/22

While the past week has been a busy one in the baseball world, with the flurry of arbitration deals last Friday, Max Scherzer’s signing and the Dexter Fowler trade, Thursday was a relatively slow day. I will get into some of the Thursday’s news items later on, but first, I want to look at some key offensive players working their way back from injury. With less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, it’s imperative to stay on top of these situations.

Carlos Gonzalez (NFBC ADP: 47.48) – Now more than five months removed from surgery to repair his left patellar tendon, Gonzalez remains limited to taking swings in the cages. However, he was scheduled to meet with a doctor Thursday in hopes of being cleared to run and take on-field batting practice. It’s uncertain whether he actually received the green light to increase his activity, but it sounds like Gonzalez is on track to enter spring training without major restriction. The 29-year-old played in a career-low 70 games last season due to injury, and when on the field, his performance was nowhere near what we’ve come to expect from the two-time All-Star (.723 OPS). He’s an obvious bounce-back candidate, but like teammate Troy Tulowitzki, his injury history must be factored in when setting expectations for 2015. There’s still significant downside here, especially for a player who (right now) is typically being taken in the top 50 picks.