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Salary Cap Chronicles: Stanton Finding the Range

Scott Jenstad

Scott Jenstad is a veteran of both NFBC and CDM fantasy games. He has won three NFBC Main Event league titles and finished twice in the Top 10 Overall. Scott is a hardcore fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland A's and Golden State Warriors. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenstad.

Well, at least I had Josh Hamilton mentioned in last week's article even if I didn't use him, right? Maybe? Wow, what a week for Hamilton. He is as locked in as I have seen a hitter since the prime Barry Bonds days. As a baseball fan, I am really hoping he stays healthy to see what he could do in 150+ games. As an A's fan, I should hate the Rangers lineup, but they are just too darn fun to watch. I am not sure I can remember a lineup this powerful and this deep, at least not in the last 10-15 years. I immediately thought of the 1995 Indians lineup with Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, and Albert Belle as well as young versions of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, but I think this Rangers lineup is still a bit deeper. On a side note, good ole Joey Belle went 50-126 with 52 doubles, freaking insane! Yes, they are injury prone with Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler having long injury histories, but if they can stay healthy, they are going to score a ton of runs. The scary thing is that the weather has not even gotten hot in Arlington yet. I see them as the best team in baseball by a wide margin and it is starting to look like Yu Darvish may be as legit as the Rangers hoped he would be when they opened the checkbook for him. It is going to be fun to track the Rangers all year and unless the Angels get really hot very soon, the West may be clinched very, very early.

The story of the fantasy season so far besides Hamilton has been the ridiculous closer carousel. This week in drafts, most people had yet another four teams' closers in free agent pools. The Padres (Dale Thayer, after everyone spent on Andrew Casher already), A's (ugh, Brian Fuentes), Blue Jays (Casey Janssen) and maybe the Mets (nice meltdown Frank Francisco) all made moves at the back end of the pen either due to injury or poor performance. I assumed bidding prices would chill this week with so many available and many teams already using a lot of cash, but I was wrong and missed out in the leagues I needed saves in.

On the Head2Head, Week 6 has been solid so far due to the National pitching staff posting a ton of points through five games and I still get another start from Stephen Strasburg. My offense has been just ok this week, mostly because of my three Yankees who also happen to be the three lowest scorers on my team. I am hoping the last two days of the scoring period go well as I try to move to 6-0 on the year.

Looking ahead to Week 7, every team has seven games except for the White Sox, Indians, Tigers and Twins. One thing to note is that there are interleague games this weekend so make sure if you are playing an AL DH who plays in an NL city, take them out right away. As an example, David Ortiz plays in Philadelphia this weekend and will likely sit two of the three games. Looking at schedules, Colorado looks good with five games at Coors, but the last two are in the cavernous new Marlins Stadium. In the AL, the Yankees and Blue Jays both have favorable schedules with five home games. Let's take a look at the positions, and always, keep in mind the Head2Head week runs Wednesday through Tuesday.

Catcher: Matt Wieters was scuffling a little bit before going yard and having a big game Sunday. At his price tag, he has been a very solid and consistent performer all year long. Wieters does have five games away from Camden, but his career splits are pretty even and while the 2012 sample size is still very small, he has been better on the road so far this year. Carlos Ruiz has been on fire and is an interesting cap saver play this week, but I tend to think the power is a bit fluky and playing him now may be buying a bit too late. Yadier Molina is always a solid option at his price, but with three games in LA and two games in SF, I like Wieters more. An interesting tricky play for some cap savings could be Jesus Montero with three games at Coors, but with no DH, I am afraid he may sit two of those games with would kill him with almost everyone else having seven. I'm going to stick with Wieters.

First Base: Freddie Freeman has cooled off a bit, but still has produced for his lower tag when comparing to a lot of the big money1B. Obviously, Joey Votto had a huge day Sunday that made his week, but Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Prince Fielder continue to be brutal. Fielder actually went 0 for the four game series in Oakland. Freeman faces some tough pitching in Tampa Bay this weekend, but does get five righties and a couple of games in Cincy which always helps. Bryan LaHair has been very solid recently, but he isn't cheap enough compared to Freeman to make me want to make the switch. If you really wanted to save cap this week, I would suggest Mark Trumbo at only $6.1 who is playing more and heating up for the Angels. With a numbers of their hitters scuffling, Mike Scioscia cannot afford to pull Trumbo out and with his power, he could be a very nice play at his tag this week, but he does visit Petco and Oakland which dampers his expectations a bit. With the high-end guys struggling for the most part, I will stick with Freeman for his production and price tag. If you did want to go high rent at 1B, Votto seems the way to go and he is finally warmed up and gets three games at Yankee Stadium to go with two home games.

Second Base: Ian Kinsler has finally cooled off a bit and he is on the road for five of his seven games so I may actually change 2B this week for the first time in a while. Kinsler is streaky and thus hard to time, but I don't mind going away from him for a majority of road games. The current hottest 2B is Dustin Pedroia and he makes for a nice swap even though he does take to the road for seven games this week and faces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in Philly this weekend. The cap play at 2B continues to be Jason Kipnis at only $6.3, but he happens to be on one of the few teams that play six games this week as the Tribe gets Monday off. With that being the case, I think the sneaky cheap play this week is Kelly Johnson. He is only $6.6 and gets five home games and faces five righties this week. 2B this week to me comes down to Pedroia or Johnson and I went with Johnson in order to play some expensive guys at other spots.

Third Base: I think it is fair to just say now this is Edwin Encarnacion's breakout season. Week 6 has been another great week from Ency as he has 25 points with two home games left. I have said it before, but at $6.8, he is the best value in the Head2Head game so far (ok, him and Carlos Beltran). With five more home games this week, I am certainly sticking with Ency again. If you wanted to fade Ency and go with another cheaper option, Will Middlebrooks is only $6.0 and has been on fire since his call-up and Kevin Youkilis will not be back this week so Middlebrooks will play and is hitting in the middle of the Sox lineup. If you wanted a more expensive option, I think the clear guy to grab right now is David Wright. Wright is over .400 for May and looks like the David Wright of a few years back. He also has a nice schedule this week facing Cincy at home and then hitting the road for three at Toronto and two at Pittsburgh.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter has finally mellowed a bit from his hot April, but shortstop is still weak and he does have a nice week with five of his seven games at home. The cheap guy to grab right now is Rafael Furcal who is just electric right now and hitting on top of a St Louis lineup that is just crushing the ball. As we noted above when discussing Molina, their schedule does not map out that well, but it may not matter. If you want to save cap at SS this week, I recommend riding Furcal. J.J. Hardy is also having a nice May and is also a cap saver, but I think I would go even cheaper with Furcal if looking to save cap. If you had some cap to burn, both Jose Reyes and Elvis Andrus are having great Mays, but with Jeter at home, I think I prefer him to those two. I will likely be hanging with Jeets for one more week. Of course, with five games at Coors, Troy Tulowitzki is always a consideration, but at his price tag, I am going to make him start hitting before I pay the price.

Outfield: With Hamilton and Beltran destroying the ball, my outfield fell way short this week thanks to Nick Swisher and Carlos Granderson. They both have nice schedules this week, but with so many OF crushing the ball, I might have to move off of them right now. Adam Jones continues to rake and is over 20 points for the week already as he looks prepared to lock down a career year. Beltran does have a less than ideal schedule this week, but at his low price tag and insane production, I have to ride him while he is healthy. Hamilton does go on the road this week for five of his seven games, but there is no way I can argue against what he is doing right now. If you wanted to save some cap in the OF along with Beltran, Josh Reddick has been on fire this month and is a top five OF in May so far with fiver homers and 13 RBI. On the high end, I really like Ryan Braun this week with five home games and two games in Houston and their short LF porch. He does get Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner later in the week, but his first five games are against some very weak pitchers. Braun appears to be over the Achilles tweak he had earlier so if I am going high end this week, Braun is my guy.

Giancarlo Stanton is also another guy to look at this week, as he is not that expensive in comparison to the top guys and he's just punishing the ball right now with six bombs already this month. Another cap saver comes from St Louis in the form of Allen Craig. He could face a bit of a playing time crunch when Lance Berkman comes back, but he is locked in right now and hitting in the middle of an extremely potent Cardinals lineup. I cannot imagine Matheny putting him on the bench, but they will have a bit of a glut when Elvis returns. Of course, as always when the Rockies are home for a majority of the week, Carlos Gonzalez is an excellent play. After a slow first couple weeks, CarGo has been his typical beast self; I sure am glad the A's got rid of him when they did, that worked out exceptionally well. A final cheap guy I would look closely at for this week is Mike Trout. He is hitting leading off and playing every day for the Angels and is one of their few bright spots, but he does get a weekend in Petco this week. Jose Bautista is another guy is appears to be finally be warming up and could be a nice high-end play with five home games.

Starting Pitching: Well, the Nats continue to deal and have had a great week aside from that minor Votto walk-off grand slam. With their high level of strikeouts across their starters, they are great in a points league since even without wins, they can rack up the points. They remain a great option this week and you get two starts from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann. They do have to face the hot Orioles, but at their price tag, they have to be a consideration each and every time they have seven games. The Phillies do feature two starts from Roy Halladay, but they also face the Red Sox and are very expensive. The Cardinals are an excellent opportunity this week as they get 2 games in SF and 3 in LA and the Dodgers may be without Matt Kemp. To top it off, they then go home and get two games against San Diego. In addition to the schedule, you also get two starts form Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright. The Cards are a very strong play at their cap number this week. In the same range as the Nats, the Giants are also a very appealing play. They feature 2 start weeks from Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain as well as a home series vs. Oakland. The St Louis games scare me a bit, but Cain and Bumgarner are solid enough to hang with them.

In the AL, the Rays look like a good option with seven homes games, but I am not sure I trust Hellickson and Matt Moore going twice right now, especially against Boston and Toronto. If you have the cap, the Angels are a very nice possibility also getting the White Sox (who strike out a lot) at home and then on the road for great pitcher parks and bad offenses in San Diego and Oakland. If I were to go expensive this week, it would be for the Angels. The Rangers are also very expensive, but they do get three very poor offenses in Houston, Seattle and Oakland, with the last five games away from Arlington. You get two Yu starts (see what I did there?), which is a nice bonus. I think if I were going that expensive; I would side with the Angels by a slight margin though. My choice came down to the Nats and Cards and I decided to stick with the Nats.

Here is where I ended up for what should be a fun and high scoring week:

C: Matt Wieters ($8.2)
1B: Freddie Freeman ($8.6)
2B: Kelly Johnson ($6.6)
3B: Edwin Encarnacion ($6.8)
SS: Derek Jeter ($9.0)
OF: Carlos Beltran ($7.6)
OF: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
OF: Carlos Gonzalez ($11.5)
Flex: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.7)
P: Washington Nationals ($19.2)

Total: $99.2

Hope everyone has a great week, and as always, if you have any comments or questions, replay or hit me on Twitter @ScottJenstad.