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Salary Cap Chronicles: Riding the Hot Hand

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, that is more like it. Finally, a week where the injury gods stayed away (as well as making bad choices) and I was able to thrive. As of Monday morning, I have a big lead in my matchup and lead my league in total points for the week. Hopefully, last week's column helped a lot of you also. The Dodgers pitching staff has been fantastic as well as my triumvirate of Angels, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo. The Angels crushed in Coors just as we hoped. I can't stand the Angels and still find myself liking Trout; it's impossible not to love watching the dude play. My worst play was Hanley Ramirez, who has had a very empty week at quite a high price. Robinson Cano has had a fantastic week so far and the rest of the squad chipped in decently for the most part.

Now it is time to look at Week 11 and hope to keep the momentum going. We are still in inter-league play, so as always, make sure to note the AL teams going to NL parks before playing anyone who is primarily a DH. Week 11 is interesting schedule-wise as we have half the league playing seven games, but also a few teams with five games week. Make sure to note that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Marlins and Nationals all have five games this week. Among the teams playing seven games, many of them are on the road and not many schedules pop up as obvious targets, except for the Rangers who get five of their seven games at home against pretty week pitching. They do get two games in Petco, but I am hoping the majority of games at home make up for the short set in San Diego.

Catcher: A.J. Ellis served his purpose this week as a cap saver with seven games, but his bat has definitely cooled off, which is not especially shocking. Yadier Molina has been great all season, but has really heated up lately, hitting .394 the last three weeks. He is a strong consideration for me this week, but with six games, I think I will look elsewhere for a catcher with a full seven game schedule. A.J. Pierzynski has seven games this week and has somehow found his power stroke this year, especially recently with four bombs in his last 15 games. If you think Miguel Montero finally gets warm, he is also a nice play with a couple games in Texas and a couple at home, but he has struggled mightily recently. To me, catcher this week comes down to two guys with seven games, Buster Posey and Mike Napoli. I am going to side with Napoli for the home schedule and easier set of pitchers to face.

First Base: The Angels combo of Trumbo and Pujols has killed it so far in Week 10. They are the two hottest guys at 1B the last few weeks, with Joey Votto right behind them. Trumbo has eight homers and 21 RBI in his last 19 games, just filthy numbers at a VERY low price. If I need cap, I will consider him later at Flex even in a six game week. The Reds have seven games so Votto should be a nice play even though a majority of the games are on the road. He also is scheduled to face six righties in his seven games. A little ways down the salary list, we find Paul Goldschmidt who has finally started to hit for the DBacks. He has been hitting for power and average the last few weeks and makes for a solid choice this week with seven games. Even cheaper is the resurgent Adam Dunn who also has seven games this week. On paper, he is a fantastic play, but the interleague schedule worries me a bit. He has five games in NL parks and even though Robin Ventura has stated that Dunn with play LF in three of the games in St Louis, I have to imagine he sits at minimum one games and probably two. Paul Konerko and Dayan Viciedo are also hitting well, so it isn't easy for the Sox to sit any of the three. The prince of the pre-season hype machine, Eric Hosmer, also has seven games if you think he can get it going completely this week. Without an obvious schedule play, I went with the best hitter with seven games and decided on Votto.

Second Base: Ian Kinsler has not been especially exciting lately, but with the Rangers schedule and his history of crushing at Arlington, he looks like a pretty solid play, but let's see what else is available at 2B. If you want to pick 2B to be your cap saving spot, Jose Altuve looks like an exceptional choice this week. He has been red-hot the last few weeks and gets a weekend series at Texas among his seven games. The other obvious choice is Jason Kipnis who has been killing the 2B race this year and shows no signs of slowing down. Kipnis is around .350 the last three weeks and has managed to toss nine steals into the mix in that period. Kipnis with seven games at that price is always an elite consideration. With Altuve and Kipnis looking good this week, I actually may pass on Kinsler and use the cap elsewhere.

Third Base: This is a tough week for 3B as a lot of the usual suspects (Miguel Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, Edwin Encarnacion and Hanley Ramirez) all have six games. The best expensive option this week at 3B appears to be David Wright. He has cooled off some in the last few weeks, but with seven games, hard to not give him strong consideration. Chase Headley has very quietly put together a pretty nice season on a truly awful Padres team. He does get seven this week and leaves Petco, but for most of them, but unfortunately he lands in Seattle and Oakland, both pitcher's parks. Another interesting guy with seven games is Aramis Ramirez who often heats up right around this time of year, but I wish his weekend series was not in Target Field. After searching for a gem at 3B, I came back to using Adrian Beltre for the Rangers schedule. Beltre has been a bit quiet with the power lately, but you have to love him in the middle of that lineup with a majority of home games.

Shortstop: SS is becoming a wasteland of production right now. Looking at the past three weeks, Jed Lowrie is probably the hottest hitter, with Starlin Castro also putting up solid numbers. Jose Reyes has been solid, but with very little pop, it is hard to spend the money on him. Zack Cozart actually makes for an interesting play as he is hitting for some power lately and has a seven game week; I just wish he had more homes games. Elvin Andrus gets the Texas schedule, but he is not cheap and he has so little pop and has not been hitting for average or running recently. J.J. Hardy is an option with seven games, but he has been on the cool side lately, but as we know from earlier this season, when he gets hot, look out. I think I will save money at SS as there is no one worth spending it on and go with Cozart or Lowrie, most likely Lowrie for his weekend in Texas.

Outfield: With so many teams having seven games this week, it is going to be tough to narrow down the OF options. I will break the seven-game trend here and will be sticking with Mike Trout at his salary for sure. Trout is on fire and I am not planning on taking him out any time soon unless he gets hurt or has a five game week. The second spot will certainly go to Josh Hamilton with the Rangers schedule coupled with the fact that he gets to face six righties. Hamilton has been very cold lately, but there is no way I would fade him this week. I think he gets hot in a big way in Week 11. If you wanted to go a bit outside the box, Alfonso Soriano has been scalding lately with nine home runs in his last 19 games, but of course, there is no one in Chicago to drive in. He does have seven this week and will likely not be played by many teams. If Melky Cabrera were totally healthy, he would be an option here with seven games, but I am wary of guys who have tweaks. The same goes for Nelson Cruz this week with the Rangers schedule. Cruz left Saturday's game early and did not start Sunday. They say he is ok and I may change my mind if he plays Tuesday, but I always worry with Nellie and leg injuries.

If you are looking for cap savers in the OF, check out Lucas Duda who has seven games and has been heating up with some power as of late. Another possible cap saver this week is Alejandro de Aza with seven games. De Aza has no power, but is hitting .350 the last 3 weeks and is extremely cheap. If you have cap to spare, it is tough to go wrong with Ryan Braun and a seven-game schedule, but as noted above with ARam, the Brewers do travel to Target Field. Also on the pricy end, Justin Upton has seven games, but he has struggled just about all year and recently even got benched for a few games by Kirk Gibson (man how I still hate seeing, saying or typing his name). Adam Jones is also a play this week with seven games as he continues to add on to his career year. Some other names to consider with seven games include Jay Bruce (gets six righties too) and Corey Hart or if you want to save cap and don't like De Aza or Duda, J.D. Martinez or even Michael Saunders could work. After Trout and Hamilton, I decided to try and ride the Soriano hot streak at a good cap price and then went big with Ryan Braun for seven games at the Flex.

Pitching Staff: Much like in the OF, with so many staffs having seven games, this will be a week with a lot of pitching opportunities to consider. As I was scrolling the teams with seven games, the first one that looked like a possibility to me was the Brewers. They get five games against the Royals and Twins, but both Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke only go one time during the period. I am not sure I can stomach two Randy Wolf games that mean something to me. An off-the-radar option this week with seven is the New York Mets. They get five games in Citi Field and if you use them, you get two starts from Johan Santana as well as the hottest pitcher in baseball, Mr. R.A. Dickey. The Giants also look like a solid option with games against Seattle in Safeco and also two at home versus Houston. Two Barry Zito starts may be tough, but you have to love two from Matt Cain tossed in. If you trust the Mariners, the schedule is great with five games in Safeco against the Padres and the Giants. Two games from Hector Noesi and Jason Vargas do not do enough for me to use them though. The final option I considered were the Rangers who face the Astros offense over the weekend and then get two bonus games at Petco to close out the week. Two starts from Matt Harrison may work, but two from Scott Feldman do not excite me in the least. I almost went with the Mets for the cap relief, but decided to roll with the Giants at a very workable $19.7 million.

In summary, after a lot of back and forth, I ended up with the following:

Catcher: Mike Napoli ($8.6)
First Base: Joey Votto ($11.2)
Second Base: Jason Kipnis ($6.3)
Third Base: Adrian Beltre ($9.0)
Shortstop: Jed Lowrie ($7.2)
Outfield: Josh Hamilton ($10.0)
Outfield: Alfonso Soriano ($7.2)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
Pitcher: San Francisco Giants ($19.7)

Total: $99.1