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Rounding Third: Week 4 Primer

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

I Can't Quit You

If you've played fantasy baseball long enough, you probably have a particular player that you just aren't willing to toss aside, despite all evidence pointing to the notion that your faith has been misplaced. Maybe you want to believe in the player's pedigree, or perhaps whenever you've watched him play he's come through. Whatever the reason, that player ends up on a disproportionate number of your teams. At one point for me, that player was Austin Kearns. Now, I'm afraid it might be Travis Snider, who I picked up yet again in the NFBC Main Event league to fill in for the injured Cameron Maybin. My team, "El Scorchos," also took a $1 flyer on Gregor Blanco for the stolen bases. I have to debate whether I'm going to use him and start my #ImprisonChrisHeisey movement on Twitter, or stick with Heisey in a seven-game week for the Reds. I don't know if I can handle another invocation of the infield fly rule from him with the bases loaded and less than two outs after seeing it happen the last two days. But the Giants have just six games this week, with the latter three at Petco Park. Mainly Blanco is there for insurance in case I lose yet another outfielder due to injury.

NFBC Main:

Team Player Bid Runner-Up
Professional Tony Cingrani (MR) 368 348
And I'll Go Mine Garrett Richards (SP) 124 65
Yucca Valley Bombers Phil Hughes (SP) 95 68
El Scorchos Travis Snider (RF) 62 57
Four Headed Monster Hiram Burgos (SP) 57 38
Pollos Hermanos Didi Gregorius (SS) 54 5
Low Talkers Ted Lilly (SP) 48 42
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || John Mayberry (RF) 42 1
Vegas Bandit Jeff Francoeur (RF) 37 7
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || Brandon Crawford (SS) 36 30
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || Yasiel Puig (RF) 26 Al Alburquerque (MR) 21
Yucca Valley Bombers Jake Arrieta (SP) 20
Big Alameda Machine Munenori Kawasaki (SS) 20
Full Grown Guppies Joe Saunders (SP) 18 7
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || Kevin Correia (SP) 16 3
Big Alameda Machine Vance Worley (SP) 12
Vegas Bandit Chris Getz (2B) 9 1
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || Mike Leake (SP) 6 4
Pollos Hermanos Francisco Cervelli (C) 6 1
deadmoney2 Oswaldo Arcia (RF) 5 1
deadmoney2 Kyle Blanks (LF) 4
El Scorchos Gregor Blanco (LF) 1
El Scorchos A.J. Ramos (MR) 1
deadmoney2 Mike Aviles (SS) 1

The big bids this week were Tony Cingrani and Garrett Richards in this league, and in other leagues it was Didi Gregorius (more on him shortly). I bid $73 and $31 respectively for Cingrani and Richards. Much like the Jose Fernandez sweepstakes last week, my bid on Cingrani was a "keep them honest" bid. I would have liked to own him, but he's also not worth the price he's fetching. It's by no means a given that Cingrani will remain in the rotation once he returns, nor is it a sure thing that he'll be able to handle Great American Ballpark. My gut instinct is that Dusty Baker still would like to keep Mike Leake in the rotation, and Cingrani will take his share of lumps once teams start to get good video on him and hitters face him a second time around. As a Reds fan, I hope I'm wrong in that assessment, but I don't think he's worth a 1/3 of your FAAB budget.

For what it's worth - I previously had dropped Phil Hughes - was that too hasty? I needed the spot to pick up Andrew Bailey, as my closer situation was perilously thin. My drops this week were Matt Harrison, Jason Motte (see also, failed closer gamble) and Donovan Solano, who was there only until Jedd Gyorko qualified at second base and/or I got Jurickson Profar called up. One of two so far! Jeff Francoeur was also a previous member of my roster. I feel less release remorse from that one.

A.J. Ramos is also a late-inning speculation play, and thus holder of the least stable roster spot on my team. But I love his ability to miss bats, even the Marlins don't provide many opportunities to close out games. But I feel it's better to be a week too early than a week too late - as we saw from the bidding results in the 12-team RFBOC below.


Team Player Bid Runner-Up
RoundTrippers! Edward Mujica (MR) 411 102
RoundTrippers! Tony Cingrani (MR) 411 267
Beer & Chicken-VI Jose Reyes (SS) 95 75
Team 317 Didi Gregorius (SS) 56
Team 317 Wade Davis (SP) 55 20
Big Wave Surfer Edwin Jackson (SP) 48 20
El Scorchos Garrett Richards (SP) 41
Kostas Krew Jorge De La Rosa (SP) 31
Del Mar Carlos Marmol (MR) 29
Del Mar Jose Valverde (MR) 29
Smoke Show 317(2) Drew Smyly (MR) 27
Reach James Russell (MR) 20
Reach Bartolo Colon (SP) 18
Reach Nolan Reimold (LF) 15
Big Wave Surfer Omar Infante (2B) 12 1
Chris Liss Rocks Nate Schierholtz (RF) 12 1
Fast Ball Francisco Liriano (SP) 11
Chris Liss Rocks Wei-Yin Chen (SP) 5
Smoke Show 317(2) Brandon Crawford (SS) 2 1
RoundTrippers! Yuniesky Betancourt (3B) 1
El Scorchos Daniel Nava (LF) 1

Edward Mujica looks to have the closer's job in St. Louis, though that designation is rather tenuous. But Mitchell Boggs' implosion Sunday night certainly doesn't hurt Mujica, nor did it make RoundTrippers unhappy - they gained some role security without Mujica pitching before it counts for them.

It's always important to pay attention to who gets dropped, in addition to who has a newly minted role. Someone dropped Jose Reyes after his injury last week in this 12-team league. With a seven-man reserve squad and no DL spots, there's a real cost to hold a long-term injury guy on your roster, so I can see the case for dropping Reyes. But if you can afford the roster spot, how can you not try to stash that sort of upside? And that's why I bid $75 of my $1,000 budget on Reyes. Alas, that was good for only second in the league. At least I was able to get my second choice among starting pitchers available in Garrett Richards - he draws the Mariners in Safeco this week and then has a two-start week the following week. Clearly there's volatility in his performance, but I think his outing against the Tigers has signature significance.

AL Tout, NL LABR, RotoWire Staff League

The bar is set differently in these leagues - anybody with a pulse gets some action here. But quickly, here are the results from these leagues.

AL Tout

Jeff Erickson: pur BBarnes Hou 6
Joe Sheehan: pur CDickerson Bal 1
Jason Collette: pur MCarp Bos 1
Joe Sheehan: pur TScheppers Tex 1
Andy Behrens: pur LJimenez LAA 24
Andy Behrens: pur SBurnett LAA 0
Ron Shandler: pur BLaird Hou 6
Ron Shandler: pur JorDanks CWS 1
Lawr Michaels: pur JGrimm Tex 1
Matthew Berry: pur MKawasaki Tor 1
Jeff Erickson: pur JGiambi Cle 1
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur CKluber Cle 1
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur BFrancisco NYY 0
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur WRamirez Min 0

Tout uses a Vickery system with their FAAB bidding - the shorthand on that is the winning bidder gets the player for $1 more than the second highest bid. So even though Andy Behrens bid $35 of Luis Jimenez of the Angels, he only has to pay $24, as I had the second place bid of $23. Jimenez is in line for a decent run at third base with Alberto Callaspo on the DL and has held his own so far. It's not too difficult to envision him in a timeshare with Callaspo once the latter returns. So my consolation prizes are Brandon Barnes and Jason Giambi. Again, absent some extreme circumstances usually involving catchers and middle infielders, playing time is king in these only leagues, especially when you're trying to stave off a handful of injuries.


The final results aren't in yet, as there was some user error employing the RT Sports FAAB system (we were on All-Star last year), including some by yours truly. But I threw my hat into the ring in the Didi Gregorius bidding war, in small part because hey, if I can get rid of Donovan Solano everywhere, why not? But seriously, I still think that Kevin Towers and crew overpaid considerably for Gregorius, but - that doesn't mean their evaluation of him should be completely dismissed. Gregorius had a fantastic Arizona Fall League campaign and once was highly regarded by the Reds. Our "Man on the Scene" Bernie Pleskoff loves him, too. Sometimes it's worth gambling on the opinion of smart people even when your opinion diverges from their judgment.

RotoWire Staff League

Though this is a mixed league, it's an 18-team keeper league with 10 minor league slots per team, so it's nothing at all like the NFBC in terms of its free agent bidding. Tony Cingrani was already owned after our March draft, as was Jose Fernandez. But Gregorius was not selected in the minor league portion, so I doubled down on my gambit, needing to clear the low, low bar of "better than Ryan Flaherty" while Gordon Beckham is out.


The Bros McKeown: Pick up Brandon Barnes ($4), drop Matt Tuiasosopo
(Wheeler in the Sky: $2)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $1)
Tokyo Jaegers: Pick up Kyle Blanks ($3), drop Alexi Amarista
(Next Stop Pottersville: $1)
Payne: Pick up Hiram Burgos ($8), drop Johnny Hellweg
(High-A West Madison: $3)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $3)
(Tuffy's Goats: $1)
Wheeler in the Sky: Pick up Marlon Byrd ($2), drop Ryan Ludwick
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $2)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $1)
Frozen Ropes: Pick up Francisco Cervelli ($7), drop Erik Kratz
(Richie Zisk Lives Here: $5)
Erickson: Pick up Didi Gregorius ($11), drop Ryan Flaherty
(Frozen Ropes: $3)
Tuffy's Goats: Pick up Justin Grimm ($2), drop Aaron Harang
Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: Pick up Corey Kluber ($1), drop Jeff Niemann
Casale Industries: Pick up James Loney ($1), drop Pedro Ciriaco
(Browns: $1)
(Tuffy's Goats: $1)
Wheeler in the Sky: Pick up Carlos Marmol ($6), drop Heath Bell
(Schin Kickers: $3)
(East Coast Bias: $2)
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $1)
Casale Industries: Pick up Jason Marquis ($2), drop Jordan Lyles
(Tuffy's Goats: $1)
Next Stop Pottersville: Pick up John Mayberry ($3), drop Nathan Eovaldi
(Casale Industries: $1)
Richie Zisk Lives Here: Pick up Jose Molina ($5), drop Ezequiel Carrera
Richie Zisk Lives Here: Pick up Ramiro Pena ($5), drop Alexi Casilla
Frozen Ropes: Pick up A.J. Ramos ($2), drop Scott Hairston
(Frozen Ropes: $2)
Next Stop Pottersville: Pick up Kevin Slowey ($3), drop Erasmo Ramirez
(High-A West Madison: $3)
(Tuffy's Goats: $1)
The Bros McKeown: Pick up Drew Smyly ($8), drop Brayan Villarreal
(McLovin's Spoonful: $6)
(Casale Industries: $5)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $5)
(Tuffy's Goats: $4)
(Tokyo Jaegers: $4)
(Frozen Ropes: $3)
(High-A West Madison: $2)
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $2)
Richie Zisk Lives Here: Pick up Chris Stewart ($5), drop Sean Marshall
McLovin's Spoonful: Pick up Jordan Walden ($2), drop John Lackey.


Drew Smyly was the most contested player in the wake of Rick Porcello's soul-crushing disaster start against the Angels on Saturday, and Smyly's subsequent fantastic outing in relief of Porcello. Porcello is still tentatively slated to start against the Braves this week, but the wisdom of the crowds suggests he's not long for the rotation. I'd suggest that the crowd is right. If I'm a team hurting for starting pitching and can afford a project, say Houston, I'd dabble with a lowball offer to try to get Porcello. But I won't touch him and his 2.08 K/9 on any roto team right now.

Two Two-Start Pitchers I Won't Use This Week

Bartolo Colon - Colon has gotten you two wins so far - against the Astros. He also held his own against the Tigers, but then again, the Tigers haven't scored runs on their West Coast road trip. He travels to Fenway to start Tuesday and then has a home start against the O's. The latter isn't enough of a prize for me to risk the beating at the hands of the Red Sox.

Mike Minor - He's one of my pet pitchers, but I think this is a perfect opportunity to skim the cream off the top this week by benching him. Two road starts, two bad venues - at Coors Field against the Rockies, and at Comerica against the Tigers. I get that the Tigers have struggled, but they should be much tougher at home.

Astros Streaming Alert

The Astros have shown more competence at the plate, but besides the benefits of adding extra strikeouts for your starting pitchers, you also get to have your pitcher square up against the Astros' starting pitcher in terms of trying to game the system for wins. So with that in mind, here's who gets to start against the Astros this week:

SEA (@HOU): Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders. King Felix will be prohibitively expensive in daily games, for sure, especially coming off of his gem against the Tigers last week. Iwakuma is probably owned in your league, but take a peak - he's worth it, assuming the blister on his finger has healed. Saunders is almost certainly available in most mixed formats. He threw 6.1 shutout innings against the Astros earlier, albeit with just five strikeouts, in Safeco.

BOS (in BOS): Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster both get starts, and then it's likely that Felix Doubront gets one of the two remaining games in the four-game series. Those last two starts are still pending the status of John Lackey and whether he can return from the DL. Two of Doubront, Lackey or Alfredo Aceves will get those starts. Check our Projected Starters page (hat tip - Jason & Darin Brown) this week to monitor developments.

Random Note

Shin-Soo Choo has already been hit by nine pitches in 21 days - more than any other NL team, let alone any other player. That's a pretty painful way to lead the league in OBP.

Super-Cheap Streaming Option for the Week

There aren't many good choices among those like available - it's possible that Kevin Correia could work out for you, with two home starts in Minnesota - assuming one of them doesn't get postponed by the nasty April weather they've been having. But that first start will come against the reeling Marlins, the second against the Rangers. His opposing number in that first game, Ricky Nolasco, could be more appealing, as his second start is a home start against the Cubs.

Interleague This Week

Don't get caught offguard by the constant looming threat of interleague play. Nothing quite says April baseball like the Marlins and Twins hooking up! And nothing is more deflating than trying to figure out who gets the extra at-bats for the Marlins with the use of the DH. At least it's only two games. My guess is that the Marlins could clear up that Juan Pierre/Austin Kearns (there's that name again!) logjam in left field, or maybe Joe Mahoney could get another start without displacing Greg Dobbs from the lineup.

ATL @ DET (Fri-Sun) - The timing couldn't be any better for the Braves, with Freddie Freeman returning to the lineup Monday. They can soft-launch his return some this week, plus allow Evan Gattis to get at least one game in somewhere other than catcher.

The other little quirk of "all interleague, all the time" is the presence of these two-game series. We saw that with ATL-KC last week, and now MIA-MIN. This week, that means those two teams don't play on Wednesday - when is the last time you saw teams not have a scheduled game on a Wednesday?

Annoying Day-to-Day Injuries

Fortunately there are no day games Monday, so we'll have a little bit more time and hopefully more information to make our weekly lineup decisions in most leagues for a change, except for in one of my home leagues, where we have a Sunday at midnight PT deadline for active/reserve moves for the week. That's something that I'll strenuously object to at next year's draft. At any rate, here are the day-to-day guys (in no particular order) I'm paying attention to before this week's roster deadline:

- Asdrubal Cabrera (wrist)
- Shane Victorino (back)
- Kevin Youkilis (back)
- Franklin Gutierrez (lower body)
- R.A. Dickey (neck/back)
- Dan Uggla (calf)
- Freddie Freeman (oblique - due to come off DL Monday, at Coors Field no less)
- Zack Cozart (finger)
- Todd Helton (forearm)
- Aramis Ramirez (knee)
- Clayton Richard (flu)