Fantasy sports w/Tristan H. Cockcroft
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft in The Show on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:00 AM)
Good morning everyone! Baseball's inching ever closer, but we've got a heck of a Super Bowl right around the corner, too! In other words, it's all fair game today, so fire away with those questions ...
Alex New Orleans
What do you think about Eric Gagne? I have him kept for this year, and I am thinking about dealing him? I think he could have a good year though... I am torn, help me out
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
You really can't get much more high-risk, high-reward. Ultimately, I'd look at Gagne the way I might have a Jose Valverde one year ago today, the kind of guy I trust to be a top-10 closer candidate for half a season, but mostly worthless the other half. Seriously, rate him that way and you're best off. Guys like that, I generally recommend you shop. Saves are really not tough to piece together, and there are owners out there who overrate them. Could be a nice time to sell as a result.
Your thoughts on Micah Owings this year and in the next couple? Both pitching numbers and in the field/hitting? Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Good prospect, though I could see a couple bumps in the road this year. The kind of guy I'd call a back-of-your-staff type for mixed, at best, where you'd need to spot him out during his inevitable slumps, yet still get some nice matchups value out of. Long-term? Probably a No. 3/4 starter. I don't see ace potential in him down the road, but these guys have value, if you use them right. Frankly, though, I'd actually hope the Diamondbacks DON'T use him too much as a fielder. I know his bat's great, and you want to exploit it, but I think putting him out there, say, at first base once a week is going to tire him out and adversely affect his pitching numbers. If that's how it's looking in the spring, to be honest, I think I'd look elsewhere. He should be a pitcher and pinch-hitter, that's it.
Tristan - Javier Vazquez finished in the top-10 among SP's last year thanks to a HUGE Sept. (that won a league for me). But he will definitely not be drafted among the top 10 this year? Can we expect similar value, or do you see a dip in his numbers this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Andy, I would say he's definitely not going to be picked among the top 10 starting pitchers. I've done rankings and in no way did Vazquez make a serious case ahead of those guys. Not that it means I don't like him, it's just that he's the kind of guy I'd say is more a No. 3 type fantasy starter, which is still a very good pitcher. I love the ratios, his skill set, his finish to 2007, and if there's anything I could say to try to keep you from being overzealous -- pushing him into the top 10 at his position, essentially -- it's that Vazquez has made a living dominating when the games really haven't mattered. If they do this year, you never know, the exposure he's had in those instances in the past haven't been good. So be a tad careful, though this is a nice guy to get AFTER you've gotten your ace.
Papelbon at $20 and Soria at $10. Keep one or both on a nine man staff with K/W/Saves/ERA as categories? Deep AL-only league.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
It's more money, sure, but I cannot go against Jonathan Papelbon at that price. I do like Joakim Soria, and that's pretty fair, too, but I want the guy who's going to win me my league, so long as he's priced fairly. And he is here.
Hey Tristan, I am keeping both Cain and Lincecum. Both are studs but will I regret having 2 SP's fromt he Giants? Wins is a catagory for me.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
You're going to regret it in wins, bottom line. Sorry to have to break that to you, Ryan, but I think of the Giants' offense as awful. I ran the stat in my Aaron Rowand Hot Stove piece -- it's on the site -- but if memory serves, it's that the only other Giant on the 40-man roster with a better homer/RBI season than Rowand's 2007 was Rich Aurilia, in I believe 2001. That says a lot. It says you have two exceptional, franchise-type young pitchers, guys you really can't let go, but you're going to hurt in wins for it this year at least. There are worse things to be, but you'll need to address wins -- read: Chien-Ming Wang -- in the draft.
Would you pick up Gomez in a keeper league? Maybe he doesn't start or play well this year in CF for the Twins, but is he worth something in say 2009?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Could be a nice little prospect, though I do think this is the kind of kid who could become a perennial All-Star or a fourth-outfield/pinch-running type. In other words, we could be talking an Eric Byrnes type, or a Roger Cedeno, it really could go either way. That's just the nature of the game with these toolsy prospects, which is what I'd call Gomez. I'd take the chance if it's a low-priced one -- I don't know the specs of your league -- but I'm thinking it has to be 15-plus keepers in mixed, or 10-plus in AL-only, for him to be worth it, off the top of my head.
Dan Gladden: (Minny)
Are you worried about Morneau's second half? What are your stat projections and do you value him the same as Texeira?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Well, Dan, if that's really you, I do like Mark Teixeira better. I love what he did adapting to the NL quickly, and he's sure motivated this year. Contract year. But I have Justin Morneau not too far behind. Love the talent, but he's a little frustrating only in that he tends to play through injuries, and ones that really do adversely affect his performance. I really think that was the case, so I'll grant him the mulligan. My projections landed Morneau in the ballpark of .280-30-110, but if he looks healthy in the spring, I could take 'em higher. I'd say today, if you draft him at that value level, you're right on.
Cubs Love! What are your projections for Zambrano and Lilly this year? Can they both win 18 games and 15 games, respectively, again?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
I'm sorry, Sam, but in yet another chat I have to say Carlos Zambrano terrifies me this year. I absolutely recognize that he could go prove me (and the masses, seemingly) wrong and win 18, he has that kind of potential at his best, but I saw way too many warning signs in his command numbers and his two tough cold spells in 2007 to want to invest ace dollars in him. I'm saying if you draft Zambrano as, say, a 15-win, 4.00-ERA type, you're being pretty fair. Ted Lilly, I'd say he's a candidate for that, though I do have him currently in the 4.25-ERA range, so he's further down the starting pitching rankings.
For leagues using fielding %, should players like Braun get dropped back a few spots in drafts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Not necessarily with him being shifted to left field, which should help his cause. For one, there are fewer fielding chances in left than at third, which increases his chances at a higher percentage. But yeah, to an extent, in such leagues, that's going to hurt Braun's status, say, a buck or two or maybe 5-8 spots in the draft. Nothing extreme, though.
Do we know if Maybin and Longoria will be full time starters yet?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Nope, but I have a very strong suspicion they will both make the team. The Rays really want Evan Longoria to win the third-base role, as Willy Aybar is really no competition for him, and the Marlins are going to want to show the fans at least to an extent that they got something for their two franchise cornerstones. I'd put some decent draft stock in Longoria, but not much in Maybin, who I do believe could use a half-season or more of Triple-A seasoning.
I think Vazquez gets bumped up quite a bit if your league has a strict innings limit. I mean 200 K's is 200 k's.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
Which, again, is why "in a vaccum" can be a very vague method of answering questions. Formats do make slight differences.
Ken (Tarzana, CA)
Do you buy Bill James projection that Chase Headley will have the 6th highest OBP in the Majors this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
No, but I'm also not out to bust on Bill, either. Remember that his projections are based on raw statistical data, mostly, and a lot of times they assume the player is going to get regular at-bats. Headley has to make the team, for one, but I do like him as a pretty decent player long-term. He's a sleeper NL-only owners MUST know.
brad (harrisburg, pa)
plain and simple: better value, weeks #90 or figgins #42?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
Both prices are fair and I actually don't think as much of Chone Figgins as other people do, but at No. 42 overall, that's a very fair price tag. Not that I dislike Rickie Weeks, but I think at No. 90 overall, he's a little higher compared to where he should go than Figgins compared to where he should go.
Deadline soon approaching here ... allowed to keep three and I am thinking about trading a draft pick to add a QB or WR keeper. Could you please rank your top 3 of these players with the best value? It's a typical snake draft exluding the players kept by each team. Tom Brady (1st round draft pick + more), Carson Palmer (2nd), Tony Romo (2nd), Fitz (2nd), Braylon Edwards (2nd), Housh (2nd), Jennings (2nd), Plaxico (3rd), Marshall (3rd), Santonio Holmes (3rd), Calvin Johnson (4th) ... Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Those are all very high price tags, really, at the very least where they should or will go in drafts as we look at this so far ahead. But I'd say Palmer, Braylon Edwards and Brandon Marshall are probably the strongest bets of the bunch, accounting for the fact that you really shouldn't be keeping multiple quarterbacks.
ed (bloomington, IN)
thoughts on kevin slowey, brandon morrow, and manny parra for the coming seasons? sleepers or suspects?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Slowey's main problem in 2007 was his propensity to serve up the long ball. Beyond that, and accounting for minor-league track record, there's a lot of sleeper potential to like. He's not getting the press a sleeper of his caliber should, so I'd say yes, go for it. Morrow, again, good sleeper on the surface, but for 2008 I have my worries that he can go from wild, wild relief pitcher to a starter's workload in one year and keep up a pretty respectable performance. It's asking a lot, and I think there might be too much buzz, so I lean a little towards suspect. Parra, again, good sleeper and I don't hear anyone talking about him. He really should be in that rotation and I think he might be the most exciting upside play of the bunch.
Rob (Grand Rapids, MI)
When do you go for your first SP and closer when drafting? 5x5, 9 spots for pitchers. Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I almost never even consider a pitcher before, say, the fourth/fifth round, and it's almost always a starting pitcher. There are absolutely exceptions, though, like in a couple past seasons where Johan Santana hung around until, say, eighth/ninth overall. But for the most part, I think you build on hitters in the first five rounds where you can, get some nice ace-caliber arms in that fifth-to-eighth-round range, and there are almost always nice saves bargains by, say, the eighth-to-10th rounds. Saves isn't impossible to fill in-season, after all.
brad (harrisburg, pa)
weeks follow up: are you expecting 20/25 this season (or better) after his big september? he sure looked healthy to me and reeks of post-hype.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
You know, Brad, I just browsed my projection for him, and assuming he's healthy, yeah, 20 homers, 25-plus steals is absolutely possible. He's an enigmatic type for fantasy, but if you just remind yourself that you are not buying him for the batting average, and he is GOING to be streaky, which demands patience, you should be happy enough. Puts him in the back-end of the top 10 at his position, but there's absolute potential for a nice power/speed season, if you surround him with high-average types.
I hear the #5 spot in the Brewers rotation is Villaneuva's to lose. Thoughts on him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Decent-to-good command type, and I usually call those guys a little lower risk, though I don't see loads of upside in him. Really, he's an ideal back-of-the-rotation/spot-start type, in my mind. Sure, NL-only owners need guys like this to round out staffs, but I don't see a lot to get too excited about. For my money, I'd prefer Manny Parra to him. Better chance he's a use-him-all-the-time type than Villanueva, who I really think of as a matchups play, no more.
better end of a johan santana-ryan howard deal?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
The guy who gets Santana, though I will say this as a person who had been handed that very offer in December and turned it down BEFORE Johan's trade to the Mets.
Tristan ,when do you start going after pitchers in H2H points leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
Higher than in my answer to that previous question, because pitchers can dominate the format more than they can in Rotisserie. Bump it up a round or two, though as I always caution, don't go nuts. Generally speaking I keep the hitter/pitcher balance a lot closer to even throughout the draft.
Might Franklin Gutierrez outperform his adp?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
I actually saw Gutierrez play a bit in the Florida State League awhile back, and I remember being pretty impressed with his raw skill set. This kid can hit moon shots. Not that I want to use that to tantalize everyone here into overrating him, as these free-swinging, raw-tools types are so boom-or-bust, but I don't think you should forget about him in AL-only formats. Gutierrez really deserves a chance to play regularly and if he does, there's considerable power/speed upside in him.
Joe (Billings, MT)
Tristan, when does fantasy baseball open on ESPN?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
I am told early-to-mid February.
Will Ian Stewart be a second baseman this year? What are your thoughts on him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
I'd love to see the Rockies try that out, but such experiments can be such shots in the dark. There's a reason Marcus Giles is on board, and I keep hearing Jayson Nix is every bit as strong a candidate for the job as Stewart. I wouldn't get my hopes up; Stewart is a deep NL-only sleeper at best, and it's not because I really see much out of him at second. It's more speculative if Garrett Atkins or Todd Helton gets hurt, and that's really a long shot.
Tristan, better keeper for the next two years. Vlad or Teix?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
I don't think you can really go wrong with either, so I'll lay these facts on the table: First base is deeper. Vlad's ceiling is a little bit higher statistically. Of course, Vlad is also brings a little bit of health risk, while Teixeira is a tad safer in that department. And by the way, don't assume Vlad will run again, because I doubt he will. I suppose this means I say Vlad by a nose, but again, it's all a matter of opinion.
I've got a draft coming up in about a month and wanted to know which positions do you see as thinnest? I'm in the top 5 so I'm thinking of going SS (either Hanley, Reyes or Rollins) since SS seems pretty thin, but wasn't sure what to look at coming back (2B, C).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Second base is deeper than you'd think. Shortstop is very top-heavy, but after about, say, the top eight, it thins out noticeably. Catcher is also pretty thin, especially once you get out of the top 10. Frankly, if I miss out on a top catcher, and I usually do, I barely even bother until I have the rest of my offense wrapped up. Love those three shortstops in the first round, though. They're absolutely worth it.
Tristan, trying to do my first auction league this year, and was wondering, what is a good dollar amount ceiling for top 5 talent, excluding Arod? 20% of your budget? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Well, the traditional cap is $260, and in those, generally speaking, $40 is around the point where the bidding begins to peter out. So take that for what it's worth. In a mixed league, I do advise you go heavy after a few $30-plus players, especially on the hitting side, as you'd be surprised some of the late bargains that can be found. Mixed leagues are rich in talent.
Who wins in a Sizemore-Fielder trade? League that counts OBP and Hits.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Hmmm. Well, the gut tells me that in that format, Prince Fielder is at least as good a bet as Grady Sizemore in every category but stolen bases, and without question I like him more in homers and RBIs. So Fielder it is.
Todd, San Diego
Hi Tristan, What do you think of Moises Alou? You get pretty massive production for about $10 in an auction or 12-15th round in a redraft.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Yes, you do, Todd, when he's healthy. And that's the key: "When he's healthy," because he will not -- I repeat, will NOT -- be healthy all year. Or, at least, you can't draft him under the assumption he will be. Like the aforementioned Eric Gagne, I think the smart owner expects very good value out of Alou for, say, half a season, but toss out the other half. Do you like that type? In mixed, you can absolutely make it work, especially if you have DL spots to shuffle him out. But I do think you can get him for cheaper than those prices, even. I bet he sneaks through as a 20th-round-plus, or $5 player, in mixed. And really, he probably should, but by those points I think it'd be silly not to think about him.
WHAT IS A 5x5 LEAGUE?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Five hitting, five pitching categories in Rotisserie: AVG, HR, RBI, SB, R, and W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP.
Jim (Cambridge, MA)
In leagues with CI and MI slots, generally speaking, how much does having to put a keeper in one of those spots decrease his value? For example, I have Wright and Papi at 3B and 1B, and have to choose between Atkins and Dunn for my last keeper (where Atkins would have to be a CI for me). Thanks for your thoughts.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
It all depends on what you project to be available in the draft, how you feel about your own guys, etc. I do advise to any keeper-league owner, do a rough estimate of what you think will be kept, so you have a general idea how the draft pool will look, before you make your final cuts. And just to ease your mind, Jim, I'm actually in a similar boat in one of my keeper leagues, rich in corner men (Derrek Lee, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun). And I'm not really sweating it that I'll lock out corner infield, and perhaps DH, too.
Who are the top 5 set-up men that could sneak into the closer role?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
Hmmm. Well, Buck, this is a very rough list off the top of my head, and accounts for ability AND chance he'll get the job at some point: Carlos Marmol, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Lindstrom, Derrick Turnbow, Heath Bell. And that, again, is a very rough list.
Hey Tristan when might we see Matt Wieters in the majors? Thank you
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I'm not expecting him this season, but stranger things have happened. I'd say draft day-wise, I'd estimate him as a September call-up and nothing more, with a better-than-50/50 shot at breaking camp with the team in 2009. That's probably safest.
Tito (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
who's the better keeper: matt cain in the 7th round or chien ming wang in the 9th round?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I want raw skills before team situation, Tito, so it's Cain there.
Whats the first round you would consider taking Rich Harden in a 12 team league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
Final five? Harden's another guy I say is a great bet to get hurt for a significant period. And if you estimate even a half season's value, you might be overrating him, so be careful. Late-round mixed pick, and absolutely no more, but he should be drafted, I'll note.
Do you think the Rays can protect Rocco Baldelli enough as a DH to actually keep him healthy this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Sure, but that's yet another guy I can't estimate for better than half a season. Baldelli, like Rich Harden, has been so terribly frustrating in the health department no matter how he's used, so I really don't know if position makes a significant difference. Jonny Gomes, after all, probably belongs at DH. Let's say even 100 games from Rocco is a very nice season, that'd be smartest.
Clock's ticking so this is the last time I'll ask...5 player keeper league (pujols, utley, sizemore, chipper, and gallardo)....With my first draft pick in the 4th round should I get a top line starter or another OF? Already got all INF locked up except for SS.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I don't have any idea what's out there in your league -- note the previous question about estimating keepers -- but I have a feeling you're going to need a starter with one of your first two picks, and an ace-caliber one at that. Just don't overdraft.
I usually don't like to keep pitchers (3 keeper leagues with 3 year "contracts" for players), but would you keep Hamels over someone like Chris Young (ARI) or Eric Byrnes?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Probably, yeah, but you didn't say what year these players are in with their contracts. Let's assume they're all early in them, then I'd go Cole Hamels and Chris Young, and be happy for three seasons.
Mike (Albany, NY)
Hi Tristan, please help!!!! Choose 4: Crawford, And. Jones, Arm. Ramirez, Soriano, Granderson, McCann, Tejada, Nathan, King Felix, Chris Young (SD pitcher)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Alfonso Soriano, Carl Crawford and Curtis Granderson are obvious, even if that does give you three outfielders. They're too good to let go, so I'd advise you deal for an elite infielder if you don't go that route. For the fourth, I do like Felix Hernandez to give you a start in the pitching categories.
Would you trade me straight up for Miguel Cabrera? Standard league.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Not an unfair trade, and I did just make that very trade in a simulation league in which I play (actually, made it in December). I think Johan Santana, overall, is the slightly more valuable player, but that's not at all an unfair deal if you need to shuffle pitching for hitting.
Brendan (NEW ENGLAND)
Hey Tristan, if you are already a dynasty, what comes after that?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
The fall of the Roman empire? I dunno.
Tristan - You mentioned Adrian Gonzalez there. Thoughts on him this year? Will he develop consistent power for a whole season (even in Petco)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
I love Gonzalez, but be slightly careful, as I hear very slight rumblings about a Mike Sweeney addition in San Diego. Just keep an eye on it, as I'd hate to see the Padres even conceive of making Gonzalez a platoon mate, or anything close to it. Love his upside, and he's oft-forgotten because of the offense and the ballpark. But I'd be surprise if he's not close to .300-30-100 numbers, and I do think he has a legitimate shot at topping those numbers.
Keep three of Utley 26, Figgins 9, Ad. Goz 9, and Mags 9?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Hmmm. I can't let Chase Utley go, so he makes the cut. Fair price. I'd probably let Chone Figgins or Adrian Gonzalez go, and since I'm not the kind to build around speed, I'd let Figgins go.
Deuce (Bristol, CT)
A buddy of mine traded Johan Santana for Miguel Cabrera in my Sim league about two months ago. How crazy does that trade look now?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Thanks for rubbing it in, Deuce. (He's in the aforementioned league.) Still, I like that deal.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Good news: We're back again in the afternoon, so be sure to check back to chat with us then! Take care, and enjoy the Super Bowl...