Fantasy Sports w/Tristan Cockcroft
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Got a question? Baseball? Gridiron Challenge (busting on my so-so picks)? Hockey? Something else? All fair game today ... let's get started!
Tristan, what's your take on Alexei Ramirez this year? Do you think he or Wieters will be more valuable for fantasy owners? Do you expect the same for next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Alexei Ramirez, to me, is so risk/reward. I'm more on the risk side than reward, I admit it. He didn't walk much at all, and he's already in his prime, so it's asking a bit for him to improve. If you pick him, be prepared for some dreadful slumps; those 1-for-30 stretches. Let's say he tops out at last year's numbers. Just not a big fan. That said, I do think he'll outperform Matt Wieters in terms of 2009 production. I have a real hunch the Orioles will add a veteran catcher to buy Wieters two months' time in Triple-A ball. It keeps his arbitration clock stalling, for one. For 2010, Wieters. He's gonna be a stud.
Buzzie (Sydney, Australia)
Do you think Chris Davis is assured of getting playing time for the Rangers? I am big on him.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
Yes. He has phenomenal power. To say with time he could become a Ryan Howard-like deep threat is not a stretch. In other words, huge 2009 upside, and I am absolutely a fan. Could hit 35 homers and it wouldn't shock me at all. Of course, he's a whiff king, kind of like Howard is. So long as he's scary enough for pitchers to work around him a bit, and he's patient enough to talk the resulting walks, I think there's a great future for Davis.
Hey Tristan, which catcher is most likely to win the starting job for the Rangers, and is that catcher worth drafting?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Most people are going to say Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but I have a feeling Taylor Teagarden is the better option for Texas, since he's the strongest defender of the three. Then Max Ramirez can slot in, say, 40 percent to 60 for Teagarden, to provide some offense. Of course, Salty might need to be traded in order for that prediction to happen, but I'd say there's a real chance of it. There were rumors as such earlier in the winter. As for draftability, yes, absolutely. All three can hit, and the ballpark favors hitters. I'd be happy with the winner as my No. 2 mixed-league catcher. But I rarely ever spent on top catchers and prefer these types anyway.
jason (Philadelphia, PA)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
Heck of a run your boys are on, Jason. I'm shocked, frankly, that a road team is favored in a playoff game. You don't see that too often.
Do you think Trevor Hoffman will be a good fantasy play this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
"Good" is such a vague term in cases like these. If "good" means acceptable lower-second-tier closer, then sure, he can be good by that definition. That said, left-handed hitters kill him, and he has been more susceptible to the fly ball than I'd like to see. Plus, he's 41. There's a huge downside here, just like I said there was a year ago this time, except now, he doesn't have Petco to protect his numbers. What's good for Hoff is that job security is about as good as it could be for him in 2009. We might be looking at a year like that Joe Borowski one a few seasons back. Lots of saves, 30-plus easy, and ugly ratios. Like a Todd Jones year.
Bob (Austin, TX)
Morning Tristan. Who do you see as that Nate Mcclouth/Ryan Ludwick type this year? Who comes from nowhere to put up significant numbers? What do you think of Joe Mather and D McPherson?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Well, Nelson Cruz seems to be a popular early sleeper, and I'm on that bandwagon, partially because of the lineup depth and the ballpark. But I'll also toss Jason Kubel and Adam Lind in there as breakout types. Maybe Chase Headley too. Mather has fourth-outfielder potential, not starter, I'd think. Dallas McPherson, yes, he has big power and an opportunity to win a starting job this spring, but I'm seriously in doubt he'll ever amount to anything. Might be another Andy Marte. Just a big-time whiff king, and I don't see anything to suggest he'll break out of that. Give him 450 at-bats and he might hit 30 homers ... and bat .235.
J.L. (Bangkok, Thailand)
Yesterday, a colleague of yours indicated he'd rather have Tulowitzki than Matt Kemp or Justin Upton for the next three years. Did Tulo just get traded to Phils or what? How could Tulo possibly be a better choice than Kemp or even Upton?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Position scarcity is what makes it make sense. But I'd still prefer Matt Kemp, myself, if only because his ceiling is incredibly high. As is, he could bat .300 and swipe 30-plus bags with relative ease. Imagine his power improves? Wow. Not to knock my colleague, not at all. Tulo is underrated, and that's the fun of this, we're all offering you differing opinions so you can make your own judgment.
Considering the hype surrounding Wieters already (its still only Jan.) I can only imagine what it?ll be like on draft day. I think my strategy will be to wait until the later rounds and draft another C at good value. What is your opinion of and/or expectations for Cs such as; Shoppach, Teargarden, Ianetta, Snyder, Sandoval?maybe even Salty? Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Yes, the buzz is a dangerous thing with Wieters, and I still say I see him in Triple-A ball to begin the year, especially if the Orioles sign a guy like Gregg Zaun, as I recently heard rumored. Wieters might not be on a single one of my redraft teams (keeper, another story). Of those guys you listed, Chris Iannetta stands out as a strong bargain choice. Job's his, love the park, and that kid can rake. Pablo Sandoval, be aware he might not qualify at catcher in every league, and I keep hearing whispers of him playing in the infield this year. Like his offensive potential and his minor-league numbers (and his brief stint in San Fran) but it's a small sample size of stats. Makes him a risky pick to take too high. Watch: Come draft day he'll be a smarter pick at around the price Wieters might fetch if you drafted today, while Wieters will be so inflated you should steer clear.
Scott (Concord, NH)
Thanks for all the baseball chatter this week! Getting pumped for this season. 2 rookie questions. 1) do you think Elvis Andrus *really* sees significant ABs this year? 2) Ditto for Nolan Reimold?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Again, "significant" can be a broad definition. As I see it right now, I'm thinking half-season at most for each. But that's the kind of projection that can change as the season approaches and begins, so you'll want to keep tabs on both all year. I do think we see both in the bigs in 2009, and for probably more than 100 at-bats apiece. Andrus a more attractive pick to me if only because of his infield status; tougher to fill his spots.
When are you drafting Chris Davis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
Off the top of my head, I think he goes somewhere just north of No. 100 overall. So as we get close to that spot, and depending on how you feel about the flow of your draft, I'd be thinking hard about it. And I'd be buying in more than that if he wasn't a first baseman; that's a position rich in talent.
You have 4 words, 22 letters, 2 team mates, and just 1 pick...Justin Upton/Chris B. Young...discuss.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Chris B. Young, more balanced. (OK, it's 23 letters, so sue me. I don't use the "B" when I talk the Arizona center fielder.)
Hey Tristan, thanks for the chat! We converted our draft to an auction last year and can't believe we didn't do it sooner. Love it! When with the auction value rankings be out? Also, who do you like to keep out of: Furcal ($13), Grienke ($3), Adam Jones ($2), Billy Butler ($2)? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
I love auctions as well, Matt. So much strategy, and you can get in the mix on every player if you want to. With a draft, if you pick 12th, you're locked out entirely of 11 players. Nothing you can do about it. Of those keepers, Zack Greinke is a no-doubt-about-it pick. I like what he did last year and think he has room for improvement, actually. Adam Jones my No. 2 keeper pick for the price, and I'd say Butler is also worth retaining. Rafael Furcal, hmmm, I'd likely let him go. It's a fair price, really, but he's a huge risk, and I hate tabbing a guy a keeper when he might hand you as little as 80 games for a double-digit price tag.
Wilson, Oak Island
Yo Tristan, I'm considering keeping Chad Billingsley over Carlos Lee. Am I mad?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
No. Billingsley has staff-ace potential. If his WHIP were higher he'd be called a guaranteed top-10 pitcher. Lee will likely rank higher on most people's overall lists, but Billingsley's the kind of guy I'd make an exception to keep.
Do you think the Red Soc should sign Adam Dunn to play first base? Or should the go out there and find a catcher?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
I don't know that Dunn makes sense for the Red Sox. The defense would suffer with Dunn at first and Kevin Youkilis at third, and sure, Dunn is the kind of high-on-base guy Boston loves, but that's a spacious right field, which might rein in his power a bit. I just don't see it making a heck of a lot of sense.
gregg (fresno, CA)
ok, how about Chris B. Young vs. the other upton?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
The other Upton.
Tristan, which side do you like better in a std scoring pts keeper league, Teix, JavVazuez or Hamilton and BrMyers? Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I look at it like this: Mark Teixeira and Javier Vazquez is the "safer" duo, but I really like the kind of upside Josh Hamilton and Brett Myers provide. I think Hamilton is absolutely legit, and Myers did finish last year strong. Their combined ceiling is higher.
What do you see Brandon Wood doing this year? Is he a future star?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Doing an awful lot of playing third base for the team's Triple-A affiliate, at least until Chone Figgins is inevitably traded to the White Sox. (I've heard that rumor way too many times -- do those teams have a direct line or something?) Not a Wood fan, like I'm not a Dallas McPherson fan. You can't succeed if you have a 55:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio for your brief big-league career. Wood must improve upon that, and it's the kind of thing that takes time. Even if he gets a chance, I see this being a growth year, and 2010 is the time to revisit him as a breakout type. And that's the best-case scenario, to be clear.
utley or holliday?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Chase Utley, but I'm not scared off by his surgery. Also, that position is thin.
Corey (Denver, CO)
We keep 12, my final keeper choices are between Verlander, Shields, C. Pena, C. Marmol. Been agonizing over this all offseason. Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
I don't know the rest of your team, so hard to tell where the depth is and what your needs are. But in terms of overall value, I'd go Carlos Pena. Legit power threat, and safer being a hitter than those pitchers. James Shields next-best.
Other than RBI's.....do you see a big difference between Adrian Gonzales, Morneau, Tex, Prince, Berkman or Ortiz?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
I put Adrian Gonzalez lowest of that bunch, and I actually do like the guy quite a bit. It's simply that the ballpark limits his upside. He was brutal in home games last season. In a way, he's like the others, but the type you'd sit in home games if you had an elite first baseman to swap in for him. Scary to say you should do that, but some teams can afford that luxury.
How high do you have Chris Davis in leagues where he's 3B eligible?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
Not much higher, somewhere in that Nos. 75-100 window. That's where I'm going to have him generally speaking. And I think it's a pretty generous ranking for a guy with his level of experience. For the record, Davis could easily get third-base eligibility in most leagues if the Rangers really are serious about playing him there every day. That's part of what I like about him.
Of these 8, what 5 do you keep for 09 season? Howard, Wright, Manny, Qeuntin, Longoria, Rollins, Aleixia Ramirez & Kemp.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Tough to leave any of these guys off your list, but I would probably slash Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins (and losing Rollins is the one that hurts me most). David Wright and Evan Longoria, to me, are no-brainers. By the way, you might be in the ideal spot to offer up two of these guys for an elite, first-round type. Like a Rollins-and-Quentin for Jose Reyes kind of offer.
CC or Johan?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
My top three starters, and I doubt this ranking changes between now and Opening Day barring unexpected injury, go Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum and CC Sabathia. Then there's a mini-dropoff.
David( Cincinnati OH)
Would you take Matt Holliday over Jimmy Rollins?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
Yes, and please don't take that as a huge knock on Mr. Rollins. I still think he's quite valuable, it's just that he's no longer first-round material. Holliday slips maybe to mid-second, still ahead of the Philly shortstop.
holliday's stats this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Good question there, and I did write about that at the time of the deal, but I just solidified my personal projection of him the other day. I put him at .301 BA, 28 HRs, 102 RBIs, 14 SBs, 111 R's.
Michael (Portland, ME)
Who has more bounce back this season: Furcal or Felipe Lopez?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Rafael Furcal, if only because I think he's more talented. The risk is greater, and the reward greater. That said, Lopez isn't a guy to casually dismiss. Could be a steals sleeper, but be prepared for a lower batting average. Like .290 for Furcal, .260ish for Lopez.
Please rank these as keepers for next year, C.Hart, Kemp, Bruce, McLouth. Thanks alot!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
For 2009 alone, I'm going to have these guys ranked extremely close to one another, but Matt Kemp stands out to me as No. 1. Then Nate McLouth, then Jay Bruce, then Corey Hart. That's for 2009 alone, and in no way should you condemn any of them. They're all quite valuable.
Eric (Philly, PA)
Tristan, how much weight are you putting on the WBC for pitchers versus hitters? The pitchers could start hot but fade late who are involved while the opposite seems to be true for the hitters.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
If memory serves from the last one, pitchers who participated did suffer a little from having to get up to speed that quickly in the spring ... look at Brad Lidge's numbers that year. That was one of the things I liked least about Lidge heading into that season. He seemed burned out. Not that I'd allow the WBC to radically alter my projections. It's the kind of thing where I'd have maybe a $2-3 hesitation on the pitching side. Hitters, not a real change in my mind.
.265/31/92 about right for Ludwick?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
Certainly. Though I have him with a little more batting-average potential than that. Good, not great, player overall.
Is Gerald Laird an ok keeper at $1 just to fill one of my catcher spots in AL only league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
It depends how many keepers you're afforded. I'd say Laird is a smart $1 investment. Not like it's going to hurt you, unless you're doing it while knocking a more worthy option off your list.
Traded Matt Kemp,Alex Gordon and CC for Arod and Vernon Wells in my 13 team dynasty league (we keep our entire starting lineup) I go into next season with Clement, Howard(DH), Teix, Hanley, Arod, Kendrick, Wells, Bruce, BJ, Burrell/Ethier, Lincecum, Verlander, Kershaw, Hughes, Parra/Kuroda. Good deal and how do I look for this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Seems fair enough, though I think the other team might have gotten a little better deal. Not enough to really sweat it, though. On your side the concern I'd have is you have a huge pitching downside. Huge. There's potential in all of those guys but you're going to need to pick up some arms to spot in during the year.
kemp or granderson?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I'll go Curtis Granderson, because he's in a better lineup, therefore more runs/RBIs potential, and he has shown more power to date. But this is pretty close.
Jarrett (Flemington, NJ)
If Sheets signs with the Dodgers as is being rumored where would he rank in your list of SP's? Top 25? He was the best SP the 1st half of '08.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I hadn't heard much to the effect that the Dodgers are in serious pursuit of Ben Sheets, but that'd be a good place for him to land if it happens. I will not place him in my top 25, though, more like in the top 40. I've said this to a few people so far this winter, but let's talk about Sheets and A.J. Burnett in the same sentence. Both health risks, but I look at them and prefer Burnett. Here's why: He's got the chance at being a 33-start, full-health guy, or an imploding, 10-start-plus-surgery guy. With Sheets, I really think he's incapable of going for more than 25 starts a year. More likely to be within range of 20, but I can't count on 30, no way.
For a keeper league: Cameron Maybin or Colby Rasmus???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I think you need to be extremely patient with both of them, as they'll face adjustment periods, but I see Maybin having the better career of the two.
TC - NL-Only Auction League with $280 cap. Trying to decide between Zimmerman at $17 for two more years or Am Ram at $33 for two more years, who youo keeping and why? Also, better option at 1B, Co Jax or Votto this year and next? Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Aramis Ramirez is your safer .290-30-100 guy, and despite him being $16 more, that safety is probably smarter. I do like Zimmerman, but he's riskier and his lineup weaker. At first base, it's Joey Votto for me. More power, a good ballpark for him, and you look at his track record and he has hit, and hit with consistent numbers, practically everywhere.
mike (los angeles)
its gonna hit 82 here today.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Send some of that out east, Mike! The low in my town tonight is two degrees.
Brian (Buffalo, MN)
With the Twins needing a 3B and wanting to trade away D. Young. What else would they have to give to get P.Alverez from the Pirates? They have LaRouche and Neil Walker already their and are looking for a corner outfielder.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Interesting thought, but the Pirates do have a couple other athlete-type outfield prospects (McCutchen, Tabata), so I'd see them being somewhat content with what they've got there. It might take a decent pitching prospect to make this happen.
Tristan, part of me hopes this doesn't get posted but is THIS the year Harden meets our expectations? Coming off a solid 08, will be a FA after the season and pitching for one of the top NL teams. With 200+ IP would 225k's, a sub 3 ERA and 16 wins be about right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
I dunno, I put Harden very much in the Ben Sheets category. Huge risk, huge reward. I don't think pitchers who deal with bumps and bruises and continue to dodge surgery ever truly get themselves healthy enough to make a full year of 33 starts. I think if you project any more than, say, 20-25 starts for Harden, you're setting yourself up to fair. That said, he should be on pace for those rates if you scale to that number of starts.
Where do you see Roy Halliday slotting in among the top pitchers and overall
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Fourth, fifth, around there among starters. Overall, probably in the ballpark of a fourth-round pick.
Who is a better start since both are getting equal time? James or Hightower?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
I picked Edgerrin James as the smarter of the two in my Gridiron Playoff Challenge preview, mainly because I think he'll get more touches. But I don't like either to reach the Super Bowl, so that's a concern.
I can only keep 5 players, and have to drop either Price or Bruce. Who'd you keep?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
I'll always keep the hitter all else equal. And in this case, Jay Bruce has more experience, and a guaranteed job as of today (something David Price actually cannot boast).
What about Willy Taveras? He may hit like Roger Dorn but he runs like Willy Mays Hayes and steals are steals.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
All true. But be aware that Taveras had an unreal steals rate compared to the number of times he got on base in 2008, and that's a percentage he's unlikely to be able to repeat. He'll play regularly in that thin outfield -- Jay Bruce aside -- but I think it's smarter to anticipate a steals total in the 40s.
Would you deal Carlos Lee and Lackey for Johan Santana in a keeper league where you currently have too many keepers? I know pitchers are riskier to keep, but I am salivating over the possibility of having Lincecum AND Santana, and the top positional keepers seem unattainable...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
I won a league last year by going with a stud one-two of Johan Santana and Jake Peavy on my staff, so I can't criticize your plan. These days, it's a strategy that can work, and I'll always endorse the trade where you get the best player in the deal if you're facing a keeper crunch. You have to semi-overpay sometimes in those circumstances. Good move.
Will (St. Louis)
Thoughts on Ian Stewart if he plays?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
Good upside, a little bit of a strikeout risk and therefore a potential hit to your team's batting average. If Stewart wins an everyday job, he could hit in the mid-20s homers, and bat around, say, .260. Keep the name tucked away.
Dorn hit like .270 w/80 RBIs. Don't insult Dorn by comparing him to Taveras.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Steve, do you have the team stats from "Major League"? That'd be interesting to see. I remember thinking that one of the first times I saw that movie, see what they finished with. And yeah, Dorn probably was that type. Like an old Placido Polanco.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
OK folks, time to call things to a close for today. Thanks for all your questions -- love to see all this excitement for baseball -- and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Take care everyone!