Chat with Tristan H. Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest baseball news from a fantasy perspective.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET!
Need an in-depth answer to your question? Want your roster or trade offers reviewed? Get a personalized response from an ESPN expert with The Answer Guys. All questions answered within 24 hours, guaranteed. Ask your question
More Fantasy: Fantasy Home Page
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your fantasy baseball questions...
Adam Wainwright (St. Louis)
How good am I? Seriously, HOW GOOD AM I?!!?!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Pretty darned good. And thanks for being even more successful than even the overly optimistic I was in the preseason.
Any chance you're starting Holland tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
If I'm in an AL-only league and can afford to risk my ERA and WHIP, sure. I see it as a risk/reward matchup. Meaning it's a situational play.
Tim (providence ri)
Is Josh Willingham a bust or should I continue to start him as my util player the rest of the year over cantu or sin shoo choo?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
"A bust"? Harsh, Tim, harsh. As I pointed out in today's "Out of the Box," he's one of the most underappreciated hitters of 2009.
Tristan, why doesn't Brian Roberts get enough pub when it comes to second baseman? Every year the guy leads the world in doubles, steals 30 bags, and even hits a few homers (14 this year)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Good question. Maybe it's that he plays in Baltimore, for a team that has been lost in its division for years, maybe it's that people don't think of him as a power type (despite his better-than-expected output). Whatever the cause, he's about as safe a top-five second baseman as you can find, year after year.
dan (Montpelier, VT)
Normally I wouldn't start Saunders today on his first day back...BUT in my AL Only League where my ERA has already kinda blown up this week (thanks, Weaver and Sowers), what really do I have to lose? I should start him under these specific circumstances, shouldn't I? Thanks for chatting!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
So what you're saying is you're punting ERA and WHIP in a weekly H2H Rotisserie league? Sure, then by all means use Joe Saunders. After all, the Angels can hit, and if he can go five, maybe he can get a win. I'm anti-Saunders today, for the record, but there is always an instance where the move makes sense.
With the Arizona Fall League rosters mostly announced, does that mean none of those guys (Strasburg, Heyward, Posey, etc.) are gonna see time in the majors this year (and thus we can't grab them in keeper leagues)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
To be honest with you, Mike, I have not heard any specific comment on Jason Heyward's September status, but both the Nationals and Giants have said they won't be promoting Stephen Strasburg or Buster Posey this year. So by that logic, I do think it's unlikely we see Heyward in Atlanta, or if we do, it won't be in any large role.
The unemployed (Yakima)
Are the extended absences in-between Joba starts hurting his consistency?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
I think so. About the only positive for Joba Chamberlain's schedule the remainder of the year is that he knows what it is, so he can begin attempting to adjust to it. Maybe it'll help him over the long haul, and I really don't have any data that can back that up, but I just don't think it's a wise move. Joba is going to wind up one of the 25 least-worked "full-time" pitchers in a single season in the history of baseball, and the other 24 were guys who had atrocious years. The whole plan is silly; he has already been impeccably maintained to date.
Jamie (New Jersey)
NL Cy Young. Cliff Lee Or Adamn Wainwright?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Well, you can't give it to Lee. He just won't have the starts, and if CC Sabathia couldn't win it last year, no way Lee can this year. Wainwright is certainly making a case, but he has competition. I think Chris Carpenter is actually a better pick from his own team, and Tim Lincecum still is right there, if not the favorite today. My pick: I think it's Carpenter when all is said and done.
Would you stream Sanchez tomorrow against the Mets at home?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
At this point there aren't many pitchers I wouldn't start against the snake-bitten Mets. The one concern here is that Anibal Sanchez lacks an out pitch versus lefties, and the Mets can stack their lineup full of lefties. But they're not exactly scary lefties, so I can't say I'm too troubled by it.
Carpenter > Wainwright even though he's thrown 40 less innings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Yup. Hey, CC made a case last year with what might wind up 8-10 fewer starts than what Chris Carpenter winds up with this season? Besides, Carpenter has been flat-out dominant when healthy, and in the American League, Joe Mauer has been the same on the hitting side. Losing a month isn't the kind of thing that should just eliminate you from candidacy, not if the other five months were incredible. That said, I do think this is a compelling race to the end, the NL Cy Young.
MIKE (TAMPA, FL)
AL only league...Wagner worth a flyer for a few months in the hope that he stays in the AL next year and is an inexpensive keeper closer?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Depends on your bench and contract details, but if it's deep enough, sure, why not. Billy Wagner will probably be seeking a closer job elsewhere after the season, though that might mean a return to the National League. Can't say I'm excited by him, nor do I think he makes any tangible impact in 2008, but I don't think your thought is crazy.
LaPorta or Wallace as a keeper?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
I'm a Brett Wallace fan. The gut tells me pick him, because the kid has raked and has the higher ceiling in his prime. That's even if he's ultimately a first baseman or DH down the road.
Barmes or Elvis Andrus in a h2h pts league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
This year or long term? Andrus is a fabulous keeper. Clint Barmes has had a strong year, but I still look at the guy as an ideal matchups play. Start him in heavy weeks at home, and when he's scheduled to face a lot of lefty starters.
Picked up EY2 when he was called up yesterday. Will he give me anything besides steals?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
If he keeps batting leadoff he'll give you runs scored, and the kid can hit, at least enough to be a respectable option in fantasy. That's especially if he qualifies at second base in your league. I'd only target Eric Young Jr. for the steals right now, so that plays to NL-only and deep-mixed owners, but I do like him.
Chris Davis (Texas)
I'm BAAACK !!! Yay or Nay?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
I was a huge Davis fan for all of 2008 and the first half of 2009, so my instinct is to say "yay." But I'll back it up by saying that he did show noticeable gains with his plate discipline during his stint in the minors. If he's really "fixed," I might have only been about five months early on my optimistic predictions.
Is it me, or has Jason Werth turned into the player (fantasy and reality), we all thought Corey Hart would be?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Yeah, you could say that. Though I'm almost certain I had Werth ranked higher than Hart in the preseason, so you don't need to convince me to hop that bandwagon; I might as well be driving it!
What's the word on Justin Upton? Think he gets activated for tonight's game? Have to get him back into the lineup immediately, right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
I think he gets another rehab game or three in the minors, and then returns to the Diamondbacks this weekend. Which is nice, because that means if you're in a weekly league he should give you a game or two over the weekend for your evaluation purposes, instead of returning Wednesday, regaining his timing on Friday and then you miss out on three games' worth of decent stats. And I think you can tell by that little prediction that yes, I do think he's going to be a guy you'll want to activate fairly quickly.
why no love for ZacK(x15) Greinke?? I thought people would want to talk about how he's the favorite to win the AL Cy Young?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
I've had love for Greinke all year. Heck, I remember a previous chat where I was ready to hand him the Cy Young and then all the Roy Halladay fans were ready to lambaste me over the pick! A compelling race in the AL, too, though I don't think quite as much so as in the NL, where the top candidates are for the most part at their best right now. The AL elite, well, each has hit a blip or three on his radar screen in the past month or two. To me it's still Greinke, wins or no wins, but Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and ... gasp ... Felix Hernandez are making strong pushes!
where do you see Andrew Bailey ranked at the end of next year amongst closers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Probably somewhere around 12th-15th, if I had to guess. Just not an elite team nor do I think it will be next year, so I'd hesitate to forecast top-tier closer value from him. Underrated kid, though.
Smoak have any chance at playing time this fall? Any value next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
If the Rangers fall out of the race, but otherwise, I bet he might get that token cozy seat on the bench to soak in the pennant race, while maybe pinch hitting on occasion. I do think he gets a long look for a starting role next spring, though, and more likely sees four months' action in Texas and has a pretty noticeable impact.
Tim (St. Louis)
Rasmus' value for next year is? Stats?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I've never been a Colby Rasmus fan in terms of batting average, as he's a streaky type. I'm thinking the most optimistic projection has him batting .270, but he might fall in the 20-25 homer range. I doubt he's a top-25 outfielder, more like in the 30s. But I admit I'm not one of his bigger fans.
Why hasn't Cabrera been discussed as a potential MVP candidate in the AL, he has been ripping the cover off the ball.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
He has just been discussed. But it's still Joe Mauer. Period.
Top 2 closers next year? (MN and NY)
Are Joe Nathan and Mariano Rivera options to keep in roto league next year with in the $20-30 salaries in AL only league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
I hesitate to spend full price on a keeper closer, but if it's AL-only and you've got the top two, yes, I do think they're in that ballpark. Of course, I think they're more worthwhile in a league that doesn't count strikeouts; I'd likely be happiest if they're more in the $20-25 range. Otherwise, I'd be iffy on keeping them because of the hit to my budget.
Tristan, man, I need some help. Better keeper 2010: Billy Butler for $9 or BJ Upton for $24? Kind of apples and oranges (sorry). Thanks for the help.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Neither one wows me, but the ceiling for Upton is just so much higher. At the bare minimum he's going to be one of the best steals contributors in the game. Butler, sure, I like what he can provide and it's a decent price, but first base is just so easy to fill these days. He also lacks power, so I'm not all that excited.
Jeff (Portland, ME)
Evan Longoria has been awfully quiet. Could it be that he isn't the guy we all thought he would... i.e. former rookie of the year Eric Hinske? Thanks Tristan!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
Oh my... wow are you the pessimist.
Dropped Lidge (Can't take it anymore). Who's better to take a chance on...Myers or Madson?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
Well, I don't see a scenario right now by which Brad Lidge is losing his job. Who else takes over? If I was in your shoes I'd be more apt to keep Lidge on hand, and add Brett Myers on my bench. Not to say that I legitimately see Myers getting to close after he returns, but I can't say I'd be completely shocked if the Phillies toy with the idea.
last 240 at bats, berkman/hamilton/ibanez have combined for....... 2 homeruns. big run coming, or expect more of the same?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Let's just say I'm more optimistic in Lance Berkman and Josh Hamilton turning things around in the category than I am Raul Ibanez, who hasn't been the same since returning from the DL. Home runs are the kinds of things that can come in bunches.
Concerned with Big Z? If you were weak at catcher and were able to get Kurt Suzuki for him, would you do it?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
I'm no Carlos Zambrano fan. In fact, I've taken a ton of heat for it over the years, but if you remember last year, he ruined you in the season's second half if you owned him. Period. I don't care about the no-hitter, it was a tease and outside of it he was dreadful. I might hope for more of a return than this, but with the risk in mind, if you're filling a definite need, I'd say go for it.
Better Keeper: Ubaldo Jimenez or Carp?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Interesting question there, CB. When I'm thinking keepers I probably want more safety in my picks, barring it being a very deep league with a lot of players carried over, or the salaries shifting my priorities. Straight value? I'd have to go Jimenez, because I do think the guy is for real, and a heck of a lot more likely to make 33 starts in 2010.
Tulo For President!#1 Fantasy SS in 2010?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
Well, Hanley Ramirez still plays shortstop. I just don't see Troy Tulowitzki overtaking H-Ram. But as the No. 2 option, absolutely, could see that happening. If you account for defense, might be the best shortstop in the game right now. Probably still Hanley because of his hitting contributions, but wow does Tulo bring a lot to the table.
You keeping Hill or Markakis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I have to assume that is Aaron Hill, in which case the position differential makes him the pick.
I'm not disagreeing that Mauer isn't the front runner right now, but in a situation that the Twins don't make it to the playoffs, many will not believe that he should win it. Who wins it if Mauer is shunned by the voters?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Cabrera sure could be it then. I know there will be a lot of talk in Yankee-land about how either Mark Teixeira or Derek Jeter should, but I see them canceling each other out in many voters' minds.
Gersh (Astoria, NY)
Soria and Francisco are responsible for me losing my hair recently. I punted saves so does it make more sense to bench them or drop them? I have an ERA and WHIP lead to protect.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
If you're punting saves, I will tell you what I tell every other person who punts a category: Punt. Completely. Period. That doesn't mean, "oh, I think I might hold onto this guy and maybe I can steal a point or two, we'll see," it means punt. Trade all of the performers in the categories for guys who will maximize your potential in every other department. I know those guys do help with ERA and WHIP, but so do low-cost middle relievers. Trade those two for guys who help you elsewhere, and grab yourself two equally talented, but much cheaper, middle relievers ... like Neftali Feliz, who had been hanging around there as a free agent in a lot of leagues until recently.
Luke (Los Angeles of Anaheim, Ca)
Need help with a catcher...my only weak spot....Napoli, Montero, or Iannetta for the rest of the way?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
I'm going Mike Napoli, which will probably make you happy, Luke. That's just a loaded offense, and he has immense power.
Derek Jeter should b Mvp he is playing at atop season and like kobe got in the mvp Jeter deserves it for a "life time achievement"
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I don't believe in "lifetime achievement" awards. That's what the Hall of Fame is for. Besides, Derek Jeter has already had two MVP-caliber seasons in my mind, in 1999 and 2006. If he was going to win by that angle, it should have happened in 2006.
I read out of the box but would like your opinion going forward on Zambrano. Should he be given a start next week for my playoff team, meaning sitting Hamels on the bench?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Right now, at 11:49 a.m. ET on Wednesday, I can't possibly give you a Carlos Zambrano endorsement in a playoff week. Yes, he plays the Mets at Citi Field, so on paper that's a good matchup, but I think things will hinge greatly on how he does on Sunday. Right now it's Cole Hamels, and I'd be a little worried if I were you, hoping that Zambrano can have a good start Sunday, making him the clear choice, he dominates at New York and then you can trade him for a heck of a player.
Pat (Denver, CO)
Please talk more about cole hamels! I'm thinking of signing him to 2 years worth of keepers.... bouncing back??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
With all his talent I can't see how he wouldn't bounce back with ace-caliber numbers in future seasons. Still a top-10 capable future starter, but you'll get him cheaper next year.
Matt (Hoboken, NJ)
Carlos Pena... now with 37 homers, 35 singles. Unbelievable.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
He is so Chris Davis. Kidding, but it feels a lot like Davis' first month of this season. Looking closer at Pena, his BABIP is .241, so he has been a tad unlucky. Though it should be a little low, seeing as he's hitting more fly balls than ever before (55.8 percent of the time). His BABIP on grounders is around .100; I do think there's room for growth in batting average.
Michael (Portland, ME)
Rest of the season for wins: Smoltz or Pedro?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Yikes. Don't trust either that much, but it has to be John Smoltz for me. Greater likelihood he'll work deeper into games, accounting for the fact he's the one of the two who calls a pitchers' park his home.
Please don't think all Yankee fans are like Joey in Rutland..lol
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
I don't. I'm a die-hard myself and I bust on the Yankees a good share of the time.
biff (portland, or)
Can you suggest some quality middle relievers, besides Feliz?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Five that come to mind quickly, and for those of you in leagues that count holds, the answer to that question is often very much the same as this: Peter Moylan, Jose Mijares, Matt Thornton, Takashi Saito, Chris Perez.
There's been recent discussion on the site about where Ben Zobrist ranks next year...Would you have him in your top-50 players?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
No. He's not even ranked among the top 50 hitters in the Player Rater this season. Zobrist is becoming a tad overrated in my mind. The top 100 is a fine debate with the kid, but top-50 status is just a special place to be. He's not quite that special.
Scott (Groton, CT)
Everth Cabrera: where does he rank for SS in 2010? I've found him to be a nice sleeper pickup for my dynasty league this year and am considering keeping him into next year as one of my 12 I can protect from the ML roster if he keeps it up the rest of the way
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
I'd agree with that, based upon the fact that Cabrera at the bare minimum should play regularly again and steal a good share of bases. The one thing to point out, though, is that Rule 5 players can so often have a decent rookie year and then disappear back to the minors as sophomores. I think part of the reason is that opposing teams don't expect much of anything from them, and then once they've proven themselves, those opponents come more prepared to challenge them in year two. Don't be shocked if Cabrera suffers the sophomore slump, is what I'm saying, but in a deep league, I could see it.
Pick 3 keepers---> Tulo, Markakis, Gallardo, Hanson, A-Gon, and Carp?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
OK, Troy Tulowitzki is just obvious. Then it gets tough. I like Tommy Hanson and I like Chris Carpenter a lot, but I can't put them quite in the class as the others when we're discussing keepers. I could see Yovani Gallardo being one of the three if you prefer a pitcher, but my gut says take the three hitters -- Nick Markakis and Adrian Gonzalez the others. If I must choose between those two, it's probably A-Gon. You'd have a heck of a start hitting wise if you kept all three.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
At this time of year, I can build you a case that a heck of a lot of creative trades make sense if you consider your standings. Good example: I can absolutely find you a situation where trading Tim Lincecum for Jacoby Ellsbury makes complete sense in a Rotisserie league. It's all about the points you gain versus those you lose at this time of season, and maybe you can gain more in steals than you'd lose on the pitching side. Overall? I have Tim Lincecum ranked higher. But that's not a foolish trade if you have a need. Very, very talented hitter, Prince is.
Brandon Webb (Phoenix, AZ)
What's for lunch?? Do I have a j-o-b next year???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
Very good question, I hadn't considered lunch yet. I'm sure something will strike me. As for Mr. Webb, fact is if he's healthy, he'll be in that rotation next year. And I'm optimistic, both that he will be healthy and will be a decent fantasy bargain in 2010.
Is Dexter Fowler a top-50 OF next year? He's hitting .270 with 26 SB's as a rookie.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Yes, without question. I think he's Juan Pierre with a handful less steals but a lot more staying power and upside with the bat.
JD (Shameless Plugville)
Just heard you'll be on the Fantasy Focus: Baseball podcast tomorrow.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
I had heard that nasty rumor as well! Check it out.
Gersh (Astoria, NY)
Come on Tristan, Jason from Queens is the guy I am battling first place for. He gets three questions? Must be sympathy for him being a Mets fan.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
Who doesn't have sympathy for the Mets now? I didn't in May and June, but today? I mean, wow. That is a heck of a lot of bad luck.
Jim (Denver, CO)
Trade Mark Teixera for Joe Mauer?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
Again, the case can be made. I think that is a total needs question. Teixeira to me has a little more statistical upside, Mauer has a huge positional advantage and a tad more risk because of the demands of his position. Overall, I think I'd actually go Mauer here, barely.
Start Kenshin tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
Yes, absolutely. I pick on the Padres a lot.
As a keeper, Jorge Posada and Bengie Molina? And PLEASE talk me out of taking Michael Turner #1 in my football draft tonight...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
Posada's OK only based on the depth of his lineup, which keeps him productive in runs and RBIs. That said, he's aging and I don't call him a great keeper. Molina, my concern is we don't have any idea where he'll be playing in 2010, and a lot of his fantasy value is driven by his role (middle-of-the-order, which he might not be elsewhere). Re: Turner, I've outlined the "Curse of 370" on our pages, and I'm a little tongue-in-cheek when I talk that up. I think Ken Daube had a fabulous take on Turner in his 30 Questions piece, noting the tougher schedule, and I just personally believe that the Falcons aren't stupid; they know they're going to need to ease Turner's workload a little bit more this year if they want him to be as productive. That's why he's No. 4 for me, behind ADP, MJD and Forte.
Ryan (Dallas, TX)
FYI...Jeter got hosed in 2006. Some screwball voter placed him seventh on his ballot, which is the only reason why Morneau won the award. With all due respect to Mauer, both Teix and Jeter play on a playoff team. Mauer does not.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
I do remember that Ryan, but from my understanding that would still not have been enough to win Jeter the award had he been ranked higher on that ballot. I'd have to go back and check the story again to be sure, but pretty sure that'd just have had him really close, but not the winner.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
OK folks, time to wrap things up, lunch calls! Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone!