Fantasy Baseball with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest football news from a fantasy perspective.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Is Carlos Gonzalez's injury serious? Is Montero worth stashing on the DL?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
It's unclear because it just happened, but understand that's a deep outfield, with a more-than-adequate top three to step in for the time being between Seth Smith, Dexter Fowler and Brad Hawpe, with Ryan Spilborghs available to fill in against tough lefties as needed. It's a shame for Gonzalez, who in a pleasant surprise had started every game for the Rockies. That bodes well for his future, so let's hope it's not too serious, and only a couple-day thing. As for Miguel Montero, sure, if you're in a deep enough league. When healthy I still see him as a top-10 capable catcher.
Zambrano or De La Rosa?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
I'm a Jorge de la Rosa fan, and not at all one of Carlos Zambrano, but even I say they're in the ballpark of one another in terms of value. Give me the Rockie; just trust him more.
Hey Tristan, what's for lunch today?Who's the odd man out here:Chris Young (OF), Cuddyer, Coghlan?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Leftover "Thanksgiving dinner"; just happened to order up some turkey, stuffing and the works last night and couldn't get close to finishing it. Chris Young feels like the obvious "man out," yet I'm a fan. Have a hunch this is a matchups/streaks question where at any given time a different answer is the correct one. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Young outplays Cuddyer and it's the Twin who is the most "correct."
Hey, THC. Are you concerned about Lester or Nolasco?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Jay (New Jersey)
Start Matsuz vs TB or CJ Wilson vs CLE??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
Despite my being a Brian Matusz fan over the long haul, I cannot pick him over that favorable C.J. Wilson matchup. Wilson did a fantastic job changing speeds in his 2010 debut and I think he can keep that up, even if just in the short term, and that's a favorable matchup for him.
Jason (Ellicott City, MD)
Did you see Mark reynolds' shot on Saturday? So he has the power, but will he continue to run?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
I did, but Mark Reynolds' power never surprises me. I've had countless debates with people about his true value, and I continue to summarize my angle with the comment that his 2009 was on the high end of his value curve. The low end might be 30-35 homers, but accounting for the low average he simply cannot be a top-25 player overall unless he swipes another 20-plus bags. And I'm not sure he will; I think anything over 15 would be a pleasant surprise for his owners.
Hey THC, have you tried the KFC double-down? Should I try to trade Pence for Rajai?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
I must admit, I haven't had KFC since 2004, when I drove all the way up the east coast from Florida with a buddy of mine. And I wasn't that impressed, though I'm sure the double-down wasn't available back then. Just been trying not to lean too heavily on the fast food, that's all. I eat poorly enough just with stuff I cook up! As for the trade, nope, no way. Hunter Pence is pretty much what he was in 2009, I think, so you must be patient. His value remains higher than the streaky, mostly one-category Rajai Davis.
Is Jim Johnson the man in Baltimore? Can he keep it for the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
My take on the Orioles' bullpen right now is that Mike Gonzalez is paid to close, so while he's not closing right now, the second he shows the team he's back to regular effectiveness that job is once again his. Johnson didn't overwhelm as the Orioles' closer last year, so consider it a short-term thing, though yes, he's the man right now. I wouldn't count on it lasting the year, if even more than a month, either.
So, Tristan, I guess Minnesota made just a terrible choice of pitchers to open their new park. They just couldn't find anyone better than Pavano...isn't that what you said?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
I'll pay the piper on that one, as I was incorrect on the call, which is going to happen sometimes. Understand that I watched a lot of Carl Pavano over the past half-decade and was constantly unimpressed. That said, I've also backed him as a matchups type in the past, and what stood out is that if he's that, no way you use him versus the Red Sox. It presented a foolish risk. Anyway, I was wrong. But I'll also point out that Twins fans greatly overrate the guy. He had a 4.64 ERA and 1.37 WHIP for you last season; what's so special about that? If you trust him on an every start basis, he's going to break your heart.
Vincenzo (Bethesda, MD)
Is there anyway you start Ervin Santana tonight? Patience or just cut him loose and go for someone like Penny or Feldman?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Well, no, Vincenzo, partly because he's pitching today, not tonight, but I'm splitting hairs. I knew what you meant, just busting on you because I can't wait to see that game in a couple hours. And no, I can't use Ervin at the always-unpredictable Yankee Stadium. Remember last April in that venue? And Ervin's early 2009 numbers? Yeah, bad mix. As for long-term, Brad Penny has the highest fantasy ceiling of those three, I think.
ROTO strategy question... should i throw all my pitchers early in seaosn and worry about IP limits later when i will have a better idea of match-ups. OR play match-ups early on and then throw everybody later in season? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
I always advise fantasy owners remain mindful of their innings/starts paces, if you choose to play in those leagues. For instance, if you only get 200 starts, that's about 33 a month, so if you breeze past 33 in April, you're going to be in rough shape later and your opponents are going to realize it and low-ball you in midseason trade offers for your starting pitchers. So I guess I'm saying if it's a low cap, I'm matching my guys up all year. Risk bad matchups with aces only depending on how high your cap.
Jake (VA Beach)
[24 comment kindly removed by Tristan so that fans who have yet to watch won't kill him for helping spoil it.] So who's more likely to match Jack's output this year in your mind? Lind or Holliday (OPS is an added stat)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Yes, Jake, that was, um, an episode and I agree, things happened. (I know, I know, but I learned my lesson last time.) At any rate, I'm sticking with Matt Holliday, though I very, very much like Adam Lind. This is a heck of a lot closer than people believe it is.
Kyle (San Jose)
Which Oakland pitcher would you rather own - Duchscherer or Gio Gonzalez?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Justin Duchscherer and it's not even close.
Just curious...do you ESPN Fantasy baseball guys get evaluated at the end of the year based on your pre-season predictions? For example, if an expert predicts Chris Davis to smash this year and then only hits <20 hrs, is it noted anywhere?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
I'm sure any writer is accountable for his statements to some degree. But let's face it, what I know is what I predict and I'm more than willing to admit my mistakes at season's end. For every Chris Davis you dig me up -- and I was a huge fan of his last year -- I'm going to dig you up a gem I offered you to help. Remember, it's your team. We're just helping advise you, but you make the call in the end on what picks we make that you agree with.
Listening to you on the podcast and reading the chat. They are keeping you pretty busy. Could you please rate these players for the end of a bench stash/gamble- Maybin, Kotchman, C. Gomez, A. Gonzalez, A. Jackson. No glaring needs, so whose upside do you like the most?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Thanks, Bruce! The podcast is always fun to do, and I love the busy nature of April. Wouldn't trade it for anything. Let's rank those guys -- accounting upside most here -- Cameron Maybin, Austin Jackson, Casey Kotchman, Carlos Gomez, Alex Gonzalez, and I do hope that is Alex Gonzalez, not Adrian. If it's Adrian he's top of the list, obviously.
What's your projection for Will Venable?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
If memory serves I had him getting at-bats in the 450-500 range, approaching 20 homers, batting maybe in the .270s. A valuable player, albeit one who is more a platoon type than a roll-every-day one.
Joe Barretta (Howard Beach)
Will Kyle Blanks hit over 270 with at least 35 homers? Yay or Nay?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
I don't think he gets to either number, much as I love the guy. Could he? Absolutely. But I won't be paying for it. And I still managed to get him on a ton of my teams, which shows how few people believe he has even a prayer of getting to those levels.
Tristan, what is your outlook on Peavy this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
Jake Peavy is a topic on today's podcast, and much as this is a plug that will make you migrate over there to listen, I think that's the appropriate answer. Matthew and I gave a pretty good take on what Peavy owners should expect, and I want to make it clear that my stance there has been my stance all along since his trade from the Padres.
Montero owner. You get to pick my replacement. Clement, Synder, or Barajas? Please rank.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I'll buy in on Chris Snyder, who has underrated power, with Jeff Clement a close second based upon upside. Not a Rod Barajas fan, especially not at that park, and that's in spite of his bizarre power burst so far.
Carol (Long Beach)
In today's Daily Notes, Madison has Matusz as a 1! Does the matchup really look THAT bad or is it a typo? Didn't he strike out 7 Rays last week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
OK, just to give people a little bit of background, Daily Notes and Forecaster matchups ratings are based entirely upon statistical data accrued over a decent length of time by the pitcher, the ballpark and his opponent. That has nothing to do with the author's personal opinion of the matchup, which is why our rankings do not always go in the direct order of those ratings. We do the writing to give you a sense of why we think a pitcher has more upside than that number. But I do think that's a matchup I'd avoid if at all possible. I'd just be careful, need to see more against elite offenses.
Patrick (Columbus, OH)
Franklin Gutierrez looks great offensively and defensively. Will he go 25HR and 25SB?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Truly underrated player and I don't think it's crazy to say he has that kind of potential. I bet he has a better chance at that level of power than that level of speed; thinking 25 homers, 15 steals and otherworldly defense.
Chase Headley projections?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
A Headley fan, I am. Think I probably had him batting close to .290 with double-digit power and underrated RBIs. He won't be a top-10 option at third base but he might get close.
What's the status of Andre Ethier's injury. what kind of numbers do you project for him this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
He pinch hit on back-to-back days during the weekend, which is a great sign because it means the Dodgers are confident he's almost ready, otherwise they wouldn't risk eliminating the possibility of backdating a DL move. Manager Joe Torre said on Sunday he thinks Ethier should be ready to start on Tuesday. I've got a 13-team mixed league where I confidently trusted Torre and started Ethier, so take that for what it's worth.
Albert Pujols (STL)
I am a machine.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
"Give me your clothes and your motorcycle"?
Does Washingtons comments on Francisco make Feliz the new go to guy for saves or is there another dark horse in Arlington?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Neftali Feliz got the save yesterday, which says a lot, but I find it interesting that Frank Francisco got the ball in the ninth of a tie game. That suggests to me that Francisco isn't as far from recapturing the role as people think he might be. Feliz probably isn't ready to handle the chores on an every-night basis anyway; he'll need more days off than a typical starter. Consider it a short-term thing.
What do you think of Casey McGehee? Just a hot start or is he legit?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Legit. At least, legit to being in the range of value he was in 2009, except more potential for playing time.
Nick (Hartford, CT)
Fast forward three years...bigger superstar: Jason Hayward or Justin Upton?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Justin Upton, but what a battle those two might make for specific placement in the fantasy first round.
bill james (boston, ma)
come on tristan. you know better than to just cite era when evaluating a pitcher's performance. while pavano did have a 4.64 era for the twinkies last year, he also posted a much more impressive 3.50 fip, suggesting that his "baseball card" numbers were subject to some bad luck.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I also cited his WHIP, which wasn't extraordinary, and for the most part at no point in his career has he been extremely successful in a year that wasn't comparably inflated by good fortune. Please read our preseason Carl Pavano profile; I think it does a tremendous amount of justice to his true value. I don't actually dislike the guy, it's just that he has a specific use for our purposes and people need to recognize that. (By the way, few fantasy owners seem to actually recognize it, so I'm sort of doing Pavano a favor here.)
Any worries about Victorino? New spot in the order maybe?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
If Jimmy Rollins winds up on the DL, sure, Shane Victorino probably becomes the leadoff man, which helps. I don't really like him hitting as low as he does right now, so I'd be prepared to pounce.
What's your take on Scott Podsednik?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
He'll be a topic in my "Hit Parade" column later today, so for more thorough analysis check that out. I know, I'm full of shameless plugs today, but it means I'll be putting the microscope on him more than I could here. Gut call: He's underappreciated, not quite what he was last year but absolutely a valuable source of steals. Can keep this up to a certain degree.
How do you feel about Verlander for the rest of the year? he's looked very shaky and I'm having second thoughts about trading for him. Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Ten days' action isn't enough to make any concrete judgments. The only negative I can offer for Justin Verlander in terms of long-term appeal is that he did log a lot of innings last year, which might have worn him down ever-so-slightly this season. But I'm not about to sweat it. Taking the approach where you worry is just going to leave you open to be robbed in a buy-low deal.
They need to replace the words "Carmen Sandiego" with "Mike Napoli"!! What's with his horrid playing time? Time to drop him for Snyder, Varitek or Yadier in a 1C OBP league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Wow, Carmen Sandiego references in the chat! Didn't expect that. Anyway, I don't get it, the Angels seem a-OK with using the light-hitting Jeff Mathis, who is the better defender of the two, several times a week. Napoli really deserves more at-bats than this, but unfortunately, it's not crazy to drop him for Yadier Molina.
Tristan - its the first week. Unless there is an injury, shouldn't you be sticking by the player(s) you drafted - unless - someone lands on the waiver wire that you had ranked higher a week ago? Is this a fair rule to follow into mid-May?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
These kinds of comments always seem to bring me back to an old idea of mine called the "Regret Rule," which I made up on a whim one year for a Tout Wars-related question. It pretty much said that you take your draft-day results, list in numbers the round you selected the player, then inverted them and that's how many rounds you should be patient with a pick before dropping him. So, say, your final-round pick you can just let go in Week 1, but your first-round pick would be 23-25, something like that, so you pretty much are sticking with the guy all year. And this only pertains to outright releasing a guy, not trading him. Trading him doesn't fall within these limits. And it's just a rough idea, but it gives you a sense that the earlier you pick a player, the more patient you need to be with him.
Hey Tristan--your colleague AJ seems to really dislike Rios. Not sure why that is. Can you see him going .280 at least 20-20?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
AJ is probably looking at Rios' .247 batting average from 2009, and who can blame him? I could see Rios doing what you project, but I could just as likely see him batting .250 with 12/25 numbers. He's so unpredictable, and I wouldn't invest a huge share in him.
Come on Tristan, you don't think Feliz takes the closer role and never looks back? He may have the sickest arm in that role in the league. 101 MPH FB & 90MPH change...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Certainly he has the talent, but I think the Rangers will be patient with him as he adapts. I did write in our "30 Questions" column that I felt Feliz could do it, so he needs to be owned across the board simply upon the chance.
Pedro C. (Stockton CA)
Hey THC, which upcoming movie are you most eager to see, Iron Man 2 or the new Nightmare on Elm St? In a 20 team, 6x6 category 15 keeper league i traded away Vlad, Ian Kennedy and Jose Valverde for Josh Johnson, Chris Coghlan and Jose Guillen. I was overstocked at RP and weak at SP so the deal made sense for me, also Coghlans steal are helpful. Was this a steal or at least a good trade for me? Am i missing something? Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Iron Man 2, but I'm not enamored by the idea of remakes of old horror flicks. Seen a couple and been pretty disappointed in the ones I did. I don't think that's an awful trade for you in the format you describe, as Johnson is the best player in the deal.
Tom (West Palm)
Who gets called up first Carlos Santana or Buster Posey?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Carlos Santana, but he has less competition ahead of him at the major-league level of the two.
Daniel (New York)
Is there any comparable pitching innings curse comparable to the dreaded curse of 370 carries
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
There is a theory out there that suggests that an increase of, what is it, 40-50 innings (majors plus minors) puts a pitcher at risk of regression. That said, unless I've done a comprehensive study of something like that I'm not about to advise you buy in on it blindly. I think it's something to remain mindful of, but I'm not making rash decisions about a pitcher unless he makes something like an 80-inning jump from one year to the next. Teams these days are generally smart about maintaining workloads.
Worried about Wandy?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Not really but I also felt that what Wandy Rodriguez was in 2009 was about his statistical ceiling. I don't see any huge leaps forward, but he's a buy-low if people are really worried right now.
What's your projection on Mat Latos?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
I don't see him tossing much more than 160 innings, and on that team he might not win that many games (think 8-10ish), but his ERA should be in the mid-threes with a solid K rate, around 150 total.
How many starting pitchers do you need on your roster to obtain about 33 starts a month?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
A typical starting pitcher works about 5-6 times a month, so if you set a roster and stuck with it without exploiting matchups, especially daily ones, you're talking about six starting pitchers. I like playing matchups, however, which is why I'm not a huge fan of leagues with innings/starts caps.
Madison Bumgarner should really be owned in a 14 team, dynasty league right? His owner just dropped him...What are your thoughts on him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
He probably should, yes, but that's partly because I can't see Todd Wellemeyer being the answer for this team for 162 games. That said, I'm more iffy on Bumgarner than most, and it's because of the precipitous drop in his K rate in the upper minor league levels last year. I worry about that kind of thing, as he faces tougher competition, so let's not boast that the guy is a top Rookie of the Year candidate.
when do the red bring up aroldis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Mike Leake has everything to say about that, unless one of the Reds' other starters gets hurt first. I'm thinking Memorial Day is the over/under date, but I also am mindful that Chapman's contract status makes it beneficial for the Reds to keep him in the minors for as long as possible. I wouldn't count on more than four months' action from the kid.
Any idea WHEN carlos santana will get called up?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
At the rate he's hitting in Triple-A, sooner than you think. I could see that again being a silly "let's-wait-until-June 1" thing, but at this rate, by May 1 there's going to be a monstrous amount of pressure on the Indians to make a move. My pick: June 5.
concerned citizen (gotham)
who is jesus montero
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
He's the Yankees' top catching prospect, and the kid can sure rake. Might be a designated hitter candidate in the somewhat near future, actually, because I'm not positive catcher is where he ultimately winds up at the top level.
Should I be worried about Nate McLouth?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
Only in that he also struggled during spring training, but I remain faithful that the guy has 20/20 potential. I wouldn't be cutting him, but yes, it's completely understandable to be at least a little worried.
Frustrated Borbon owner so you have to answer me Tristan...Please tell me he figures it out relatively soon...Dont get to watch live because Im in NJ, but watching gamecast makes my head hurt
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
I'll be patient with Julio Borbon, but that's also a somewhat packed outfield. I'd be a little cautious, because a couple more weeks of this might mean a drastic reduction in playing time.
Are you like E.K. not changing your projections on Vernon Wells? Dude has been SICK!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
Hard to say, Carlos. I'm not making any significant adjustments, no, but if I said that I was almost entirely dismissive of Mr. Wells in the preseason, today I can say that he's at least starter-worthy in mixed on a full-season basis. I'm not about to tell you I see 30-plus more homers coming from him, so I guess my general answer here is "no."
Thoughts on Maholm tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
The Giants' lineup doesn't scare me all that much, though they do have enough righties to pose a little trouble for Paul Maholm, who pretty much dominates lefties and has issues with righties. Overall it means I'm using the guy in NL-only or deep mixed formats, but not if I'm counting starts or have decent alternatives.
Trevor Hoffmann (Milwaukee )
Well that was a rather unsettling weekend.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
OK, let's take two more...
You buying the new approach from Francouer? He looked good with the Mets last year and seeing him not swinging at balls in the dirt is the most encouraging thing going for the Mets right now!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
No, not necessarily but I also think the pendulum has swung back to the point where most people think Jeff Francoeur stinks, mainly because his walk rate is so terribly low. The guy can rake and has his share of hot streaks, and I'm not all that wowed by him in mixed formats though he's NL-only worthy for sure. I guess it's promising, but no, I don't see any major breakthroughs coming. Let's say a .275-20-80 kind of year is likely.
Bored (at work)
LAST ONE!! Tristan - I have both Pettite and Santana today...what should be my expectations for that game???
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:14 PM)
I think it's going to be high-scoring. Neither pitcher is necessarily elite, and that ballpark was so hitter-friendly last April.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:15 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all of your questions and sorry if I couldn't get to yours today. Take care everyone!