Fantasy Baseball with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday 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.
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Will Utley be in the lineup on Tuesday?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
That's the plan. Stats from his two rehab games were nothing special (1-for-6 combined), but I wouldn't sweat that. Utley's a special talent and I like the six home games for the Phils. Activate him.
Dustin Pedroia (Boston)
I'm coming back tomorrow!!! Woo-hoo! What should fantasy owners expect out of me?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
That's also (seemingly) the plan, but the reports I've read have me at least a tad more cautious. By the way, identical 1-for-6 in his two rehab appearances. Still, I'm echoing the Utley sentiments for Pedroia, because he's a hard-working kid with six home games. I'm not about to let him come back on a tear on my bench.
Max Scherzer has 2 starts this week 1st is at Yankee Stadium. Does that matchup scare you off the start when the 2nd is against Clev. (5x5 format)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Not really, considering he pitched well recently against Texas, Boston and Tampa Bay. It's not the best of matchups, but the second one saves the two-start week. About the only way I'd say "be cautious" is if you're in an uber-shallow league, have oodles of two-start candidates and can't afford ANY risk. And that's what, less than one percent of leagues, methinks?
Would you start Billingsley tonight verse the Braves?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
Yes. Home game, so there's a pitching advantage, and he has five consecutive quality starts.
Any word on Jenks?...seems to me that all three guys at the back end are struggling.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
Sounds to me like he's a legitimate DL candidate, so those seeking cheap saves should look to J.J. Putz and hope his recent struggles are a proverbial blip on the radar screen. That said, AL-only owners might want to take a look at Matt Thornton. Sorry it's so confusing in that bullpen; makes me want to stay away if I can, but it's Putz-Jenks-Thornton for me if I must.
Just FYI - Braves/Dodgers is in Atlanta
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Darn it, you're right; I keep forgetting the wrap-around right BEFORE the homestand. Ah, the hazards of quick typing. Apologies, though I shall still stick with Billingsley, being that Turner Field's no poor place for a pitcher either.
Am I crazy for thinking Mike Stanton will have a better MLB career than Jason Heyward?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
No, not necessarily crazy. Can't say that I agree with you because I think Heyward's the more complete player of the two, but let's just say for a second that both players pan out perfectly. Well, in that case, Stanton will unquestionably hit more home runs than Heyward almost every season of their careers, and it might be significant a few times. Say, double digit difference. I like when people make some gut calls of their own; if you believe that Stanton pans out perfectly, I understand.
Worried about Lincecum? Just traded for him in a keeper, so I am stuck either way I guess. :) Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Not really. I mean, Tim Lincecum has shown he's human this season, but I still can't knock a kid with that much talent. People sweat the pitch counts a little too much, and while it's a legitimate argument, I still see a promising future for him.
John (Somerset, NJ)
Colby Lewis or Travis Wood for the balance of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Lewis. Don't trust the way the Reds are managing their deep rotation right now, not to mention Lewis is the greater K source.
P-Dub (Alamo mi)
I have been offered David Wright for Scott Rolen in a trade. I know on the surface this should be a no-brainer. Then I looked at the last couple of weeks and Wright has been in a monster slump. Who has more value for the next few weeks and going in to the playoffs?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Unquestionably yes, and I picked this question because it demonstrates that players like David Wright can indeed be bought low in some places. I have a feeling most people will need to pony up more than Scott Rolen, but it's worth a look.
do you have concerns with J Garcia or EJax down the stretch?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
Yes and yes, Jaime Garcia because he's throwing an amazing number of innings for a guy in his first full year coming off Tommy John surgery, Edwin Jackson because he's not in a great place for a pitcher and he faded miserably down the stretch last year (not to mention has a poor second-half history).
Tristan, do you prefer Mike Minor, Daniel Hudson or Jordan Zimmermann as a keeper?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Minor, Zimmermann, Hudson, in that order, and one of the primary reasons it's Minor over Zimmermann is because Minor is the one without the injury questions right now. Talent-wise, I think Zimmermann has the best career of this bunch, if that has more weight for you.
Tristan, I'm in an auction league where if you keep a player who's value is $1-$25 he goes up by 5 and if he's $26 or higher he goes up $10 for next year...I picked up Youk off the waiver wire and stashed him on my DL and he's $25 for this year and if I keep him he's $30 next year...would you keep him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
It's a little pricey for my tastes, but then I don't know your format. Is it AL-only? In a league as deep as LABR/Tout Wars (12-team, full rosters, standard Roto rules), I can make the case. Plus, it's not like $30 is an outrageous price unless it's a really shallow mixed.
Ricky (San Diego)
If you had to choose between J-Hey and Strasburg for the future......
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
You picked an extremely difficult question, because that's the exact circumstance where my gut says, "Take the hitter, always." I can't escape that, much as I will tell you that I have as much confidence in Stephen Strasburg over the long haul as I do any pitcher. Can't fault anyone for going that way, but I really do like Heyward.
jeff (Rochester, NY)
Another DL trip due for Nelson Cruz?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
There's no tear in his hamstring, apparently, so hard to say he'll land on the DL. I do think he'll miss a few days, so I'd bench him in my leagues.
Dino (Bar Grill)
Thoughts on Jon Niese for a spot start tonight against the 'stros?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
Mike (Sterling, VA)
Why are you so down on Dan Hudson? The guy has been excellent since moving to the NL.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Ah, the hazards of ranking three names; you could love the guy you ranked last but it'll be perceived as a knock on the player. I don't dislike Hudson, just think that his upside isn't as immense as the other two. Underrated prospect and NL-only keeper owners should take a look at him, so long as the carryover price is low. More likely, he's on sleeper lists in the format in redraft in 2011.
Does your start recommendation for Utley change if it's a H2H points league and you have Beckham?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
Not really. Same number of games. It's not a bad decision, I just prefer Utley.
Jake Westbrook (St. Louis)
Should I be excited about my prospects for the rest of the year?Next Starts: SF, PIT, HOU, MIL, ATL, For the fantasy playoffs, its CHC, PIT, SD, COL.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
At the time Westbrook was traded I said I was encouraged by his late-season prospects, and his schedule is indeed favorable. My stance remains unchanged.
Broxton was just dropped in my league...Pick him up now or let somebody else deal with him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Run over there right now and pick him up ... then, of course, come on back for the rest of the chat!
Will Huston Street remain the closer in Colorado?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Completely unfair to condemn him for yesterday's performance. I saw the Clint Barmes play; it happens. Street is paid like a closer and I think he'll get a long leash, especially since there isn't a standout alternative. If he's bumped, it'd be a short-term "rest," a la Broxton.
THC, LeBlanc looked good again yesterday. What do you expect from him for the future? I am thinking of targeting him again next year, as he has not gotten any love (only owned in 8% of leagues).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I talked him up nicely in the recent "60 Feet 6 Inches" and said that he has been terribly unlucky. Has a cutter to help neutralize righties, so not a huge split concern. Ballpark helps. His ceiling is a 3/4 MLB starter, but I do see value in him looking forward. Happy to have him rounding out an NL-only team.
Any word on why Heyward sat yesterday. Just a day off, or is it the knee? Is he a safe start for the week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
It's the knee, his third day off in five. Bobby Cox said Heyward should play Monday, but that's another case where if you have a standout alternative, might be worth a look. I could see Heyward playing about 2/3 of the games and being a little disappointing. For this week alone, I'm talking, of course.
I know your name is not Stephania Bell but is Bay done for the year and even if he isn't is he worth holding on to in a standard league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
All I can say is that you should never, ever trust the concussion. I'm going to toss a Justin Morneau reference in here; Morneau was acquired for two good players in a points league of mine two weeks ago and the commish said Morneau's side was the better one because he was due back "next week." I responded: "I refuse to trust concussion rehab reports until the day of activation." You just don't know. Bay could be back Sept. 1; just as likely he's done. I wouldn't be planning on having him help.
If you could only keep two of the following for 2011 in a 12-team keeper league, who would you choose? Ubaldo Jimenez (5th round), Nelson Cruz (7th round), Joey Votto (12th round), Colby Rasmus (17th round).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
Votto is such an unbelievable no-brainer. The second one is exceptionally difficult because all three of those guys is a fine value. I'd suggest you do some rough estimates to see how much pitching is actually kept. Ubaldo is my gut instinct here. That said, if you think the draft will be populated by good pitchers, by all means I love the Rasmus value. And it's soooooo Rasmus if you can keep him for around that price for the long haul.
Starting Wandy tonight? Overall thoughts on Wandy going forward?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Six straight quality starts at home and he's historically a dominate-at-home pitcher. So yes, start him tonight. As for going forward? Treat him like you might have in 2007-08; definite matchups type, play at home, be prepared for a mediocre win total.
Where would it be reasonable to target J. Upton in a draft next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
He was a top-20 player in the preseason who is just 91st on the Player Rater, though since that "overvalues" pitchers and people don't draft that way, he's probably a little more like a top-75 player from 2009 results alone. The strikeout rate is a worry, but he's young, plenty of room for growth. I'm going to be looking at him in the third round, and thrilled to death if I get him in the fourth, and that's just a ballpark estimate off the top of my head.
would i be the laughing stock if I started Zambrano over Lincecum this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
I don't think it's fair to call anyone a "laughing stock" over blindly picking one start over another. It's baseball; I could absolutely see Carlos Zambrano having the better outing, though that Padres matchup isn't the slam dunk you think it is. I'll say that. I will also say there's no way I'm doing this move, but I ride my big guns. I just think it's the smarter, higher-percentage move, and this is a game of percentages.
Joe (Washington, DC)
Is Javy done for the season? or can we expect something more out of him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Javy Vazquez, I assume? It's unfair to term him "done," but when a pitcher admits his fastball velocity might be gone, I cannot help but sweat it. I'll tell you this: While I was targeting him for the stretch run before the trade deadline, the instant he made those comments I withdrew from the talks. I have my doubts; mostly centered on what I recall as about 37 K's in his past 60 innings. Yuck.
Joe (Washington, DC)
No HELLICKSON question yet?Is he staying in the rotation or going to the pen?EK thinks he is staying but the Rays hint differently.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I agree with EK and don't care what the Rays say; they have to be smart with their young pitchers (Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann) and I think their shoulder worries are enough to ensure Hellickson sticks around.
With Chacin being recalled, will he have much value for the rest of the year? Does he make a good keeper option? I really like the strikout rate.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I think so, but I'm a huge Jhoulys Chacin fan. Lightning stuff and I think he's underappreciated, probably because he's a Rockies prospect. Keeper prospect? Could be, sure, if the league is deep enough or the price deep enough.
Doug (Mpls, Mn)
Hey Tristan, I have Jose Lopez still on my roster hoping he would have come out of this year long slump like he always does. However just dont think that i can hang on any more. Starlin Castro, Omar Infante and Ian Desmond are all available for my middle infeild. Would cut bait with Lopez and if so who would you recommend in a Ops league. Also Bumgarner or Volquez?Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
I agree, you just can't sit back and wait for Jose Lopez any longer, especially not if you can get Starlin Castro, who IS performing well, as his replacement. What a miserable year for Lopez. So bad no one's even willing to trade for him and help improve his circumstances. As for the pitchers, I assume that's a right-now question, and I'll go Edinson.
Bill (Erie, PA)
Who would you rather keep for next year only in an NL-Only 5x5 league: McCann or Latos? My other 2 keepers will be Votto and Wainwright.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
Mat Latos and it's not even close.
Do you think Konerko will play well enough next year to be a good 23rd round keeper?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
The primary worry I have with Paul Konerko is we don't know what his contract status is going to be in 2011. What if he's playing in a pitchers' park? Just a thought, but 23rd round, yes, I think he can make that a wise move.
steve (warner robins, ga)
Jose Guillen ... any expectation for him in SanFran?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Streaky player, might catch lightning in a bottle in new circumstances, being motivated to prove the Royals silly for letting him go. Sure, scoop him up, at least in NL-only. I could see a decent hot spell, .280 batting average, 5-8 homers.
any news on lindstrom this week???? I have lyon on the bench
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
Matt Lindstrom was reportedly available on Sunday. Guess that means he's fine, but it's understandable you have your doubts. Another bullpen I wouldn't be racing to pluck guys from.
Is it time to drop Beltran? He looked horrible at the plate last night?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
It was time to drop Carlos Beltran three weeks ago.
Jesus Montero - Is he going to get the call soon? And if so, is he worth more as a keeper than Dom Brown? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Montero is the kind of prospect I see the Yankees considering as a bench bat once rosters expand, though I imagine that if Lance Berkman's ankle injury is serious enough for a DL stint, he might get a look at DH this week. I wouldn't count on it, or much from him this year. Keeper-wise, I do think he's more valuable than Brown, but a lot of that has to do with position eligibility.
Is Chris Young keeper worthy?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
The outfielder is, except in the most shallow keeper format. The pitcher? Yikes.
Kevin (Redlands, CA)
Hey Tristan, of Anderson, Buchholtz, and Floyd, who is going to have the better stretch run? Do you factor in division they play in and opponents when deciding? Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
I could see all three of them having strong finishes, but I'm gravitating to Clay Buchholz. Gavin Floyd RIGHT behind him.
What is your level of faith in Kinsler going forward?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Slim. Setbacks, poor health history, track record to fade down the stretch. It's not a combination that pleases me.
I have Axford and Hoffman, is it safe to drop Hoffman before he kills my ERA and WHIP?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
John Axford SHOULD be the Brewers' closer. Period. But I'm not Ken Macha. I offer fantasy advice, and my advice with that bullpen is that you want the pitcher with the stronger skill set and the one more deserving of the gig. Keep your fingers crossed.
When does Ryan Howard return to the lineup?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Won't be Tuesday, when he becomes eligible to be activated, and sounds like it might not be this week at all. Maybe a rehab stint is coming first. I'd keep him reserved for the week.
I've heard talk of Andrus being the next Jose Reyes. Do you think he could fulfill that potential next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Not an outrageous description of his career ceiling. I do want to see smarter reads on pitchers on the basepaths from Elvis Andrus, though. He's got work to do to make good on that, but I do believe Andrus will have a strong, top-five-shortstop fantasy career.
mike stanton (south beach)
For keeper league owners, what do you expect from me next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Love him. There will be slumps, but today I'm prepared to set the over/under at 30 homers and I'd bet the over.
Next year's draft kit should associate a couple of additional details next to each player's rankings. Upside ranking, downside ranking, injury risk.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
Thanks Pat, appreciate the suggestion and I'll pass it along as we prepare our 2011 plans. We're always happy to take ideas; always feel free to e-mail these along as well, and useful to check back as we near the winter to send along more (or remind us of past ones).
I had a tough weekend, pitching wise, and Beckett was a major contributor. What can we expect from him and his upcoming schedule?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
I cannot be convinced Josh Beckett is quite right; similar worries that I have to Javier Vazquez. The zip on their fastballs isn't the same, and their overall arsenals are suffering for it. Beckett's best outings since being activated have come against weaker offenses; the loaded ones rock him. And I expect that trend to continue.
Pink Hat (boston)
ellsbury done for the season? Yikes - just traded for him because I needed steals.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Jacoby Ellsbury's is easily one of the five most frustrating in fantasy baseball this season. He "may be done for the year." If his progress with the injury this year is any indication, I think you should be preparing as if he is.
Am I crazy to bench Haren for Hellickson this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
It's the same kind of thing with the Lincecum-Zambrano question. I won't call such decisions "crazy." In this case, it's a more legitimate argument for Hellickson. He faces Oakland. Though I don't DISLIKE Haren for the week, I'll say that.
So you don't think I should drop Hellickson? Why would the Rays lie about their plans? And why would they risk Hellickson's arm instead of Niemann/Davis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Hey, the Rays' comments are worth taking into account. Hellickson has his own concerns; capping his innings/pitches thrown. But I'll tell you, I'm going to be protecting the guy with the shoulder issue over the one with the innings worry every day of the week. I have to think teams would agree. It's not their job to tell you exactly what they're planning and thinking; and besides, things can change so quickly in this game.
Is Derek Lee safe to start this week? He hit 4 homeruns in his last 3 games and don't want to bench him unless I have to!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
Wrigley games have historically been friendly to Lee, so I'd keep him in there.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all your questions, and best of luck to you this week!