Fantasy Baseball with Tristan Cockcroft
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Good morning everyone! It's a key day in fantasy baseball; day of (or before) a few leagues' trade deadlines, the first day of the final week of many regular seasons in head-to-head leagues, and two days before September, the season's final month. So let's get started! Who's got a question?
Who's a better option down the stretch in a standard H2H, Niemann or Minor?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
It depends the important of the two-start pitcher. I know in one of my recent columns -- might have been "60 Feet 6 Inches" -- I actually predicted the specific schedule for Mike Minor, using the Braves' off days to estimate. I think in terms of picking the individual matchups, it's him I want, but I have a hunch in your format, for the most part, Jeff Niemann is slightly smarter. Very close, and good question.
Jared Geisler (Indiana)
Time to give up on Dustin Pedroia?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
I would. Feels a little like the Jacoby Ellsbury setback pattern to me, and if the Red Sox fall out of the playoff race -- they're getting close to it -- I think he'll be shut down regardless.
do I dare--Matusz vs. Boston and TB this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
I don't. You can if you're the gambling type! (I wouldn't advise it.)
Dave (New York)
Tim Lincecum is killing me. It's a keeper league, so I'm thinking of trading Lincecum...good idea, can I sell high?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
I don't think anyone has any chance to "sell high" on Tim Lincecum regardless of the league, and what I continue to advise Lincecum owners is to wait, keep your fingers crossed, and be happy with the fact that with a winter's rest, even if he comes back at 90-95 percent of his normal self in 2011, he's still capable of cracking the top 10 starters. I acknowledge the downside, but don't you think everyone is?
Given Ricky Nolasco's talent, injury, and upcoming schedule, is he droppable in 12-team mixed leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
I still can't believe he's pitching with that injury. My hunch stands: Before long he's going to decide it's too much and he'll shut it down. So yes, if you have something else you desperately need from that roster spot, it's a consideration.
Two of my best pitchers of the past month were Morrow and Hellickson. Now it looks like neither one will be helping me in the playoffs. Any late season bloomers for SPs that you can recommend for my playoff push?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
OK, so here's how I chose to answer this question: I went into my 20-team ESPN league, checked the list of starting pitcher eligibles, and picked five guys listed as available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues. Five guys I like a heck of a lot more than you might think: Daniel Hudson, Jorge De La Rosa, Joe Blanton, Rick Porcello, Bud Norris. Among the available in 99-plus-percent? I like Jordan Zimmermann as a beneath-the-radar sleeper.
Jordan-URGENT COMMISH HELP (Columbus, OH)
TRISTAN PLEASE, need your help as a voice of reason. 12 team Keeper league where 6 players are kept, later round players kept for three years, early round players kept for one addiitonal year. Recently agreed to a trade where we give up Jason Bay as a 2nd rd pick in keeper league for Johan Santana as a first rd pick. Johan only has vlaue to us for the remainder of the season, whereas Bay has absolutely none. The converse is true for our trade partner, Santana has no value to him this year as he is out of contention and Bay might have some value as a keeper in the second round. We are currently in second place and the first place team has protested this trad on the grounds that this a total dump. He claims no one in their right mind would keep Bay in the second round and is attempt to block this trade. We also offered Nolasco in the 5th rd and Bourn in the 18th rd, trades the first place team has said he would not object to, that we offered to the other team but he ultimately chose the deal involving Bay. Absolutely no collusion is involved in this trade. Please offer me something as a voice of reason to post on our leagues message board!!!! Thanks, Jordan.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
Sorry to hear it, Jordan, and the only thing I can really say to that is that if the person you dealt with preferred Jason Bay to those two others, it's his or her decision, not the first-place team's. Remember, I'm extremely liberal with trade judgment; I need to see actual proof of collusion to out-and-out reject a trade. So I might not be the right guy to ask. But the best evidence you can get here: If that owner who took Bay actually says to the first-place team, "I wanted Bay, I was offered those other guys and I like him better," that's your strongest case. It's not a good trade for that team, but not every trade is going to be "great."
i noticed on your 2011 keeper rankings that jason bay in something like 144. do you think he is done hitting 30 homers per year. what do you see him doing
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Speaking of Bay, the reason I say that's not a smart trade is that he's not in a situation where big power seems likely to come back. He's a perfect guy about whom you should talk home run/fly ball percentage, because in Fenway, there was reason to believe it'd be high. In Citi Field? It'll be pretty low, and it should keep him beneath 30 for the remainder of his Mets career. I think mid-20s is more appropriate.
Doctor Action (DC)
Scherzer has been hot but has been lit up by Minnesota. Roll with him or sit him against the Twins?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
How long ago was that? I admit, without the time to go check his game logs, I'd have to guess he was "lit up" before the minor league stint, in which case it's largely irrelevant. It's a game in Minny, and he's pitching extremely well, so I'd absolutely roll with him.
Dino (Bar Grill)
Looking for a spot starter. Which side of tonight's Cecil vs Wade Davis match-up do you like? Would you rather have Big Z than either?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
I would start Carlos Zambrano over either.
What can we legitmately expect out of Manny in Chicago? Also, who is the odd man out? A. Jones? Pierre?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
I think the guy currently sitting in the trainer's room getting treatment is the odd man out. Kidding, kidding, but Manny Ramirez is a definite health risk and I'm not especially pro-Manny in fantasy. That said, if he indeed lands in Chicago I'd call that almost the best possible case scenario for him the remainder of the year. Mainly because you could argue that he'll be motivated to show his former team how foolish it was to let him walk, just like he did when he tore it up for the Dodgers after the Red Sox traded him. I don't expect that kind of run -- nothing even close -- but yes, I'm back on the Manny bandwagon to the point where I'd say he's worth having active once he reports to the ChiSox. As for who's odd man out? I think it's the Mark Teahen/Andruw Jones mish-mosh eating up the DH at-bats.
It seems that having closers in a points league is pointless. You can just stream starting pitchers and most starting pitchers outscore closers. Am I crazy for having zero closers in a points league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Unfortunately, Curtis, it depends upon the format/scoring system. I've got leagues like this where there's a mandatory minimum number of relievers active at any given time. I've also got leagues so shallow where you'd be a fool NOT to have 4-5 solid closers and then ONLY stream starting pitchers around those guys as their days off and their matchups dictate. For the most part, you're right, the streaming strategy is a valid one in a lot of points leagues, but I remind people in them that closers are a great way to plug in the holes where you can't find a good streaming matchup. After all, a bad start is a really bad thing.
Ive got JJohnson Wainwright and Lester in keeper league with 6 keepers. Would like to trade for a big bat. Which of these three are you keeping?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
All three? If I'm going to deal one, it's probably going to be Josh Johnson, but that's partly because I think the perception is that he's every bit as good if not better than those two, but his team's future is least certain (as in, projecting wins). It's as simple as that, and understand how minimal a difference that description makes it.
Rayburn has been "burning" up fantasy... must add in all formats? more than Weeks, Crisp or Kubel?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Well, Jason Kubel is struggling and Ryan Raburn red hot and the Tigers face a lot of lefties. I'd consider that switch. And certainly, I'm advising most folks pick up Raburn.
It seems everyone (not just you) is jumping back on the Zambrano wagon pretty quick. His fastball still tops out around 90mph and he's one start removed from walking 6 in 6inn. Are you really sold?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
No. I just like the Monday matchup. It's fantastic, but Carlos Zambrano is not (over a long stretch, I mean).
Edwin Jackson or Anibal Sanchez for the rest of the year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I'm just not an E-Jax fan, partly because he wore down terribly late last year, but also because he's not in the best ballpark. He's the risk/reward, so I can build you a case he'll be better. I feel a little safer with Sanchez, who tends to be underrated. Pick the Marlin.
AJ Burnett is killing my ERA. I noticed you like Joe Blanton and Rick Porcello. Do you like them better than AJ?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
Yeah, I do. I want no part of Burnett right now.
Marcus Thames has been red hot. But his AB's may soon dwindle. Thames or Ka'aihue for the last month?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Lance Berkman's potential return in the next week or so will have an impact on Marcus Thames' playing time, as the Yankees are essentially locked into an arrangement where Thames' at-bats are going to come at DH. From that angle, Ka'aihue has the greater opportunity. I'd be going Thames this week, but Ka'aihue slightly for the weeks after that.
is CarGo a first round pick next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Not in my book. That said, he's not far off it. He's top-25 overall for sure, and I think his specific ranking is going to depend upon how many starting pitchers you believe also belong in there. Could be as high as 12th, or low as 21st.
Jaime Garcia's start has been pushed back to Friday. Should I be worried or be happy that he is getting some extra rest?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
That's impossible to determine. It could work wonders for him, and considering how smart the Cardinals with pitchers over the years, I won't rule out the possibility. At the same time, I'll remind you what happened with Joba Chamberlain once the Yankees began messing with his schedule. I think all it does is increase the risk/reward nature for Garcia down the stretch, and it diminishes the number of possible matchups to use. Other than that, little change.
Shields @Bal or Gallardo @Cin: Who ya got?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
James Shields. Great matchup, and Yovani Gallardo has been mired in a funk, not to mention it's not a great matchup pitching in that venue against a potent offense.
Jose Reyes (New York)
Should I go a head and play today or would you advise me to sit out the week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Most New York papers are reporting that he's out for the Braves series, so I'd be sitting Reyes if I had a choice.
How many more starts do I give Beckett? He was cruising in his last start then two HR's given up. Has the Orioles and White Sox this week. After that?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Before you drop him? I think he's already had enough starts to demonstrate that he's a far cry from what he used to be (at least this year, maybe a winter's rest helps him). Beckett's just not going be a top-25 starter the rest of the way. His stuff isn't what it was in the past. Maybe top-50, I suppose, but to me, that's pretty much a matchups guy.
Any word on Tulowitzki's injury?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
He has "no clue" whether he'll play on Monday, so his status is as up in the air as they come. I'd say he's slightly safer than Reyes, because we know Reyes is missing half the week at least, but if I had a strong alternative to either, I'd consider it.
Phil (St. Louis)
How many starts would you like to see from Jordan Zimmermann before you're ready to start evaluating him as a potential keeper?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I've been hinting at keeper value for him for much of the year, and I think he's up just in time for us to get a read on him, not to mention for him to work enough that he could be closer to full speed come the spring. I'd like to see five starts, 2-3 of those decent (think quality-start minimums). Also, his command numbers -- K/9, BB/9 -- within range of his rookie year.
More saves the rest of the year Koji Uehara or Leo Nunez?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
When you're asking me about saves, I have to project win potential of the team, so it's Nunez.
What's gotten into Stephen Drew lately? Leadoff spot and the guy thinks he's Ruth all of a sudden...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
Maybe he's mad that I called him one of the most overrated players in fantasy. That said, and I've written this before, he's traditionally a "saved the best for last" player, who hits terribly in the first half and finishes stronger.
Should I cut Morrow now in advance of his NYY start? I could pick up Zambrano, though I would not be able to use him tonight...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Let's address the Brandon Morrow portion of the question, and in no way am I shocked by the reports that the Yankee start might be his final of 2010. It makes sense; I wrote as such in my past "60 Feet, 6 Inches." Innings cap, all that. I'd use him if it's an AL-only or DEEP mixed, but let's just say that he's a cut candidate in redraft, even today. I let him go in one league because there was no way he'd crack my lineup this week.
Is it time to legitimately consider keeping Jose Bautista. Is he a top 50 player next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Funny, I've got a Phil in my keeper league who owns Bautista and with whom I just had this discussion. Bautista's future comes down to two things: His checkered health history and his home run/fly ball percentage number. The former, it's a risk factor, just remember that. The latter, he cannot possibly maintain a 20-plus-percent number, but even if he drops to, say, 15-17, that's still a 30-plus-homer hitter. Bautista has, after all, embraced the fact that he's a dead pull power hitter, so I think he's more legit than he's given credit. I've told his keeper-league owners: "Does .260 and 30 sound like a keeper in your format? If your answer is yes, then there you go."
Zeke (my office)
Any word on Brandon Phillips? Is he playing this week or safer to plug in the ice cold Zobrist?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
I tend to judge a player's appearance in a game as a positive sign of improving health, because if you do that, you can't have your DL stint backdated. Phillips just pinch-ran on Sunday, so I think he'll only be a couple more days. Keep him in there.
I watched Latos pitch last week and it didn't seem he had his best stuff. He hung a number of breaking balls and his fastball didn't have the pop of previous starts. I know, it's just one game, but I'm a little worried about him going into Arizona where as a team I believe they have a great OPS. Are my worries unfounded?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
If you feel that troubled, then don't take the risk. I've laid out my concerns for pitchers who have their schedules altered; I don't consider it a positive. That said, Mat Latos is a pretty special young ace. For me, I can't make a case to bench him.
Daniel Hudson (Arizona)
Am i a must start every game going forward or do you bench me against certain teams?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
I always consider the matchups, except with the VERY elite, but for the most part, I really doubt you're going to sit Hudson much, if at all, the rest of the year.
Some fact or ficitons: 2011 Infante = 2010 Zobrist. 2011 CarGo = 2010 J Upton. 2011 Jason Bay = 2010 David Wright. Discuss.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
If I'm to be locked into a clear "fact" or "fiction," I'm going fiction, fact, fiction. From these angles: Omar Infante doesn't have Zobrist's power potential, and he's a stronger batting-average contributor (therefore a little safer at maintaining value in the category); Carlos Gonzalez indeed might struggle in 2011, particularly in batting average, because of the plate discipline; and Bay just is not Wright's equal in terms of talent. Wright's safer in batting average, period.
M.Napoli was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. If he is traded what does that do to his value?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
I don't think a deal is likely to happen and I don't think a deal -- if it DOES happen -- is a positive. Victor Martinez is the Red Sox's catcher, David Ortiz the DH, and Napoli isn't a substantial enough upgrade over Mike Lowell at first base that he'd get everyday at-bats there, either.
Tristan, outside of the obvious is there anything better than lurking in the middle of the pack knowing that with owners' misuse of max pace and guys punting categories that you will rocket to top of standings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Oh, how many times I have seen a team do this and put together an impressive September run. A common strategy: You wait until your counterparts use up their starts, they drop their aces and then you scoop them up. That said, I think as of today, you have to be within striking distance. Say, 10-15 points at the absolute most. The clock's ticking after all.
Well would you keep Cole Hamels over Bautista? Hamels' numbers aren't too far off of He Who Shall Not be Named (Cliff Lee)...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
How should I go about managing my innings limit? I am last in wins and close to the top in ERA, WHIP and Ks? Should I make sure to get my top guys (Weaver, Oswalt) every start or play matchups and give my second tier guys (Hudson, Pavano, Duensing, Dempster) more starts and risk losing some of the top guys last few starts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
To address the other side of the argument in that recent question about innings/starts caps, if you're ahead of pace, I would be pickier than ever about any remaining matchup. An ace at Coors? Pffft, no way! They might not get the INNINGS you need, and they won't be quite the quality. Just be pickier, that's all.
How many saves Broxton gets going forward? 0?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
Sure could happen. He's not on much of a roll lately so I wouldn't call the prospects of his reclaiming the role great. He'll drop in my "Relief Efforts" ranks this week, I'd bet. I'll say 3-4.
I think Liriano is ranked high in 60' 6" What's your love for him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Five great starts in his past eight, pace of 211 whiffs, on a contending team so win potential is there, what's not to like?
Drop Strasburg in DEEP keeper leauge?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Depends how deep, but I'm not about to advise an owner in a DEEEEEEEP keeper league to drop a talent like Stephen Strasburg. Let's say you can keep 12 players and lock in a price for his 2012 that's dirt cheap, isn't that worth it? Anything sort, I admit, and forget it.
Tommy Hunter's next start is at KC...pick him up for it?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Yes, I would.
Will Posednik be drafted next year in 10 team mixed?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
I doubt it. Really depends upon his circumstances, but I still regard Scott Podsednik as a back-of-the-lineup, ride-streaks-and-matchups type player. He's not the kind of player you aim to pick in the middle, or even middle-to-late, rounds.
Better keeper Ubaldo or Latos?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Prices matter, but (ugh) in the proverbial "vacuum," I prefer Ubaldo Jimenez for 2011.
Jeff (Atlanta, GA)
Buster Posey going to be back tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:05 PM)
The Giants' official Web site reports that's the hope, though I'm sure the team will be conservative with the rookie. Simply because he's a catcher, it sounds like he should play most (if not all) of the week and there are slim pickin's at the position, I'd keep him in there.
Sean (Madison, WI)
Markakis is almost dead to me. What do you expect next year from him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
I actually don't think it's unfair to take his past three seasons (in this case 2008-10) and average them, because he has shown me nothing to hint he has growth potential despite his age representing the prime of his career. So, about .295-15-80 and 6-8 steals. In other words, he remains overrated.
Thanks for taking only Baseball questions...all the other chats are overtaken by Football stuff...I'm still trying to make my BB run!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
No problem, Matt, it's my pleasure and the Monday morning chat is an enjoyable one, and purposely placed there to prepare people for the upcoming week's lineups. Anyway, time to wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Good luck this week everyone, and that also goes to those of you with upcoming football drafts!