Chat with Eric Karabell
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Eric Karabell (3:01 PM)
Hello all and welcome to another ESPN fantasy sports chat session. We can talk baseball or football today. Thanks so much for showing up... pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training, with the rest of the players not far behind. It's a great time of the year! SO, let's get this party started... ask away!
Bill (Van Veghel)
From a fantasy perspective, what can be expected from Brian Matusz this year. I know the team around him has improved, and that he is an emerging pitcher who improved his performance under Showalter, but he is in the tough hitting A. L. east. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Eric Karabell (3:03 PM)
Excellent points, because while Matusz should improve, and help us in fantasy, it's asking a lot for say 15 wins or a sub-3.50 ERA. Then again, he did really well when Showalter took over. I'd say he emerges a bit more, wins 13 games with a 3.75 ERA and 170 Ks, but that's still asking for a lot.
Trying to decide my last keeper between Kinsler and Heyward. Is this even a debate?
Eric Karabell (3:07 PM)
Sure, it's a good debate actually. Kinsler is a proven player, former 30/30 option at a scarce fantasy position, and Heyward is a rising star. Interestingly, we rank Heyward 45 and Kinsler 48. I say flip a coin. I'd probably go with Heyward.
Are you taking the bait this year on Jay Bruce or should we prepare ourselves for another underwhelming 20-70 year?
Eric Karabell (3:08 PM)
No, I think he's better than that, but I'll still take the under on 30 and 100. How about 29 and 94.
Thoughts on Curtis Granderson picking up where he left off in the second half of last year? Do you buy the adjustments he made or the more general decline of past years?
Eric Karabell (3:09 PM)
I think he can hit 30 homers, but I doubt he ever hits .270 again or steals more than 20 bases. He's still got value, though. He's a guy that literally could hit a ton of homers if he gets his swing right; he torches right-handers and plays in the right park. I don't think he's declining, he just is what he is.
Eric, which players will start the season in the minors but could have huge mid-season upside (enough to justify stashing them on your bench) and amazing keeper potential.
Eric Karabell (3:09 PM)
I think Jesus Montero of the Yankees jumps to mind, as well as Mike Trout of the Angels and perhaps a few Royals, like Hosmer and Moustakas. I expect all will be up at some point this season.
What is Troy Tulowitzki's value top 5, top 10, or farther back.
Eric Karabell (3:10 PM)
His value is kinda whatever you think it is. Who cares what someone else thinks about him? You want him at 5, take him. I have him at 7, I believe, so I could be persuaded to go higher. Depends a bit on the format, I suppose.
Rob (Frankfort, IL)
Thoughts on Delmon Young?
Eric Karabell (3:11 PM)
I am on board, to a degree. He's not going to hit 30 home runs or steal bases, so I wonder if we just saw his ceiling. He always hits for average and he could have a very similar year but knock in 20 (or more) fewer runs, so just be careful. A 21-92 season might not please everyone.
Better keeper for this year and beyond: Delmon Young or Chris Young?
Eric Karabell (3:12 PM)
I think it's Chris Young, based on the stolen bases. Also, I don't think either of these guys will perform better than they did this past season. I just like 30/30 threats more.
Where should Joe Mauer be taken this year in my fantasy draft?
Eric Karabell (3:13 PM)
Wherever you want to take him. I see some people taking him in round 2. To each his own. I can't say that's wrong. I'd probably go around No. 35-40 or so. He's great, no doubt. I interviewed him today for the Baseball Today podcast and asked some tough questions, about the loss of power, the playoff losses to the Yankees, and he couldn't have been nicer. But for fantasy he's a bit of a risk, playing a demanding position and coming off knee surgery. I take my catchers late in drafts. Posada in round 24!
Eric, Do you draft any differently for H2H leagues ie. avoiding streaky and more injury prone players? Thanks
Eric Karabell (3:15 PM)
The problem with that is, players you define as streaky could easily change themselves at any time. Who really is streaky? We (think we) know who is injury prone, but I'd still draft a brittle player if he was productive. I draft a bit differently in h2h leagues for pitchers - I can wait half a season in h2h leagues to see who is good, for example - but in general, there's not much difference.
Better keeper this year and beyond : Jose Bautista or Mike Stanton.
Eric Karabell (3:15 PM)
That's easy. It's Stanton. I think Bautista might hit more home runs than the Florida rook this season, but he's considerably older.
Dave (Wolcott, CT)
EK, thoughts on Koji Uehara who was excellent as a closer last season, look at that K/BB ratio!
Eric Karabell (3:16 PM)
He was terrific last season, but the main problem is if he has the same season as a setup man, there's little fantasy value. And as of this point, I don't expect Uehara to close. I think it's Kevin Gregg. He always ends up with 30 saves.
For this year and going forward, what separates Colby Rasmus from Jason Heyward. Their numbers last year were very similar.
Eric Karabell (3:17 PM)
Well, plate discipline and upside generally separate them. I think Heyward will get a lot better, perhaps to become the best outfielder in the game soon. I don't know how much better Rasmus will get.
How do you allocate your budget between your top 4 players, your next 10 players, and your bottom 10 players in an auction draft --- $120 (1-4), 120 (5-14), $10 (15-24).
Eric Karabell (3:19 PM)
I don't, really. I don't enter any auction saying I'll spend only this much on this many players. It doesn't work that way. Enter any draft/auction flexible and roll with the tide. In general I find myself spending $180 or so on bats, $80 on arms, but I don't say "I have to do that"... it just happens. And with stars, I find it easier to have a terrific middle class of hitters, rather than relying on Pujols, Cabrera and Hanley. Tough to win in fantasy that way.
Ryan (Lexington, KY)
Hellickson or Daniel Hudson?
Eric Karabell (3:20 PM)
I'd take Hellickson. Hudson was awesome for Arizona, but that only makes him overrated. I think Hellickson has a better season, and he has more upside, too.
Karabell, love your work, thanks for the steady flow of fantasy insight. Does Ellsbury jump up your rankings after reporting to camp saying that he's 100%?
Eric Karabell (3:21 PM)
Ha! Everyone reports to camp saying that, don't you know! I like Ellsbury; just traded for him in a league, as a matter of fact. But he's still essentially a basestealer and not much more for fantasy. If he swipes 45 bases instead of 60, then how is he 10 rounds better than say Michael Bourn? He's not. But if Jacoby gets overrated in my drafts due to this "news" then I'm all for it! Everyone feels great! Everyone lost weight! Pablooooooooooo!
What do you expect out of the Twins new Japanese 2b? Is he even worth a flyer in the late rounds?
Eric Karabell (3:22 PM)
Absolutely! I heard someone compare him to Kaz Matsui simply because of the position they play and where they came from. Perhaps it turns out that way, but I think Nishioka is better, until he proves he isn't. I could see 30 steals I suppose.
Eric, where would you consider taking Freddie Freeman? Should he be considered a better fantasy option than lets say Lance Berkman or Mitch Moreland?
Eric Karabell (3:23 PM)
Well, I like Berkman for 22 homers and 85 RBIs, and I don't think Freeman or Moreland will do that. But they are obviously a ton younger, healthier, and I'm guessing I'm one of the few that would consider drafting Berkman anymore. Sounds like a blog!
How do your evaluations change in a league where singles, doubles, and triples are additional categories to the standard 5? Any examples of players who take a large jump (or conversely, fall) in the rankings? Any certain stat that might weigh heavy in such a format?
Eric Karabell (3:24 PM)
The obvious guy here is Ichiro, someone who hits for average because of a lot of singles. In fantasy we tend to underrate batting average guys unless they have power. Adding singles and doubles changes things.. Billy Butler, who hits doubles and not a lot of homers, looks better.
EK - Which side of this do you prefer? Soto & Bautista or Posey
Eric Karabell (3:25 PM)
This won't be popular, but Soto/Bautista is better if you have the room. I mean, will Posey have considerably more home runs or RBIs than Soto? I doubt it. They might have the same amount. And Bautista just hit 54 homers and frankly, he could lead the league again (with around 40).
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Obviously way early, but we have to assume Ryan Grant falls from the ranks of RBs with full time jobs next year, right?
Eric Karabell (3:26 PM)
I don't assume anything. I think Grant gets his job back if healthy, and James Starks is his backup, with Brandon Jackson becoming meaningless. But who knows if Grant will be 100 percent.
cody (kansas city)
I'm in a dynasty league, 20 team head to head. I need a 3B, and Aramis Ramirez and Pedro Alvarez are available, which should I choose?
Eric Karabell (3:27 PM)
I think Aramis could be better for this season, but if it's a dynasty league, the obvious choice is not him. Alvarez might move across the diamond at some point, but for now he's a decent bet for 25 homers. I can't say Aramis is a lock to do that.
Is 30-100 really that much different than 29-94 for Jay Bruce? I mean that's still a good year and that's nitpicking. "Hey Jay, cut down the strikeouts and you'll get there!" Signed - Fantasy owners Everywhere
Eric Karabell (3:29 PM)
No, of course it's not a big difference. I was trying to be ironical. I just don't think Bruce is a lock for monster numbers yet, while that opinion seems to be in the minority, which is fine.
Whats the word on this guy from Japan being the best pitcher on the planet? I would love your info on him and how long till he gets to the majors?
Eric Karabell (3:30 PM)
You probably mean Yu Darvish, still in Japan. Every year he gets a lot of strikeouts and a sub-2.00 ERA. Maybe he matters in a year, but I can't make much of a case to take him in a keeper league yet.
What are your thoughts on Neil Walker this year? Are you in trouble if he is in your starting middle infield?
Eric Karabell (3:32 PM)
Not neccessarily, but if he hits 15 home runs and knocks in 70, which is certainly possible, he'd be a bargain as a late-round pick.
Hey EK, I appreciate all of the advice and your ability to keep the 'game' in perspective. What are your thoughts on Joe Blanton this year? The 'forgotten' Phillie should give good value late. Who drafts a #5 starter?
Eric Karabell (3:33 PM)
I think there's nice upside here, because nobody seems to want him, perhaps including the Phillies! This isn't an ace. But two years ago he won games and had 163 strikeouts. That's worth owning in most leagues.
EK: Appreciate the daily updates to the blog! I'm doing a 15 tm 5x5 roto league - trying to figure out how that would change any rankings.
Eric Karabell (3:34 PM)
I'd think the main difference is I would ensure you get middle infielders and a few closers, rather than waiting until the end. In a 10-team league, I know I can just draft Brandon League or Neil Walker in the last round. In a 15-round league, you can't.
Any news on the Pujols negotiations? Can St. Louis really afford to let him walk away? Is the sticking point the salary or the years?
Eric Karabell (3:36 PM)
The news is that Albert is like pretty much every other player, wanting the most money possible. I credit the Cardinals here; don't give this guy $300 million for 10 years, that's crazy. He'd be 42. Players decline. Look at the A-Rod deal, the Yankees are going to really hate this deal soon. St. Louis can absolutely afford to let him walk away. Farewell. You don't need the face of your organization. It's ridiculous to say his loss is devastating to the organization. Fans want their team to win. Bottom line.
OBP seems to be a better stat for hitters considering walks are a big part of the game. What are your thoughts on switching Batting Avg. to OBP in a custom league?
Eric Karabell (3:37 PM)
I like it and compete in a few leagues in which either walks or OBP or OPS matters. In this one league I love to take Adam Dunn in round 5, five rounds earlier than he would go in a normal league, but when you count walks, he's worth a lot more.
Ryan Raburn qualifies as a 2nd basemen in my league. Do you see him as a possible top 10 option?
Eric Karabell (3:38 PM)
Yes, I do, because I think he's going to hit at least 20 home runs, and it could be 25. He hasn't really emerged yet, and he's kind of had chances, so I also think he might loss this one if he doesn't start quickly.
Lance Berkman (Jupiter)
Don't worry, Cardinal fans. I can play first base!
Eric Karabell (3:38 PM)
Yeah, just not very well. Look, one man is not bigger than any team. Even the best player for the past decade.
Who's your fantasy kryptonite in baseball EK? Someone who you always love to take, but inevitably kills your season due to health, poor performance, trade, etc.
Eric Karabell (3:40 PM)
It used to be Dave Bush, but I certainly can't make any case for him anymore. Chris Young, Liriano, Corey Hart are a few others that I've ridden the roller coaster with. I have a feeling Lance Berkman could be that guy now.
In an auction draft, I always nominate players I think are overvalued early to get other people to spend money. Good strategy? Any thoughts on who might be overvalued? Utley? Rollins? ARod?
Eric Karabell (3:41 PM)
Yeah, I kinda do that as well, but I also like to see some top players still around an hour into an auction, in case I've saved some money. Plus, don't nominate someone at $10 bucks and then get caught with them. I don't think Utley and Rollins are overvalued. I think both might be overrated some, but I don't see them going too high. A-Rod probably is.
Hi Eric, which MI is the best bet to bounce back next season: Aaron Hill, Brian Roberts, or Gordon Beckham?
Eric Karabell (3:43 PM)
I think they all will to some degree. Hill has 30-homer pop, but probably can't hit .270, even with the BABIP coming back to the mean some. Roberts should be fine, maybe 25-30 steals and 90 runs. Perhaps Beckham was just overhyped. He should be a 15-70 guy that hits for average.
John (Woodbridge VA)
Eric,What do you see the Twins doing with Joe Nathan? Are they going to work him back in slowly, or will he take over immediately as close for Matt Capps on opening day?
Eric Karabell (3:44 PM)
I think he is the closer right now. He's got 6 weeks until Opening Day, and I say he will be ready to close immediately. Capps is what he is, but he's not Nathan.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Do we have to assume Peyton Hillis will have to fight Montario for carries? That would be a Hard-trav-esty.
Eric Karabell (3:45 PM)
I don't assume it, because I don't assume Hardesty is 100 percent healthy... but we do know Hillis ran outta gas for the final month, so he could probably use some help. Hardesty should get some carries. And look, there's no loyalty here. The Browns want to win. What Hillis did in 2010 is in the past. They owe him nothing.
I remember for about 4 years straight, you were always touting some Milwaukee pitcher as that years sleeper. Capuano, Doug Davis, and then Bush two years in a row. Nice to see you're finally over that.
Eric Karabell (3:46 PM)
Yeah, I had to admit my problem in order to get help for it! This year, Randy Wolf!
I AM bigger than one team.
Eric Karabell (3:47 PM)
In the NBA, yes. In baseball, no. (That situation, by the way, is a joke).
Jon (Des Moines)
Eric, this is a painful, painful question to ask... We can keep three guys from this past season (2 QB league) and can only keep one at each position.. RODGERS OR VICK... I'm already keeping Jennings and Charles.
Eric Karabell (3:48 PM)
I don't think it's painful. I think you have to keep Aaron Rodgers. He's better. Yes, Vick had a monster year, but he's not my top QB for this season. He's 5. I fear injury, opposing defenses keeping him in check, and more. Rodgers is more reliable, easily.
Dan Uggla (ATL)
What are the chances i have my best Fantasy year yet?!?
Eric Karabell (3:49 PM)
It's possible, since his home/road splits told us leaving Florida would really be a gain, but then again... is he gonna hit 40 homers? Is he gonna hit .300? He'll probably have around the same numbers as last year.
EK - I'm toying with the idea of keeping Fielder, Wainwright, McCutchen, Heyward & Stanton in my keeper league. I'd be cutting loose Posey, Kinsler
Eric Karabell (3:50 PM)
Seems fine to me. Everyone loves Posey, but these other guys are pretty strong keepers as well.
I've heard murmurs here & there about Wainwright's elbow. Is he a solid keeper?
Eric Karabell (3:50 PM)
He's a top 10 pitcher. Certainly Stephania Bell has made us aware that Wainwright is an injury risk. Doesn't mean he falls apart right away, but just a factor to add to the pile.
Do you think Corey Hart can put up a 20-20 season?
Eric Karabell (3:51 PM)
No, I don't think he has any intention of running that much. I could see 25 homers and 10 steals, but not more than that.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Most likely: Romo as a top 5 QB, Nicks as a top 5 WR, or Jahvid Best as a top 10 RB.
Eric Karabell (3:53 PM)
Hmmm...I will say Nicks is the most likely, then Romo, and Best last. Nicks is a monster. Tough to cover, good offense, probably gets double digit touchdowns. Romo has a lot of competition... I've got him top 10. And Best scares me. I bet the Lions get him help.
In the Draft Kit, a bunch of ESPN'ers had Mat Latos as a 2011 bust? Why is that?
Eric Karabell (3:54 PM)
I assume because expectations are so high for him. I like Latos, think he's relatively safe, but I also don't know how much better he can get. I don't expect the Padres to be very good offensively, so I can't take the over on 14 wins. Does he fan 200 hitters? Maybe, but with a sub-3.00 ERA? It's just asking a lot from a 23-year-old.
Tom (Madison, WI)
Follow up on Corey Hart: Don't you think Ron Roenicke will have the Brewers running more?
Eric Karabell (3:56 PM)
I read that he said that recently, but a lot of managers say things like that on the first day of spring training. Hart 18 steals the past two seasons combined. He's capable of running, but on a team with this much power, the basestealers tend to not run as much and risk it.
Brad Hawpe (Away from Coors Field)
Am I relevant?
Eric Karabell (3:56 PM)
Gonna be tough for him to hit 20 homers in his new ballpark, in his new lineup, and sitting against lefties. Relevant only in deep leagues, but he could hit .240, too.
Follow up on corey hart: does he still wear sunglasses at night?
Eric Karabell (3:57 PM)
Hey, never surrender that joke...
Will Jason Heyward steal 25 bases?
Eric Karabell (3:58 PM)
Over the next two seasons, yes. In 2011, I say no.
Is the third round too early for Buster Posey?
Eric Karabell (3:59 PM)
Not if you really want the guy. Take him earlier if you want to ensure he's yours. I personally wouldn't do that, but it's your team. If I want Chris Coghlan, I don't care that he's regarded as a 30th-rounder. I'll go round 29!
Eric Karabell (3:59 PM)
OK, that seems like all the time we have for today, so I want to thank everyone for showing up, asking questions, having some fun. Hey, it's fantasy sports, you HAVE to enjoy it and have a good time! Anyway, enjoy your day, stay warm and I'l be back chatting next Wednesday! Baseball's back! Woo-hoo!