Chat 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.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Monday 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 (11:03 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Travis Snider bandwagon (beginning our world tour)
Drinks are cold, bat is hot - want to climb aboard?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
Check out today's podcast, Snider came up as a topic. He's been oft-discussed in this space; I'm notorious for being anti-Snider, and for the most part, that's not changing. But I will say this in Snider's defense: He has made adjustments, I am at least encouraged and there's hope yet. I want to see more, however, before I use words like "arrived" and "breakout." I think that stance is understandable: Snider had a lot of problems in past stints, and two weeks doesn't guarantee all are behind him.
Who's the best option for saves? Guerra? Melancon? Parcell? Rauch? And in what order?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
This week? Rest of season? Typically if the details are not provided my assumption is "today until season's end," and you said just saves. So I'm going Mark Melancon, Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch, Javy Guerra.
Danny Espinosa. I have Wiggington at 2B. Going forward what's the gap between the 2?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Noticeable but hardly substantial. Espinosa's inevitable couple-week funks will make Ty Wigginton look like a fantastic fantasy second baseman. In other words, brilliant combo there, if you've got the roster space to afford one.
CHICKEN PARM (IN YOUR BELLY)
What up THC? Who you have ROS, Freeman or Hosmer. Thanks for all your help.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Chicken parm before 11 a.m.? Hmmm, I suppose. Not sure I've actually done that. Should've said "Chicken Parm (soon-to-be...)"Freddie Freeman of the two, and the reason is that he's the one of the two who looks like he "belongs" right now. I'd love to say Eric Hosmer, and if this includes future seasons, I've got little doubt it's him. But it's Freeman for the rest of this year.
You like Buerhle today @KC?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Seems good enough to me, yes.
JC (Rockaway Beach)
Is Joe Nathan a must start or would you roll with 2 start eligible RP Alexi Ogandu?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
I think that Joe Nathan is a must-start in what is an eight-game week ahead of him. Clear, definitive take: Everyone (who possibly can) get him in there right now.
Adam Dunn (Chicago)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Look, Adam, I gotta be honest: What exactly are you seeing here that makes you think you're "bouncing back"? (Seriously, if anyone can point out what evidence he/she has that he's returning to form, I'd love to hear it. I see nada.)
Joe Nathan ((3 days in a row))
Follow up on Nathan - you think he's available for the double-header today after pitching 3 straigt gms?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
He threw 38 pitches combined in those three and nine on Sunday. Hard to say, but I'd imagine maybe he could work in one of the two. Either way, it's still a full week ahead.
Javier Vazquez (Miami, FL)
My fastball's looking great and I just had a great start--against the Cubs. Am I for real?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
His average fastball velocity since July 1 is 90.9 mph, and that was the same number he had in his great 2009. That's significant, because diminished velocity led to most of his problems with the Yankees. It's a trend to exploit, sure, but I'd recommend it being a short-term plan, as in, maybe you get 3-4 more weeks like this. But if you invest more, you're asking for trouble. He's 34 with a lot of innings on that arm and his stuff could escape him again at any time.
I had Braun active before the ASB and got burned big time. Sit him this week for Snider?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
You did not get burned at all, if you're referring to these past four days. You simply ran into some bad luck. Shake it off, hope for better. Braun pinch hit Sunday, so he'll be in my lineups. I can't see a DL stint being high-probability.
Given Axford's (shaky) saves over the weekend, how do you see him and K-Rod projecting out on your rankings this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
K-Rod will suffer a substantial (read: double-digit) drop. He won't disappear, but if he's around 30th, don't be shocked. That's a guess looking three days ahead, but I've felt this way about him since the instant the trade happened, and so far it's looking like the right call.
2-38 yes 2 for bleeping 38 yesterday...cut them all or just give them a stern talking to?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
Sure, give 'em a stern talking to. Give the baseball one, too. How dare it not give you any lucky bounces. Boo, baseball, boo!
Beachy at Colorado tomorrow. What to do?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Cringe juuuuuuust a little, step back from the computer, get a drink of water, return, regain confidence, activate, smile. Beyond that, you're overthinking it.
I'm digging Carlos Santana's power but the batting average is still pretty low, any idea if that will come up to say, .260 by season's end?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
A .260 batting average seems fair. I'm a buyer, for sure.
Bartolo Colon (The Big Apple)
Has the dream ended?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
My advice is: Monitor everything Colon and the Yankees say about his injury, because I think everything you've seen the past month points directly to that. Look, I've been pro-Colon all year, not nearly as much as some have, but that he's got value. My concern, at the same time, was that he would have a hard time holding up for a 200-inning, complete big-league season at his age and with so much time off the past half-decade. I think if you call him about the 50th-best starter from today forward, you're evaluating him properly.
Most likely (fantasy-relevant) trade to happen next?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
Total guess here. I say Carlos Beltran is traded by week's end and he ends up in a place (*cough* Red Sox) that is much more conducive to fantasy success. I would love to rank him in "Hit Parade" like I knew that trade was coming. But I think it's irresponsible to make a rash rankings move without any concrete evidence something so specific will happen.
Off the top of your head, what range do you expect Joe Nathan to fall in on this weeks closer rankings? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
Well, before I actually do those rankings I'm going to need to take a step back and closely examine, because if I let my gut do the talking I might put him in my top 10. Yes, I am all in on Joe Nathan. Have been for about 2-3 weeks now, well before he officially got that job.
Bob (Long Island)
Same question, later this week, Hanson is a go at Colorado correct?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
Correct. In my opinion, more so than Beachy. So you can cut the "cringe" portion and follow the same recipe for success.
Hanley Ramirez (Pitcher's Dreams)
Am i striking fear into pitchers again?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
Yes. It's something I have cautioned in this space for a long time, Hanley Ramirez has the ability to rattle off hot streaks that match or exceed those of anyone in baseball. And it looks like one is now here. Enjoy.
You'd really prefer Melancon over Rauch? Porquoi? (That means why!)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Haha, I actually did study French in high school. Remember about three words, that being one of them. Though I admit, during a trip to Montreal I was totally lost trying to order dinner once.Anyway, I digress. The point there is that Frank Francisco remains present, as does Octavio Dotel, and Jon Rauch himself hasn't been the steadiest fella. On a short-term, per-game basis, he beats Mark Melancon. But I need to project long distance, and Melancon's chances seem safer.The topic, incidentally, was touched upon briefly in the podcast. Saves is one place where the now versus the later complicates matters.
Can you rank these pitchers for the upcoming week only? Greinke @ AZ, Felix @ BOS or Vogelsong with two starts at home vs. LA and MIL or Kuroda vs. WAS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Given those choices, I see no conceivable way you could sit anyone other than Hiroki Kuroda.
What in the world should we do w/ Jason Heyward? Can't square anything up (55%+ GB, ~20% pop-ups). Don't want to give up on the guy who many feel is a future 1st round fantasy staple, but our patience is wearing thin.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
The ground-ball rate was hinted at somewhere in our draft kit; I think I specifically wrote it about him in his profile. It was meant as a cautionary thing, that it shows he's not a quick-to-break-out player, less than it was that he'd stink. I think, considering his talent, you need to remain patient. His second half in 2010 was solid, he's young, has room to grow, and I can't bet against his skills. But no, he's not top-25 caliber, not right now. And he won't be until he stops with all those grounders.
Rob (State College)
Hey THC - do you think Burnett gets a bump up for his start against the Rays tonight because they're gonna be tuckered out from last night's 5 1/2 hour marathon? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Fairer point if this was a day game. Plenty of time between contests and I'm pretty iffy with A.J. Burnett.
Jeff Karstens - pay the man some respect finally - 2.34 ERA... AWEEEESSSOOOMMMEE!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Posting the question enough respect? Karstens has been phenomenal. No. 22 on the Player Rater. Few could've seen even half of this coming, that's for sure. That said, looking forward, I refuse to buy. His stuff is entirely lacking, has to hit his spots every time and that's incredibly difficult to do over a 162-game season. Here's a stat: Only 41 of 134 qualified starters generate fewer swings and misses. And this: Only 17 have fewer K's per nine. And this: His FIP is 4.49, which is in the bottom 25 in baseball. Sell, sell, sell.
Where can we get the Cockcroft family recipe for Chicken Parm? Lilly or Dempster in a points league for the rest of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I'll share it if you'd like. Message me after and ask. Don't expect anything special; it's somewhat ordinary but I've always liked it and used it for years. And I'd go Ryan Dempster, the primary reason being that strikeouts matter most in points leagues, and I feel much safer with him when it comes to that category.
So Karstens is a sell. What about Vogelsong? And, am I too late to sell on McLellan?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Quick takes: Karstens is as much of a sell as they come. Vogelsong is a keep. Kyle McClellan is a "give it a shot, but you're probably too late."
It is actually Pouquoi, literally translated means "For Why?"
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I actually thought it was pourquoi, but I trust Pierre from Paris more than my memory of things I learned a quarter-century ago.
If Bell is traded to Texas, as has been rumored, who closes?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
A lot of Heath Bell-to-Texas rumor interest in today's chat, and let's all be careful not to assume. But it's a fair question: Bell is a high risk to be dealt. And he has made it clear he's willing to set up elsewhere. Be ready. Mike Adams is worth a look, though he, too, is a candidate to be traded.All that said, I'm not selling Bell for 80 cents on the dollar. Just to be clear. He is way too talented a closer to bail on based upon rumors.
Latos-Intolerant (San Diego)
Thank you for the Latos-love. It's been surprisingly difficult to convince people he's a solid top 30 sp. Why do you think most seem him as ranked so low? And what value would you give him in a vacuum verseus hitters? pitchers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
People are awfully reactionary, I don't think it's anything more than that. Mat Latos fell short of his 2010 performance, so people adjusted their expectations. The talent is still there, however, and the ballpark really minimizes the risk of implosion for him. Top-30 starter, I agree, that's about where I expect to have him ranked tomorrow, and I'd say that's about worth a top-50 hitter overall. Ballparking it.
I think he meant who closes in TEXAS? bell or feliz?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I think it's Neftali Feliz's job. Why change what works? (Fair stance to take.)
Boris (The Motherland)
???????, ??? ?? ??????? ? ????? Rasmus, ?? ????????? ??? ?????? ????, ??? ???, ?????? "droppable" ???????
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
Is there a player in baseball more frustrating right now? No, let me amend that, is there a manager in baseball more frustrating because of the impact he has upon said player? At any rate, "droppable" is fair game. I admire Colby Rasmus' talent so I'm going to resist it as much as possible, but I've been very clear about my stance in 10-team standard leagues: You cannot sit on lengthy, lengthy cold spells. They will kill your team before you ever had a chance to reap the rewards of your patience.
Overthinker (Planet Earth)
Trading great keepers for several valuable, but less keepable, players in order to make a run at the championship... thoughts??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Endorse this every time.Obviously flexibility afforded depending upon the specific examples.
Mike(San Diego) [via mobile]
Latos' is undervalued because his win potential is low. The Padres kind of stink if you haven't noticed.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Oh, I've noticed. It was a point I made, specifically regarding Latos, when the Adrian Gonzalez trade was made last winter. But you know me, Mike, I'm not going to invest based upon win potential. The only thing that matters when evaluating wins is making sure you don't load your basket with a bunch of eggs from stinky teams. Otherwise? Give me ERA/WHIP/K potential every single time, wins be damned.
I know you experts must get tired of hearing about Dunn. Is there something in particular that you're looking for before you see turn-around evidence or is it just a sudden ability to get hits an power over an extended (week or so) period.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Good question, Mike, and one thing I'd advise is to go back to I believe my mid-June (15th or so) "Hit Parade," which discussed the specifics of Dunn's problems. He's inept against fastballs, and pitchers were adjusting accordingly to bust him with them. That's simply not something you fix overnight. At the same time, I admit that it's impossible for me to look at peripherals like that on an everyday basis for every player. But that's what I'm looking for with Dunn, and I'll take a look this week and if I see any improvement, I'll surely let you know.
Is Madson's job in trouble?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Podcast topic, actually. I'll tease: Primary point of mine was that a trade for a more "proven closer" is the primary (long-term) risk if you're a Madson owner.
Freddie Freeman (ATL)
Can I keep this hot streak going all summer?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
I'm OK with being nailed to some specific high-end projections. How does a .290 batting average and 15 homers from today forward sound? Absolutely could happen. (Though invest slightly lower if you at all can.)
General keeper question re strategy -- My team right now should make the playoffs but likely won't win it all. Do I look to trade some sure-fire studs (who I'd only have for 1 year) for some *potential* studs (who I'd have for 2 or more years and likely at better draft value)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Without knowing your league's playoff specifics, it's difficult for me to understand how you don't believe you can win if you qualify. Aren't most head-to-head leagues driven quite a bit by luck? Don't undercut your chances and fall short, that'd be my first piece of advice. My next: If you really think you can get future pieces without hurting this year, yes, sure, by all means. But I've always told contenders to go all in. Always, always go all in.
Johan Santana 2012 - closer to ace or done?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
If I'm picking from the two extremes, "done" is my choice. Significant injury, he's advancing in age and his career trend was headed downward before the surgery besides.
From Overthinker's question- what about J zimmerman in a keepers leauge. Innings cap could kill me
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Every day that passes shifts Jordan Zimmermann's fantasy value further from redraft to keeper formats. Picture a scale where either side has those labels, there's going to come a day where the scale tips entirely over. And that day might arrive before the Sept. 1 roster expansion. Prepare accordingly.
Rob (State College)
In H2H leagues, can you afford more patience with players like Rasmus as long as you're pretty solid in terms of reaching the playoffs? Is the "cut bait cutoff" significantly different in those circumstances?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
I think it has everything to do with the number of bench spaces you are afforded, and nothing more. In a standard ESPN league you get three, and as such, you cannot sit on a slumping player forever. If it was, say, an eight-man bench format? There is no chance I'm cutting Colby Rasmus.
Gordon Beckham (Chicago)
My 2nd tear has begun..8 game hitting streak at a .433 clip and .404 over past 14 games. You hear me Tristan?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
Of course I hear you, Gordon. It's a point I've made in the past, am not entirely shocked by, but at the same time am puzzled by being that I have a hard time digesting the possibility that a player could be so utterly awful for three months, yet so valuable the final three. I mean, there are first/second-half trends, and then there is Gordon Beckham, who so far in his career, looks like a guy you do not in any way want to draft, but on June 30 you want to pick him up more than anyone.
Parnell for Hughes, about fair value?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
Very smart buy-in on Phil Hughes. I'm not all in on Hughes, but 91.5 is the key number: His average fastball velocity his past two turns, per ESPN Stats & Analysis. That's a huge plus.
You like Collmenter vs. MIL as much as your Daily Notes colleagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
No, but I'm sure they had their reasons explained in the column. He'd be just beneath my cut.
why is MANNY RAMIREZ being added in .7 of leagues?!?!?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
Sentimentality among ex-Manny Ramirez fantasy owners who are already out of their respective league races? Beats me...
dan uggla (atl)
am i turning it around?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
Unlike with Adam Dunn, yes, there are some signs of improvement with Uggla: Eight home runs in his past 29 games, .345 average in his past eight contests. My previous defense of him was that he was pressing as he adapted to new surroundings; perhaps he has settled in now. I'd buy.
Rickie Weeks (Milwuakee, WI)
THC, did you see where they hit me in the 5 hole yesterday? Whats up with that? I'm leading the league in runs!Think this sticks and if so, how bad does this mess up my value?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:12 PM)
Two days in a row, actually. But I wouldn't sweat it; the tradeoff is runs for RBIs. To me that's a wash.
Projection for Cozart ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
Safe, reasonable projection would probably be something in the ballpark of a .275-.280 batting average, 12 steals, respectable runs total. So a valuable fantasy asset but not an elite one.
ROS manny ramierz better numbers then dunn?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
where could bell be traded to and still close?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:14 PM)
Philly, Angels... initially my opinion was that Mariano Rivera was the only closer on a contender that I'd use ahead of Bell. But the "right" guy isn't always the one who closes.
HRs for Cozart? 8-10?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:15 PM)
The rest of the year? Nah, more like 5-6. I think you're overestimating if you expect more. A full Cozart season should be something like .275-13 and 25 steals. At least as he adapts. And I'm being kinda liberal with those numbers, I admit, considering his level of experience.
Initial trade offer: Pence and Zimmermann for ________ (SP)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:17 PM)
Ubaldo Jimenez, and no, Jeremy, I won't give you back Ubaldo. (Kidding, though maybe that's indeed the Jeremy who traded me Ubaldo for Zimmermann and Bernadina.) But that's the proper value range among starters, something top-20ish, aim as high as you can.
hey tc. can you put CarGo in elite statues still? seems solid, but not elite to me. agree?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:18 PM)
Let's agree to put aside the recent injury issues. Yes, they matter, but I don't want to overreact just yet. OK, so I'll stress that among hitters -- only hitters -- I've had Carlos Gonzalez teetering around 10th. Sometimes he's eighth, sometimes 15th, and I've never been tempted to move him higher. Seems about right. Very, very good, but never the No. 1 player in fantasy, other than the somewhat fluky run late in 2010.
TMNT (The Big Apple, 3am)
Jonathan Sanchez when he returns to the rotation: yea or nay?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:19 PM)
The Giants are seemingly in a pickle, because Ryan Vogelsong isn't going anywhere. If it was my call, Sanchez would bump Barry Zito, who is the least talented of the six, and in fantasy, I would prepare accordingly. That means Sanchez is worth having, albeit on your bench until there's clarity.
Yo THC is Putz going to get the most saves in AZ ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:20 PM)
Yup, if he's healthy. Point in his favor: He's had DL stints before, including 2010, last year's wasn't that lengthy and he was fine after he got back. No reason to bet against a repeat.
You're a famous Snider detractor but you have to own him over Eric Thames right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:22 PM)
You know, that's a great question, Mark, because the things that bother me about Thames (K's, K's, K's, not that many walks) were the same things that bothered me about Travis Snider in the early big-league days. But Thames has been fine so far, and Snider showed me nothing in the distant past. So I'm not sure why you're anti-Thames. I have him slightly higher. I buy it, at least for the foreseeable future.
Jason Heyward (ATL)
Please help...what is my trade value in a keeper league??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:23 PM)
Significant. Heyward turns just 22 years old on Aug. 9, and he's got future .290-30, 15-steal potential. Could be as soon as 2012. Check my keeper top 250, off the top of my head I do think I rated him a top-25 asset.
Mike (New York)
To touch on the trading keepers to go for it this year question from earlier. Is it in your strategy to do what you need to to win this year at what it ay cost in the future? I'm in a similar position but instead of players it's next years draft picks I'd be giving up (some of which I had to give up already). Next year would surely be punted.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:25 PM)
The same thing applies to draft picks as does players. It doesn't matter. Win now. As they say, "flags fly forever." Merely do your due diligence, make sure you're improving substantially enough to win, so that it's not going to hurt if you then suffer come 2012.
Can you give us the link to your Keeper Top 250, I managed to miss it when it debuted.... Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:26 PM)
Here you go: Keeper top 250. Sure enough, Heyward 24th. My memory hasn't completely failed me!
Jemile Weeks has been hot out of the break. Weeks or Beckham?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:28 PM)
I'm pro-both. Gordon Beckham gets the slight edge if only because he's the more experienced. Hard to argue with either though.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:28 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and best of luck to you in your matchups this week!