Chat with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday 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 Friday 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 (11:02 AM)
Good morning everyone! Happy New Year to you, and hopefully we helped you to a fantasy football championship in 2011. Congrats to the winners!It's a new year, and a new chat time for me, and a new baseball season is right around the corner. Let's go heavy baseball today, but really, any question is fair game. Ask away!
How much of a change in value in Prince Fielder would you expect if he signs in Texas, as opposed to other places such as Seattle or Washington? Does the home field and lineup around him make a huge difference?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
I actually don't think the ballpark makes a substantial difference for a power hitter of Prince Fielder's caliber; it's the depth of lineup that's relevant, which is why I'd say, obviously, that signing with the Rangers would be noticeably better for his fantasy prospects than if he signed with the Mariners. Ballpark plus lineup support (meaning runs/RBIs). But let's face it: He's a 40-homer candidate wherever he lands. It's merely the question of a shot at 45, and 125 RBIs, as opposed to, say, struggling to reach 40 and being happy with any RBI past 100 in Seattle. D.C.: Probably somewhere in the middle, though leaning more towards it being a plus, like with the Rangers.
Joel (Fort Worth)
Has Miguel Cabrera overtaken Pujols in your eyes as the best fantasy first baseman?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
In keeper leagues, yes. In redraft leagues, I still have Albert Pujols ranked higher, but it's difficult to dispute Miguel Cabrera making a case for being first. I'd be very happy with either one; negligible difference in value.
BASEBALL IS BACK! What do you think of Cahill in Arizona? Early projections? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Ground-ball pitcher so the ballpark effects won't grab hold as much as they would for your batted-ball-neutral hurler. I don't feel much different about Trevor Cahill as I did a couple months ago; I'm a fan of the ground-ballers and I think the move to the National League is a plus. Let's say he could post a 3.50 ERA and 1.25-1.30 WHIP, with plenty of matchups appeal (e.g. avoid the Coors matchups), but I admit that I am and always have been awfully pro-Cahill.
Mel (Colorado Springs)
Hey TC, what do you think of Teixeira this year? His numbers seem to be trending down. Would you take him in the 3rd round?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Batting average is the problem for Mark Teixeira; it's trending downward and the Yankees' new ballpark suits him adapting his swing more for power than batting average. In other words, Teixeira is a lock for 30-plus homers, always has a shot for 40, is a 100-RBI guarantee but you might have to stomach a batting average that won't get much past .260.Let's say I'd be very, very careful not to overdraft him; the early part of the second round is too early in 2012.
Joel (Fort Worth)
Where will Andre Johnson be ranked in your 2012 WR rankings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
A guess: Lower end of the top 10, and it's a leap of faith on skills rather than 2011 results. But I'm comfortable ranking more heavily upon skill than role/health at wide receiver, because the position fluctuates statistically more than quarterback or running back.
How do ESPN position settings work? Example: Will Brett Lawrie still have 2B eligibility this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Generally speaking, a player earns his eligibility based upon 20 games at a specific position, though when it's beneath that there are no promises. I would be shocked if Lawrie is anything but third base eligible, as he didn't play a single game anywhere else in 2011, be it for the Blue Jays or in the minors.
Patrick Cashner (Lake Zurich)
I love the angels, so I'm super excited for Pujols! On that note, how do you think Carlos Zambrano will do with the Marlins?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
If there's any place that Zambrano can revive his career, it's with the Marlins and under Ozzie Guillen's watch. But I'm not getting my hopes up; Zambrano was trending downward statistically in recent years in the games in which he actually appeared. I'm drawing the line at a pitcher whose matchups must be closely managed, and one with as much risk as anyone in that group. That means NL-only owners can speculate late, but I think he's out of consideration in a standard mixed league.
Does Trout start in the outfield for most of the year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
One of the primary reasons I caution against hyping rookies is the countless examples of the past decade of teams keeping kids in the minors to hold back their arbitration/free agency clocks. Mike Trout might be one of those types: The Angels have a bunch of outfield/DH/first base candidates who will be vying for at-bats. Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Peter Bourjos, Trout, Albert Pujols, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo... I won't be at all surprised if Trout begins in Triple-A, waiting for a spot to open up midseason. Today, I'd project about 300-350 PAs.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Will the Yankees have new Faces in 2012 if so who?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
(Shrug.)The Yankees have been tight-lipped this winter and, while there's always the chance they could make a surprise run at a Prince Fielder, as people always say, I'm really not convinced it's happening. I think this is -- for the most part -- the team they'll ride into 2012 Opening Day.
Is Hosmer a starting 1B in a standard mixed league this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Yes, I think so. Sophomore-slump worries are a bit ridiculous with Eric Hosmer; he was one of the most polished rookies of the 2011 season. I'm firmly convinced that his downside is in the ballpark of a .280 batting average and 20 homers, and those stats are pretty much mixed-league worthy (and again, represent his downside).
Reading a lot lately about Justin Verlander as a big regression candidate for 2012, can you name some others that you see regressing?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Wow, really? The best case to be made for Verlander as a regression candidate is that it's difficult to repeat stats like his in 2011 because of mere random fluctuation -- and that's an awfully flimsy argument in my opinion. I've analyzed his batted-ball data and the truth was he wasn't anywhere near as "lucky" as I've heard others claim. He's just really darned good.Interesting note: One pitcher whose batted-ball stats did hint at some extremely good fortune was Ian Kennedy. Regression is in order.
Scott (Northglenn, CO)
Let's reminisce football..any late season guys that flashed some ability that you want to remember for next year? K-Bell? Helu?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
Roy Helu is an excellent choice, but I would also not forget what we saw from C.J. Spiller and Matt Flynn down the stretch. Granted full-time opportunities in 2012, they could break out.
John (St. Louis)
How much will Ryan Braun regress??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Let's not all latch onto the "regression" term, please. Braun regress? I don't see it. The strike against Braun is that he's going to miss 50 games, but the "bright side" of that missed time is that at least we know exactly how much time he will miss. It's different from an injury; with those we have no clue how quickly the player will recover. No doubt Braun will remain in my top 50 players overall right up until the opener.
Ozzie's Ghost (Chicago IL)
Danks has a bounce-back season? And do you like the Castro kid for a deep keeper league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
One problem with John Danks is that a decent chunk of his value is tied into win potential, and with the White Sox clear sellers, I'm not sure how much he's going to offer in that department. Be cautious. I think he bounces back, but he's unlikely to get into the top 25.
John (St. Louis)
I meant will you see lower numbers from Braun because Fielder is gone? Ex: pitchers pitching around him.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
Also a bit overstated. Aramis Ramirez isn't so shabby, not to mention "lineup protection" tends to be grossly overstated. Yes, it could be a black mark on Braun's runs/RBI potential, making it harder to breeze past 100 (or a prorated number based upon games he's available). But I don't think he suffers significantly from Prince's loss.
Would you keep Jesus Montero over Brett Lawrie this season, assuming that both would cost you the same late round pick? Or is the uncertainty of Montero's AB's enough to have you back off.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I actually think Montero's at-bats are fairly certain, but he's also highly likely to be DH-only to begin this season, and considering his probable role with the Yankees, that might extend deep into the summer (I'd set Memorial Day as an over/under on him qualifying at catcher and I'm leaning towards the under). So it's not playing time that scares me; it's the position flexibility and I think since Lawrie is at least as good a hitter, he's the pick.
With Tony LaRussa no longer operating the Cardinals' closer carousel, does Motte get a chance to hold the job for the season? I'm pretty sure I had at least four different Cardinals get me saves at some point last year...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
I wonder whether La Russa's departure signals the end of his wacky bullpen antics. Remember, Mike Matheny's tenure in the majors (as a player) ran largely during the era of the one-inning closer, where there's a committed "guy" in that spot. So if I was to guess, it'd be that he'd pick a guy and stick with him, and in that event Jason Motte is an excellent choice. I'm a buyer, at least in the lower tiers.
Follow-up to the Montero/Lawrie question... Are you concerned that the Yankees may sit Montero quite a bit as a DH, as older guys like A-rod and Jeter will steal his AB's at least once or twice a week.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
Yes. If I'm projecting Jesus Montero, it's somewhere in the 400s in terms of plate appearances (let's say 475ish), whereas a typical "everyday" player would have no problem breezing past 600 (or approaching 700). It's another factor, though he could always play some behind the plate on those days.
Long term 2 Catcher Keeper league: Rather keep Starlin Castro or Carlos Santana?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Boy is that a tough one. I think Santana is the better overall investment long-term if you take positions out of the equation, but Castro is awfully young and it'd be difficult to find his equal at a position like shortstop. Gotta be Castro.
Chris Parmelee, Bryan Lahair, and Mat Gamel have all been mentioned as possible starting first basemen. If all of them get to be starters, who has the best chance to blossom into a top 250 player?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Gamel stands out; he played a lot of first base in Triple-A last season and currently projects as their strongest choice for the position on Opening Day. I also think he doesn't get a fair shake as a prospect, as his defense always made third base a bad spot for him, and he has also never really gotten the big-league opportunity with which we could say "oh, he's a bust." Gamel's still an up-and-comer to me, and one with a lot of breakout potential. Track his spring closely; could be quite a gem in deep mixed and NL-only.
12 team H-2-h keeper league, Cueto in the 10th round or Jonathan Sanchez in the 15th or neither and keep the picks? I think Sanchez might regress in KC and you never know about Cueto's health.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I'd let 'em both go, if only because they might well both still be there in those rounds if you're interested. For the record, Cueto's price tag is closer to his true value. You're right to question his health but skills-wise, he actually could crack the top 25.
Looking to improve the pitching on my keeper team. Is Yu Darvish worth the gamble (most pitchers thrown back into draft pool are the 3-5 number starters).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Yes. I really don't see Darvish's "rookie"-year impact being much less than that of Dice-K's. And Dice-K's, while disappointing relative to expectations, still placed him a top-25 capable fantasy starter.
What can we expect from Yonder Alonso in SD this year? Can he overcome the PetCo effect on power hitters, as did Adrian Gonzalez?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
I'm thinking something in the neighborhood of a .285 batting average and 15 home runs. So I guess that means no, I don't think he overcomes Petco's limitations, but that's still someone value to target late, particularly in NL-only formats.
Just played in my first FF auction league. What are your priorities when it comes to selecting keepers for next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
In an auction league, it's value, period. I don't care if that means you keep only a quarterback and tight end, if those are the spots where you have players priced $5-plus beneath their anticipated value, you keep 'em. But, of course, I always hope to build around running backs, if I can. In my experience, I'm gravitating to quarterback next.
William (Catonsville MD)
Please rank the young Braves starter and their prospects for the coming season.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
If I'm ranking all the Braves' projected starters -- as in anyone I see reasonably making a 2012 start for them -- I'd go this way (next season alone): Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran. I do think Teheran is quite a dynasty-league target right now, though. That he's unlikely to make the team and wasn't overwhelming in his couple of spot starts in 2011 might have his owners questioning his value for once.
Thoughts on the value of Carlos Quentin in Petco? How much will he drop in your rankings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Quite a bit, actually, maybe as many as 10 spots at his own outfield position, because that's a noticeable shift in ballparks. Something to think about: Quentin's career isolated power at U.S. Cellular is .258, which is actually higher than his batting average there (.257). His career ISO (every ballpark) is .238.
In response to what you said, so if I have Sproles at $5, Turner at $45, Romo at $21, Welker at $13 and Wallace at $29- I should keep Sproles and Romo?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
I might be tempted to keep Welker over Romo. It's a fair price for Romo, but I also think that's close to his market value (though I don't know your league's cap; in mine that's about right).
Do you think Kendry Morales will be ready for opening day? What do you see out of him this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
The Albert Pujols signing, to be perfectly honest, signaled to me that maybe the Angels had some questions about Morales' health at the onset of the season. I know I do. I think the smart move is to project and price at about 400 PAs, because there's more risk with Morales than a typical first baseman. I have a hunch I won't be landing him on many teams.
Do you see Kinsler's 2011 season as a fluke health-wise, or a sign that he's past the injuries that have slowed him down over his career?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Rickie Weeks led the majors in PAs in 2010 with 754, and I think his example is a fair one to apply to Ian Kinsler's 2011 (723 PAs). I don't say that to be damning of Kinsler, but yes, once an injury risk, (almost) always an injury risk. If you expect 162 games unscathed from Kinsler, I think you're setting yourself up for a disappointment. (Let's say 135-140 is fair.)
Mike Napoli (TEXAS)
Anyone else think I can be the #1 overall catcher this season, now that I have a full season away from Mike Scioscia?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Yes. Sigh, for as much as I've talked up Carlos Santana, even ranking him first among catchers, the more research I do, the less I can justify it. In my next rankings update I'm likely to swap Napoli and Santana, going Napoli 1, Santana 2. (Though my stance on Santana being an excellent catcher is unchanged; I just think Napoli is outstanding.)
Tristan, I need some baseball keeper help. Which 1 do I eliminate out of Hosmer, C. Santana, B. Lawrie, Bruce, R. Zimmerman, and E. Andrus? No penalty for keeping any of them and I can keep them forever.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
I like Ryan Zimmerman, but I've got this feeling he's the right answer. You've already got a good third baseman with a promising future, and Zimmerman does tend to get a little overrated. Toughie; Zimmerman might finish in the middle of that group on the 2012 Player Rater but the other players' long-term ceilings are probably higher.
What do you expect from World Series hero David Freese? I think a lot of people will overrate him based on October, which is a shame because he's a nice later round sleeper.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Well said, Phil. Agree on both counts.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Have a great weekend everyone!