You Don’t Have to Avoid These AL Fantasy Players, But Temper Expectations


Well, we’re approaching another fantasy baseball season.  Every year, we draft players who end up being disappointments.  Here now is my list of players I would be wary about drafting/bidding on this upcoming season.  They may not kill your team results, but you could end of overspending/drafting these players. Continue reading


DiPoto’s Philosophy at Work in Acquiring Iannetta

The Los Angeles Angels have acquired catcher Chris Iannetta in exchange for 21 year old starter Tyler Chatwood. This move lends hand to the philosophy of adding players with a focus on getting on-base that new GM Jerry DiPoto referred to when he was hired.

Iannetta has a career triple-slash line of .235/.357/.430 in 1733 plate appearances and had a .371 OBP in 2011. Yes, Iannetta did play most of his games in hitter-friendly Coors Field but that does not take away his ability to draw walks. His career walk rate of 13.9% In fact, his 13.9% walk rate is tied with Carlos Pena for the 12th highest among all active players with at least 1500 PAs. That skill will tranfer over to any ball park.

The Rockies get a pitcher who performed horribly in a good pitcher’s ballpark but was only a 21 year old rookie. Chatwood has a good velocity on his fastball and sits 93-95 but lacks any sort of command right now. He also has an average curveball but the high altitude in Coors might drop it to below average. His change is still a work in progress and explains why left handed hitters hit him so well.

I understand what the Rockies were thinking when they dealt for Chatwood. He is a cost-controlled arm that has the upside of a #3 starter and a floor of a power reliever all while clearing salary. But, what I don’t get, is how they never gave Iannetta his fair share of the playing time especially since he has not cost the team on the defensive side of the ball in his career.

This move makes it clear that DiPoto is changing the team philosophy of how they look at player value and one has to wonder if manager Mike Scioscia is on board. This move means that Jeff Mathis is either the back up catcher or off the roster in favor of Hank Conger. I prefer the latter to the former but we all know who Scioscia favors.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert. Be sure to follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt

Trading Napoli Cost the Angels the Division

Catching when your manager was a former catcher himself can’t be easy. We’ve all seen the tensions in New York with the demotion of Jorge Posada under Joe Girardi’s tenure there as manager. Apparently the same was going on for the Angels as Mike Napoli couldn’t find his way into Mike Scioscia’s every day line up. It was no surprise then that the Angels traded Napoli in that gosh awful Vernon Wells trade to Toronto. The Blue Jays then sent Napoli to the Rangers, the Angels’ chief rival in the American League West. The move has done more to cost the Angels 2011’s division chances more than any other single transaction this year.

We won’t discuss how bad Vernon Wells has played this season for the Angels. Instead we’ll focus on Napoli’s worth compared to the players in the Angels’ line up that have replaced Napoli’s plate appearances. You can’t add Jeff Mathis to the equation either as Mathis would have gotten into Scioscia’s line up whether Napoli was there or not. Scioscia loves his Jeff Mathis because of that catcher’s defense. Never mind that Mathis is one of the worst offensive players in baseball. We’ve yet to see a good defensive metric for catchers, so we’ll have to take Scioscia’s word for the fact that Mathis adds enough value behind the plate to make up for his lack of worth beside it.

And so we’ll have to compare Mike Napoli‘s worth for the Rangers as a DH, part-time catcher /part-time first baseman /part-time DH compared to what the Angels have produced from Hank Conger, Russell Branyan, Bobby Abreu and others. Well…there is no comparison. Mike Napoli has compiled an fWAR of 5.2 this season. Branyan yielded no value. Conger’s WAR is 0.4. Abreu’s total WAR in the field and mostly as the DH is 1.4. So basically, you have 1.8 worth of WAR that replaced Napoli’s 5.2.

But it goes beyond that. That 5.2 of fWAR that Napoli has compiled could have been compiled for the Angels. Napoli has fifty extra base hits for the Rangers including 26 homers. Inject those numbers on a tepid Angels’ offense and you have some runs scored for that wonderful pitching staff the Angels possess. Conger and Abreu have thirteen homers between them. Branyan hit four more. So doing some lazy math, the Angels trading Napoli probably cost them some six or seven wins this season. And yes, the Angels are 4.5 games back of the Rangers for the division with two weeks to play.

Heck, a miracle could happen and the Angels could win all their games and the Rangers could lose all theirs making the Angels the champs, but that doesn’t seem likely, does it? There are lots of wonderful things you can say about Mike Scioscia as a manager. His former coaches are winning all over baseball. But in this case, Scioscia signed off on sending Mike Napoli out of town and darned if that gunslinger didn’t end up in the middle of the Rangers’ line up. The Angels shot themselves in the foot on this one.

P.S. While researching this piece, another take on the same topic was written by Jack Moore over at Fangraphs. The conclusions are the same. Trading Mike Napoli probably cost the Angels the AL West.

-William J. Tasker, a/k/a The Flagrant Fan, a knowledgeable and passionate baseball fan that can be followed on twitter and found writing daily at his blog

2011 AL West Preview

1. Texas Rangers

The Good: The Rangers are a young talented team that has emphasized pitching over offense and this group has not hit the ceiling yet. They may have one of the best offenses in the game with MVP Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz (a MVP caliber player), Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and having 3 guys to play all 8 positions and DH with David Murphy, Mike Napoli and Mr. Ranger Michael Young. Adding Adrian Beltre was a smart move because he helps improve a shoddy Rangers defense and will benefit greatly from hitting in Texas with this lineup. The Rangers have talent on the mound as well with CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland, Darren O’Day and Neftali Feliz.

The Bad: How does this team fare without Cliff Lee? Granted, Lee was average in the regular season with the Rangers but, he will be sorely missed. Asking to have CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis  replicate 2010, something they have never done before that, while also anchoring the rotation is the biggest key to the Rangers season. If this duo falters the Rangers are not winning this division. The bullpen has talent and plenty of nice numbers but, it needs to show more poise as they were occasionally hit up in big spots last season.

What to Look For: The balance of playing time and productivity of the Napoli-Murphy-Young trio will be interesting to watch. If RHP Tanner Scheppers and OF Engel Beltre continue to shine in the minors they could get a call up. Is Brandon Webb OK? Is he still the best sinker ball pitcher in the game? That is something to watch. Also, the learning curves of Tommy Hunter, Matt Harrison and most importantly, Derek Holland will be critical to the Rangers success.

Projection: While maybe a tick below last year’s bunch the Rangers are plenty good and could be even better. The pitching has to fall into place, like any team. It would be a wise choice not to bet against this bunch.

89-73 (1st Place)

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Good: The Angels can go toe to toe with anyone with starting pitching. Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana and Joel Pineiro are a pretty safe quartet to keep you in games. Although it had some problems last year the bullpen has promise too considering it added Hisanori Takahashi and Scott Downs to go along with Fernando Rodney and Kevin Jepsen.

The Bad: The Angels were embarrassed in free agency this past winter and had to take on the overly bloated Vernon Wells contract. The Halos have major question marks with C Jeff Mathis and 3B Maicer Izturis. Both guys are usually bench guys with little power and are being forced into everyday roles. While it is good that the Angels are giving kids 1B Mark Trumbo and CF Peter Burjos shots at the big leagues they also need these kids to produce right away which maybe too much to ask. The Halos can only hope and wonder when 1B Kendry Morales can come back and contribute after ankle surgery. Morales is the most vital cog to the Angels offense.

What to Watch For: The Angels need top prospect C Hank Conger to make the break through to the Show sooner rather than later. The same can be said for OF Mike Trout. The outfield trio of Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu gets another year older with the same measure of offensive expectation to produce. Can they all still do it? Can Erick Aybar replicate his 2009 season or is the player we all saw last year? The bullpen while upgraded, has major issues.

Projection: Age, bullpen problems and consistent offense, not something you are used to hearing with a Mike Scioscia team. The Angels have plenty of questions but, they also have plenty of starting pitching and a good manager. If the Rangers falter don’t be too surprised to see the Angels somehow in the mix to take the AL West flag.

86-76 (2nd Place)

3. Oakland A’s

The Good: The A’s have one of the  best starting rotations in the AL when all healthy. Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Gio Gonzalez can confound and hold down offenses most nights. The great thing about the staff is there aren’t all the same type of pitcher each one is different and has a different wrinkle throwing offenses off.  Adding OF’s David DeJesus, Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui was a major boost to a punchless offense. The A’s also have a very good bullpen as well with Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes, Mike Wuertz, Brad Ziegler and closer Andrew Bailey.

The Bad: The A’s offense got off the hook in 2010 because the Mariners offense was so historically bad. This team needs home runs desperately because it was powerless in 2010. The A’s have to hope the additions of Matsui, Willingham and DeJesus pay off. Also, having OF prospects Chris Carter and Michael Taylor break through to the MLB Level full time would help too.

What to Look For: If the A’s stay healthy and pitch to their potential and possibly get Rich Harden healthy throwing strikes out of the bullpen then look out, this team could win the division their pitching is that good.

Projection: A down year for the AL West means the time is ripe for the A’s to strike. This is a good team that just needs more runs to be scored. Billy Beane did a solid job upgrading this team and while they are picked here at 3rd place I think if Texas loses this division it’s more likely because the A’s win it not the Angels.

85-77 (3rd Place)

The Good: A very limited selection here. The Mariners do have the reigning CY Young Award winner who is soon to be 25 in Felix Hernandez. The Marniers also have a future Hall of Famer in Ichiro Suzuki who is good for a .310 plus batting average, 30 plus steals, 200 hundred plus hits and a Gold Glove in rightfield. The Mariners boast a pretty good defensive team as well.

The Bad: The offense was so bad last year it was epically and historically atrocious. Scary thing is the only thing the Mariners did was add Jack Cust to the everyday lineup which means a lot more of unneeded strikeouts but, some much need walks and homeruns. The Mariners desperately need 2009 years from Franklin Gutierrez and Chone Figgins not the bad 2010 years they had. The bullpen had its problems last year as well. You can add David Aardsma as a guy needed to have a year like he did in 2009 not last year. Jason Vargas and Doug Fister were OK for this rotation in 2010. It would be nice to see Erik Bedard just get on the mound in 2011 doing his Carl Pavano Yankees impression for the Mariners. This staff doesn’t have a real compliment to Felix Hernandez which is a problem.

What to Look For: The Mariners desperately need 1B Justin Smoak and LF Michael Saunders to figure it out and impact the everyday lineup immediately if this team has any expectation to be decent. You better add prospects LHP Mauricio Robles, RHP Michael Pineda and 2B Dustin Ackley to that list as well. That’s a lot of things that have to happen for things to be good this year in Seattle.

Projection: The offense couldn’t be much worse than it was in 2010 could it? Or could it be?  This is an odd year and the book says the Mariners will be 85 plus win team if you follow their past 5 years. I don’t know how they will pull that off this year but, then again no else saw them being good in 2007 and 2009 either. I don’t forsee them being a .500 or better team this year. But, then again I have been wrong many times before.

65-97 (4th Place)

2011 Fantasy Rankings – Catchers

Carlos Santana

When it comes to catchers the concern for me is when to take them. Do you take the top catcher on your board early? Do you join the catcher-run when it starts? All tough situations that you can ponder but really cannot answer until the opportunity stares you down. I believe there is decent depth at catcher this year, especially if you are in a 10-team mixed league but be warned, there are few that can help in more than 3-4 categories.

With that, here are my rankings for catcher:

Rank Player Tier
1 Joe Mauer 1
2 Carlos Santana 1
3 Buster Posey 1
4 Brian McCann 1
5 Victor Martinez 1
6 Mike Napoli 2
7 Geovanny Soto 2
8 Miguel Montero 2
9 Matt Wieters 2
10 Kurt Suzuki 3
11 Jorge Posada 3
12 Chris Iannetta 3
13 Yadier Molina 4
14 J.P. Arencibia 4
15 Carlos Ruiz 4
16 John Buck 4
17 John Jaso 4
18 Jarrod Saltalamacchia 4
19 Ryan Doumit 4
20 Hank Conger 5
21 Chris Snyder 5
22 A.J. Pierzynski 5
23 Alex Avila 5
24 Russell Martin 5
25 Jesus Montero 5
26 Ramon Hernandez 5
27 Nick Hundley 5
28 Josh Thole 5
29 Wilson Ramos 5
30 Jonathan Lucroy 5
31 Tyler Flowers 6
32 Miguel Olivo 6
33 Jason Castro 6
34 Ryan Hanigan 6
35 Yorvit Torrealba 6


Three I’d Reach For Reason
Carlos Santana With all due respect to Mauer, Santana could be the #1 catcher by the end of the season. His power and On-Base Skills are huge, especially my main league.
Mike Napoli Love the park, love the power, love the lineup, love the potential.
Chris Iannetta He will probably hit below .250 but he walks and has power. Oh, and he plays in Colorado and should finally get the bulk of at-bats at catcher. Career: 13.1% BB rate and HR every 22 at-bats.


Three I’ll Let Pass Reason
Victor Martinez I would just rather wait for Napoli than reach for Martinez once the catcher run starts.
Jorge Posada The hit tool is fading as is his health. Plus Yankee fans love to draft him. They can have him.
Miguel Olivo Poor on-base skills, horrible park. I’ll pass completely on him.


Top 3 Rookie C Reason
J.P. Arencibia Could hit 25+ homers this year.
Hank Conger His bat can play now, his glove needs work. Should get bulk of at-bats with Angels.
Jesus Montero Posada and Russell Martin are the only things holding him back. He should get at-bats at catcher and DH by May.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

My 2011 MLB Predicitons

Troy Tulowitzki

I decided to dig a little deeper and lay out my predicitons from our inaugural post with the Win-Loss records and award winners that go up to five deep.

While I do not use fancy projection systems like PECOTA or Marcels, I do run my own numbers to try and garner a win total for a team based on my 2011 projections for that team’s players. By doing that, most teams end up with an extra win or two because I cannot predict injuries that ruin a player’s entire season and I have to trim those extra wins in order to make sure the total wins match the total losses (I usually end up with about 30 more wins than losses with my initial numbers). That is where some of the “human element” comes in to play.

With that, here are my projected standings and awards:

AL East
1. Red Sox (94-68)
2. Rays (90-72) (Wild Card)
3. Yankees (89-73)
4. Blue Jays (82-80)
5. Orioles (77-85)

AL Central
1. White Sox (87-75)
2. Twins (86-76)
3. Tigers (84-78)
4. Indians (70-92)
5. Royals (61-101)

AL West
1. Rangers (90-72)
2. Athletics (86-76)
3. Angels (78-84)
4. Mariners (65-97)

NL East
1. Phillies (94-68)
2. Braves (89-73) (Wild Card)
3. Marlins (79-83)
4. Mets (77-85)
5. Nationals (73-89)

NL Central
1. Cardinals (90-72)
2. Brewers (87-75)
3. Reds (87-75)
4. Cubs (80-82)
5. Astros (66-96)
6. Pirates (63-99)

NL West
1. Rockies (88-74)
2. Giants (86-76)
3. Dodgers (81-81)
4. Padres (81-81)
5. Diamondbacks (70-92)

World Series

Rockies over Red Sox in 7.

World Series MVP

Dexter Fowler

AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Evan Longoria, Nelson Cruz, Shin-Soo Choo, Miguel Cabrera

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman

Cy Young
AL: Jon Lester, Felix Hernandez, Brett Anderson, David Price, Dan Haren

NL: Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Mat Latos

Rookie of the Year
AL: Jeremy Hellickson, J.P. Arencibia, Hank Conger, Kyle Drabek, Jesus Montero

NL: Domonic Brown, Freddie Freeman, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Belt, Kenley Jansen

Comback Player of the Year
AL: Grady Sizemore, Conor Jackson

NL: Carlos Beltran, Pablo Sandoval

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at his other site Figure Filbert and on twitter at @FigureFilbert

Jays Unload on Angels

Alex Anthopoulos

Yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a Houdini act and actually traded Vernon Wells and his contract to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. That’s right, Wells and his albatross of a contract for two actual players that add value, causing one of the biggest laughing stocks I have ever seen on Twitter.

Wells is coming off his best season, according to fWAR (4.0), of his career and roughly his third best season offensively while only posting a .331 OBP and getting most of his production from his offensive friendly home stadium. And over the past three seasons Wells has been a -35.9 fielder. Wells probably belongs in LF now but the Angels seem like they will play him in CF.

The Angels are now paying $52M in 2011 to three outfielders and one of them (Gary Matthews Jr.) doesn’t even play on the team, and I could only imagine how bad that outfield would be if he was playing for them in 2011. Not only is the outfield expensive, old, and praying to be league average, but they now have Jeff Mathis, who has a career slash line of .199/.265/.311 and a career -0.8 fWAR as their starting catcher if Hank Conger‘s poor defense doesn’t improve this spring.

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos looks like a genius this off season. Not only did he unload roughly $75M of sunken cost but got Mike Napoli, who will probably hit 30 homeruns while playing half the games at catcher and splitting time at 1B and DH, and my boy MLBreports thinks he can hit 40 playing in Toronto, but he also got Juan Rivera, who is a nice bench piece and a free agent after 2011.

Oh, to make matters worse, AA also has the Angels’ 2nd round draft from when they signed Scott Downs to that 3 year deal. Not to mention the possible combination of players Tony Reagins could have signed this offseason for the same amount he is paying Vernon Wells.

AA, since becoming the Jays GM, has traded for Brandon Morrow and Yunel Escobar, turned Roy Halladay into Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, and Anthony Gose, had a good draft in 2010, made a splash in international signings by landing Adeiny Hechavarria and Adonis Cardona, and he has turned his 2010 expiring contracts into extra draft picks (he has 7 picks by the end of the 2nd round).

Angels GM Tony Reagins has done nothing but fail this offseason to sign any big-time players, and in turn he awarded the fans by trading for Vernon Wells. Good job Reagins and Angels ownership, the only thing you will see with rising sale totals are pitchforks and torches.