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Our Favorite Dutch Superhero Makes Season Debut Tonight

July 20, 2009

Tonight at approximately 10:20 PM eastern time, Rick VandenHurk will take the mound against the Padres.

Here’s five solid reasons he should be great:

5.) Petco, Petco, Petco. Fly ball pitcher + huge dimensions = success.

4.) The Marlins used 6 relievers last night, so they need VandenHurk to go deep in the game tonight. He has had a slight problem with pitch count in the past, as he was once removed from a no hitter after five innings having thrown 94 pitches, but hopefully he should be able to oblige Fredi Gonzalez.

3.) The Marlins need a boost to win world series, as they are due to win the Wildcard and in turn the Series, and Rick could provide that boost.

2.) The Padres lineup tonight is, as always, completely ineffective, outside of Adrian Gonzalez.

1.) Bert Blyleven came into contact with Mr. VandenHurler during the World Baseball Classic. Shortly after he discovered a Plus-Plus Curveball hiding in his closet.

A few other notes:

- Mat Latos’s stuff looked ridiculously impressive yesterday afternoon. Video Here. However, he was only allowed to throw 75 pitches over 4 innings, and that appears to be what we should expect from here on out.

- Jason Schmidt also pitches tonight, so we should all wish him luck and thank him for helping us win a few fantasy championships in the early oughties.

- It seems Tommy Hanson has rediscovered the strikeout, as he has 9 in 5 innings so far today.

- And this just in, the Orioles plan to call up Chris Tillman at some time in the not too distant future. However, we’ve been hearing that since early May.

~ Corey

Add the Vandominator

July 17, 2009

Among all the buzz of soon-to-be-made pitcher call-ups, it seems Rick VandenHurk‘s name has been almost completely forgotten. Chris Tillman and Mat Latos are 21-year-old super prospects, one of which (Latos) is likely to be a dominant strikeout pitcher from day one. However, they have not had prior MLB experience, and therefore are not very apt comparisons. But, take a look at this:

Player A: RHSP, 6’3″, 190 lbs, turns 25 in August
MLB(career): 98.2 IP, 5 wins, 10 losses, 5.56 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 8.57 K/9, .276 BAA
AAA(season): 99 IP, 7 wins, 2 losses, 2.36 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 8.09 K/9, .188 BAA

Player B: RHSP, 6’5″, 195 lbs, turned 24 in May
MLB(career): 95.2 IP, 5 wins, 7 losses, 6.96 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 9.60 K/9, .300 BAA
AAA(season): 51.2 IP, 4 wins, 1 loss, 2.79 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 7.66 K/9, .190 BAA

Player A, as you probably guessed, is Clay Buchholz. I suppose it should be added that he threw a no-hitter in 2007, and pitches for the Red Sox. Player B, as you probably know from prior mention, is Rick VandenHurk. Seriously, there is a player who has been that similar to Clay Buchholz both in the minor leagues as well as the majors, who is most likely going to get more than one start immediately, unlike Clay, but has still been almost completely ignored.

Buchholz is set to make his season debut Friday, July 17 at Toronto, but the word is he’ll be sent back down after the start. That is assuming he does not dominate the Blue Jays lineup. I have a sneaking suspicion they’d find room for him in the majors if he does. However, the caveat with him, although he is likely to be sent back down, is that he is most likely owned in all but the shallowest of leagues, and would be rather tough to acquire. VandenHurk, on the other hand, is unowned in almost all leagues. His price tag is next to nothing, if not nothing, and he pitches for Florida in the NL East, a much weaker division. He will in all likelihood be making his season debut on Monday, July 20 at San Diego (yay, Petco!).

Please, go add Rick VandenHurk pronto, and smile smugly when your competition raises their eyebrows. A month from now, they’ll know why. Prepare for Vandomination.

~ Corey

Photo courtesy of AP

Photo courtesy of AP

Debut of the Top 40+10

March 9, 2009

The first forty entries on this list are the top 40 starting pitchers for fantasy baseball purposes. The final ten comprise a Youth Watch list, which at this time is more of a Bargain Bin or $1 Watch list. Some of the players listed there will be prospects, but at this time, there are some players coming off of severe injuries and/or very bad seasons. Maybe not players you’ll want to take in your draft or auction, though you will be able to get them for a dollar in most auction drafts or in the last round or two of most snake drafts, but they’re all players you’ll want to keep an eye on.

Next to each name, you’ll see their Yahoo! Average Draft Position (Y! ADP) and ESPN Auction Value (ESPN $). A brief description of each choice is below this line. The main focus of these will be value and injury risk. Since none of the players on the Youth Watch are being drafted, those categories have been omitted.

And…here…we…GO!

Top 40

1.) Johan Santana – Y! ADP: 15.4 ESPN $:25

Multiple Cy Young awards, career 3.11 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, at least 219 innings, 206 strikeouts in every year as a full-time starter, elbow’s fine…so, what’s not to like? Well, dropping K-rate coupled with a rising BB-rate. Oh, and that ADP. I can see the appeal, but taking Johan Santana over Jimmy Rollins (14.0) and/or BJ Upton (17.4) seems ill-advised.

2.) CC Sabathia – Y! ADP: 22.4 ESPN $: 24

Signing with the Yankees viewed as a boon to his win total, but he already had seventeen last year, and nineteen the year before. Big contract, big innings total, and big weight have scared away some, but once again it’s his ADP keeping me at bay. It’s more likely Carlos Beltran (22.1) or even Brandon Phillips (29.3) return on their value.

3.) Tim Lincecum – Y! ADP: 17.9 ESPN $: 24

Good, actually, great pitcher. But I still won’t advise taking any of this year’s pitchers that early. There isn’t a prime Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens or Curt Schilling to be had. Maybe he’ll one day make that class, but you can find better value further down this list. (If you’re in a keeper league, all of this can be ignored. He should be the first pitcher off of the board, and a first round selection.)

4.) Brandon Webb – Y! ADP: 39.2 ESPN $: 23

You won’t be able to get great value for him in auction leagues, but look at the drop-off in ADP from the top three. Statistics surely don’t warrant him going two rounds later than Lincecum: four straight years of 225+ innings, 170+ strikeouts, sub-3.60 ERA.

5.) Roy Halladay – Y! ADP: 46.8 ESPN $: 23

Don’t expect as many strikeouts as last year, but he’s a proven three category (W, ERA, WHIP) stud. Late fourth round? Yes, please.

6.) Dan Haren – Y! ADP: 58.9 ESPN $: 20

As consistent as they come.

2005: 217.0 IP, 14-12, 163 Ks, 3.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
2006: 223.0 IP, 14-13, 176 Ks, 4.12 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
2007: 222.2 IP, 15-9, 192 Ks, 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP
2008: 216.0 IP, 16-8, 206 Ks, 3.33 ERA, 1.13 WHIP

Peripherals say he should be even better this year.

7.) Jake Peavy – Y! ADP: 47.1 ESPN $: 22

Strikeouts: Yay! ERA: Yay! WHIP: Pretty Good! Health: Seems OK! Wins: Boo!

8.) Josh Beckett – Y! ADP: 67.9 ESPN $: 15

I’m not quite sure what ESPN is up to, but I’m definitely buying on Josh Beckett at $15. Healthy, (and throwing all of his pitches again?), should be primed for a huge season. 20 W, 200 K upside. All with a sub-3.50 ERA and sub-1.20 WHIP.

9.) Cole Hamels – Y! ADP: 38.0 ESPN $: 22

A tall, attractive man with ruffled beach bound hair. Oh, he’s pretty good on the mound aussi. Just don’t expect more than last year. (He’s going ahead of Halladay and Webb in Y! drafts. Ick.)

10.) John Lackey – Y! ADP: 85.4 ESPN $: 19

No serious downturn in numbers from injury last season. Expect good returns in a possible contract year.

11.) Rich Harden – Y! ADP: 91.6 ESPN $: 13

Rate statistics off the charts. (No really, he beats Lincecum across the board.) However, he’s been unable to stay healthy, and he was diagnosed with a minor shoulder injury during the offseason. You may not get a full season out of him, but what you do get should be excellent. (Though I can’t help but wonder, when does “luck” become a trend?)

12.) Chad Billingsley – Y! ADP: 76.2 ESPN $: 15

Last season feels like the high water mark, so bid accordingly.

13.) Ervin Santana – Y! ADP: 87.0 ESPN $: 16

Would gain a few spots if healthy. Unfortunately he isn’t. Likely to start the season on the DL.

14.) James Shields – Y! ADP: 99.2 ESPN $: 18

Two straight seasons of greatness, both took us by surprise. I’d bet on a third, but a rebound in his K-rate is up for speculation.

15.) Felix Hernandez – Y! ADP: 88.4 ESPN $: 17

Are people still overpaying for him? Apparently. More strikeouts and a lower WHIP would be nice.

16.) Francisco Liriano – Y! ADP: 72.3 ESPN $: 16

Harden is my dominant albeit injury-prone pitcher of preference. ADP seems quite steep. Four picks behind Beckett? Really?

17.) AJ Burnett – Y! ADP: 94.8 ESPN $: 12

I may be in the minority here, but I’m betting on a repeat. He’ll certainly climb if he starts strong.

18.) Roy Oswalt – Y! ADP: 90.9 ESPN $: 20

Yahoo! users seem to undervalue him, ESPN seems to overvalue him. So, who knows? You know what you’re going to get, which is a very valuable asset on this list.

19.) Scott Kazmir – Y! ADP: 100.1 ESPN $: 13

Two Rays in the top 20? They must have gone to the World Series last year or something. Oh wait, that’s right, they did. Gotta love the strikeouts, gotta pray he makes 30 starts.

20.) Jon Lester – Y! ADP: 100.5 ESPN $: 13

Seems undervalued. I might target him in drafts, though that’d take some approach altering.

21.) Yovani Gallardo – Y! ADP: 114.9 ESPN $: 14

Top ten if you could guarantee me 200 innings.

22.) Edinson Volquez – Y! ADP: 108.5 ESPN $: 9

Seems ridiculously undervalued based on last season’s statistics. Next season everyone will have him higher.

23.) Cliff Lee – Y! ADP: 78.2 ESPN $: 16

Much like Volquez, only more likely to regress drastically. Age being one of the significant factors here.

24.) Joba Chamberlain – Y! ADP: 94.8 ESPN $: 12

Unproven as a starter in the majors, better value can be found elsewhere. Pass.

25.) Daisuke Matsuzaka – Y! ADP: 98.0 ESPN $: 13

WHIP not a strong suit, but you should get wins and strikeouts from him.

26.) Adam Wainwright – Y! ADP: 132.2 ESPN $: 13

Killer curveball. But everyone knows that. I’m betting on 150 innings. I’d encourage you to do the same.

27.) Carlos Zambrano – Y! ADP: 107.5 ESPN $: 10

One season could be considered a fluke. Two season at this level, and I’d only expect more of the same. (See Harden, Rich)

28.) Javier Vazquez – Y! ADP: 125.6 ESPN $: 11

They love him over at The Hardball Times, which is enough for me to bump him up a few spots. Though maybe he’s just unlucky.

29.) Matt Cain – Y! ADP: 123.4 ESPN $: 12

Still unlikely to get many wins, as the Giants still refuse to hit for him. I’d like to see him avoid bats a bit better as well.

30.) Justin Verlander – Y! ADP: 127.5 ESPN $: 10

I’m not betting on a rebound. All signs point to another disappointing season.

31.) David Price – Y! ADP: 126.1 ESPN $: 7

Super rookies are almost always overrated. This is no exception. Byron did a nice write-up on him last week.

32.) Brett Myers – Y! ADP: 148.6 ESPN $: 8

Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy. AJ Burnett 2008 upside in contract year, reported to camp 35 pounds lighter than end of last season.

33.) Zack Greinke – Y! ADP: 139.9 ESPN $: 14

I think ESPN has his value about right. Which means in most Y! snake drafts, you’ll be getting a steal. Don’t worry about the fact he pitches for the Royals, their bullpen is very solid and he had thirteen wins last season.

34.) Ricky Nolasco – Y! ADP: 133.8 ESPN $: 12

Absolutely unhittable for extended stretches last season. Greinke’s a better choice for this season.

35.) Chris Young – Y! ADP: 145.8 ESPN $: 1

Seems an absolute steal in ESPN auction drafts. Recurring theme of good when healthy. (See Zambrano, Carlos)

36.) Scott Baker – Y! ADP: 165.7 ESPN $: 13

I like him at $13. No reason to believe he won’t repeat or better last season’s line: 172.1 IP, 11-4, 141 Ks, 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP.

37.) Randy Johnson – Y! ADP: 174.4 ESPN $: 9

He’s ancient (45), but still putting up good rate statistics (11.44 K/9, 5.54 K/BB). If back holds up, should return good value.

38.) Derek Lowe – Y! ADP: 149.4 ESPN $: 12

He’s been consistently good over the last four season, while flying completely under the radar. Shouldn’t cost much to acquire.

39.) Aaron Harang – Y! ADP: 151.6 ESPN $: 9

Last season was bad. Very bad. Worth a late pick banking on the rebound.

40.) Gavin Floyd – Y! ADP: - ESPN $: -

Everyone thinks he’ll regress due to low BABIP last season, among other factors. I watched both of his near no-hitters, he’s the real deal. Expect BABIP to rise, along with strikeouts. Another ERA under 4 is likely, as are 15 wins.

Youth Watch

1.) Rick Porcello

While he reminds Byron of Roy Halladay, a comparison to Kevin Brown was my first instinct. Hopefully everyone remembers how great Kevin Brown really was.

2.) Homer Bailey

The once highly touted prospect has been great so far in spring training. He’s deadlocked with Micah Owings for the final rotation spot in Cincinnati, but he obviously has the higher upside. Let’s hope the drop in velocity was a temporary occurrence and not a sign of chronic shoulder pain.

3.) Kevin Millwood

Three reasons to keep an eye on Millwood’s early season starts:

1999: 228.0 IP, 18-7, 205 Ks, 2.68 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
2002: 217.0 IP, 18-8, 178 Ks, 3.24 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
2005: 192.0 IP, 9-11, 146 Ks, 2.86 ERA, 1.22 WHIP

I know 2005 was a long time ago, and he’s been completely unownable since, but he’s down 15 lbs and looking good in spring training, so just keep an eye out.

4.) Phil Hughes

He’s bound to put it all together sooner or later. For the record, I’m betting sooner, be it in New York or elsewhere.

5.) Wade Davis

In some ways, he’s in the same boat as Phil Hughes. Both pitchers are likely to start in the minor leagues, with their major league affiliates both having stacked rotations. The main difference is that Hughes has previously had a shot in the majors, multiple shots actually, while Davis is still waiting for his. He’s impressed Rays coaches so far in spring training.

6.) Mark Prior/Jason Schmidt/Curt Schilling

Prior and Schmidt are reportedly healthy, and both have great upside pitching in pitcher’s parks. Prior more so, since he’s considerably younger (28 vs. 36). Schilling has said he’d like to pitch for the Rays or Cubs, though I don’t see where he’d fit with Tampa, leaving Chicago as this speculator’s best guess. Keep an eye on all three.

7.) Scott Olsen

Where has all that promise he showed in 2006 gone? If his velocity’s back into the low 90s, he might be worth a shot. Otherwise, write him off.

8.) Rick VandenHurk

I’m not sure why every talent evaluator has ignored my favorite Dutchman, but he possesses a plus fastball and a hammer curve. If he had spent the last two years lighting up the minors instead of getting hammered in the majors, it might be a different story. As it is, his tools will likely land him as a number 2 or 3 starter at some point.

9.) Luke Hochevar

The former number one draft pick has had his struggles, but his stuff is better than Brian Bannister’s, who he is in direct competition with for the fifth starter’s job in Kansas City. An established groundball pitcher and innings eater, a few more strikeouts would do him good.

10.) Stephen Strasburg

Wrapping up our list is a college pitcher (at San Diego State) likely to go number 1 in this June’s draft. In three starts, he’s striking out 58% of those he faces. If you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, picking him up as soon as he becomes available would be the desired plan of action.

~ Corey

Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League: An Overview

March 6, 2009

Today, I will be going over the settings of my recently created Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League, as well as covering possible strategies that could be employed to win this league. But first, I’d like to quickly mention that a recap of the week that has been, as well as a look ahead to the week that will be, are planned for this section of the blog every Friday, starting next week.

If any of you are interested in viewing, tracking, or participating in this league, here is it’s homepage on ESPN, and you can find my email address in the About section of this blog.

Now, without further ado, the settings for the Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League:

Roster – 5 SP, 3 RP, 8 BN, 4 DL

There are no specific limits on how many starting pitchers or relief pitchers you may own, however there’s a total limit of sixteen players, with up to an additional four players from the disabled list. Since it is an eight-team league, this amounts to 128-160 players owned. This total exceeds that of most public leagues, however, many leagues use a deeper format and have similar numbers with regards to pitchers owned. According to Yahoo!’s O-Rank, the 128th best pitcher in the league for the upcoming season is JJ Putz of the Mets, (who has obviously taken a hit by no longer closing), while the 160th ranked pitcher for the upcoming season is Junichi Tazawa of the Red Sox, whom many of you are probably unfamiliar with. (He has considerable upside, but it’s going to be tough finding a spot in that rotation this season.) What all of this means is that this league is fairly deep, but not so deep as to force teams into owning multiple pitchers with 5.00 ERAs and no job security despite being the third best long reliever for the Baltimore Orioles. Or well, you see what I mean.

Scoring – Rotisserie, five categories: W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP

For those of you unfamiliar with Rotisserie scoring, it is a system in which each team is ranked by category. Since this is an eight-team league, the league leader in a specific category would be awarded 8 points. It’s simple really. Second place would take 7 points, third place 6 points, and so forth, until reaching the lowly cellar dweller, who manages one solitary point. But no worries for the cellar dweller, as there are four other categories he is competing in, unless of course, he/she did not jettison that category in favor of others, in which case it was probably a long season for his/her fantasy team. The categories chosen are the standard 5×5 pitching statistics. Of a pitchers normal statistical line, the only one missing would be Innings Pitched, as Walks and Hits are both accounted for within the scope of the lovely category we all know as WHIP ((Walks + Hits)/Inning Pitched). We’ll get to Innings Pitched later on, as they take part in a different way. The statistical categories that came the closest to being used, but were eventually decided against were Complete Games and Holds. In each case, the statistic weighed the overall balance too much toward Starters (CG) or Relievers (HD). The other knock against Complete Games is the fickle nature of their accumulation. Moving right along…

Game Limits – 1608 Innings Pitched, 201 per slot

This is the largest limit ESPN allows, and I think it worked out near perfectly. Having no limit was not an option to me, as 40% of the categories could be very heavily weighted just be rotating any pitcher who is starting the next day with hopes of garnering a Win and numerous Strikeouts. This limit will allow for the building of a team, while still allowing for those who love to play match-ups to take full advantage. If we assume a number one fantasy starter pitches 225 innings, while the number two and three each contribute 200 innings pitched, and each of the top three relievers accumulates 65 innings pitched, for a grand total of 820 IP, you’d be left with 788 for the final two starting pitcher slots, in addition to any bench pitchers. Therefore, it’s large enough to pull team depth into play. The best part is, it’s also small enough for owners to consider sitting top pitchers with tough match-ups in favor of lesser pitchers facing weak opponents.

Waivers – two day waiver period, move to last after claim

I know a lot of folks in the fantasy community are anti-waivers, but I can’t agree with this sentiment. In my opinion, if a player is cut from a team for one reason or another, it’s only fair that everyone get a shot at him, as opposed to a league where there are no waivers, and the first person to see that another has made a move is able to snatch up the player that was released.

Can’t Cut List – No

Being stuck with a pitcher that is out for the season sucks. Any league that needs a Can’t Cut List likely isn’t competitive.

Trade/Acquisition Limit – No

Neither seems necessary to me. A trade limit, like a can’t cut list, points toward a lack of competition. Any effect an acquisition limit would have is already taken are of by the Innings Pitched limit.

Roster and Lineup Changes – Daily, the former locks at first game of day, the latter at scheduled game time for each individual slot

One of ESPN’s greatest advantages over Yahoo! is the ability to make roster changes during the day of games, as injuries can strike at any time.

Trade Review – 48 hours, commissioner has the sole power to veto trades

I am a very active owner and plan on checking the league at least once every day, so by the time two days have passed, I will have surely seen any trades that have been proposed and accepted. I have found that, in my experiences, using a commissioner-only system of trade vetoes is simpler, easier, and in the end, more just. It is my opinion that trades should only be vetoed if it seems that their intentions are less than honorable, as opposed to vetoing any trade that seems “uneven” or “unfair”. My reason for this is that no team is going to offer or accept a trade that they feel will make their team worse. It’s not up to me to say I think you’re wrong by vetoing a trade.

Trade Deadline – Friday, August 28th, 12 PM

The last date ESPN allows for a trade deadline. I had originally planned on not having one, as it is rotisserie scoring and the year as a whole is what matters, but that invites collusion at the tail end of seasons between competing teams and those that are completely out of it.

Draft – Auction Draft

ESPN’s other great advantage over Yahoo! is that they allow for auction drafts. The reason an auction draft is so preferable in this case, is the ridiculous positive difference in statistics having the first or second pick would give you over the seventh or eighth pick, at least in theory. It would be something like, Santana, Lackey and King Felix versus Halladay, Liriano, and Joba. Auction drafts are also considerably more fun, but that’s just my opinion. And, they add a bit more strategy to the draft.

Keepers – 8 keepers per team per season

This is so that each team gets to keep their (projected?) starters from season to season, notice the Dynasty part of the league name. It also helps to ensure the draft is still worthwhile every year, as half of each team will see a turnover. It allows for young arms to develop with one team, but they may end up finding another home if their original team decides not to give them a chance as a starter. This will be further explored in the strategy section.

Possible Strategies

1.) Middle Relievers as Top StartersSome people absolutely love to use multiple middle relievers as opposed to carrying starting pitchers on their bench. The biggest con to this strategy in this league would be that there are only 3 Relief Pitcher slots per team. This means two things: Middle Relievers with SP eligibility will be very valuable, and you might lose saves if you try to fully employ this strategy.

2.) Pay Big for Top Starters and Top Closers – This one is fairly self-explanatory. Since it is an auction draft, and the top starters and closers will cost a lot, it may be a good strategy to go for a few of them, and fill out the rest of your roster with young pitchers with high upside and pitchers coming off of major injuries. These players are high risk, but they shouldn’t cost all that much to acquire, which is necessary when so much of one’s allotted auction funds will be going to a small percentage of their team. Of course, the bulk of this team’s innings would also be held up in those few pitchers. A couple of injuries could prove disastrous.

3.) Play the Daily Match-Up Game – A third strategy, (and of course there are many others, but these were the three major ones that first jumped out at me), would be to make the very most of the set Innings Pitched limits, by evaluating each pitchers daily match-up. This strategy would likely include targeting multiple third or fourth tier pitchers as opposed to the first or second tier pitchers that were targeted in last strategy. In this case, it would be best to have as many good pitchers on your team as you could to call on depending upon how you felt about their start as opposed to a few great ones you’d want to have pitch every time out.

I haven’t yet decided which strategy I’ll employ for the draft, and I’m still looking for a few more very competitive team owners who’d be willing to commit to this keeper league. It should be lots of fun, and take lots of skill. Look for more updates about it in this blog in the near future. Enjoy your weekends, and I’ll be back with my first Top 40+10 list on Monday.

~ Corey

Top 5 Impact Pitching Prospects for 2009

March 6, 2009

My part in Four-Seam Fantasy is to keep readers abreast of the youth in baseball. While Corey brings you fantasy pitching news and information relevant to all of MLB, I’ll be focusing on the young guns. Specifically, top pitching prospects and young major league pitchers.

Here, I have my look at the top impact pitching prospects of 2009. Fantasy baseball is all about what you can get out of players, and unless you’re in a serious keeper league, there’s really no need to go grab players who won’t see field time in 2009. These players are the top prospects, not necessarily the best overall prospects, geared to make an impact THIS season.

1. DAVID PRICE- Tampa Bay Rays, LHP

Photo by James Borchuck, Times

Photo by James Borchuck, Times

The obvious choice here at the top of our list, especially considering what we saw last postseason. Price’s stuff is electric to say the least. He profiles as a future number 1 starter and with makeup and pitching repertoire that have amazed virtually every scout who’s seen him. His Fastball sits in the mid 90’s consistently and his slider is excellent, bringing many to evoke comparisons to a left-handed John Smoltz. His changeup has excellent fade and is getting better. Price’s ability to add or subtract velocity when needed is well beyond his age, and he uses the whole strike zone well. Many see Price as the 5th starter in a vaunted Tampa Bay rotation, however it may not be as simple as pure talent; as the Rays have pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann who are now out of options and may be called up in Price’s place so as not to lose them. I fully expect him to be the 5th starter very soon, if not at the outset of the season. Even if he doesn’t end up there, the next logical place for him is in the Tampa Bay bullpen, not the AAA starting rotation, so fantasy owners should feel some security. He wont be the unhittable stud he was last year, as I expect many more innings and for hitters to make subsequent adjustments, but thats certainly not a bad thing; . He’ll have an ERA below 4.00 and if allowed to start, should deliver you 160+ innings. There’s certainly number 1 potential in Price with his fantastic arsenal and great character. Two words folks: BUY NOW.

2. RICK PORCELLO- Detroit Tigers, RHP

Photo from Examiner.com

Photo from Examiner.com

The top prospect in the Tigers organization is moving fast; drafted in 2007 as the most highly regarded prep pitcher, he led the Florida State League (High A) in ERA posting a 2.66. All signs point to Porcello eventually becoming a frontline starter in the majors as he was a good student, committing to North Carolina before signing with Detroit, and has an impressive array of pitches. His best pitch is a toss-up between his fastballs; he throws a 4-seamer with great velocity, and a very impressive 2-seamer that comes in on righties. When bringing about professional comparisons, many see him in a Roy Halladay mode, high praise, but seemingly deserved as his pitching style is reminiscent of Doc Halladay; as he keeps balls low in the strike zone, inducing many ground balls while striking many hitters out. He also throws a good 12-6 curveball and a changeup that he has shown advanced confidence in. His makeup has received high praise as well, as he is a great competitor with a tireless work effort. He’ll start the season at AA but I sincerely believe he’ll be in detroit at some point this season, as even Jim Leyland has stated, “he’s not far away.”  He’ll show up to work in the back end of the rotation at some point this year, and when he does, expect good things in the way of a good number of K’s and few HR’s allowed.

3. TOMMY HANSON- Atlanta Braves, RHP

Tommy Hanson

Photo From Examiner.com

The 6’6″ drink of water was the main reason the Braves ended up not acquiring Jake Peavy, as GM Frank Wren refused to trade the Top Prospect in a very good Atlanta farm system. The consensus around baseball is that Hanson will most certainly be a number 1 starter in the near future, with the capabilities to be one of the best of his generation. Hanson had a breakout season last year and dominated both single-A Myrtle Beach and double-A Mississippi, the latter saw him hurl a no hitter . He led all the minors with a .175 opponent batting average and absolutely stunned Major League personnel in the Arizona Fall League, as he Led the offensively-oriented league by winning the pitching triple crown. Hanson’s greatest strength is the fact that he is able to throw 4 quality pitches. His 12-6 curveball is a real hammer, and his fastball sits in the low 90’s, exploding when it reaches the plate. He also throws a tremendous slider that he added only midway though last season, and he has changeup that many feel is ML average at worst. Had the Braves not done some major retooling of the rotation this year, Hanson most certainly would’ve topped this list, However with the additions of Derek Lowe, Javier Vasquez, Kenshin Kawakami, and the late signing of Tom Glavine to go with the only set starter at the beginning of the season, Jair Jurjjens, He’s on the outside looking in. I see him starting off in AAA, but if he pitches the way he’s capable, as he did last season and in the AFL, he’ll force his way into the Atlanta rotation. If he gets to the majors, he should stick, so keep an eye out.

4. DEREK HOLLAND- Texas Rangers, LHP

Photo from the ridersbaseball.com

Photo from ridersbaseball.com

Teammate Neftali Feliz certainly has the higher ceiling of the two, but it looks as though Holland will have a slightly better chance to make an impact this season. Holland was relatively unheard of entering his first full season of pro ball after being drafted in 2006, with a less than menacing fastball, and average secondary pitches. However, the must’ve been something in the water in his minor league stops, as his velocity skyrocketed to sit in the mid 90’s, while touching 98 mph. His delivery creates deception as well as life on his fastball, and has shown very good command with it. He throws a slightly less impressive changeup that he will throw in any count and a slider that needs some work.  Saying that Feliz has a higher overall ceiling is nothing to slight Holland, as many feel a spot as a frontline starter is his eventual destination. He should have a very good shot at the back end of a miserable Rangers rotation that looks to feature questionable pitchers Matt Harrison, Jason Jennings, and Brandon McCarthy. When they both get there, Feliz and Holland should make quite a duo for the Rangers.

5. NICK ADENHART- Los Angeles Angels, RHP

Photo from Mark Avery (AP)

Photo from Mark Avery (AP)

He got a cup of coffee in 2008, and it wasn’t pretty. However scouts and managers alike are positive that he’s a better pitcher than he showed last year. Adenhart got knocked around last year, both at AAA, and in the Majors, but has shown in the past that his performance last year was most likely an aberration. He’s only 23, and will be given every opportunity to succeed by the Angels. Right now, he profiles as a middle of the rotation starter, as he displays some quality stuff. He has fastball that sits in the mid 90’s and compliments it with solid, hard curveball with a shallow plane and a good changeup. He’s a very good athlete, and has proven to be very durable; posting more than 150 innings in each of his last 3 minor league seasons. His command is where most of his issues stem, and it seemed at times to completely disappear in 2008. His mental approach is seemingly the reason for this, as he also displayed the tendency to nibble far too much and he fell behind in counts often. He needs to sharpen his mental approach and be more aggressive if he wants to succeed. I see him doing so and subsequently, see him seriously contending for the 5th spot in the Angels rotation. His current competition is Dustin Moseley, who has proven unable to stick given the opportunity before.

-Byron

Introduction pt. 2

March 4, 2009

Hey Guys,

My name is Byron Wages and I’ll be contributing here on a Tuesday-Thursday basis. I’m an avid baseball fan, and have been since my days as a youth watching the Atlanta Braves rise to prominence with (IMO) the greatest pitching staff we’ll ever see. I’ve been suffering through the last few futile years of Braves baseball, and a large part of the stress created through watching on-field, and in these last few years, on-mound, incompetence is relieved through fantasy baseball. 

Like Corey, I play fantasy baseball and have been doing so for 6 years now. Currently I’m the commissioner of a keeper league that’s in its 4th year of existence. It’s H2H Points, with 35 different scoring categories, and thus, I understand the plight of all you guys who don’t play the standard 5×5 we always hear about.

Pitching, especially the mental aspect of it, is my personal favorite part of the game, and I look forward to bringing you prospect lists and profiles along with miscellaneous pitching info when I take the mound on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Corey’s post gave you a nice video of something cool, and what kind of contributor would I be if I didn’t do the same? Enjoy:

-Byron

Introduction

March 4, 2009

Hello blogging community,

The purpose of this blog will be to share my opinions and expertise with regards to fantasy baseball; specifically the pitching categories. I was inspired to start this blog by an article in ESPN the Magazine entitled “How to Build the Perfect Pitching Staff”. I didn’t find much use in this article, but nonetheless, it inspired me.

On Mondays, the focus of this blog will be starting pitchers. Each of these posts will center around an updated top 40 list. The top 40 will be augmented by a Youth Watch* list containing 10 more starters. Before the season begins, much of the focus will be on fantasy drafts, specifically ADP and value of picks. Once the season starts, the ADP, injury risk, and other such columns will be replaced with the player’s season line. The justification and/or explanation of choices will remain.

On Wednesdays, the blog will shift it’s focus to relief pitchers. Each of these posts will center around a top 20 list. The Youth Watch* section for relievers will consist of 5 names. As with the starting pitchers, the focus will be on draft rankings until the season starts. Once the season starts, it will shift to performance.

*The Youth Watch lists for both starting pitchers as well as relievers will contain “forgotten” and low-ranked players in addition to prospects.

On Fridays, the blog will recap the past week, as well as prepare for the week ahead. This will make mention of any big news in the fantasy world with regards to pitchers, as well as put forth my own theories on building a fantasy pitching staff that cannot be fully employed through the use of the top 75. Also on Fridays, I will be covering the Pitchers-Only Roto Dynasty League, of which I am commissioner. I am hoping my participation and, fingers crossed, success in this league will help to give me credibility towards the subject.

I plan on continuing the blog consistently throughout the season and off-season, adjusting for any developments during these times.

For now, I’ll leave you with something awesome, because first posts should always contain something awesome:

~ Corey

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