18 March 2008

That Wasn't Her Toe: Injury Roundup

John Lackey (SP - Ana)  A bum elbow has turned the "Jake Peavy that you haven't heard of" into the "Jake Peavy that you won't see" - until May, at the earliest.    
Josh Beckett (SP - Bos)  Won't be able to pitch opening day. Sox management says they are just being cautious.  With JB's injury history, who can blame them?  

Freddy Sanchez (2B - Pit)  Still recovering from shoulder surgery, Sanchez has yet to play a spring game at 2B.  The good news: he's been DHing, so he's getting ABs - which he didn't get in spring 2007 (and then struggled mightily for the first several weeks).  The bad news: The NL Bucs lose that DH spot on opening day.  

B.J. Ryan (RP - Tor)  17-pitches and reported a sore elbow.  

Kazuo Matsui (2B - Hou)  Anal fissure. The very word makes some men uncomfortable.  

Jason Isringhausen (RP - StL)  Dizzy Izzy has a sore back, so the Cards are being careful.  At least it's not an issue with his degenerative hip condition, tuberculosis, a broken wrist, or the three major operations on his pitching arm.  

Lastings Milledge (OF - Was)  Sore left toe.  

13 March 2008

Out of Your Element: Manny Ramirez

From WS's continuing series of potential 2008 goldbrickers:
Calling 2007 a disappointment for Manny Ramirez is now cliché.  But at least he was able to spend some time towards the end of the regular season to work on his hot website.  And while fantasy pundits have universally lowered Manny's overall rank, they're still placing him in the 5th round.  Far out, man.  The last place I'd like to be is between Manny and a bag of kind bud.  Second to that is a bag of money (he's playing for a team-option year).  

But let's not forget, let's NOT forget that he turns 36 in May.  He hasn't hit really hit more than 100 RBI since 2005.  Although, let's grant him that it's tough to rake in RBI when one doesn't get the ABs (449 in 2006, 483 in 2007).   

Sure, based upon his legendary career, there's (diminished) potential.  But there's a lot of other potential to be had in the 5th round of your draft.  Without the risk, too. 

12 March 2008

STFU: Spoiled Sleepers for 2008

Sleep•er [slee-per] noun
A player poised for fantasy production greater than conventional expectations.

I was looking forward to snatching a few of these guys in the middle/towards the end of drafts this year. But then they ended up on everyone's list of sleeper candidates. Now (a) they're being overvalued and/or (b) being picked early enou
gh so that they're no longer the bargain that made them so attractive.

Scott Baker (SP - MIN) He was on so many sleeper lists that he hurt his back and will now may start the season on the DL.

Chad Billingsley (SP - LAD) There's been so much talk that he's regularly going during the 8th round at Mock Draft Central. I'm sorry, but were we drafting a mock keeper league?

Michael Bourn (OF - HOU) Made more sleeper lists than Juan Pierre made "overvalued" lists.

Edwin Encarnacion (3B - CIN) I liked him more before everyone found out he'll play half his games at Great American Ball Park.

Zack Greinke (SP - KC) No longer being ignored because he pitches for the Royals. Too bad.

Jeremy Hermida (OF - FLA) On more sleeper lists than he was in 2007.

Matt Kemp (OF - LAD)
See Bourn, Michael.

Joakim Soria (RP - KC)
See Greinke, Zack.

Geovany Soto (C - CHC)
So much for getting #1 C production at the end of the draft.

Adam Wainwright (SP - STL)
Now even Donny knows what his second half numbers were last year.

11 March 2008

The Other Lebowski: D. Haren's 2nd Half

In 2007, Dan Haren's owners were thrilled with his first half 2.30 ERA.  But then he went and peed on the rug after the ASB to the tune of a 4.22 ERA.  His home/away splits were similar in the first half.  In the second half he wasn't himself - especially on the road:  
2nd half home:  44.2 IP; 53 H; 18 ER; 3 HR; 12 BB; 39 K; 3.66 ERA
2nd half away:  47.5 IP; 64 H; 25 ER; 10 HR; 11 BB; 52 K; 4.73 ERA

Two notes of concern for Haren's owners in 2008:

1) Unlike Chris Young, Haren wasn't known to be dealing with any kind of injury and
2) His home field is no longer the pitching paradise that is Oakland.  

It's likely that Haren just got tired as the season wore on.  But it's also worth noting that his ERA in 2005 and 2006 (his two other 200+ inning seasons) was 3.73 and 4.12, respectively.  For 2005-2007, his WHIP has remained a steady 1.21 with no substantial change in BAA, either.  
He turns 28 this fall (28 year olds, dude...) and should continue to improve rather than regress.  The potential change to his ERA from moving out of Oakland will be negated by pitching to those NL bats that have never seen his stuff before.  Plus, if all goes according to plan, he should have an easier time w/ wins, too.  

But the real Lebowski?  It wouldn't be shocking to see him somewhere closer to a 3.50 ERA than his first half 2.30.  

The Other Lebowski: C. Young's 2nd Half

Chris R. Young (SP) was making a bid to be Knox Herrington of fantasy pitchers for the first half of 2007.  Then he sustained an oblique injury in July, and things were never quite the same: 
2007 1st half:  103.9 IP; 74 H; 23 ER; 3 HR; 36 BB; 99 K, 2.00 ERA
2007 2nd half:  69.1 IP; 44 H; 37 ER; 7 HR; 36 BB; 68 K, 4.81 ERA
2007 Final:  173 IP; 118 H; 60 ER; 10 HR; 72 BB; 167 K, 3.12 ERA

AJ Mass of ESPN, even taking the second half injury into account, is wondering if C. Young is a 2008 bust candidate based upon his home/away splits: 

"When Young left the nest, the story was quite a different one.  The 1.69 home ERA skyrocketed to 4.52, and while he allowed only one home run at Petco in 2007, he allowed nine long balls on the road."

With all due respect to my brother seamus at ESPN, I've seen a bunch of phonies in my day - and I don't think C. Young is one of 'em.  Let's look at Young's away stats before and after the ASB (which is, basically, before and after the oblique injury):  

Away 1st half:  47.5 IP, 42 H, 18 ER, 3 HR, 18 BB, 47 K, 3.41 ERA
Away 2nd half:  39 IP, 26 H, 26 ER, 6 HR, 22 BB, 43 K, 6.00 ERA

The injured Young struggled w/ his control in the 2nd half.  He was walking more batters, and although he wasn't giving up as many hits, he clearly had more issues w/ the long ball; twice as many as in the first half in 4/5 the IP.  Add those things together and you get a ballooning ERA.  (Interestingly, his K rate improved.)  

So, just citing his overall home/away splits for the year is a little misleading.  While, yes, Young clearly performs much better at Petco, he was much better on the road before his injury.  I mean, am I splitting hairs here?  Am I wrong?  Am I wrong?  

He should be fine in 2008.  You know, uhhhh, unless he gets injured.  

10 March 2008

Out of Your Element: Russell Martin

In WS's continuing series of potential 2008 goldbrickers:

Russell Martin
Remember when Brian McCann hit 25 HR and 93 RBI while batting .333 in 2006?  Remember how disappointed his owners were in 2007 when he didn't produce as much power and his BA dropped 60 points?  Not to say that he won't bounce back, but it's likely that expectations were too high for such a young guy playing such a tough position. 

Martin, another very young guy (25), had a nice blend of 19 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB and .293 BA in 2007.  But, for the full story, look at his performance in the second half of 2007.  After the ASB, Martin kept his BA up, but had only 36 R, 8 HR, 27 RBI, and 5 SB.  

A bright future, for sure.  But I don't like growing pains in my third round pick... and this is our concern, Dude.  

Out of Your Element: Eric Byrnes

Some players made substantial fantasy contributions in 2007, but aren't likely to put up the same numbers in 2008.  This feature looks at some likely goldbrickers:  

Eric Byrnes
In 2007 he had 21 HR, 50 SB and batted .286 in 626 at bats.  ESPN now has him 12th among outfielders, 33rd overall.  First, note that he's 32 years old.  And it's an old 32, as well; he plays hard and gets hurt.  2007 was only Duderino's 3rd season with over 450 at bats (and he's been in the league 8 years).  Not to mention, prior to 2007, he'd stolen a total of 65 bases.  Of course, speed - his most valuable asset - doesn't disappear overnight.  Unless he's hurt.  Again.  And I don't think a speedster on the wrong side of 30, with a career BA of .267, is worth taking in the first 3 or 4 rounds.  

Some ancient history, for comparison's sake (AB; R; HR; RBI; SB):

Byrnes: .267 career avg
2004:  569; 91; 20; 73; 17
2005:  412; 49; 10; 40; 7
2006:  562; 82; 26; 79; 25

Player X:  .258 career avg
2004:  630; 91; 24; 72; 32
2005:  451; 47; 13; 34; 15
2006:  463; 75; 16; 53; 45

Now, before you say "Sh*t, I know that guy.  He's a nihilist.  Karl Hungus..."  Player X is Corey Patterson - who, btw, is not currently ranked among ESPN's top 340.  Cincinnati just signed him for 2008.  

Calmer Than You: On Reservations About Fausto

ESPN ranks Fausto Carmona the 16th overall SP.  My thoughts are that this is a pretty fair place for him to be ranked.  Things clicked for the young sinker-ball thrower, last year, and the only thing preventing him from utter dominance in 2007 was a low strikeout rate.  His final stats for 2007: 

215 IP, 137 SO, 19 W, 8 L, 3.06 ERA, 1.209 WHIP

RotoWire, and misc. talking heads (of varying degrees of prominence), are considering Carmona closer to #30.  Why?  "Because no one knows how pitching all of those innings in 2007 will effect him this year."  Sounds like a fair point, right?  Let's go to the numbers.  Here are the top 20 (according to the vox populi at ESPN) SP, their IP, total pitches thrown, and avg pitches/inning:

1. Johan Santana - 219 - 3345 - 15.27
2. Jake Peavy - 223 - 3610 - 16.19
3. Erik Bedard - 182 - 2946 - 16.19
4. Brandon Webb - 236 - 3437 - 14.56
5. C.C. Sabathia - 241 - 3581 - 14.86
6. Josh Beckett - 200.7 - 3100 - 15.45
7. Cole Hamels - 183.3 - 2791 - 15.23
8. Dan Haren - 227 - 3635 - 16.01
9. John Lackey - 224 - 3396 - 15.16
10. Justin Verlander - 201.7 - 3354 - 16.63
11. Aaron Harang - 231.7 - 3591 - 15.5
12. Roy Oswalt - 212 - 3303 - 15.58
13. John Smoltz - 205.7 - 3062 - 14.89
14. Roy Halladay - 225 - 3330 - 14.8
15. Chris Young:  173 - 2884 - 16.67
16. Fausto Carmona:  215 - 3137 - 14.59
17. Daisuke Matsuzaka:  204.7 - 3480 - 17.00
18. Carlos Zambrano:  216.3 - 3692 - 17.07
19. Javier Vazquez:  216.7 - 3465 - 15.99
20. James Shields:  215 - 3177 - 14.78

For those of you not # crunching at home, of the "top 20" pitchers, Carmona had the 11th most IP.  Sure, 215 IP is a lot for a 2nd year guy (we're looking at you, J. Shields).  But, also of note, Carmona threw 3,137 pitches - good for only 15th most of these 20.  That's an average of 14.59 pitches/inning; only B. Webb was more efficient.  Hmm, suddenly all those innings aren't looking as strenuous.    

So when Donny whines about Carmona being ranked too high because of the IP factor without acknowledgement of total pitches, then tell him to STFU.  That's especially true if he doesn't hold other pitchers to the same standard (e.g., Shields).  

Furthermore, if Donny starts downplaying Carmona (say, to the tune of a #30 or lower ranking), beware: the little creep may be stonewalling you.  

All that said, Carmona shouldn't be ranked HIGHER than #16.  He is still young, no track record, and he got pretty lucky w/ BABIP in 2007.  Expect his ERA to go up a little in 2008, but there's no evidence that the plane's about to crash into the damned mountain, either.  

N.B.  - oh yeah, for you thinkers out there who place extra value on 2nd half performance: Carmona's K rate went UP as the season wore on.  And, of course, his ERA dropped .80 after the ASB.