Welcome to the first edition of the regular Tuesday column for the Fantasy Baseball Cafe.
My name is AussieDodger and I am in the driver’s seat today, you’ll be able to check out my co-pilot The Artful Dodger next week (no relation). Catch us every Tuesday for your fix of Hot/Cold action, plus extra little features and surprises every week.
A very absorbing first week is over, with some business as usual (Tim Lincecum destroying everyone), and some small sample lunacy (the Toronto Blue Jays leading the AL East). Anybody can be a villain or look like a million bucks at this point. The message that you should be forcing yourself to obey when you evaluate your team/players after the first week is: I MUST be patient.
You have drafted or paid fictional dollars with the expectation of a certain level of performance, but 20 odd at bats or 10 innings is far, far too little information to be making drastic or extreme changes over. There are unforseen exceptions of course, with injury and unexpected playing time loss, but if your early round/expensive player is healthy and playing as much as you forecast, this is not the time to get rid of them if they are batting .100.
Keeping this attitude in April will help you avoid headaches later in the season, I know there is nothing worse than releasing or trading a player too early, and have them come back and kick your butt in August.
And now on with the temperature-y goodness…
Vernon Wells: 2010 to date – 7/20 H/AB, 7 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, .350 BA
Vernon Wells enjoyed his early taste of Texas pitching, hitting 4 HRs in his first three games. His wrist is reportedly feeling the best it has since he injured it in May 2008. Everybody knows someone who was burned by Wells playing through an injury in 2009, but he was definitely someone you should have looked hard at on draft day for what he cost. A healthy Wells could be good for a 30 HR/10 SB/.290 season (while locked into the clean up spot), so short spurts of power and average like this are absolutely for real.
Jeff Francoeur: 2010 to date – 10/21 H/AB, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB, .476 BA
Nate Robertson, Tim Wood, John Lannan, Livan Hernandez, Garrett Mock and Tyler Walker. These are the “aces” that Francoeur has extra base hits off in 2010. In my opinion this is a completely obvious case of a normally bad hitter feasting on some easy pickings. If you have him this is probably the very best chance you will get to sell him for something helpful. Take advantage of the knee-jerkers who think he has “figured it out”.
Hiroki Kuroda: 2010 to date – 8.0 IP, 1 W, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP
One good start usually isn’t much to crow about, but Kuroda really hit the ground running against the Marlins. The notable things that stick out are that Kuroda generated a whopping 15 ground balls and only conceded one walk. If he can continue to make hitters bash the ball into the ground at an elite rate (his career GB rate is 51%), a healthy Kuroda is definitely worth buying.
Edgar Renteria: 2010 to date – 11/21 H/AB, 4 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, .524 BA
I know these are pretty looking numbers to have from your SS, but this is probably one of the last times Renteria will be fantasy relevant. His power is gone, and his SB opportunities have all but dried up, he’s only been allowed to run 9 times each in 2008 and 2009. He went three straight months last year without hitting a HR. This is a scenario where if you were somehow lucky enough to collect on this purple patch, you promptly cash in your chips and leave the casino. (But please accept this internet high five for picking it was going to happen.)
Jay Bruce: 2010 to date – 1/19 H/AB, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB, .053 BA
Many, many people had Bruce down as a sleeper pre-season. If you are one of them, don’t back out now. Another couple of months of this slump and you could see Dusty Baker doing something crazy like starting Laynce Nix every day, but we are a long, long way from that yet. Jay has made a lot of hard-hit outs so far, and is begging to be bought. This could be the cheapest you can get him.
Yovani Gallardo: 2010 to date – 12 IP, 0 W, 10 K, 6.75 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Gallardo has only really had one bad start that has ballooned his ERA. His pitch velocities are roughly about where they should be, and the percentage of which he has thrown his different pitches are nearly identical to 2009 (fastball 60%, curve 20%, slider 8%, change 7%). So nothing appears to be wrong, and this could present a small window for you to get a slight discount on his services. Last year Lincecum had a similar ERA after two starts, and he won the Cy Young.
Mark Teixeira: 2010 to date – 3/24 H/AB, 5 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB, .125 BA
Teixeira’s career April OPS: .775
Every other month: .898 to .994
If you have Tex, you give him a mulligan in April. This is how owning him works. If someone wants to sell you him in April, you buy. If only all players seemed this black and white. Also, expect a ridiculous RBI total with that stacked Yankees line up.
Trevor Hoffman: 2010 to date – 4 IP, 2 SV, 2 K, 13.50 ERA, 2.00 WHIP
Two consecutive blown saves against the Cardinals have people wringing their hands. Trevor is 42, is this the season where he falls apart? Could be, but some consolation can be taken from the fact that two of his three HRs allowed are from the bats of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Add to that the fact that he is over-using his mediocre fastball (69% of the time so far in 2010, compared to 51% in ’09 and 48% in ’08). Hoffman should still be too good for the average hitter, but if he can’t mix in a few more off-speed pitches effectively this could potentially be the end of the line.
This is a feature I’ll be writing every so often where I’ll talk about players who probably should be full-timers losing playing time surprisingly.
Jim Edmonds/Corey Hart: Corey Hart was mediocre last year, but this probably blew a few minds. Somehow the corpse of Jim Edmonds has got the better part of a platoon with Hart in RF. Corey has only started against Jaime Garcia, Greg Smith and Chris Carpenter – two LHP and a RHP. I really can’t see this continuing for the whole season.
Dexter Fowler/Seth Smith: Jim Tracy came out a few days ago and said that Dexter will be in a platoon with Smith, and he’ll be facing LHP. This was irksome to Fowler owners because (amongst other things) Seth Smith had a massive Coors/away split in 2009 (1.051 OPS vs .730 OPS). Luckily for some Carlos Gonzalez has been slowed with a hamstring strain, meaning Dexter should get a bit more playing time in the near future.
And with that I’ll leave you with a quote from my wife…
“You should have Jack Cust as a cold player. What is colder than being passed through waivers and not getting claimed?”
*Note: all stats are through Sunday*
Daniel Wilson is neither an Australian citizen or a Dodgers' fan. Confused? You can catch up with Daniel in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of AussieDodger.
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