Fantasy sports w/Tristan H. Cockcroft
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft in The Show on Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (10:59 AM)
Good morning everyone! A little over a month until pitchers and catchers, and of course, football playoffs are in high gear ... Plenty of questions, so let's get right to 'em! All sports are game, so fire away...
Bradley (Minneapolis, MN)
Tristan, baseball question here. Can you please name some up and coming players that would be a good source for steals? I'm really lacking in that area and could use some young legs.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
Well, Bradley, some of these names you might know already, some perhaps not, or maybe you underrate them in terms of steals: Reggie Willits, strong OBP skills and great speed, if only he can get the at-bats; Michael Bourn, Houston's new leadoff man; Jacoby Ellsbury, the Johnny Damon comparisons are legit; Rajai Davis, that San Francisco outfield is wide open; Cameron Maybin, speed is probably his one truly safe category if he makes the team; and Carlos Gomez, who I think is a real sneaky bet to steal some of those right field at-bats for the Mets.
Harris (Feldman, NJ)
Tristan... What did you think of the 25 Greatest Seasons of All-Time list? I'm sure you've addressed this before, but across all sports, what was the greatest fantasy season ever??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
I'm a huge fan of all-time lists, as evidenced by past pieces on the all-time great fantasy baseball seasons, as well as best single-game performances for fantasy football. Can't argue too much with our list, especially as a contributor. I'm right there with Wayne Gretzky, and really, ANY of 'em is a greatest fantasy season ever. Going all the way back to the first years of these pro sports? I'll still take Babe Ruth's 1920, when he batted .376 with 54 homers and dominated baseball. But then baseball's so much in my head right this moment, so that's why I lean towards that sport.
Murph (Tacoma, WA)
Who is the better keeper in a dynasty format, Delmon or Markakis?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
Interesting choices, and I doubt you go wrong with either. I'd put that decision as this: The higher long-term upside is in Delmon Young. But I do believe Nick Markakis is a reliable, consistent .300-30-100 bet looking forward, and I'm all about those consistent pure batsmen. I'd probably take him choosing today.
Wolf S. (Ewing, NJ)
Tristan Just curious...What's the dumbest thing you've ever done in a fantasy league? All we ever hear from you guys is how smart you are...what was your dumbest all-time move??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Hmmm ... The first thing that pops into my mind is spending full price on Pat Burrell in 2002 -- check out the 2001-02 stats -- and then sticking with him deep into the season. I don't know that I've ever truly forgiven him for that. This year? Probably being fooled during spring training that Rich Harden would finally be healthy. And I'm sure I'm forgetting others. As I say often, it's the mistakes and recognizing them that is an important part of the learning process in this game.
Can we expect a breakout year from Jeremy Hermida?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
I actually think he's going to be a tad underrated at the draft table this season, and I'll take him. Certainly qualifies as a "post-hype sleeper," for those familiar with the term. Check his second-half numbers: .340 AVG, .956 OPS. Those are extraordinary.
Yesterday AJ said that Pujols was only a top 50 hitter and he wasn't in his top 10. Do you really think that Pujols will fall that much this year? Thanks!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
Well, Mike, you know, I'm not going to bust A.J.'s chops for his opinion on Albert Pujols. Remember, that's why we're all on here, giving you our different opinions, our takes on things, and it's the individual fantasy owner's decision to take it or leave it. In A.J.'s defense, that Cardinals team could be very, very bad in the lineup. I just don't see a lot to like there. Me? I have a tough time overlooking Mr. Pujols' raw potential, and the fact that he's right in the prime of his career. If he can't challenge for a batting title, or at least go well over .300, and belt 30 homers at the very minimum, I'd be outright shocked. He's going to be in my top five, but he's no No. 1 overall anymore, not by any means.
What about Larry Walker's 1997 season of .366-49hr-130rbi-33s-143r as one of the greatest.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
On our list, on my list.
David (Olathe, Kansas)
Tristan do you think the Royals can be any good this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
I actually think the Royals have done a nice job of getting themselves some useful young hitters, but as a division title contender? Nah, sorry David. I'm realistic, and think that team's still in growth stage.
Michael (Portland, ME)
Dumbest thing I ever did was dropping Ryan Howard when he went 0-fer in his first call up. Speaking of 1Bs, keep Votto or Chris Duncan in an NL-only league...Yup, I'm still paying for that mistake.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Well, I don't think you're going to be paying for the mistake for much longer, although I'd rather that statement not be construed as "Joey Votto will equal Ryan Howard this year." Um, not a chance. But I do think Votto is a good, solid young prospect, a guy who can go .290-25 right away so long as the Reds do the smart thing and pawn off Scott Hatteberg in the spring. I'm going for the youth and upside there, there's no question. Duncan is a platoon type, and on a bad team.
Big Joe (Hamilton, NJ)
What is your top-5 in ORDER: A-rod, Reyes, H. Ramirez, etc. It's very tough this year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
I'll be totally honest, Joe, I'm tweaking my personal projections just a tad, which does have a one-or-two spot impact on my first-round rankings specifically, but pressed for a choice today, I think it's going to be Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, Hanley Ramirez, Albert Pujols, Chase Utley. I think Matt Holliday, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, all make very nice cases, too, and yes, I know that leaves other real studs out in the cold.
Big Joe (Hamilton, NJ)
Please tell me where you think Chase Utley should be drafted in a standard 5x5 league. I have heard so many conflicting answers that I could scream. I feel that he should be chosen right around 5, is that nuts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Not nuts at all. I just ranked him fifth!
Tristan, fairly focused question....if you started the year with arod, utley, fielder, and rios on your squad and had the 10th overall selection would tejada be a good choice? with 12 teams keeping 4 players, the top talent is off the board already.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Well, do the math, and that's 48 players off the board already, and the 10th pick becomes player No. 58. Is Miguel Tejada an outside-the-top 50 pick? Perhaps, but I don't think by much. For all the knocks on him losing his power, he's quite a legitimate .300-hitting candidate with good runs/RBI potential. And really, he's still capable of 15-20 homers easy. I call that more than worth the pick. You lock up an awfully strong middle infield, for one.
So Pujols is not a top 10 hitter. Very interesting. Is this MLB in America or am I in the wrong place.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
I didn't say that, Adam. Read my rankings above.
what's your preferred strategy in an auction format? Stars and scrubs or spread the wealth?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
There's no one answer to cover every single league type. Just isn't. I do love "stars 'n' scrubs" in a mixed league, especially the shallower it becomes. You'd be surprised; you can make the strategy work by funneling a ton of your money into, oh, say, 5-6 hitters, one good closer, a decent No. 2 and then going patchwork catchers, starting pitchers and other fill-ins on the offense. In a deeper league? No chance I go stars 'n' scrubs. Bad risk management. I've gotten burned in the past doing that in, say, 13-team NL-only. One key injury and you're done. In those, spread it out a bit more. But to me, it's always values, values, values. Get the draft-day values.
Is Theriot the starting SS on the Cubbies if they indeed acquire Roberts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Well, Mark DeRosa's going to play somewhere. He won't get 100 PAs and rot on the bench. If Brian Roberts winds up a Cub, I'd see first, second and third locked up, and then Ryan Theriot battles Mark DeRosa for the shortstop duties. Projections-wise, I'd split the PAs between 'em at shortstop. My choice? If I was managing the team I'd prefer DeRosa in a utilityman role and that's it, spotting in for occasional days off for players all over the diamond. He kills lefties but isn't a great all-around player.
Paul T. (Cincinnati)
Utley and Brandon Phillips are going to be kept in our league and I don't want to waste a top pick on the next level of 2Bs. You think I could wait a while and get Pedroia and be pleased with what I get out of him this year? Are there other 2B I could target as a surprise?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
You know, I actually think second base is quite a bit deeper than it was a year ago. And here's another thing: I know a lot of people who are rather high on Dustin Pedroia this year. Not that I don't like him, but he is what he is, say 8th-10th at his position. Not a ton of power or speed upside; he's a batting average/runs scored type primarily. For my money, I'd almost rather go get Aaron Hill, who I think has a little more growth in his bat. Deeper than that? Well, Luis Castillo shouldn't be outright discarded. A very nice role for him, I'd say. And Freddy Sanchez is a lot like Pedroia and always ranked lower.
Tristan, football question here. DO you think that all four underdogs this week could win with the points? For some reason I dont see even the Pats covering this week. I've been hot lately parlaying all four games with the totals to win an 8-team parlay. Thank me later.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Accounting for the spreads? Certainly. Aren't all the home teams offering MORE than a touchdown? Heck, I took the Jags. I can't see that being a blowout, especially since that's a good team and the Patriots haven't been totally blowing opponents out the second half of the year. And I'm awfully tempted to take the points on Seattle, too.
Is Takashi Saito a safe pick this season or will Broxton get his shot?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
Well, I'm going to tell you this: Takashi Saito is going to be 38 years old come Opening Day. Can we really call any 38-year-old "safe"? Plus, Joe Torre does have a history of abusing his best relievers, though to be fair, the Dodgers have more relief depth than the recent Yankees teams did. I'm going to put it this way: I worry a tad about Saito, though he's certainly top-five worthy among closers. To me, the Broxton trade rumors say the team isn't looking at him as a closer in the near future, and it'd take a serious collapse or injury to Saito for that switch to happen. I'm putting those odds at well under 50/50. (Think 10 percent chance of these guys swapping.)
Mike Barnstein (Baltimore, Maryland)
If the Patriots do win Super Bowl 42, how much will it mean to the team after going 16-0?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
A ton. It'd cement the team's status as one of the all-time greats in sports history, bottom line.
Billy Butler projections for 2008?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
Let me scroll in and give you my raw numbers for a sec: .290 average, 15 homers, RBIs in the 70-80 range ... Assumes in the mid-500s in PAs. In other words, good hitter, nice upside, but not a GREAT one, so don't get carried away.
Paul T. (Cincinnati)
Can you rank these pitchers in order of who you'd want in a points league? Bedard, Cain, Haren, & Burnett?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
Well, I have to assume wins is going to be a big driving force in a points league's scoring, and that hurts Matt Cain's cause. I like the kid but that team is awful. Let's say Erik Bedard, Dan Haren (and those two are awfully close in value), then Matt Cain over A.J. Burnett if only because Burnett has much more injury risk.
all time greatest fantasy seasons snubs...R.Henderson and Dan Marino
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
Agreed, but remember, 10 spots is a very limiting number. Go 25 and there's no doubt in my mind both are easily in.
Brian (Tulsa, OK)
NL only, $300.00 cap 5x5, 23 players purchased. We can keep 7 players, who do you like more Snell ($1.00) or Lincecum (15.00)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Wow do I love Ian Snell at that price. I have a very, very hard time letting either of them go. Really, can't go wrong with either pick. I'm going to say Snell here, though, and that's mainly because I think when you keep the $1 guy in these cases, the other player can be bought back at a closer rate to his price today. So, for instance, let's say Snell was what, a $15 pitcher if he was let back into the pool? Well, Lincecum would need to go for $30 or more for that to be a bust to throw him back. And I doubt he'd go for that much.
Better sleeper 2B for 2008 - Weeks or Kinsler?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Well, I don't call either a sleeper, but I'm taking Ian Kinsler ahead of Rickie Weeks every day of the week.
Ron Shandler projects King Felix this year for 17-8 with great peripherals. $26 value. Going back to the well once more????
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
I love King Felix and I can't fault Shandler for being high on him too. Nothing in Hernandez's track record, with the possible factor of health risk, which frankly could strike ANY pitcher at any time, says to me he's a worry. He's improving and he's a ground-ball machine, and I love those types (Fausto Carmona, Brandon Webb, Chien-Ming Wang). I'm buying.
Paul T. (Cincinnati)
Better OF to have this year - Markakis or Rios?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
I love 'em both and have 'em ranked similarly, but I'd probably go Nick Markakis because I simply think he's a bit more sound with the bat.
Better outlook this season. Joe Crede, Ryan Braun, Jermaine Dye, Cory Hart?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Well, Braun's an obvious stud. Most everyone is going to put him in the top 25 overall. Of the others? Hart is going to be a bit underappreciated, I'd say. Could be a 25/25 candidate who really surprises you.
Take 3 in a dynasty: Liriano, Felix, Lincecum, Joba, Hughes, Buchholz, Cain, Carmona, Gallardo.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
I won't lie to you, pitching is such a crapshoot that you could pick most any three of these and be a-OK. So, given a bunch of great long-term prospects, I'll break ties (or close calls) by going heavy on this year. Let's take Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo and Felix Hernandez. I just see them all being closest to domination.
Jamie, Helena MT
What is your opinion on BJ Upton? I know his BABIP was very lucky last year. A power and speed 2b who is 23 and knows how to take a walk seems awfully exciting to me. BJ or Phillips?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
B.J. Upton vs. Brandon Phillips is going to be a very popular debate this preseason, and I'm taking Upton. They're both right there, I might rank 'em right next to each other overall, but I just see more growth, more upside potential, in Upton. Phillips really does get helped by his ballpark, and is a somewhat ordinary hitter against righties. I just have this feeling he might be tapped out, whereas Upton's ceiling is probably ever-so-slightly higher.
I too like Markakis, but arent you concerned that there's no one in the Baltimore lineup other than him if they deal B.Roberts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
I am, but good hitters hit. Just ask Albert Pujols last year. No, Markakis isn't Pujols, but I see so much great pure hitting potential in him. If anything, he'll be hurt in runs and RBIs, but a .300-plus average, 20-plus homers, those should be easy bets for him.
Who is going to close for Arizona?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I think it's going to be Tony Pena. Or at least it SHOULD be Tony Pena. And even before that note the other day that Pena would battle Brandon Lyon for the duties, I'd have said Lyon was No. 2 in the race entering the spring. I'd bank on Pena, good skill set, though.
Better 2008 contributions Franklin Morales or Kyle Kendrick?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I actually think each of them has a good deal of risk as far as 2008 is concerned, and I'll say this: Morales is the upside play, but Kendrick is a bit more the safe choice because he's a strike-throwing, ground-ball specialist. I'm usually a little more comfortable with that type, though not for a second would I trust either as more than, say, a spot-start candidate. Too much downside.
You are also forgetting that Markakis had like 18 SBs last year too. Better keeper pitcher for next year, Bedard or Webb?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
I'm not forgetting that at all, Adam. Why do you think I'm so high on him? Erik Bedard. Again, can't go wrong with either, but I think Bedard could match Webb in everything but wins -- I see maybe 3-5 fewer -- but he'll win strikeouts between those two easy. And I like building around raw skills, of which K's is a big part.
Who gets to close on Chicago's northside, got to be Wood right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:43 AM)
I really think Carlos Marmol is going to get a long, long look in the spring. What a 2007 he had. Besides, Kerry Wood might be the popular sleeper choice, but that guy has such a terrible track record with health.
Expectations for Alex Gordon this season? Where does he rank among 3Bs?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I dunno, 10th at the position maybe? I'm not going ga-ga over Gordon this year, and I didn't last year, either. But I do see continued growth, and let's say he winds up with .275-20-75 numbers, with, say, 12-15 steals. That's a useful player. Don't get carried away with expectations, but there's definite upside there. Now all we need is for the Royals to move him up from that lineup; hitting him seventh would be silly.
Asdrubal Cabrera in 08?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
Not a fan, Steve. I didn't see a lot in his minor-league profile to excite me and he's so very young (he'll be 22 on Opening Day). If you buy in on Cabrera, I'd say the best you should expect is a .290 batting average and maybe 15-20 steals. And runs, of course, if the Indians hit him second. But that's the ceiling. I see the floor being pretty steep, i.e. a demotion.
Projections for Adrian Gonzalez and K. Greene seem to indicate some pop in the SD lineup, do you think both will end up 30-100-100 ish?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Khalil Greene has pop but the batting average terrifies me. Matchups type, I'd say. He dominates in the right situation, but can be dreadful otherwise. I'd say he could approach 30-100 numbers, but WILL fall short. Not far short, but short. As for Adrian Gonzalez, I'd say 30-100 is quite reasonable. And there's a little upside from there.
16 team league with 3 keepers. I have BJ Upton and Braun. Should my 3rd be Russ Martin or Cole Hamels?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
Martin is one of the few catchers I'd bank on. Not that I hate Cole Hamels, but I don't think it's close to a guarantee that he makes 30 starts this season. Remember, elbow troubles late last season.
The projections i have seen from Garza are a little underwhelming...if I use him against eeryone but Boston and NYY should I be looking at a top 50 SP?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Well, sure, but if you take out all those starts he won't have enough quantity to get into the top 50 at his position. Very good matchups type, and nice upside, but you nailed it right there. You sit him against the Red Sox and Yankees, and probably the Tigers, too, but I see great matchups upside in Mr. Garza.
What can the Astros expect from Kaz this year? He "seemed" to turn a corner last year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
I bet they can expect a guy they should be sitting against most -- if not all -- left-handers, and a noticeable drop from the player we saw at Coors Field. I just feel like Kaz Matsui, who was helped by his situation as well as the national spotlight, is going to be overrated this year.
Who do you prefer between Byrnes & Hart?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
Eric Byrnes but it's not as far off as you'd think.
Tristan - Which Joe Mauer can we expect in '08 - the '06 or '07 version? Injury risk too high to rank in the top 50?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Certainly is. He won't be in my top 50, especially since I don't dish out much catcher love. Top 100? He could make a case. But I haven't seen enough growth from him in the power department to trust him yet. If he's 15/15 and bats well above .300 call that a great year from him. Injury risk says he's a good bet to be overrated again, though, so be careful. I'll take V-Mart and Martin before him, and there's no doubt in my mind that I would.
Tristan, Who is the one player you are taking late in all of your drafts before anyone else
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I keep taking Jacoby Ellsbury in the late rounds and being surprised that people are allowing him to be out there for as long as he is. I know, the Red Sox outfield is somewhat deep, but do you really see Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew ALL being fully healthy and at peak production the entire year? I know I don't. Ellsbury will get his at-bats, and folks, he's for real.
Michael (Portland, ME)
Numbers for Matt Kemp- .275/25/90 over or under?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Over on the batting average. Definitely over. All the rest depends on role. I just worry the Dodgers won't play him enough. He needs 600 PAs easy, and I fear he might wind up in the 400s. So I'm picking the under on the power and RBIs. A guy you must track in the spring, because if he's playing every day, his value gets a huge bump.
Tristan, please rank according to their long-term projections: Maybin, Bruce, J. Upton, Rasmus, Jones. Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
I'll do this assuming the next five seasons combined, how about that? I'll go Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Adam Jones, Cameron Maybin, Colby Rasmus. And I'm so tempted to go Maybin over Jones, but I really do believe he might need a year and a half or more in the minors before he's truly ready.
You think Luke Scott is worth a later round flier now that he could get regular AB's in Baltimore?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
Yup, but we're talking final rounds for mixed-league owners, perhaps just in-season pickup status or reserve-draft choice at that. I do like Scott, and I'll tell you this, he's not a throw-away against lefties like people seem to think he is, but there's no guarantee he gets a full-timer's 600-plus PAs. Nice bargain, though, and I do like him.
Two-time defending champ (Richland, WA)
I just drafted Shaun Marcum to lead my simulation pitching staff. Should I be concerned with the lack of a true No. 1?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
I'd say so, though I shouldn't talk; I don't have a true ace on my team, either. With Marcum it's all about the ballpark you're in. If you're in Petco, for example, I think you'll be fine with him.
jacoby ellsbury, boston
my 740 AAA OPS is for real too
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Picking and choosing numbers can help make a case for anything. I see .280s-hitting skills for him in batting average, elite speed (25-plus if he's a regular), and double-digits power if he's a regular. I won't expect more than that, but that's a nice late-round gamble.
Justin Morneau slumped hardcore end of last season. Where are you ranking him this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
I'm very careful not to push him up into my top five first basemen, because that's a deep position, especially at the top. He's in the Derrek Lee/Adrian Gonzalez ballpark in terms of value, but that can change in a heartbeat if he looks fully healthy and charged up once camps open. With Morneau, the only thing that has ever scared me is health. He has been a little banged up over the years and it's often hidden; he plays through it.
Casey (Lake Mary, FL)
Now that Miguel Cabrera has people who can get on base and hit behind him is he a top 3 pick with A-Rod and Pujols?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Can be but I'm putting him in the mid-to-late first round. Remember, league switches can often hurt a player initially, and that very little, mild concern is what has me keeping him behind A-Rod and David Wright at the position.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Well, that's all for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Take care, and don't forget, we'll be back again this afternoon to chat with you! See you then...