Fantasy Sports w/Christopher Harris
Send your questions now and join Harris in The Show on Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
Christopher Harris (11:01 AM)
Hi, everyone. Just got in from Vegas, where we were celebrating the launch of fantasy NASCAR this weekend. Great time, obviously an unbelievable place to do fantasy drafts. Anyway, I'm back, let's get right to the questions.
What's your thoughts on Cuddyer this year? And is there any reason to think Carlos Lee won't put up his usual numbers this year?
Christopher Harris (11:04 AM)
Hi, Nate. Cuddyer was probably a little overrated in '07 based on his sneaky-good '06. We thought the Twins would stay pretty good, and we thought Cuddyer would stay in the cleanup spot; neither thing happened. He's still a good hitter, and even though Minnesota probably won't be very good, he'll be worth owning in all leagues. I view him as a top-40 outfielder. As for Carlos Lee, I don't see any reason he won't be very solid again, and I think he still deserves to be taken among the top six or seven outfielders; if anything, there's probably the potential for a little *more* run production in the Houston lineup.
Nick (Greenwich, CT)
Hey C Harris! What's good man? Listen, quick question here! What kind of job do u think Joe Girardi will do this year? Will he be more aggressive? or more leniant like Torre was?
Christopher Harris (11:06 AM)
Hi, Nick. Girardi will have a really interesting job to do. He played with a few of the veterans on this team, so if he's planning on going all "fire-and-brimstone," it might fall on deaf ears. The thing I'm sure you appreciate about Torre, but other folks not quite so close to the Yankees might not realize, was that he wasn't afraid to play young guys (Cano, Cabrera), and he also wasn't afraid to run. So I think he was already pretty aggressive, at least with the offense. (The way Torre handles a bullpen is something else entirely.) So I don't think we see *more* steals from the Yanks, though we won't see appreciably fewer, either. The big question for me is can Girardi handle a bullpen better.....
Can you list a couple of pitchers that I can grab after the 20th round who will be June/July call ups that will have people rushing to the waiver wire?
Christopher Harris (11:11 AM)
Hi, Ira. Good question. Clearly, there's no way to know for sure; much of what'll happen, especially with young pitching, depends on too many moving parts (is the youngster looking good in the minors, does someone get hurt in the majors, etc.). But we can definitely keep some guys in mind. I'll nominate a few: Manny Parra in Milwaukee (good opportunity if Ben Sheets gets hurt), Gio Gonzalez, it remains to be seen what Homer Bailey or Franklin Morales can do in full seasons, so I wouldn't be shocked to see them untaken in a lot of drafts, Jeff Niemann, Ian Kennedy, David Price, Luke Hochevar, Anthony Swarzak, Eric Hurley...I may be missing a couple obvious names (this is coming off the cuff)...hope this helps.
I was hoping to see the draft kit by now, any idea when it might be up?
Christopher Harris (11:12 AM)
Hi, Joe. I think it's coming really, really soon. This week for sure, and I'm pretty sure it'll be *early* this week.
Scott (State College, PA)
In a head-to-head with extra categories ie (2B,BB,TB). Would I be crazy to take Holliday #2 Overall? Seems to me OF is kinda thin this year.
Christopher Harris (11:14 AM)
Hi, Scott. I haven't run projections with all of your league's categories, so it's hard for me to definitively say who should be the No.2 draftee. But I actually have Holliday as my top outfielder this year (which echoes what you're saying), even in "standard" leagues. Carl Crawford is obviously a more common pick, and I can't argue too strenuously against him, but it seems to me that Holliday will give you exactly what you're talking about, huge production (especially at home) with very little risk. Should he go before guys like Reyes or Hanley (or a few others)? In standard leagues, no. But in your league, with those hitting categories, it's worth taking a look at.
where do you see dice-k going in a roto draft?
Christopher Harris (11:16 AM)
Hi, Dan. I think Daisuke Matsuzaka should be a top-20 pitcher in mixed leagues, and if he's not, that means he's being underdrafted. I think some of his struggles, such as they were, in '07 were based on fatigue; when he got tired, he started to nibble, and was therefore subject to the big inning. His key are strikeouts; he gets a ton. The ninth round or so sounds about right to be me in mixed drafts.
Are you a Bedard fan? Is he close to a top 5 SP now that he's in a pitcher's park and not having to pitch against the Sox and Yanks so much?
Christopher Harris (11:18 AM)
Hi, Nate. Yeah, I'm a big Bedard guy, and I do think his value goes up a little in a bigger park and in the AL West. With Santana in the NL now, there's a convincing argument to be made that Bedard is the best fantasy bet in the AL, but I also am hearing that an awful lot, and I tend to be kind of a contrarian. If everyone is valuing a guy to be an utter stud, that might mean he's *over*valued, and it might be smart to rein in your enthusiasm a little. I mean, the cold water on Bedard is that he's been hurt every year of his big-league career and he's never thrown 200 innings. If he does that this year, he's worth a very high pick. But I'm not taking him in the first round of a mixed draft or anything crazy like that.
Would you drop Ragan or Sadler for Blaney in NASCAR points league? Thanks.
Christopher Harris (11:21 AM)
All right, Alec. NASCAR question: thank you for asking it. I definitely would love to take more NASCAR questions, too. So let's see...coming into the season, I have Ragan and Sadler very close to one another, with Blaney lagging behind a bit. Right now, I have Ragan exactly one spot higher than Sadler (I was the one who set the default draft order, actually), but I can see the "veteran" argument for Sadler in this match-up. Ragan was fantastic in last year's 500 war of attrition, while Sadler has a long history of being good at plate tracks. I don't know that we'll learn a lot about their respective seasons until Fontana, the second race of the year. Right now, I'm sticking by Ragan, because his team is better. But I'm ready to pull the trigger after Fontana.
Whats the earliest that you would consider drafting Liriano in a 12 team mixed league?
Christopher Harris (11:24 AM)
Hi, Joe. I wrote a piece for ESPN The Magazine that's coming out soon where I talked about Liriano being worth a risk, because he's 1.5 years away from his Tommy John surgery, and there are several examples of very good pitchers bouncing back from that surgery in that time span. That said, I'd be worried that someone in your draft will get a little *over*-excited, and take Liriano to be their No. 2 fantasy pitcher, which is too high. The problem with TJ tends not to be velocity; the problem the first season back tends to be that control doesn't return right away. So I'm liking Liriano's upside, obviously, but I'd wait to take him until maybe the 12th or 13th round of a mixed draft.
Chris, who are you rating higher, Rios, Hart or Byrnes? I see differing opinions but you can make the case for Hart here I think. Thanks.
Christopher Harris (11:26 AM)
Hi, Greg. I have to say: I like Rios out of that trio. But there's no definite answer, obviously...they're all multi-category threats, and Byrnes has proven that he can just dominate in terms of steals. Still, Rios offers what I think is a much more intriguing combination of consistent power and speed, and I have to admit...I'm one of the few who hasn't completely bought into Byrnes. I have those guys: Rios, Hart then Byrnes.
What's your ideal spot to draft in a 12 team mixed league this year?
Christopher Harris (11:28 AM)
Hi, Jack. Interesting question. Honestly, I wouldn't mind having that A-Rod guy on my team, so I wouldn't mind having to pick 24th in order to get him. Heck, if I could go, say, third, and get a Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes and then get a Brandon Webb type coming back the other way? That sounds pretty good, too. This year, I'd prefer to err on the side of early in the first round. There are some question marks on guys when you get even outside the top five overall....
do you think the cowboys will pick up d mcfadden in the draft
Christopher Harris (11:30 AM)
Hi, Prince. I hope not. I think if they do, they're undervaluing Marion Barber. I know Dallas seems to think that Barber can't handle a full load because of his size and running style, but honestly, backs at the tops of drafts are about a 50-50 proposition, so while I'm as enamored with McFadden as much as anyone, Barber is already a top-10 back. I wouldn't give up both my first-rounders to get him. Focus on helping a secondary, linebackers or even receiving corps that had some not-so-great moments late in the year, is my thinking.
Chris-Do you answer questions with a spin on H2H or Roto leagues? If Roto, how would you recommending looking at your answers thru a H2H perspective?
Christopher Harris (11:32 AM)
Hi, John. Thanks for that question. Yeah, I mean, I'd say when I'm answering more generic questions, I have roto in mind, because it's our default setting on our fantasy game. If someone asks a question that's specific to H2H, though, I'll definitely try and look at it through that lens. Generally speaking, it's tough to give advice that's *solely* H2H- or Roto-focused, because players who are good in one tend to be good in the other. It seems to me that you're typically drafting relatively the same in each league, though clearly in-season strategy differs some.....
Our league uses CG and SHO as categories. If I'm keeping Howard, would it be insane to pass on David Ortiz for Sabathia?
Christopher Harris (11:34 AM)
Hi, Erik. I don't think it's insane; I have Sabathia rated within six or seven spots of Ortiz in a "generic" draft, and if you feel like you've already got your elite power guy, going with a starter isn't a bad thing. I have to admit that I'm somewhat concerned about Sabathia's innings and his conditioning; his body type (i.e., big and fat) wouldn't appear to support the innings he's accrued of late. But he's really, really good. Is he better than Josh Beckett? I'm not sure. I know he tends to be healthier, so I guess it's safer to go with Sabathia, but I have to admit...for me, Beckett is coming up hard on the outside.
Where do you see Figgins getting drafted this year?
Christopher Harris (11:37 AM)
Hi, Tom. It's funny: Figgins was the cause of much hand-wringing at ESPN Fantasy this winter. There were super-pro-Figgins folks, and there were others who thought we were ranking him (in our default rankings and in the magazine) way too high. I tended to fall in the latter camp. In January, we wound up putting him 28th overall, and fifth in a *super* strong 3B year. I think that's too high for a guy who, yes, he should dominate steals, but a lot of his hitting prowess depends on speed and BABIP, since he's powerless. Me, I'd put Figgins seventh among 3B, and probably closer to the 40-50 range. (Which means in most mixed drafts, I wouldn't get him.)
Big Joe (Hamilton, NJ)
Please help. I'm worried that I will end up getting a middle pick in the 1st round of a 12-team mixed league H2H. After ARod, Pujols, Hanley, and Reyes who is the next best pick? Utley or David Wright?
Christopher Harris (11:40 AM)
Hi, Big Joe. First off, let's just say that with the word coming out about Pujols's wrist and his potential unwillingness to play in the kind of pain he played through last year (that's what he said a couple weeks ago, at least), Pujols is no longer a no-brainer in the top five. The old saw is at least partly true: You tend not to win fantasy leagues in the first round, but you can definitely lose them, and if Pujols isn't going to be healthy, he could really hurt you early. (That said, hopefully your draft doesn't happen for a little while, and you get to hear more news about how Big Al feels before you have to make that decision). Anyway, so the question is: Utley or Wright, and I think I have to say Wright. Though I have to say: I'm in the minority of folks who think Miguel Cabrera will outperform both of those guys.
Better year, Manny or Brandon Phillips?
Christopher Harris (11:41 AM)
Hi, Pat. Obviously they play different positions, which makes them hard to compare absolutely head-to-head; it's easier to find a replacement for Manny's numbers in the outfield than it is to find replacements for Phillips' numbers at 2B. So because of 2B scarcity, I'd say Phillips should be taken higher in drafts.
Who's your 1st SP to get drafted and at what spot does he go?
Christopher Harris (11:42 AM)
Hi, Spyde. Has to be Santana, no question. Before the deal to NY, I had him at No. 8 overall. I'm very tempted to move him a little higher now, but the problem is: whom do you bump out of the way? Wright? Holliday? Cabrera? I'm going to stick with Santana at No. 8 for the moment, reserving the right to change my mind over the next little while.
Steve (MA via E. Hartford)
Is it worth it to go with position scarcity in a 10 team H2H league and keep McCann isntead of keeping two aces (meaning I'd keep CC to go with Bedard)? Thanks!
Christopher Harris (11:45 AM)
Hi, Steve. It's a good question. I think one point you're making deserves emphasis: the smaller the league, the more important it tends to be to differentiate yourself in as many positions as you can by getting studs, because everyone's going to have a "very good" player at each position. In 10-team leagues (that's our default), you're really trying to differentiate yourself more than if you were in a 12-team or bigger. That said, while I like McCann, I wouldn't be able to keep him over either Sabathia or Bedard. I know it makes you pitching-heavy going into a draft, but those guys are really pretty awesome.
What do you think of Alphonso Soriano this year? Seems to be undervalued for a guy who could hit 40/40 this year.
Christopher Harris (11:47 AM)
Could he do that, Shaun? Absolutely. He's done it, right? You're right that if Soriano gets taken at the end of the first or the beginning of the second round (as a group, we at ESPN averaged him out as the 12th pick, or the second pick of the second round in standard leagues), you're getting a definite potential stud. The problem of course is that there's downside: his legs never really got healthy last year, and it showed. If the Cubs really do get Brian Roberts, Soriano probably hits second, and what does that do to his steals potential? Listen, anyone you're taking in the top 20 has the potential to explode and be a top-five player, so what you're really doing is assessing the risk/reward of each guy, and trying to maximize your return. Soriano is a mega-high-reward/semi-high-risk guy this year. Can he be a good value? Absolutely.
Chris (Franklin Park, NJ)
Hi Chris: One point on M. Cabrera is that he will be hitting in the American League, which has better pitching. Do you still think he will perform better than Utley or Wright?
Christopher Harris (11:50 AM)
Hi, Chris. I'll admit it: I've bought into the Detroit Tigers hype machine. I look at that lineup, and I see runs runs runs galore. Cabrera should be the centerpiece of a devastating lineup, so even though it's still not a great hitter's park (hey, neither was Dolphins Stadium), and even though your point about the league-change being a factor is well made, I'm still so tempted by Cabrera's bat. At some point, while we're up here in a draft's stratosphere, we're splitting hairs between *excellent* players, and it should really come down to personal preference. I can't begrudge anyone who'd say Utley or Wright deserves to be taken higher than Cabrera? For me, if it comes down to that choice, at this moment, I think I'd take Cabrera by a whisker. Personal preference, I guess.
Adam, West Hempstead
All things being equal, who's the better keeper in the risk/reward department, Liriano or Hamilton?
Christopher Harris (11:51 AM)
Hi, Adam. I'm high on Hamilton, I really am, but in keeper leagues, you'd have to say Liriano. While I'm trying to be cautious about Liriano for 2008, I have few questions about him being able to get healthy and back to where he was *eventually*, and I don't think it's a stretch to say that Liriano might've been the best pitcher in baseball in 2006. So even if he struggles a little this year, by '09, I think you'll have one of the top-10 starters in baseball.....
Where do you have Carlos Pena in terms of 1B Rankings?
Christopher Harris (11:53 AM)
Hi, Tommy. I have Pena eighth among first basemen, which is incredible if you think about where this guy has been. He had a pretty unsustainably favorable HR/FB ratio last year, so his homer total might not be quite as stratospheric as it was in '07, but the most encouraging thing about his year last year was his average; his contact rate and his eye were much improved, and he actually was a little unlucky in terms of BABIP. I think that means he'll hit .280-ish, and drill 35 homers. That's pretty good.
pepe roni (barnegat bay)
is this guy worth anything? Hermida, Jeremy
Christopher Harris (11:56 AM)
Sure, Hermida is still an interesting guy. He's only 24 years old, and while he disappointed us in a huge way in '06, he was definitely stronger in '07 and came on toward the end of the year. I have Hermida as a top-50 outfielder with upside, which means he should be taken in most mixed-league drafts, for sure. The five tools are still there; he just needs to put together a healthy year.
Where do you put Figgins if he's 2B eligible? And what are your thoughts on Ed. Encarnacion this year?
Christopher Harris (11:57 AM)
Hi, John. Purely speculative for me and off the cuff, because that isn't how I rated him originally...but let's see. I'd probably slot him fifth or sixth among 2B, right around where I'd have Robinson Cano. Probably Figgins would be a little higher, because of his potential to dominate a single category, but they'd be pretty close if they both had 2B eligibility, in my book.
Nate (Des Moines, IA)
With Schilling's status unknown, how much of a boost do you give to Clay Buchholz's value?
Christopher Harris (11:59 AM)
Hi, Nate. Great question, great point, and I think Buchholz is the clear winner in the Schilling shoulder situation...before Schilling's injury news came out, I was writing that I thought Buchholz would start the year at Pawtucket because Boston didn't re-sign Tim Wakefield and his balky back to pitch out of the bullpen (at least not to start the year). But now with Schilling out a good long while, I think Buchholz makes that rotation. Now, he's a rookie, so he's going to have struggles (they can't all be no-hitters, after all), but he's going to show flashes, and be worth drafting later in mixed drafts, right away. I'm not kidding when I say: I think he has true ace potential as soon as 2009.
Is taking Tulo at the end of the 4th round in a 12 team mixed draft too early?
Christopher Harris (12:01 PM)
Hi, Cory. Honestly, no, I don't think so. I actually think that's about right. He's a very good hitter in a great park with a good lineup at a position of scarcity, a pretty deadly combo. In January, I rated him No. 43 overall, so I like the way you're thinking.
Chuck (Little Rock)
Convince me Soto and Towels aren't going to pull a Closser
Christopher Harris (12:03 PM)
Good one, Chuck. It's hard to say definitively that *any* rookie is a lock to be a fantasy stud, and at catcher? Gets even harder, doesn't it? Of the two guys you mention, I like Soto more. In Houston, it seems to me that Brad Ausmus is still in the way, so I wonder if Towles even winds up on the big club to start the year. Lou Piniella, fickle man that he is, says he has every intention of going into the season with Soto as his backstop, but it's such a long season, such a grind, and it's hard to imagine a guy who wasn't even a very good prospect suddenly being a huge star at catcher in his first year. That said, I'd rather take the risk on Soto's upside compared to, say, A.J. Pierzynski, whom I *know* isn't very good.
big baby (nj)
ryan church = fantasy sleeper?
Christopher Harris (12:05 PM)
Boy, the Mets sure hope so; otherwise the Lastings Milledge trade looks pretty dumb. (For the record, I think it was pretty dumb.) It seems like he's the right fielder in New York for now, which isn't a bad lineup to be hitting in, and as bad a hitter's park as Shea can be, it's not as bad as RFK, right? That said, boy, Endy Chavez is there and the Mets really like to give him time...I'm worried Church winds up being a three-quarters player, and therefore not a top-80 fantasy outfielder.
PLEASE HELP!!! Have to turn in keepers today and I can't decide whether or not to keep Matt Kemp at $10 in a mixed $260 keeper league?
Christopher Harris (12:05 PM)
Hi, Tim. I'd keep him. He reportedly lost a lot of weight, and I think the fact that Joe Torre likes to play youngsters who earn his trust can only fall in Kemp's favor.
Joe (the Volcano)
Chris, quick one on auctions, as 'any player in the top 20' can explode for top 5 status. Better use of $50 ($260 cap mixed) Arod or Berkman&Pronk for example, etc...
Christopher Harris (12:07 PM)
Hi, Joe. Yeah, auctions are really a different animal, aren't they? No two are the same, and they can be shaped by what happens early with the game's studs. I mean, maybe everyone in the room is worried about spending too much early, and A-Rod goes for $45, throwing off the whole scale. I've seen it happen. But in general, I have to admit: I tend *not* to be the guy who spends huge early for one stud; I tend to wait, as you seem to be advocating, and try to get the Tier 2 guys who fall between the cracks a bit and wind up going for less money, but having the same huge upside....
Allen (Asheville NC)
I only have one draft pick in the first four rounds. 15 teams. Do I pick the biggest stud avaiable or concentrate on the best C or 2B available? Thanks
Christopher Harris (12:10 PM)
Hi, Allen. I assume you only have that few picks because you have keepers, yes? So I think what this question is (and it's a really good one) is should one consider the positions of one's keepers when deciding what players to pick in early rounds. My answer is: yes. I think you have to consider the fact that, for example, you're keeping two starting pitchers, and potentially avoid taking a third one very early. That said, I wouldn't be dogmatic about it. If there's an obvious player left on the board who has *way* more value than anyone else, I'd take him and trade someone later. Someone earlier asked about Brian McCann vs. C.C. Sabathia and Erik Bedard. If that was the choice I had, I'd take the pitcher no matter what, and deal for a catcher later. I hope that helps.
Christopher Harris (12:10 PM)
OK, folks, I think this chat room is going to disappear in a moment, so let's see if I can squeeze in one more.....
Will you be drafting any Marlins or Nationals pitchers who are not closers?
Christopher Harris (12:13 PM)
Hi, Mike. In mixed leagues, you're probably pretty close to right. I'm tempted by Shawn Hill...but he has to stay healthy. (He could make a last-round gamble, I guess.) I'm tempted by Scott Olsen's stuff, but I worry his head still isn't screwed on straight. Eventually, I think Andrew Miller will be *very* good, but he's still so young. In NL-only leagues, all these guys are obviously worth drafting (as would be John Patterson on the off chance he ever stays healthy, and Sergio Mitre). But mixed, you're about right.
Christopher Harris (12:14 PM)
All right everyone. I really appreciate all your questions, and I know I wouldn't get to do this job without your interest, so I want to express how grateful I am to you. Thanks again, and I'll talk with you soon.
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