Fantasy Baseball w/Christopher Harris
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Christopher Harris (2:54 PM)
Hi, everyone. Welcome to a power hour of fantasy baseball chat. Let's get right to your questions...
Thomas, Staten Island NY
Who are the better keepers out of these 4 in a 5X5 roto league? Verlander, Dempster, Brett Myers and SD'd Chris Young
Christopher Harris (2:56 PM)
Hi, Thomas. I'd probably go Verlander, Demptser, Young then Myers. Myers obviously has a ton of upside, and pitched pretty well after he came back from his long midseason problems. *Can* he be the huge-production guy he was a couple years ago? Could be. He's probably got way more upside than either Dempster or Young. But I worry about him. He can be a head case. Verlander is my fave of that group.
Dan (Salt Lake City)
Hello Chris, thoughts on Travis Snider? Does he stick with the club after spring training? His age has me worried.
Christopher Harris (2:58 PM)
Hi, Dan. Yeah, you're not the only one. I have a couple Blue Jays friends who swear he's going to shake up the world and be the AL Rookie of the Year. I think that's pretty optimistic. As you infer, Snider is 21, and there's a pretty good chance he'll struggle with his average. As of right now, I don't have him in my top 60 outfielders, but he's a guy to look at in an AL-only league.
Jason (Scarsdale NY)
Chris, value based keeper system (+3 rds from draft spot). I sold off most of my cheap keepers for a title run. Considering Lackey (6th rd), Wang (10th), BJ Ryan (13th) to go along with no-brainer Lincecum (7th). 12 teams. Do I punt Lackey and Wang and just keep Ryan and Lincecum?
Christopher Harris (3:00 PM)
Hi, Jason. It's tough for me to be definitive not knowing what *else* will be kept. But Lackey in the 6th of a mixed league isn't ridiculous -- he's clearly a top 15 option at starting pitcher, and I can understand if someone puts him in their top 10, because you know what you're getting out of him. Ryan could get dealt later in the year, but you have to assume he'll be a closer wherever he might go (at this point, anyway). Wang is the one guy that doesn't look good in his round to me. Lackey, you might be able to get back in the 6th again. But if you like him, don't take the chance. So I like Lackey, Lincecum and Ryan....
Beverly (buffalo, ny)
Hi Chris! Nice job with your ESPN Mock 10 team draft! If the top 5 Pitchers are off the board, what is your general strategy on drafting your first pitcher in such a small league? Do you really need an "Ace", or can he be found in Round 8-10? Thanks!
Christopher Harris (3:03 PM)
Hi, Beverly. Thanks for the kind words. I wouldn't say that I always approach drafting starting pitching the way I did in that mock draft. Usually it's just a matter of trying to zig when everyone else zags, and in that particular draft, I had the advantage of knowing my competition. The ESPN experts tends to love hitters, under the assumption that (in a small league) pretty good starters will last a long time. So as no one was taking starters, I dove right in...I think I took three in my first five selections. I don't love going terribly heavy in any single area early in a fantasy baseball draft, simply because you can get shut out of a position you need later on. But as you say, a small league (i.e., 10-teamer) tends to be pretty forgiving. I can see going ace-heavy, but I also don't hate the strategy of picking up value guys later, as you suggest. My biggest piece of advice in baseball drafts is if you can pick up a general pattern in what most of the other teams are doing, try to do the opposite.
Keeper question for you Chris. I got Holliday ($28), Granderson (14), Rios (18), Upton (22), Berkman (24) and Peavy (24)? Which two do I keep to pair with Cabrera, Texeira and Kinsler?
Christopher Harris (3:06 PM)
The three guys who stand out here for me are Peavy, Rios and Berkman. Peavy looks like he best value to me at $24 -- I don't know the specifics of your league and its keepers, but Peavy will probably go in the high $20s or low $30s (I'm assuming). Rios is a schitzoid player who's never going to be the awesome stud we thought, but he belongs in the 20s. And Berkman's gonna give you 30-100, which puts him in the high 20s for me. If I had to take two here, I'd probably do Peavy and Rios, just so I have those few extra dollars to do my business in the draft.
I've got M Kemp at the bottom of the 1st tear OFs....Is that too High?
Christopher Harris (3:10 PM)
Hi, Mo. I have Kemp 13th among outfielders -- which is high, I think. He certainly showed flashes last year (35 steals ain't bad), but boy, it'd be nice to see that power come along, huh? I'm not exactly sure where the first tier breaks for outfielders, but I think it's at least 10th, which means for me, Kemp is more in that second tier...
Safer pick for 2009, Granderson or Ludwick?
Christopher Harris (3:12 PM)
Hi, Joe. Funny that you're asking, because my task for Wednesday is to write a piece about Ludwick's potential for 2009. Between those two guys, for me, it's easy: I'd much rather have Granderson. He's got a longer track record of excelling, first off, whereas Ludwick does still have the whiff of fluke about him -- not that he *was* a fluke, but you'd feel safer if he does it again, that's for sure. And with Granderson, he can do other thing (e.g., run) that can help you even if he's not hittnig. Granderson won't hit the HR or RBI that Ludwick will, but it won't be that far off, and I think he'll hit for a better average.
Hi Chris. Am I crazy to think Raul Ibanez could put up a .290-30-100 line in Philly? I know he's know spring chicken, but he does not seem to be running out of gas yet.
Christopher Harris (3:16 PM)
Hi, Matt. Are you *crazy*? No. In a pitcher's park last year, Ibanez hit .293 with 23 HR and 110 RBI -- in that Philly bandbox, he's got a great shot to do at least that. Let's say he nails those numbers exactly; that will make him undervalued in most drafts. He's my No. 32 outfielder, but I bet he'll be drafted lower than that. The larger question is whether the Phillies will have enough right-handed hitter, but that's for them to figure out during the season, I suppose.
Is drafting Ryan Ludwick with the first pick in the fourth round of a 16 team mixed league too high?
Christopher Harris (3:19 PM)
Hi, Derek. Another Ludwick question! You guys are reading my assignment list. let's see, that puts him as the No. 49 pick overall in a 16-teamer? Yeah, that's way too early in my opinion. Ludwick can go .270-30-100 and be a success for the Cardinals, but he won't have justified you taking him that high. Granted, if he goes .299-37-113 again, he'll validate that draft spot. I just think it's ambitious.
Hey Chris. I think everyone's top 5 is pretty locked, but how would you rank in order the next 3 guys? Meaning, if I pick 6th, who do i take? Braun Cabrera Sizemore I really like Kinsler and J-Ro too, but probably right after those guys.
Christopher Harris (3:23 PM)
Hi, Dan. I'm not sure I agree with you that everyone's top five is locked. I've seen people have Johan Santana in their top five again (he's not in mine), and our consenus ranking on ESPN.com has him ninth, above Rollins. For me, I've got this as my top 8: Pujols, H. Ramirez, A-Rod, Wright, Braun, Reyes, Cabrera and Santana.
Steve (L'Anse, MI)
Can C. Young the pitcher bounce back and is he a good pick up in 21st round in a 5x5 mixed 10 team league?
Christopher Harris (3:24 PM)
Hi, Steve. At that level of investment (i.e., hardly any), I think Young makes a fine lottery ticket. He's over his injury troubles from '08 (after all, most of it was due to the line drive off of Pujols' bat), so now we're back to the same worry we always have with Chris Young: he throws so many pitches. If he ever got any more efficient, he could be devastating, especially in that park. Don't hate that as a late-round gambit, not at all.
Chris, Felix Hernandez will always have a ton of hype, but how different are he and Zach Greinke at this stage in their career? Who would you rather have?
Christopher Harris (3:27 PM)
Hi, Alex. I have King Felix No. 14 and Greinke No. 15 on my preseason pitching list at this point, so the comparison is apt. I guess by a whisker I like the stability of Felix, as opposed to Greinke, who let's face it, a couple years ago was looking like he might be out of the majors. That's not to say I don't like him -- obviously, I do. Their numbers last year were just scarily similar: each is a terrific strikeout pitcher, each threw 200 innings, and each doesn't exactly pitch for the iron of the AL. The thing to remember about Felix is that he's only 23 in April, whereas Greinke is 26 in October. For their careers, I'd still barely rather have King Felix.
Better 2nd catcher in an AL only league; Teagarden or Laird?
Christopher Harris (3:29 PM)
Hi, Mike. I guess I like Laird better, just because Teagarden's got a doubles partner there in Texas. Will he get 200 ABs? I'm not sold yet. So I guess Laird. But yeah. Ick.
I'm thinking of keeping Cole Hamels and Jon Lester over some hitters (Howard, M. Cabrera, Longoria), but am nervous that the pitchers both worked too much last year and will suffer this year. Your thoughts?
Christopher Harris (3:31 PM)
Hi, Scott. I'd be more concerned about Lester than Hamels, and if salaries or draft slots aren't an issue, I'd much rather have any of those three hitters rather than Lester. Listen, he was Boston's best pitcher last year all year, and that's saying something. But he had a huge innings jump (granted, it was because of his illness), and I have to admit I'm not completely sold that his control problems are behind him. He doesn't have that one pitch that makes batters cry (the way Hamels and his change-up do). All things being equal, give me Cabrera, then Howard, than Longoria over Lester. (Heck, give me the first two of those guys over Hamels, too.) But I'm assuming you've got keeper salaries/slots here, and if so, Lester is a good later-round guy, especially if you picked him up on the cheap last year. It's not like I'm talking bad about him. I just don't put him on Hamels' elite level, and I do worry some about the year-after effect.
tyler (bowling green)
how much do you see teixerias number improving this year in that yankee lineup?? any chance he folds under the pressure and can't live up to the hype?
Christopher Harris (3:33 PM)
Hi, Tyler. I don't think the chance is good. Big Tex is a laid-back dude who doesn't let things get to him, which would seem to make him a good fit for the Apple. And there'll be tons of production around him, obviously. Now, do I think he's an automatic for 150 RBIs? No, obviously not. But he'll hit 30 HR, drive in 110, score 100 and probably hit .310. He's a stud.
Audel: (Amhrest, MA)
If Furcal is healthy, can he be a top 5 SS? I also haven't heard anything on his back, does he still have a lingering pain? Is he healthy again?
Christopher Harris (3:36 PM)
Hi, Audel. I'm in Amherst right now. Chatting from the Black Sheep Deli. Woo! Anyway, I actually have Furcal rated *fourth* among shortstops, so yeah, I think there's a real chance he bounces back nicely. You're right: the first question is going to be the back. He claims he's fine. Now, what's he gonna say, especially since he was a free agent. But if we take him at face value, the real question is whether Joe Torre is serious about possibly sitting Furcal once per week or more. If that happens, I actually think it could drop Furcal out of the top five at his position, because it would mean, what, a 16.7% drop in potential ABs. But 30 SB, 50 RBI, a .300 average? That would put him in good company at the top of the second shortstop tier....
Christoper, love the work. Who are my 3 keepers out of J Reyes (no brainer) Hamilton, A Soriano or lineceum. 10 team ML 5x5 league...Thanks
Christopher Harris (3:38 PM)
Hi, Jason. Yeah, Reyes is the best player here. So now you have to dump one out of Hamilton, Soriano or Lincecum? Boy, I don't think it should be Lincecum. I'm not ready to proclaim him the best pitcher in fantasy right yet, especially because he had a big innings jump, too. But there aren't too many top-five listings of fantasy starters this year that don't have Linceum in 'em. And I'll take Soriano, just because I trust him (barely, I guess) not to get hurt. Hamilton just had a dream season last year, and I worry the bounceback will be tough on his body. He's great -- I just have Soriano a little higher.
Who will be getting saves out in 'Zona?
Christopher Harris (3:40 PM)
Hi, Red. Well, right now it sounds like it's Chad Qualls. It's true that Jon Rauch is waiting, and we've been hearing about Tony Pena's closer potential for years, but Qualls' sub-1.10 WHIP didn't do anything to make the D-Backs think they should look elsewhere.
Do you expect big things from Jed Lowrie this season?
Christopher Harris (3:41 PM)
Hi, Steiny. Big things? Probably not. There's more and more question right now about whether he'll even earn the starting Red Sox shortstop gig -- there are a couple media outlets in Boston who swear that as long as Lugo doesn't look like a complete doof during spring training, he'll be the starter with Lowrie as a utility guy, at least until it becomes obvious that Lugo's defense is killing the team. Given that uncertainty, and given the fact that he was never a huge stats guy in the minors, I think Lowrie is probably more AL-only fodder than anything else.
Mr Harris, please rank these late round OF's Maybin, Gomez, Span, J. Upton. Thanks Mate
Christopher Harris (3:43 PM)
Hi, Mumra. I think I'd go Justin Upton first, then Maybin, Span and Gomez. The thing about Gomez is that the expectations got way too high way too fast last year when he got off to his night start. He's fast, but that's about it right now. His on-base skills just won't let him be a leadoff hitter right now.
Matt (Amherst, MA)
Chris, you should just have a chat with Amherst students. UMass has plenty of fantasy baseball nuts. Do you think Chris Davis' AVG takes a big hit this year? Or should we just extrapalate his production?
Christopher Harris (3:46 PM)
Hm. I'll ask the boys from Bristol to look into it, Matt. I used to teach at UMass back in my grad student days -- too bad they don't offer a course in fantasy baseball. Perhaps they'd let me teach it. Anyway, Chris Davis was the subject of much debate in our rankings summit last month. A couple guys in the room were *sure* that Davis is going to be a fantasy stud right away, as in, like, .290/35/115. I'm with you -- I think the batting average (.285 in 295 big-league at-bats) could dip some. But there's no question that the power potential is there, and the fact that he's eligible at third base in most leagues certainly doesn't hurt.
Sean, St. Paul
Do you think Juan Rivera breaks out this year? Finally healthy, unblocked and with a new 3-year deal ... over/under on .290/25/90?
Christopher Harris (3:48 PM)
Hi, Sean. Phew -- that'd be quite a breakout. Are we completely sure that Rivera is unblocked? Bobby Abreu is an Angel now, and that gums up the works quite a bit for a Rivera resurgence -- maybe he's the DH, but remember that Gary Matthews Jr. makes an awful lot of money and that Brandon Wood may make the team, too. I think .265/15/75 is a lot more likely, and that's if he gets 400-plus at-bats, which in my mind isn't an absolute lock.
Michael (Milwaukee, WI)
do you think the Brewers will eventually get Gamel in the lineup and suffer the defense for the potential offense?
Christopher Harris (3:51 PM)
Hi, Michael. It's a good question. Gamel's chances got a boost when Bill Hall pulled a calf muscle, but unfortunately Gamel turned right around and strained his throwing shoulder. Listen, the Brew Crew has a history of going with defensively inferior third basemen because of the quality of their bats (see also: Braun, Ryan), but I don't think they think Gamel is quite of that quality just now. At some point, he'll get a look. But I'm not sold he's on the Opening Day roster. A lot of time between now and then, though.
What do u think of the signing of Joe Crede to minnesota?
Christopher Harris (3:52 PM)
I think it's a big-time upgrade for the Twins, provided Crede stays healthy. Sure, it's a good move. And Crede says his second back surgery went a lot better than his first. The problem, of course, is the inherent risk involved in the phrase "second back surgery."
Nick (Edmonton, AB)
Do you change your draft strategy/player rankings depending on whether you are playing roto or head-to-head?
Christopher Harris (3:54 PM)
Hi, Nick. I'm open to the possibility of stockpiling categories if I'm in a head-to-head league a little more than if I'm in a roto-style league -- in other words, if the opportunity is there for me to just go power-crazy at the expense of, say, stolen bases? I'm apt to do that, because you can write off a H2H category easier than you can a roto category. But generally speaking, the draft strategies tend to be basically the same for me....
Chris, if you were convinced Utley would be 100% healthy by opening day (as I am), how high would you move him up? .310/120/35/110/15 are realistic numbers for a full, healthy season of Chase, no?
Christopher Harris (3:54 PM)
Yeah, absolutely, Ragan. That's the only question with Utley: is he there Opening Day and is he right all year. If he is, he's a first-round draft pick, no questions asked. Probably a top-six pick in my book. But because I have a little more doubt than you do, he's in my second round.
Zambrano, Danks, Jurrjens, why no love for proven starters from last yr. Ranked round 20 or lower. Also would you take Parra over any of those guys?
Christopher Harris (3:57 PM)
Hi, Scott. Well, don't tell Zambrano he's a proven starter from last year. 130 Ks in 188 2/3 innings isn't a good year, not by his standards. I think Big Z's got injury written all over him this year...I just think all those innings are going to get him. Jair Jurrjens is another relatively low strikeout guy who can be a total WHIP killer. Danks -- I like him a lot. He's in my top 40, definitely above Parra. Honestly, Parra, Zambrano and Jurrjens are around the same for me, and none of 'em are in my top 50. (Heresy, I know, Cubs fans.)
Chris: which side do you like in this trade: Holliday ($38) or Roberts ($18) and Span ($5)
Christopher Harris (3:58 PM)
Hi, Dave. It's hard for me to know for sure, because every league's salary values tend to be particular to that league. But right now $38 sounds like a lot for Holliday in Oakland. In a total vacuum, I think I like the other side of that trade a little more, though I think it's relatively fair.
Hey Chris, Please help. Who do you like better as my 11th keeper in a deep, 14 team league: Cris Carpenter or Erik Bedard?
Christopher Harris (3:59 PM)
Hi, Tommy. I'm going to say Bedard. Clearly each of those guys comes with major risk. Carpenter is a gutty guy who'll give you everything he's got almost heedless of how he feels, whereas there are questions about how willing Bedard is to pitch when he doesn't feel perfect...but the upside is much higher with Bedard. for a later-round pick, then, I think Bedard makes a smarter lottery ticket.
Ira (Los Angeles)
Adam Jones or Pat Burrell for 2009?
Christopher Harris (4:01 PM)
Hi, Ira. I think Adam Jones, because I'm still sold that his athletic skills are going to spread his fantasy goodness over more categories. Average is definitely a question with him -- but then, it kind of is with Burrell, too. No question Burrell will be locked in on some nice power numbers, and he's got lots of value. But I think right now I'm more intrigued by Jones.
Volquez, Dempster or Danks?
Christopher Harris (4:01 PM)
I think I go Dempster then Danks then Volquez. And I feel a bit dirty saying that. But Dempster's done it for two straight years....
in a vacuum, big papi, soto or mclouth for last keeper?
Christopher Harris (4:02 PM)
Soto shouldn't be in the conversation if you've got the other two as possibilities. I think Ortiz bounces back...but I'm a believer in McLouth. I'm going to go with him, by a nose, over Big Papi.
Please rank Shields, E. SAantana, & Billingsley...any an Ace?
Christopher Harris (4:03 PM)
Hi, Jeremy. For me it's exactly the order you listed 'em: Shields, then Santana, then Billingsley. Both Shields and Santana are in my SP top 10 right now, which I think does probably put them on the low end of that "ace" category....
Christopher Harris (4:03 PM)
All right, everyone, let me get to one more before I finish up.....
16 team 5x5 auction league ($260), how high would you go for H.Ramirez?
Christopher Harris (4:05 PM)
Hi, Vinny. I guess, you know, I'd say probably between $35 and $40...but I have to say that I'd be surprised if you could get him for less than $40. Sometimes it's all about when the studs get nominated...and I have a difficult time spending 20% of my draft money on one guy before the bidding barely even gets going. Which is why I usually don't get the true studs in an auction, and instead try to build a team around a few $30 guys. But if you really want himm, I don't think the low 40s would be terrible....
Christopher Harris (4:05 PM)
One more quick one...
Billingsley over Oswalt? Need to make this decision by 3/1.
Christopher Harris (4:06 PM)
No, I like Oswalt better.
Christopher Harris (4:06 PM)
All right guys -- awesome to get back to baseball chat with all of you. I'll be back into a regular chat schedule within a week or two. As always, it's really fun to chat, and I appreciate the hundreds of questions. I'll try and get to more the next time. Thanks again, and I'll chat with you soon.......
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