Chat with Tristan Cockcroft
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
Hey TC, what is the thinnest position in your mind in baseball?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
Ah, I like, an "off the top of your head" question! I think catcher is the obvious choice as "thinnest" from top to bottom, but the most surprisingly weak position is actually third base. Shortstop also doesn't wow me after the top 8-10.
Hi Tristan, my league is going to try a points league this year for baseball. Any tips?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
If you're migrating from Rotisserie to H2H, be careful not to undervalue stolen bases, because people tend to take Rotisserie rankings and use them in H2H as they deal with the league transition. I've seen leagues where steals were worth maybe a point, or two with a minus-1 for a caught stealing, and that's going to severely deflate the value of base stealers, especially those with high runs scored totals. Best experience I've had is in my longtime points league: point for each total base, three for steals, minus-2 for caught, 2 apiece for runs and RBIs.
Phoenix (Lanai City)
Hello Tristan, how do you think Ranger pitchers CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis do this year? It seems both pitchers were pitching over their heads last year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
I actually think some regression is due more for Wilson than it is Lewis. One thing that bothers me about Wilson is the innings bump, especially if you count the postseason frames on top of the regular-season workload. Not to say he's going to completely disappear, or pull a Scott Feldman, but I'd be cautious investing anything more than a late-round pick on him in a mixed league. Lewis? I think he's more of a remade pitcher, and capable of handling the workload. Probably finishes within range of his 2010 stats, not huge regression.
Jeff (Louisville KY)
Hi Tristan. Keeper question. Keeping Longoria and Jose Reyes. Need to decide on my 3rd. Mourneau or Jerod Weaver? Standard pts league. Who do you like?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
I'm not a Justin Morneau fan; I think he's overrated. Plus, first base is not a hard position to fill and I think you might be able to snag him back in the draft if you want to. Go with Weaver, who has shown he can be a top-flight starter, or at least one who belongs ranked in the teens at his position.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What do you think that Yankees P Andy Pettitte will do before the 2011 season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Before the season? Nothing. Frankly, Andy Pettitte sounds like a guy who doesn't want to return to baseball. If I'm planning today, I'm planning based around him being absent all year.
Joan (Billerica, MA)
Who do you think will have a better year... Crawford or Braun?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
Carl Crawford, as I positively love his prospects in Boston. If there's any knock on his fantasy potential it's that he padded his stolen-base total in games against the Red Sox, and those games are now gone (for obvious reasons), but even if he sheds, say, 5-10 steals, the benefit in terms of runs and RBIs is massive. I think it balances it out and keeps him an easy first-rounder, whereas Braun's apparent adjustment to hit more for average than power has me concerned he won't quite make the first-round pick count.
Drew (Peabody, MA)
Projections for Starlin Castro?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:10 AM)
I see regression being in order for Castro, young and inexperienced as he is. His rookie year was quite impressive, but at this stage I think he's raw, and probably will take a step backwards before he takes the next step forwards. My projection has him approaching a .290 batting average, with perhaps 20 steals, and if he hits high in the order then runs scored should be fine. That makes him a top-10 candidate at his position, but I see more downside than upside, so be careful not to overrate him. If there's a real plus for him, it's that the Cubs can afford to be patient through his struggles, so at-bats will be there.
MY MAN! Tough question here...who do you like more this year Liriano or Wainwright? I know it should be easy, but I find it so hard to believe in Wainy...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
I think I've seen enough from Adam Wainwright the past two seasons to say he's a safe enough pick. I like Francisco Liriano as a candidate to take another step forward, but I've got Wainwright ranked higher.
Jhoulys Chacin quietly put up some impressive fantasy numbers last year. Now that he's a full time starter, what do you expect to see from him this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Huge Chacin fan. My projection was awfully generous, and off the top of my head it was a 3.50 ERA, 180 K's, good number of wins (13-15). In other words, I think he's legit, even for a Rockies pitcher.
With the additions of Greinke and Marcu, some are tabbing Yovani Gallardo as a real fantasy breakout SP this year. Thoughts and what kind of W/ERA/WHIP/K's do you expect?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
To be completely honest, I'm not sure what the Greinke and Marcum additions have to do with Yovani Gallardo's performance. I've already proven on these pages in the past that rotation slots are largely irrelevant, so the only thing to be said for those pickups is that Gallardo won't have the pressure of having to be a leading man, or to eat up inning after inning to save a taxed bullpen. Neither is a significant factor in making a projection, though. I do like Gallardo, but I'm starting to think he's a bit overrated for a guy with a WHIP in the 1.30 range. If it stays there, I don't care if he whiffs 200-plus, he's not a top-10 starter.
Better keeper - Pedro Alvarez, Jaime Garcia or Matt Wieters?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
All tempting keepers, but I'm going Alvarez, as I see his power upside being positively massive.
Dan (Washington, DC)
If you were starting a league that used 12 stats, which 12 would you use?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
The 12 that I recommended for "Modern Rotisserie," which gets rid of the awful Wins category: OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, SB, R for hitters, QS, SV, Outs/innings, ERA, WHIP, K/9 for pitchers.
I would much rather have a proven veteran than Mike Stanton in the tenth round. Your thoughts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
Well, I'm fairly certain I had Stanton ranked as a 10th-rounder, if not a couple rounds earlier. By the way, remember my Pedro Alvarez comment a few questions back? Well, Stanton's power upside is at least as massive, and I think he's more adapted to this level than the Pirates sophomore. I'm projecting 35 homers for Stanton, easy, because I think he's arrived as a huge power source.
Hey TC, Have we seen the ceiling for Michael Bourn at .270ish with 50 plus steals?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
I think that's about right.
Strasburg. Worth keeping this year (will cost me an 11th rd pick)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
It depends upon what that draft-pick price tag becomes in 2011. If it's again an 11th-rounder, and you can keep him as that forever, it might be worth it in a deep enough league. That said, I don't know a lot of leagues where this is worthwhile; I doubt anyone would take him as early as the 11th round this year if you let him go, and let's say he goes in the 20th ... wouldn't it be smarter to get him back that late and then have him for even cheaper in future years? I'm not planning on any contribution from Strasburg this year, if that helps your decision.
Does Ubaldo's amount of walks scare you?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
A little, but so long as you set your expectations closer to either his 2009 or the second half of last season (think low-threes ERA, not a sub-two), I think you'll be fine.
What does the Garza trade do for his value?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
It helps, as it's simply easier for a pitcher to succeed in the National League than the AL East, especially a division like the Central with soft lineups like those of the Pirates and Astros and a pitcher-friendly venue in St. Louis. I'm projecting an ERA in the 3.50 range, low-1.20s WHIP, 170 or so K's, meaning he's a top-25 candidate, but I'm not moving him up substantially.
Do you like Soto or V Mart more in a keeper league? I mean you would think V Mart would have signed somewhere he has hit better in lately than Comerica...
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
I think people get a little too carried away with small sample sizes in certain ballparks, and either invest too much or shy too much from players with extreme stats at their new venues. Martinez's fantasy value will probably be hurt more by the fact that the Tigers' offense isn't terribly deep than by the ballpark, but what's a huge plus for him is that he won't have to catch; he can just DH and that'll give him more at-bats and therefore more counting stats (HR, R, RBI). I'm taking him.
Tim (Hershey PA)
Joey Votto. Better or worse than in 2010?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
I'm not sure how he can be better, so I guess the right answer here is worse. But it's like saying buying the ticket for the $25-mil lottery is "worse" than the one for the $30-mil.
Mustard (Kingston, ON)
What kind of trade value have you seen for CarGo? Is now the time to sell high and pick up two lower end keepers for him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
There's a buzz generating around Carlos Gonzalez, and you can see in my rankings that I did place him rather high. That said, I know some people who would make a case for him being one of the first players off the board in any draft, and I just think that's nuts; I think a .300 batting average is a smart over/under and if that's where he finishes on the dot, he's not a top-five player overall. So yes, if you're ever going to sell high, now is the time, but I recommend you do it exploiting one of those people who thinks, say, Troy Tulowitzki and a mid-to-late round draft pick (or middling keeper), is well worth paying to get Carlos Gonzalez.
Which teams takes Jesus Montero and trades the Yankees a Pitcher before the deadline?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
I've got this eerie feeling that Chris Carpenter is going to be a name the Yankees pursue in July, and that Montero would more than certainly be a demanded prospect in exchange.
I love Derek Jeter!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
I wish I could say the same, Mollie, but all the indicators are awful for Mr. Jeter. Take out his 2009 and all of his numbers are in noticeable decline, and even if you want to say some of his 2010 stats were a product of bad luck -- and they were -- he might never bat as high as .300 again. He's hitting a ton of ground balls and not slapping line drives with the same authority as in the past. If he improves, it's not going to be by much.
I think you were smart to omit Jon Garland in your rankings, but what about Ibanez? He batted .309 with 9 homers after the break.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
Not a fan. He's a lousy defender, so goodbye to those late-game at-bats because he'll get the early hook, plus I bet he's going to get yanked at times when the matchups don't please Charlie Manuel. In other words, not a guy you can count on for a full-timer's PAs, and at his age, I think any positive thing that could be said is related to his bandbox ballpark. And he didn't thrive in it last year, so...
Martin Prado should get enough games in at 2b/3b with Jones often being injured and late innings shifts for Uggla at 2b. Yay or Nay?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
I'm going to say "nay" as the correct overall answer to that question, but to all the Prado owners whose leagues force him to lose eligibility in-season, I can say that there's noticeable enough risk that Chipper Jones gets hurt or that Freddie Freeman is a total bust that Prado could pick up the required minimums at either corner-infield spot. But if you're asking whether I think Dan Uggla is going to step aside often enough for Prado to quality at second, no, I don't think it'll happen, barring catastrophic injury to Uggla.
Hey Tristan, who do you think is a good high risk/high reward pitcher to target?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Since I already talked about Brandon Webb last week, this week I shall take the opportunity to list Jordan Zimmermann as the answer.
who is this year cargo??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
I don't think it's fair to make direct comparisons to past, single-year studs. The chances of an exact repeat are minuscule. But I get what you're asking; a player with multi-category potential (especially HRs and SBs) who should go around the round Carlos Gonzalez did last year, which was I believe the 12th or so. Hmmm. How about Colby Rasmus? He can hit for power, can steal bases, whiffs a ton just like CarGo, and I see his upside being fairly great.
Do you see Adam Dunn as bigger RBI man with a better lineup aroud him or should we see little or no change in his numbers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
Well, Dunn has been a completely consistent 40-100 guy for almost a decade (think it's now seven straight years, to be exact), so the easy money is to say he does it again. But I do like Dunn in Chicago; the lineup is potent enough, certainly more so than the one in Washington, and the ballpark supports that team tallying a healthy run total. I don't think Dunn's homers will change much -- I wrote about that when he initially signed with the White Sox -- but a 115-120 RBI season might be in order, yes.
Jordan (Casper, Wy)
Come on Tristan, Holds adds another dimension to the game. I love stocking setup guys and being rewarded with a good closer halfway through the year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
I've played in the format and was so-so on it, though I do appreciate that it gives some much-overdue credit to middle relievers. But I'm not a huge fan of holds as a statistic, because like saves, it's not measured well. You know how saves can be accrued with an inning's work with a three-run lead in the ninth? (The "easy save.") Well, you can get a hold by coming in with no one on base, in a save situation, recording that out and leaving. Is that really earning much? I'd say no. Heck, I remember a time when you didn't even have to record an out to get a hold... says a lot about the category.
Jay Bruce....Do we see his upside come to fruition this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I'm big on Bruce, so long as your expectations are a lot of homers and RBIs, but not much in terms of batting average. He's a swing-for-the-fences type, might be a tad streaky, but I could completely see a 35-100 campaign coming. He sure had a strong finish.
A. Gonzalez (Bos)
I will hit 43 HR's and drive in 125 RBI's this year at least? Am I right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I'm projecting Adrian Gonzalez for more like 40 homers (or just under that) and 115 RBIs, but remember that when I build a projection, it's meant to set a bar at the most realistic expectation for the player, not just to satisfy my wildest dreams. You simply shouldn't draft catering to the latter; you won't win. But my wildest dreams? Yeah, I think 43-125 is very, very fair. I've got Gonzalez a surefire first-round candidate, just so you know, so I'm huge on him in Boston.
TC, I simply cannot get myself to draft Votto this year because I see this last year as a fluke. Am I missing something?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
There was only one number that bothered me about Joey Votto and it was his home run/fly ball percentage, which if memory serves was a major league high and something like 25 percent. It's really tough to advance past 20, just for reference. But I also crunched the numbers and realized that meant maybe six homers lost if he drops back beneath 20, and that's still an exceptional hitter. Heck, if you go back to his minors days, he has been remarkably consistent. Almost a guaranteed .300-30-100, and he steals bases, so yes, I think you're missing something here.
If you had Votto at first would you deal Howard for Heyward in a Dynasty league. Howard does play as my DH.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
Yes. "Dynasty league" being the key.
Mike (San Diego)
I think Javy Vazquez will be this year's Tim Hudson, meaning a back of th draft guy who could be a #3 starter in a 10 teamer. You agree?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
Vazquez lost his fastball with the Yankees, and for as much as I think landing with the Marlins is about the best-case scenario for his fantasy prospects, I don't see him coming close to what he did the last time he was in the NL East, in 2009. No, he won't match Hudson's 2010; I just can't see how he regains the lost velocity, but I guess I could be proved wrong if he's suddenly throwing darts in March.
Jason Heyward over/under: 25.5 hr's, 90.5 runs, 85.5 rbi's, 10.5 stolen bases, .285.5 avg.??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
My current projection says under (HRs), over (runs), under (RBIs), over (SBs), over (batting average). You buy Heyward because he should be a safe contributor in batting average, but I'm capping the homers at 25 at best. Anything more is just gravy. Still an excellent player, and I have to say, the RBIs are the only thing I was off by more than 10 in my projection (had him around 75).
Alverez will hit 35 hr's and drive in 100 rbi's this year? Your take?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:52 AM)
Sure might. I said in the earlier question that I like his power upside, but I do caution you be careful. He's being drafted in something like the 12th-13th rounds in my early drafts, and that's smart, because he's a whiff king and that makes him a huge batting-average liability. Also, it makes him a risk for a sophomore slump. I just want to point out: For as much as I like the upside, the downside isn't much less steep. So be careful.
Ryan (Cloud Nine)
Is it safe to say that Manny Ramirez will win the triple crown this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
Is this what the phrase #tweetsfrom2000 means?
Tristan, Top 5 SS and Top 3B are?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
You can see my top 250 (which has these rankings) right here, but my top five shortstops were Hanley Ramirez, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter (which shows how thin it gets quickly), and my top five third basemen were Evan Longoria, David Wright, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Zimmerman and Jose Bautista.
Tim Lincecum (San Fran)
At the rate I'm going, when can I expect my arm to fall off?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
You're "The Freak," remember? You can throw 200-plus innings forever, at least until 2025. But seriously, I've seen no significant indicator that Lincecum's arm is in imminent danger, so I'm not about to predict it happening just yet. What, are you fishing for Carlos Zambrano hate?
Ryan howard have upside this year or is he on the decline?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
I think his decline has begun, but it's not steep (yet). I'd set the bar at around his 2010, maybe a little more health, but that means now he's more of a 40-homer candidate who bats .260-.270 than a 50-homer, .290-.300 megastud.
What do you expect from Reds Chapman this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
Much hand-wringing by his fantasy owners. Bullpen role on Opening Day, but not closing, outpitches Francisco Cordero for many weeks, lots of complaints about "why isn't he closing?!?!?!", then the Reds possibly cave sometime mid-to-late season. It means overall I'm somewhat down on Chapman, because I think guys like this tend to get overdrafted, and his owners wind up impatient; a lot of them get sick of his middle-relief role in the early weeks, cut him, and then if he emerges as closer (or starter), he's there for the taking.
I have a hard time imagining fantasy owners holding onto Johan for as long as he's going to be out.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
Unless they have a DL spot in their league, I agree with you.
Dynasty- Pick 3, D. Jennings, J. Montero, Delmon Young or Zobrist
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
The "dynasty" part has me leaning towards the former three, despite what my 2011 rankings say.
brad (harrisburg, pa)
your advice for the first time using the auction system?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Hmmm. Quick advice: Be prepared. (No greater advice for an auction, simple as it sounds, but a lot of people fail to listen.) Make a detailed price list. (Specific dollars tailored to your league's rules, and that add up to the total money available in the auction.) Track rosters. (Excellent help for late rounds.) Don't let your player loves get the best of you. And finally, don't sit back and wait too long, either, assuming the bargains will eventually come. You have to be aggressive, too.
In 2011 auctions, I am planning to throw out junk in my early nominations, then pick up studs at a discount later on. Good strategy?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:03 PM)
Yes, that's a popular strategy, but remember that that's a popular strategy. In other words, a lot of people might do it, in which case, bargains could very well be had in the early rounds as opposed to mid-to-late. Times they are a-changin', because people have heard this advice now for years. I say be ready, and be aggressive, at any stage of your auction. It's not a no-no to buy the first player, if the price is right. Often, he's the best bargain of the whole draft. Heck, I think in all of my auctions last year, the best bargain the entire auction was one of the first five players nominated.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for the day. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone!