Chat with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest baseball news from a fantasy perspective.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Thursday at 11 a.m. ET!
Need an in-depth answer to your question? Want your roster or trade offers reviewed? Get a personalized response from an ESPN expert with The Answer Guys. All questions answered within 24 hours, guaranteed. Ask your question
More Fantasy: Fantasy Home Page
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...
JL (District 9)
Ted Lilly...been patient all year. Wanna believe, but got my finger on the trigger to cut him loose. Thoughts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
In standard ESPN leagues, he's beneath the point where you can call him must-roster material. (The old "Wandy Line" argument.) If that's your format, I completely understand your thinking. I do think Lilly's year improves, but his peak second-half value might still be a guy who teeters on the brink of the top 25/30. That's a better streamer than every-start guy.
starting Matusz today?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Not. A. Chance.
Gary (next to last place)
Phil Hughes, second half sleeper?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Reports from his latest rehab start were positive, and his velocity was up. I remain on the "sleeper" bandwagon but the investment should be small. He's probably a free agent in a decent number of leagues; stash him if you can. Remember, run support will always be good, and if his velocity is consistently back -- which we should know by his first 1-2 starts back with the Yanks -- he could very well return to every-start status.
gordon beckham (chi)
do you believe i have a strong 2nd half?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
The best case for a Gordon Beckham second-half rebound is that he had one last season, but I've had discussions with colleagues about how hollow that sort of argument with other such candidates. It's better than Beckham not having a second-half history, but one season of a stinky first half, solid second half, hardly guarantees that it'll happen in back-to-back years. Pay less than top-10 second base value and it's worth a flyer.
To add to the Hughes question. Here shortly the Yankees have 6 starters for 5 spots. Who's the odd man out?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Well, it could be Hughes, the argument against his shifting to the bullpen that you don't want to mess with his long-term development (a la Joba Chamberlain). It might very well be Bartolo Colon; we have no idea how effectively he bounces back from this injury. The Yankees have 1-2 more rotation turns -- think post-All-Star break -- before they have to decide. If I was to guess, it's Colon, if only because that's how the season started. (Not saying it's right.)
What type of SP would you expect in return for Justin or B.J Upton?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:08 AM)
Top-15 or so for Justin Upton, and I'd really aim for top-25 for B.J. Upton.
Chris Davis about to be recalled... mashing in AAA, thoughts?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
I've noticed the Texas media speculating upon that, with Josh Hamilton shifting to center field. I've historically been a Davis fan, but obviously, I've since tempered my expectations somewhat. Let's say a .270 batting average, 12-15 homers is his ceiling. That's worth a pickup in AL-only formats, and watching in mixed.
Erik Bedard hurt his .... knee? Didnt see that coming.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
Neither did I. It's a shame, too, because he had been on a monstrous hot streak of late, and all of us were understandably buying.
DEE GORDON LOSING DEE JOB (LA)
With Furcal about to return is it time to dump Flash Jr.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:11 AM)
Sorry, Dee, I've got loads of respect for your speed, but you're simply not a major league hitter at this stage of your career. I liken Gordon to Eric Young Jr.; so much steals potential in fantasy but the batting average not only will kill you, but it makes them such risks to lose their jobs at a moment's notice. There are whispers Rafael Furcal might shift to second base when healthy, but at their current paces, yes, I'd be worried if I was a Gordon owner.
Tom Tuttle (Tacoma)
The Mets' irresistible force offense meets the immovable object of Justin Verlander's right arm this afternoon. Your prediction?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:12 AM)
Mets' bats finally run silent. Dead silent. Verlander is an interleague dynamo.
What outfielder should be owned in more leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
Do I have to pick just one? Cameron Maybin. Corey Patterson. Jason Bourgeois. Roger Bernadina was one of the four "underrated" in my "Hit Parade" this week.
Matt Kemp hits ____ more home runs and steals ____ more stolen bases the rest of the season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
By all rights his current paces might be the correct answer: That's 21 more apiece. I believe in regression to mean, however, and would say 17 and 15 are the smart answers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, or any reason to therefore sell.
Brett Anderson (Oakland)
Am I worth holding onto or will I never make it back / be valuable this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
"Terrified" is the first word that comes to mind when I'm asked to prognosticate on Anderson's immediate future.
Gavin Floyd had an other-worldly, insane 13-14 game run last summer... whats with this guy, is he ever going to figure out the big picture and get more consistent?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
Floyd is another example of the "arbitrary splits" argument I was referring to in the Gordon Beckham question, except that the difference between the two is that the 1-2-month hot spells that Floyd has been known for historically earn him a label for being impressively streaky. You can squeeze some value out of that; right now I think he's capitalizing upon interleague matchups, and well, he's got a decent enough history in those games. I think I ranked him around 40 in "60 Feet 6 Inches" (off the top of my head) and that felt about right; when he's "hot" he's top-25 for sure. Rest of the time? He's hardly even rosterable.
Starting Wandy today?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Hmmmmmno (Tristanspeak for "I'm tempted, but can't bring myself to do it.") We're talking standard mixed, obviously, because NL-only owners can't afford to sit guys this talented. Wandy's career interleague numbers: 5.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP. Career against Rangers: 6.49 ERA, 1.48 WHIP.
Hi Tristan. Who gets the most saves in Philly ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
Ryan Madson, answering in case it wasn't immediately clear in "Relief Efforts."
How about Wolf?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
Randy Wolf terrifies me; I liken him to a box of live grenades with variable timers, you just don't have any idea when you're going to get burned. His matchups history has been all over the map -- I was the one who wrote that fact into his draft-kit profile, if you choose to check back -- and that means that you can enjoy the hot streaks if you wish, but trust me, over 33 starts of a given year, he's still a grenade.
I'm from NY! Now what about Peavy? You gonna start him @COL?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
Honestly, Bill, I rarely even notice the cities, sorry if it seems there's a bit of New York bias today. Unintentional. There is no chance, however, that I would use Jake Peavy at Coors.
Is Jemile Weeks for real? BA and SB, ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
I buy this to a degree. He always showed good hitting skills in the minors, plate discipline, contact ability, etc., so I don't think of him as a batting-average killer. He's quick, too. Weeks is the kind of guy I believe belongs in the majors, should hold down a job and could be a .280-with-double-digit-steals fantasy type. But he's a rookie, there's often an adjustment period. I merely caution you don't put that spot on autopilot if you fill it with him.
Worley worth a pickup? Looked good last night.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I'm on the fence on Vance Worley. Some good outings so far, yes, but has all the makings of a matchups guy to me. Think streaming, not add-all-around.
I'm not from NY!!! Can you elaborate some more on Matusz? He doesn't appear healthy. Is he still not 100% or is this more just a biproduct of missing so much time?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
He was a topic in "60 Feet 6 Inches," so check there for more detail, but I do think health is a question mark.
Was yesterday's stellar Brandon Morrow performance a sign of things to come?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
I've been a Brandon Morrow fan all year, in fact since the beginning of last season (maybe even before that) and he's now got three consecutive solid outings, including two challenging (well, typically the Cardinals were, before Pujols got hurt) matchups with the @STL and @CIN games. Yes, I buy.
Would you ever consider adding Nate McLouth?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
In LABR or Tout, which are 13-team NL-only leagues, except that McLouth has been owned in those for I believe the entire year. Shrink those NL-only pools to 10 teams or so and I'd say, sure, why not. But I wouldn't get too optimistic here.
Jason Bay (New York)
I'm back! Right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
A grand slam and two stolen bases don't entirely restore my faith. After all, 2-for-12 in those three games that those numbers were accrued. I need to see more, but it's a good first step.
Trying to bring a little west coast to the chat! In a ten team keeper league roto 5X5 what young keeper or keepers should I target for Konerko?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
If I was a non-contender in a keeper league and could swap Paul Konerko straight up for a younger player, I would offer him for these four names (just to provide value reference): Jordan Zimmermann, Adam Jones, Eric Hosmer, Adam Lind.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
That's each, not all, of those players. A straight-up, 1-for-1 deal.
johnny peralta? gold or garbage?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
In-between. He's actually a bit underrated -- was a candidate for "Hit Parade" -- and shapes up as .270-20 money in the bank, which is a pretty good thing for a shortstop these days. Could even finish at .280-25 considering the hot start, so that's a solid enough finish coming. Top-10 worthy at the position.
I thought this week was the week for updated keeper rankings???!!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:36 AM)
It is. I do not intend to break this promise.
Desmond Jennings (Tampa)
Am I an immediate add in 10-team mixed when I'm called up? I've been simmering in AAA forever!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Yes, of course, but there is so much advance buzz with Jennings because of how long people have been waiting for him that expectations have a risk of spiraling out of control. Let's be reasonable: I think he can still offer a .270 batting average and 20-25 steals from today forward, if he's up soon (and I have to think he should be).
Is it crazy to stach Mike Minor in a 12 team league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Only if you've got a deep bench. Remember, the Braves have five locked-in starters when healthy. You're rooting for an injury, for the most part. And, heck, I like Julio Teheran better from the future angle.
I'm trying to make a playoff push in my keeper league right now yet I have Strasburg and Harper stashed on my bench. If I really wanna get serious, should I consider dumping one of them or even both?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
You're in a keeper league, right? Have you considered trading either? Both should fetch a healthy bounty, in my opinion. I think anyone who insists upon hoarding prospects like that, guys who will not help you this year, at the expense of possibly dealing one for a rental that could put you over the top, is a fool. But I'm a guy who once dealt Justin Upton for Jason Bay, many years ago. It ended up in a championship for me in that league, albeit the following year (I was second that year, if I recall). The guy who got Upton? He has two championships, in 2009-10, but I'll tell you, it's not because he got Upton. It's because he made 4-5 more deals just like that to refresh his roster. Go bold or go home, I say.
Now that we've seen Hosmer go through his first "adjustment period," is he a top 70 keeper for next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Is he a top-70 player in my keeper rankings (which account for more than the 2012 season alone)? Yes. Is Eric Hosmer's 2012 upside within the top-70 players? Yes. Will Hosmer be ranked among the top 70 in the spring, and will I advise you draft him as one? Well, no. A good guess: He's in the 100-125 range, which is still awfully good for a young kid with his amount of experience. I give you all those answers because it stresses that your keeper rules come into play here.
Read your column yesterday, I am indeed a Wieters owner, have a chance to pick up lucroy - what's better long term?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:45 AM)
Matt Wieters. He's overrated, but even his so-so level of performance today isn't much less than Jonathan Lucroy's, and his ceiling -- even for the remainder of 2011 -- is much, much higher.
Is Colby Rasmus officially turning it around?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:47 AM)
I'd say so. It's actually a bit odd that his hot streak has coincided with Albert Pujols' injury, because you'd think that'd lead to an everyday No. 2 spot in the Cardinals' lineup for Rasmus (and I do think he warrants a look there). Instead, it hasn't; he's raking out of the Nos. 5-6 spots. Hey, that's fine, the kid's immensely talented and it's finally showing. Enjoy it.
In your other columns this week, you listed overrated batters/pitchers, but you didnt list any overrated relievers in today's column. Are there any overrated closers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
There's an obvious reason for that: Saves are still saves, so to say Jonathan Papelbon and Francisco Rodriguez are "overrated" would send a message that would unfairly undercut their true value. The guys are still going to get saves ... well, so long as K-Rod isn't traded (and I'm not convinced he will be). I'm not ga-ga over either though.
Any reservations starting Lester today? With the lineup the Sox are rolling out and against Hamels don't expect much run support....
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
The Phillies rank 17th in runs scored and 21st in team OPS so far this season, and narrow the splits to June alone and they rank right around the same in each category. I'm not sure what's so scary about a Phillies matchup these days -- that's meant as a heads-up across the board, not this specific matchup -- but in terms of Jon Lester, he's Jon Lester. I'm not sitting him.
Franklin (Santa Cruz)
Has Adam Jones finally turned into the player we've been waiting for? He's looking like he could finish the year .285/28/90. It seems like he's been around forever, but he's only 25 years old. Does he have a .300/30/100 season in his future?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
I do think he's turning the corner, yes. But the .300 batting average -- other than a year or two over his career that are somewhat fluky -- seems generous to me. He's too free-swinging for that, and I'd anticipate an annual batting average closer to the mid-.280s. But the 30-100? Sure, I could see that.
Should I be concerned about Heath Bell for the rest of this year? It looks like a trade is a foredrawn conclusion.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
There's some risk of his being dealt into a setup role, I'm not going to hide that. It might, however, be smarter to use that risk to your advantage to sneak him away from his nervous owner on the cheap. The reason I say that is that I'd actually be shocked if Bell couldn't make a case to close wherever he winds up. There's really only one place I could realistically see him traded where he would not close: The New York Yankees. Yeah, say the Giants, but I don't think they have nearly as pressing a need for Bell.
Matt (Raleigh, NC)
Looking forward to the dynasty draft results. When will that drop?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Haha, cat's out of the bag, eh? OK, the scoop: Top 250 keepers and the dynasty draft run tomorrow. I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty active on Twitter the next 48 hours...
Norris or Vargas tommorow? ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
I don't even have them close tomorrow: Jason Vargas at home against San Diego is about as good a matchup as he could ask. I do have Bud Norris' full-season upside a bit higher of the two, however.
You starting Bartolo right away when he comes back Saturday?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:58 AM)
Nope, but I'll be watching closely, as he could very well be deserving of the start his next turn.
John (St Louis)
David Freese? Buy? Stat Line for ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
After so much missed time it's a little unfair to give him a generous rest-of-season projection, though I see some matchups value. Let's say if he bats .270 and hits 10 homers from today forward, you're very happy. More likely, the way you squeeze out some value is to spot him in against the lefties; he usually excels at that.
Patrick (Second Place)
How far into the future are you thinking when you rank keepers? For example, would you have kept a Mike Stantonish player thinking that in two years he's potentially hitting 40+ dingers, or do you go with a Konerko type who will definitely help you this year and next? Thanks.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
I always offer the caveat to my keeper rankings: It is impossible to provide a set of rankings to suit every single league format. The slightest format chance skews the rankings. Think of keepers in tiers/ranges; that's my goal when I rank them. And I almost always say upfront in the column what the timetable is for my ranks; this group is going to be mostly 2012-14, but also accounting for rest-of-2011 and some post-2014.In the Stanton-Konerko debate? Heck, I project Stanton to out-homer Konerko in 2012.
Do you think Matt Holliday's numbers will be affected or are affected by Albert's absence?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:08 PM)
I hate trying to make cases built around "lineup support," but sometimes the stats don't lie, and in Holliday's case, yes, there's an advantage to batting behind Pujols. It's to be expected; Pujols is a fantastic on-base guy so obviously that's a noticeable hit to Holliday's RBIs.
mike (new york)
How good is Brandon Beachy? Everything I read says the kid can flat-out PITCH.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
He's going to be underranked in readers' consensus opinions in my top 250 keepers, I am sure, but let's not forget that three months ago no one would have even brought up his name in the conversation as a candidate for such a list. That shows how much he has grown so quickly, and let's say that I am rapidly warming up to him from a long-term perspective. "60 Feet 6 Inches" rank already shows that I liked him quite a bit in the short term. The one bothersome thing: I'm not sure he has hit a big-league "adjustment period" yet, and one could still come.
Which is harder to chase: saves or holds?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
Holds, but only because specific pitchers are more locked into closer than eighth-inning-setup roles. There is definitely a greater number of holds available overall, I'd imagine, but usually the leader in the category has fewer of them than the saves leader; they wind up more scattered.
What's up with Venters? Just tired or is something wrong?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:12 PM)
I think he's tired. Jeez, he's on pace for 91 appearances and 101 innings, What are the Braves thinking? That's almost Joe Torre-with-Scott Proctor-like abuse. Tyler Clippard could be going through the same thing right now. The Braves would be smart to give Venters some more days off before the break and manage his second-half usage better, so he doesn't wear out by August.
Thoughts on Presley?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:14 PM)
A bit of pop, a bit more speed (think barely double-digits over a full year and perhaps 20ish in steals), meaning NL-only and deep-mixed value. He's more whiff-prone than I'd like to see, though, so I've got concerns. Think something like .260 with 5-6 homers, 12 steals, but a downside for sure, from today forward.
THC- much respect on going overtime- Time to Bail on Mcgehee?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:15 PM)
I love overtime, hate the shoot-out. And yes, I'd say so, if it wasn't time to bail weeks ago. He looks awful.
Which side you like in redraft H2H league - Gaby Sanchez/Bernadina or Hosmer/LoMo
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:17 PM)
The former is a bit more stable in my opinion in a redraft league, and the keeper potential of the latter merely tempts people into believing it's the better side. The latter side, of course, eats the former for breakfast in a keeper league, and that's despite my growing respect for Gaby Sanchez.
Nick (Langhorne, PA)
Do you think Nolasco bumps up in next weeks 60 feet column? He's really gotta be the most frustrating SP in fantasy.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:18 PM)
Meh, three whiffs in the nine innings. I'm not wowed. It stabilizes his precipitous drop, but if he moves up it might be 10 spots at best, and what'd that be, about 50? I need to see more. Nolasco is a command-numbers dynamo when he's on, and 3/2 doesn't say that he's necessarily "on."
B A (Houston)
Streaming start--Do you like Harrison @ Houston or Fister vs. San Diego better?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:19 PM)
Doug Fister for this one particular matchup. Home game, and Padres opponent. Home > road, San Diego > Houston, simple as that.
karstens worth a play tonight?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:20 PM)
I guess. Karstens is a must-hit-his-spots kind of guy, and lately he has been. But go back to the Red Sox start (6 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K), and that's a perfectly fair baseline expectation for this matchup. If you're expecting significantly more, I worry you will be disappointed.
Who is the 'ace' of the Ranger's pitching staff these days?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:21 PM)
It's C.J. Wilson, with Colby Lewis not that far behind him.
What should I be looking to get in return for Grienke? I need some offensive help!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:22 PM)
Aim for a top-25 bat, you have every right to. I suppose if you tried to talk me down to, say, my No. 37 man Ryan Zimmerman, I wouldn't quibble.
Hosmer or Kung Fu Panda ROS?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:22 PM)
Panda. It's just safer, at least for this year.
JUpton Kershaw Jered Weaver or Strasburg..who u keepin for next year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:24 PM)
All of them, and without hesitation. If one must go? Ugh, it's gotta be Stephen Strasburg, but if I'm in your shoes I am surely pairing Strasburg and Weaver and trying to get an elite hitter in exchange, a Kemp/Votto type.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:25 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Happy holiday weekend to everyone, and stay safe. Take care!