Chat with Tristan Cockcroft
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:01 AM)
Good morning everyone! Busy 24 hours; Ryan Braun's suspension overturned and my keeper rankings are on their way. Who's got a question? Let's get started...
Is there any reason to expect a turn around from Adam Dunn?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
Yes, that 2011 represented the absolute worst-case scenario for Dunn, and from a mere regression-to-the-mean perspective, the chances he improves are greater than he doesn't. (For the record, the chances he doesn't effectively mean he's the next Richie Sexson, and he's out of baseball in a year or two from now. I'm not ruling that out.) Dunn is one of the players who must most closely be tracked; everything about his 2011 said his bat speed was down, he got busted by fastballs and he couldn't touch lefties. I can't advise you to trust anything more than a .220 batting average and, say, 20 homers. He's like a "lite" Carlos Pena.
aroldis chapman (the reds rotation?)
what are your thoughts on me? worth a keeper spot if i make the rotation?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Without specs it's almost impossible to make that ruling, but Chapman as a starter makes a far more compelling keeper than him as a setup man (and he'll be only a setup man if he's destined for relief).I'll say this: I see the Reds' depth in starting pitching and wonder how they can sneak him in without an injury. Today, it's a "no" for me, but again, no league specs, I can't make a blanket statement.
Jon (Akron, PA)
Would you trade Granderson for Howard straight up? I'm a little week at the outfield position
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
No way. Team getting Granderson gets an outrageous steal.
You like Volquez in SD?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
To the extent that he's a matchups and/or streaks play, as Petco Park is an ideal place for a pitcher who regularly racks up baserunners allowed. (Think: Lower prospect of 2- and 3-run homers, so the ERA suffers less.) But I am and have long been anti-Edinson Volquez; he's overrated for his strikeout potential because control is a big problem. Late, late round mixed pick who requires careful management, and really a middle-to-end-of-staff NL-only option.
Do you expect Eric Hosmer to finish as a top 5 1b?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:07 AM)
Hmmmmno, but I think he could make a run at it. Positional depth fuels my hesitation.
PJ (Richmond, VA)
What Do you know about the field dimensions in Miami and how do you think it will affect the pitching and hitting?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
My understanding is that the outfield dimensions -- in terms of measurement in feet from home plate -- are roughly comparable to Sun Life Stadium's, but the left and left-center walls are shorter and perhaps a few feet deeper to compensate for it. We have to guess; my guess is that based on the measurements the ballpark might be slightly more hitter-friendly, yet still leaning towards pitchers. But let's not forget that new Yankee Stadium was measured as roughly the same as the old one, then we discovered things like wind tunnels and the fact that the right-center field measurements actually weren't equal to the old park after all.
You mentioned that you like Derek Holland a lot. What do you think about Neftali Feliz as a starter?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
I made a few notes on Feliz this winter, based upon a combination of what I've seen from him (usually on TV) and statistical evidence: He's a fastball-fastball-fastball pitcher and the worry with relievers-turned-starters is that they have to dial the pitch down a couple mph to hold up over the course of 6-7 innings. He hasn't thrown a changeup since 2009; he has thrown fastballs 80 percent of the time in his career. So I have some questions about the depth of his arsenal, and that alone is why in a previous chat, I said I preferred Chris Sale, then Daniel Bard, among the "big three" of relievers-turned-starters, in terms of how smooth the transition.But we'll see. I'll be tracking him this spring.
Matt (Decatur, IL)
You have Michael Cuddyer ranked 35th in your OF rankings, below Nick Markakis. Are you against the consensus that Cuddyer's move from Target Field to Coors will inflate his numbers??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
Yes. My take was outlined in the Cuddyer spin at the time of my deal; it's in my archive.
In the age of sabermetrics it almost feels like we are drowned by thousands of new metrics for performance prediction. Are there specific ones you like to trust?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
I don't trust any one metric as a be-all and end-all. It's the full package: FIP, xFIP, K/9, BB/9, K/BB, GB-FB-LD% for pitchers are of extreme importance to me, and any of the others, like BABIP, I'll pick and choose. I'll have an update to my annual BABIP evaluation column, in fact, in the coming days. Consider them all: Statistics are not always a one-size-fits-all thing.
Two questions: is it weird that I know a lot of the eating habits of most of ESPN's fantasy writers? (I'm guessing no chix parm today). Where are your 'live draft results'?? We need these for our keeper league retention adjustments!!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:19 AM)
I make no secret of my eating habits, though the truth is I do eat other things than chicken parm. Eggplant parm, for example. Anything in the "parm" family gets an OK in my book.I'll pass along word about the live draft results, though my hunch is that it's a matter of sample size. I really don't know how many drafts have taken place yet and you don't want to trust, say, ADPs based upon five drafts.
I see you don't have Kubel or Rios in your Top-70 OF's, while the ESPN ratings overall for both those guys are in the mid-40's. What is your hesitation about these guys, especially Kubel, who should get a lot of playing time this season?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
Jason Kubel stinks in the field and Gerardo Parra, who manned left field for the 2011 Diamondbacks, is outstanding defensively. I see no way the Diamondbacks can sell Kubel as a corner outfielder over a defensively sound Parra or far-too-valuable-offensively Justin Upton more than, say, five times a week, and it means I see him sitting a lot against lefties and perhaps occasional righties when a flyballer is on the mound.As for Alex Rios, boy, hasn't he frustrated you enough over the years? Not much I can say other than, "Ugh, no thank you."
Evan (Auburn, Ala.)
Would it be smart to draft Bryce Harper near the end of the draft?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:22 AM)
Depends on the league. If it's a shallow mixed redraft league with three bench spots, then no. I think we'll see Harper in D.C. sometime in 2012, but I cannot possibly project him at more than, say, a .260 batting average and 20 homers, and those over a 162-game season; a September cup of coffee would require scaling those to an irrelevant sample of 20 or so games.
So when you posting the keeper rankings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:24 AM)
They're filed, should be later today. I'll give a heads up on Twitter, since I know people are eager (understatement) to read them.
You like the snow this morning? Anyway, what are your thoughts on Freeman this year and beyond?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:25 AM)
Huh, didn't even notice. Not sure it snowed here.I'm a Freddie Freeman fan. The strikeouts are a tad bothersome -- they cap his batting-average potential -- but I do see 30-homer seasons in his future. He made some advances as 2011 progressed in terms of plate discipline so I believe now, and I'm confident in 2013 and beyond. Think top-10 guy at his position, easy.
How do you change your draft strategy in regards to catchers when you're in a 2 catcher league as opposed to a 1 catcher league? Are you more likely to spend money on a more elite guy in 2 catcher leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:26 AM)
I do more research deeper in the pool, and that is the primary difference. I don't alter my approach to filling the position at all; I tend not to invest in elite catchers because they're so often overpriced.
How does this work (CHAT)
if a question is submitted early do you have the ability to go back to it later on or do you only see the most recent submitted and choose from them at any specific time?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
It doesn't matter when they are posted, I can see them all, but remember there are a ton of questions and I cannot possibly in an hour get to them all. I do my best!
It seems that people are all over the place when it comes to Lawrie. What do you project as his final numbers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
I feel like Brett Lawrie at this stage of his career is somewhat equal to Ryan Braun at this specific stage of his. Lawrie looked like a legitimate big-league slugger in his brief time with the Blue Jays, his walks-K's rates weren't terribly troublesome and he steals bases. Could be 20/20, easy. I buy.
So drafted Carl Crawford in the 1st RD last year and now I am having trouble letting him go... Is this a mistake?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
(Shrug) Name value is probably reeling you in. Resist it. Crawford's injury might have been directly responsible for his 2011 struggles, and since he's already facing similar questions about it this year, I'm not buying one bit. Unless you can retain him at a significantly cheaper price, he's a no-go as a keeper.
Matt (Pittsburgh, PA)
Why is Verlander still ranked behind Roy Halladay and even Clayton Kershaw in the analysts rankings, he won the MVP AND CY YOUNG!!! I can see Kershaw being ahead bc that is basically a toss up, but how can you put Halladay ahead of Verlander??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:30 AM)
Last season's statistics are entirely irrelevant beyond what they can tell us about future performance. And when I look at Verlander, he might have an atrocious defense behind him this season (Cabrera at third, Fielder at first). That's enough to drop him from the top spot.
what do you like more for a keeper league, team a)prince fielder and pedroia or team b)justin upton and mike stanton
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
The latter, and the latter, and also the latter.
Matt (Decatur, IL)
RE: Cuddyer - Thanks for the info on the archives. Sorry I missed it. However, he is 2B elgible in my league. Where would he slot in your rankings at that position?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:32 AM)
I believe what I said at the time was eighth. We can debate the merits of, say, Chase Utley versus Michael Cuddyer at second base, and I think I had Utley eighth. Seems about right.
Matt (Decatur, IL)
Why so down on Berkman this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
I have an extremely difficult time buying repeats of out-of-left-field seasons from a 35-year-old. I think regression is in order. Have we all completely forgotten Lance Berkman's 2010?
Chong Lee (New York, NY)
John Axford will be top 5 again this year? Or was his one season a fluke (independent of the never pay for saves debate)
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
I believe, as Axford has done nothing but improve as a pitcher since taking over the closer job, and yes he's in my top five. That said, he's a closer. You play with fire at that position, no matter who you ask about.
you're wrong about kubel, kirk gibson just said he wants parra competing for his time in center field. He'll sit against lefties but thats it. Everyone's sick of Chris Young's 220 avg
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:34 AM)
OK. That's still probably two out of every seven games that Kubel is sitting, and it adversely impacts his fantasy value. And I'm not completely sold Gibson will be able to stomach Kubel's D even that often.
THC: Thanks for all your help - i guessed at your top 10 and think I had a decent chance at them but must have missed! for the next 2 years which 5 would you rather have: Braun Kemp Jennings Hosmer Carlos Santana or Pedroia JUpton Kemp Hosmer Santana Jennings (pick 2 of Hos/Santana/Jennings)... 5x5 thanks again!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Nobody has accurately guessed all 10 names in my top 10 keepers yet. A couple people got nine right; there is a significant name who everyone keeps guessing but who is absolutely not in it. If anyone got it, I'd say it!So if I'm picking two, I'm going Eric Hosmer and Carlos Santana. I think you're sound enough in steals to let Jennings go there.
Did any SP make your top 10 in your keeper ranks?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Yes. One, and he was 10th. And I suppose, based upon 2011 Player Rater rankings, the name is going to surprise you.
Adam (Wishes his name was matt so his question would be read) (W
Do you believe in Ike Davis with the new dimensions in Citi field? Another sites analyst had him projected at hitting 30+ HRs. That's crazy right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:39 AM)
Well, whoever did that was offering an optimistic, high-end, "upside" kind of projection. I can make the case. A healthy Davis in a ballpark with shorter outfield fences has that kind of ceiling. But we're taking a leap on a guy who dealt with all sorts of injuries last year; I like Davis more and more as I read about his rehab, but I think it's dangerous to estimate more than a .270 batting average, 20 homers and, say, 130 games right now.
Kevin (Cambridge, MD)
Any updates on the Oakland and Houston closer positions?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Recent reports have the Athletics pitting Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes head-to-head for the role, with Joey Devine and Fautino De Los Santos being lesser contenders more likely to emerge as in-season considerations.As for the Astros, a healthy Brandon Lyon, from all indications, is going to take that role. But it's an open competition as of today, between Lyon, Wilton Lopez, Juan Abreu and David Carpenter.
CL (NY, NY)
Felix is the SP in your top 10. No brainer. Still crazily young, fluid motion, no injury issues, monster of a ball park. Long live the King.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
Ding ding ding!
Better late round sleeper for a mixed league? Lucas Duda or Jon Mayberry Jr.?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:42 AM)
Like 'em both. You asked me to pick: It's Duda.
Any different strategy u would take to an extended draft which could take a couple weeks compared to a standard draft which could take a couple hours?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I can't remember the last time I played in a fantasy/Rotisserie style long draft, Kevin. Usually it's the sim leagues I'm in that go that route.Off the top of my head, wait longer on closers? More information on who some of these job winners might be the longer you wait. Also, take the absolute maximum time you're afforded to make the pick. Everyone else is going to do it; the longer you wait the more information you'll have at the time of the pick.Greatest benefit of the slow draft: You get so much time that you won't really make a bad pick.Greatest drawback: Everyone is going to make good picks. You won't sneak much through.
Machado - does he see Baltimore this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
I doubt it, but he's in my keeper top 250, meaning that he's got an outside shot at a late-season call-up, and I do think he'll be a factor by 2013.
In a roto 10 team league when do you start to pick starting pitchers?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
Whenever the group falls beneath where I personally rank them. Let's say it's the 18th pick overall and no one has taken one; I'm going to do it. Generally? I start thinking about an ace in the third or fourth rounds.
How confident are you that Miggy will play enough 3B to gain the positional eligibility?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
My tweet last night raised the question that Cabrera might not last long enough at the position to qualify; it was a possibility I raised, not a certainty. I'm projecting he'll get it; if this turns into a mess it might be May before it does. But the mere possibility was the point I was making in the Braun-versus-Cabrera debate.
Costanza (New York Yankees office)
Need help with my last keeper. It's between Trumbo and Trout? Who helps me the most this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I'm keeping Mike Trout. Smarter at those levels to take the chance on the younger, higher-ceiling player, even if playing time is less assured.
Are you worried about Jenning's ave this season like everyone else seems to be? If he bats 290 he could be a top 20 player right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:49 AM)
I think Desmond Jennings is going to bat .268.
Dom Brown going to see enough time to rationalize drafting him anywhere?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:50 AM)
I haven't heard a whisper about Domonic Brown being seriously considered for a starting job in the Phillies' outfield. I'd plan accordingly. He feels like a "check back in 2013" player; I have long maintained that I saw him facing a long learning curve at this level. Felt that way from the very first day I saw him play in person.
Enjoyed your SP preview, will you still be publishing a Kings of Command piece this March as well? Do you find yourself picking one of your top 9 SP's in drafts or taking 2 from the next tier? Just wondering which strategy you tend to be following.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
There will be a "Kings of Command" column this spring, yes.Remember that in the majority of leagues I play, I'm going up against other analysts who are conservative about drafting pitching. So I typically am the one who stands out taking one of the top nine, if only because it's absurd to see a pitcher like Roy Halladay going 18th overall, or Felix Hernandez like 33rd.
Think 20/40 is possible for Jennings with that .268 avg?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:54 AM)
Possible, sure. You buy Jennings for speed first, runs second, power third. I don't think batting average is what's driving his fantasy value, and my projection was in no way meant a black mark on him.
Does your keeper preview take into account what round the player was taken in? Or is it to be applied like if you are starting a keeper league, this is how your first round would go?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
I've explained it in the column, but the summary is that it's impossible for me to detail a keeper rankings set that would apply equally to every league. My advice is to use it as an effective "price guide" for players in keeper leagues. As a guy who used to be big into baseball card collecting long ago, it's like buying the baseball card price guide and then going to a card show. You're going to find some prices above book, some below, and you can always haggle if there are circumstances (with cards: condition of the card, with keepers: round/price you're spending) that afford wiggle room.
Alex Gordon for a 10th seem fair?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
You say you "choose not to believe" that Braun actually used PEDs... isn't there a non-zero chance that he was cheating and won't be the same hitter as before?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
I choose to assume innocence before guilt proven, rather than guilt before innocence proven. I'm not sure why so many people today have shifted their opinion to the latter, but it's their opinion. They're entitled to theirs, and I am to mine.Yes, there is a non-zero chance he took a performance enhancer. But there is a non-zero chance every player in the past two decades has, isn't there? "Non-zero chance" isn't enough for me to make a radical shift in my judgment of Braun's skills.
Even with an innings cap do you think Strasburg could win NL Cy?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
Jay, that is a fascinating question. On a per-inning basis, certainly Stephen Strasburg has the ability to put forth a season that earns him Cy Young votes. But I have my doubts when it comes to the actual balloting; there might be a heck of a lot of debate against a guy with 160 or so innings winning the award over someone with 200-plus. Just as there is about pitchers winning the MVP, relievers winning the Cy, DHs in the Hall...
I had Jennings down for .269. An unforeseen sore shoulder in July for Sabathia leads to an extra day off, allowing Jennings to get 1 more hit against his fill-in.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
So close, I was!!!
Chris (San Diego)
Re: Berkman. I don't see how you can bring up his 2010 stats. He was clearly effected by a knee injury that resulted in 2 DL stints. He also put up his lowest career BABIP that was no where near his career norm. His 2011 numbers were much closer to his career norms than his flukey, injury plagued 2009-2010 numbers. Just saying.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
I understand, and let's not forget that I haven't said "don't draft Berkman," just, I don't like him as much as most. As for the DL stints, the guy was 34 then; he's approaching the age where he has risk of reinjury, or at least greater than that of a player in his prime.
Mike (San Diego)
Are you still high on Heyward from a keeper standpoint? Someone in my dynasty league is offering him up, but I would probably have to give up Matt Moore to get him (doubtful that Marcum and a draft pick would get it done).
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:04 PM)
Right now I don't think I'd do that. There are circumstances in which I would and if I could afford to part with the pitching I would; this is prime time to buy in on Heyward. But I remain firm: Heyward is so boom-or-bust this year, and it all hinges on how his spring looks. (Meaning about 2-3 weeks too early for me to accurately judge.)
Hey Tristan, I value your opinion more than any other analyst! Please help here: Who would you keep for just the upcoming season in a 12 team H2H points league, McCutchen (6th Round), Carlos Santana (7th round), Hosmer (12th round), Lawrie (12th round)?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
All of them, frankly. If I'm going to rank those guys in terms of comparative values, I'm going Brett Lawrie, Eric Hosmer, Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana, and I'd put Hosmer and McCutchen neck-and-neck and probably would need to run some numbers to be absolutely certain the right choice. (It's that close.)
Lou Holtz (East Liverpool)
If Crawford is healthy, do you project him as top 20 OF?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:06 PM)
would you trade Arod and Josh Hailmton for Stanton and 2nd r pick in a keeper league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:07 PM)
Yes. Jeez, neither A-Rod nor Hamilton should go in the second round this year. And Stanton's likely to be picked at least as early as Hamilton. That's a steal to me.
12 tm 5x5 roto league, 20 man roster.. Trade Fielder(45) for Ortiz(1) to save 44 of 260 budget? Keepers would be Ortiz(1) Pujols(47) Beltre(6) Freeman(2) Castro(7) DGordon(2) Lee(20) Pineda(1).. 86 w/o prince, 130 with.. Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:09 PM)
I would. That's too much for Prince Fielder.I might float Dee Gordon's name out there, just to see if someone positively loves him and might give you an even more attractive keeper. I mean, you've got Starlin Castro, if I'm guessing my Castros right? And while Gordon's a must-keep at $2, I've outlined my many questions about him all over our pages already (and will continue to do so). Lots of downside.
I need to choose between Lawrie and Zimmerman as a keeper. I can keep them forever, with no loss of a draft pick. I'm leaning towards Lawrie's long term potential and have concerns about Zimmerman's injury history. Is Lawrie the right choice?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:10 PM)
Yes. Brett Lawrie has a critical advantage over Ryan Zimmerman in the long term: Ability to steal bases. I'm personally a big Zimmerman fan, though much of that is on-field rather than fantasy. And it needs be stressed that people sometimes read his overall value -- meaning his defense included -- as him being a stud in fantasy, too. Defense doesn't count for much for our purposes; he's a more valuable real-game than fantasy-game player.
Eric (Boise, ID)
Jeremy Hellickson overhyped this year?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:11 PM)
I thought he was underhyped, but maybe I should check the ADPs.
Dave (Wolcott, CT)
TC, who would you NOT keep out of Tulo, McCutchen, Grienke or David Price? 5x5 h2h league.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:12 PM)
I'd consider flipping a coin to decide the pitchers. One way to make the call: If you need 2012 value first and foremost -- and I always advise that first -- I'd go Zack Greinke.
re: Hosmer being neck and neck with McCutchen...that blew my mind, can you explain your reasoning?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:13 PM)
Rounds. The rounds were required to be considered in that question.
What do you see from Morse this year? Would you take him over Berkman?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:14 PM)
There are some Michael Morse "haters" out there, and I'll side with them when it comes to potential batting average regression. I'd say his odds of a .300 mark are minimal, and the most likely result falls between .270-.290. But the power is legitimate. The guy has now shown for a near year and a half that he's no flash in the pan; he has been astonishingly consistent as a hitter all throughout that time. So yes, definitely over Berkman. Not a debate to me.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:15 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and have a great weekend!