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January 23, 2:39 PM ET
Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:02 AM)

Hello all and welcome to another fantasy sports chat. The Giants in the Super Bowl, wow! We've got baseball on our minds as well... so, any questions?

Steve (NY)

Can Alex Rios make the ascension to a bona fide #1 OF this season? .300 100 30 100 20 sound reasonable?

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

in the first half last season, Rios went 17-53-9 with 62 runs, so those are serious numbers. After he hit some homers at the break, Rios tailed off. I think he can reach these numbers, but would that make him a No. 1 OF? Close...still, I'd take the under.

David(RI)

Eric...i thnik the Giants will upset the Pats..you heard it here first!

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

It wouldn't surprise me that much, to be honest. They made it this far. I wrote a blog today about the conference title games and my fantasy thoughts, and I expect the Eli Manning comments to be controversial...

Mike (San Diego)

Rich Hill or Chris Young (SD)?

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

Let someone else take Young too early and then you pick up Hill five rounds later.

mike (Brew City)

Cheap NL-only OF keeper who you like more for $5. Michael Bourn or Nate McLouth? Keep one, both or neither?

Eric Karabell
  (11:09 AM)

I think both are risks, to be clear, but for pure fantasy value, Bourn is the one who could steal 50 bases while leading off every day for Houston. I have some doubts about him, but 50 steals are 50 steals. McLouth is a very good basestealer, especially on a percentage basis, and he's got some pop, too. Will Pittsburgh play him every day? That's far from certain. If I had to choose for you, it would be Bourn.

Jim (Pittsburgh)

Do you expect Saltalamacchia to be the opening day catcher? I can keep him this year for late round pick.

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

I keep hearing that Salty could be destined for the minors unless he has a really big spring and wins the catcher job outright. However, I don't expect he'd be in the minors for long. I'd project about 400 at-bats for him with Texas, and 12 homers, 50 RBI. That's low-end.

Matt (FL)

Eric, why is Hunter Pence being wasted in the 6 spot. I know the OBP isn't great, but Matsui batting second instead? C'mon!

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

I wouldn't call it being wasted, but yeah, he'd be more valuable ahead of the big boppers. Don't expect Matsui to stay healthy all year. He's a basestealer, and those guys normally bat high in the order because managers don't know any better. See Pierre, Juan. Pence is very valuable.

Dan(Richmond, VA)

Benoit or CJ Wilson?

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

I don't expect either to get many saves, really. Eddie Guardado will get a shot to close, and I think Kazuo Fukomori, who closed in Japan, gets a chance as well. If choosing between Benoit and Wilson, I say Wilson.

Will (Tacoma)

You have Hanley ranked very high. Defend why you don't think he will have dropoff. He only has a couple seasons(though brilliant) under his belt and he has lost lineup protection.

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

I don't know we'd expect dropoff, unless this shoulder problem becomes an issue. He played fine with it and missed by one home run becoming the youngest member of the 30/50 club. And he plays shortstop, not outfield. I think he's proven himself, and the loss of Miggy Cabrera doesn't bother me one bit. He'll still score loads of runs and hit.

Cory(DC)

Its Wednesday, can we get a Closers Report?

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

We'll have plenty of closer stuff in our draft kit, coming soon. Trust me!

Cory(DC)

I know they say not to chase wins and that elite talent prevails, but when we talk about Cain and Lincecum run support or lack of it has to be a concern, no?

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Well, a big mistake owners make is to assume that run support means no wins. It doesn't. Cain was unlucky, but there's no telling if that happens again. Draft peripherals, like WHIP and Ks and HR rate, and most times if a pitcher does as well as Cain did, he will win games. That was just unfortunate.

Sam (Houston)

Managers don't know any better, huh? I guess it's too bad you aren't available to manage a real baseball team, since you're so busy in your world of make-believe.

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

Please. We all know I'm not a manager, but yeah, when it comes to statistics, I know plenty. And if this is make believe, why do 20 million people play fantasy, and you're in the chat? I'm just saying, the goal of table setters in a baseball lineup is to get on base and score runs. That's it. It's not to simply stick your fastest guys there and let them run. Juan Pierre should hit eighth for a baseball team, not first or second. And I'm hardly the only one saying this. Thanks for the question!

Joe(SF)

More save for the Giants this season- Wilson, Hennessey or someone else?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

I think Wilson is their closer today and will be a 30-save guy this season. Hennessey was not groomed to close, and might end up spot starting.

Joe(SF)

I thought only Keith Law got the hate mail around here?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

It's not hate, at least for me. He's entitled to opinions. Law really does get the hate mail, though.

Ryan (Findlay, OH)

Eric, what can we expect out of Fukudome besides Ron Santo butchering his name.

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

That is going to be pretty funny, actually. Rumor is Fukodome is a Bobby Abreu type, with some power, some speed, good plate discipline. There's nothing wrong with that. From what we've seen Japanese power hitters don't translate that power so well, so be careful not to overrate him. He could bat second, which is more proof he's good, but not a 30-homer guy.

James (Boston, MA)

Would you draft either Geovany Soto or J.R. Towles as your no. 1 catcher?

Eric Karabell
  (11:25 AM)

I would consider the Cubs' Soto as my top catcher. The minor league numbers are very good, and he's getting opportunity. I expect maybe 12-15 homers, a decent average, and if he does that, he might be a top-10 catcher. Towles has to prove he can handle pitchers like Ausmus can, so I see more of a split in time.

JT (Lynchburg, VA)

Ask Sam from Houston how he's enjoying the real world buffoonary of the Astros' management not having a clue about Tejada. That being said, what do you project as a safe round to nab Tejada in a 10 team mixed?

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

My initial thought on the Tejada situation was there's no way he goes to jail, but I've since been coming around on that, as more proof comes in. I would consider looking elsewhere for a SS in the early rounds. I'd still take Tejada, and expect 20-25 home runs, but these off-field problems could affect him. Safe? After round 5.

Todd (Pittsburgh)

Normal 5 stats plus OBP and SLG, keep Berkman or Sizemore? How many SB's can we expect from Grady?

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

When you add OBP in there it does change everything, doesn't it? Berkman takes walks, that's for sure. But Sizemore is a lot younger, and does have a shot at 30/30 if he wants it. I'd project 25 homers, 25 steals for now, and an improving OBP. I mean, .390 isn't bad at all. Go with Grady.

Alan(Charlotte)

Might Ahmad Bradshaw be a decent #3 rb next year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:30 AM)

I wrote in the blog today and I expect the Giants to monitor Brandon Jacobs' carries closely and have him share with a smaller back, someone like Derrick Ward or Bradshaw. Maybe calling Bradshaw a No. 3 back is premature, but an occasional flex, sure. Jacobs hasn't proven his durability yet.

Sam (Chicago)

If you suddenly transformed into Lou Piniella, who would be YOUR 5th starter? Lieber, Dempster, or Marshall?

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

Lieber has to be in that Cubs rotation now, and that's not a bad thing at all. He's capable, eats innings, you know what you're getting, and he wasn't that bad in 2007. Dempster has proven he can start or relieve, and he'll likely end up doing both. Piniella should make Marmol the closer, regardless of Dempster's status.

Evan (New York)

Eric, I have an extension to an old keeper question I asked you. Who would you keep for '08 and beyond out of Joe Mauer, Troy Tulowitski, Francisco Liriano, John Lackey?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

I'd probably go with Tulowitzki, then Mauer, then for now Lackey and Liriano. I like Liriano, but he is a risk. ALL pitching is risky, for that matter. Mauer is risky, too. Tulo has one year to his credit, and is darn safe.

Trey (VA)

To go with the OBP question, along with BBs, does Bobby Abreu warrant a second round pick? Despite the lack of power, he still put up 16-100-24-.280ish and 100 BBs.

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

His OBP was actually a lot lower than I thought, as it dropped from .427 to .369. I expect it will get better, into the .390-plus range again, but Abreu is not the same player he was in Philly. Second-round, even in an OBP league, seems a bit early.

Ryan (Findlay, OH)

Eric, since it sounds like Marmol is going to once again be the set up man. Do you see Howry or Wood winning the closer spot?

Eric Karabell
  (11:42 AM)

I think Kerry Wood is actually gonna get the first shot to close, as odd as that sounds. He's got history there. Piniella should see what he's got, but it's even worse than asking Eric Gagne to close all year. Marmol pitched so well, at some point he'll get a chance over Howry.

Matt(Boston)

EK, are you at all concerned about Albert P's shoulder? He said if he got surgery it would keep him out all '08. He's one of my keepers and don't want to get seriously burned by injury. Thoughts, thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

Yes, this is on my radar to write about, but I don't want us to overrate a throwaway quote Pujols made. It could be nothing.

Sean - Johnstown

Am I crazy to think Chipper Jones will benefit from a full season with Texiera protecting him and put up better numbers than someone like Ryan Braun.

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

I don't think it matters who hits before or after Chipper, he's gonna hit no matter what. Let's just hope he stays healthy for 500 at-bats, because that's the main question. And it doesn't hurt when Teix is hitting cleanup and not Andruw.

Dan (NYC)

Eric, is .275/.345/.450 with 20 HR and 35 SB a reasonable breakout expectation for Weeks? Where would you draft him in 12 team H2H mixed league transitioning to dynasty? Each team kept 4 from last year. Thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

I don't expect Weeks to hit for that much power. I'd go with a line of .260/.370/.420 instead. More walks, leading to more times on base, the steals could happen, but more like 12-15 homers. Just play 150 games, for once.

Jamaal (Washington Twp, NJ)

Eric, should I trade Jamal Crawford for Monta Ellis? It's tempting because of Ellis's PG elidgibility. What do you think?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

Crawford is a pretty good player, and gets a lot more assists and threes. All things equal, I'd prefer him to Monta. Crawford really should have PG elig.

James (Philly)

Eric, as a Phils fan, how do you see Myers' readjustment to the rotation? 15 Ws, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 Whip, 190 Ks?

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

Well, as a fantasy analyst, and a Phillies fan, I expect something like what he did in 2005-06, with pretty much the numbers you cite, but a higher WHIP.

Adam (NY)

Eric, you might want to share your thoughts on Pierre with your colleague AJ Mass. He loves Pierre for some odd reason.

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

Juan Pierre is not a bad fantasy player, if he steals 60 bases. He doesn't hurt your average and because he hits high in the order, he scores runs. I know where I would draft him, and I already have in one league because I think he will play, probably too much. Steals aren't so easy to get.

Cory(DC)

Thoughts on Chase Headley as a sleeper this season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

I like the power potential, but I don't think the Padres view him as a starter for now. They have Kouzmanoff at 3B, and will find a left fielder, presumably. I would take a shot in NL leagues on Headley, late.

Benny Blanco (From the Bronx)

Is Richard Jefferson a sell-high guy or a sell-for-anything guy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Why would he be a sell guy at all? He's averaging 23 points per game and there's little sign of that stopping anytime soon. Everyone is tradable, but get something good for him.

Mark: NY

In a shallow H2H league, do I throw back Webb and Haren to keep Russel Martin and Manny?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

I would keep Webb over Manny, personally. Probably Haren, too. Those are top-10 pitchers.

Joe (Manhattan)

Nothing on basketball? Eric, need your help. I'm playing a hated rival in basketball next week. Do I go with 4 games of Nate Robinson or just two games of Steve Nash? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

Hah! I take Nash, every time. People don't realize that their superstars, even in less games, often outproduce guys like Robinson.

Eric (Albany)

Assuming A-rod goes first in a draft......who would you pick 2nd?

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

For now I have Hanley there, but it could be one of three or four others I suppose.

Matt Garza (TB)

Why can't I have a James Shields type year in 2008?

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I guess it's possible, but I think it's less likely for a Tampa player than others. Lower that WHIP, a lot, and then we'll see!

Dan(Richmond, VA)

Over/Under- 25 HRs for Geoff Jenkins?

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

Under. Say 21.

Harry Newburgh, NY

Baseball keeper question. keep 3 of this crew: Vlad, Papi, Manny, Phillips.

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I'd send back Manny.

mike - sw philly

better MI this year? furcal or b roberts??

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I take Furcal.

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

OK, that is apparently all the time we have for now. Thanks for the questions and look for another chat later today. Have a good one...