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January 24, 2:40 PM ET
Fantasy sports w/Tristan H. Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...

Justin (Indiana)

hey someone wake up Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Don't worry, Justin, as usual, the coffee's working on it!

brad (harrisburg, pa)

plain and simple: utley or wright? i have a feeling that's gonnna be a big turning point in a few of my drafts.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:02 AM)

I'm going David Wright. Something tells me he gets a handful more stolen bases, think maybe 25 to Utley's what, 10-15? That makes a noticeable difference. To me, you can't go wrong with either, but it's actually not true anymore that second base is painfully thin, so don't use that argument.

brad (harrisburg, pa)

plain and simple: can we expect to see an article similar to your "Kings of Command" from last year. well written and absolutely useful!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:02 AM)

I will note that down, Brad, and that's actually one of my more fun ones to write besides. Keep an eye out.

Grant (STL)

Hey T - What are your thoughts on Andruw Jones in LA this year? His BA and Ks were a killer last year......You thinking he can hit at least .270 and 35 in the new digs?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

Well, first of all, let's just note that Jones is a lifetime .263 hitter, and he hasn't batted .270 or better since 2003. So that'd be asking a lot as it is. I do think he'll rebound to a point, though. For one, his batting average on balls in play was .242, compared to .279 for his career. That suggests he might have been a tad unlucky. I'd say 35 could happen. Let's say he hits in the low-to-mid .250s and belts in the 30-35 range. I think that's a fair draft-day estimation.

Steve (NJ)

My league has asked me to be commissioner...this'll be a first for me. Any advice? It's a pure points league, 5x5 with 10 teams, mixed league.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:07 AM)

Be fair, be decisive, and don't fret when the owners give you a very hard time, because they are GOING to. As a long-time commish, believe me, it is impossible to please everybody. Just make sure you take everyone's opinions into account, make rulings in the best interest of the league, and be firm. Do that and you're off to a great start.

Joe(NJ)

Who do you think wins the O's closer's job this spring? Maybe they should try Daniel Cabrera in the role.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

I know a lot of people are talking up that sleeper possibility, but I'm not sold on it, not yet. For one, Cabrera can be so wild at times, that might wind up a disastrous shift. He's got the arm, certainly. But then the Orioles were going hard after Octavio Dotel, from what I understand, so I think they're still seeking someone experienced. My choice today to lead the team in saves? Hmmm, I don't think the guy's on the team yet. What if it's Bob Wickman?

Cory(DC)

How about the argument that 3b is insanely deep with guys like Glaus, Blalock, Kouz, Rolen and Longoria all arguably outside the top 13-15 at the position

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

Sure, but none of them are David Wright, period. The point wasn't to say third base was thin, it's that second base isn't thin, either, so there's no reason to heap loads of extra dollars to the top options, or at least not as many as we did a year ago.

Mike (Carbondale, IL)

If the much rumored Brian Roberts to Chicago trade does happen, does that help or hurt his value?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

Helps, but I say that more because I think this Orioles team is on the decline, and it'd better preserve his value, and I'm thinking runs scored as a primary thing when I say that. Roberts the Cub wouldn't be much different than Roberts the Oriole the past couple seasons, though.

Artimus (CT)

Do you think the Tigers offense with its upgrade of Cabrera be more potent than the Yankees?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

I certainly think there's a chance of that, yes. I'll be the first to admit that the Yanks have guys like Abreu, Matsui, Damon and Giambi who have nothing but downside at this stage of their careers -- not that I'm condemning them, but they're not going to get BETTER -- and the Tigers did nicely close the gap with their offensive moves this winter. If I'm estimating the numbers I'm treating the Tigers as about as potent as the Yankees for 2008.

Greg (Syracuse)

Tristan, what are your thoughts on Kemp and Loney, will they get 500 AB's. I have Kemp for a $1 and Loney for $5 in my 14 team keeper. Thanks.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

No doubt in my mind James Loney gets 500 at-bats if healthy, because that kid can rake and will do so enough that he can't lose the everyday role. Matt Kemp, though, I actually think people are overrating. Juan Pierre is going to play -- not saying I like it -- and that leaves Kemp to battle it out with Andre Ethier for at-bats. I do like Kemp as much as the next guy, but when I make my projections for him I'm putting him in the 400-450 plate appearance range, not a full starter's workload. At your prices I'd keep 'em both, but I just don't want people in general to go nuts about Kemp.

Justin (Indiana)

alright who do i take between santana or webb

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

That's actually going to be closer than people think it is this year, but I can't go against the, what, 75-strikeout advantage Johan Santana gives you? With pitching, unless the guy's offense is just dreadful -- Giants, I'm looking at you -- go for the raw skills first and foremost.

Rob (Grand Rapids, MI)

What are your thoughts on Crawford and Sizemore? Do you see steps forward or backward this year? I can keep each one in 2 separate leagues or I can try and trade them. hold tight or see what I can get?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

Do they have to take steps? Both are top 25, and arguably close to top 10, players overall, and I see them being every bit as valuable as they were a year ago. If what you're wondering is whether either has a growth spurt in a certain category, well, Carl Crawford could always turn his game into a little more of a power-hitting thing, but I wouldn't bank totally on it. I'd keep 'em both. Nice category fillers, elite keepers.

Joe(SF)

If Murton gets moved to the O's in the Roberts deal does he, a) start b) have value in mixed?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

I don't see where he'd start, necessarily, with Luke Scott already in left field. They could platoon, I suppose, and Matt Murton could swipe a healthy share of DH at-bats from Kevin Millar. I wouldn't call him mixed-worthy, though. More like AL-only worthy, and an ideal guy to use to exploit matchups, as he hits lefties better than righties.

Patrick (DC)

Justin Upton. Is he an everyday player? Projections? Worth drafting on the earlier side in a 5 person keeper league? I could keep him, but I have BJ Upton, Braun, Liriano, Kazmir and Hafner (dropping Tejada).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

I think the D-backs would LIKE him to be an everyday player, but he'll have to earn it in the spring. He's awfully young and looked a tad overmatched at times last year, after all. My projections have Upton in the .265-20-80-15 range if he's an everyday player, which isn't bad, really. I don't advise you expect any more than that, though. Given those choices, I don't see how you could keep him, nor do I think I'd keep Francisco Liriano over Miguel Tejada.

Eric (Albany)

Tristan......you hold the #2 overall pick. Assuming A-Rod goes #1 who are you choosing at #2?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

David Wright.

Steve Balboni (Bronx, NY)

Am I crazy to keep Robinson Cano over Ichiro Suzuki?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

Crazy? No. I do think it's what I'd call a bit of a reach, but this is one of those classic "in a vaccum" questions and the league types, length of years you can keep a guy, etc., have an impact. I'm just saying you're not crazy, I'm not saying I'd rank Cano over Ichiro. Obviously, everyone will have Ichiro ranked noticeably higher.

Matt (Wynnewood, PA)

What are your thoughts on Ryan Howard?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

No better pure power bat in baseball, but with it comes batting-average risk and oodles of strikeouts. I have him with a better-than-50/50 shot at a 200-K season, actually, but in the process he's money for 50 homers and 120 RBIs. I bet he hits in the .270s, though, so take it for what it's worth. Still a great player.

Joe(NJ)

If you could get .280 35-100 value for Pena in a 12 team dynasty trade would you do it?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

Sure, as that seems about right for Carlos Pena in 2008. I've got him a little lower in batting average, around .270, with the upside for 40 bombs, but you're pricing him about right.

Brian (CT)

Any hope at all that Rich Harden becomes usable this year? What's his status at this point?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

From what I understand it's exactly what it was a year ago, which means Mr. Harden is the ultimate lottery ticket. I was all in late last March, I readily admit that. The way he looked in the spring, I couldn't say no, the upside was simply too great. Might happen again, though I'll be remembering that example. Might not be a bigger high-risk, high-reward player in the game this year.

Lucas (Indiana, PA)

Tristan...i've heard it said that the key to winning fantasy baseball is winning the saves and steals categories and finishing above average in the rest...is there any validity to this?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

I haven't found that to necessarily be true in my experience, but do the math and sure, that could make you a winner. The problem with that angle, as I see it, is that saves and steals can be so tremendously streaky and unpredictable from week to week, let alone year to year. You put yourself at higher risk by investing most of your resources in those categories. As I always recommend: Go for the most balanced team you can. Saves always seem to pop up on waivers, so simply remain diligent every day in-season.

Mike (Carbondale, IL)

Now that nobody is really talking about him, does the Big Z, Carlos Zambrano have his breakout Cy Young type year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

Carlos Zambrano terrifies me this season. And not in a good way. I know, it's become chic to call each year Zambrano's breakdown year, but the chances grow ever greater each season, and his 2007 trends really worry me.

Matt (Wynnewood, PA)

Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:31 AM)

Howard, but really, are you going to notice all that much a difference? As my numbers shake out today, they're separated by pretty much a fraction of a dollar in value.

Andy (VA)

Tristan - What do we do with Pedro this year? He pitched well last year? Do we treat him like a Ben Sheets? Or does he not have that kind of upside anymore?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

That seems about fair, a Ben Sheets comparison. It demonstrates that there's risk involved, but that when healthy, Martinez can be of great use. I'm not ranking Pedro too high, but I wouldn't say dismiss him, as I did last year, either. My main worry is durability, and the fact that he is simply put a six-inning pitcher. That hurts counting stats (wins, K's).

Mark: Dallas TX

Should I keep Russel Martin and Manny or Webb and Haren? Or should I keep Martin and Webb to hedge my bets?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Russell Martin should be kept, especially if you can hold him over multiple years. He's a great franchise-type fantasy catcher. I'd take one of the pitchers with the other spot, and you really can't go wrong with either. I'd take Brandon Webb, though, if only because he has the experience on that team, in that ballpark, in that league. I just love those ground-ball pitchers.

Gray (Chicago)

Can't we realize Zambrano is just a horse? Joe Blanton throws 230 innings and no one says he will break down this year...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Two straight years of increasing WHIPs and three straight with a bump up in ERA. Plus, he's more homer-prone than I'd like to see and his finish to 2007 wasn't exactly stellar. I saw too much inconsistency last year to trust him, at least as an ace type. Not that Zambrano should go undrafted, but he scares the dickens out of me in 2008.

Lucas (Indiana, PA)

who is your fantasy sleeper pick this year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

Oh boy. That really couldn't get much broader, could it? Well, I'm doing a slow sim draft right now, and the name is on my mind because I took him not long ago, but I really think a lot of Jeremy Hermida as a post-hype sleeper type this year. He's a big reason I don't think you can totally dismiss the Marlins as an underrated offense.

Mike(DC)

Could Shawn Hill be a top 50 starter this season? I noticed his ERA was lower on the road then it was at RFK and rightys only hit .189 against him in '07.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

Top 50? Hmmm, COULD be, though with Hill, injuries are always a factor. My note to fantasy owners: Shawn Hill, and to a lesser extent, Jason Bergmann, are not to be totally dismissed. Both have better upside than you'd think, at the very least as matchups plays. Hill's like a "very lite" risk/reward type of the Rich Harden/Ben Sheets kind of arm. That doesn't mean price him accordingly, but such are the types you use to round out a roster very late, especially in NL-only.

Artimus (CT)

Who do you think is the best pick as a catcher this year. I'm leaning towards Martin.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

I still think it's Victor Martinez, but Russell Martin is right there. I mean, we're talking a buck or two's difference, probably.

Cory(DC)

Who are some starting pitchers who probably shouldnt be drafted, but you'll be keeping an eye on? Jamie Shields breakout canidates if you will.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

Other than the aforementioned Shawn Hill and Jason Bergmann? Well, digging REALLY deep, I'll be watching these guys pretty closely in the spring, because there's upside there to be had: Andy Sonnanstine, Kevin Slowey, Matt Garza, Jesse Litsch, Franklin Morales.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

Oh, Adam Loewen, too. Keep a close eye on his health when camps open.

Paul T. (Cincinnati)

Dan Haren or Erik Bedard as a keeper? And does your answer change if Bedard is traded to a better team (e.g. Seattle)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

My answer won't change on this, because it's going to be Erik Bedard in either case. Elite skills get a pitcher a healthy enough win total regardless of their team's issues.

Lucas (Indiana, PA)

who's better ian snell or tom gorzelanny? ...any chance the pirates have a winning record this year?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

Snell is higher upside, Gorzelanny is lower-risk, but I want the upside here. It's Snell all the way. As for a winning record, I wouldn't count on it, other than the fact that that division doesn't blow me away.

Scott, IA

When you say a buck or two does that mean a couple of picks in the same round or a round or two apart?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

Ah, see, the terminology sometimes complicates stuff, because there are so many different types of leagues out there. When I say a buck or two's difference, yeah, we're talking only a few picks, or a round or so. It means once the first goes, the second shouldn't be far behind.

Cory(DC)

Would Loewen or Jonathan Sanchez go on that list?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

Well, I put Loewen on the list right after I answered that question, but with Sanchez, I'm starting to wonder whether lefty specialist is his ideal role. Sure, if he's a spring standout, I see upside there, not as much as the others I mentioned, but I have a feeling he'll be a swingman or straight reliever, and that limits his value.

Scott Soleimanpour (Philly)

What player do you think is going to be most over-hyped and drafted far ahead of his value in this coming season? My pick is Kosuke Fukudome. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

I actually haven't heard a lot of people buzzing over Fukudome. I'm not wild about him, myself. He's probably closer to Melky Cabrera than Grady Sizemore, if those are the end points on your projection chart. Overhyped? I think the aforementioned Matt Kemp is getting too much buzz, as I'm not convinced he's guaranteed everyday at-bats yet, and I think Josh Hamilton is a trap pick, as the switch in ballpark has made him greatly appealing but I think it needs to remembered that he got hurt a lot in his rookie year. Not to dump on those two, as I like their raw skills, but there's definite risk to be overdrafted there.

Mike (Carbondale, IL)

Do you think DLee's power will return? Should be 100% healthy and have a full offseason of weights before spring training....

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

He's a better power hitter than he showed the past two seasons but simply not a 46-homer guy, either. My forecast calls for 31 homers, 100-plus RBIs and a batting average in the low .310s. And that's a great year, really.

Brian (Tulsa, OK)

Thoughts on Joey Votto? Is he a good keeper at $6.00 in NL only 5 x 5 roto style league with a $300.00 cap?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

I think so. What's the worst-case scenario, he has Casey Kotchman 2007-type value? OK, worst-case he's in the minors, but for six bucks it's a chance I'd take. I'm thinking .290s batting average, 20 homers, that's within Votto's reach, and there's absolutely upside from there.

Jason (Atlanta)

Salty is also seemingly overhyped as well.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

Yeah, but I think a lot of people recognize that he's a late-round pick at best. I don't see him in anyone's top 10 catchers, nor should he be. Great long-term prospect, but I'm not wild about him for 2008. Wait a year.

Kevin (Wash, DC)

Tristan, Thoughts on Adam Wainwright? I've heard everything from potential low-end #1 to third or fourth starter. Thanks.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

I'm putting him in between that, but I'd say the chances of him being the former are going to be better than the chances of him being the latter. Good low-risk arm, and he finished last year quite strong. If you draft him like the No. 3/4 arm you just quoted, I think you get yourself a steal of a value.

joe(conn)

where do you rank soto as far as catchers?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

Just outside of the top 10. Good chance he hits in the .270s with 20 homers, and there is upside for better, I must say. I'd bet he probably ranks 11th-12th for me, somewhere in there.

Scott S. (Philly)

What do you think of the Arizona 3B situation this year? Is Mark Reynolds a given starter and possible top 15-20 3B? Will Chad Tracy have a full time role ever again and be fantasy relevant? It wasn't too long ago that he seemed to have alot of upside.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

From what I understand, Tracy is supposed to reclaim that role if he's healthy, and the prognosis today is at least decent. Note I didn't say "great." It means you have to track him closely in the spring, but if he's looking good, no reason he can't bat close to .290 with high-teens homers as a regular. From what I understand, Reynolds is being regarded mostly as a utility type. I'd expect 400-450 plate appearances as he's used a lot, but I won't draft him like an everyday player.

Ray, Burlington, NJ

Tristan-thanks for the chat. You have Kemp all wrong. The guy started in RF at the BEGINNING of last year, and ended the year in RF, why would you think he is going to platoon, especially when they need his power bat in the lineup?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

2007 starts in right field: Matt Kemp 66. Andre Ethier 91. That's all you need to know. I'm not saying it's RIGHT, I'm saying it's fact. If I were managing the team, I'd be the first to tell you Kemp's getting 600-plus plate appearances, rarely ever sitting. But I'm just providing you the facts, that's still a packed outfield.

Mike (San Diego)

Speaking of Wainwright...please rank: Wainwright, R. Hill, C. Young (SD).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Chris Young, Rich Hill, Adam Wainwright.

Rebecca (St Louis)

When will the Gridiron Playoff Challenge update so we can set our rosters?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Sad to say lineups locked for good with the conference championships, so you're stuck with what you've got! Best of luck in the Super Bowl, should be an exciting game...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

Well, that's all for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Good news: We're back this afternoon for another chat! See you then...