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February 20, 2:35 PM ET
Fantasy Sports w/Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:01 AM)

Hello all and welcome to another fantasy chat session. I assume we're heavy on the baseball today, so let's get moving. We have a tremendous, in-depth draft kit on the fantasy pages, so check it out.... any questions?

Nick (Greenwich, CT)

Hey Ek! Finally baseball's here! Woot woot! Are you high on Garko this year? I think he can put together a solid year! also...Legit or Bust this year on these 3 Lefties: Willis, Francis, and Hamels???

Eric Karabell
  (11:03 AM)

Yes, I do enjoy this time of the year as we all prepare for baseball. It's by far my favorite sport. I think Ryan Garko is a top-15 first baseman, capable of 25 home runs and 95 RBIs. I don't expect we'll see much Victor Martinez at 1B again. As for those lefty pitchers, I don't see a bust there. Willis should improve on his 2007 stats, but he's not an ace. Maybe 15 wins and a 4.40 ERA. Francis is legit. Hamels is legit, even if it's in 28 starts.

Josh (NY, NY)

Final keeper: Liriano or Markakis? I am stacked on Offense. can keep either for next 5 yrs.

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

If you're stacked on offense then you might have answered the question yourself. I guess it depends how stacked, but I do think Liriano is legit and he'll come back strong. With Markakis, much of his value comes with those stolen bases, and who knows if he feels like running again?

tony (Cedar Falls, IA)

Who is low on the radar that will rack up the saves this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

Well, certainly Todd Jones and Joe Borowski should pile on the saves again, and nobody seems to ever want them. The Cubs might be going with Bob Howry, which I find interesting. Everyone assumes BJ Ryan will be fine, everyone but me. Take Jeremy Accardo late.

Rich, Glen Ellyn, Il.

Eric, what are the odds on Cano exploding this year and becoming the 1A secondbaseman after Utley?

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

I think Cano has already kind of exploded, no? He's a 25-100 guy who can hit for batting average and at a weak position. Utley runs, but that's about the only major difference between these guys. Yeah, 1A could be accurate.

Dan Vermont

Can Coco Crisp be a sleeper if he gets traded?

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

I think he's a bit of a sleeper right now, really. Everyone assumes he's on the bench and Ellsbury will start, but that's not the case. Crisp will play, somewhere. I think the Red Sox will eventually trade him, but be aware there are concerns about JD Drew,and what might happen here is Crisp is the everyday center fielder, and Ellsbury takes time from Drew. Crisp stole 28 bases, and I don't see that as a fluke. Draft him again expecting these stats.

Jeff, New Haven

Eric, what kind of #'s do you see from Carlos Marmol? We get credit for holds, too. Can he be a top 5 non-closer reliever?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

At this point it's hard to judge what numbers Marmol will produce, because we don't know about the saves. And I'm serious when I say he might not get any. So what if he was the team's best reliever in 2007, it doesn't matter. He could be the eighth inning guy. It wouldn't shock me if Howry does get 30 saves, or Wood gets 15, or even Dempster gets bumped from the rotation and gets some. Regardless, draft the peripheral stats like ERA and WHIP on Marmol, hope for saves.

Justin (ny, ny)

I'm new to the fantasy game, so I'm there any fantasy value in a guy like Joba this year? IT seems like he'll be going back and forth btwn. the pen and starting....

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

If Joba Chamberlain were to make 20 starts, then sure, there's potential for nice value. That's what the Yankees claim they will do. I think they will have a strong 75-innings eighth-inning guy all year. I don't see how a team can move Joba if he's thriving, which he should. There's still value if he becomes the next Joel Zumaya, but there's more value in him starting.

Big Mike (Philly)

Eric, what are your thoughts on Juan Pierre? Is he still a keepable player in an NL-only league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

It's my opinion Pierre will be the everyday left fielder, and the numbers will be what they always are. I don't think Joe Torre will mess with this. He knows what Pierre can do. Plus, I don't understand all the outrage about Andre Ethier. Is he a great player? Um, no. Could he get better? Yes, but it's not like sitting Ethier is some crime. Is he a better player than Pierre? I think so, but it doesn't mean Torre has to play him. I think there is no platoon here, and Ethier is the odd man out. Pierre swipes 50 again.

Jim (Cambridge, MA)

Dunn at 80? What's the justification for him falling that far? That's putting way too much stock in his average. He's plus in 3 categories and won't hurt in steals. He had a great second half; big power guys tend to bring their average up a bit as they get older, and he's only 28. On top of that, it's a contract year for him (and I'm sure he's trying not to pull and Andruw Jones).

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

Dunn is in my top 50, those are the staff rankings. There were some situations we didn't all agree on, but hey, there were a lot of us in that room ranking 340 players. I like consistent players, even if I know in advance he's not going to help in batting average. Who else hits 40 home runs, pretty much exactly that number, every year without fail?

Dan Vermont

Eric, What spring training position battle will have the most impact on fantasy baseball?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

Probably the closer situation with the Cubs, and to some degree the other teams that have question marks, like Baltimore, Texas, etc. Also, the Tampa Bay third base situation is very interesting, because everyone assumes Longoria has won the job.

Gray (Chicago)

Would you rather have Guerrier or Neshek should Nathan be traded this season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

I think Pat Neshek is clearly next in line for saves should something befall Joe Nathan, or he gets moved. Neshek had some problems down the stretch last season, but he's generally a groundball pitcher and should do well if given the chance to save games. I don't see how the Twins can afford locking Nathan up long-term.

Tifany (NYC)

What do you think of Heath Bell? Is he a good pick up for a RP?

Eric Karabell
  (11:25 AM)

It depends. If you draft Bell too early, assuming another low ERA and 100 strikeouts, I think it's a mistake. San Diego pitchers have an advantage, but two years ago Cla Meredith was great, and then he wasn't. Scott Linebrink used to great as well. I don't see Trevor Hoffman in such steep decline that he loses the job. To get Bell you probably have to draft him too high. I don't see him getting saves.

Jared (NY)

What are your feelings on Quality Starts as a fantasy category? Ever been in a league that used them?

Eric Karabell
  (11:26 AM)

Absolutely. In fact, I have a few leagues with QS, and it's a smart stat. Those people in head to head leagues who find 5 starters per night on free agency don't get much help in QS, though they could steal wins. It's just a better indication of a well pitched game. I like using that stat.

Patrick (Seattle, WA)

Eric, do you assume that the Dodgers outfield is an inevitability? If either Juan Pierre or especially Matt Kemp lose playing time, that's big.

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

Understood. I don't assume inevitability, but pretty close to it. But maybe that's just me.

Jack (Pitt)

Speaking of bizarre pitching categories, my league counts Losses. I'm looking at grabbing a pitcher in round 6 and then in 9. Given this, would you grab someone like Verlander over Kazmir and Dice-K over Shields?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

I've used losses as well. Last year I had a league with earned runs and hits allowed as separate categories, too. Yeah, it tends to make you think about drafting Rays. I do think Tampa has its best year as a franchise, though. Verlander and Dice-K might not lose 22 games combined.

brad (harrisburg, pa)

plain and simple: would you be comfortable w/ Gallardo as your #2 after his recent injury? (10 team, H2H)

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

Well, I think him being a strong No. 2 in the first place was somewhat debatable, but I do think his recent injury should not alter his ranking too much. So Gallardo misses a month. Big deal. Keeps him strong in September. Few pitchers make 34 or 35 starts anyway. I just remember Jason Schmidt a few years back. He was going to miss the first two weeks of April. Nobody wanted him. Then he won 17 games and finished the No. 1 guy on our Player Rater. Great value.

James, NH

Grady Sizemore or Carlos Lee as my Keeper this year? Thanks

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

It's your team, but when two players seem equal, I look at their age and their stolen base potential. In this case, Sizemore wins both.

Justin (ny, ny)

Do you have a particular draft strategy? Get the best player available first? or go after offense first? or pitching?...

Eric Karabell
  (11:33 AM)

I think it depends on the league, the rules, the people in the league, who I might have kept, etc. Really, no two leagues are the same. I can tell you I always go hitting over pitching, but even if only 2 of my top 10 players are pitchers, they're good enough. Cheap closers. Don't punt categories. Pay some, but not a ton, of attention to position scarcity.

Emmett (Philadelphia)

Matt and Nate have had recent discussion about Kazmir being overvalued. Can we get your thoughts on his numbers this year? Thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:35 AM)

I agree. I guess I will always wonder about his durability. He's clearly a strikeout pitcher, but where he goes in drafts, I wouldn't do it.

Ian Snell (Pittsburgh)

Is there a more underrated pitcher in the league? I dare you to name one.

Eric Karabell
  (11:37 AM)

We rank Snell 30 at SP, so I don't know how underrated that is. I mean, he's ahead of Liriano, Sheets, Penny, Wang. I think McGowan is just as underrated. Going deeper into our top 50, there are so many safe guys, like Derek Lowe, Arroyo, Meche, Maddux. We have capable Jeff Suppan at 96, after Justin Germano. That's pretty underrated.

Jordan (Peoria)

Am I wrong in thinking that if I dont need the extra steals, Corey Hart might actually be a better OF than Crawford?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Certainly a better value. Hart has more power, and if you can take the hit in steals, going 5 rounds later on him is pretty wise. I can't imagine I'll have Crawford on any teams this season, not that there's anything wrong with him. I can't remember ever owning him, actually.

Will, MA

Can I get your opinion on Zimmerman. At 23 and out of RFK he could break out. Numbers this year? At his peak? Thanks EK

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

I could see a 30-110 season soon, and maybe he can help out with 10 or so steals. He's a young Scott Rolen, really. I don't know if we'll ever see a monster home run season. I am not particularly worried in Zimmernan's offseason wrist surgery, by the way.

brad (harrisburg, pa)

plain and simple: utley/tulo or figgins/rollins? (H2H, non-keeper)

Eric Karabell
  (11:41 AM)

I'd go Utley/Tulo, and not look back. Nothing against Figgins, but you can ALWAYS find speed in a draft late. Middle infield power, not so much.

Shawn (MN)

Would I be crazy to keep Teix over Vlad due to injury concerns, age, & a contract year for Teix? Also where to you have Byrnes and Hart in your OF rankings?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

You don't need to qualify Teixeira like that. He's ranked in the same ballpark as Guerrero as it is, and frankly, knowing Vlad won't run, I'd take Teix. Please, if Andruw Jones taught us anything, it's that any talk of contract years is meaningless. As for Byrnes and Hart, based on value I would prefer Hart. I don't think Byrnes steals more than 30 or so bases. Both make my top 20 OF, barely.

Anthony (Dallas)

Who would you keep in a H2H points league (one year keeper): Pedroia, Joba or Bucholz?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

How about none of the above. Pedroia isn't a great fantasy option, and I don't see him getting much better for power or speed. There are 10 second baseman I would prefer. Joba is a reliever. Maybe he makes some starts, but it's so unclear you can't keep him in fantasy. And there's no lock Buchholz makes more than 20 starts as well. In a h2h league, I keep someone else. If I had to choose, probably Pedroia.

Kevin (Omaha)

Michael Bourn or Willy Taveras...who ends the year with more SBs?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

I think Bourn, but I bet neither tops 40 steals. Taveras can't stay healthy, and Bourn remains unproven.

Will, MA

I have Jeremy Hermida as one of my sleepers. Am I an idiot to think .290 25 hr and 90 rbi?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

Not at all. He can absolutely reach those stats, and I think he will come close. If he hits fourth or fifth in the order, he has a better shot.

Derek (Manalapan, NJ)

Eric, whats the real deal with Pujols' wrist? Im sitting at the 4 spot in my draft and expect A-Rod, Reyes, Wright to go before. Is it stupid to pass up on Albert there because of the injury?

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

Nobody knows. It's his elbow, incidentally. If it was his wrist, that would be a far bigger problem. If I picked fourth and those guys were gone I would take Hanley Ramirez, personally. I have Cabrera fifth, then Pujols sixth. It's not stupid to do anything, except maybe pick Nomar Garciaparra No. 4. I wouldn't recommend that.

Jim (pittsburgh)

How do you think B Myers does starting again this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

Look up his 2006 stats, that's how Myers does. He's healthy and durable and should have never been removed from the rotation in the first place.

Ray, NJ

Eric-take and look at Howry's numbers in the 2nd half last year....Saito-like.

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

I know. That's why it wouldn't surprise me if Howry ends up getting 30 saves.

Jack (Chicago)

Do you ever withhold information because you know league members read these chats?

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Nope. Not even once. Let them know what I'm doing, doesn't matter one bit to me. Plus, I never hide my thoughts. People in my leagues ask my opinion on trades all the time, I never break up deals. It's more fun this way.

Marc (Philly)

Will Prior, Unit, Schmidt, Hampton, or Carpenter be worth owning? We have two DL slots

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

I don't think Randy Johnson starts the year on the DL. In fact, I think he's going to surprise. Maybe he makes only 20 starts, but I bet they are really good ones. Also, Hampton should be ready for the season, though I don't think there's much fantasy value there. Johnson will strike a lot of hitters out. I think Carpenter, in the second half, will have value.

John, Denver

You don't seem to like unproven guys. Which unproven guys do you actually like this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

It's not that I don't like them, it's that people overdraft them. You want Evan Longoria over Mike Lowell, be my guest. You want Matt Kemp in the top 20, who knows, it could work out I guess. I think Joey Votto is for real, within reason. I like Geo Soto to be a top-10 catcher. I'm all aboard the Gallardo train, even with the injury. I also think Towles, Maybin,and Homer Bailey are legit.

Terry Philadelphia, PA

Thoughts on a projection for Burrell. Is .265-30-105 unrealistic?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Seems about right. But nobody ever drafts him thinking he'll do that well. But he generally does.

Steve (NY)

Eric, I just analyzed McGowan's 2nd half and was very impressed. He pitched to a 16 win, 220 inning, 200 K pace. Is he a top 30 option this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Exactly. He's legit.

JB (Margaritaville)

Would you keep Wily Mo with a 16th round pick??? Thanks Man!

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

No. I doubt he gets to play enough to earn fantasy stats.

Will, MA

Josh Hamilton has missed a lot of baseball with his addiction, but it seems he also was slightly injury prone in the past (including last season) as well. Does this worry you at all? What do you see him doing down in Arlington?

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I don't think we can assume Hamilton is injury prone. It was still only one season. And nothing from prior years with him is relevant, knowing what he did to himself. I see a 30-homer season for him, get on board...

Thaddeus (Denver)

Could you elaborate as to why you think it is a bad idea to draft Nomar with the 4th pick? Isn't he that up and coming shortstop for the Red Sox?

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

Ha! And that is how we will end today's chat session. Thanks to everyone for the great questions, and enjoy the chat later today. Adios...