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February 26, 2:58 PM ET
Fantasy Sports w/AJ Mass

AJ Mass
  (11:00 AM)

Good morning everybody. We're here to answer your fantasy baseball Q's and of course, any Bracketology is also welcome as the Road to the Final Four moves on... Who's on first?

John (NY, NY)

Which of the following is most likely to be true in 2008. Adam Dunn will hit 48+ HR Brian Robers will steal 45+ SB Torii Hunter will go 25hr/20sb Thanks

AJ Mass
  (11:02 AM)

Hunter's numbers are most likely to come true. 48 is too high for Dunn, and Roberts may get to 45 steals, but it is a high bar. Torii is right around there.

Pete, Columbus OH

AJ, I don't get the Rollins rankings from you all year after year. This is the third year in a row you've ranked him too low. By that I mean, your ranking is lower then his ADP and his final player rater spot. How does he get 11th and behind Crawford? Even your mock draft he goes #4 to you. He was ranked low last yr and was a top 5 offensive player. Whats the deal? Is there 1 expert there who hates on him or what?

AJ Mass
  (11:06 AM)

Pete, obviously since you pointed out I took Rollins at #4, I'm in the camp that J-Roll is the top SS. However, it's real close between Hanley, Reyes and J-Roll. But keep in mind we're talking about a player who once had a hitting streak that lasted the whole month of September, yet he failed to hit .300 that season. I wouldn't be upset with getting him at #11 -would you?

Neal Joliet, IL

If SIU reaches the MVC finals, can they sneak in as a 12? Their conference record is pretty good and they have a nice win over Drake as their recent positives

AJ Mass
  (11:08 AM)

SIU is having a nice late run, but they need to pass Illinois State in the regular season standings and essentially win out to make it. Can the MVC get a second team? Yes, but it will be difficult.

Jeff (Charlotte, NC)

Hey AJ, can you list a few starting pitchers that might not be drafted (12 team league) that are worth picking up. For instance, Arroyo is available in my league...

AJ Mass
  (11:11 AM)

You're looking at the #3 starters who might not get drafted... your Noah Lowry types... there's always a good batch of those guys available which is why I don't plan on picking pitchers too early.

Dave (Kent, OH)

Ideally, what percentage of your budget should you use on pitchers?

AJ Mass
  (11:12 AM)

Following up on what I just said... if you want to spend top dollar on one ace, I'm OK with that. I'm not going to tell you not to have a Santana or a Peavy on your team... but other than that, you can always find pitching later. I spend no more than 30% on it.

Sean Nashua

Hey guys, I'm wondering at what point in the draft (round wise) is okay to pick up a RP

AJ Mass
  (11:15 AM)

In our first expert's mock, Papelbon and Putz were the first off the board in Round 7. (I took Putz) Even that is a tad early for my tastes, but I had a large group of hitters in my next tier still unpicked, and I knew I could afford to grab a closer there and not suffer. Generally though, I would have waited until maybe Round 12.

Angelo (Cleveland)

If i have the number one pick in my fantasy baseball draft who do i take

AJ Mass
  (11:16 AM)

A-Rod. If you don't want him, trade the pick.

Grant (STL)

Let's hear your thoughts on Michigan State! BAAADDDD loses but still a good team. I'm Thinking 4th seed in Ford Field. Yourself?

AJ Mass
  (11:19 AM)

Make the field. That's all you need do. Make the field. We're still a few years away from the time when a 16 is going to beat a 1, but the gap is getting smaller. So, I don't care that a team may have had some bad losses (which really, Mich St has only had two - the Iowa game was a sad showing) They'll be in. That's what counts. Probably not a 4 though, unless they make the Big 10 Finals.

Jay (CT)

In a H2H, how good a strategy would it be for me to take hitting my first 8-10 picks, then load up on pitching late. I think there is a much greater seperation between good hitters and average hitters then there is between good pitching and average pitching. Your thoughts?

AJ Mass
  (11:21 AM)

It's nothing to do with a separation of talent. It's the sheer fact that (assuming standard categories) hitters will help you in more categories than pitchers. SPs don't get saves. Therefore the 5 category hitter is more valuable than a SP.

Marc (Philly)

Which of these pitchers are worth taking a shot on: Randy Johnson, Mark Pryor, Rich Harden.

AJ Mass
  (11:24 AM)

I think Randy is worth a shot. His back seems to be OK, and he's likely to give you a good first half of the season at least. Worth a risk late in your draft. Prior and Harden? Not so much.

Brick (Brooklyn)

You're not Nate Ravitz

AJ Mass
  (11:24 AM)

Welcome to the chat, Brick.

dave (philly)

Any advice for creating position tiers? I don't have the same info to work from as the experts (ie the stats that support your ranks etc). So, using the espn draft kit what is the standard I could use to identify tiers at a position and to differentiate between each tier. Last year karabell blogged about his tiers but i don't see similar info this year. Thanks!

AJ Mass
  (11:27 AM)

I think you do have the same info to work from as we do. The stats are what they are. When it comes down to it, tiers are simply groups of players you consider to have around the same value. But even the experts at ESPN aren't going to all agree where every line will go. It's not a "standard" thing ... it's more of a gut feeling thing or a personal taste thing.

Brandon (Mission Viejo, CA)

What are the odds that Brian Wilson keeps the closer job in SF all year? Is he the guy they really want to succeed in the role or is he just keeping the seat warm for someone else?

AJ Mass
  (11:29 AM)

No team *wants* their closer to fail. But certainly Tyler Walker seems to fit the closer definition a little better - they'll make the switch if it isn't working, but there's no real reason to suspect it won't.

Sean (Taipei, Taiwan)

Who's the frontrunner of Cubs closer?

AJ Mass
  (11:31 AM)

Marmol - for now. If Wood were completely 100%, he probably would have gotten the nod, but I think Carlos gets first dibs.

Rico (Bronx)

What's up with the no love for Andruw Jones? Sure his avg. is awful, but he still puts up solid runs, hrs, and rbi totals, yet so many OF's ranked ahead of him.

AJ Mass
  (11:33 AM)

Awful? It's more than awful! And that swing isn't going to get any faster. Andruw doesn't run and doesn't generate enough offense on his own anymore to be ranked any higher.

Jason (Charlottesville, Va)

What are your Andy LaRoche and G'para projections? I am I nuts to pick up C Patterson (no job) or C Crisp in the 19th round of a 14 team mixed league?

AJ Mass
  (11:37 AM)

Nomar isn't going to be more than a bench guy with LA. Even if for some reason LaRoche doesn't hit 15 HR and Nomar does well stepping in, I can easily see him traded which makes him doubly dangerous to pick in a NL-only league that doesn't allow you to keep a guy sent to the AL. Crisp is a good pickup late, because he'll be playing somewhere this season - be it Boston or elsewhere. Patterson? I'd wait until someone takes a bite.

Dave (Cleveland, OH)

I drafted Tejada and Orlando Cabrera in a 10 team mixed league. Do you think I need an upgrade at SS?

AJ Mass
  (11:39 AM)

I think you're OK with Cabrera and Tejada. Certainly Miguel has some baggage this year, but I've seen worse duos.

Mike (NYC)

Hey AJ: Who is the better keeper, Granderson or CB Young. I need to cut one

AJ Mass
  (11:41 AM)

As many regulars to the chat know, I'm a Granderson guy. I don't think you can go wrong with either, and I took both in the ESPN Expert Mock Draft. But I rate Granderson a bit higher.

paul (NJ)

If you got to take santana at the tail end of the first round, who are some candidates you would recommend to get your offense going in the early second round?

AJ Mass
  (11:43 AM)

You take the best available hitter at that point... likely to be one of the Ryans or Crawford or Soriano -- ormaybe even one of the big three SS if you're lucky.

Dan (Portland)

AJ, is Hanely maybe rated too high given Miguel won't be batting behind hime anymore?

AJ Mass
  (11:45 AM)

I don't think so. His speed isn't going anywhere, and it's not like his production last season was based on tons of RBI. He'll get on base through his hitting - or he'll be pitched around - and get on base anyway. As long as he's patient, he'll put up the numbers.

Dan (Devon, Pa)

how much of a bump in rankings do you give players in keeper drafts? I'm in a 12 team mixed three keeper, increasing to five next year. Do young OF's like Markakis, Hart and Pence get bumped ahead of proven veterans like abreu, manny and magglio b/c of their future value?

AJ Mass
  (11:47 AM)

The thing about keeper leagues is that yes, you want to play for tomorrow... but I'm not losing today in the process. If it comes down to two guys of similar 2008 numbers, I'll go younger. So Markakis over Abreu? Yeah. Pence over Magglio? Not a chance.

Matt (Atlanta)

Is Kentucky going to make the NCAA tournament?

AJ Mass
  (11:49 AM)

If they win 3 of last 4 and then make the SEC semis and don't get blown out. - yes. They gave themselves little room for error.

Brick (Brooklyn)

Syracuse. In or out?

AJ Mass
  (11:50 AM)

Sadly, out. That loss to South Florida pretty much killed them. Unless they win out and make it to the Big East weekend, they have zero chance... and even then, I think it's a longshot.

Toby (Orange County, CA)

Are you bigger on the numbers or the position eligibility? Let's say it's your turn to pick and the best remaining players are Granderson, Aramis, and Jeter. You like Granderson's numbers the most, but it gets very thin at SS and 3B after your pick. What do you go for?

AJ Mass
  (11:54 AM)

Good question. I think you have to get a feel for the draft. If SS is thin, it might be because everyone else already has picked one, which could buy you some time. Or you could know that nobody else in your league is as high on Curtis as you, and you can hope he'll keep for another round. I don't have a hard and fast rule on that, it's more of a feel once I'm in the draft.

Cody Philly

AJ, can you post the link for the mock draft, Thanks

AJ Mass
  (11:54 AM)

Here you go: http://sports.espn.go.com/fantasy/baseball/flb/story?page=mlbdk2k8mock0222

Francis (Tucson)

Arizona - most people have them in due to their ridiculous schedule. Are they Sweet 16 caliber? Elite 8?

AJ Mass
  (11:57 AM)

Yeah... the committee loves to stress that SOS. But at some point, you've got to say "OK. Win some games." If they stumble on the Oregon trip they may be in trouble getting in. So, I'd say no to the Elite 8 talk.

AJ Mass
  (11:58 AM)

Time for one more gang.... you've been great today, but an hour goes quickly!

Jon (Boston)

Why do you like Harang so much, not concerned about his 3 years of 200+ innings?

AJ Mass
  (12:00 PM)

Exactly the opposite. His second half numbers last year were better than his first half. If IP was a concern, they'd be far worse. And the fact he's done it three years in a row and the stats are increasingly better? The K's are up. The ERA and WHIP are down. I like Harang.

the fat boys (at the all u can eat buffet)

AJ is back and we know he can never be WHACK

AJ Mass
  (12:02 PM)

Indeed! And on that note... we out of here like Vladimir. Remember to check out the Draft Kit and there's another chat at 3pm today. Thanks everyone!