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April 4, 2:21 PM ET
Fantasy Baseball w/Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:00 AM)

Hello all and welcome to another fantasy baseball chat session. There's so much going on in fantasy, let's get going. Any questions?

Jim (Seattle, WA)

EK, I know you were high on Ortiz coming into the season, predicting him for the MVP. Are you at all worried by his 3 for 33 (.091) start?

Eric Karabell
  (11:01 AM)

Nope. Not really worried at all. Slow starts always get blown out of proportion, and if there was an Ortiz owner in one of my leagues selling him not just cheap, but at all, I'd be buying. He'll be fine.

Dave

Who's closing in Atlanta now?

Eric Karabell
  (11:03 AM)

Good question Dave! Where's Mark Wohlers when the team needs him? Conventional wisdom would say Peter Moylan is next in line, but the Braves seem to like Manny Acosta, and he was the one who would have closed if a save chance arose on Monday. Moylan pitched in the seventh inning. This is telling. Rafael Soriano might not be out very long, but Acosta seems like he could get the first post-Soriano save chance.

Lee (STL)

Eric, quite a start for Zach Grienke. Is he a sell high guy or do you expect this type of season to continue?

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

I expect his ERA to eventually rise above 2, but I wouldn't call Greinke a sell-high guy. Yes, you can get a lot for him at this point, after he shut down the Yankees, but he's always had this ability. I wouldn't be shocked if the Royals win 75 games, and Greinke gets 15 of them with a 3.20 ERA.

Todd (Pittsburgh)

Eric, Keppinger or Encarncion - which Red is better for my bench?

Eric Karabell
  (11:07 AM)

I think Dusty Baker is starting to worry about the same thing. Ultimately Keppinger needs to be in the everyday lineup, which Baker has already acknowledged. Alex Gonzalez could be back in a few weeks, and if Encarnacion isn't hitting his weight, I think he's in danger. Of course, Encarnacion does have 20-80 ability. Keppinger is middle infield eligible and runs a bit, and I think he'll get 500 at-bats and hit .300. I'd keep him at this point.

Chris (Orlando)

I'm thinking of dropping Brian Wilson for Manny Parra, good move?

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

I do like Parra to stick in the Brewers rotation and do some nice things, but it's apples and oranges. There's not a league I'm in that a closer is available. Wilson might be on an offense-challenged team, but I think he'll keep the closer role and earn 25 or more saves.

Carl (Allentown)

Who do you see winning the Jerry Owens vs Carlos Quentin battle? Is Owens still looking like a 40 steals guy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

Ozzie Guillen loves having a leadoff hitter with speed, as proven with the Scott Podsednik lovefest. I think Owens will get the chance to play everyday when he gets off the DL, and yes, he will be a candidate for 40 steals. Quentin could emerge as well, but I think Guillen wants a traditional - even if misguided - leadoff type.

Joe (Boston)

Someone in my league dropped Sheffield, is he an upgrade over Billy Butler by the end of the year? We use 5x5 plus OPS

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

Based on using OPS, I would still call Sheffield an upgrade. I also think he's going to steal bases again, maybe as many as 20. Butler is an emerging hitter and could go 20-80 I suppose, but Sheffield offers that plus speed.

Alan (New York City)

Is Mike Jacobs this year's Carlos Pena?

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

In terms of coming out of nowhere to steal a job nobody thought he'd be in the running for, no. Pena was a once in a decade thing. Jacobs has had a starting job in Florida for a few years. He's hit for power. He's hitting home runs, and it wouldn't surprise me if he reached 30 finally. What Pena did, there's no comparison.

Marc (Toronto, Canada)

Is Pat Burrell a sell high, or is the contract year a reason to hold on to him?

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

The contract has nothing to do with it. Burrell is streaky. Last year he was brutal the first three months, then he got hot. He's got power, takes walks, the only thing I'd worry about is he could hit .250 the rest of the year, but everything else is fine. I don't sell high on him unless the return is reasonable.

Shaun(NYC)

In your article...."20 who will steal 20" you specifically said that a 40 year old Scheffield will not reach that plateau again. What gives?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

The finger injury changed things. Honestly, I think he overcompensated for the lack of power last season, due to the shoulder problem, by helping the Tigers with his wheels. I see him doing the same thing. The finger is preventing power, so he figures he'll run more. I also didn't think the Tigers would be scrambling for runs like this.

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

And that's a great call by Shaun, by the way. If you read my stuff and see a possible discrepancy, absolutely bring it up!

Michael (STL)

Eric, with the Giants looking like they're the worst team in the league with no offense, what does that do to the value of Lincecum and Cain? It seems like that inability to score could be frustrating for young pitchers. Your thoughts?

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

I think people are panicking too much with the run support issue on the young Giants. Cain and Lincecum need to pitch well, and sure, they're unlikely to win 15 games each, but good pitching is good pitching. Jonathan Sanchez fanned 10 on Wednesday. It was a no-decision, but I'll take the good peripherals. I think Lincecum and Cain are both buy low options.

Alan (Orlando)

Hey Eric, What's your take on Matt Kemp and Brad Hawpe? Are they destined to be platoon players this year based on the pitching matchup?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

No, I don't beleive either are platoon players. I don't think Joe Torre has figured out what he wants to do with four outfielders, but Kemp could clarify things by just hitting better. He'd play every day. As for Hawpe, I think he just got a day off Wednesday. He's not great against lefties, and Ryan Spilborghs might be, but Hawpe is still a 30-100 guy, at least.

Nick (Royal Oak, MI)

Eric, last year I was fortunate enough to grab Brett Myers off the waivers after the guy (a Philly fan no less) dropped him when he went to the bullpen. I have him again this year. I know its only been 2 outings, but are you concerned at all?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

Nope, not one bit. He's going to remain a starter, and he's going to be a 200-innings guy who gets at least 175 strikeouts. Be patient.

Jim (Seattle, WA)

Who would you rather have. Corey Patterson or Johnny Damon?

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

Shocker, I'm going to take Corey Patterson! You know, when I foolishly said he'd go 30/30 on Baseball Tonight a few weeks back I got a lot of snickers. Even I was snickering. But he's got 4 home runs already, and you know the steals will be there. He just loves playing for Dusty. Damon kinda looks old. I'm lowering my projections for him. Patterson goes 25/35.

Emily, Seattle, WA

What happened to the player rater/ranking system? Any idea if it is coming back?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

The player rater is in the tool box on our fantasy baseball page. Or you can click here. http://games.espn.go.com/flb/playerrater It's pretty good, actually, and a way to compare hitters with pitchers, base stealers with power guys. I look at it. Mark Reynolds is the leader for now.

Bernard (Princeton, NJ)

Luke Scott has started off pretty hot. I also have Hermida. Which one puts up the better numberS?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

I have to take Hermida still, even though Scott is hitting .500. Scott might have more pure power, a 25-80 guy, but Hermida has more overall upside. Despite the DL stint he's still owned in 94 percent of ESPN mixed leagues, which is smart. Hermida could knock in 100 runs batting third in Florida.

Chris (Orlando)

Who has the better year, Marcum or Owings?

Eric Karabell
  (11:24 AM)

I like them both, and seem to have each on quite a few teams. I rank Marcum a bit better, but each should win 12 or more games with an ERA in the 4 range.

Ryan (Houston)

Flex your baseball knowledge muscles. Deep league question. Who gets more playing time if Nady or Bay gets traded Morgan, McCutchen, or Pearce?

Eric Karabell
  (11:26 AM)

I think Steven Pearce is ready for the majors now, and just waits for Nady or LaRoche to get hurt or dealt. Morgan is a fourth outfielder. McCutcheon should get a call later in the season, but I don't think he's ready. Pearce is.

Adam (NY)

Who has a better year, Napoli or Snyder?

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

So far it sure looks like Napoli has the 15-homer power we thought Snyder had, but I wouldn't give up on Snyder yet. He had a big spring, and it's still only 10 games of the season. For now, I stick with Snyder.

Vinny (Elmont, LI)

Posada's been waived in my league and I'm suffering with the likes of Ramon Hernandez and Chris Snyder. Take a chance and grab the wounded Yankee?

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

Yeah, I'm seeing quite a few people in this chat jumping off the Posada bandwagon. Big mistake. He's likely to play after the weekend, and he remains a top 5 catcher, capable of .280-20-80. I think he reaches those stats, too. The other guys you mentioned, I take the under.

Joe (Boston)

Who has the better year, Hughes or Cueto?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

I think Cueto is good, but his value is through the roof and he makes a wise trade high guy, assuming someone thinks he's going to win the Cy Young. I know people who believe it. You know what, Hughes hasn't impressed me so far. I will take Cueto. At least we know he'll strike hitters out.

Dan (NJ)

Are you concerned at all about Grandersons ability to bounce back from this injury? Seems to me like he has Coco Crisp from a couple years back written all over him.

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

I think he was a bit overrated for this season to start with, but no, I don't assume he's going to go in the tank like Crisp did. Granderson is a better player. I think it will be tough for him to hit for power when he returns, but I wouldn't give up on him.

Joe (NYC)

Mike Jacobs or James Loney this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

It's a nice start for Jacobs, but I still stick with Loney. He will hit for a better average, and he has 25-homer ability. He's just a better player.

Paul (Boston)

Think Tejada can keep it up or would you deal him? I can get D. Lee or Abreu. Also do you like Blanton?

Eric Karabell
  (11:35 AM)

I think Tejada will keep this up, and he'll be a nice 25-homer shortstop, but Lee and Abreu are better players who also run and could hit .300. Depends what you need and if you can part with a SS, but I believe in Tejada. As for Blanton, he's a relatively safe innings eater who should win 12 and post an ERA around 4. Nothing wrong with Blanton.

Brad (Philly)

Eric, I really like the Baseball Today podcast. Keep up the good work! Do you think Blackburn sticks in the Twins rotation for the entire season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

Thanks, Brad, I think the podcast is going well, and of course for those who aren't aware, check out the ESPN podcenter page for the daily Baseball Today. Today's guest was Tim Kurkjian. Good stuff. As for Blackburn, I'm not impressed with his minor league K numbers, but it doesn't mean he can't be a Bannister type who thrives on precision and induces grounders. At this point, I don't think Liriano is being moved up to replace Blackburn, but the injured Slowey.

Jarrett (Flemington, NJ)

Buy low on Victorino or keep McLouth? Also, are you officially off the "Dave Bush Bandwagon" after his last two starts?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Ha! I've been off the Dave Bush bandwagon for awhile. In fact, I think he loses his rotation spot soon to Yovani Gallardo. As for the speedy center fielders, buy low on Victorino but also keep McLouth. Both are legit runners.

e (denver)

Just an FYI, it's snowing here... bench your Rockies and Braves today.

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

Thank you, E, that's good to know. Those in daily leagues, you don't have much time to make moves. Mariners-Rays starts at 12:40 ET!

Derek (Kalamazoo, MI)

Eric - Grienke's start has been nice, but what should I make of his low K rate? Is 7K/9 reasonable?

Eric Karabell
  (11:41 AM)

I wouldn't make anything of the K rate, really. He faced the Tigers and Yankees, two teams who aren't going to lead the league in strikeouts. They are patient offenses. Greinke isn't a 200-K guy anyway, but 150, I could see it.

jerry (VT)

Hey eric, what kind of year do you expect out of Chris Duncan?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

One of the guys I was speaking to today was already giving up on Duncan in a deep league, which I told him wasn't wise. This is still a hitter who could get 30 home runs, so don't drop him yet.

Brian (Orlando fl)

I have E. Encarnacion. Should I drop him and pick up Crede or Reynolds?

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

Not that I would give up on Edwin in deeper leagues, but at this point I would prefer both Reynolds and Crede, in that order.

Xavier (Seattle)

EK! The Braves official site lists Moylan as the closer now. Do you make anything of that, or still think it might be Acosta?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

I make nothing of that. It's almost implied that Moylan is next because he's been the top setup man, but it really means nothing. It's up to the whim of Bobby Cox.

anthony (NY)

Hey Eric, i have a deal on the table. Youkilis for J. Westbrook. Do you expect business as usual low 4's 13 wins out of westbrook or is there a reason to be optimistic being though he had a great spring and is off to a good start?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

I think it could be a better season for Westbrook than his past ones, but he's not likely to finish with a 2.75 ERA either. He's going to win games on that team, and not be a K guy. Youkilis seems like a fair offer. He hits for average, but the power is moderate.

Brian (Tampa)

Should I look to sell high on Bill Hall or hold on to him?

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

I could see Hall hitting 20-25 home runs, with a .260 average. He'll gain third base eligibility soon. Selling high always depends on what someone will offer, so it depends.

Sam (Chicago)

Eric, do you Fantasy Experts ever get a vacation? It seems like you guys crank out column after column, and then a new fantasy season begins and you prepare your pre-draft work, and then more daily analysis. When do you guys get a break?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

Um, good point. Time for a vacation!

Chet (LA)

Better keeper: Adam Jones or Cameron Maybin? Jay Bruce better than both?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

I think Bruce will ultimately be a big-time power hitter, but he needs to play to help fantasy owners. Maybin seems like a 20/20 guy soon. I haven't seen much from Jones so far, but it's early. The thing is, Maybin does take walks. Jones does not. I'd prefer Maybin. But Bruce tops them all.

Jay (LA)

Better Power and Speed combo...Bill Hall, Corey P, or Mike Cameron?

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Hall doesn't run. Cameron can still get 20/20 even in five months, but Patterson is the guy here. Not sure why so many people disliked him so much.

Greg (St. Louis)

When does my boy Colby Rasmus get called up? Too early to stash him in a keeper league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

Never too early to stash future stars away. I think Rasmus will be up around midseason, when the Cardinals realize Rick Ankiel should be playing a corner outfield spot, not center.

Bill (Austin, Texas)

Randy Johnson worth picking up in shallow mixed leagues?

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

Yeah, I think he will start Monday against the Giants and strike quite a few of them out. Give him 25 starts and he could win 12, fan more than a hitter per inning. Even in a 10-team league, he should be owned.

JP (NY)

Do you believe in Ryan Dempster as a starter (looks great so far)?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

I believe he's an average starter off to a really nice start, but he is capable of 12 wins and a 4 ERA. So is that truly sell high? I like owning safe, veteran starting pitchers, and I think he's a solid No. 5 fantasy starter.

RJ (pittsburgh)

What kind of HR / SB numbers can I expect from J Upton this year? Can he put up numbers close to BJ last year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

I think big brother was further along last year than Justin is now, but he certainly has 20/20 potential. I still think BJ Upton will have a big year. I'd worry a bit about Justin Upton making adjustments when pitchers stop throwing him fastballs.

Jake (Gainesville)

C. Pena for A. Ramirez. Both teams fill holes but who has a bigger impact in a standard 5X5?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

I'd say Pena has a greater impact, but it's close.

JB (Memphis)

Keppinger or Renteria; Kemp or Bourne?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

I like Keppinger, but he's still not Renteria yet. And Kemp has power potential. He'll be worth it, just wait. Bourn should steal 40, but he's a limited player.

Jason (Stamford, CT)

Hey Eric, what are your thoughts on Chad Billingsley's awful outing? Is he a hold or a sell? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I would not cut him yet. It's one bad start, and he couldn't have enjoyed bouncing to the rotation last week. There's potential here for a big-time K guy. Hold Billingsley.

Brett (DC)

Hey Eric -- are you worried about Magglio? he's getting up there and is really struggling. What value would you place on him for trade? top 20? thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

He's not top 20, but it's a week and a half. Magglio will hit .300, drive in runs, he'll be fine.

Bobby (NY)

Quick prediction of how you think Matsui and Giambi will do for the Yanks?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

I could see Matsui going 25-90 in 140 games, while Giambi plays less, but hits 20 homers, drives in 70. Both have value.

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

OK, that is all the time I have been given. Thank you for the many, many questions and enjoy your day baseball today! What a great game this is! Enjoy.