Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

February 6, 12:04 PM ET
Fantasy Sports w/AJ Mass

AJ Mass
  (2:58 PM)

Good afternoon gang. Let's finish up the work week with a fantasy baseball discussion, shall we? We can also talk NFL fantasy and even a little early NCAA hoops bubble talk to boot. What say ye?

Vic, Hoboken NJ

I see C.C. as the 2nd SP on many lists, but besides the 2+ month stint in the NL Central, does his track record (especially against the AL East) really merit such a high ranking?

AJ Mass
  (3:00 PM)

I think his track record is one of a pitcher who works deeper into games than most, meaning not only that he gets more K's as a result, but also his ERA "counts more" since it takes up a bigger chunk of your staff ERA. In addition, the more you pitch, the more chances for your offense to get you a win. I have CC #2 as well, and I think deservedly so.

Di (West Lafayette, Indiana)

What position is the shallowest this year? SS or C, do I have to grab a elite SS in the first 2 rounds of a 10 team roto league (Hanley, Reyes or Rollins)

AJ Mass
  (3:02 PM)

In the first few rounds, I want the players who will help my overall team the most. The dropoff in catcher after the first four guys or so is steep, just as I think there's a big decline after HanRam and Reyes, but I'm not jumping up to grab Rollins or a catcher just because of the dropoff.

Omar Minaya (Queens, NY)

Just got a call from a fantasy GM asking whether he should take Reyes or Wright with the 4th overall pick. I am punting this question to you. Is it easier to get bags or bombs in subsequent rounds? Help me out! Thank you!

AJ Mass
  (3:05 PM)

It's easier to get HRs. But at the same time, that means a SB specialist at some point loses value as the season wears on, b/c you no longer will NEED as many steals to maintain your place in the standings (assuming we're not taking a weekly H2H). I like Reyes better than Wright FWIW.

Dave (Annapolis, MD)

Where would you rank S. Drew among shortstops? I'm in a H2H leauge with K's as -1 point.

AJ Mass
  (3:07 PM)

The K's will come with Drew... but it the big swing that allows for the power, so I'm not going to downgrade him too much. He's my #4 SS in a 5x5 league.

Jim (Burke, VA)

January 25, 2008 Evan (CT): Who would you take second overall in fantasy baseball? AJ Mass: Assuming that we're talking A-Rod at No. 1, I'd give the No. 2 spot to Jimmy Rollins, much as it pains me personally to do so. January 21 2009 GR (KC): What's crackalackin', AJ??? I am in a pickle. Which 2 do i keep out of rollins, tex, and braun. AJ Mass: I'd send Jimmy packing. I've never been a fan, and his batting average will almost definitely be the worst of the three. Please explain: Thanks?and yes, there is NOTHING to do at work today besides archive your chats I remember from a year ago.

AJ Mass
  (3:09 PM)

Wow, Jim - quite the archivist, you are. Not much to explain. I'm not a Rollins fan. That's a personal thing, and hasn't changed. Just because I don't like someone personally doesn't mean I can't set that aside and rate them accordingly. Last year, I thought Rollins would be the best of the Big 3 SS. This year, especially with the Utley uncertainty, I do not.

Neil (Cleveland)

I'm in a bit of a bind here....who is a better keeper: Troy Tulowitzki or Alexi Ramirez?

AJ Mass
  (3:12 PM)

It's a tough call, because if Tulo stays healthy and keeps that temper in check, he could be huge this year, and for the future. For 2009, I like Alexei slightly b/c I think he'll have better power numbers - but in a keeper league I might lean towards Tulo.

Danny (Aspen, CO)

Am I crazy to compare Soriano (rnd 1) and Cameron (rnd 10) in making an NL-only keeper selection? Thanks to Soriano's decreased SB attempts over the past few years, seems that the two surprisingly stack up comparably across the board: projected 09 stats, lineup position / surrounding production, injury history / risk, etc. Due to the glaring difference in keeper cost, I can't help but seriously weigh this one??

AJ Mass
  (3:14 PM)

Not crazy at all. I'm pretty down on Soriano this year, and it's all about value... Cameron at 10 is a steal. Soriano at 1 is too much. I keep Cameron, even though I think Soriano has a better year.

Mitch ( Cincinnati,OH)

I?m in a keeper league and I was wondering what your strategy is for drafting. Do target young players in hopes of them panning out? The reason why I ask is b/c outside of Matt Weiters I don?t really see any studs that I should reach for in a draft. Maybe Travis Snider? Maybe Tommy Hanson. Is it too early to take Weiters in rnd 12? Thanks

AJ Mass
  (3:16 PM)

My strategy is to win this year. Period. Once the season is underway and I see where my team's 2009 fate lies, then I'll wheel and deal for the future, but on Draft Day? I get my starting lineup set first, and only then consider dipping into "upside" picks.


Hey AJ, Happy Friday. League set up question. What is the best way to manage an auction keeper league during the season? Having a salary cap that stays with the team all season? How do you treat trades? Any advice? There doesn't seem to be anywhere to find a "standard" for this. Thanks for your guidence!

AJ Mass
  (3:18 PM)

I like to have a set cap for the auction, allow for a small increase during the season (for example raise the cap by $1 each week if all FA signings are to be assigned a $1 value) - and then allow all trades where both teams remain under the cap when it is done. This way you can't "dump" a $40 player for two $1 players unless you have already cleared $38 in value. This way you avoid arguments on "fair" and at the same time force an owner to pay for overbidding on draft day.

Dan (NJ)

Last keeper - Nady or McCann? Catcher is shallow, but if Nady sticks with the Yanks he should put up solid numbers. Thoughts?

AJ Mass
  (3:20 PM)

I agree Nady may have good numbers, but I like McCann (my #1 catcher) slightly more than Nady. At that point of the draft, you can still get Nady-like numbers a round later.

Wes (MS)

Hi AJ, my fantasy league is moving to an auction style draft this year. Any general advice for me as far as strategy?

AJ Mass
  (3:23 PM)

Some rules of thumb: Don't panic if you don't get "one guy" - Go in with an idea of what you want to spend on each guy and try to stick with it. - When it is your turn to nominate a player, put up a guy you wouldn't mind getting for $1 (just in case you get stuck) but don't really want, thereby filling someone else's roster and lowering their bank and making it that much easier to get the guy you do want.

Pete, Columbus

AJ, i've seen every analyst drooling over Markasis this year, and consistently rate him above Kemp in 09 value. In fact Tristen rated Lee over Kemp in one chat. Unless i somehow forgot how to read Kemp was #10 on last years player rater and Markasis was #19. So is the though process that Kemp hit his peak? That Nick is going to take some monster step up? Because from a potential standpoint i can't see how would be much higher then the other. If anythin, now that LA's outfield is more set then last year i expect even better $s from kemp. With the way nick is being rated i won't be drafting him where is is projecting. Thoughts?

AJ Mass
  (3:27 PM)

I have Markakis slightly higher than Kemp in my rankings (Hitter 27 vs. 30). Player Rater is a reflection of what a player did last year, but it doesn't factor in growth and potential, which is arguably subjective. Personally, I see Markakis as having more growth for 2009 than Kemp which is why I have him higher, but I'm not dropping Kemp to No. 75, either.

Greg (DC)

Do you see a breakout coming for any of these outfielders: Dukes, Milledge, Adam Jones?

AJ Mass
  (3:28 PM)

I can't help it, I have a soft spot for Milledge and really want to see him break out this year. Of the three, he's the one I rank highest, and the one I'm rooting for the most.

don (sf)

who's this year's carlos qeuntin or nate mclouth? What player already in the league that could make a big step forward?

AJ Mass
  (3:30 PM)

Ryan Ludwick could step up into the elite this season. Another guy I like, although he didn't play that much is 08 is Taylor Teagarden.

Scott (Boston)

How would you rank Billingsley, Liriano, and Felix for both this year and as keepers?

AJ Mass
  (3:32 PM)

Pitchers, as a rule, make lousy keepers. There's just so many injuries and performance swings, that unless you're paying top dollar for a Johan Santana-type, you're risking. I like Billingsley of the three for the upcoming season and beyond.


Milledge, Ludwick, and Teagarden? Come on AJ, do you lose in fantasy leagues all of the time? I bet you think Chris Davis is a Top 5 1B too....even with his ridiculous BABIP and HR/fly ball rate.

AJ Mass
  (3:34 PM)

Wow, wow. The question asked for what player I think has the best chance to come from "nowhere" to be good. Not whether I think Tim Lincecum has a shot to win 20 games or some such. In order to come from nowhere, one must be "nowhere" now. Lighten up, Frances.

tt (sea)

we are trying to expand our keeper league, though we agreed to keep 14 before last season, how is the best way to allow new people with being fair.

AJ Mass
  (3:37 PM)

Expansion. First everyone gets to keep whomever they want, as per the rules already established. Then, the new owners get to select their own keepers from the players cut by the other owners. No rookies or free agents, just folks that the original owners had a chance to protect. If you like, you can put a limit on the number of players from one "existing team's" roster than can be selected to ensure even distribution.

Jonny (Boston)

How much do you let your dislike for a player weigh in on your fantasy decisions? I personally can't stand A-Rod and would take Hanley or Pujols over him due to that. Is that a mistake?

AJ Mass
  (3:39 PM)

We're all human, but as I said before in the Rollins question - you have to take personal feelings out of the mix if you want to have the best evaluation of the players involved. That being said, it's your team, and if you don't ever want to root for Player X, you don't have to draft him. It's a mistake in the evaluation process, but perfectly reasonable in selecting - as long as do so with both eyes open.

B. Murray

AJ, nice "Stripes" reference. Gamel comes up big this year?

AJ Mass
  (3:41 PM)

Gamel comes up this year. Whether it's big or not, I'm not sure. But certainly Bill Hall isn't the answer. I'm not expected the 09 version of Longoria, but Gamel could be a nice second-half name. That's the fact, Jack.

Eddie Money (Los Angeles)

Followup question to your answer on expansion teams in keeper leagues regarding draft position for the expansion teams. I say the expansion teams should draft last in the 1st round of a snake style draft. Others think they should get to draft first in the 1st round. What do you think?

AJ Mass
  (3:43 PM)

Actually, in the past, I've had expansion teams not eligible for the first round, but they get to pick twice at the end of second round, and then end up last in Round 3. Snake from there.

Scott (DC)

Why am I seeing no love for Grady Sizemore as a top 4 pick? He was not far off a 40-40 pace last year.

AJ Mass
  (3:44 PM)

Well, he's my #3, so I'm right with you, Scott. I'll settle for a 30-30 with 100 runs and RBI from my #1 pick.

Bill, Minneapolis

AJ, will the WBC have a negative impact on some/most pitchers as the season progresses? Is that something you would take into consideration when deciding between two pitchers of similar value on draft day?

AJ Mass
  (3:46 PM)

Depends on the pitcher, really. If a guy has been notoriously slow starter in April, pitching in the WBC might actually benefit. That being said, as a fantasy owner, I'm not going to let it affect who I draft, but I'll be happy if my roster ends up with no participants nevertheless.

Rebecca (St Louis)

Who are your top 10 picks this year?

AJ Mass
  (3:48 PM)

Welcome back, Rebecca. My personal pre-season rankings --- Jose Reyes Albert Pujols Grady Sizemore Hanley Ramirez David Wright Roy Halladay Dustin Pedroia Lance Berkman Carlos Beltran Manny Ramirez

Jon (Elkhart, Ind.)

Re expansion: We expanded a league with 6 keepers last year. Everyone could protect 4, the new team picked 6 (no more than one from any roster), then everyone picked their remaining 2 keepers. No first round draft pick though? Why would anyone want to join that league???

AJ Mass
  (3:51 PM)

It's a keeper league. Expansion owners presumably really want to get in, and will be happy to "pay their dues" while existing owners will be less resistant to new owners if they think they're getting an advantage. I actually think allowing the new teams to cherry pick players is a bigger advantage than getting a first round pick.


Wow!!! No A-Rod?

AJ Mass
  (3:54 PM)

Here's the thing with A-Rod. I have him as my #2 3B. But I'm not playing "real baseball" - I'm playing fantasy baseball. And I can get 30-10 from a 3B far lower in the draft. It's simply a matter of value. I'm not willing to pick A-Rod that high.

Rob (St. John's)

Pedroia at #7 ?!?!? That's the highest (by far) that I've seen him ranked

AJ Mass
  (3:55 PM)

I'd probably have Utley there if I knew he was playing 162, but without that guarantee, Pedroia rises to #1.

Jay (Rye Brook, NY)

Hi AJ, can you explain why an expansion team would lose their first round pick in your draft, they are already way behind only getting to pick from your owner's discarded players?

AJ Mass
  (3:57 PM)

The first place team in your league may have the best 10-15 players in your league's player universe. That's why they won. If they can only protect say, 4 guys... you're giving the expansion team a shot at the No. 5 overall player. That's an advantage.

C'mon (Reality)

No 3B not named A-Rod or Wright has gone 30-10 in the last 5 years

AJ Mass
  (3:58 PM)

Mark Reynolds 28-11 is pretty darn close (and with only 6 fewer RBI than A-Rod). Forgive me for rounding.

Jay (Rye Brook, NY)

AJ, I'm paying attention! your top ten means that Johan is third (or lower) of your pitchers since CC is second...why? Don't you think that Johan is a potential CY young every year and although I love Halladay, he is so much older and have put so many more innings on his arm, he will lose something someday soon. Why take on that extra chance as a #1 pick?

AJ Mass
  (4:00 PM)

I love Johan... but wins are not really in a pitcher's control... and just who is hitting on the Mets this year? Let's give you Reyes and Wright. Are we getting another solid year from Delgado? Church? Murphy? Yes the pen will protect leads... I'm just not sure how many leads he'll have.

Rebecca (St Louis)

I must say you have the biggest brass set of any of the analysts!!

AJ Mass
  (4:00 PM)


AJ Mass
  (4:01 PM)

OK, gang... that's all the time we have for today. We appreciate the Q's as always, and always love how the hour flies by. We'll see you the next time on Villa Allegre! (Back to 11AM next Friday!)