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March 13, 12:09 PM ET
Fantasy Sports w/Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:01 AM)

Hello all and welcome to another fantasy chat session. Yes, it's me again. I know, I know, you were stuck with me on Wednesday, my normal chat day, but I am back helping a colleague. So, lots going on, let's get right to it.... any questions?

Jimmy (NC)

EK - If you were to spend that "little extra" to ensure one of Wright, Reyes or King Albert in an NL-Only Auction Keeper League (would have that person for the next three years if it made a difference) who'd you spend it on to get your money's worth? Thanks

Eric Karabell
  (11:03 AM)

Any and all of the above. Seriously, I often spend the extra buck for stars or players I really want. I mean, to me any dollar figure on a player is arbitrary anyway. Is Pujols worth $40, or $45? He's worth what you spend. In order, I'd go extra for Pujols, Wright and then Reyes. I love getting power, but can't deny having one 60-steal guy in NL-only might be enough to almost win the category.

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

How concerning should Joe Mauer's injury be to fantasy owners?

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

I'm trying to not overrate it. He could be ready in April, and even if he is not, this is not like the A-Rod injury, for example. Much of Mauer's fantasy value comes from a non-cumulative stat, batting average. I think Mauer can hit .320 whether it's in 500 at-bats or 350. For now, there's no evidence he will miss playing time with a sore back. So, I dropped him down the ranks a bit, but not too much.

Steve (Denver)

The Mariners just signed Chad Cordero. The Seattle closer situation seems like a total mess, who do you think ends up getting a majority of the saves?

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

Yeah, how about that! A bad, bad Mariners team decided it needed to sign a washed up closer. Um, ok. I do think Cordero will get the saves, even though he's likely a shadow of his former self, just because managers think experience at closer is important. It's not. I won't say Cordero is healthy enough for the April saves, or the majority this season, but he's certainly in the mix. I'd still say Mark Lowe can win the job coming out of March and keep it a few months.

Sean (NC)

Can Joey Devine hold down the A's closer spot? That team should win some games, and Devine's numbers last year were filthy.

Eric Karabell
  (11:07 AM)

He was filthy, but he's not healthy right now. Luckily for him Brad Ziegler is representing in the WBC, so Oakland currently has no closer. I think Devine will close, when healthy, and should be a bit of a bargain.

Kyle (Atlanta)

Where do you think Gordon Beckham of the White Sox will end up. Will he make the roster and start or will the send him down,

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

I just drafted Beckham in a deep dynasty league, and I thought I was embarrassing myself when I did it. Plenty of good players left. Then I found out at least two other owners were about to select him, so I wasn't so embarrassed any more. I do not think Beckham makes the team, even though he is probably the team's top second baseman right now. Also wouldn't surprise me if he played short, if the Alexei-at-short experiment fails. But I bet the White Sox are a little conservative in April and give Beckham half a season in the minors. He has good power, right away, could hit .300 too.

Joey (Portland)

How do you prepare for a draft when you don't know what players will be kept until right before the draft -- keepers due right before spring break, but I leave that day and get back the day of the draft?

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

I like that, actually. Doesn't change a thing for me. I normally just print out a master cheat sheet and cross out names anyway. So, before that draft, cross out more names. Drafting is largely instinctive anyway.

Randy (Detroit)

EK, Can you rank the Tigers starters: J. Verlander, E. Jackson, J. Bonderman and A. Gallaraga.

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

I have little faith in Bonderman's health, and Galarraga might have been the luckiest pitcher in the AL last season. He just can't sustain those rates. He should be OK, ERA in the 4s, but he was never supposed to be that good. And Jackson seems largely average to me. Verlander is No. 1 here, and then it drops off. Probably Galarraga, Jackson and then Bonder.

Sean (Cincy)

How do you think the Reds starting rotation will hold up this year in a not so great National League Central?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

Harang is one of my best bets to bounce back this season, yet I still chose Ted Lilly over him in a keeper league a few minutes ago. Just safer I guess. Arroyo will get hit, but both Harang and Arroyo could win 15 each, get their K's, have value. The guy to watch is Homer Bailey. If he makes the rotation, he could an ace, soon. I don't read much into his Reds numbers in 2008. I think the Reds could win half their games, actually. That'd be a surprise.

Shawn (Elk grove, IL.)

Huge EK fan, Who would you rather want on your team J. Giambi or Adam Jones, knowing you were fine in power and speed?

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

Probably Giambi. One can never have enough power, and you can always deal it. I don't know if Jones does enough in fantasy yet.

Dave (DC)

Josh Anderson will hit .290, score 100 runs, and steal 40 bases in 2009. Discuss...

Eric Karabell
  (11:16 AM)

Wow! You can count the guys who will do that this season on one hand, and I doubt Anderson is one of them. I don't think he'll play enough. I could see 25 steals if he gets 400 at-bats, but Jordan Schaefer is the better prospect and the Braves will look at him at some point, maybe in April. But as a late dollar guy Anderson has value, and some upside.

Josh (Philadelphia)

Can you explain to me why the players Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are rated 5 rounds higher than Shane Victorino?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

I understand why Kemp is, because he is developing his power and projects someday to challenge 30/30. I think we overranked him some, but not as much as Crawford, who just doesn't have power. He could steal 40 though. In truth, there's no much difference in Crawford and Victorino, but people keep drafting Crawford based on name value. I don't. I doubt I've owned Crawford in five years. Of course, points made, I don't think we can assume Victorino has any ceiling left, but what he does now is underrated.

Heath (PA)

Braun or Hamilton?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

I think Braun is the choice, but I do have Hamilton only 5 or 6 spots later on draft day. I have no concerns about Hamilton's health, or last year's second half. None. Braun should hit more homers, at the expense of batting average, and run more.

Justin (Boston )

Wood continues to be impressive in Angels camp, how do you see his at bats playing out? Could he be a cheap Uggla this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

Absolutely! In fact I totally see the comparison there. Wood is going to play, I think, probably at third base. I see Figgins having to move. I doubt Juan Rivera stays healthy enough to be the everyday DH anyway. Wood might hit .240, but 20-plus homers, sure.

Erskine (Atlanta)

Do you think Tommy Hanson gets the call soon enough to warrant grabbing him? What kind of numbers should we expect?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

I think he might start as many times in the bigs as David Price this season, which overrates one of them in non-keeper leagues and underrated Hanson. I saw Hanson in person last Sunday in Orlando. He looked terrific. Starts the year in the minors, up in July, should be very good in 15 or so starts, high strikeout rate.

Shane (Boston)

Eric Thoughts on Utley and where does his health stand right now?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

Top 10 player on my list, I expect him to play the first week of the season, and end up the top second baseman in fantasy this season. So, no worries for me.

Justin (VA)

EK, how do you feel about drafting 2 guys from the same team with your first 2 draft picks. For example, Reyes then Beltran? Stats are stats right?

Eric Karabell
  (11:24 AM)

No concerns whatsoever. This isn't fantasy football. I wouldn't want their entire lineup, because cold streaks tend to be contagious, but if I could get Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Delgado, um, no concerns.

Dave (Milwaukee)

AL only keeper. How soon would you draft Wieters? With Morneau's injury, I could see him being the 1st catcher taken.

Eric Karabell
  (11:26 AM)

You mean Mauer. Yes, I could see Wieters going in the range of Victor Martinez in an AL-only. I think he'll be that good right away, even if he's in the minors in April, which he probably will be. It's financial, not ability. Gregg Zaun knows this. And by the way, Mauer shouldn't be discounted too much. Even if were to miss time, which hasn't been announced, he's all about the batting average.

Jason (lover's lane, Euphoria)

I just realized that I have man love for Jeremy Guthrie and I am telling you because you should understand. Is he not Steve Trachsel (former EK fav) all over again? That WHIP and ERA. . . me likey.

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

Wow, you remember! Yes, for years, until Trax starting walking more hitters than he struck out, he was a last-round pick for me. Guthrie is certainly better, and the diff is he's on a 100-loss team. Trax on the Mets got wins because of run support. But Guthrie's peripherals are fine, he should win 12 or so. Just be aware, that team isn't good, he could also be a Matt Cain type statistically.

Dave (MN)

EK, who are you higher on S. Baker, Y. Gallardo, or Z. Greinke?

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

Love 'em all. I probably have Gallardo ranked the best, then Baker and Greinke, but all in my top 25, which is saying something.

Gary (Long Island)

Any sleeper closer canditates this year? U called Lindstrom last year

Eric Karabell
  (11:30 AM)

I did. Stay in Florida, I could see Lindstrom losing the job and Jose Ceda finding his way in there. And Ceda's former team, the Cubbies, it really sounds like Kevin Gregg is going to get this job, at least to me. I know it might not make sense to most people, but Lou Piniella ain't most people. Also, wouldn't shock me if someone totally unexpected gets the saves in St. Louis, like Josh Kinney. Everyone assumes it's Motte or Perez. Both could get sent down.

Jake (Worcester)

Do you see any later round second basemen that could crack the top 5 at that position for next year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

Well, from the middle rounds Kelly Johnson, Jose Lopez and Mike Aviles I guess. How about guys not being drafted, like Aaron Hill (20 homers?), Emilio Bonifacio (25 steals?) and Felipe Lopez.

Jon (Des Moines)

Is Dan Haren much of a downgrade to Brandon Webb? For some reason I got him four rounds after Webb went and I feel like he's almost the better pitcher. Thoughts?

Eric Karabell
  (11:33 AM)

I did that exactly that in a recent dispersal draft. Webb went early, I got Haren a few rounds later, I smiled. No, not much difference.

John (Boston)

Looking at your draft kit and I am confused, you have guys rated lower than other players whom you've projected better stats for....For example you've got Doumit at 97 overall projected at 306BA 14 HR 59 RBI, but then you've got V-mart at 102 prjected at 307BA 18Hr 92 RBI....doesn't make much sense to me, and it can't be injury related since both aren't the picture of health and you've got V-mart projected at more AB's. This happens frequently throught the rankings, can you explain?

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

Sure. I can't speak for our kit entirely,but I do take into account inherent risk with certain players, and certainly there appears to be more risk with Victor, no? Will the power come back? I think so. Doumit is fine right now, and isn't sharing at-bats either. I don't think one has to draft based on stats, because certain players are more sure things.

Chris (NY)

Follow up on the closers' question...would you drop Street or Lyon for Gregg?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

No, not yet, but I'd certainly watch closely. Lyon is the safest here. He's got the job, and after years of relying on Todd Jones - both the Tigers and me! - I think he gets 30 saves. Might not be pretty, but he's safe. And rumors are Street might lose the job this month to Corpas.

Katie (Madison)

Hey Eric, girls play fantasy baseball too! Will Robinson Cano bounce back this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:37 AM)

I am well aware of this face, Katie! In fact, I recently did the Play Ball podcast with Amanda and Melissa on ESPN, check it out on ESPN Radio podcenter page. I think Cano gets a bit overrated. He's not a run producer, probably won't win a batting title, but a solid second baseman who should go 15 and 80. Would like to see consistency before I assume a .300 average.

Newt (Jacksonville)

Would you play any Syracuse players in your fantasy Big East Tournament league tonight?

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

Was that an unreal game or what? Can you imagine if that was in the NCAA tourney, and not just a relatively meaningless Big East tourney game? Wow. Sorry, have to take the better rested team tonight.

HM (MI)

How does A-Rod's surgery affect his value in keeper leagues who haven't turned in rosters yet? Is he of comparable value to Peavy/Carl Crawford/Brian McCann?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

I would still keep A-Rod over those guys, and I wouldn't think twice about it. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I think this situation will work out just fine for fantasy owners.

Greg (Atlanta)

EK: Delmon Young, are you buyin' what he's sellin'? Thanks pal.

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

I'm buying a .290 average with 15 homers and 15 steals. I think he's a bit underrated. No chance he sits for the caliber player like Span or Cuddyer. Assume 600 at-bats, and his best season yet.

Bob (Boise)

Do you like Lyon better than Brian Wilson?

Eric Karabell
  (11:42 AM)

No, I do not. The Giants aren't going to win many games 8-2. It's always 4-2. Like the K-Rod Angels in 2008. So Wilson should pile on the saves, even if the other numbers aren't Rivera-like. Doesn't matter. If the diff between a 2.50 ERA and what Wilson does, with the same amount of saves, is 15 rounds, I'll take Wilson every time.

Jason (Tysons Corner)

I know pitching fluctuates and is deep, but I feel Liriano and Broxton will be dominant this year and next. That said, I feel the same about Votto. Independent of needs and league setup, which guy do you like the most and why?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

Hey, I used to live in Tysons Corner, once upon a time! I'd take Votto. I think he's a 30-90-10 first baseman, and the safest bet. Liriano is having a nice spring, probably has the highest upside to dominate in fantasy, but I take the bat.

Norton Abbottstein (Boston, MA)

Rank em in a vacuum: D-Lee, Carlos Pena, Youkilis, Chipper, Votto?

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

D.Lee is arguably the most overrated corner infielder in fantasy. Sorry, D. I go Youk, Chipp, Votto, Pena, Lee.

Alex (Dallas)

At what positions do you like to draft your speed? Strictly the outfield, or do you go with guys like Furcal, Figgins, and Roberts at 2b/SS as well?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

I prefer to draft 20/20 types, and would even overdraft them. You know, like Granderson, Chris B Young, guys like that. I never take Figgins, but would if he was 2B-elig in any of my leagues. I like Roberts the best here, could take him in round 4. The others have questions to me. I just don't enjoy taking anyone, 40 steals or not, who won't hit more than 10 home runs.

Sammy (IL)

Hi Eric, please list the top 5 catchers as of today. Draft tommmorow.

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

For me, it's McCann, Martin, Soto, Doumit and I'm this close to making Wieters No. 5 over Mauer. I might just do that!

Brad (Nanuet, NY)

GREAT Big East basketball game last night! I wanted to see the highlights of the game after it was over, so I switched to ESPNews and saw you discussing Jose Lopez. Does a player like that, who you can get so late, kind of kill the fallacy of positional scarcity and allow you to take a Carlos Lee, for example, over Utley?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

I think you mean Felipe Lopez of Arizona, but the point is valid. One cannot assume a 20-homer 2B like Jose Lopez is still around late, so I approach a draft round by round, taking Utley over Lee because he's just a better option. People overrate scarcity. You know, if you need five outfielders, that's a scarce position. Not as bad as second base, but it's scarce.

Chris (Syosset, NY)

Do you see any later round shortstops that could crack the top 5 at that position for next year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

I don't know about top 5, because there are 3 definites at shortstop, first rounders. I do think S.Drew is going to get a lot better fast, Tulowitzki could easily reprise his rookie year and very late take a look at Julio Lugo (wins the job, steals 25) and Jerry Hairston.

Nathan (Fayetteville, AR)

Eric, since you prefer players who an go 20/20, would you take the safe option in Abreu, or take a riskier player in Granderson who could really pay off this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Both are 20/20 guys. I rank Granderson better because there's still upside, but I keep ending up with Abreu in leagues because nobody seems to want him.

Bradley (Coon Rapids, MN)

Eric, I'd like your opinion on something. Isn't it short sighted for someone to say that you shouldn't draft a pitcher in the early rounds because they can't contribute to all five categories while promoting drafting players like Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Howard that won't contribute to five? My thoughts are it's just as important to have a couple of dominant pitchers as it is to have dominant hitters and don?t think twice about drafting pitchers if they?re the best player available. Your thoughts?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

Well, they are different things. Pitchers can't be 5-category contributors. They also are not as consistent and more likely to get hurt, plus one key stat (wins) is totally affected by others. Miguel Cabrera's home runs are not. I'd take an anchor pitcher early, definitely, but I often would prefer a safe hitter who has power and speed.

MIchael (PA)

Thoughts on Gabby Sanchez this year? Maybe a run at rookie of the year award?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

Possible, I suppose. I think the best we can expect would make him Kotchman-like, though. The Marlins have options at first/third, with Cantu playing either spot. I have a feeling they want to see what Bonifacio can do at third base, and Sanchez will have a short leash at first. Maybe he can hit for average and reach 15 homers.

Art (Andover, MA)

Eric, Mauer's batting average helps more if he has more at-bats!

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Of course it does, but a .320 average in 350 at-bats is still good. You are right, though. My point on Wieters is there will be power there. Mauer in 500 at-bats doesn't even hit 10 homers.

The Other EK (Bristol)

Nelson Cruz or Lastings Milledge?

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

Milledge, without question. Not that Cruz will be a bust, but I'll take the lurking 20/20 guy over the question mark. I think Cruz is legit, maybe a 25-80 guy?

Von Hayes (Philly)

Eric, isn't it help a Philly Friday? I have 1 keeper spot for the 2009 season open (not beyond this year). All things being equal, should I keep Volquez, Burrell, Adam Jones, or Carlos Delgado?

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

For a little while, Hayes was my fave Phillie. He just didn't fit in in Philly. Remember the game he hit two homers in the first inning against the Mets? I do! Anyway, I think Delgado and Burrell do in 2009 what they did in 2008, so I take the old first baseman for one more season.

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

Remember, you don't have to keep him in 2010...

Sam (Dallas)

follow-up to the other EK...Milledge or Delmon?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Milledge again. I think he can get a bit better. Delmon will, too, and in two years, I'd probably say Delmon.

Sam (Dallas)

What's for lunch EK?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Cheesesteaks, always...

Mark NYC

Why are people so down on Gomez? He had a decent rookie year and showed flashes of power. He could steal 50 this year with 10-15 hrs

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

He could also lose playing time in a crowded outfield since Span can play center field. I think Gomez must learn to take pitches... but still, 40 steals, 10 homers, not too bad.

Bmil (Akron)

I have to keep one, Milledge or Chris Young?

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Now there I would go CB Young... big season for the Diamondback coming.

Chet (LA)

Is Pablo Sandoval a top 10 catcher if he's eligible there?

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Oh yeah!

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

OK, apparently my time filling in for today's chat has come to an end. Thanks for great questions and have a nice weekend... only a few more weekends until it's Braves-Phillies on ESPN... can't wait!