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March 9, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with AJ Mass

AJ Mass
  (10:59 AM)

Good morning one and all. Fantasy baseball chat time again. We've got plenty to discuss, including the latest ESPN AL-only and NL-only mocks, as well as all the news from Spring Training. Who's ready to Locke and Roll? Er, Rock and Roll...

Josh (North Providence, RI)

I'm going to be Mr. Obvious, but with the recent news regarding Joe Nathan's torn ligament, what does it mean for his season and who should we expect to replace him?

AJ Mass
  (11:01 AM)

Had to be the first question on most folks minds... and Stephania Bell will surely have more on the "injury itself" on the site soon. If he has surgery, he's done for 2010. If not? He still might need it down the line... This is why we don't pay for saves, gang. I like Rauch over Gurrier personally, if I were drafting today.

Nick (Boston)

Would you say that you seem to be on an island the most with your estimations of players relative to your colleagues? You seem to me to come from a different angle than most.

AJ Mass
  (11:03 AM)

I don't think there's as big a gap as you seem to be intimating. While I do come at things perhaps from a different angle, we all have certain players we like/don't like more than others. Usually, we're splitting hairs with our rankings...

Casey (Milwaukee)

Hey AJ! How much should us Fantasy Owners be looking into Spring performances? Is it better to just watch players with big question marks, such as injury guys like Jose Reyes and Brandon Webb and others? Thanks!

AJ Mass
  (11:05 AM)

The stats obviously don't matter - so it's about what a solid spring means for opportunity. Guys with injuries, you just want to see them getting ABs or IPs, regardless of the results. Guys like Sean Rodriguez aren't suddenly surging up my draft rankings - but for a late round grasp at straws, sure...

charlie (NJ)

Whats up AJ...Just wanted to get your opinion on Alfonso Soriano this year...Got him very late in one of my drafts and really couldnt believe how much this once dynamic player fell out of the sky...Any chance for a bounceback this year after an injury-riddled 2009?

AJ Mass
  (11:06 AM)

I actually like Soriano to do better hitting lower in the order than up top. I like the value of where I took him in the NL-Only Mock.

Jeff (Portland, ME)

Good morning AJ, in an early draft last week I nabbed Webb, Johan, and Dice-K on the cheap. All are obviously injury risks with upside. Do you see any or all three returning to form this season? Was this a bonehead move on my part?

AJ Mass
  (11:08 AM)

In for a penny, in for a pound. There's always going to be SOME SP on the waiver wire. If only one of the three performs up to past history, you're ahead of the game. Personally, the only one I wouldn't have drafted is Dice-K.

Billy (FL)

Is Kurt Suzuki going to be a solid C this season?

AJ Mass
  (11:09 AM)

I'm drafting him in every league I can. After the top few catchers, there's very little difference, but I think Suzuki has a chance to breakout.

RP (Cleveland)

10 team mixed league and I have the 5th pick. If Utley is off the board, who do I go with?

AJ Mass
  (11:10 AM)

Pujols 1, Han Ram 2... assuming A-Rod is 3. I go with Braun or Kemp.

Garf (MI)

Adam Jones finally going to break out?

AJ Mass
  (11:12 AM)

I think he's a year away from that break out season. He's got the skills, but I think he needs one more season in the proverbial oven.

Chandler (Oklahoma)

is uconn going to the tourny? (Boys basketball)

AJ Mass
  (11:13 AM)

Need to beat St. Johns and probably one more.

Andy (Syracuse, NY)

I drafted Vlad in the last rd of my draft, can you see him getting good numbers in that lineup in texas if he stays healthy?

AJ Mass
  (11:14 AM)

Totally. Didn't he hit something like .450 in that park last season? I realize that was AGAINST the Rangers, but still...

Barry (NYC, NY)

I know batting average is different from stolen bases because it is a ratio, but wouldn't a draft focused on acquiring players with higher expected batting averages be just as prudent as taking Ellsbury or Crawford in the first round? There seems to be a short supply of guys likely to hit even .300.

AJ Mass
  (11:16 AM)

The difference between .280 and .320 over 300 at-bats is a dozen hits. It's too fluky in many cases to predict.

Benny (TX)

Our league switched from k's to K/9 this does this effect (if at all) evaluating pitchers?

AJ Mass
  (11:18 AM)

I wouldn't change my evaluation of starters, b/c most *should* pitch the same general number of innings. But relievers are a touch more valuable than before - including those setup guys who K a guy an appearance.

Benji (DC)

When is it too early to take Heyward? Cause thats when I'll be taking him.

AJ Mass
  (11:21 AM)

Heyward is likely being taken as high as 13th Round. I think he'll be good, but I try not to buy into rookie hype in a redraft league - too many misses for every hit. But in a keeper league, I'd rather be a round too early than too late.

Collin (PA)

I've looked for articles that give more details on the trade, but I can't find anything to satisfy my interest on why Philly parted with Cliff Lee. It looked as if they would've gotten Halladay without parting with him. Can you please explain it to me? Thanks!

AJ Mass
  (11:22 AM)

There is no "reason" in the sense that they could have kept him and he did want to stay. I'm scratching my head on that one myself.

Mike (Boston)

AJ, if I'm evaluating which pitcher to take should I use something like FIP, or should I go with Mulligan ERA?

AJ Mass
  (11:24 AM)

You should use all sorts of tools and make up your mind incorporating it all. That's all these stats are - isolated snapshots. Just different ways of looking at data to help you decide between two guys who are otherwise equal in your mind. I always say the BEST tool is watching them play and going with your gut.

Andy (Syracuse, NY)

I drafted Brad Lidge after all the elite closer were gone, you think that knee holds up and was the cause of his awful showing last season?

AJ Mass
  (11:25 AM)

That will be part of my Phillies 30 Q article in the Draft Kit, going up tomorrow. But certainly, the injury had a hand in his failure. He was able to make it through a perfect season after his last surgery, so I'm not concerned on that front.

Barry (NYC, NY)

Follow-up Q - so are you saying best not to draft for batting average because it is usually too difficult to predict or best to not draft with batting average being the most desired stat because you can't predict how the finite universe of hits to at-bats will shape out?

AJ Mass
  (11:27 AM)

I don't think you should ever draft to a ratio stat. ERA, WHIP and BA are too erratic to count on. That's not to say Ichiro isn't surely a better choice than Carlos Pena if you're looking to improve BA. It's just that projections are guidelines and you shouldn't pick a .285 projection over a .275 projection if that's the only reason.

Bif (FL)

I know you a Mark Reynolds guy. As the only analyst who knew he was real, do you think a repeat season is in the works?

AJ Mass
  (11:29 AM)

I'm sure I wasn't the ONLY analyst to think he was for real, but certainly one of the more vocal ones. I think he falls back a bit in BA, but the power is legit and repeatable.

Jeremy (Bakersfield, CA)

AJ, you make a great case for Ellsbury to be a 1st rounder. With all the news of the White Sox running this year where are you ranking Juan Pierre?

AJ Mass
  (11:31 AM)

Thanks. Pierre's problem is that he's going to give you ZERO home runs and probably under 50 RBIs. That's huge difference from say, a possible 10 HR from Ellsbury. Pierre's one of those guys you draft as a 4th/5th OF but no higher.

Mark (Boston)

Once Beckham gets 2B eligibility, where do you rank him?

AJ Mass
  (11:33 AM)

It's a weird question, since once he gains 2B eligibility, the season has started and rankings switch from "projections" to "production" - I'm already boosting him based on the eventual 2B eligibility, so there's no real change ahead.

Garf (MI)

Do you think that Tulowitzki could outperform Hanley this year? I mean Tulo plays in a better HR park and Hanley wont steal as many bags this season. I see very close production from the two. Agree?

AJ Mass
  (11:34 AM)

Except that Hanley could hit .350 and Tulo could hit .270. That tips the scales too far in Han-Ram's favor even if all else is equal.

Jerry (Simi Valley,CA)

Lets get back to that Ellsbury being a first rounder! I did some research and based on your ranking here at ESPN Crawford had him covered in every category except steals and only lost by 7! Shouldnt Crawford get the call before Ellsbury?

AJ Mass
  (11:36 AM)

If you read my article, you'll see Crawford is ranked ahead of Ellsbury based on last year's numbers. It's in what I think Crawford will do that he falls a step behind Ellsbury... but also note, I wasn't arguing AGAINST Crawford. Many people would have no issue if you said you were selecting him in the 1st Round... my argument was that Ellsbury shouldn't be any less acceptable.

Kantad (NYC)

AJ,Do you think Sayid has gone to the dark side for good, or that he will ultimately wind up being heroic? That is of course assuming Anti-Locke is the dark side...

AJ Mass
  (11:37 AM)

I think Sayid's problem is that he doesn't believe he is heroic. Ben-centric episode tonight! Can't wait!

Jay (London)

Would you rather have Vasquez for one year in NY or Matusz fr the next 3 years? thanks

AJ Mass
  (11:38 AM)

Matusz for three... though I did select Javier in the Al-Only mock to anchor my staff, so I'm not necessarily down on him.

Dig Dug (Proverbial Oven)

How dare you give me a nickname that needs explanation each time it's repeated and then tell me I need another year. I'm going to try and stay healthy the whole year - If I do am I a top 10 OF?

AJ Mass
  (11:39 AM)

Hit better than .229 in June and we'll talk.

Bif (FL)

D Pedroia or B Phillips?

AJ Mass
  (11:40 AM)

I like Pedroia better, but never been a Phillips guy. Still, make sure you get a 2B sooner rather than later. Middle infield gets thin quickly.

Vic (NYC)

With OF being thin this season, are you buying into Adam Lind repeating last year type numbers?

AJ Mass
  (11:42 AM)

I think he has a better chance of repeating his numbers than Jayson Werth.

Mark (Philadelphia)

Your AL Mock draft team is projected last place after taking Ellsbury in the 1st round. Your explanation?

AJ Mass
  (11:43 AM)

I'd like to thank Mark for his obvious belief that every single one of our ESPN Projections is 100 percent accurate and that therefore, I am guaranteed to finish last if the season were to play out - as almost no league does - with zero transactions throughout the season.

Kev (NYC)

Is JRoll the biggest enigma, especially @ his position? He seems to be able to put up #'s that could surpass Hanley & Tulo...

AJ Mass
  (11:45 AM)

There is no bigger "fools gold" than J-Roll. I certainly take him once Tulo and Han Ram are gone, because the power/steals combo will be there, but even when he hits a groove, it's always seemingly a 1-for-4 struggle day in day out.


Better long term future...Alcides Escobar or Elvis Andrus?

AJ Mass
  (11:46 AM)

If I'm picking in a keeper league, I go with Escobar.

Garf (MI)

What ever happened to Shin Soo Choo? Last year he was everyones sleeper and this year no talk.....

AJ Mass
  (11:47 AM)

He's a borderline Top 30 hitter, but the upside is probably his 2009 stats.

Brad (Branftord)

AJ: Better keeper - Dunn or Berkman? Thanks.

AJ Mass
  (11:48 AM)

I'd say Dunn. The BA won't destroy you and the 40 HRs are a virtual lock.

AJ Mass
  (11:52 AM)

Sorry gang - technical difficulties... I think we're back.

Matt (Hill)

AJ, is batting average a little bit of a glory statistic? I mean, I know that a nice shiny ".300" brings grins to people's faces, but any manager in his right mind would take a team full of Carlos Penas over Ichiro Suzukis, right? (At least in terms of offense).

AJ Mass
  (11:53 AM)

If batting average is a category, then you need to address it. The idea is to build a balanced team and that's NOT a bunch of Penas.

Chris (Waterbury)

What's the next tier of SS look like for you after Hanley, J-roll and Tulo? Looking mighty thin...

AJ Mass
  (11:54 AM)

Jeter and Reyes... then a HUGE drop to Bartlett and Alexei.

King (MN)

which of the 3 will have the best year? BJ Upton, Josh Hamilton or Carlos Quentin?

AJ Mass
  (11:55 AM)


Garf (MI)

Are you buying that steals arent as important anymore with so many teams moving from power to speed?

AJ Mass
  (11:57 AM)

If you play in a league where SB = HR in terms of category points, then they're important. Now if you mean "do I have to focus on them as much in the draft" - I still think you do. As long as HR > SB by close to 2-1 ratio, then there will be fewer SB, and probably collected in far fewer bodies.

grant baldwin (tyler tx)

In regards to the cereal conversation. Fruity pebbles?! So underrated.

AJ Mass
  (11:57 AM)

I'm a Boo Berry man myself (and no, that's not a TMR reference.)

Dan (D.C.)

AJ, in a keeper who makes the last roster spot - Adam Lind or Aaron Hill - already keeping Braun, Cabrera, Tulo, and Mauer

AJ Mass
  (11:58 AM)

Hill. I'll keep 2B if possible over OF.

Adam (NY)

Cain or Nolasco?

AJ Mass
  (11:59 AM)

Cain wins Cy Young.

Mylo (OH)

Is your roto strategy to finish in the middle of most cats and win a few or to win as many as you can and lose at a few?

AJ Mass
  (12:00 PM)

I draft to try and win steals while finishing as close to the middle in all other categories as possible, then trade away excess speed to fill those gaps as season goes on. It's a marathon, and not a sprint, and I don't believe you win or lose on Draft Day - provided you play in a league with people who are willing to make trades.


Is this the year Cano is taken before Jeter?

AJ Mass
  (12:01 PM)

Not yet, but same round? Yup.

Jon (Des Moines)

Quick hit, will there be another mixed league 10 team mock draft by you experts before the season starts, or just the one done in Jan? Thanks!

AJ Mass
  (12:01 PM)

Funny you should ask - we're doing one tomorrow. Results should be up by early next week.

AJ Mass
  (12:02 PM)

Thanks for the chat gang. We're out of time. However we'll be back next week for more fantasy chattage. Until then... Be Seeing You!