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

AJ Mass
  (10:59 AM)

Good morning, gang. Let's get right to it - one hour of fantasy chattage coming your way. I'm happy to field questions on the latest Mock Draft article, as well as anything else you have on your mind. But no tears, Russell, OK? Second cup of coffee in hand... who is up first?

Brandon (RI)

What's your take on Utley at the moment? Is he worth buying low on?

AJ Mass
  (11:01 AM)

How low? Stephania recaps the injury here: http://espn.go.com/sports/fantasy/blog/_/name/bell_stephania/id/6198695/outlook-utley-knee-injury-good and it seems very dire. Best to have another option first.

bob (philly)

Hey AJ. I am finding myself facing the same decision in round 3 of every draft. J Upton, McCutcheon and Choo, which one do you prefer?

AJ Mass
  (11:01 AM)

I think Choo for one season, but McCutchen long term.

Simon (UK)

You grabbed Arencibia in the latest mock. Do you really see him as the 10th best catcher? Would you still take him there in a much deeper league (like a 2 x Catcher) or would you go for someone "safer"?

AJ Mass
  (11:03 AM)

I think that after the top five, everyone else is sort of in the same bowl of soup. Arencibia could hit 20 HR, so I'm fine taking him as my sole catcher. If I need 2 catchers, I would be more tempted to grab one of the five early.

Jim (Utica (NY))

Hope you are prepared for an onslaught of negativity. Are you proud that you took what should have been a useful and educative tool for fantasy players and turned it into a useless farce with your ridiculous attempt at a draft?

AJ Mass
  (11:05 AM)

I don't know, are you proud that you took an opportunity to actually offer up legitimate criticism and instead just threw out a baseless insult?

Ben (Boston)

2nd round pick..... who would you take. and Why. Prince, Howard, Zimmerman?

AJ Mass
  (11:07 AM)

I like Prince best of the three - just feel he has a bounce back. Not high on Howard this season at all.

Jeff (Maine)

You said that in "Normal' leagues catchers and closers go much earlier, but V-Mart (ADP 44.3) and Heath Bell (78) went pretty much exactly at their ESPN average, how do you define a "Normal" league as anything other than an average ESPN standarda league?

AJ Mass
  (11:09 AM)

Not every league uses ESPN - much to my chagrin - and there are many other ADP lists you can easily find out there that aren't anywhere near those "price points." Certainly you may be playing with a bunch of auto-drafters and people who blindly follow the rankings list, but I don't consider those to be "normal."

Steve (Jersey)

Having the Back-to-Back picks in a snake draft.... is it better to get "position needs" or just go for best overall players since there is such a long time between picks.

AJ Mass
  (11:11 AM)

At the bookends, you can end up chasing your tail. I try to avoid that by being aggressive and taking the players at a position that hasn't been picked clean by a run - hence my SP "hoarding" in the latest mock.

Dan (Boston)

AJ - Personally, I liked that you focused on a pitching heavy strategy. I have been in plenty of drafts where guys use a similar strategy, so its important to see how other teams react to that.10 team AL only question - keep Youkilis ($36), Ellis ($5) or Porcello ($10)?

AJ Mass
  (11:13 AM)

Dan, I'm certainly not claiming that you must draft that way, or you are in trouble... and for what it is worth, using ESPN projections, my team ends up "winning" the league. But that's not the point. If you care not to take anything from seeing how using that strategy pans out, then that's on you. As for your Q, I keep Youk.

Mitch (Ventura, CA)

Points League: bump the value of some of the speedy OFs, like Juan Pierre, cuz points are points, right?

AJ Mass
  (11:15 AM)

Essentially, yes. Take your projections, see where the value ends up and draft accordingly. No such thing as a "one-category player" in points leagues.

Jeff (Maine)

You drafted Roger Bernadina as your 5th outfielder. How comfortable would you be with that in a real league, and could you tell us more about him? I've done a bunch of research and haven't seen his name much.

AJ Mass
  (11:17 AM)

Thanks, Jeff, for a specific question... actually, Bernadina is a bench guy - Garrett Jones qualifies at OF and is my No. 5. He's going to be in the mix in Nats OF, solid speed and more pop than Nyjer Morgan. Probably a platoon guy, but with an outside chance of working his way into the mix.

Adam (Los Angeles, CA)

AJ why don't you like the players I like? How come you have your own opinions? Why don't you love me? Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

AJ Mass
  (11:17 AM)

Maybe if you didn't cry as much...

Brad (ATL)

If you had to compare Russell Hantz to one MLB player, who would it be?

AJ Mass
  (11:18 AM)

Chipper Jones. Can't stand him and he won't go away -- but there's no mistaking he had skills.

Don (Richmond)

Hello AJ, how are you feeling about Morneau at this point?

AJ Mass
  (11:20 AM)

Every time he takes the field I feel a little bit better. The first time he plays back-to-back nines, I'm in.

Jonathan (NYC)

more important position to fill early: 2b or SS?

AJ Mass
  (11:21 AM)

I think if you don't end up with Han-Ram or Tulo, you are in a deep hole -- but by the same token, at that point you might as well wait.

Rob (Texas)

Teixeira... better this year? Does the average go back up?

AJ Mass
  (11:23 AM)

I think last April was as bad as it gets. He started his routine early to try and avoid the slow start this season - and if it's even effectively only psychologically, then he should be no worse than .275.

Teddy (Chi City)

Please sign me up for any "Normal" league that you participate in where you see Joe Mauer as a lock for the 2nd round and V-Mart and Brian McCann going as early as the 3rd round. I mean, I'm obviously no "expert" on the matter, but really.....REALLY????

AJ Mass
  (11:26 AM)

I never said "lock" - those are your words. You do realize that ADP means average -- which means that if Mauer is going 27th overall, he is likely going in Round 2 in some drafts as well as Round 6 in others, right?

Ryan (Hanover, PA)

Didn't you just contradict yourself? You said about needing Hanley/Tulo but you took AP first overall in your mock?

AJ Mass
  (11:27 AM)

No contradiction. Albert is the best player in the game and far more valuable than either SS.

Jon (Atlanta)

Wow AJ, glad it's Friday for you. Lot of negativity apparently today.

AJ Mass
  (11:30 AM)

I have no issue with those who disagree - my opinion is not gospel. I just wish there'd be more than just name-calling because there's room for discussion and debate.

Brandon (RI)

Lilly or Kuroda?

AJ Mass
  (11:32 AM)

I'd go with Lilly over Kuroda, and I recommend drafting both before Round 7 since clearly I believe you need to have 23 pitchers and no hitters.

Jake (Fort Fun)

AJ - Going into last year, I thought you had a lot of good advice. However, after disastrously hanging your hat on Ellsbury, you seem to be employing some very strange strategies (I for one do not like the results of your latest mock). Are you just playing devil's advocate, or have you really gone off the deep end?

AJ Mass
  (11:35 AM)

Again with the Ellsbury! Jake, we don't know how that would have turned out due to his injury. If Pujols breaks his leg in April, was I wrong to have picked him No. 1? We'll never know. As for the latest mock, I fail to see how ending up with the best staff is so out of line.

Mike (NJ)

Why are people so up in arms about your Mock Draft? I think grabbing Pujols affords you the opportunity to stack up pitchers early.

AJ Mass
  (11:38 AM)

I ask you... it is just a mock. And I love even more the criticisms hurled my way about who OTHER PEOPLE picked, as if I am responsible for those choices as well.

Christian (Boise, ID)

Come on AJ! You should have known that Jacoby was going to collide with a teammate and crack some ribs! Time for better player evaluations...geez...

AJ Mass
  (11:38 AM)

Indeed.

Josh (CoMo)

I, for one, thought you did an excellent job of taking what players were available when you picked, and using the tendencies of the other drafters.

AJ Mass
  (11:39 AM)

Response from critics: "AJ is only posting those who agree with him. What a looser." Tee hee.

Tim (CA)

What kind of bounce back do u see from aaron hilL?

AJ Mass
  (11:41 AM)

I think .260 is reasonable. Normally, I don't by the BABIP argument -- but this was so out of the range of normality, that there has to be some statistical rebound by default.

Knish (NYC)

Please AJ. Hudson or Helickson in a mixed 5x5 12 team?

AJ Mass
  (11:42 AM)

Given how much love my colleagues have for Hellickson, I think I'd lean his way.

Eric (Chicago)

Looser? Thought it was "loser"? C'mon AJ, if you're going to post critics, might as well learn to use proper English...that's right, can't find anything wrong with the mock (BECAUSE IT'S A MOCK DRAFT) but will remind you about English class. Hope your articles aren't like that using the wrong words.

AJ Mass
  (11:44 AM)

Eric, Eric, Eric. Have you read the comments on the Mock? Your not seriously beliving I spell that weigh r u?

Mike (Albany)

Need to cut down by Noon. Cut-1 Haren-$21, Verlander-$15, Gallardo-$13, Latos-$10 or Halliday-$28....THANKS

AJ Mass
  (11:46 AM)

I'd cut Haren and see if I couldn't get him back cheaper.

Marc (Charlotte)

I've read the BABIP articles recently, and some seem to hint that players with low BABIP are due for rebound, but others argue to ignor it as you suggested with Hill. Is there any good time to really take a look at someone's BABIP or is it just for conversation sake?

AJ Mass
  (11:48 AM)

BABIP is a very personal stat. It's only when an individual player's BABIP is so far off his own norm that you need to look closer. Just because a BABIP is higher than the league average, doesn't mean regression is due -- and that's how a lot of people think the stat is to be used.

Brian (PDX)

What are your thoughts on using k/9 versus k's in any league? We also use SVHDs...

AJ Mass
  (11:49 AM)

I always think ratios are preferable to counting stats since it tends to cut down on streaming, which I despise.

Joe (St. Louis)

What's a good number of projected HRs and SBs to target during the draft? Is 280 and 175 too high (standard 10 team lg)?

AJ Mass
  (11:52 AM)

I think it's a bit of a mistake to go into a draft targeting specific numbers because you want to be open to drafting a player who slips a few rounds that may not fit your "profile" - having a plan is good, but blindly sticking to it may cost you.

Todd (Cleveland)

Thoughts on Heyward this year please! Way over hyped? I think about the same numbers as last year you?

AJ Mass
  (11:52 AM)

I think he does match last year's numbers,yes -- which isn't a bad thing -- but I'm not expecting the kind of growth some projections indicate.

Daniel (Bronx)

Neil Walker or Gordon Beckham this year in a points league?

AJ Mass
  (11:54 AM)

I'm just not interested in Beckham. I'd rather take the shot at Walker and hope he gets me 125 runs produced.

Steve (Dallas)

so who determines the rankings that we find in the mocks and real drafts?

AJ Mass
  (11:55 AM)

The fantasy staff met for several days and we all had our say. Collectively, those are the ranks you see.

Jon ((DSM))

Why does Pence seem to slip every draft? 25 homers three straight seasons and decent numbers across the board. He's a guy I can never get myself to take, but I probably should at some point. Maybe it's the prolonged slump he seems to have during the first couple months each season at such point I tune myself out to his final numbers. Think the Orange can get by Uconn in less than six OT's today?

AJ Mass
  (11:57 AM)

It's because Houston is not glam, and his supporting cast doesn't inspire confidence he'll be driving in the runs. Personally, I think Captain Underpants is top-30. Rooting for Cuse, but as long as nobody gets hurt, it's a victory.

PA (Chicago)

Any truth to the rumor that the Heat will now sign Russell Hantz?

AJ Mass
  (11:58 AM)

Cold, PA...cold!

Sam (Cleveland)

WHo has the bigger drop-off this year: David Price or Bucholz?

AJ Mass
  (11:59 AM)

I don't think Buchholz matches those peripherals, whereas Price's only decline will be the wins. So, Clay drops more overall.

Joseph (Brooklyn)

What midlevel outfielders do you like? Borbon, Rajai, Venable, Fowler, Raburn, any others???

AJ Mass
  (12:00 PM)

I prefer Rajai and Venable over the rest in that group.

AJ Mass
  (12:02 PM)

That's 12! Love the spirited debate... happy to tackle more via the Twitter if you're so inclined. Have a great weekend. Our thoughts go out to Japan... Until the next time... good luck and may the odds be EVER in your favor.