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June 23, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

Good morning everyone! Let's get right to your questions...

Mike (Tampa, FL)

Is Casey Kotchman seriously still hitting .340?!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:03 AM)

No, .337. But he's consistently hitting for a high average, and that's a skill he has always had as a pro. Check his monthly batting averages: .341, .373, .294. There's not much else there, and I think he's more .290-.300 than .330-plus hitter, but that's an AL-only value for sure.

Bernie (Princeton, NJ)

I have a plethora of SP and RP. What are your thoughts on me trading Verlander and Kimbrel for Berkman and Longoria. Help please!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

I'd want more, but I also don't trust Lance Berkman to stay healthy, and I'm concerned that the Cardinals' offense will suffer during Albert Pujols' absence, which will drag down Berkman's counting numbers (R, RBI) and with it his fantasy value.

Dan Uggla (Swingfest)

A home run! Yay! Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

It's progress, especially because it came against a lefty. But I still don't see a lot here to get excited about. I'll invest at the value point I ranked him in "Hit Parade," and not much more.

Bruce (New York)

Roy Oswalt says he's not hurting, but he's not pitching like it. Really?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

The drop in his strikeout rate is disconcerting, and it's what's pulling him down from what I believed was top-20 starter appeal in fantasy on draft day. That said, I think there's almost <i>too</i> much emphasis on it; Oswalt is still completely capable of finishing not far outside that group. If you have him, you have to cross your fingers hard and stick with him.

Brandon Beachy (ATL)

So Tristan, you preach, "Sit first start off the DL" well, TAKE THAT!!!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

I'm going to be wrong with, hmmm, one out of every three or four of these? Look, for every pitcher there's a place. But do you really like those odds? In a shallow mixed league -- which is our standard on ESPN -- using a pitcher like Beachy, whose pitch count was actually greater than I anticipated, is high-risk. It's all how risk-averse you are.

Adam Dunn (Chicago)

93% owned? Do I have to retire to get it to a realistic #?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

Quite possibly. There's always the prospect of owners who have already thrown in the towel, not to mention most Dunn owners couldn't fetch anything for him in a trade, so why not stand by him in the desperate hope that it'll get better? Like with Dan Uggla, I still see little room for optimism, but even then, I'm buying more with Uggla than Dunn at this point.

Patrick (NYC)

Did you just advocate a Berkman (top 15 hitter so far)/Longoria (consensus preseason top 3B) owner trading for Verlander (one of many good pitchers) and Kimbrel (closer in a time-share)? Wow.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

Yes I did. Justin Verlander is and has been a top-10 fantasy starter all year, he has a shot at a top-three value level the rest of the season and, frankly, Craig Kimbrel still has that job because he has been lights out recently.

Bill (Office)

Back to back blown saves for KROD. You worried?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:11 AM)

Yes, especially if you add in the prospect that he's traded a month from now, because the acquiring team might very well want to slot him into a setup role, keeping him from reaching his contract incentive in games finished. Of all the closers in the top 15, I think K-Rod actually has the scariest "basement" of the bunch, though I'll be fair: He's still in my top 15.

Stu (Cincinnati)

Is Chris Heisey this years Drew Stubbs?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

No. But encouraging performance for sure. I do think Heisey can play, I hope the Reds give him more at-bats looking forward and if they do, he's definitely relevant in NL-only and deeper mixed.

Izso (Office)

This seems like a down year for most closers. What do you think?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

I don't agree with that at all. Perhaps for the top-shelf closers, the Joakim Sorias, Heath Bells and Carlos Marmols it has been a bit. But I do those "Relief Efforts" rankings every week and I find myself completely comfortable with any of the guys in this week's top 20. Yes, that includes Kyle Farnsworth.

Josh (Gay)

Another challenging "Sit first start off the DL" questions; Tommy Hanson Tuesday vs. M's? He'd replace the Bum and his weekly era of 216.0

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

My general stance is: No. I'll give you the supporting case for Hanson though, and you can decide whether the risk is worth it: About as strong a matchup as a pitcher can get, and he didn't miss all that much time with his injury. There's still no way I'm ever going to start a fresh-off-the-DL pitcher in a shallow mixed league, or a league with starts/innings cap. Period. But I've got Hanson in deep mixed, and in NL-only only, and in those, we can talk.

Scott (Orlando)

Erik Bedard thinks its 2007 or something? DO you think he keeps this up?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

Bedard is simply lucky to stay healthy, and that's not meant to be dismissive, it's that the primary thing you worry about him is whether he gets hurt. Hey, Rickie Weeks was one of the most injury-prone players in baseball two short years ago. Today, he's about as sound as they come. It happens.

Scott (MI)

How lopsided do you advocate being when trying to pry a keeper from someone? I'm trying to grab Pujols from a competitive owner for Bautista and McCann...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

If someone offered me Jose Bautista and Brian McCann for Albert Pujols right now, I'd probably take it whether I could contend or not. I think you're overpaying, but then Bautista was ranked right up there with Pujols on my list when the latter was healthy.

bobs (your uncle)

Deep dynasty league keeper questions: Drabeck or Minor? Rizzo or Hosmar? Thanks.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

The first-base question is an easy one for me: Eric Hosmer is the better prospect and his situation is a bit more conducive to his more quickly realizing his superstar potential of the two. As for the pitchers, bad as he has looked, I still think Kyle Drabek has the better career ahead. The short term favors Mike Minor for sure, but if you're speculating way ahead, it's close enough that I'd roll the dice there.

James (Niagara Falls)

Are you surprised by the way Michael Morse has turned his season around? Is it reasonable to expect his performance to stay this good?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

I was much more surprised that Morse started as slowly as he did than that he has been as hot as he has been recently. He's in this week's "Hit Parade" if you want to check out more of my take.

Justin (MD)

What do you expect from Johnny Cueto for ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

I was a <i>huge</i> Cueto fan, expected a breakout year, before he got hurt in the preseason. So I'm going to remain on that bandwagon. He flustered the Yankees with his slider last night and if he can do that against some of the game's best, then I have faith that, health willing, he's going to be in your lineup every time out the rest of the way.

Nate (MN)

You say Farnsworth as though he is borderline top 20, when he really could and should be top 10. In save situations this year he has given up exactly 1 earned run. He's blown one save that he came in with no out and a guy on second who scored while advancing on outs.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

I completely back Kyle Farnsworth, Nate, a "top-20" description isn't meant at all to knock his skills. He's a remade pitcher, so forget about the shaky Farnsworth we used to see back in the day. And the main reason I don't leap to say top 10: What about John Axford? And Joel Hanrahan? And the surprisingly productive Francisco Cordero? There are simply a lot of very good second-level closers out there this season, just fewer <i>clear</i> top-shelf options.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

Oh, and also, in my opinion the bottom shelf at closer is about as painfully bad this seasons as I've seen it in years. Bleagh. I almost hated to rank anyone this week after about No. 35.

Adam (Langhorne, PA)

I was surprised you had Carlos Santana ranked higher than Mauer in this weeks "Hit Parade" (albeit, by 1 position). Despite Mauer being back and healthy, you'd really rather own Santana? Is it all because of Mauers risk of re-injury?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

It is all because of Joe Mauer's risk of re-injury, or that the injury saps his numbers looking forward. If we could trust he'd be 100 percent the rest of the way, he'd be a top-25 potential hitter.

Jack (NJ)

Would you start Marcum next week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

After he left back-to-back starts with injuries, and now has to face the Yankees on the road, in that hitter-friendly venue, when the Yankees have routinely crushed him in the past? No. Thank. You. He might not even be in my rankings this week in the Forecaster.

EC (Boston)

Time to try and trade Longoria? I could use some pitching but am having a hard time letting go thinking he will turn it around. But he just doesn't seem right this year. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:24 AM)

Evan Longoria is overrated. There, I said it. Hey, great player, his future is bright, but right now there's this belief, based upon his reputation, that he's an automatic top-10 player. Sure, I'd be shopping if I could still get a top-shelf player for him.

Ryan (Austin TX)

Even AJC was surprised at Beachy pitch count. This was supposed to be his final "rehab" start, but came in Atlanta rather than Gwinnett. So yeah, i'd say starting him was a major risk!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

That's the thing, we're 20/20 with him today. I don't recall the exact number, I believe it was about 70, that was his pitch count in his last rehab start, and the Braves had wanted him to make another. So it took everyone by surprise. All I can say is, kudos to those who took that chance, but it was unquestionably a <i>big</i> chance.

Jeremy (Miami)

Hey Tristan, after reading your thoughts on Gardner in yesterday's Hit Parade, what kind of closer would you value him at? Feliz? Higher? Lower?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

I really like the speedster-for-closer trades, because there's a symmetry present due to the perception that these guys impact <i>only</i> one category. (In truth, they only <i>significantly</i> impact one category, but they do help in others.) If I'm dealing Brett Gardner, I'm aiming for someone in my top 10 closers in "Relief Efforts." I'd take aim at a Craig Kimbrel type, because judging from the earlier question, there are some doubts about him, but at the same time his upside is immense.

Kevin (MD)

Tristan, how big of a gap would you say there is between your number 20th hitter and say the 50th in hit parade? Considerable or are they all pretty close - alot of thse guys seem to be hitting pretty decent down there. And how is Choo so far above Ethier? I mean seriously - what is the justification for that? You cant even say Choo is on an upstroke, at least Ethier is still hitting over 300

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

I do think there's a noticeable value drop from the No. 20 to No. 50 hitter. Maybe Nos. 35-50 are pretty close, but it's difficult to crack my top 20, and that bar does shift at times, often I feel like there's a clear bar present at around 18th, other weeks it's in the late-20s (like 28th).As for Andre Ethier, I'm just going to say it, because not a lot of people are willing: Since the day his hitting streak snapped, he has played 43 games with .257/.345/.392 numbers. Bleagh. And it's the second straight year he has flourished in April and then disappointed the following two months.

Evan Longoria (Tampa)

You make me very angry!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:31 AM)

I love ya, Evan, you're going to be a great player over the next decade-plus, and you'll see some positive things said by me like that when our keeper-league package comes out. But I demand more production in the short term to get all lovey-dovey with you. Period.

Rich (Weymouth,MA)

pick 1 to start tomorrow: Baker @ Mil or Carrasco @ SF?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

Scott Baker isn't going to sit for me.

James (NYC)

When K-Rod gets traded, who gets the first crack at the closers gig? Izzy?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

I refuse to say "when"; I said what I said before as a word of caution, but if I'm the GM dealing for Francisco Rodriguez, I'm going to hesitate because of that incentive. Heck, Jason Isringhausen might be as likely to be dealt! He's next in line if K-Rod goes, I'd say. After that? Boy, an ugly committee? Pedro Beato? Bobby Parnell? I wouldn't be making any investments that deep right now, that's for sure.

Paul (Bettendorf, Iowa)

Thoughts on Melancon ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Solid numbers, albeit in the third level of closers (or fourth, depending upon how liberally you split them up, I'm talking something akin to top 10, 11-20, 21-30...). I do think he's got that job all year and keeps you happy, but I don't see the Astros giving him a ton of chances either.

Nick (Cubicle)

When is this keeper-league package coming out you speak of?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Next week.

Jack (Stow)

You do realize that now that you've made a big deal with this "first start off the DL" thing with Beachy, you can state (probably correctly) that it works 3 out of 4 times, but in most readers' minds you're 0 for 1 with it, and Hanson's start against Seattle is on deck.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:38 AM)

I completely understand that, Jack, and I'm OK with being judged for my picks. (At the same time, I'm not going to now rattle off all the <i>right</i> picks I've had in this department.) The bottom line is I'm never going to be 100 percent right, and I'm just giving you the advice to make the decision yourself. "Gut calls," yes or no? That's just me having fun with this. The bottom line is I'm giving you the probability of success, and it's not that good with these pitchers. I've said it's about as high for Tommy Hanson as it could get in this group. I guess that is a "yes" (and I'm using him in my 14-team mixed league because I need him desperately), but he is <i>not</i> active for me in a standard ESPN league next week.

Jayson Werth (Wash)

What OF grouping would you say I'm in for ROS in a H2H league

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

Werth gets a bit of a boost in a head-to-head league because he's a high-in-the-order hitter who plays a ton of games without a high risk for injury. Where I had him in "Hit Parade" provides you a good range, and in this format I'd likely jump him up 5-10 spots.

Dan (NYC)

What's up with Tim Lincecum? This a rough patch or something deeper? ROS thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

I feel like this is a discussion we've had before: One year ago around this time. And I feel a bit as I did then, it's worth discussing, it's probably a tiny bit more troubling than a traditional cold spell, but at the same time studs like this have the skills to quickly right the ship ... as Lincecum did by being positively awesome down the stretch and in the postseason in 2010. My take: This is more buy-low opportunity than it is a "run for the hills" development.

Chris (Pittsburgh, PA)

You ranked Pujols much lower this week, and for good reason. But what about people like myself, who are in H2H leagues? Doesn't he retain more of his value then, since I'll have him back for the playoffs, if I figure I'm very likely to make it to the playoffs even without him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

I think that's a somewhat fair assessment. Players fresh to the DL who are supposed to miss a month-plus are <i>the</i> most difficult ones to rank in that column, because I cannot possibly put him in three different spots for three different league formats.I'll say this: Part of the low ranking was not the missed time; it was the fear that he won't be quite himself for a few weeks upon his return. Check out what Stephania Bell has to say on the topic, because it's important to know.

Jason (Greeley, CO)

I can't get any value for Carpenter, not even 50 cents on the dollar. I have an IP cap and thinking of cutting him (have Verlander, Hanson, Jurrjens, Shields, and A. Sanchez.) Is it wise to drop him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

No, not really, but you might be mere victim of a numbers game and I do believe I did have Chris Carpenter ranked lowest of this group. In which case...

Confused (Right here, right now.)

I've been offered Curtis Granderson in exchange for my Lester. looks like a good deal to me. What do you think? Who should I drop to make room for CurtGrand: Stanton, Ellsbury, CYoung, JHamilton, or MBourne?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

I would not make that trade. Your outfield is strong enough and you were already slightly overpaying in my opinion.

Greg (DE)

Are you concerned that Dan Haren is on his way to another 2nd half meltdown?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Yes, but it's ridiculous for us to say "he always stinks after the All-Star break" because it's not true; he was actually better after than before it last year. The real reason I'm "concerned": The missed turn due to injury, and the so-so results following it.

Adam Jones (Balt)

Can I finish the year near .290 25hr 100rbi? (what I'm on pace for)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

Sure, why not? The skills have always been there and he's a year closer to his prime. Seems fair to me.

Nate (MN)

Rich Harden may be back in the discussion in a week or two. I'm not sure if there's a lot to expect from him though. Do you think he's worth a stash and possibly a matchups play given that the one thing for sure he can do when healthy is get plenty of swing-and-misses?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

The last stint for Harden wasn't a pretty one, so I'd need some sort of dazzling velocity/stuff reports during his rehab before I'd make any sort of investment in him. He's as risky as they come, and I prefer to stay away.

Frank (PA)

How is Cole Hamels and Michael Morse for a Buy low offer on Lincecum?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

At this point I would <i>much</i> rather have the Hamels and Morse side.

Alex (East Hanover, NJ)

Jay Bruce... Name 3 SP's I should shoot for in a 1-for-1 deal.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

I'd first take a shot at David Price, Jon Lester or Zack Greinke and hope that gets it done. No way I'm dealing Bruce at beneath Anibal Sanchez in my most recent ranks. And I feel it's wrong dropping even that far down.

Alex (CT)

What do I do with Matt Joyce? Do you see a reason to beleive? Playing tinme has been cut

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

I hate to come down on Matt Joyce this hard, because I'm fairly sure the reason for his slump is injuries, but facts are facts: He's hitting .138 with a .450 OPS this month, and maybe he'd be better off taking a DL stint to rest if it's the case. In a shallow mixed league he's gotta be benched, and cut time is rapidly approaching. Overall take: Bench him.

Paddy (Colorado Springs)

Thoughts on Phil Hughes ROY? I think A.J. said he wouldn't touch him yesterday.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

And AJ might have the right idea, because for as much as I'm warming to the positive Phil Hughes rehab reports, I look at this as a stepladder kind of thing. He's a stash-and-watch guy, I want to see continued velocity and more stamina (read: work more effectively deeper into outings) with each turn, and he's going to need 2-3 outings with the Yankees before I could give any serious endorsement. I've said "sleeper," but there is work to be done.

Dave (NJ)

Dan Hudson and Aramis Ramirez for Lincecum, ( the team needs needs 3B help )

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

You're lowballing a little, but not to offensive levels. Fair starting point, allow some wiggle room to include more.

Really? (Really, USA)

Are you saying you would rather have Bruce than Granderson? You just said you would trade Lester for Bruce but not for Granderson.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

Value ranges, value ranges. I highlighted Lester as a value point for an attempted trade but I'll tell ya, I'd <i>never</i> deal Lester for Bruce if I'm on the other side. I ranked Granderson higher than Bruce, and I love Jon Lester in general, those are the facts. But you have to aim high and try to win every trade, within reason. The goal is to win!

Skinner (Baltimore)

What would be an appropriate offer to make to acquire Josh Johnson at this point? Hoping for a buy-low opportunity...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

This is a somewhat crazy thought, but it's seemingly fair considering the similar health circumstances: David Wright for Josh Johnson.

Will (New Orleans)

What's your logic on pitching opposing starting pitchers? I have Yoga and Liriano going Saturday and wanted to know if there was a general rule about this?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

General rule is scout the ERA, WHIP and K's and hope it all falls into place. Slight edge to Yovani Gallardo here, but I'm comfortable with both in general.

Adam Lind (Toronto)

That is a really big jump in hit parade for me...really above konerko, howard, youk to name a few?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

If Adam Lind stays healthy the rest of the year, and I'm hopeful that he will, the 2009 version of Adam Lind is absolutely attainable.

Dan (Vermont)

Wieters not on the Hit Parade. Is there any trade value with him, in an AL Only League? Thoughts? Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

Yeah, I so wanted him on there, but I'm not going to overrate reputation/upside. Matt Wieters just missed, has top-10 catcher potential but at some point we need to see some results. And the only thing I have in support of him: Good second-half numbers historically. His trade value, though, might be tied largely into that upside, and if you could get a top-80 hitter off those ranks (and had a good catcher to replace him), I'd sure do it.

Matt (Boise)

Quick hit. Top ranked SP keeper? Verlander is looking great and has a lot of gas left in that tank.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

I'm not going to tease very much of the keeper rankings, but the one thing I'm comfortable saying is that Felix Hernandez is my unquestioned No. 1 keeper-league starting pitcher. No knock on Verlander as an "elite" option, he'll be up there.

Homer Bailey (Cincy)

How do you think I'll perform for the rest of the season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

Two injury setbacks in the same season bother me. They make me think there's a persistent problem there that will keep him inconsistent the rest of the way. I did like Bailey quite a bit in the preseason, but I think if he gives you a 4.00 ERA and is mostly a predictable matchups play, you should be happy enough with that.

Mark (TN)

What level hitter should I be able to get for Britton in a keeper league? The new owner would be able to keep him for 3 years at $11.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

Probably not an elite one; Zach Britton won't be highly ranked. Just a wild thought: Could Colby Rasmus' owner have soured on him enough that a straight-up deal is in the cards?

Justin Upton (AZ)

I will finish with hit ______ avg _____hr _______sb

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

Remember that these are final, full-2011 numbers....291, 31 and 22.

Charlie (KC)

A Sanchez for A Rameriz?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

I'd take that Sanchez deal and laugh all the way to the bank.

Prince Fielder (Milwaukee)

Ellsbury &#x26; Victorino a fair deal in your mind to acquire my services in a trade

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

I think that's too much, but I'm a huge Jacoby Ellsbury fan (as evidenced by his ranking this week).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:06 PM)

OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and have a great weekend! I'll see you again on Monday.