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July 7, 11:00 AM ET
Chat with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

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

Jeff (Rochester, NY)

Can I drop Morse for either the suddenly surging Juan Pierre or Rajai Davis? My Outfield is solid on HR's and RBI (Cruz, C. Young, Pence, Stubbs, Morse) but isn't terribly speedy, especially since I have to sit Stubbs when he's in major slumps. I don't get enough speed from 2B/SS to compensate (Tulow & Espinosa/Wiggy).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

I can't justify that kind of move, and I look at your current players and can't imagine why you'd be in such a rough spot in terms of steals. Danny Espinosa, Troy Tulowitzki, Drew Stubbs, Chris Young, they aren't contributing enough to total a healthy amount in the category? If that's the case then you need to seek a trade. I'd probably sell on Cruz and Morse, perhaps targeting an Ellsbury type. A 2-for-1 plus scooping up, say, Pierre or Davis (I prefer latter but it's streak-seeking here), should make a significant impact for you.

Scott Eiland (Kernersville, NC)

Hey Sultan of Streaky... is David Hernandez project as a long term closer or is this run he's having of saves going to end?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

It's J.J. Putz's job when healthy, and all indications are that he should be fine coming out of the All-Star break, or shortly thereafter. Putz's injury history ensures Hernandez has a place in a lot of fantasy leagues, as he's a worthwhile handcuff, and I think he can handle the job all right when he has it. But I wouldn't get cozy.

adam (wethersfield,ct)

How big of an upgrade is Nolasco from Capuano?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

Monstrous.

JP (Panama)

Mike Stanton has been very frustrating the last couple of weeks. I know he has some type of eye issue, but shouldn't it have gotten sorted out? I'm afraid it might be something that lingers for the rest of the season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

The eye issue could be a factor, but how about the mere possibility that Stanton, a power/K's guy, is more prone to slumps than your typical hitter? There's probably a super-hot streak in his future that will more than balance this funk out over the long haul.

Dan (Detroit)

Can ESPN please do a quick column on basic H2H strategy? Or Tristan would you be willing to lay down 4 very basic rules of thumb

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

Four? Seems an arbitrary number, but OK, I'll give it a shot:-- Two-start pitchers. In my experience, they're huge in head-to-head, because most of the ones I have played are weekly transactions, and quantity of starts matters.-- Streaming. This is especially if it's daily; you really don't want pitchers in the lower rungs of the rankings because they're easily replaceable with whoever has the sleeper matchup of the day. Mixing and matching, particularly with pitchers, is key.-- Don't underrate saves. People always do in head-to-head, but in my experience, it's the team that locks down 2-3 dominant closers that fares well, because that team is also usually coupling this strategy up with one of the first two. The bottom line: If you don't have a good starting pitching matchup in <i>every single</i> lineup spot <i>every day</i>, you need a closer or elite setup man in there. <i>Period.</i>-- Injury risks stink. Head-to-head is largely about quantity of at-bats/innings, so every game lost to an injury hurts more. I don't risk injuries, barely ever.Hope that helps!

Jason (Minnesota)

Thought on my Twins scorching Valencia? Worth a pick up?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

I've noticed his little surge lately, and I've said before on these pages that I consider him a worthwhile plug-in. Considering the dearth of quality third basemen out there, Valencia qualifies as underrated, a topic I recently tackled (yet excluded him from the list).

Bill (Trenton)

Hmmm...is Nolasco a 'monstrous' upgrade over Capuano because you're confident in Ricky giving the heater 2nd half, or because Capuano is...well, Capuano?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

Chris Capuano isn't the healthiest fella, not to mention his performances range all over the map. He's a streaming starter, a matchups play, mostly because of his home ballpark, and that's about as far as I'll go with him. With Nolasco, I know he can be dreadful when he's "off," but he's on more than he's off in general and that skill set, to me, looks top-25 capable. I'm going to take the clearly higher ceiling every time.

Andy (St. Louis)

What do you expect from Kyle Seager?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

Incredible stats in the minors between this and last season. Simply incredible. Go take a look. He'll start at third base on Thursday and since Chone Figgins stinks, that might be a permanent arrangement, meaning AL-only owners probably already needed to pounce, and if you're in a deep mixed, if could be worth your while. If I had any hesitation, it's that Seager's abilities seem tied entirely into hitting for a high average and walking a respectable amount, and there's no saying that'll immediately translate. His counting numbers could be so-so, so I'd wait and see in a standard ESPN league.

Matt (Albany)

Would you still advocate streaming in a league that uses Losses as a category?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

Matt, I have to be honest, I can't stand that wins remain a fantasy category, so I'd be even less enthusiastic about a league that counts losses. Bleagh. Go ask Jason Vargas' owners how they'd feel about it, after he pitched pretty darned well on the road in Oakland the other day. It certainly puts a bit of a cap on your streaming, if you prefer your league that way. But I don't think it really proves your knowledge.

Koga (Fuschia City)

What if you have a 5-transaction limit in a H2H league? What would your strategy be then?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:23 AM)

It's the same kind of response as the previous one. The advice remains the same, the rule set merely heightens or lowers the value bar. It's as cut-and-dry as that. You need to be pickier with your choices, and nothing more.

John (TO)

Travis Snider - I still believe, Tristan!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

I completely respect that. At the same time, I generally don't. I'm off the Snider bandwagon, at the same time admitting that he's on a rough "watch list" of mine because he's back up getting another shot, but I've said in the past and stick to the opinion that this is probably his last with the Blue Jays. And if he fails, I see the next step being a fresh start elsewhere, and if that fails then he's bench fodder for a third team, and then he's a nobody a few years after that. Hey, it's possible Snider figures this out; he's still young enough to. But after several chances I have to ask myself: Was it really worth grasping at "Phil Nevin"-like straws?

Jeff (Plattsburgh)

Is Zack Cozart worth adding the Cincinnati Enquier is reporting he is at the team hotel in Milwaukee ?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

I saw that little nugget in the Cincinnati Enquirer, and it bears watching. That said, imagine if it was simply a teammate using an actual prospect's name as his alias? Seriously though, keep an eye on the news today, and if Cozart does get recalled, I'd pounce in NL-only and deeper mixed, and certainly before the aforementioned Seager. That's mainly because Cozart is a shortstop -- tougher to fill -- he's got good speed and a little pop as well.

Jordan (Somewhere over the rainbow)

you are going to regret bashing Snider. He is going to "arrive" in the 2nd half!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

As I said, I understand and respect that opinion. But I have to make definitive calls on a lot of players, some I'm going to like more than most, some I am going to dislike more than most. All the evidence -- and there's a lot of it -- points to "dislike" being the correct call here. (For now.)

Always Sunny (Philadelphia)

When would you look to trade away Jordan Zimmerman? I'm concerned about a potential innings cap.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:29 AM)

I just did in my 9-team NL-only league (him and Roger Bernadina for Ubaldo Jimenez). And the only reason I did it is because of the innings-cap concern, a topic that will be tackled in "60 Feet 6 Inches" in the coming weeks. It sounds like Zimmermann's is around 160; if that's true he might not pitch at all in September.

Goose (Chicago)

Is the 6-man rotation a wave of the future and how should fantasy owners adjust?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

I can't stand the six-man rotation and I see no supporting evidence -- not that there's much -- for it to realistically increase in usage. And the greatest impact on fantasy is that it almost entirely neutralizes the impact of the two-start pitcher.

Frank (virginia)

How soon will Ryan Madson return and do you expect him to regain the closer role immediately over Bastardo when he does return?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

Reports suggest first series following the All-Star break and I haven't read anything suggesting it'd be much later than that even if it's not the first day. And I do think Madson immediately reclaims the job.

Jeremy (Miami)

Can you give your thoughts on the Dodgers pen? Few save opportunities, but are they still Guerra's? Will Broxton or Kuo be claiming them soon?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Good question to ask today, as the Dodgers were not a topic in "Relief Efforts." I'm entirely on the Kenley Jansen bandwagon at this point, today, tomorrow and the remainder of the year. My research into his improved arsenal having added the cutter increases my faith in his long-term prospects, and he's pitching as well as anyone in that bullpen right now. Consider this your last chance to buy in.

Erica (Celadon City)

Yo! You forgot H2H strategy for the playoffs: GET LUCKY! I mean, that's all there is to it right? Hope my team gets hot!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Well said. It's the one thing I don't like about head-to-head leagues. It's like in fantasy football, the four-seed can beat the one-seed incredibly easily just on luck.

jonathan (nyc)

how long will my magic carpet ride with corey luebke last?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

I'm a Luebke fan, at least in deeper leagues. The Padres won't back him that much, so wins are a problem, but any Petco Park pitcher can be a solid streaming candidate and I think NL-only owners might be OK with him in every turn the rest of the way. Certainly he has deserved a rotation spot all year, and I'm glad he has one now.

Jon (Chicago)

Karstens did not make your 60 feet 6 inches...outside the top 100 ROS or was it a mistake?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

There's always going to be a proverbial "101st man" in those rankings, and I think I could safely say Jeff Karstens is it this week. It was a clear, <i>deliberate</i> omission; I simply do not buy as a long-term investment. That said, in a week he could rise to, say, 90th, though to me that's still a so-so ranking and I'm not going to be excited about it. (For instance, he could just as easily slip to 120th if I ranked that far.)Here's why: Karstens' K/9 is 5.29, 26th-worst among the 111 qualified starters in baseball. His FIP is 4.66, that's 15th-worst. His xFIP is 3.81, and that's 51st-worst (of 111), so in the lower half. And he's a Pirate, so wins could be a problem (though I admit they have not so far).All that matters in my rankings is <i>stats from today forward</i>, and when I look at Karstens, I see little chance he keeps it up. Simple as that.

Jason (Tampa)

Are you doing the forecaster for shorted all star week?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

Forecaster plans, so everyone's prepared: It'll run midweek next week, once I get all the teams' rotations in, and it'll cover the standard week in ESPN, which is the four days after the All-Star break as well as the full seven-day week after it. So it's an 11-day period like our game, though I'll have some notes in there that will help those in either. I also will be doing my two chats next week and if you have a specific question about one week or the other, perfect time to ask 'em!

Dan (Vermont)

Just a note to say "down-with-wins-in-FB". We switched to QS this year, and it's way more satisfying! Viva Las Vargas!!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Kudos, Dan, glad you're enjoying it!

Steve (NYC)

Tristan, we heard yesterday Baker isn't making his start on Sunday. Any word on the MRI results and/or whether he will have to make a DL trip? Is he worth stashing? Thanks.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

All I've heard is that he's missing this turn, so I'm not pressing the panic button yet. Stay tuned...

Chris (Boston)

LoMo dropped a ton in your ROS rankings. Would you get rid of him for say, Gardner or Hosmer (which one, if so?)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

At some point Morrison's struggles had to lower my expectations, right? I'd drop him for Brett Gardner, despite the Yankees foolishly dropping him to ninth in the order and continuing to sub him out against lefty starters.

Matt (Toronto)

It seems you have your opinion on Snider (pre-demotion) and everyone else has theirs too. Have you even paid attention to him since the most recent call up? Lots to like... different stance, etc. It seems you have a bias on this one as you are discounting the latest trend

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

I have, and I didn't 100 percent trash him: I reiterate "rough watch list."

Mike (Chicago)

Just took your advice (in going all in in a keeper league) and scored King Felix for J. Zimmerman, Strasburg and Ackley. Fantasy is more fun when you're ballsy.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:48 AM)

Final sentence here: Well said.

Shaun (Boston)

Chance to win it all and have Trout in my minors, what is a fair asking price for a SP?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:50 AM)

A buddy of mine in my longtime keeper league and I were talking -- he's now trying to reacquire a suddenly healthy Albert Pujols from me, after having traded me him a week or so ago -- and he made an excellent point with which I agree: Mike Trout tends to be a little overrated in fantasy as a prospect, because those "prospect-list" rankings you read about him take into account the substantial amount of talent he has as a defender. In fantasy, however, defense is largely irrelevant. Trout isn't a Bryce Harper hitter, that's the bottom line, so I wouldn't get too overzealous. If I could get a top-25 starter I'd be happy, and after that point I'd stand pat.

Jack (Cincy)

Chance of Colon missing more than 2 starts ROS is ____?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

Ha, good Colon/Liriano debate on today's podcast I'm told. Nate Ravitz and I have been debating Colon's merits and it's a good debate to have. Frankly, we know so little about that surgery, so it's impossible for me to answer this with any degree of accuracy. Completely guessing: 90 percent. I just can't see a guy who has missed so much time the past half-decade, at the age and weight he is, holding up like this all year. But I would unquestionably enjoy the ride...

Mike (Saint Paul, MN)

Has Fernando Salas secured the closer job or should I still hold onto a handcuff? If I am to handcuff Salas, is E. Sanchez still the man once he comes off the DL?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:53 AM)

It's his gig, yes. Mitchell Boggs pitching OK and could be the immediate handcuff, if you need one, but I still rate Eduardo Sanchez the rest-of-year smart pick. Once he's healthy of course.

Jeremy (Miami)

Can you fill us in on the Liriano side of that debate? Guy is such a stud one week and disaster the next. I can't trot him out there.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

Check out the podcast. I haven't heard it yet myself, eager to though. My opinion on Francisco Liriano sours by the minute, and those who recall my bashing him on the morning of his no-hitter should be willing to tell you how anti-Liriano I am. Heck, the only reason he gets even a reasonable ranking in "60 Feet 6 Inches" is the upside. It's a total shot in the dark, and frankly I see almost nothing here to justify value other than that shot in the dark.

Sean (Philly)

So in a dynasty league, do you think a Trout and Shelby Miller for Matt Kemp is a good deal for the Kemp side?Matt from Chicago is dead on, "fantasy is more fun when you're ballsy. "

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

No, because Kemp is one of the best keepers out there. Deal your rentals first and foremost.

Bob (Tampa)

Any concerns with Anibal Sanchez and Johyl Chacin struggels recently?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

For now I'm calling them blips on the radar screen, but I posted the question because it's fair <i>to</i> question them. Let's not forget that very few pitchers can be practically Cy Young-caliber for every one of their 33 starts.

Kyle (MD)

Would you drop Lohse for BFBC? Lohse has been solid but BFBC is very intriguing.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

Yes. Lohse = streaming starter value mostly.

Vinny (NYC)

Prospects for Z.Britton in a 16 team keeper league. Will he be a top 30 SP in 2012?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

I like him as a keeper and liken his 2012 stat ceiling to Trevor Cahill's as a sophomore. A hunch: Britton lands around 40th in our 2012 (remember those are directed at redraft formats) rankings. But there's a lot of upside.

Jon (Chicago)

Harden looked pretty good the other night.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

He sure did. Believe the skills, enjoy it while it lasts, but make no mistake, that is a hot potato you <i>will</i> be holding when the music turns off.

KC (NY)

How much of a gap is too large to overcome in the Ks category at this point in the season? I'm within 30 Ks of 3 points, but for 4 points it jumps up to about 50 Ks, and after that, over 70. There is an innings pitched cap on the season also, so I can't just stream as many pitchers as possible.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:00 PM)

In that case it's going to be difficult. Think of it like this: It's tough to average more than 8.00 K's-per-nine on any fantasy team, and based on the number of games remaining, an elite strikeout artist is probably going to give you only 100 more on his own. The math just doesn't add up if you face a cap, unless you turn over multiple spots to add the potential league leaders.

Ray (SoCal)

I believe you just combined hot potato and musical chairs.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

What can I say, when my son just played it at the last party we attended, that's the way they did it. Odd, yes.

tyler (paper st.)

I have a 30 save lead...time to start dealing or dumping??

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

Be careful. I always remind the year that I was third-from-last in saves, traded for three closers on the cheap, and rallied to take the category, in one league. If you don't do your homework you might sell too much and get caught, though you have the right idea here.

JW (MA)

THC any news on Braun + CarGo?? thx!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:02 PM)

Ryan Braun: Day-to-day, he says he doesn't regard it as long term. If I was to guess, I'd prepare for him sitting the rest of the first half, and returning to action to begin the second.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

Carlos Gonzalez: Sounds a little more likely that he could return before the first half ends but I wouldn't count on it. The last thing I recall reading was that the Rockies were resisting putting him on the DL, so that suggests hope that he'll be back to begin the second half.

Jon (Hoboken)

Mark Melancon has been terrible lately, but closers are tough to come by in my league. What do you think he does ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

Up-and-down and I think Wilton Lopez should be brought up for discussion. In deeper leagues, Lopez possibly worth an add.

Matthew (Conn.)

You have the honor to choose between Ian Desmond and Bonafacio.....you pick____?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

Sounds like the ideal time to "stream hitters." Bonifacio is ... well ... Bonifacio, but right now, scary as this is, I'd rather have him in my active lineup than Ian Desmond. Three weeks from today? I'd be shocked if I said the same, so prepare accordingly.

Shawn (Detroit)

Hanrahan staying or going at deadline...percentage??

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:06 PM)

Hmmm, 85 staying, 15 going? I'll point out that I don't think I'd ever put anyone's chances at more than 80 percent "going," so I do have some fears there.

DKJ (South Dakota)

Will Heath Bell be traded? Should I pick up Mike Adams and stash him? Pick up some possible Padre saves.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:07 PM)

Adams is another candidate to go. Luke Gregerson is off the DL and should return to third-in-line status pretty quickly, so keep that in mind. I'll tell you: I wouldn't be at all shocked if Bell stays put, Adams goes. It's a gut feel.

Ray (Cleveland)

How many owners is generally considered a deep mixed league? I'm in a 12-owner league with 25 players. Is this considered deep?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:08 PM)

That's about right if you've also got a bench. Anything that's larger than your format, to me, is a "deep mixed" league (a definition I've typically used for my 12-team, 24-active, 10-bench, keeper league).

Steve (IL)

You okay with dropping Arencibia for Napoli? Even with about 100 fewer at bats, Napoli has produced about the same.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:10 PM)

Yeah, I actually am. Heck, I'd go all-in on Mike Napoli if I knew the Rangers would give him the at-bats. It's <i>the</i> thing not to like about him. Hey Rangers, <i>play Mike Napoli more</i>!

Fantasy Podcast (Conn.)

I heard the podcast, and the main topic about Liriano is that you were crazy for ranking him so high.... DEFEND YOURSELF!!!!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:10 PM)

Didn't I already? I'll add only one more comment: That ranking came before Liriano's most recent disaster. He continues to plummet by the minute.

Big Ron (WV)

If Adams goes do you expect him to end up closing or setup?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:11 PM)

Setup. He's capable of closing but I don't see a lot of destinations where he'd be likely to jump ahead of the incumbent.

Eric (Phoenix)

Does the lack of Oswalt in 60'6" mean you've given up on him ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:13 PM)

Too long to wait. Plus, there's no way I'm using him his first start back in August, so we might be looking at, at best, five useful starts in September. Stress the "at best."

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:13 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!