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January 18, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (3:00 PM)

Hello all and welcome to another fantasy sports chat session. We've still got a month before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, but I'm ready for baseball! And football is in the playoffs but we can discuss the 2012 rankings as well. So thanks for showing up and let's have some fun...

Chester (Chicago)

Did Pineda's trade to the yanks raise or lower your ranking of him? where do you have him ranked?

Eric Karabell
  (3:02 PM)

I think this was a terrific move by both the Yankees and the Mariners. The Yankees needed pitching. The Mariners needed a potential cleanup hitter. Each team got what they needed. But I do admit I liked Pineda better on the Mariners and Montero better in Gotham. It's about the ballparks. Pineda might not have won much in Seattle, but now he'll give up more runs. His ranking was around 20 among starting pitchers, and now it's dropped to 25 at best.

Tuna Appleton, WI [via mobile]

Does V-Mart's injury affect Alex Avila's ranking this season? Or is Laird going to be giving him the occasional days off?

Eric Karabell
  (3:03 PM)

People don't realize that Avila had a better OBP and slugging percentage than Martinez last season. Avila was really legit, and while I think he'll slow down just a bit, he's still a top 5 catcher. I'm not too worried about Avila struggling because Martinez, who wasn't a good catcher to start with, is gone. If anything, it might help; the Tigers don't have a clear DH, so Avila could see some time there.

Sully (dc/chi)

Do you expect similar things out of Mike Morse this year?

Eric Karabell
  (3:04 PM)

Not the batting average, but the power is legit. We could see that coming the previous September... but a .300 batting average, nobody saw that coming.

Bill (VA)

Finally some baseball chat! Keeper league with unlimited time contracts. Would you prefer keeping Hanley $25 or trading him for Pineda $10 and Choo $18.

Eric Karabell
  (3:06 PM)

I've been chatting baseball and football every Wednesday at this time for years. Occasionally there's a time conflict, but we've got AJ Mass and Tristan Cockcroft also chatting about both sports - and more - each week. Anyway, I think Hanley will bounce back strong. I placed him 10th in my overall rankings. I like the prices on the other guys as well, but I'd keep Hanley.

Rick (Kansas)

Do you think this will be Hernandez week to shine? I assume Baltimore will focus on Gronkowski after last week leaving Hernandez the opportunity to nab a few TDs. I'm asking for my fantasy championship game this weekend.

Eric Karabell
  (3:07 PM)

I think Gronkowski is about as dominant as any wide receiver in the game right now, and that's how he's used. He creates impossible matchup problems. Hernandez is used more like a tight end. I don't think any defense, even the great Ravens, can stop Gronk. I am interested to see if Hernandez gets rushing attempts again. That was pretty wild. But I'd still choose Gronk over Hernandez.

Pa [via mobile]

Im in a keeper league and I was just offered a trade. I give up Pedroia and Kemp. I receive Puljols, James Shields, and Jay Bruce. I love the Dodgers but im seriously considering the trade. What are your thoughts? Thanks, Ben

Eric Karabell
  (3:09 PM)

Seems legit, but then again you're giving up one of the top 2 or 3 players, plus a 2B that many will consider a top 15 overall pick (including me) for potentially the top pick, a good pitcher and a 30-home run outfielder. I'd probably stick with what you've got, personally. I think Kemp can do it again. But if you really need pitching... eh, I still wouldn't do it.

Eric (CO)

Thoughts on Eric Hosmer? Who has bigger upside between him and Lawrie?

Eric Karabell
  (3:10 PM)

Wouldn't surprise me one bit if in 2 seasons they're both first-round picks. Seriously. Monster upside for both. Hosmer could be Votto. Lawrie could be Braun. I'd still take Lawrie based on speed and position scarcity.

Matt (Chicago)

What player do you like better long-term, Jesus Montero or Matt Weiters?

Eric Karabell
  (3:11 PM)

I'd still say Wieters. Big fan of Montero but I'm not 100 percent sure he's a catcher in a year or two. Heck, in most leagues, including ESPN's, he's not a catcher NOW. He's DH only until he plays 10 games behind the plate, which might not happen in April. Wieters is hitting 20 home runs already and is terrific defensively. He's safe.

Jon (Jacksonville, Florida)

Eric, Bourn at $7M or Maybin at $500K, who has the better season?

Eric Karabell
  (3:12 PM)

Well, all things equal Bourn is safer. He should hit for a higher average and steal more bases. If you had to take Bourn at that fantasy price, for example, then Maybin is the far better value.

Bill Clay (Nakatomi Tower)

Where are you drafting Crawford? Or is it best to let him be someone else's headache this season?

Eric Karabell
  (3:13 PM)

Assuming you mean Carl and not the Giants SS Brandon. I think the Red Sox left fielder bounces back in batting average and steals, hitting .280 with 45 steals. I'm not too worried. Hey, sometimes a guy gets off to a bad start, or he's hurt, and doesn't recover until the next year. I'd seriously consider Crawford in round 3.

Joe (Brooklyn)

Now that Rangers and Darvish have agreed to you think there's a good chance they sign Fielder and let Hamilton walk?

Eric Karabell
  (3:15 PM)

Is it official? It will be. I've been saying for a month in writing, TV, radio and on the Baseball Today podcast I think the Rangers will get Prince as soon as the Darvish deal is done. They have the funds. As for letting Hamilton walk, I don't see that. Texas is going to have another great year.

Jeff (Austin)

Do you expect a bounce back from Latos in Cincinnati this year? Thanks

Eric Karabell
  (3:16 PM)

Bounce back? His ERA was 3.47 and he fanned 185 hitters. He's pretty good. I don't like the change in ballparks and he's always gonna scare me healthwise, but Latos is a potential top 10 starter, though I don't rank him that way. Check out colleague Dave Schoenfield's Sweet Spot blog on Latos. Very interesting... http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20014/who-will-mat-latos-grow-up-to-be

Paul (NYC)

Any positions look especially deep this year? Also what is the shallowest? Thanks

Eric Karabell
  (3:18 PM)

First base and starting pitcher are deep. And that's it. In ESPN standard leagues, which are 10 teams and require only one catcher, then catcher is deep enough, even without Victor Martinez. Everything else stinks! Second base, short and third have little depth. Outfield is you need 5 spots isn't deep. It's why you won't find Votto or Prince or Adrian in my top 10. Gotta look at position scarcity.

Drew (GLEN OAKS)

The Admiral DAVID ROBERTSON had 100k in only around 60 IP....gotta at least take a late round flier on chance by Mariano finally shows his age...right???

Eric Karabell
  (3:19 PM)

I don't expect Rivera to have problems this season. He throws a pitch that nobody can deal with. There are no signs Rivera will show his age and struggle in 2012. This is not like the end of Trevor Hoffman at all.... and by the way, if Rivera gets hurt, I don't think Robertson is next in line. It's Rafael Soriano.

Mike (San Diego)

I figured you'd pick Lawrie over Hosmer. Of course, anyone who has chatted with you before knows that Lawrie is to you what Brandon Morrow is to Tristan...

Eric Karabell
  (3:20 PM)

Hey, I like Brandon Morrow as well! He's no Dave Bush or Steve Trachsel, but still... Lawrie is gonna be terrific. So is Hosmer. Not much downside in either case. As for Morrow, there's always something amiss... home vs. road, the walks, ugh!

Brendan (Braintree)

EK can you please rank these 2B...Dan Uggla, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips?

Eric Karabell
  (3:21 PM)

My pal Tristan H. Cockcroft has it Uggla, Phillips and then Zobrist. I like Zobrist the best there, though. I like to protect batting average whenever possible. And he runs. I go Zobrist, Uggla and then Phillips.

carl (dubuque)

Any basketball questions since that's the only season actually playing?

Eric Karabell
  (3:22 PM)

And there's our hoops question of the day. (Add Spencer Hawes. He's legit.)

Brendan (Braintree)

EK everyone always asks for your fantasy advice but what is your World Series prediction for 2012 season?

Eric Karabell
  (3:22 PM)

Haven't done a ton of research on it, but I'm gonna have Texas there for the third consecutive season, with or without Prince. And probably the Phillies. Sorry.

Joe (Tuscon)

VMart's injury affect on Miggy?

Eric Karabell
  (3:23 PM)

People keep saying it will, because Martinez hit like .400 after the Cabrera intentional walks... but I don't see it. Cabrera will still put up monster numbers, like always. I don't buy lineup protection one bit. Everyone gets pitches to hit. If you don't, then walk more.

Mike (San Diego)

EK, you mention first is really deep, but isn't there a pretty big gap between 6th and 7th this year? I would assume most people would have AP, Miggy, AGon, Votto, Prince, and Tex in some order. Would it be wise to try and get one of those guys?

Eric Karabell
  (3:26 PM)

Nah, I don't think so. I mean, what's wrong with Konerko? Or Hosmer? Or Berkman or Morse? Sure, they aren't as safe. I'd like to snag Teixeira in the third round. But what was his batting average? There's a price to pay for security. I'd make sure I have other infielders in place, or you're stuck with Omar Infante.

Billy (CA)

Factoring in position scarcity, price, and production, who do you like more in an AL keeper: Wieters ($12) or Lind ($16)? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (3:27 PM)

That's easy. It's Wieters. What's so special about Lind? Had one nice season. Couldn't even reach a .300 on base percentage for the second consecutive season. In danger of becoming Eric Hinske real soon. You don't want Lind in a keeper.

John (BX)

What's your favorite auction draft strategy?

Eric Karabell
  (3:28 PM)

Where all the other owners let me have all the players I want for the prices I want. I like that the best. Otherwise, I generally go $180-$80 ballpark split on hitting and pitching, go cheap on saves, get balance, stuff like that.

dallas (houston)

Do you see Jonathan Sanchez enjoying any success with the up-and-coming Kansas City Royals? Is he a #4 or #5 fantasy starter?

Eric Karabell
  (3:28 PM)

I wouldn't go near him, personally. He's a walker and now he's leaving an elite pitcher's park for the American League. Be scared, be very scared.

Luke (MI)

Do you have Wainwright in your top 15 SP?

Eric Karabell
  (3:29 PM)

I do not, but he's close. And it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he ends up there. I think Wainwright is safe.

Paul (San Diego)

Can Moustakus continue where he left off at the end of last year?

Eric Karabell
  (3:31 PM)

Major debate going on about him. I think there's a 20-home run season in him, but I worry about the batting average. Plus, I'm not entirely sure the Royals want him up with the big club right away. They have some 3B depth. I can't otherwise explain the Kouzmanoff signing. Perhaps the Royals don't think Moustakas is ready? Bottom line is I don't have Moose among my top 15 third basemen.

John (BX)

Who is your most undervalued SP heading into spring ball?

Eric Karabell
  (3:32 PM)

Might actually be Wainwright. I can't believe where I see him ranked by colleagues at ESPN and the industry.

Trout (Roslyn)

What kind of numbers do you expect from Pastornicky this year, and over the next 2 or 3?

Eric Karabell
  (3:33 PM)

I don't think there's much power lurking there, and he might hit only .250 as well. He can run some, though. The Braves just signed Jack Wilson... again, like Kouzmanoff it might mean nothing, but chances are better it means something. I don't think Pastornicky is worth drafting in a standard league.

Mark (Columbus)

What line do you project for Derek Holland this season? I think he has a chance to take a major step. Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (3:35 PM)

I do, too, and think he will win 15 games and drop his ERA and WHIP quite a bit. But didn't make my initial top 30 SP.

Scott (Hartford)

What do you see out of Aramis Ramirez this year? Is he top 5 at 3B?

Eric Karabell
  (3:36 PM)

No, not top 5 for me. Borderline top 10 for me. I think he's fine, and he'll hit enough when healthy, but when the end comes... watch out.

Trout (Roslyn)

How about in Keeper Leagues? Pastornicky, I mean. He a distant 3rd between Dee Gordon and Jemile Weeks?

Eric Karabell
  (3:37 PM)

Yeah, for now I have low expectations as compared to those fellas.

Luke (MI)

David Wright is SEVERELY over-rated...pass it on

Eric Karabell
  (3:38 PM)

I don't think so. I think he's severely underrated. And that's why fantasy is so much fun... we can agree to disagree!

Ryan (PA)

Any chance Fielder is waiting until at least Jan 23rd to feel out what happens in LA?

Eric Karabell
  (3:39 PM)

Always a chance. There's a chance he lands anywhere, in theory. But I think he's a Ranger by the weekend. Just a hunch. If he wanted to be a Washington Nat, and really, who doesn't want that, it would have already happened.

Sonny (Office)

EK Im sad you never answer my questions :(...youre a Philly guy is Chase Utley going to be underrated this year? Injury concerns but peripherals suggest had solid year

Eric Karabell
  (3:41 PM)

It saddens me as well. I don't think he's going to be overrated, that's for sure. Most people think he's pretty much done being a top-50 guy. Of course, he's in my top 50. It doesn't take much at second base; 15 homers, 15 steals and a .275 average...he will do that. I mean, what is Brandon Phillips doing?

Brian (NY)

What do you think of Law's concerns about Sale's throwing motion? I've read you say you like Sale as a starter.

Eric Karabell
  (3:43 PM)

I think they are legit. Law knows his stuff. I could see an injury in Sale's long-term future, but I think he's a top starting pitching prospect.

Brian (NY)

Thoughts on young MIs like Cozart and Kipnis for 2012?

Eric Karabell
  (3:45 PM)

I like Kipnis considerably more; he should be a double digit guy in power and speed, and come much later in drafts than Phillips and Utley. Top 100 for me. Cozart concerns me; not sure he can get on base. Not sure he keeps the job initially.

vic (no cal)

Who is the better fantasy player in 2012? Bryce Harper or Adam Dunn?

Eric Karabell
  (3:47 PM)

Trick question! I think one of these guys gets 500 at-bats. The other gets 50. I just don't think Harper gets rushed, and even if he did, he's certainly no lock to hit enough right away. Dunn can't be that bad again; he might hit .230 but I see 25 homers returning. SO, Dunn might hurt a fantasy team more than he helps, which in a way makes Harper more valuable... but I don't think we see him for awhile.

Drew (Hudson Valley, NY)

Do you draft/rank players differently if you play in a H2H league instead of a straight roto league?

Eric Karabell
  (3:48 PM)

Absolutely! I'd ignore pitching even more!

Sonny W. ((Ind. Office))

How much playing time is Mike Trout going to see this season? Enough for me to keep him (get 5 keepers).

Eric Karabell
  (3:49 PM)

As of now, the Angels have way too many outfielders, and DH appears full, too. So I just don't see how Trout makes the Angels out of the spring. He could be called up in April... but for now, I don't think he sees more than 300 atbats.

Josh (Work)

Last ditch effort! Haha. 10 team, 20 keeper h2h dynasty league. I have an offer out for the Number one pick featuring my 1st rd pick (#10) and Zach Lee. The idea is to secure the number 1 pick for Darvish. Thoughts? Do you think that's fair? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (3:51 PM)

Lee is only 20. He's a Dodgers prospect, so when he's ready he'll have a nice home ballpark, and division, but that's at least 2 years away. Go for it now. Sure, Darvish is worth it. I don't see a sub-3.00 ERA, or 200 Ks, but he's gonna be valuable.

Jeremiah (OH)

What does Dee Gordon need to do to be a top 10 SS?

Eric Karabell
  (3:51 PM)

Not a ton; he has the skills. Hit .275 and swipe 40 bases gets him there, and he's fully capable of doing this.

Eric Karabell
  (3:52 PM)

By the way, we're hearing Darvish and the Rangers have agreed to a 6-year deal. I have a feeling the Rangers will regret it, but hey, they have the dough.

Brian (NY)

What are your projections for Montero in SEA? .280/18 possible?

Eric Karabell
  (3:53 PM)

Absolutely. I'd call that on the low end, frankly. I had him for 25 homers as a Yankee if he got 450 at-bats ... he'll get those at-bats in Seattle. Might not hit 10 homers at Safeco, but he's got power.

elias (south dakota)

Matt Moore - fantasy #2 starter or overvalued/overhyped, so stay away?

Eric Karabell
  (3:54 PM)

Totally legit... likely my pick for AL top rookie now that Montero has a tougher park.

Troy (Lethbridge)

Ryan Braun's numbers this year if he does not serve a suspension?

Eric Karabell
  (3:55 PM)

Well, he's going to have to serve a 50-game suspension. Nobody can get out of that. If he played 160 games, then 35-110-30. But in 110 games, I'll go 25-90-20. Still a good enough third-rounder. Certainly safer than Josh Hamilton.

Brian (NY)

Are you drafting Josh Johnson this year?

Eric Karabell
  (3:55 PM)

Probably not because there's always someone that wants him earlier than I do. I mean, he made 9 starts last year. Writing is on the wall..hopefully he's not the right-handed Erik Bedard. Premature, but he's a concern.

Jay (Philly)

What are you expecting out of Ichiro this year?

Eric Karabell
  (3:56 PM)

Somewhat of a bounceback. He should be hitting .300, and I will predict he does. And really, as "bad" as he was, he did steal 40 bases.

Baldy McGrindy (The Bend, IN)

I'm really high on Lo-Mo this season. What can I expect from him? .290/30/100?

Eric Karabell
  (3:58 PM)

I think so. Of course, I can't find anyone else that agrees. Oh, and follow him on twitter. Funny guy.

Bill (Seattle)

Better Long-Term Keeper: Belt or Goldschmidt

Eric Karabell
  (3:59 PM)

I think both have nice futures, and I wrote about Belt many times last season, but perhaps the Giants are right to not play him. I doubt it, though. I'd still take Belt.

Yosmite Sam (Yosmite)

I am new to playing fantasy baseball and want to know what a good draft stradagey is.

Eric Karabell
  (4:00 PM)

Me too. Draft a good team? Balance, fun .... eh, we're outta time.

Eric Karabell
  (4:01 PM)

OK, thanks to all for the interesting questions today and have a great day, a great week, a great month! No, really. We appreciate all you do to keep us motivated, so look for another chat tomorrow and enjoy yourselves. It's fantasy, it should be fun. I'm out. Peace.