Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

July 2, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy MLB with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

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

B (NYC)

I know you do the pitching rankings in the forecaster but the two start options are so tempting trying to decide whether to go with lOswalt, Bauer, Matt Moore over 1 start guys like Josh Johnson and Price (vs NYY)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:06 AM)

The pitching rankings are meant to give you a ballpark sense of what I'd do if I was making a decision between pitchers in a standard, mixed, 10-team fantasy league. I don't quibble over a couple spots in the rankings. One spot? It's nothing. Five spots? Pretty much nothing. And your own opinion -- and adjustments for league type -- should come into play, especially with the more closely ranked players. Your lineup is your call. I'd take my ranks and if you're in a league that massively weights two-start pitchers -- one of my biggest leagues does -- then go for it. Otherwise? I'm going to answer you with the same rankings I published.

Chuck (NY)

Half way point this week. Are we prepared to achnowledge that Pujols and Haren arent what we expected?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:08 AM)

Halfway point arrives approximately halfway through Wednesday's games. Agreed on Dan Haren, but I've been saying that for a few weeks now.But what's your beef with Albert Pujols? Sorry, Chuck, but I wholeheartedly disagree. If you want to say, "Pujols wasn't what we expected in his first month as an American League player," I'm good with that. Otherwise, I give you this: Past 51 games, .313/.379/.561 and counting numbers that would pace to approximately 35 homers and 120 RBIs. How isn't Pujols what we expected?

Kevin (Boston)

When choosing pitchers to stream, matchups are obviously important. Which statistics do you use to evaluate which offenses are the "weakest"? Team OPS? Runs Scored? Season totals or recent trends?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

My go-tos are usually runs per game, team OPS (if only because that way I've accounted for both on-base <i>and</i> slugging percentage, not because I'm in love with the category). Recent trends preferred -- think past 21 days or so -- and some of it is picking and choosing as I support my cases.

Charlie (KC)

Based on 60'6" and the forecaster, it seems R. Romero is droppable in a 10-team head to head for Fister. True?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

I suppose that's true. I do have Doug Fister five spots higher in 60F6I, and that's what counts for me. By the way, to answer any possible Fister naysayers, remember that the two bad recent starts were at Boston, at Texas. Forgive those matchups; they're among the worst any pitcher could face.

Kenny (Chicago)

What do you think about Morse ROS. He is fairly low in Hit Parade but has been mashing. Would you give him up for Capuano or Niese in a vacuum?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:12 AM)

Some was Coors Field-generated, but it's an encouraging upward trend nevertheless that I did say a few weeks ago might arrive soon as he approached full health. I'd deal either pitcher for him, but probably would move Niese first.

Dallas (San Diego)

Do you believe in 1st half / 2nd half splits? Are there any players who typically heat up in the 2nd half that you could suggest as targets? Or is it a myth...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

In extremely select instances I do. The "vacuum" answer to this question is, no, absolutely not, and yes, they are unquestionably a myth. Dan Haren chatter is grossly overstated.

Franklin Morales (Boston)

Hey THC, I've been absolutely deal'n recently...(a) Do you see me continuing to have success as a SP? &#x26; (b) Do I keep my spot in the rotation over Cook

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

I haven't done extensive research on Morales' season beyond the fact that I've noticed he has improved substantially against right-handed hitters, so my past criticism that he appeared to have a LOOGY's skill set is no longer applicable. So I guess, yes, there's a chance of future starting success. If it was me, I'd give him a shot over Aaron Cook, who really doesn't excite me at all. But we shall see. I'd play it like it's perform-for-future-starts. Because that's almost assuredly what it is.Invest in Morales in the AL-only leagues, though, not Cook.

Nai (Ottawa)

keeper rankings must be coming out soon no?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:17 AM)

Yes.

Jim (PA)

Does Tyler Clippard really keep the closer role once Storen returns?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

Apparently. Doesn't he deserve to?I do think Drew Storen has a greater long-term -- meaning multiple seasons -- hold on the gig, and that if he's lights out for the first 2-3 weeks he's active, he might come into discussion over Clippard. But I wouldn't count on it. It's going to be a near mountain to climb at this point. Might not be until 2013 that Storen closes again.

Andy (RI)

Billy Hamilton is making a mockery out of A Ball. What are the Reds waiting for?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

Who Andy is talking about is the best stolen base prospect in all of baseball, as Hamilton has 96 steals -- <i>96!!!</i> -- in 76 games ... in high Class A ball ... as a 21-year-old. Rushing him to Cincinnati would be absurd. Maybe late next year, it'd be up for discussion, but this kid's not that close, in my opinion.

DA (DFW)

A. Dunn is tough to send out there every time. But hate missing out on his bombs when I sit him. What is a good strategy for starting Dunn, i.e. favorable matchups, better percentages, etc? Thanks!!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

Never start him against a good left-handed starting pitcher, and temper your expectations for him against pitchers with hard fastballs, particularly those in the 94 mph and higher range. That's about the best individual-game management you could do for Dunn, and frankly, you should thank him for having trends at all that predictable, because so many feast-or-famine players do not have ones so obvious.

James (CT)

Is Alvarez going to prove useful ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:24 AM)

I took a look at Pedro Alvarez's -- this is <i>Pedro</i>, not Henderson, right? -- peripherals for a buddy today, and what I saw was little to no change in his success against breaking stuff (curves, sliders). The Colby Rasmus hot spell was related to this initially, and he improved in that regard somewhat, so I'm not saying Alvarez <i>can't</i> in time. But I'm saying he <i>hasn't</i> yet ... so I think this is a hot spell that's before long going to run painfully cold again. Classic streaks slugger.

Andrew Cashner (San Diego)

What's your thoughts on my Prospects as a SP going forward ROS? I have some really OVERPOWERING stuff...Very intriguing even if I haven't thrown a boatload of innings before.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

Innings, health history and somewhat the walk rate are the concerns for Cashner. I buy today. I don't for every single day the rest of the year. Largely a guy you want right now, probably through July, but I'd look feverishly to trade in 2-3 weeks if I could. The September could be ugly, if he's allowed to pitch in it at all.

Andy (Syracuse, NY)

Ben Sheets value ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

None? Mountain to climb. If he gives even one major league start, consider it a good year for him. This might be all about a comeback to set up a 2013.

Jim (Atlanta)

What are the chances that Wil Myers stays in the minors the rest of the season, or at least until September?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

Roughly equivalent to the chances the Royals don't trade anyone (Jeff Francoeur) before the July 31 deadline. And that's a guessing game.

Ron Burgundy (Ch4 News)

You gonna start Bauer in his upcoming matchup against my San Diego ballclub?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

Yes, absolutely. I erred in forecasting Bauer's debut. My mistake was failing to account for the three days' rest, which had a bearing on his pitch count for the day. Sorry for that. It's a little more difficult to track game-by-game trends in the minors than majors, and I merely miscalculated by a day. But this time he's on regular rest and the matchup is positively outstanding. <i>This</i> might be the breakout game.

Rick (Boston)

Confident enough in Cook and Clippard's closer security to trade Rodney and Soriano for them?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

Why? That doesn't make any sense. You've already got better closers.

Joey Votto (Cinci)

Any word on my knee?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweeted this morning, in reply to a question about whether Votto would play at all this week, "Don't think there's risk [of that]. Matter of getting inflammation out." I read that and say day-to-day, prepare for the possibility of another missed game or two. But nothing to severely panic over.

Scott (Memphis)

In a one year keeper draft, would you give up Madison Bumgardner (round 6) to get Mike Trout (round 17)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:33 AM)

Confused by the question, as keeper prices are concerned. That's highway robbery by any measure, though, and what I'd say to you is brace for a veto to come down (if your league has such a process) if this means you get Trout as a 17th-rounder next season.

Rob (Boston)

What can you reasonably expect from Thome now that he on the Orioles for the 2nd half of the season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

We discussed this on the podcast today, and my gut call as an over/under for homers was 15. I'm really thinking more like 12-13, but I think he plays about five times a week, probably in a straight platoon arrangement, the ballpark is a plus for him and I think he's cheap power for AL-only/deep mixed owners. I'm encouraged, though not overwhelmed, because his age caps his playing time.

Eric (New Jersey)

Are you expecting continued success for Plouffe in the second half? I'm drinking the Kool-Aid

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:35 AM)

Gotta say, I can always tell when people have neither read my most recent "Hit Parade" nor listened to today's podcast yet. Plouffe was discussed in detail in the most recent HP, and then it was referenced again today on the 06010, and I feel what was said in either place does much better justice to Plouffe than I could in the chat area.

Tyler (NYC)

Was the stinker by Wade Miley the beginning of the end of the great ride he gave his owners for this first half?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:36 AM)

Maybe, or maybe it's hitters beginning to catch on or ... maybe it's just one bad outing and he'll be fine in his next turn. The guy's more finesse than overpowering type, much as I admire his righty/lefty splits balance, so I think you have to accept that outings like this will happen to him the remainder of the year.

jose (Mexico)

What kind of regression do you expect for dickey ROS?.....He is the #1 pitcher in my league, but you have him ranked very low (15-16) in your 60FT6I column....

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

I honestly am not sure, Jose. Dickey is a "freak of nature," in that his most valuable pitch, that power knuckler, is one that I've never witnessed before in history. There are no data points to properly project his future -- no valid comparisons -- and I'm not sure at all whether it's a pitch hitters can begin to solve with scouting. The main reason I ranked him where I did is because he has been <i>so</i> good so far, standard regression should affect him the second half of the year, meaning he's much more likely to be in the 10-20 than 1-10 range. But, boy, I could just as likely see him ranking No. 1 as No. 20 or No. 40 from today forward. He's one of the few guys for whom you're just going to be guessing.

Bob (Fort lauderdal)

Your answer about Miley may have been the most wishy washy, let's sit on the fence answer you've ever given to anyone TC.Let's try this one...how soon will Parnell be losing his closer gig?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

OK, if you want a specific prediction, I say Wade Miley has, hmmm, a 3.60 ERA from today forward. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.Meanwhile, Parnell loses his gig on July 17.Not sure answering in black-and-white like that is any more helpful, to be honest.

Blake (Abilene, TX)

Robbie Ross has 27 consecutive scoreless inning's along with a 6-0 record. How many more scoreless innings before he becomes a national story?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:41 AM)

"National stories" usually don't focus on middle relievers, unless they're approaching historical records. But your stat warrants mention (if accurate, can't verify quickly enough during the answer).

Eric (Oxford, MA)

Time to give up on Cliff Lee? Now he's not only winless, but he's starting to pitch terrible too.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

Second point fair, first point absurd. No, not time to give up. Not close, either.

Jeff (Boise)

Your thoughts on Lance Lynn for the ROS?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

He falls into the Andrew Cashner class from the earlier question, a workload concern, albeit with a more stable skill set (control, ability to handle the higher number of innings, lesser health risk). I see an innings cap, otherwise if he doesn't face one, he's probably going to suffer as he recently has in the season's waning weeks. I see something like a 5-7 start stretch from mid-July to mid-August where he's perhaps 85 percent his usefulness in April-May, and besides that I'm not sure he's going to provide a heck of a lot more.

Ian Desmond (D.C.)

You have Jeter over me in the parade this past week, what more do I have to do to get in the top 50? I am stealing and hitting bombs with a decent average...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:45 AM)

Yeah, you know, I'm giving some very serious thought to that. Not remotely sarcastic at all, I really have been and will continue to. Their gap was narrowing last week besides.

Matt Moore (Tampa)

You starting me tonight at home against the Yanks?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

I admit that I am a little bit scared, because the Yankees have been making some very good pitchers look very, very ordinary lately, Jake Peavy included (he looked "human," not his dominant early-season self). And Moore, this season, has hardly been "very good" so far. If it's an AL-only league, yup, I'm starting him. A 14-team or more mixed? Yup, can't see any other decision being made. Standard ESPN 10-team mixed? I'd hedge. Thinking 5-6 IP, 4 ER, maybe he gets up to 7 K's, and that's not a terribly exciting stat line in the format.

Rob (Philly)

Jason Heyward turned a corner, or is he just going streaking? 30/20 overly optimistic?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

He's going streaking, for sure, based upon the type of player he has seemed all year (spring included), but the sum total is still something well worth having on any fantasy squad. Pacing at 25/21 numbers, so I wouldn't call your prediction overly optimistic. It's actually somewhat fair. But I will say that I bet there's another 20-game stretch in his 2012 future during which you might wish you had him on the bench.

Lou (NY)

any word on Middlebrook injury?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

He's being evaluated today, per the Boston Herald, so keep your fingers crossed we get word before the lineup deadlines at 7 p.m. ET. It does sound like something that is probably going to cost him at least another game, though, and considering he's not "elite" at his position, but rather at the back end of "starter"-worthiness, I'd be pursuing an emergency backup for the week.

Phil (Louisville)

Hey Tristan. I think the Hosmer hot streak is in its early stages. He's about to go ballistic. What's your take (besides wanting me to trade him to you)?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

A .290 hitter since the beginning of June, so you could be right. Wish he was hitting for more power, though. I'm pro-Hosmer, and yes, I want <i>anyone</i> to trade me Hosmer in <i>any</i> keeper format. But that's more because I believe in a 2013-and-beyond breakthrough than a huge step forward the second half of this year. He's got so many peripheral stats so far this season that hint that he's just making some needed adjustments. Nothing more.

Eric (DC)

Ryan Zimmerman, he's back! Right?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

Maybe. Did I light a fire under that guy or what? Couple this with the four-day rest period during the All-Star break and his stock might be ready to explode. I want to see a little more, but you're right to warm.

Chicken Parmesan Gods (Deliciousland)

I'm competing against the Leftovers from that Chinese Place Gods this week, and I'm wondering if I should drop Neise or Oswalt for that young Bauer mortal. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

I'm genuinely scared of the chicken parm gods (are they capitalized?). You do <i>not</i> want to piss them off. So I'll go, cut Roy Oswalt, because I can't see him being consistently useful considering ballpark and career K rate trends.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:58 AM)

Incidentally, have to admit that I haven't had Chinese food in a very, very long time, so I suppose I'm not that scared of the Chinese food gods.

Paul (Cincinnati, OH)

What's the word on this Simmons kid from Atlanta. I jumped on Altuve early in the year and have been reaping the benefits all year. Any chance Simmons will be Altuve-esque for the rest of the season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

I suppose it's possible, but I think Simmons, at least the hitting portion of his game, has him playing way over his head. He always looked to me more polished defensively and raw with the bat, and I watched a lot of him during spring training. So I think this might be a sell-high time; an adjustment period that drops his batting average is probably coming, and yes, this season I mean.

Roy Demeo (Gemini Lounge)

Ike Davis finally back? Top 50 player the past 30 days.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

I'd say so, though not to the optimistic levels I had him projected for during the preseason (which was in the 25-homer, 90-RBI ranges). Look at what he's hitting at Citi Field, about .130? Ballpark factors bother me a little, still.

Jeff (Portland, ME)

Hi Tristan, unfortunately, we all can't spend as much time on fantasy sports as we would like due to other, less fun, responsibilities like jobs, family, etc. So, I think it is unfair to rely on us to read all the columns and articles written. I try to keep up, but gotta say I come to these chats because I can juggle work while getting the most recent updated topics discussed. While you are a great writer and knowledgeable, please understand that we can't always read everything and if a question here touches on a certain topic already written about, just point us in the right direction and we'll check it out. Thanks for understanding. Enjoy your expertise and solid reporting.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:03 PM)

Fair point Jeff, and taken. One reason why I said that about Plouffe, though, is that he's a name I've discussed a lot lately, and it was stressing that I highly recommend the blog I linked in the piece. It had some great revelations about his stance. Not a personal thing, it's that with his example, I think it's a very important read, and I do hope you can find the time to read it in time. I've always thanked everyone who does come to read my work, and always <i>will</i> say thank you to those who do.

Phil Hughes (New York)

Read that owners should steer clear of my @ Boston start this week but minus that, going forward ROS should Standard Mixers start to take notice &#x26; buy-in as a solid back-end of the rotation SP?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:04 PM)

Putting aside the scary Fenway matchup, yes, I would say that is true.

Eric (Pittsburgh)

A frustrated Cliff Lee owner in my league wants to get rid of him. Who should I offer? (Strasburg, Peavy, McDonald, Bumgarner, Sanchez)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:05 PM)

Same story in my NL-only league, I offered the guy Erik Bedard and Kyle Lohse, he declined it while saying, and I quote, "Who knows, by the end of the year, I might regret not making this."That tells you a lot about where the perception of Lee's value has dropped to.I would try to get it done with Sanchez or Peavy, and if I could, I'd be thrilled.

Orin (Toronto)

You have them ranked closely, so I'll ask for your gut feeling: Bauer for two juicy NL West starts, or Matt Moore vs CLE and NYY? Quality starts league

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:06 PM)

If it's a quality starts league, I feel a hair better about Moore's prospects then. Depth is a little more likely in his outings than Bauer's, both because of the prospect of a pitch count on Bauer, as well as the walks driving up his pitch counts before he records the necessary number of innings.

Juan (El Paso)

When will the player values for segment 2 be availabe? Thank you!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:07 PM)

For Baseball Challenge? I think I recall those going live on the Monday of All-Star week, but don't quote me on that. You'll have plenty of time to get a lineup in before the games resume on that Friday, though. Don't worry.

Mark (NY)

Could we get a sneak peek at your holdover rankings? where's Trout at?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:09 PM)

Mark, I'll be totally honest with you, when I do keeper rankings, I sit down and do them almost entirely in one sitting. I therefore haven't started, because they're not publishing yet. I've got random thoughts about where I want players -- I feel like Trout's got a great shot at the top 20 overall -- but I don't really know until I sit down and make sure I don't like 25, maybe 30, players more than him.

Madison Bumgarner (S.F.)

How good am i?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:10 PM)

Every bit as good as your numbers, and I've been arguing that pretty much all season. Status quo going forward.

Your Name (Your Location)

Just got offered Buster Posey and Trevor Cahill for Johan Santana, no brainer right? (I would get Buster and Cahill)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:11 PM)

Not a no-brainer, but I feel pretty good about that deal. Posey ranked my No. 1 catcher in the most recent "Hit Parade," so that's a solid haul on the hitting side.

Ben (VA)

Believing in Colby Rasmus yet?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:11 PM)

Yup, and another note put in "Hit Parade" that's worth a look if you've got a few mins. Improvement in hitting breaking pitches, which has previously been my greatest criticism of the guy. So that's a skills boost.

Mack (Philly)

Is a top 10 bat for Felix Hernandez an unrealistic trade expectation? If that dude gets traded to BOS...man oh man.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:13 PM)

With the exception of greater run support, I'm not sure that a trade to Boston would have any impact on Felix Hernandez's performance at all. He's a top-five fantasy starting pitcher, top 10 at the absolute worst, and would remain such if he's traded. (For the record, I do not think he gets traded.) And yes, a top 10 bat should do it.

Erik (PA)

Expectations for Pomeranz rest of the season? Just picked him up in 14 team mixed points. Grasping at straws as I recently lost Pettite and Beachy

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:14 PM)

Depends upon how long the Rockies' 4-man/75-pitch arrangement lasts. I think Drew Pomeranz is barely on the NL-only radar in that arrangement. Otherwise, he's matchups material if the Rockies go back to a five without caps. Worth a speculative add, I suppose, but I think you can do better.

Jake (PA)

Thanks for staying late! Bauer and Cashner for Cliff Lee? THAT's a no-brainer, right (for the person getting the SP w/ 0 wins)

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:15 PM)

It's a smart, buy-low risk to take, and I say that knowing that the chances are reasonably good that, for the entire month of July, you might be kicking yourself for having made the deal. But the rewards in August and September might be massive.

Tom (Calif)

S Perez raking since he made it back from injury...are you a believer and would you start him over Avila?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:15 PM)

I am a believer, and yes. Perez looks better and better the more I examine him.

Matt (Boise)

How much does Grienke's value drop if he gets traded to the AL? Say to the Tigers or Yankees.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:16 PM)

I'm not sure that it changes much at all, with the obvious exception of the ERA/WHIP risk of pitching half his games at Yankee Stadium in the latter instance. "Win potential" is completely relevant for a Yankee pitcher, though, which counteracts the ratio hit. So I'd still have him in my top 10, regardless of where he pitches.

Kevin (Philly)

Following up on S Perez. Do you have any projections ROS on him? Don't know much about him, but picked him up for today since Posey's Giants are off.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:18 PM)

Preseason, before he got hurt, I mean, I'd have said, ".290 hitter, maybe 5 homers. Could manage 8." And I like guys like that, because they don't hurt you and cost very little. Today, I might say, .300 and better is under discussion, and he's a 10-homer kind of guy. Scale these down to half-season remaining, of course.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:19 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 best of luck to you in your matchups this week! Also, happy Fourth! Stay safe...