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February 27, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:02 AM)

Hello all and welcome to the latest fantasy sports chat session. I've been watching spring training baseball and while it doesn't mean much for fantasy, it's still great! Anyway, thanks for showing up and let's talk baseball... got questions?

Terry (Cleveland)

What happened to Ubaldo? He was lights out for that one season almost out of nowhere and now he stinks?

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

Yeah, he kinda does. I wouldn't want Jimenez anywhere near my teams this season. He has strikeout potential but he's too erratic. Walks are up, strikeouts and velocity down... stay away.

Ozzy (Seattle)

Do you see Lance Berkman pulling a 2010 Vlad Guerrero in Texas?

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

He has the opportunity, that's for sure. But healthwise... even an optimist has to know 500 at-bats aren't likely. He should hit and take walks and knock in runs when he's active, though. Other than the fact Berkman is a patient hitter, not a bad comp.

Juan (New Mexico)

Are you a believer in Carlos Gomez as a late bloomer? 20 HR and 40 SB's in reach??

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

Not outrageous. I think some of his power last season was out of place and likely to regress, but the skills are there. He might also hit .225 like the year before.

Eli (NYC)

I moved up Lincecum up 40 spots in my rankings based on the new haircut. Should give him more zip on the fastball.

Eric Karabell
  (11:07 AM)

You know, I really should add hairstyling to the list of tools we use to analyze players. But I do like him to bounce back some.

Johnny (Billerica, MA)

Jay Bruce, Top 25 this year? What kind of numbers do you see this season? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

I don't see reason why his numbers would change. He is what he is, a durable, 30-homer guy that doesn't hit for high average. I don't see 40 homers or .280, by the way.

Brian (SF)

Seems to me that if Romo stays healthy he can easily be a Top 10 fantasy Closer. Thoughts? I am more confident in him than Rodney.

Eric Karabell
  (11:09 AM)

I happen to think what Rodney did, how great he was, was because the Rays made adjustments with him and he was a new pitcher. I don't see another 0.60 ERA, but a top season, yeah, I'm on board with that. He's among my top-5 closers, which means I won't get him....wait on closers!

Brian (NY)

Last keeper: Laroche $4, Eaton $8, Minor $9?

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

Seems odd that Eaton would cost more than a 30-100 guy in LaRoche. I really like Eaton to hit .280 and swipe 30 bags... but LaRoche is obviously safer, and cheaper!

Chris (NY)

EK! Keeper question for you that i can't decide. Yadier in the 14th or try Hosmer another year in the 19th. Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

Hosmer. Big fan of both, but in most leagues there are plenty of catchers. Hosmer is going to develop the way we all thought he would. It was one bad season.

kyle (pa)

Next 3 years, who would you rather have. Freeman or Hosmer?

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

Hosmer. More upside, and he runs.

donny (kentucky)

Who would you rather own in a keeper league: Oscar Tavares or Billy Hamilton?

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

Hamilton might be able to win the stolen base category by himself for years, like Vince Coleman used to in the 80s, but Taveras is the better player and has considerably more fantasy upside, I believe.

Jay (Ohio)

Jose Fernandez 20 starts this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

At Double-A Jacksonville, sure.

Dan (Dallas)

In an auction league, with Catcher and SS being so shallow (and the top guys either being way to expensive or huge risks), do you wait and grab one of each for $1 so you can load up at 1B and OF?

Eric Karabell
  (11:15 AM)

Get the best players, load up. I understand that there is some degree of position scarcity, but it's a bit overblown, too. Just get the best numbers and if your catcher is AJ Pierzynski, so be it.

Chad (OKC)

Any of the Texas OF you are willing to take a late flyer on besides Cruz?

Eric Karabell
  (11:16 AM)

Sure. Murphy always puts up consistent numbers and nobody ever seems to want him. He always gets plenty of at-bats, too. Nice fifth outfielder. And Martin certainly should get a chance...could steal 20 bags.

Justin (Boston)

You can build your team for the next 5 years around one guy...who do you choose from Cargo, J Upton, or Harper? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Harper is going to contend for NL MVP honors this season. And next. And the year after that. In real life and fantasy, you want Harper.

Kevin (Chicago)

A few years ago, top-tier pitching was slim and our league's winners all were pitching-focused. Has this changed - is there more better pitching now so that focus shifts back to offense?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

I think there is plenty of pitching and you can wait in your drafts. I want the hitters. The focus for me has always been on the hitters.

Matthew (Phoenix)

Who's a safer bet at first base? Rizzo or Goldschimdt?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

I'd draft Goldschmidt earlier in 2013, but not much earlier, and call him safer and enjoy the double digit steals, but in two years I want Rizzo. More upside, better overall hitter.

Andy (NYC)

Rank this year only: Cargo, Ellsbury, or Josh Hamilton. Does the order change in a keeper league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

Easy. Cargo late round 1, Hamilton round 3, Ellsbury the 5th. And no, same order in a keeper.

Chris (Phoenix)

Keeper Trade Votto and Yu for Stanton and Cespedes?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

I'd take the Votto/Darvish side easily. Darvish is gonna win the AL Cy Young this year. No, really.

Branden (Bowie,MD)

Who contributes more this year? Profar or Bundy?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

I don't see Bundy getting more than a few starts in the bigs. He needs time in the minors. Profar does not, and the Rangers will make room for him. They have to.

James (NY)

So...whats stopping Harper and Trout from hitting the sophomore slump like Lawrie and Hosmer did?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

They're better players. Once in a generation type players. But I see your point... I just don't think you can compare completely different players like that just because two guys didn't emerge in 2012 like we thought.

Rob (Philly)

Jedd Gyorko! He's got some clout behind him, and is in line to gain 2B eligibility. You buying this early ST hype?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

I think he's headed to Triple-A, and he's not really a second baseman. The fact he's homering every day in spring training just tells us what we already knew, that he can hit. He could be 0-for-10 and it wouldn't change anything either. I think he has a bright future, though.

NHarms (Nebraska)

Next 3 years, who would you rather have. Miguel Cabrera or Trout?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

Trout. Still a power guy and he will run a lot. But I'm sure plenty of folks disagree. Found it odd that ESPN Fantasy ranked Braun first and Cabrera third and so far in ESPN average live drafts the opposite is occurring.

Sean (Mississippi)

Which two would you rather keep Tulo at $40 or Cliff lee at $32 or Hanley at $30?

Eric Karabell
  (11:24 AM)

Throw 'em all back at those prices... but Hanley first, then Lee I guess.

P (VA)

Adrian Gonzalez, rebound or is what he is, a high average and RBI guy but no homers?

Eric Karabell
  (11:25 AM)

He hit 27 homers two years ago, so I don't see why he can't do that again. Don't make too much of one kinda off season.

Denver Milam (Michigan)

As a Tiger Fan from Michigan, Cabrera, but Trout will soon be a BIG force to be reckoned with.

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

I think it's odd that Cabrera fans think I don't like him. I rank him third overall, among all players in baseball! Let's assume regression for Trout, but ... Cabrera had never done what he did before either. He'll regress as well.

Jay (NYC)

Thoughts on Ellsbury this year? By your mantra, he was a first round guy last year and the injuries have been "fluky." I always seem to end up with him in the 4th/5th

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

I think that's legit. Ellsbury has had some bad luck. But I also don't think we'll see 2011 numbers ever again. It's the only time in his career he managed to hit double digits in home runs. I'm hoping for 140 games, 15 home runs, 40 steals.

Matt (Boston)

Who are you taking. Votto or Pujols?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

Albert. More power. Votto, for all the love bestowed on him, has hit 30 home runs one time. And he doesn't run anymore. Great player, love him in an OBP format, but Pujols is in my first round, Votto missed.

Reilly One Sideburn (Randolph)

Assuming miss out on Cano would you jump on Kinsler/Pedroia/Phillips/Kipnis tier to make sure not stuck?

Eric Karabell
  (11:30 AM)

I wouldn't say you'd be stuck if you miss out on that group. There are ownable second basemen later. It's a fantasy fallacy. I would draft one of those second basemen if it made sense at the time and it wasn't a reach. If there are better options on the board that play outfield or third base, I'd go there.

Sam (CA)

Can you afford to wait on 1B if you get shut out on Pujols, Prince, Votto? Or should you try to grab one of these guys mid-late first round?

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

I no longer look at position scarcity in the first few rounds. Get the best players. There are plenty of first basemen... Adam LaRoche had the same power numbers as Pujols and is going 140 picks later.

jeff (new haven)

Any predictions on Aroldis Chapman? Where do you see him as a starter? Or will Dusty wil and keep him as the best closer in baseball?

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

I know it's a bit negative to say, but I think the same thing happens that did last season. The Reds try Aroldis as starter, he tweaks something or his velocity drops and they panic and move him back to closer.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Is Paul Konerko really THAT far apart from Prince or other 1st-2nd round 1B?

Eric Karabell
  (11:33 AM)

Of course not. But I have Konerko in my top 100, even though he's being drafted much later. People always hate on the old fellows.

Brian (NY)

Do you think Darin Ruf will be a viable fantasy Utility hitter this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

Not really. I think he has power, but I doubt he gets 400 at-bats. It's all about the Domonic Brown!

George (MI)

$28 to keep Posey. Too high for a catcher, even though he has 1b eligibility?

Eric Karabell
  (11:35 AM)

I wouldn't keep a catcher at that price, unless it's the Mike Piazza prime. And even then I probably wasn't. Catchers are too risky. They get hurt. They tire. They're erratic. Be careful, those that think Posey in round 1 is smart...

Denver Milam (Michigan)

Can the Cubs, Mariners, Astros and Royals all finish above .500?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

All? No. I think the Cubs, Mariners and Royals have a shot to do what Oakland/Baltimore did, which is ride surprising pitching performances to more wins than expected, though. Those teams have pitching now.

Matt (Providence)

Who is this year's Mike Trout? (obviously a scaled down version)

Eric Karabell
  (11:37 AM)

Trout will be a scaled down version. Honestly, to project any player to go 30-49 is insane. Only two players in history ever went 30-50...

Manny Machado (Baltimore)

What should fantasy owners expect from me in terms of production for the 2013 season? I'm trying to determine my own value for just this season...

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

Probably a learning season, he'll need to make adjustments, but I could see 15-18 home runs, 10 steals, .275 average. It's only the beginning though.

Jim [via mobile]

You say ignore position scarcity but how about in large leagues around 20? Would you reach for OF since there are technically 90 starting OFs in MLB and 80 will be starting in this format

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Even in deeper leagues, if your BEST hitter is Pedroia, for example, and you have the second-best catcher in the league, if you don't have an overall good offense it won't matter. I don't say ignore it, but don't build draft strategy around it. Take the catchers and middle infielders and even outfielders at the right time. Don't take Posey over Giancarlo, for example. Not the same numbers there.

Todd (NJ)

Trevor Plouffe had somewhat of a breakout year last year. In a deep (20 team) league, am I crazy to have him as my starting 3B? What do you expect from him this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:41 AM)

I think he is a top 20 third baseman, so that's fine. And even if he just misses, it's irrelevant. Nobody grades your team by position, it's the overall group supplying numbers. I've won leagues in which Todd Pratt was my catcher or I had nothing at third base. If the overall numbers add up... And Plouffe seems like a safe 20-homer guy, but that's about it.

Kwame (NY)

I've heard a lot of things about adam eaton that make him sound really useful in fantasy. While it's not like he's the next mike trout or anything like that will he be productive enough in the d-backs leadoff spot to warrant a draft pick or is he simply a shot in dark pick for only steals?

Eric Karabell
  (11:42 AM)

I'll be drafting him. He'll get on base and he will run enough.

Michael (New York)

Who do you like better Crawford or Victorino? Can Crawford channel what he did a few years ago?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

I'll take Victorino 10 times out of 10. He wasn't that terrible last season. Will run, should jack 15 homers, pretty underrated guy.

Jacob (HI)

Any tips for a first time auctioner? Thanks, Eric!

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

Have fun. Get a balanced team, in terms of young/old, healthy/brittle, stars and scrubs.

Manny (Houston)

So if you are no longer considering position scarcity when you draft in the early rounds, does that mean that you are also no longer considering position scarcity when it comes to your keepers? My last keeper position is a toss-up between BJ Upton and Elvis Andrus....

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

I keep the better player for fantasy. And I think clearly Upton is the better player. I can get a shortstop later that has no power and steals only 21 bases...

NHarms (Nebraska)

Would you rather have Trout/Braun or Braun/Strasburg in a keeper points league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

The hitters. Always the hitters.

Andy (Memphis)

Oscar Taveras. You expect big things?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

In 2014, sure. But I doubt he plays much this year unless Holliday or Beltran miss considerable time. And there's no reason to expect that.

Brian (NY)

Think Michael Young bounces back?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

Offensively I could see him hitting .280 and while it tells us nothing, knocking in 80 runs because of where he hits in the order. Maybe even 12-15 home runs. But defensively....train wreck.

Christian (Jersey)

I'm keeping Cano and Pujols. For my final keeper does it make more sense to keep Mauer or Encarnacion?

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

Keep Encarnacion. Better, safer fantasy option. Irrelevant who the other keepers are to a degree.

Karl (DC)

Big Papi - force to be reckoned with or final year? What brand of bologna does he like to eat off his batting helmet?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

Ortiz is a very underrated option in fantasy, and will have another terrific season. The fact he's DH-only doesn't matter that much to me. As for what he and his Red Sox pals eat in the clubhouse... well, I don't wanna know. Love the Red Sox fans!

Jim (Boston)

Zobrist or Kipnis... who has a better season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

Could easily be Kipnis but Zobrist is obviously safer and more consistent, and he can play SS and OF, so that makes a difference, too.

Mike (Malden)

Why is everybody so down on Middlebrooks? He doesnt take walks but he sees more than the average pitches per plate appearance. .270-30-90?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

Who is everybody? Beats me. I think the 30 you mention is a bit much, but he should play and hit enough to be owned.

Jacob (HI)

Moving from a points league to a 6x6 roto for the first time. Any general tips? I've never had to worry about steals, for one thing...

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Never played with steals before? Wow. Well, don't overrate it. You don't need Michael Bourn in the fourth round. Try to focus on a few players that have 20/20 potential, so you get versatile numbers.

Jake (OKC)

When auctioning using a frugal, balanced value-based strategy, and refusing to pay more than 20-25 for most players, is it okay to later grossly overpay for someone as you get closer to the end of safe bets? For example, in a mock last night, I had more money than anyone and spent $25 on Zobrist as the last good SS on the board; did I make a mistake?

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

Not at all. In fact, I never care what I pay for the players, overpaying or under. The goal is to construct a team. It's a lot for Zobrist but it doesn't matter. I overpay plenty for players I want. Plus, what does overpay mean? Trout prob went for a buck in most leagues. If you think Zobrist will have a big year, go for it...

Jo Jack Jimmy (Boston, MA)

Regarding the Upton/Andrus question: you can also find an outfielder later on who hits .240 with 78 runs and RBI....

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

How many hitters - not just outfielders - go 20-homers, 40-steals? Not even a close comparison.

Mark (Maine)

All in on Lawrie in keeper leagues?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

I don't think he's a future MVP, but a 20/20 guy at third base that could develop into more, I'm in.

Mike (Wis)

Cargo at $46 in a 12 team $300 budget...too much?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

It's a lot. I'd prefer 3 outfielders that combine for that price.

Dan (Vermont)

Deep AL Only League. Rank these SPs: W.Davis, J.Vargas, W-Y.Chen, P.Humber. Please feel free to comment on any/all of them!!! THANKS!!

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I'd rank the way you listed them. Can't say I particularly like any of them, but in AL-only, I understand. Davis produced his nice numbers in relief, doesn't mean he'll do well starting. I personally wouldn't even take the chance on Humber.

Jacob (Milwaukee)

For my final keepers i need to pick two from kinsler, castro, haamels, and bumgarner

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I'd keep the hitters.

Todd (Dayton, OH)

Thoughts on Miguel Montero? Seems to be a value pick

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

Many catchers are in a season in which a catcher is top-15 and at least 5 show up in the top 100. I'd wait on catcher and take a Montero late. I'd wait even longer for Sal Perez, who is probably just as productive.

Big Bad Brad Trout (King Hill Rd Basement)

What kind of year do you expect out of Texeiria? Although his numbers are continuing to regress, is there any glimmer of hope left?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Seventh rounder I'd take in the late-fifth. Won't hit for average but the power is always there and he's not an injury liability.

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

Well, that's all the time we have for today. Thanks to all for the many fine questions and good luck in your drafts. Try some mock drafts online, the lobbies and all, and practice. Best way to prepare. Have a great day!