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March 11, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Tristan Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:01 AM)

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

Eric (Boston)

In a keeper league, would you keep Starlin Castro in the 15th round over Evan Longoria for a 1st round and Josh Hamilton for a 2nd round pick?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:02 AM)

Certainly. It's not even close. As is I've priced Longoria and Hamilton as third-round picks, so you'd be overpaying to keep either.

David (Melbrourne)

Will David Murphy be getting near-to-full-time at bats this season? If so, what's a reasonable projection for him?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:03 AM)

Yes, I think he can and should. At the very least he'll play every day against right-handers, meaning he'll log at the minimum 400 plate appearances, and I think with the Rangers' thinner outfield he might get to 600 or above. So let's say he bats around .285-.290, hits in the neighborhood of 15 homers, maybe steals 10.

Jeff (MI)

Year 1 draft of a keeper league next week....which pitcher would you want more....Kershaw or Strasburg...assuming JV is gone...Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:04 AM)

Clayton Kershaw in redraft, Clayton Kershaw in dynasty. For the record, I rank them two spots apart in dynasty, so it's not like either is the "wrong" pick.

Jon (Jacksonville, FL)

Good morning! I'll make this easy 'cause I really just need a 'this or that' kinda answer. Derek Holland or A.J. Burnett? 10 team roto league.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:05 AM)

I'll go Holland because when you're talking that tier, I think you want the player with the higher ceiling. Burnett's 2012 improvements do support his candidacy for a near-repeat, but Holland's command gets a tiny bit of polish every year, and I think this might yet be the year he finally becomes a solid all-round fantasy pick.

6x6 Fan (Cheyenne)

THC - hated but then loved your 6x6 plan. Was able to convince league mates in a startup dynasty league to adopt this scoring. Two questions: Will you be updating your rankings this week? Also, who are some guys outside the top 50 in both that would make for great late round keeper targets?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:09 AM)

An update hadn't dawned upon me, but let me take a look at that between columns this week. If I can carve out the time I'll try it.As for some 6x6 sleepers -- and I'm going only hitters here because it's easier as a top-of-my-head thing -- I'd nominate Chris Carter, John Jaso, Yasmani Grandal, Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce, Jason Castro and Matt Carpenter.

Hector (Harrisburg)

In an OBP league, how early do you start considering Votto?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:10 AM)

Maybe with the fifth pick overall. I've got him in my top 10 in standard Rotisserie, so I'm pretty high on him regardless of format.

Michael (Texas)

Is Aybar definitely batting second for the Halos this year? How many runs do you think he scores in that coveted spot?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:13 AM)

I think it's a three-man race with Howard Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo, and it's not going to be clear until after the WBC ends, Aybar returns to the Angels and we get 3-5 days' worth of lineups to get a proper read. I think Aybar could manage 100 runs out of the two-hole, but I'd also point out that I don't think he'll get all 162 games there. If I was projecting today, I'd say Callaspo might get 70, Aybar 55, Kendrick 37.

Butch (PA)

Looking for cheap steals and found Raja Davis. Can we expect 35 sb even though he is projected as the fourth outfielder?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:14 AM)

Sure, why not? That's why I bought him for only a few bucks in LABR a week ago. One major plus for Davis: Colby Rasmus has enough offensive issues to perhaps slide into a straight platoon with Davis, not to mention Rasmus was <i>so</i> bad the second half of last year that the Blue Jays might have to afford him a few nights off when he's mired in one of his more dreadful slumps. Between part-time at-bats and pinch running, I see no reason Davis can't swipe 30. He runs about as often as anyone in baseball, when provided the opportunity.

Tuna (NY)

12TM H2H Keeper Questions. G. Stanton in the 3rd or Y. Cespedes in the 14th. Thanks!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:15 AM)

Cespedes. You can get Stanton back for close enough to that price, but no way Cespedes lasts for close to that long.

Matt (Cleveland, OH)

In a H2H Keeper league, can keep 5. Am already keeping Votto, Kemp, Kershaw, and Butler. For my 5th, would you keep Sandoval, Hamels, or Jennings. Btw, no keepers next season.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:16 AM)

If this year is the goal -- and it sure sounds as if it is -- then I'm keeping Cole Hamels. The shorter the timetable, the greater the justification for going pitcher over hitter. But for the record, I have Hamels rated noticeably higher than either hitter anyway.

Jim (Ohhh Canada)

Fiesty Canadians - but I"m more considered with the Blue Jays, then the WBC - Rasmus - projections for 2013???

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:18 AM)

I'm giving Rasmus serious consideration for my upcoming "Bleagh" players. He just can't handle breaking stuff, and is notoriously impatient at the plate. I couldn't possibly project better than .250-22-75-5, and frankly, I could see .235-19-68-4 and some good chunks of the year where he's riding the pine.

John (Ohio)

AL only roto redraft league, who should be the third pick after Trout and Cabrera?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:19 AM)

Robinson Cano.

Jim (Boston)

I was offered Cano and 10th round pick for Votto and Ben Zobrist. thoughts? 10 team H2H keeper, keep 6.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:20 AM)

Well, what you get to slot in for Zobrist has a bearing on trade valuation. Just make sure the sub is actually keeper-worthy. If so, I'd say this is probably worth it -- 10th round undercuts Zobrist's value somewhat, as he's more like a sixth-rounder, but if the guy you're slotting in is, say, Jason Kipnis, then Kipnis plus the 10th rounder has more value to you than Zobrist alone.

Harms (Nebraska)

Who's the better Royal pick this season: Hosmer or Moustakas?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

Eric Hosmer. I might have been tempted to pick Mike Moustakas, but Hosmer's lights-out spring thus far is answering many of the questions I had about him entering camp.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:21 AM)

Eric Hosmer. I might have been tempted to pick Mike Moustakas, but Hosmer's lights-out spring thus far is answering many of the questions I had about him entering camp.

Jason (Denver)

Wil Myers or Alex Gordon? Both $1, no inflation on salary. Roto, 9 teams.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:22 AM)

No <i>future</i> inflation? I'm confused by that; if Myers stays $1 forever I'm taking him because of the potentially monstrous payoff for a decade's time beginning in 2014. I think the answer here is tied to your team's 2013 standing: If you're a contender then Gordon for $1 is a steal as well.

Alex (Dallas)

What happened to the tenet that you can't win your league in the first several rounds, but you can certainly lose it? I selected Shields over Medlen. Shields has been a fantasy rock, and now he faces easier competition, albeit a lesser ballpark. Medlen, although talented, brings an inordiniate amount of risk for an eighth-ninth round pick. Wouldn't it be better to take that risk with a high-upside pitcher at the end of the draft? This is, you know, the position with the greatest potential for breakout. Hello RA!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:25 AM)

It's a fair point, but now the counterpoint: The eighth-ninth round is hardly the "first several rounds," or at least the range referred to by that tenet. In addition, it's nowhere near as easy in today's game to get that high-upside pitcher at the end of the draft as it might have been in, say, 2003. Read Todd Zola's excellent Insider piece on the topic; the sabermetric revolution has made it a lot harder to get those pitching bargains, so I'm not so sure I agree with you that you can afford to wait forever.

Emilio Bonifacio (TOR)

When should I be drafted in most leagues and will I get 500 at bats?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:26 AM)

I'd say somewhere in the 18-22 round range, and I place him there because of the injury risk, as well as the lack of promise of everyday at-bats initially. Though, for the record, I believe Bonifacio finds his way into that many at-bats, yes. Plus, he'll presumably capture second base eligibility by May.

Matthew (Cedar Rapids)

What pitchers do you think belong in the top 50 picks in a snake draft?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:27 AM)

Verlander, Kershaw, Felix, Strasburg, Price, Cain, Hamels, Lee, Gio, Weaver, Bumgarner, Greinke (though monitor his health), Dickey, Wainwright, Cueto, maybe Sabathia and Darvish. No chance I'm taking any other pitcher in the first 50 picks.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:28 AM)

The Zack Greinke note: He was scratched from his spring start today with an elbow injury, which doesn't mean everyone should completely panic, but rather should keep an eye on his status these next couple days.

Alex (Dallas)

Talk to me about Granderson; worth an tenth round pick? Seems like if he came back and mirror last year, this would be a steal. However, concerned with possible lingering effects. Thoughts?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:30 AM)

I think he's going to be fine as a four-month performer -- think June 1 through season's end -- and I say that in a manner of accounting for the risk you describe. And Granderson getting two-thirds of a season is still capable of 25-30 homers. I admit I'm a little bit worried -- Yankees lineup isn't nearly as good as it once was, which adversely impacts counting stats -- but I accounted for that when I made him a 10th round-ranked player in my own top 250.

Chip (Nat town)

J.Zimmermann - any worries over the "dead arm" thing happening? He hasn't been sharp this spring.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:32 AM)

I would much, much, <i>much</i> rather see a pitcher enduring a "dead arm" period now than, say, around March 25 or even the day after my draft. It puts Zimmermann into the "watch" category, but so many pitchers have historically dealt with this during spring training, and I can't see how, with some luck, he'll have worked through it by about 10 days from now. Just jot a note down on your draft sheet to check a Zimmermann start in that March 20-25 range, see how he's throwing then. I know I'll be watching!

Ben D (NY)

How worried are you with Lawrie's injury? Lingering affects or ready by opening day?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

I'm less worried about this specific injury than I am this burgeoning reputation as an injury-prone player. Though, for the record, I accounted for this risk in his projection, so I'm not prepared (yet) to alter it downward that much.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:34 AM)

Lawrie example: I ranked him 90th overall, and his ADP currently has him 67th. I think mine is -- and always was -- the smarter valuation.

Jay (Madison)

In what situation would you consider a pitcher with the #8 spot in a H-2-H points league? Verlander over Votto or Prince even?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:37 AM)

Pitching would need to have a heavy weighting in your scoring system, usually a product of awarding too much for wins or strikeouts (the latter of which I'm more OK with). For example, in one league of mine, pitching was weighted so heavily during the steroid era that once the pendulum swung back in around 2009-10, the top starting pitcher could score you 1,300 points, whereas the top hitter would struggle to accrue much more than 1,000. That's the instance where you take the starter in the first round.

Ignacio (NM)

Hi Tristan. How would you approach a league that uses both saves and holds as categories? Do you punt one of the RP categories? Or do you try to win both, at the expense of using more roster spots on relievers? Thank you!

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:39 AM)

I think you make a decision: Do you punt one, targeting specifically the other without great regard for the reliever's other contributions, or do you decide to funnel more draft resources into both, going with a heavy ERA-WHIP-SV-HD strategy? If the league is 6x6 with holds added, I might argue that a hefty reliever strategy -- <i>only</i> go for the ratio specialists in this case -- is a smart one, trying to win four of the six categories.

James (San Diego)

Hey THC! My league adopted your 6x6 rules too. How should I adjust my draft strategy for hitters here? Do certain guys plummet in the rankings?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:40 AM)

The best one-size-fits-all advice I can give is that a player <i>must</i> possess multiple skills in order to be draft-worthy, whereas one-category studs can drive Rotisserie value. An example: A base stealer <i>must</i> also be able to draw walks and therefore drive on-base percentage; otherwise he is not going to be on my team.I'll point out that all of my strategies in the format have historically put a hefty emphasis on walks -- runs tend to flow from that -- and I usually try to win both "ratio" categories on offense (on-base and slugging percentage).

Brandon (Cincinnati)

Konerko or Ryan Howard?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:42 AM)

I'm in the Ryan Howard camp. If I'm asked to pick the better bet for 30-100, it's him, and I'm pretty confident in saying that.

Chuck (indiana)

Bobby Parnell o/u saves total 20.5?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:43 AM)

I'm going to say "over," but it's because I regard his skills as substantially greater than those of Frank Francisco, his primary competition. The Mets might be tempted to put Francisco back in the ninth because of what they're paying him, but give me Parnell as the much smarter fantasy value pick of the two.

Alex (Here still)

Odd question; how do you get into fantasy sports professionally? Is it what its spun up to be?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:44 AM)

I was initially a part-time, freelance writer for a group of sports magazines, before developing it into a regular gig. It's always been my suggestion to be patient, and write wherever and whenever you can, and work hard at it; hard work gets noticed in time.

Michael (Texas)

Any fears about Romo this year after the WBC? He has thrown a lot of pitches for this early in Spring Training...

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

I think the "WBC workloads" thing is overstated, but in Sergio Romo's case, let's remember that the Giants have been meticulous about his workloads over the year, so there's every reason to think this more extensive role -- as well as the closer gig he had during last year's playoffs -- could tax him more quickly. I'm not shying from Romo as a draft target, but I've always said that he's one of those closers who requires a handcuff (probably Santiago Casilla).

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:46 AM)

More Romo: My No. 15 ranking of him among relief pitchers accounts for his tremendous per-game upside, but also considers workload risk.

Rob (Michigan)

J.McGee - if Rodney falters - he should be the guys closing games in Tampa - agree/disagree?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:47 AM)

<i>Should</i> is a very different word from <i>will</i>, and I think Joel Peralta might have a leg up on the "next in line for saves" role in Tampa Bay. McGee should really only be drafted for ERA/WHIP/K's support to AL-only rosters out of the setup gig. Any sniff of saves is just good fortune.

Cleveland Mike (OH)

Does Stubbs bring anything to the table, or has he now become irrevelant - especially after Bourn coming to town.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

Good glove, good speed and a little pop. Holes in his swing are however substantial, and make him one of the biggest batting-average liabilities in the game. As much of Stubbs' fantasy value derives from counting stats, the fact that Michael Bourn's arrival threatens his playing time is a big negative. I'm avoiding him if I can; think more AL-only than mixed-league option.

Mark (Hoboken)

Re: Brett Lawrie being "injury prone". Are you starting to feel the same way about another Brett.....Anderson?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:49 AM)

"Starting"? Ha! I've felt that way for awhile.

Dave (Miami)

In a $260 12 Team Mixed Auction, how much of your budget is spent on Pitching usually?And how much on SP vs RP?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:51 AM)

In a 12-team mixed auction my opinion is that I can build my pitching staff better on the cheap than I can my offense. It's for that reason I'd spend absolutely no more than $90 on pitching. Frankly, I'd try to spend more than 68 percent on hitting, if I at all could.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:52 AM)

As for starters/relievers, I usually set out to spend for one "top" closer, in the $15-18 range, then treat the rest of relief as bargain-hunting, in the same fashion I would my lesser starters. In the end it's probably about $60-65 on starters, $25-30 on relief.

Brian (NY)

Thoughts on Aaron Hicks?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:54 AM)

No chance his spring power is legit -- oddly, I thought Arizona had the more hitting-friendly reputation of the two spring states -- but this recent outburst only bolsters his candidacy for the Twins' starting center field job, which they said has been his to lose for months now. I think he's just about on the mixed-league radar, and might be approaching double-digit dollar territory in AL-only at this point.

Boyd (Harlan)

Matt Harvey a safe SP3 in a 12 team mixed?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:55 AM)

That's too optimistic. Wins won't be plentiful, and I think some sort of adjustment period is in his future. Either you'd be overdrafting to slot him that high, or you're proposing waiting a really long time to pick your starters (which is fine if you're confident in your sleeper-seeking).

Brian (NY)

Are you as high on Eaton as EK is?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:56 AM)

No, but I'm not <i>that</i> far off sharing his opinion. He's in the 260 range for me overall, which means he's barely on the mixed-league radar, but I'm warming to him every day he keeps raking in the spring.

CJ (Michigan)

I'm getting into a 20 team mixed this season for the first time. How does your strategy change in these deep deep leagues?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:57 AM)

I've played in them, and you can almost literally take our AL- and NL-only 10-team values and use them in your format. I like that format a lot; it's somewhat akin to playing in the singular leagues and it also addresses the point I made before, about "deepening your league" if you want to curtail streaming.

Rob (Philly)

Matt Carpenter worth a bench spot in a 10tm mix?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

I think so. Frankly, I think this Carpenter-at-second idea is a tad unrealistic, but he can accrue some time at all three infield bases, perhaps get into the 400 plate appearance range and if he does, he has a low downside that makes him a smart back-of-your-lineup plug-in, even in mixed.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (11:59 AM)

By the way, Carpenter should be that player you like if you're in the camp that believes Allen Craig and/or David Freese is injury-prone. If you buy that -- and I do a bit with Craig -- then know that Carpenter is the most logical fill-in at either of those spots.

Drew (Boston)

How about a candidate currently going outside the top 50 that will be a first round pick next season?

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 PM)

Yoenis Cespedes is the most realistic outside that range of ADP. Maybe Austin Jackson or Paul Goldschmidt. And for the record, the odds of any of those three actually doing so are low.

Tristan H. Cockcroft
  (12:01 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 those of you with upcoming drafts!