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March 21, 11:00 AM ET
Fantasy Sports with Eric Karabell

Eric Karabell
  (11:01 AM)

Hello all and welcome to the latest ESPN Fantasy chat session! The MLB season actually starts tomorrow/Saturday in Australia so get your lineups in, because they will lock by then for Week 1. Thanks as always for reading and/or participating in the chats, we couldn't do this without you! OK, here we go!

Christian (Madison) [via mobile]

What's your take on the Orioles closer situation? Believe Tommy Hunter will keep the role for the whole year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:02 AM)

Unless Hunter and/or Darren O'Day can start retiring left-handed hitters with some consistency then no, I don't see either of them keeping the closer role. But Hunter likely gets first shot. Don't invest much.

Tanner Smith (Roanoke Va)

Hey, fellow Phillies fan trying to make a shortstop decision for his fantasy team. Please rank these 3 shortstops in order: Andrus, Segura and E. Cabrera. Thanks.

Eric Karabell
  (11:03 AM)

I don't want Andrus for where he is being selected. There's just no power there at all. The difference in him and Everth should not be 4 or 5 rounds, but that's what occurring. If simply ranking, I go Segura, Andrus, Cabrera. For value and current ADP, Cabrera wins easily.

Steve (Cincy)

Ventura or Gallardo?H2H pointsThanks

Eric Karabell
  (11:04 AM)

I think we know what Gallardo is at this point, and it's not getting better. The WHIP is high, K rate is dropping. Ventura offers more upside. I'd take the chance.

jesse (Toronto)

Do i start Cahill vs dodgers? even without crawford and kemp.

Eric Karabell
  (11:05 AM)

It's not really an awesome Dodgers lineup, to be honest. Look at Justin Turner at second base and Van Slyke in left, yuck. Yeah, I'd probably start him. Not expecting many runs in this 2-game series.

AJP (NY)

When do you expect to see Springer and Baez up in the Bigs?

Eric Karabell
  (11:06 AM)

Mid to late May seems reasonable, if not a bit optimistic. I think Springer is more valuable for the stolen base upside, but if you need a middle infielder, Baez will hit for power.

Dave (Philly)

Hey EK, on yesterday's Fantasy Focus podcast, you mentioned that you're in a 3-sport fantasy league. This is something I've been trying to put together for a little while now but I'm having trouble figuring out the logistics - can you give a little detail on your league, like when you hold the draft, how you handle scoring, etc.? Thanks!

Eric Karabell
  (11:08 AM)

It's easy, really. Just run three different leagues in baseball, football and hoops, and have a spreadsheet to keep track. Finish first in one sport but last in another and that's middle of the pack. It's just fun to see someone trade LeBron for Peyton Manning and the rights to a draft pick used for Dustin Pedroia.

Jason (Greeley, CO)

Completely waited on starting pitching and ended up with Teheran, Weaver, Salazar, Samardzija, Archer, Wheeler, Porcello, and Nova. Did I make out OK or am I doomed in the pitching categories?

Eric Karabell
  (11:09 AM)

You did well. The kind of rotation I would get. Time will tell statistically, but assuming you have a big offense, it's not bad at all.

Hambone (Biloxi, Miss)

What do you think the chances are that Braun is back to a 30 HR/25 SB guy this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:09 AM)

Maybe 25 percent. I think the steals are in some question. I expect more like 15-18. But the power, the batting average, I'm investing. It's crazy that some are avoiding him simply because he ruined their 2013 season. It happens.

Paul (the library)

Hey, EK. Any love this year for Drew Hutchison?

Eric Karabell
  (11:10 AM)

Modest, I suppose. Pitching well the past few weeks and should earn a rotation spot, but I wouldn't call him a major upside option. Not a 200-K guy. But in a deep format, I'd take the chance.

Richard (NY)

EK, what's your take on the Texas closer situation? Do you think Soria ends up with the job?

Eric Karabell
  (11:11 AM)

I think it's still Feliz with the best chance, but he has to perform better the next week. I think he will, but the gap in drafts between him and Soria should be smaller.

Richard (NY)

EK, love your work. Do you see LaTroy Hawkins holding the closer job all season or would you advise holding onto Rex Brothers?

Eric Karabell
  (11:12 AM)

I wouldn't say with confidence Hawkins closes all season, but I still think he ends up with more saves than Rex does. Hawkins should close in April, at the least. And everyone that loves Brothers seems to gloss over his command issues. He's not Kenley Jansen and that is definitely not Dodger Stadium the Rox play in!

Mike (NY, NY)

any knew thoughts regarding Jose Abreu? That swing looks pretty sweet...

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

I'm expecting 30 home runs now and think he's being under-drafted some.

Bill (Chicago)

Buying or selling on Heyward this season

Eric Karabell
  (11:13 AM)

Buying. One of these years he's a legit MVP candidate. Fluke injuries in 2013.

Mike (NY, NY)

EK, you think Carlos Martinez wins that 5th starter spot? If so what are fair expectations?

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

I think he should win it, but Joe Kelly is doing well and the Cardinals could easily use Martinez in the eighth inning, save a bit on his arm and future expenses. Expectations? Even if starting, can't see more than 150 innings.

Jimmy (South Beach)

Any chance Hoover runs away with the closer's gig, at least until Aroldis gets his face fixed? I mean Broxton and marshall aren't the epitomy of health.

Eric Karabell
  (11:14 AM)

The blog entry from Thursday I wrote said exactly that. You must have read it!

Adam (Philly)

Girding myself for an epically bad Phillies season, but are there any hitters on this squad that would be worth counting on in a 5x5 H2H category league with OBP instead of AVG?

Eric Karabell
  (11:16 AM)

Sure. There are helpful fantasy options even on the worst teams. Utley gets on base. I'm actually not as down on Byrd as many. He should be productive (it's just an odd signing for such an old, bad team). I'd try to avoid Rollins, Brown, Revere, Ruiz, Asche and Howard looks just awful. What a shame. Look at the numbers from early in his career, they were amazing. All it takes is one injury to derail a career sometimes.

Richard (NY)

Manny Machado was cleared for baseball activities and running. Do you think he has enough time to start on Opening Day?

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Yes, but I still doubt he plays that day. Perhaps he doesn't need a DL stint, though. Still worth drafting in the round he's going in, which is like 10th and 11th.

Mike (NY)

Once the top SS names were off the board, I just decided to wait. Please pick two: Starlin Castro, Villar, A. Ramirez, Chris Owings.

Eric Karabell
  (11:17 AM)

Like 'em all. Owings will hit, but tough to move him ahead of any of these guys. Castro and Villar first. 15/15 guy and 10/35 guy.

Richard (NY)

We all know Matt Wieters has power and a pretty good bat. But do you foresee him improving his average this year, maybe even into the .260 range?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

I think we've seen enough to know who Wieters is at this point. And he's good enough for even standard formats.

Clark (Toronto)

As a 3rd or 4th outfielder, who do you like better? Calhoun, Gardner or Crawford?

Eric Karabell
  (11:18 AM)

I think Kole Calhoun will have the best season of this group, and he goes cheaper.

Derek (work) [via mobile]

What's Profar's ceiling for this year? Can he be a top 5 2b ?

Eric Karabell
  (11:19 AM)

Yes he can. His immediate ceiling is still nice, like 12-15 home runs and at least 15 stolen bases. I think he'll potentially earn more than Andrus, who only runs.

Ben (MD)

Pineda worth holding onto in 12 teamer?

Eric Karabell
  (11:20 AM)

I'd say no, because it's a shallow enough format and there are plenty of pitchers to get late. But there is upside here.

Brett (Baltimore, MD)

Would you take Wacha over the likes of Shields and Bailey in a keeper league? They say the curve needs work but I'm yet to see teams handle his fastball/changeup.

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

I would take the proven arms first. If Wacha is being evaluated as that safe as 200-inning, 200-K guys, that's in error.

Vern (MD)

Prior to the 2013 season Darren O'Day was excellent against lefties. You don't think 2013 was an outlier?

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

I think 2012 was his outlier, actually.

Justin peoria [via mobile]

Stantons power is legit. Do you see him as a dynasty league guy tho due to injury fears

Eric Karabell
  (11:21 AM)

I think he'll find a way to be healthy and in the regular lineup when the Marlins trade him to a better team in late-July. Yes.

Craig (St. Paul, MN)

In a keeper league due to consider whether a disproportionate number of players were kept at one position when setting your draft board?

Eric Karabell
  (11:22 AM)

Maybe a bit, but I worry about the overall depth at positions regardless, and tend to use a modified tier system anyway. But I won't take the last good catcher in a draft if say Jose Bautista is available. So it depends.

Tom (Bath)

Would you contemplate trading Encarnacion for Sale or Fernandez in a 12 team roto or would you rather keep Edwin and just wait on pitching?

Eric Karabell
  (11:23 AM)

Keep and wait. Depends a bit on need, and those arms are awesome, but keep the top-10 bat and draft Teheran later.

Billy (NYC)

Twitter the best way to learn about injury news first? Any handles you can recommend for closer changes in particular?

Eric Karabell
  (11:24 AM)

I follow the beat writers for teams as well as the teams themselves. Also, injury news for different sites. But often it's speculative, too. Hoover has not been announced as Reds closer yet but I think he will be.

Andy (Hangover)

EK what are your thoughts on Jeremy Hellickson? Worth stashing for the 2nd half?

Eric Karabell
  (11:26 AM)

Not really interested because he's not a big K guy and always seemed fortunate to outpitch his peripherals. And I could see Odorizzi, who I like some, keeping the job. Or Ramos.

Tom (Bath)

Piggybacking on the earlier question...what if I were able to draft Abreu? I already have CDavis...would you think about trading Edwin then....possibly during the draft?

Eric Karabell
  (11:27 AM)

Perhaps, but what's wrong with having those 120 home runs? Play one at utility. The goal is to get the numbers. I've got David Ortiz in multiple leagues; was a top-20 overall player last year! Better than Edwin, Cliff Lee, Freeman...and look where he's being drafted!

Dean (March Madness)

Who do you prefer as a later third base option Seager, Arenado, Castellanos?

Eric Karabell
  (11:28 AM)

Seager runs some and is more proven, so he's the guy. But the other two for keeper formats. Arenado and Castellanos might look like David Freese statistically this year; Seager does not.

John (NH) [via mobile]

When can we expect Gregory Polanco up, and what type if skill set does he have? Thanks for the advice

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

For all these prospects and minor leaguers, there's no way to know for sure. Baez could make the Cubs, or be up in May/June or not until Sept. The teams themselves rarely know for sure. Polanco is likely getting 2 full months at Indy for sure, unless Tabata is hurt and there's an obvious need. He's a patient hitter with great speed, so ultimately maybe 15 homers, 40 steals.

J (boston)

in a points league where Week 1 rosters lock tomorrow. bench Kemp, Bailey, and/or A. Sanchez for healthier options like Castellanos, Haren, and Josh Johnson?

Eric Karabell
  (11:29 AM)

Not sure anyone has ever said the words healthy and Josh Johnson together, but yeah, we're all guessing on a few of the injured pitchers at this point. Look at Josh's matchup; if at home, then I'd be interested regardless.

Nash (NYC)

Is Adam Dunn not worth owning anymore because of Abreu? Won't he DH? Or will he and Konerko cancel each other out?

Eric Karabell
  (11:30 AM)

I don't think cancel each other out. Dunn hits left-handed so he should play more. Konerko hits right-handed. Actually we should expect a strict platoon here, and that's if Abreu plays every day.

Ryan (Boston)

Is Miley going to be a 3 start pitcher in weekly leagues including the game this weekend? Have the DBacks mentioned how their rotation will be at the start of the reason?

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

They have not, but he's also not Kershaw, who will start 3 times.

Michael (Milwaukee)

What do you see for Josh Johnson this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:31 AM)

I see a DL stint, but 24 starts, 3.25 ERA, good K rate. A bounceback season we can occasionally rely on.

Mike (Chicao)

Ugh. I ended up with Utley as my second baseman. Talk me off the edge. All I can think about is "He'll be great for the 65 games he plays!"

Eric Karabell
  (11:32 AM)

He played in 131 games last year, so I will take the over on 65 games. And he played well. He's fine.

Mike (NY, NY)

Ellsbury's calf is already acting up. So Glad i took him 5th overall...I know your somewhat down on his this year, but what do you expect if he manages 550 AB's?

Eric Karabell
  (11:33 AM)

That's why I would never take him top-10. I rank him like 15th. And still avoid him. If he gets 140 games he could hit 15 homers and steal 50 still. He's great. But not durable. Accidental injuries seem to find him.

Andres (GA)

Is Grady Sizemore worth a pick up?

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

I think at this point we have to say he's a bit more than borderline, but he's not likely to pile on the steals. Red Sox should be cautious in how often he plays. Not a top-50 outfielder, but in a 12-teamer or deeper, I'd add him.

Jerry (Detroit)

EK, rather go Prince or Beltre with a mid first rounder?

Eric Karabell
  (11:34 AM)

Mid-first is a tad early for both, but I would go Beltre. More confident in all the numbers for him. Expecting Prince to be fine now because of the ballpark change is optimistic.

John (Cali) [via mobile]

Where do you rank Bryce Harper? How much does his value increase in a keeper league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:35 AM)

Increases a lot. Late second-rounder in one-year formats, mid-first rounder in keepers. Gonna be a star, a multiple MVP guy.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Isn't Votto the safest pick outside the top 5? Shouldn't he be a guaranteed 1st rounder, especially in a points league?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

In a points league he is, but in a standard he doesn't really bring the great power. And he doesn't run.

Jim (philadelphia) [via mobile]

Want to replace Chapman, but certainly don't want to drop him. Is there any rhyme or reason to when teams put guys on the DL?

Eric Karabell
  (11:36 AM)

Not really. They don't really care. I'd say Chapman goes on the DL in about a week, next Friday or Saturday. The Reds have no reason to rush it. No team does.

Matt (Wilmington, DE)

Keeper auction tonight - what's your strategy? Be willing to bid up to the inflated value for the top guys or wait out the inflation and get guys closer to "value"?

Eric Karabell
  (11:38 AM)

I'll pay the price for a few guys but overall the goal is to get value and find bargains when others won't get near the price. And you won't know this until you're in the auction; don't overpay but if you think David Wright is at $30 then don't be afraid to get there for him. Not every player has to be a bargain.

Nick (RVC)

What are the chances Texeira stays healthy for most of the year? Projections?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

People seem to be starting to trust him and his balky wrist. I'm skeptical. Not like he was Mauer for batting average before. But would it shock me if he hits .260 with 25 home runs. Not at all.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Are you buying a Brandon Belt breakout season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:39 AM)

Does the sun rise every morning?

Michael (Levittown)

How soon until VMart starts 5 games at C to gain the eligibility?

Eric Karabell
  (11:40 AM)

Around the team's ninth road interleague game. Honestly, I don't expect it happens. Played 3 of his 159 games behind the plate last year. Not exactly Johnny Bench back there.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Kelly Johnson or Brian Roberts worth a flyer playing in Yankee stadium?

Eric Karabell
  (11:41 AM)

I'd say Kelly first. He's hit for power recently and managed to stay healthy. More versatile defensively as well.

Matt (Wisco)

Would I be a fool to take Longoria over Beltre at the wraparound picks 12/13 if both are available? It seems to me Longo has more power upside and each have their share of injury risk.

Eric Karabell
  (11:42 AM)

Not sure why Beltre is an injury risk. I'd agree Longoria has the better shot at 40 home runs, but he's a bigger risk. But it's not outrageous to take him over Beltre. I wouldn't.

P (VA)

If you come out of an auction draft just plain HATING your team, not strong in any one area really, how soon do you look to start making deals?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

I always let a team percolate a few weeks on the field - the projections don't matter at ALL - to make sure. Unless I left an auction with nary a save or steal...but why would anyone do that purposely?

Michael (Milwaukee)

Would you stash Gausman or Appel or wait on them?

Eric Karabell
  (11:43 AM)

I think it's far more likely Gausman helps a fantasy owner this season.

Francesco (VA Beach)

Following up on Votto and your blog entry this week, where do you draft him in an OBP league? And does Prince also get a boost?

Eric Karabell
  (11:44 AM)

Votto might go fifth in an OBP league. Really. Prince a mild boost, but most of the top 20 hitters get on base better than most.

Jim (Louisville)

Thoughts on Rosenthal of St. Louis as a closer? Any sleeper closers you like?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

Rosenthal is my No. 5 closer, so he's not a bargain any more. Really the Cardinals should be starting him. They should know better than most that 200 innings is FAR more valuable than 70. And they showed last year that literally anyone can close when Mujica did. But whatever. Sleepers? Cishek. Henderson. Qualls. All being underdrafted.

Andres (GA)

Does Arenado project to be a top 10 3B to you this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:45 AM)

Not hitting enough yet, so no. But certainly has upside.

Vince (Philly)

EK, how do you rank these three for a keeper league...Hosmer, Abreu, Freeman?

Eric Karabell
  (11:46 AM)

I'd still take Hosmer first there, then Freeman. Abreu is not 22.

Dean (March Madness)

Nobody seems to talk about Ryan Zimmerman anymore. Does he have another .290-30-100 season in him now that he's had time to recover from his shoulder surgery?

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

It's optimistic but sure, it wouldn't be stunning if he did this. I just think he has to move to first base at some point because his arm might never be the same at third. It can be painful watching him throw sidearm.

Michael (Milwaukee)

What happened to Brett Anderson? Any upside left?

Eric Karabell
  (11:47 AM)

At Coors Field, and with his health, have to pass. Shame. He was SO good...

Jon (Billings, MT)

Hawkins, Soria, or Qualls if you want saves without killing your ratios?

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

You'll not that those guys all pitched well in 2013, so the killing ratios part really isn't applicable. Hawkins is the only one with the closer job today for sure. It's possible none of these guys are closers though. Just for late-round looks.

Doug (Ottawa)

Drafted Beltre, should i be worried about his calves?

Eric Karabell
  (11:48 AM)

I wouldn't worry.

Jim (Georgia)

Any late round pitchers you recommend....8 team league H-2-H

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

For an 8-team league I'd make my last 9 picks pitchers. Honestly. Take chances.

Paul (at the library)

I have Yelich, your boy Ruggiano, and reclamation projects Moose-tacos and Josh Reddick riding my bench. Worth dropping one to take a flyer on Grady Sizemore?

Eric Karabell
  (11:49 AM)

No, I would keep those guys over Sizemore.

Brandon (Simi Valley, CA)

CC Sabathia or CJ Wilson? Who do you think has a better season?

Eric Karabell
  (11:50 AM)

I think Wilson has a better season at this point.

Paul (Denver)

Should I entertain the thought of trading Choo for either Gio Gonzales or Bailey? My starters are my weak area of my team. Plus I?m a little wary of Choo being older, knicked up and hitting in the AL again. I can pick up Krush Davis if I do the trade. League is 65 H2H.

Eric Karabell
  (11:51 AM)

Not sure why you'd worry about Choo being back in the AL. This is a good thing. But it's certainly a fair deal regardless. And I am ALL IN for the Brewers' Khris Davis this year. Have him everywhere. Yeah, go for it.

Brandon (RI)

You seem to be down on Dom Brown. I drafted him as a starter, but backed up with Ruggiano, R. Davis and Schierholtz. Should I expect one of them to take over my starting position?

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

There's good reason to be down on Dom. Sorry, call it like I see it. And I am a Phillies fan. If you need steals you'll be using Davis for sure. Don't drop Dom, but he has looked so awful in the spring - numbers don't matter - that I am skeptical.

Jim (Paducah)

Thoughts on drafting players like Zorbist, Prado and Profar with multi positions or a 1 spot player?

Eric Karabell
  (11:52 AM)

Take the best options. If you can't choose, then the guy with multi-eligibility breaks the tie. But Zobrist and Prado are a bit overrated. We've seen their best and it's no longer awesome. Profar can still be awesome, a real difference maker.

Remmy (Butterscotch, NJ)

In a H2H keeper league, would you trade Cliff Lee/T. Walker for Strasburg?

Eric Karabell
  (11:53 AM)

Yep.

Richard (NY)

EK, who do you think are the shakiest closers that have a high likelihood of losing their jobs in April?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

Of guys that have been announced as closers, certainly Hawkins is no lock to keep the job. Rodney and Axford for performance, Janssen and Street for health.

Ted (Cambridge)

One more for the OBP leagues. In that format, is Choo a borderline first-rounder? He definitely polevaults other 20-20 threats like Jones and Gomez, right?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

He does.

Mike (NY, NY)

How about the first top 10 closer to lose his job?

Eric Karabell
  (11:54 AM)

Uehara, for health.

JB (School)

Do you reommend drafting two catchers even if one is on your bench. Catchers gets days off.

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

I do not. I don't see how using someone like JP Arencibia a day a week is worth the roster flexibility. But I know smart people - and not so smart ones - that disagree.

Eric (Chicago)

Stanton getting traded in July. HA HA. In fantasy maybe. How many years are you going to keep going with the "Stanton is going to get traded by July" before it actually becomes true?

Eric Karabell
  (11:55 AM)

Doesn't matter to me if he does or doesn't, and doesn't affect his stats as much as people might think, but if you think he wants to stick around that franchise, I disagree.

Grant (NY)

Will Doug Martin be a steal this year?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Football! If the Bucs running back goes after the top 20 overall then yes, a major steal. He's healthy.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Think Baez makes the roster?

Eric Karabell
  (11:56 AM)

Nope. I think the Cubs wouldn't use him for a few weeks if Castro is out, and they want Barney playing somewhere up the middle regularly, though it's tough to understand why.

Brandon (Sippy, MI)

Who is the back up to Uehara?

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

Probably Mujica.

Michael (Milwaukee)

Will Billy Butler get 10 games at 1B this year to add eligibility?

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I would not count on it.

Paul (Denver)

What will Boegarts line look like this season? I have him as my UTL.

Eric Karabell
  (11:57 AM)

I could conservatively see 15-60-.275.

Keesun (Ontario)

Should Brandon Moss be drafted in a 12 team mixed? Looks like solid numbers last year but still sitting on the waiver wire.

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

Anyone that hit 30 home runs expect if they're Dunn-like in batting average needs to be owned in all formats.

Manny (Houston)

it's my birthday!! please help, which side would you take, CarGo or Hanley+Pedroia??

Eric Karabell
  (11:58 AM)

I'd take the two middle infielders there.

Matt (Cleveland)

Who do you like better for this year and next. I can keep Machado for $11 or Middlebrooks for $11 in my Al only league.

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Still Machado. Will develop power.

Paul (at the library)

Belt over Hosmer, or are they pretty much the same player in different uniforms?

Eric Karabell
  (11:59 AM)

Hosmer runs. Considerably more valuable.

Eric Karabell
  (12:00 PM)

OK folks, thanks so much for the many questions and best of luck in your weekend drafts! Remember the season actually starts Saturday and Week 1 rosters will lock then, so do not wait to set your lineups! Have an awesome weekend!