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Chat: Kevin Jebens

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday April 05, 2019 4:00 PM ET chat session with Kevin Jebens.


Kevin Jebens is a fantasy writer for Baseball Prospectus.

Kevin Jebens: Happy Friday, all! Going to my first game at Miller Park this weekend, so I'm excited to see live baseball, cry into my beer after the Cubs blow it, and eat lots of ballpark food. Let's chat!

kalimantan (as above): I'm currently rostering Ji-Man Choi as backup to Miguel Cabrera in my 16-team OBP dynasty, waiting for the inevitable Miggy injury (and, frankly, wondering if he'll ever hit again). Would I be better off with Rowdy Tellez instead, he looks quite lively so far, or stash Nate Lowe or just retreat to the boring old Moreland or Morales? Thanks!

Kevin Jebens: For 2019, I actually like Choi the best for now, followed by Moreland. But if you're talking dynasty, it'd make sense to stash Lowe now. If/when Miggy gets hurt, maybe there's another roster move you can make to fit in Choi, Moreland, or a different 1B replacement.

Shawn (Washington): I am in a very deep league (12 team, 40 man rosters). I have Turner. Do you have any names I should consider given how deep the league is.

Kevin Jebens: Losing Turner sucks no matter what, and a replacement guy outside of the top 500 is a drop in production, but here goes. Difo makes sense because I'd assume he wasn't necessarily a roster pick given his ADP outside the top 500, he's filling in for Turner, and he has speed potential. Alen Hanson (ADP 499) may get a super utility look in Toronto now. I'm also a fan of Nick Ahmed, but his ADP was 417 on NFBC, so he's likely rostered. J.P. Crawford (546) in Seattle may show signs of life, and he has a bit of speed and power.

sportsguy21792 (Cube by the window): With Joe Maddon being a lame-duck manager what are the odds he does not finish the season if it goes south? Who is the next man up? Joe had a sick look as he watched his pen implode vs Atl Wed night. Does he want to scream at Theo for help?

Kevin Jebens: I don't think all of the bullpen implosion is on Joe, but there's never a good time to have a bunch of guys issue free passes when they don't have the best career BB/9 to start with. I like the idea of DeRosa or Ibanez managing anywhere, let alone for the Cubs. David Ross could be a manager at some point, and he has a Cubs connection. And because I'm a homer, I still think Ryne Sandberg deserves a shot. The Phillies were coming down from a good run when he took over, and they weren't great after he left, so it wasn't all his fault.

Alex (Austin): Would you deal Bregman for Vlad Jr. and Gerrit Cole in a dynasty? 16 team league where I would start maybe Tim Beckham until Vlad comes up. My team is very competitive this year, but my pitching is full of elderly aces.

Kevin Jebens: I love Bregman, but getting Vlad makes this worth it. Vlad was #10 overall in Bret's top 500 dynasty players this year, just behind Bregman at #7. Add in a clear #1 fantasy SP, and I'd pull the trigger.

Robbie Cano’s Bat (Queens): Thoughts on Jack Flaherty? 20tm H2H points keep 8-12. Rebuilding a team I took over. Trade Kieboom and Brendan Rodgers for Flaherty? SP hard to come by. As of now prospects are borderline keepers.

Kevin Jebens: Long term, Flaherty is a great target. I'm not sure he'll fully repeat 2018 this season, but as long as he improves his walk rate and avoids the home runs, there's a lot to like here. I'm not a huge fan of Kieboom, mostly because he doesn't do any one thing amazingly, but he's low risk. Rodgers has more flash to me, but I can't blame you for targeting young SP when they're hard to get.

HiLineNation (Missoula, MT): Will Chance Sisco see playing time in Baltimore this year, or will Norfolk be his permanent home?

Kevin Jebens: He has to, right? The guys in front of him aren't anything special. Sisco isn't perfect either, but there's far more potential and upside there. Then again, given how bad the Orioles are, maybe they hold him down for more years of control.

BACowett (Fayetteville): How legitimate is Dansby Swanson's start? With Trea Turner going down, I've been looking for a fill-in while Turner's finger heals.

Kevin Jebens: Do you think that the wrist injury slowed him during 2018? Maybe it did, a bit. But do I expect him to be a .290 hitter in 2019 with 15/15 upside? Not really. The supporting cast is great, and you may as well play the hot start while you can. If you could flip him after a month, I'd do so because you're not going to miss out on a sudden top-10 shortstop.

Billy B (Toronto, Canada): In a 12 team keeper 10 CAT OBP league and am wondering if I should drop McMahon or Hampson for Christian Walker? Thanks. B

Kevin Jebens: I like Walker's power but don't trust his average to stay above .250 by season's end. I understand the frustration by the slow start from the Rockies duo, who were both hot in spring and now are both cold. But especially if you need stolen bases, don't give up on Hampson just yet. Also remember that Walker hurts you in OBP a bit, given his weak walk rate.

Marc (Colorado): I'm playing in a 12 team AL only league. The waiver wire tends to be quite thin. I'm holding onto CC Sabathia but am starting to look at Jordan Zimmerman as a possibility. Am I crazy?

Kevin Jebens: Zim's generating some swing-and-miss early in 2019, so there's that. But he's also sporting a very lucky BABIP and strand rate in his two starts. Fly balls aren't (yet) leaving the yard, aiding that low BABIP, but my guess is he starts sliding back toward the 2018 version. That said, CC is coming back from two injuries (one a heart procedure), and though he may have more skills, he's likely to give you fewer starts overall. Don't blow a ton of your FAAB on Zimmermann, but I wouldn't say you're fully crazy.

BACowett (Fayetteville): Should I ride out Andrew Miller's struggles this season? He hasn't been inspiring confidence so far.

Kevin Jebens: Well, given Hicks hasn't looked amazing either, you may as well see what happens after a full month. Miller is coming off an injury year, and he's certainly getting longer in the tooth, but I don't expect him to be this bad the rest of the year. Remember: small sample size in April, plus the fact that relievers get it even worse. Unless you end up trading for a surefire closer, no reason to abandon ship on April 5.

Alex (Austin): How worried should we be about Mikolas and Darvish?

Kevin Jebens: Three homers in one game for Mikolas hurts, and he's not generating swing-and-miss (though he's not a big K/9 guy anyway). I think he was a bit lucky in 2018 and expect some regression, but it's too early to assume he'll end up with an ERA over 4.50 and be a totally sunk cost.

Darvish is a different story for me. Again, self-professed Cubs fan, so I'm used to doom and gloom, but those walks are killer. He had a career high 4.7 BB/9 last season before getting hurt. Now he's continuing that trend. His velocity has continued to drop. And he considered retiring before signing this big contract. I complained about Alfonso Soriano's contract, but I ended up being okay with it. I worry Darvish is going to be the Cubs version of Mike Hampton. Other pundits are saying they're happy to buy low on him, so maybe I'll be proven wrong by year's end, but "poor health" plus "Hold my beer, Chatwood" isn't a path to fantasy value.

Greg (California): In a mixed roto league. I drafted Darvish late. Now I don't know whether to drop him and pick up Odorizzi or Aaron Sanchez as a FA, or to give it a few more weeks. Can he build on his first three innings from last night's start?

Kevin Jebens: If you go by the cold, hard, objective projection systems, they still like Darvish the most. And yeah, maybe he figures it out. I'd hate to just dump him for nothing, because I'm stubbon. Sanchez won't keep this up all year, but he has a small profit margin as a waiver wire pickup. Odorizzi could be intriguing, given he's generating suchs good SwStr% so far and cut down the walks. But again: small sample size in April. I cringe, but I say hold on to Darvish a bit longer and see what happens. Odds are one of those FA starters will still be around in another week or two.

First Timer (Michigan): How badly am I overreacting to David Robertson's start in looking at dropping him for Ryan Pressly / Taylor Rodgers / Swarzak?

Kevin Jebens: Seems EVERYONE is giving up the free passes early. I do think it's early, but I also think Taylor Rogers is a nice sleeper RP who could close if given the chance. Same goes for Pressly, but with Osuna there, saves are less likely than Rogers. Swarzak should get chances when he comes back given the lack of great options in Seattle, but I'm personally less high on him given the BB/9 spike in 2018. If he gets that back under control, he's most likely of the three to net 20+ saves in 2019.

BACowett (Fayetteville): Yoan Moncada's contact rate is higher than ever before and his whiff rate is way down. SSS, I know, but could this be the year for him?

Kevin Jebens: Yes, it certainly could. Definitely a SSS situation, but pundits have been pointing to those two issues as the things holding him back. If he's actually doing something about them so far, then hey, maybe he's finally figured it out. Look at his BABIP and realize the average won't always be this shiny, but the dude's talented, and as long as he can fix those flaws, he still has a bright fantasy future ahead of him.

Prospect Decision (MiLB): Royce Lewis or Bo Bichette long term?

Kevin Jebens: Tough one, given how closely ranked they usually are on prospect lists. Bichette a bit safer but less flash. I'd go Lewis if you don't need someone imminently, given speed is harder to come by. But if you're looking to compete as soon as possible, Bichette makes more sense for 2020.

Ryan (Madison): May have the chance to grab either Albies or Clevinger in a trade. Who's more likely to repeat thier 2018?

Kevin Jebens: I liked Clevinger a ton entering 2018, and he provided a lot of profit on my teams. Albies tailed off hard in the second half, but he's still young and has a lot of power/speed potential. Clevinger the safer bet to repeat in my book, but I'd probably rather target Albies and hope for maybe an 18/20 season with a pretty good AVG floor. Really depends on your team needs too. Right now it's easier to grab MI help than solid SP guys.

Mark (Orlando): You were down on Goldy early last year, but he rebounded. Any thoughts about him moving forward?

Kevin Jebens: Paul Goldschmidt needed a huge BABIP in the second half to get his AVG back on track, but he's always held a high BABIP throughout his career. Four homers already this year, and I still like him long term -- just not as a first-round pick, particularly in the first half, like he used to be. Staying in St. Louis shouldn't hurt him, and he'll keep up the counting stats just fine. There were some issues early last season, and he corrected them. As long as he can keep doing that, he's a stud.

Kevin Jebens: Thanks for the chat, guys and gals. Good luck with your seasons, and remember not to panic in April!

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