BP's Fantasy Baseball Manager stops by to take your questions and share his thoughts on the first few days of the season.
Derek Carty: Hey everyone! Hope the first week of the season is treating you well. I'll be around for the next couple hours answering as many questions as possible. Let's get started!
Adam Laroche (National Capital): Hey Derek, thanks for the chat. Many people know I am better performer in the second half of season career-wise. Would you mind name more players you consider worth monitoring or even prospects who could have a big showing?
Derek Carty: Sorry, Adam, but I don't buy the whole first-half/second-half thing for most players. As far as prospects that could be recalled and make an impact go, there are a lot of guys that could fit the bill. To name a few: Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Trevor Bauer, Joe Benson, Joe Wieland, Robbie Erlin, Leonys Martin, Tyler Skaggs, Jacob Turner, Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker, Nolan Arenado, Danny Hultzen, and Brett Jackson.
Greg (Denver): Over/under 200 strikeouts for Yoenis Cespedes?
Derek Carty: Assuming he receives the commensurate number of plate appearances, I'll take the slight over.
Andy (Chicago): Should I trade high on Cespedes?
Those strikeouts are worrying me but love the power and the chance for some SBs...
Derek Carty: Yes, I would. We've known that his power is absurd and that he has speed, but what he's done to this point is very similar to what I figured when I wrote him up in the off-season: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15649 The 80-grade power the one scout put on him has manifest itself (HitTracker has him with a 462 ft. HR already), and he has great speed and a steal already, but the questions about his plate approach are there too. He's going to strike out a LOT. Pitchers will adjust to him and he'll need to make further adjustments to that, which could cause a power drop for a while, so I'd definitely try to sell if someone is on board with the hype.
LoyalRoyal (Kansas): I noticed Brian Dozier and Jordany Valdespin did not make your list for impact prospects in the first question. I see opportunity potentially there for both. But, not sure on production. Thoughts???
Derek Carty: Yeah, that list was far from comprehensive. Behind potentially shaky middle infields, I could see either coming up a grabbing full-time at-bats and being fairly successful. Neither are super prospects, but in AL or NL-only, either is a worthy stash.
Bob (Toronto): Can you rank the following shortstop prosepcts with respect to their ETA: Machado, Franklin, Hak-Ju Lee.
Derek Carty: I doubt we see any of those three this season, but next year is fair game. I'll go Franklin first, then Machado, then Lee.
arleach (Illinois): NL only. Do you see T. Cahill as below average, average or slightly above average? thanks.
Derek Carty: In an NL-only league, above average wouldn't surprise me. I've always liked Cahill, and I think there's some strikeout upside in his stuff. The league change will help a lot, and Chase isn't as bad of a park for pitchers as many believe it to be. Mid-to-High-3.00s ERA.
SpaceJohnson (Costa Rica): I own Cespedes in my league and received a trade offer. Offer is for Corey Hart and Eric Hosmer. I figure that yes I should take this deal, but Cespedes could be someone who could win me the league if he can walk like he has been the past two games. Thoughts?
Derek Carty: You get both for Cespedes? In a 5x5 league? Yeah, take it and don't look back.
steve112598 (Port Richey, FL): Hi, Derek. Being offered B. Phillips and Cespedes for Pedroia in a standard ESPN ten team roto league. Have Kinsler and K. Johnson for 2B/MI. Thoughts?
Derek Carty: Yup, go for it. The drop-off from Pedroia to Phillips isn't that large -- small enough to make acquiring Cespedes worth it, and PFM even thinks Phillips is more valuable in most formats -- and you might be able to spin Cespedes off for something even better.
michaelmcduffe (ottawa): Two starts in, his fastball velocity is down (again!) from the previous year...how worried should Lincecum owners be?
Derek Carty: I normally advocate patience this early in the season when we're dealing with samples this small (especially when the peripherals are great), and I would with Lincecum to a large extent, but there is some reason to be a little worried. If you look at his PITCHf/x velocity charts from last year, you'll notice that his velocity really started falling off in the second-half, and though there is the possibility of calibration issues/guns running low/etc, it doesn't appear as though Lincecum has recovered his velocity at all this year. The combination of these two things is worrisome, especially when you consider that pitchers who lose velocity struggle to ever get back to where they were.
I posted an article about this (in regard to Colby Lewis) last season at THT right before I came over to BP, which I'd highly recommend reading: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/velocity-strikeouts-and-colby-lewiss-rough-start/
Bottom line seems to be that Lincecum could be slightly less valuable with diminished velo, but he at least appears to be healthy and has ways of succeeding aside from the couple mph he's lost. Even with lessened velocity in the second-half of 2011, he was still a very good pitcher. He might fall from my top 5, but I'd definitely still have him top 15 and probably top 10.
Harvey (lakewood): Lincecum owner. Only 2 starts in, should I be concerned or just sickened? Thank you.
Derek Carty: See the above answer.
Ron (Washington, DC): Is Tim Lincecum a good buy low candidate right now?
Derek Carty: See two questions above. Short answer, yes, if his owner is panicking, but I might not pay full preseason sticker.
modofacid (Philly): Are Lincecum and Josh Johnson good buy low candidates. What's a good value benchmark for each?
Derek Carty: The theme of this chat seems to be Cespedes and Lincecum. See the previous three questions for Lincecum. As far as JJ goes, it depends how low you're buying. Right now, you need to contend with the injury concerns that have always been there, some less than stellar starts, and similar velocity issues as Lincecum. If he comes cheap enough, yeah, take him, but don't overextend yourself to get him.
Not Ozzie (Certainly not Miami): Enough of Cuba talk...give me some reason to believe Ricky Nolasco will be my stud when Josh Johnson seems falling apart, so that I don't have to drink my mind out when I can't manage my team from dugout.
Derek Carty: Sorry Ozzie, but I'm not a Nolasco-as-a-secret-stud believer. I debated him with Jason Collette this off-season (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15550) and did some back-of-the-envelope math to show why I'm not a big fan. Peripherals are always great, but we're approaching a pretty large sample telling us that his "luck indicators" might not be so unlucky. I could certainly be proven wrong, but I wouldn't bank on him being an ace.
Jake (Springfield): Wow, so I'm not the only one w/ a Cespedes trade.
I was offered Ricky Romero and Joel Hanrahan for Cespedes and Benoit. No brainer, right? Can always pluck an OF off waivers with decent pop (I hope).
Derek Carty: And the Cespedes train keeps rolling... Yeah, I'll go for that trade too.
Green Chair Costume Vendor (Wrigley Field): Sold 10,000 so far, hoping to sell 30,000 by september...Ok, every year I seem to draft a team in my HTH league that just sucks the first week. So much so that I started looking at April splits for my bench players in the draft, and I'm still putting up a 178/222/295 line this week playing against a team of Chris Shelton all-stars. I know, small sample size, don't overreact, yada, yada, it's still ugly looking at a 9-1 loss week one. Again. Any tips to avoid this next year?
Derek Carty: I keep a leprechaun trapped in a cage that sits next to my desk to avoid just this sort of thing. That might be a little extreme for you (not to mention rare and expensive--those things have quite the appetite, and he's got to stay alive for it to work), but maybe you could try a lucky rabbit's foot?
Honestly, this is basically the yada yada you predicted, but don't panic. You're going to do yourself a disservice if you start trying to overanalyze things and pick players based on April stats. Just relax, take a deep breath, realize you've been unlucky, and move on. Things will be better.
lacerati (San Diego): Trade offered:
Jesus Montero & Matt Moore for Curtis Granderson
Not a keeper league. Scoring categories: R, HR, RBI, SB, BB, AVG and W, S, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP
I'm debating it, but my judgement might be clouded by my simple fandom of Moore. I have Granderson.
Derek Carty: I'd pass it up. If it's AL-only instead of mixed it might be closer, but I still think you're better off with Granderson. Obviously both have a lot of potential, but for this year, I don't think it's worth it.
clyde (decatur): What's your rosiest outlook for Nicasio?
Derek Carty: Rosiest? Best pitcher on the Rockies, top 35 SP in the NL. 200 IP, 3.50 ERA. I like Nicasio.
JayT (San Francisco): I've got Hafner as my DH at the moment, but Both Smoak and Yonder Alonso have been dropped. Which of those three would you want?
Derek Carty: I'm assuming this is a relatively standard mixed league, 12 teams or so, in which case I'd grab Smoak. They're all close enough in value where you can gamble on his upside, and if he falls on his face, then you should still be able to get someone decent off the waiver wire.
NJTomatoes (Bend Oregon): Is Ryan Sweeney breaking out at age 27, or are we seeing an anomoly. Do you feel Valentine will continue to give him the same level of playing time he's been seeing?
Derek Carty: Anomaly. Sweeney is solid, especially in AL-only, but we're dealing with a guy who's boasting a .533 BABIP. Everything else is pretty much what we've come to expect, so the BA will come down. He'll play for the time being, but Ross will cut in when Crawford comes back, and Ryan Kalish could well overtake both of them by mid-season once he gets healthy.
Mike W (Chicago): Last year Greinke pitched backwards a lot - nibbled early with breaking stuff, got behind, had to come in with his fastball - BOOM! This year he's pitching like he has a brain. Cy. Young.
Derek Carty: Not sure if that's really a question, but yeah. I love Greinke :) http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=16138
Matt (NY): How important is a batting order? Besides the first inning players are not getting up in the spot you want them in anyway.
Derek Carty: From a real-life perspective, it's not as important as most casual fans assume. From a fantasy perspective, it's potentially very important since things like RBIs and Runs matter. I avoided Tyler Pastornicky this year because, as a speed-first kind of guy, I didn't want any part of him batting 8th in front of the pitcher since he's not going to run as much as you'd like.
GBSimons (Boise, ID): Will Andres Torres be back around the time his 15-day DL stint ends?
Derek Carty: From what we've heard, he could be, but it's far from assured. More likely he spends an extra week or two on the DL.
Bleacher Bum (Wrigley): Is Marlon Byrd done?
Derek Carty: No, I don't think so. I like Byrd and would buy low now if possible in NL-only leagues.
Matthew (Vancouver): Does Myers have a chance to make it up to the Royals this year, and if so, how good could he be?
Derek Carty: I wouldn't expect it in the first half, but it's possible we could see him in the second-half if there's room for him, or at least as a September call-up. His long-term upside is higher than his short-term since he hasn't shown a lot of power yet (though scouts think it will come), but he could still be a valuable AL-only player if he somehow managed to find full-time ABs in August.
Mike W (Chicago): I have a very good AL team this year but need a 2nd closer. Should I trade Napoli - one of three catchers I own - for Santiago, or Broxton, or Johnson, or Rodney, or Nathan? Or nobody, but closers are gold in this league (trust me).
Derek Carty: I have no problem trading for closers, but Napoli is your best catcher, so I'd try one of your other two, especially if you're shooting for a lower-level closer like most of these guys. My order: Nathan, big gap, Johnson, Santiago, Broxton, Rodney.
Sam (Ottawa): Does Bard eventually wind up back in the bullpen?
Derek Carty: Cherington and Valentine seem to be divided on this matter, and especially with the way the Sox are playing, Cherington certainly seems to have the most leverage now. I guess Bard sticks around for a while, but if he has a few more bad starts, he could wind up back in the bullpen. I'd think he gets another month, and I think he'll be fine by then.
Francois (Toronto): Mike Trout is giving the Angels every reason to call him up, while Bourjos is batting .214 and Wells is batting .167 (surprising no one). The call up in inevitable. You've answered this months back, but Trout goes to LF for the Angels (long-term), right?
Derek Carty: Yes, I believe Bourjos is the better CF, so I believe they're better off with Trout in LF unless Bourjos gets dealt. I don't know if a call-up is necessarily imminent, but the Angels will surely try to find a way to work him in if things continue in this direction.
Anthony Bass (Saint Diego): Could I surprise this year?
Derek Carty: Sorry, but no. Not a lot of upper-level pitching experience, crappy as a reliever last year, and I don't like his stuff. Not a guy I'll even bid a dollar for in NL-only unless I'm just looking for a spot-starter with a great matchup of a week.
GBSimons (Boise, ID): How many starts for a pitcher are enough for owners to start panicking?
Derek Carty: You really need to take it on a case-by-case basis. If there's something that looks wrong mechanically, then you can panic immediately. A guy like Lincecum whose velocity is down, maybe you don't need to panic, but you need to reevaluate a bit immediately. A guy who's just had a couple of poor start peripherally but whose mechanics and stuff looks ok, then ride it out into next month at least. This article might also be useful for you: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14293
NJTomatoes (Oregon): My #4 OF is Dexter Fowler. Considering swapping him out for the following waiver wire options. H2H league, speed not as valuable, keeper value irrelevant.
Jordan Schafer, Juan Rivera, josh reddick, Alex Presley, Dayan viciedo, or Eric Thames.
Derek Carty: Yeah, if speed is devalued, I like Viciedo's power potential, Thames should post a solid average with a little power, Presley could hit for a good average and score runs leading off.
Mike W (Chicago): Whom does Bauer replace in the Diamondbacks' rotation, and when? Whom does Skaggs replace in the Diamondbacks' rotation, and when?
Derek Carty: Collmenter once the league catches up with him, and then if someone gets injured. Failing that, maybe Saunders (he's not very good). Bauer and Skaggs will need to impress in the minors, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them both in the rotation by the end of the season, with the first possibly coming up in May or June.
Andrew (Montreal): Can Duffy turn into a solid starter this year?
Derek Carty: Absolutely. Love the stuff, just needs to improve his control a bit. We've said that about a lot of pitchers over the years (Jonathan Sanchez, anyone?), but there's a lot to like about him.
LoyalRoyal (Kansas): Vernon Wells... One more year in the sun - OR - trade him as soon as he hits a hot streak before Trout steals his AB's?
Derek Carty: I have a hard time seeing Trout overtaking him completely as long as he's playing fairly well, but if he goes on a hot streak, you could certainly see what you can get for him. He should be decent on his own merits, but there is some PT risk and he is aging, so keep your ears open.
Richard (Toronto): When do the Royals wake up and bring up Giavotella?
Derek Carty: Hopefully very soon. His demotion came as a surprise to me. I don't think he should have been sent down to begin with. As long as he hits at Triple-A, I could see him recalled within a month, especially if Getz and Yuny play like Getz and Yuny.
MickeyRivers (Trenton): Would you take Adam LaRoche over Alonso or Gamel?
Derek Carty: I'll take a healthy Adam LaRoche over both for this year. Obviously there's no guarantee of that, but I'd take the chance, especially in a mixed league.
Anthony Bass (Saint Diego): Last year Bass held opponents to a .236/.321/.333 line averaging an xbh allowed per every 19.8 PA. Crappy?
Derek Carty: He also struck out 4.5 per nine and walked 3.9 per nine. As a reliever. Yes, crappy is probably an understatement.
Christopher (Tennessee): Why can't baseball have automated balls and strikes? Umpires have outlived their usefulness in this regard. Personal strike zones are not colorful; they're annoying, disrupting, and unfair. Even a crabby traditionalist like me can see how much better this would make the game.
Derek Carty: Try convincing the umpire union of this. Sure, it makes sense in theory, but there's a lot of red tape that would have to be dealt with, plus pitch-tracking isn't perfect yet. I'm not the best person to question about this, as (primarily) a fantasy analyst, but I don't see this happening anytime soon.
adambennett (Spring Green): How can Matt Kemp's OBP be less than his BA?
Derek Carty: OBP and BA use different denominators. BA uses AB while OBP uses AB+BB+HBP+SF. In a small sample, a sac fly can make this happen if the batter hasn't drawn a walk (like Kemp).
Anthony Bass (Saint Diego): He is starting for SD tonight. Hope you tune in.
Derek Carty: Best of luck to Mr. Bass, but I'm not holding my breath. I don't really see his stuff as major-league rotation caliber.
Marissa (New York): At what point of the season can we say it's no longer a small sample size? 200 PA's for a batter and 100 Innings for a starter?
Derek Carty: There is no magical point, but you can read these articles I wrote last year for some discussion on this (and for the kinds of thresholds you're looking for):
Andrew Stoeten (drunkjaysfans.com): Any chance my Jays sneak into the playoffs this season?
Derek Carty: Certainly a chance of it. That is a ridiculously tough division to try to sneak into the playoffs in, but they definitely have a chance.
Amsterdam (The Netherlands): With Latos second straight shaky start, how do you project him to finish the year, numbers-wise?
Derek Carty: Worse than his ADP indicated. Not a big Latos fan this year. That park shift is SCARY. ERA above 4.00.
Derek Carty: Thanks for joining me today, guys! I'm sure I'll be back to chat some more sometime soon. Best of luck this season!