All That Glitters..

Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness must have been talking about the Detroit Tigers. It’s an early season, but already we’ve seen the Kansas City Royals and the Baltimore Orioles toppling good teams. That being said, it’s an applicable fantasy lesson that the season is young and not to overthink.

Sometimes the long ball is what dooms a pitcher. John Danks and Boof Bonser were two particular guys this seemed to hurt last year. Javier Vasquez, notoriously talented but always prone to the home run, put together a decent year last year but still allowed 29. Can pitchers put together a good year while still yielding a number of home runs? Well, it was a disturbing uptick, but Johan Santana allowed 33 home runs last year while posting a 3.33 ERA. Those 33 were third-most for a pitcher in 2007.

Sometimes just looking at the ERA and WHIP and wondering what’s going on is simply not enough. I’ll use Rays’ starter Andy Sonnanstine as a prime example. Good minor league stats, and definitely an above-average pitcher who bases his success on control more than stuff. I advised a friend in our league to pick him up when he asked for advice a week ago, while another friend who owned him last year disagreed. His reason? Sonnanstine was simply home run prone. Already this year, Sonnanstine has given up one in each of his two starts. So looking at the box score tonight, I see Sonnanstine was yanked (no pun intended) facing New York after 7 ER in 3 1/3 innings. Sure enough, he allowed 3 HR in the first two innings. It’s just a lesson that you can’t always rely on the basic statistics that are available, and sometimes even a closer look at a box score can reveal what’s holding a pitcher back from taking the next step toward being more useful in your lineup.

  • Speaking of things that aren’t as they appear, David Ortiz is one player that a lot of experts in the industry seem to have mixed opinions on. Some analysts made note that he’s trying to generate all his power from the upper body in some of his swings without much else, and it’s the reason some of those long doubles or homers are falling short. Personally I liked Skip Bayliss analysis, saying that he may have some Big Papi weeks, but not a Big Papi year.
  • As I’ve written this post, I’m liking more and more the fact that I spent $5 on Rafeal Betancourt in my AL-Only league. Not so much because he’s looked like the elite reliever he has been over the past few years, but because, if you can believe it, Joe Borowski continues to look worse and worse. He picks up his second loss of the season with a blown save tonight, clinched emphatically by a two-run shot from Manny Ramirez. Borowski never had an electric fastball, but at least before it sat in the high 80’s. That fastball is essentially a deadball as of late, clocking in at 83 or 84. The time on Borowski as a closer who can barely get the job done seems to be expiring, and owners will want to make sure that Betancourt, or possibly even Masa Kobayashi in a deep league if you’re desperate for saves.
  • Not simply from a fantasy standpoint, but in terms of real baseball impact, I wasn’t big on the White Sox rotation at all last year. Prior to Spring Training, I must admit nothing had changed this year either. Javier Vasquez was a notorious tantalizier, and past he and Buehrle, what was there? But John Danks looked like he might finally be putting it all together, and that 12-6 curveball that Gavin Floyd used to become an invaluable prospect in the Phillies farm system was part of an arsenal that made these guys look like good back-end rotation guys. While Floyd has had a memorable outing already, Danks has not. I would be patient, and throw him out there a few more times, even if you’re looking for a spot start. I think he’ll correct his woes sooner than later.
  • Everyone is shocked over Nate McClouth’s start, and no doubt he’s overachieving; the guy has never been a solid average hitter. Here’s what MLB.com projected the Pirates’ CF for in their preview: .273/85/16/55/26. That doesn’t sound so unreasonable, but I think closer to 20/30 is going to be spot on for McClouth. Sometimes the only thing from keeping a guy who has the talent to put up better numbers, for example Kevin Youkilis before he got the 3B job in Boston, is opportunity. He’s not going to get you a lot of RBI’s, and that average will come down. If he does manage to hit over .270 with consistency, a guy who can hold a job like this could be a low No. 3 outfielder in mixed leagues.

Should be back tomorrow or Thursday with some pickup advice and plenty of other goodies.

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