Archive for the ‘Spring Training’ Category

With spring training winding down, teams are scrambling to finalize their rosters to “Go North” for the upcoming season.  Likewise, fantasy owners have to make decisions on keepers, and who to target based on what has taken place in the Grapefruit and Cactus league action.

This brings me to the annual “who are these guys” list of players from the spring who have performed well in camp and are not really household names:

  • Jeremy Reed 391OBP .525SLG .377AVG
  • Ryan Roberts 621OBP .674SLG .512AVG
  • Nick Evans 388OBP .435SLG .339AVG
  • Chris Denorfia 451OBP ,600SLG .422AVG
  • Wilson Valdez 426OBP ,500SLG .380AVG
  • Jonathan Herrera 436OBP ,592SLG .367AVG
  • Albert Gonzalez 392OBP ,396SLG .354AVG
  • John Mayberry 355OBP ,625SLG .286AVG
  • Aaron Cunningham 373OBP ,565SLG .326AVG
  • Brandon Boggs 322OBP ,434SLG .264AVG
  • Daniel Descalso362OBP ,455SLG .318AVG
  • Zack Cozart417OBP ,576SLG .394AVG

Roster depth charts and spreadsheet from mlbdepthcharts.com

Here is Astros projected lienup.

This post great sampling on the best box scores .

Relief pitching tiers. [more]



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I have written before that I am a fan of Jordan Schafer. As is Bobby Cox. It seems we should hold off judgment (i.e. Rosenthal) on Schafer until this story plays out. However, there is  a revealing piece from Schafer’s father:

  • I want so bad to clear things up, and I want so bad for Jordan to clear things up,” said his father, David Schafer, a Florida businessman. “But unfortunately the powers that be say not to say anything. I want so bad to straighten this thing out, I just can’t say. … I don’t know what to do. He’s in a bad spot. It’s not the way it seems
  • A baseball official confirmed the investigation. There was no positive drug test — baseball doesn’t recognize any test for HGH as reliable (though the World Doping Agency says there is one). The official would say only that there are other “non-analytical” means of establishing guilt, including possession of a drug
  • Jordan Schafer changed his cellphone number Tuesday and was instructed by an attorney not to talk about the charge that he used HGH or about the suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig’s office.
  • It’s killing him not to be able to say anything,” his father said. “It’s killing me. I don’t even go online because I don’t want to read it. He said the same thing — he usually goes online, but he said, ‘Dad, I don’t even want to read that stuff.
  • He was willing to take a blood test, give them hair samples, willing to do anything he could
  • Because Schafer is not yet on the Braves’ 40-man major league roster and not a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association, he doesn’t have the powerful union for support.
  • There is a suspension appeal process in the minor leagues. It’s not like in the majors, where cases go to an independent arbiter.
  • It is unclear whether Schafer will remain in Mississippi with the M-Braves. “We’re checking on the specifics of what he can and can’t do,” said Kurt Kemp, Braves director of player development. Kemp said Schafer was not currently with the team.
  • There are questions, but even team officials have not been able to get complete answers. Schafer was advised not to discuss matters with anyone.

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One of the interesting things about spring training is the old statement that spring numbers do not matter. We are told to not use spring statistics as a measure of success in the regular season. I can partially buy into that statement. But, why is it that position battles are won or lost based on how each of the players perform in spring game action against lesser talent. Also, the players who are competing are not locked in a competition that is entirely equal playing field . For example, one player may be facing Jake Peavy in game action and does not get his hits off of him. Where as, another batter may face the guy who is a minor league pitcher and takes him deep. How can you compare performance between the two. Additionally, with spring there is a small sample size. Thus, the correction factor that a batter makes over the course of the season does not come into play much in the spring. So, the guy who is hot right from the start may not be the best suited player for the position over the long season. In other words, the team who has a player who makes adjustemnts to get out of a cold streak might be better overall than the player who temporarily is experiencing success.

So what I am saying here is buyer beware. If you are making your fantasy decisions based on the hot players from the Cactus and Graipfruit, you may want to go with that information along with the players track records. Also, General Managers throughout baseball have a tough job deciphering thru the spring information. The astute GM will base his player evaluation only partially on spring data. They must also factor in if a player is dealing with an injury, or if the player is experimenting with something new that he would rarely try in regular season.

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I know I have heard the tune over and over that Spring training numbers do not matter. But, many roster decisions are determined by how many of these players perform in the Cactus or the Grapefruit league.  There are players in camps now that are turning heads and forcing many GMs to rethink their final rosters.

Callix Crabbe – Padres : “Crabbe was a Rule 5 Draft pick for the Padres last December, plucked from the Brewers’ system, where he spent his six-year professional career. He could be a valuable asset to the Padres, with the ability to play multiple positions in both the infield and the outfield, having played in 11 games at shortstop, five in the outfield, two at third base, and one each at second, first and DH this spring”

Eugenio Velez – Giants : “Infielder Eugenio Velez, who admittedly needs work defensively, is batting .321 with a majors-high 10 steals in 13 attempts and a team-high 11 runs and two triples.

Micah Hoffpauir – Cubs : “The time is now for Micah Hoffpauir, and he is making the most of it… So far this spring he has been working out mainly at first base. In recent years, he has been played in the outfield. Hoffpauir likes first base, but would be happy to make the roster to get time in the big leagues.

Reggie Abercrombie -Astros: “in his first season in Houston, is second in the league this spring with eight steals. Bourn is right behind him with seven.

Jorge Cantu – Marlins: “but they also can’t ignore Cantu’s offense this spring. He is batting .457 with two homers and 10 RBI. Going into Wednesday, Cantu led National League hitters with 21 hits. New York’s Angel Pagan was second with 20.

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The year was 2002, I was attending my first Devil Rays Spring Training in St. Petersburg, Florida . I was watching the Devil Ray players come through the gate from the players area. At the time I barely knew any of these young players. An older gentleman I met that day was from New York and he knew all the players names. He said he had watched many of these young players come through Hudson Valley, the class A farm club for the Devil Rays minor league system. I explained how I was from the Raleigh-Durham which in the past few years had switched from being affiliated with the Braves to the Devil Rays. The one name I remembered that the man shouted out was, “Hey Rocco”. He told me this player was a future star for Rays and would one day be occupying the Rays outfield for years to come.

That summer of 2002 Baldelli at the age of 20 hit his way throughout the Rays minor league system. He started in High A Ball in California, then got promoted to Orlando in the Southern League where he continued to hit, and finally got promoted to the Rays AAA Durham Bulls.


With Lou Piniella heading up the Devil Rays in 2003, Rocco had a nice spring. With Carl Crawford winning the LF job, and Baldelli winning the CF job, the future seemed bright. That summer Baldelli went on to have a great start of his career. He was hitting over .300 and they were comparing him to a young Joe Dimaggio. The comparison to the Hall Of Fame hitter who has the record of hitting in 56 consecutive games was never a fair one. Especially, one who was just trying to make a name for himself. But, soon all of baseball knew about Rocco Baldelli.

The freak basketball injury the off-season of 2004, led to missing first what was projected as a half a season. Then, he ended up missing the entire season. Then came the hamstring injuries, a tweak here, and so on.

In the sad series of events this spring, Rocco was out. We heard rumors last week there may be a serious career ending condition. Nobody would talk about his condition. Even Rocco denied it.

Now the word today is that Baldelli will start the year on the DL list with an unknown condition that leaves him feeling extremely fatigued after short workout. Rocco is out indefinitely. Rocco says this is not retirement. We don’t know if we will ever see Rocco in a baseball uniform again. At the age of 26, with all the physical talent in the world when healthy, we’re pulling for you Rocco!

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NL Leaders

Braun, Mil.                     3
De Aza, Fla.                    3
Hawpe, Col.                    3

Braun, Mil.                     9
Cabrera, Cin.                   9
Hawpe, Col.                     9

Stolen Bases
Velez, S.F.                     6
Bourn, Hou.                     4
Milledge, Was.                  4

Ed. Gonzalez, S.D.          1.154
Headley, S.D.               1.125

Velez, S.F.                     8
Anderson, Atl.                  7

Sosa, NY-N                   0.00
A. Miller, Fla.              2.00
Jimenez, Col.                3.86
Wells, Col.                  4.00
Mock, Was.                   4.05

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We are already past “Pitchers and Catchers”, and the exhibition games for the 2008 baseball season are underway. Its that time of the year that baseball fantasy owners are monitoring very closely what is going on in the Cactus League in Arizona, and the Grapefruit league in Florida.

One of the better blogs I came across this off-season is called Greener On the Other Side where they offer Objective Insight to Sabermetrics and Strategy In Fantasy Baseball. Brett Greenfield and I participated in a blog exchange of questions and answers. My responses to his questions appear at Greener on the Other Side. Brett’s responses to my questions appear below in bold.

1. Just like in Major League baseball, after a while you can recognize
the type of players or strategies certain GMs favor. In fantasy baseball keeper leagues, what type of patterns among other fantasy owners do you see pretty often?

Many owners fail to realize mistakes they’ve made. We all do it. For example, those who drafted or kept guys like Alex Gordon or Delmon Young last year are highly likely to keep them again this year.

An intelligent owner cuts bait on his these players and goes for the certain thing. Nobody knew Ryan Braun would be as productive as he was last year and become a first round pick this year. Sometimes it takes guys like Young and Gordon time to develop and other times they never do.

So a trend I see all too often is holding on to a player just because you thought highly of him in the year before. I also see rosters that have players in common. There is usually the owner who drafts all young players and not enough proven veterans to contend. Every team needs a Todd Helton. Other teams only take the older guys who have “slipped” to them because other owners think they are too old to draft in a “keeper league.”

Finding a happy medium usually results in success. While in a keeper league everyone needs to remember that your primary goal is to win this year not in 2010.

2. The saves and stolen bases always seem to be the hardest categories
to fill out on your fantasy roster with. Do you suggest going after the high fliers in those categories and having to pay for it, or go after with several cheaper players that get you the stats collectively?

Saves and stolen bases are the hardest to fill out. This is the case mainly because the players who provide these two categories don’t provide you with any help in other categories. Closers for example help your ERA and WHIP yet only give you that help in about a third of the innings of a starting pitcher.

Even the best closers who strike out 100 still give you a total as low as Chien-Ming Wang. I prefer landing cheaper sources of saves such as Todd Jones and Kevin Gregg. In such a volatile position I hate to use a high draft pick on a player who only provides me with 3 categories at most. Stacking up on high-end SP’s who can get you help in four categories and then drafting late closers works best in my opinion.

The same can be said for stolen bases when a large majority of your SB guys include Figgins, Pierre and Taveras. They rarely provide you with much help elsewhere.

That being said for my first two rounds in the draft I try to target players like David Wright, Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Alfonso Soriano, etc.

A guy like Ryan Howard in the first round gives you zero SB and his .261 AVG is a lot more real than his .300 AVG from the year before.

In targeting SB I prefer to get an all-around player and when targeting saves I prefer to wait until rounds 17-20 and grab lesser values closers much like Al Reyes and Kevin Gregg last year.

3. It seems you always hear to spend a certain percentage of your team
on offense and certain percentage on pitching. Why is it that offense is always at a premium percentage of your overall budget when both offense and pitching both contribute to five categories?

Generally speaking, offense usually comprises a larger portion of a fantasy roster. In addition, hitters suffer far less injuries than pitchers and are more reliable because of that. Lastly, even the best pitchers like Peavy and Santana don’t provide you with 5 categories since they won’t be getting any saves. A hitter like David Wright provides above average assistance in all 5 categories.

So in rotisserie leagues, its always worth spending the big bucks on the guys who provide you with help in the most categories as possible.

4. We have seen some teams make bold moves with a player they acquired
this off-season either through trades or free agent signings. Which move in particular strikes you as a move that we can call the “Fools Gold” transaction of 2008?

The fool’s gold transaction of the 2008 offseason was the White Sox and A’s trade involving Nick Swisher and Gio Gonzalez. Last year, Gio led the minor leagues in strikeouts and sported a 3.18 ERA to go along with a 1.15 WHIP. He was blocked in Chicago by a slew of pitchers that they’ve had including Vazquez, Garland, Contreras, Buehrle, Danks and Floyd. Now moving from an extreme hitters park to a pitcher’s paradise with a great chance to log 150+ innings, expect him to be the “Fools Gold” of 2008 as Billy Beane has done it again.

5. The Houston Astros Roy Oswalt was one of the top pitchers in many
draft boards last season. Tell me why I should avoid or go after
Houston Astros Pitcher Roy Oswalt in 2008?

Roy Oswalt has seen his stats decrease over the last few years. His strikeouts have decreased at a clip of 20 per year over the last 4 seasons and his strikeout rate dropped to a career low 6.5/9. His ERA, while still at 3.18 has risen over the last three years and his WHIP was a career high last year. For those interested in Sabermetrics, Oswalt’s Component ERA was 3.72 and his DIPS ERA was 3.51, both higher than his 3.18 ERA looks on the surface. His two back to back 20-win seasons are in the past as his run support has dwindled over the last two seasons. Avoid Roy Oswalt.

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