Bodhizefa's Tiers of Starting Pitching - 2010
Tiers of Starting Pitching -- 2010 - 02-20-2010, 03:49 AM
Gentlemen (and ladies, if you’re out there… yes, that includes you, Doug),
It’s been my pleasure to bring you my Tiers for 2010. What I find interesting after doing this for so long is that every year I realize just how much I don’t know about the vast world of pitchers. There are plenty of analysts out there who have a much more comprehensive database, better knowledge of statistics, scout contacts in the business, and better food than microwavable Hot Pockets to fuel their mission. But by God, those #######s charge a lot of money, so I like to help out where I can for the majority of the crowd who frequents these boards. If I happen to unearth a gem here or there through my work, awesome. And if I happen to be totally wrong about the guy, I’m sure it was Todd Zola’s fault (way to go, Todd).
In the years since I began this pet project, we've seen the advent of the amazing www.FanGraphs.com website. If you aren’t a regular frequenter of their site, I encourage you to dig your heels in and get a learnin’. They’re providing some cutting edge statistics for everyone for the fantastic price of free. And as per usual, many thanks to Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, ESPN, Mastersball, RotoJunkie, Gatorade, the cookies my sister made me the other day, and my friend Rio’s mom for all the help they’ve given me in the past few weeks in writing this thing. I’d also like to thank Dusty Baker for fueling the fire in my belly to start this thing way back in the day due to his handling of certain pitchers that shall remained unnamed. Dusty Baker, you can die and go to hell. (No, I don’t hold grudges)
Lastly, I’ve included the Average Draft Position (Mixed League) in parentheses for each player and occasionally commented on them. I used this instead of FIP this year because it seems more relevant to what we’re all trying to find – value. So, without further ado…
Tiers of Starting Pitching – 2010
Tier 1 – Timmah’s Tier
1. Tim Lincecum (ADP: 12) – He is in a class all his own. Period. The End.
Tier 2 – The Superstars
2. Roy Halladay (24) – One of the best pitchers in baseball moves to the NL (iNferior League), and he can’t even get top billing? Any conspiracy theorists out there wondering if MLB mandated that Toronto send him to the NL just so Lincecum wouldn’t win his 3rd Cy in a row and subsequently bust the arbitration system all straight to hell? Yeah, me neither.
3. Zack Greinke (26) – He was amazing last year, but let’s take a moment to be realistic. He plays for the Royals, who apparently think Yuniesky Betancourt and Willie Bloomquist are an excellent middle infield. When did Bill Bavasi become chief advisor to Dayton Moore? Considering how interested Greinke is in sabermetric statistics, I’m surprised he hasn’t pulled a Billy Cole from “The Last Boy Scout”, drawing a Colt 1911 from under his cup and shooting Betancourt through his glove, exclaiming, “Now you’ve got a real excuse, #######!”
4. Dan Haren (42) – I wrote last year that Haren may actually be a better pitcher than his counterpart in the rotation, Brandon Webb, despite Webb always getting more press. Well, that’s not a problem any more. My only beef with Haren is that he’s simply not as good in Head-to-Head leagues since he generally sees a decline in productivity in the second half.
5. CC Sabathia (28) – The best part about new Yankee Stadium’s homer happiness is that it doesn’t affect Sabathia nearly as much since he’s a southpaw. Without even knowing it, the Yankees lucked into probably the best starter for their ballpark in the entirety of baseball (okay, luck and spending $160 million may not be the best bedfellows, but still, it is an entertaining thought). Sabathia’s pretty amazing – three years of 255+ innings (including playoffs), and he’s still going. Side Note: Isn’t it interesting that in almost any other sport, having a figure like Sabathia’s would instantly preclude a bevy of articles questioning his stamina and work ethic, yet in baseball, being a big fatty is often seen as a positive? I love baseball.
6. Felix Hernandez (31) – Here’s the real issue with what was Felix’s supposed coming out party. I think a decent part of his awesomeness in ’09 can actually be attributed to the super duper defense in Seattle. And I think another part of the “breakout” had to do with Felix getting lucky against left-handers with homeruns. Do I think Felix actually learned how to pitch instead of just throwing really hard? Yes, I do. So it’s the combination of the defense plus Felix’s awareness of how to pitch with that type of defense behind him that makes me recommend him highly this year. But I have my doubts as to whether he’s a full-blown, legitimate every-year-with-a-shot-of-an-under-3.00 ERA type of pitcher yet. Thus, he’s the lowest ranked of the 2nd Tier. The good news? He’ll be 24 this season, and every single year I’ve watched him he’s learned something new and has improved his game. Is the learning curve done? I’m betting no.
Tier 3 – The Studs
7. Cliff Lee (54) – Lee moves to a team that arguably has the best defense in baseball and is in a park that hinders right-handed power almost to an extreme. Any regression that Lee sees in HR/FB should be easily balanced out by an outperformance of FIP due to defense and the park’s natural suppression of RH power. Also, I think he’s a bit more dependable peripherally than the next few guys (not by much, but he’s shown the most stability of this tier in my opinion).
8. Johan Santana (45) – His peripherals have gone down steadily over the years, and as much as I love him from a personal standpoint, Santana has a low probability of ever becoming vintage Santana again. So what does that leave us with? A very good pitcher who should decline slowly but steadily each year for a while. I’ll take that. Gladly, in fact. But don’t be the guy who’s trying to relive 2005 over and over and over, okay?
9. Justin Verlander (47) – Was he one of the best pitchers in baseball last year? Absolutely. Am I worried that his velocity spike is unsustainable? Absolutely. And to me, that’s the biggest reason for his awesomeness. His contact % went from a career rate of over 80% to a much more star-like 76%. It will also be interesting to see how two new youngsters play defense behind him (A.Jackson and S.Sizemore) as both of them are replacing above average defenders at their respective positions. Jackson in particular should be of interest to Verlander fans given his high flyball %. He’s a possible Tier 2 guy for sure, but I think there’s enough risk involved (i.e. probable regression) to where we have to knock him down slightly. A good argument could even be made that he’s better than Felix Hernandez. However, the defense and the ballpark behind him are not better than Seattle’s, and that has significance in this whole projection thing.
10. Jon Lester (59) – Look, I was dead wrong about him. How in the hell could anyone have guessed that Lester was going to see yet another spike in velocity? He was quite awesome last year, and the defense behind him is stellar in 2010. So why isn’t he a Tier 2? Much like Verlander, I’m worried that velo spike isn’t sustainable (Ervin Santana 2008 vs. 2009 comes to mind as an example). And with a bit of a drop in velo comes a drop in strikeouts and overall effectiveness. Your mileage may vary, but I can’t see ranking him above anyone on this list, especially given his divisional competition.
11. Chris Carpenter (73... no, this is not his age) – He’s older than when he was a fantasy horse in the mid-2000’s, and I think it’s probable that he won’t pitch 230+ innings. Still, he’s one of the smartest pitchers in the game right now, and he’s still got the toolset to use those smarts to their fullest.
12. Josh Johnson (66) – Another guy with a velo spike, but to me, his seems a tad more sustainable. Still regress his numbers a bit, but this is the talent level he flashed in 2006 before he got hurt. I find it baffling, though, that Florida pushed him to 209 innings after a season in which he only notched barely above 100, though. Does this organization never learn from their mistakes on handling young arms? Thusly, he comes with risk, but he may be the most affordable player in this tier given the lack of press he generally receives.
13. Josh Beckett (78) – Have I mentioned yet how awesome the Red Sox defense is this year? Beltre at 3rd + Cameron in Center + Ellsbury in Left = very good for Josh Beckett.
14. Cole Hamels (102) – I’m sure most of you have read where his peripherals were almost exactly the same last year as in years prior. They would be right. Hamels’ FIP’s the last 3 years? 3.83, 3.72, and 3.72. His BABIP will regress this year, and he should be fine again. Still, after being pretty lucky in ’07 and ’08, I’d look for more of a mid-3’s ERA and 1.20ish WHIP than the lower luck-driven numbers in years past.
15. Adam Wainwright (56) – Wainwright is more luck than skill, and I am aghast that he gets as much press as he does. He’s not an ace, but he constantly gets billed as one. His strikeout rate last year increased dramatically despite his contact % barely going up a percentage point. Expect that to regress to the low to mid 7’s. I anticipate an ERA closer to the mid to upper 3’s than anything in the 2’s this year.
16. Ricky Nolasco (106) – What a weird weird year for him last year. He had an almost disastrously flukey ERA while almost all his peripherals were even better than his breakout season. I’m willing to bet he’ll be on almost all my teams this year as you can net him later in the draft while stocking up on one extra solid hitter versus the rest of the guys in this tier.
17. Clayton Kershaw (96) – This guy is a bulldog. I love his charisma and attitude and demeanor on the mound. Even when he doesn’t have his control, he’s still fighting through it, trying to make adjustments. He’ll definitely give up more homers this year, but he’s got one of the best young lefty arms in baseball.
Tier 4 – The Really Good Pitchers (i.e. guys that are either injury risks or are technically #2 starters, but their teams probably call them an “ace”)
18. Matt Cain (92) – One of those guys who always manages to outproduce his peripherals in some way, shape or form. There are names for people like that in sabermetrics. They’re called #######s. So here’s to you, Matt Cain. You’re one heck of an #######.
19. Wandy Rodriguez (116) – He’s good, though I was really surprised when I was going over his bio and realized he was 31 years old. Also… “Magic Wandy”? That’s the best his fans could come up with? Seriously? Let’s just move on.
20. John Lackey (118) – I love that Red Sox fans are fine with owning Lackey because “he’s fine as a #3 starter.” Red Sox fans, you can go to hell. And say hey to Dusty for me while you’re down there, too.
21. Yovani Gallardo (87) – 2009’s version of Gallardo is why we play the game on the field and not on a spreadsheet (or on MLB ’09 The Show, where Gallardo pitched three no-hitters for me). That he had a pretty sizeable control problem in ’09 went beyond head-scratching to a bit of a shocker for me. And then I went back and realized it was his first full season in the big leagues despite my notion that he had been around for a few years now. In any case, his stuff looked quite good last year, but he had a lot of rust to iron out. I think the kid gloves come off for Gallardo this year, and he moves towards becoming one of the better pitchers nobody knows about.
22. Jake Peavy (84) – April 5th: The day Jake Peavy realizes he’s not in Petco anymore. April 30th: The day Kenny Williams realizes how much of an impact Petco had on Peavy’s success. Look, I like Jake Peavy. I do. And I don’t mind Kenny Williams so much anymore. And Williams didn’t give up much in the way of talent to acquire Peavy. But what he did give up was a lot of money to a guy with a growing injury list and peripherals that were masked by the Michael Myers of all baseball masks – Petco Park. Peavy’s an interesting experiment, but on a team that thinks Carlos Quentin is a better option in right field than Andruw Jones, I’m probably not risking my fantasy season on Peavy being too awfully good. He is the very definition of high risk/high reward in 2010, so if you’ve already fallen behind by the time Peavy’s name pops up on your draft radar, well, may luck be your lady tonight.
23. Brandon Webb (123) – A bonafide ace when healthy, Webb is a pleasure to watch when on. His sinker baffles people to ground out weakly time and time again, and his curveball and change-up are both above average offerings at this point. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether he’ll be healthy in 2010, but he’s probably worth taking a risk on. I rank him right behind Peavy because Peavy’s already shown us he’s back (in some capacity). We’ll still waiting for Webb to do that.
24. Tommy Hanson (80) – Sexy. And probably worth the risk, too. Usually I worry about innings being a problem, but he threw close to 190 IP last year in total. Yeah, just go ahead and splurge.
25. James Shields (128) – Generally the best of the guys who have good control but not as much stuff, Shields had a bevy of bad luck last year in the BABIP department. As per usual, and with such a solid defense behind him, we should expect a regression towards the good. His peripherals remind me a little of Cole Hamels as he was lucky a couple years in a row, maybe got a little overrated going into 2009, and then was unlucky in a big way. I’m buying.
26. Chad Billingsley (121) – So he had a setback. So did Sylvester Stallone, and what helped him through it? Steroids! In all actuality, Bills’ peripherals stood fairly strong in 2010, but he didn’t continue his improvement in the control department. That’s going to be the difference between him being a good pitcher and a great one. I’m here to tell you I have no clue if he can do it. How’s that for “expert advice”?! He’s one of those guys that, if you need a burst of upside, you should roll the dice on him. Otherwise, there are other, fatter, and seemingly better pitchers that I would recommend.
27. Ubaldo Jimenez (103) – Do I really have a Rockies pitcher this high? And did I specifically save his ranking for when I was drinking? Yes and yes, thank you. Jimenez is a fascinating pitcher, and not just because he’s the hardest throwing starter in baseball either. He was a bit of a walking contradiction last year. His HR/FB ratios and BABIP were low despite being in Coors. The BABIP can partially be explained by the good infield defense (that almost makes up for the fact that the outfield defense on the Rockies is pretty crappy right now). But can Jimenez keep that HR rate down? And can he keep up his improvement in control? I still get the feeling that he’s not really sure where his pitches are going, and I think it’s 50/50 as to whether he regresses as opposed to improves there. Control takes an awful lot of work, and you just never know which pitchers are going to put in that time. For now, I like those strikeouts but would probably expect regression in all other categories for Jimenez.
Tier 5 – Solid Gents (guys who maybe shouldn’t be at the top of your fantasy rotation (but are still good!)
28. Jair Jurrjens (136) – This is precisely the type of player you allow your dumbo casual leaguemates to draft and think they got a young “ace.” While Jurrjens is pretty good, his peripherals last year supported an ERA more akin to mid or high 3’s than the ridiculous 2.60 he put up. Not to mention the fact that the Braves’ defense was in the lower half of baseball last year and doesn’t project to be much better this season. Basically, I look at Jurrjens as a guy who’s probably mostly topped out and doesn’t have much upward projection at this point. Add that to the regression of his ERA toward a more FIP-happy 3.60ish range, and Jurrjens is a quality pitcher. But he’s no ace. UPDATE: His shoulder woes early on in camp allow me to drop him a couple spots without feeling too bad about myself.
29. Brett Anderson (161) – How much do I love Brett Anderson? Let me count the ways: 1) lefty, 2) sexy control, 3) I LOVE FATTIES! Seriously, though, there are enough questions about Anderson’s, um, interesting mid-season velo spike to warrant a bit of caution. He went from a cupcake on the mound to a dominatrix. Hell, he went from tossing 14 K’s and 8 BB’s in 23 innings in April to 3 walks in September against 26 strikeouts in the same number of innings. THREE WALKS! That’s almost as awesome as how chubby this kid’s chin is. Almost. No wonder all the scouts liked Cahill better – you can see his jawline, for christ’s sake.
30. Javier Vazquez (61) – I cannot stress enough what a negative difference it is for a good pitcher to go from the NL to the AL. Couple that with Vazquez moving from a pitcher’s park to a homerun haven, and I again see Vaz as having a tough go in the AL East. Vazquez’ lowest ERA in the AL in his career is 3.74. His average ERA in the AL in his four years spent there is 4.52. His average K/9 is 8.14. I’m not saying he’s going to be absolutely awful, but I don’t see this going well for his owners if they’re expecting anything close to ’09 levels of performance. Unless I get him for a major discount, Vazquez is on my no-fly zone for this season. (On ADP: There are an awful lot of people who are going to get badly burned this year.)
31. Jered Weaver (134) – Extreme flyball pitcher who now has a defense behind him of Abreu, an aging Hunter, and Juan Rivera with Matsui saying he wants to play the field some? I hope Weaver has a medicinal marijuana prescription to deal with the job-related stress there. Sheesh.
32. Ryan Dempster (165) – I had no idea he’d ever turn out to be good. It’s funny what time and hard work can do for a guy. I guess even the Cubs can’t screw everything up.
33. Roy Oswalt (158) – He’s no longer a fantasy ace, but Oswalt ain’t chopped liver either (and come to think of it, chopped liver really isn’t bad if it’s fried, so I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say other than Roy Oswalt is a fine pitcher. Why does chopped liver get such a bad rap anyway?) In fact, Oswalt is the perfect target because he’s unsexy these days as his luster has worn off and all he does is go out there and pitch well.
34. Matt Garza (124) – Maybe there’s a reason scouts said he was more of a #2 guy than a #1. Despite his stellar minor league stat record, Garza looks like he’s going to top out as a #2 or #3 starter. He’s still got some upside, especially control-wise, so let’s give him another season before we go labeling him this or that (look, I’m as guilty as the next guy, okay?!) His peripherals don’t look steady enough for me to prescribe a massive breakout, though.
35. Randy Wolf (176) – I’ve loved Wolf since his days with the Phillies, and I still love Randy Wolf (I think it’s the red facial hair). The Brewers’ stadium isn’t that egregiously different from the Dodgers, and their outfield defense has a chance to be a bit better than the Dodgers’ of ’09 depending entirely on Carlos Gomez. Still, even though Wolf is a flyball pitcher, the Brewers’ infield ‘D’ is somewhat questionable compared to L.A. With a regression to his ERA, I’d anticipate a number closer to 4.00 and a WHIP closer to 1.30. But the strikeouts should still be there. And the Wins. Gosh, Wolf is just a quality pitcher to own. Red facial hair men of the world unite!
36. Scott Baker (155) – I’d be interested if anyone in the Twins’ organization would admit to having a carbonite mold and assembly line where they make their pitchers to all be the same flyball, control, moderate strikeout type of pitcher that we’ve all come to know and love. No wonder Liriano keeps getting hurt. They tried to fit him in the carbonite mold, and it broke his arm! As with all of these types of pitchers, I like Baker. His ilk really helps in WHIP, moderately helps in K’s, and rarely hurts in ERA. It’s the perfect complement to a pitcher who might have a control problem.
37. John Danks (164) – A move to almost any other stadium would do the flyball pitcher wonders, but even in Chicago’s south side, he’s still a quality fantasy pitcher to own. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Danks yet, too.
38. Neftali Feliz (169) – I loved him last year, and I love him this year. He is dynamite. That said, I think there’s a chance we’re going a little too cuckoo for the Feliz Puffs right now. Fangraphs currently shows a fan projected ERA of 3.45, 129 K’s in 119 IP, and a 3.19 K/BB. I’m as optimistic as the next guy… well, actually, it appears that I’m not. I think those numbers are something like Feliz’ 99.9th percentile (to put this in BP speak) and are pretty far-fetched. I think he’s going to be a very special pitcher someday soon, but he’s got some very probable regression in K/9, BB/9, HR/FB, and BABIP coming his way in 2010. I’d be very happy with his numbers if he threw 150 IP with 135 K’s, a WHIP in the high 1.20’s and an ERA in the high 3’s. I think that would be something to get very excited about, actually.
39. Ted Lilly (154) – A perennial fave of mine, it pains me to look at the outfield defense the Cubbies have behind him. He’s also a bit of an injury risk coming after coming off of arthroscopic labrum surgery (he’s not expected to be ready by the beginning of the season). Yes, he was lucky last year. But the improved control over the last few years is real and sustainable to a degree. Don’t pass him up if he’s cheap enough. I don’t think he’ll disappoint. (UPDATE: Injuries will cost him some spots.)
Tier 6 – Steady Eddie’s
40. Rich Harden (200) - Dear Rich, brilliant move for you to raise your market value for next year by going to a pitcher’s park like Arlington. Sincerely, Seattle Fan. (Yes, Harden could be one of the very best pitchers in baseball at any given moment. It should be super interesting to see who throws more innings and K’s this year – Harden or Feliz).
41. Mark Buehrle (232) – Steady. You generally know what you’ll get from him sans ERA, which is totally defensive dependent for a guy like Buehrle. He’s not sexy at all, but you could do a lot worse.
42. Tim Hudson (199) – It’s interesting that both he and Derek Lowe are on the same team considering how similar they are at this point in style of attack. Much like with my account of Lowe, I have to downgrade Hudson a bit due to Atlanta’s poor infield defense. I think his FIP will probably be good, but his ERA might be in the low 4’s with a WHIP in the mid 1.3’s or possibly even higher. The big problem with having a crappy infield defense for a groundball hurler is that there are tons of singles given up. This drives up the BABIP and it also drives up the WHIP. Not good news for fantasy owners.
43. Aaron Harang (288) – I’m buying. He’s still got very solid peripherals, and if he could ever get out of homer haven Cincinnati, he’d be a fun pitcher all-around. If the Reds manage to deal him, bump him up a notch. If they don’t, just enjoy his K’s and WHIP and be annoyed by his inflated ERA.
44. Gavin Floyd (178) – I don’t care what you say, Gavin Floyd is a sham. Wait? What? He was good last year? Seriously? I am so bad at this pitcher projection thing, Jesus. I quit. (By the way, his curveball last year was pretty ridiculous. It’s crazy it took him five years to figure out how to throw it in the big leagues like all the scouts said he could so many years ago in the minors.)
45. A.J. Burnett (129) – Many overlooked him after his awful April last year, but Burnett actually improved after his initial break-in period at new Yankee Stadium. Surprisingly, his home splits were much better than his road splits. Still, he’s always had trouble with walks, and he’s unlikely to do anything other than hurt you in WHIP. So if the strikeouts are really worth it to the make-up of your team, he’s not a horrible risk, and he’ll net you some Wins. But I don’t like the Yanks’ defense and I don’t like that park for right-handers.
46. Max Scherzer (145) – So Arizona didn’t think he could last as a starter, huh. We shall see. His peripherals were tasty last year, and despite going to the AL, he should still be pretty good. I think his BABIP takes a big dive this year with the Tigers’ good infield defense behind him. Generally, this is the type of pitcher I would not want to bet against.
47. Francisco Liriano (217) – How much do you trust the Dominican League? Because if you trust their radar guns and the competition level, Liriano looked like he was up to his vintage tricks in January. I think it gets talked about less than it should, so I’ll bring it up for the third year in a row – Tommy John surgery isn’t always successful. Still, it would be a fantastic story if this guy could somehow navigate his career back to being one of the best pitchers in baseball. Also, it shows just how amazing he was in 2006 that we’re all still ranking him based on almost that alone.
48. Hiroki Kuroda (255) – Yes, have some. He may be an innings risk, but I think he’s above average in all categories (even K’s) when he’s on the mound.
49. Edwin Jackson (166) – I like him in the NL. It’s weird, this whole backlash that gets attached to a player who is obviously over-performing. Jackson was in over his head ERA-wise, but he still had some solid peripherals till he tired down the stretch. I like his chances in the much weaker NL. If he slips because of the overrated backlash, snag him up.
50. Scott Kazmir (174) – I’m not sure I see a return to his glory days, but a low 4’s ERA with good strikeout numbers and a not horrible WHIP is within his grasp. Still, I don’t like that Angel outfield, and Kaz is a pretty big flyball guy nowadays. Just be careful you don’t overbid.
51. Kevin Slowey (211) – Scott Baker v2.0. Or maybe version 0.9. Do the Twins have a factory for these guys or what?
52. Ben Sheets (222) – I think Sheets is more talented than some of the other guys in this Tier, but you know the deal with him – he’s injury prone. I think he’s an interesting gamble for the A’s, though, and I like him this year.
53. Carlos Zambrano (167) – He looked awful at the end of the year with his fastball having zero zip and Zambrano looking like he didn’t really care. I hope he can get back to being the greatly overrated yet still useful pitcher he’s always been, but we’ll see. I don’t anticipate much better than 4.0 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
54. David Price (171) – Price is disappointing on two fronts – both control as well as strikeout ability. If just one or the other were not so great, I’d be more apt to be excited about him. But when both of those categories are struggling, it’s hard to give a heavy endorsement on a guy. Do I like Price’s stuff? Sure. Would I look for improvement in one of the two categories in 2010 (probably strikeout rate)? Absolutely. But do I think Price can put it all together this year? Not really. The odds of him harnessing both of those cats is pretty low, and he’s also got the innings pitched problem to consider (he’s unlikely to go over 180).
55. Joe Blanton (275) – Let me get this straight. The Phils could have kept Cliff Lee for this season and dealt Blanton, but they dealt Lee and signed Blanton to an extension? I think Cupcake v1.0 is as good a 3rd/4th starter as any in baseball, but really? Really?! Anyway, rant over. So Blanton’s not a bad pitcher at all. He won’t really hurt you in any category in all likelihood, and if he can keep his strikeout rate up above 7, that’d be pretty swell. But I don’t expect him to do that. I’d calculate numbers like 4ish ERA, 1.3ish WHIP, and 145 K’s and be happy with it. (On ADP: Not too many believers around the drafting world, so I think there’s real value to be found here.)
Tier 7 – The Best of the Rest (i.e. guys probable to earn positive value)
56. Andy Pettitte (201) – He who crawled through a river of roid-smelling foulness and came out clean on the other side. But you’ll always be ugly, Andy. Always.
57. Jeff Niemann (212) – It was nice to see him succeed at the big league level after watching him pitch for a couple years in Durham. Still, he’s due for some regression as he was really lucky in terms of homers given up last year. I think he can improve a little in the strikeout department, but it won’t offset the likely uptick in homers coming his way. In other words, don’t expect quite as good of a sophomore season.
58. Derek Lowe (303) – You can probably bank on a near 4ish ERA, but the Braves don’t have a good infield defense, and that’s kindof a death knell for the likes of the groundball dominant Lowe. There’s some upside here to last year’s disaster, but he’s getting old and I’m not sure Frank Wren is smart enough to know how to surround a guy like Lowe. I am intrigued to see who wears out the infield defense first – Lowe or Hudson.
59. Ervin Santana (227) – The best example of why you can’t be too sure that a velocity spike will be sustainable from one year to the next. I like him for strikeouts, but I think anyone expecting a return to 2008 levels will probably be disappointed.
60. Jorge de la Rosa (183) – Jesus Hairy Christ, when did the Rockies get so many interesting pitchers?! Why are they making me go against my No Coor’s Never rule? It was such a simple rule, and I do like my simple pleasures. De la Rosa is almost the pitching equivalent of a slugger who hits .240. Sure, you want the HR’s/K’s, but can you handle the sink in AVG/WHIP?
61. Joba Chamberlain (195) – Who knows. Can he up the velo now that he’s used to the rotation? Or will the Yankees just jerk him around at this point? Your guess is as good as mine (and maybe better). In my opinion, I believe he’s probably better suited to start than Hughes at this point. So if you have to pick between them on draft day, I’d probably lean towards Joba.
62. Jonathan Sanchez (225) – He’s shown sustained skills for a few years now, so even if he doesn’t have the big breakout, he’s a useful pitcher in almost any format just for those K’s and 4ish ERA. But if he can figure things out for a full year like he did for most of the last two months of ’09… you’re gonna see some serious #####.
63. Johnny Cueto (218) – Cueto simply wasn’t the same pitcher in ’09 as he was in his rookie campaign. His fastball wasn’t quite as electric. His slider didn’t quite bite as hard. And upon notice of Satan to Pitchers in the dugout, I have concerns about Cueto’s frame and durability (and his hopefully Baker-proof insurance plan including mental health coverage, too). A part of me can already see Baker’s influence, and I want to run away. But a part of me remembers the arm I saw in 2009, and I just can’t let it go. Buy at your own Baker-risk threshold.
64. Stephen Strasburg (260) – If there’s one pitcher you want to pay top dollar for, it’s Tim Lincecum. Not Stephen Strasburg. But I can’t wait to see him pitch, and based on all the scouting reports, he’s going to be very very good. I’m just not sure you want a guy like this in Year 1 when you’re going to have to overpay from the get-go despite having no clue when he’ll be up or what exactly he will offer this year.
65. Clay Buchholz (192) – Upside in almost every peripheral category and one of the best defenses in baseball behind him… hrm, let’s just say I’d go the extra buck on Buchholz. I’m still a big believer. Even if he doesn’t become an ace, he’s still got very solid #2/#3 starter potential.
66. Wade Davis (290) – Yes, he’s good. Yes, I’m surprised. I missed him every time I went to Durham to see the Bulls play, and I wasn’t very impressed with his minors stats. So when I finally got to watch him in Tampa, he definitely shocked me a bit.
67. Kyle Lohse (ND) – Another low upside but low risk guy. He and Guthrie have a lot of similarities in what they bring to the table. If that’s the type of pitcher your roster needs near the end, don’t hesitate.
68. Phil Hughes (307) – It’s amazing how sexy awesome a pitcher can look in a bullpen role. And then we all expect them to be nearly the same as a starter (even the smartest of us), and we’re almost always wrong. It goes to show how crazy different Johan Santana really was from the rest of the crowd. I like both Hughes and Chamberlain, but despite Hughes looking better in his given role last year, I think he’s probably the weaker play in 2010. Whoever wins the final spot obviously has the higher chance of performing up to the rankings in the Tiers.
69. Daisuke Matsuzaka (184) – Things just keep spiraling downward for Matsuzaka. His injury cascades are getting out of control at this point, and I don’t think he’s capable of putting up more than 150 innings at this point. Still, being in Boston affords him enough wins and he strikes out enough guys to be worthy of a cautious investment. UPDATE: Yeah, more news of injuries. Down down down goes Daisuke.
70. Kevin Correia (263) – Anyone remember the, ahem, plump fairy from Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past who always upgrades your weapons and gives you magic potion for free when you toss your things into her fountain? Yeah, that’s Petco Park.
71. Jon Garland (402) – I want to hate this guy, but in Petco, it’s hard to abhor any pitcher.
72. Jeremy Guthrie (347) – A solid if unspectacular low-dollar investment in most league formats.
73. Rick Porcello (197) – See what I mean about him not throwing K’s? When are the strikeouts going to come? Right now, he’s like Aaron Cook, except with a sexy mask on so you don’t notice until the end of the season when Scooby Doo pulls it back to reveal Old Man Cook who’s been out to destroy your fantasy budget all along!
74. Joel Pineiro (259) – I can’t wait till he faces the Mariners and shuts us out for 8 innings. But he’s still not someone I’d recommend too highly on draft day because 1) he doesn’t throw strikeouts at all anymore, 2) the M’s offense is meager, and 3) Pineiro did not pack Dave Duncan in his suitcase like his agent recommended.
75. J.A. Happ (228) – A flyball pitcher in Philly who outperformed his FIP by nearly a run and a half? And somehow he’s the talk of the town? I just don’t buy it. He needs to do a lot more to really be a solid investment, and I don’t see him making that kind of leap this season. He’s going to cost way way more than he will probably deliver, in my opinion.
76. Brian Matusz (294) – I want to hate young pitchers, because they’re very unpredictable. But Matusz looked awfully poised out there in his late 2009 stint. Temper expectations due to his flyball tendencies, but I think he could be a pretty solid help to AL Only teams. A low 4 ERA and a WHIP nearing 1.35 aren’t really out of the question.
77. Mat Latos (324) – I was really enamored with him during his short stint with the big club last year. His stuff and mound poise were both better than most reports I had read. I think he was rushed a bit, and I hope he gets a chance to start in Triple-A this year. But he should be back soon, and I’m optimistic he can be an asset in deeper leagues almost immediately. I’m buying.
78. Gil Meche (266) – The Royals are run by people who have the mental acuity of a ######ed T-Rex. They took a knowingly fragile pitcher and essentially told him to man-up. Good plan, guys! I like Meche, but I don’t trust the organization. Like at all.
79. Ryan Rowland-Smith (385) – I think Seattle fans are too high on him. Still, there’s a potential profit to be found here for non-Mariner leagues if you’re just looking for Wins, a 4ish ERA, and a WHIP that won’t hurt you too badly. As a southpaw in Safeco with a superb defense behind him, he’s worth a small investment for sure.
80. Justin Duchscherer (313) – Depressed or not, I want this guy on my team for cheap.
81. Madison Bumgarner (297) – I know he was supposed to be an awesome pitching prospect, but if what we saw at the end of last year in Triple-A as well as in the big leagues is indicative of his true talent level, I’m going on record right now as saying he’s vastly overrated. This is one of those situations where you’re probably not going to listen to me because you’ve already fallen in love with the pre-’09 scouting reports, but I’d caution you to take a good long look at Bumgarner’s stats and velocity from the upper levels last year. If that’s where his stuff is from here on out, there’s a good chance the big leaguers are going to figure that funky delivery out quickly and start hammering away. There’s plenty of time for a bounceback, but just use some common sense in the here and now on Bumgarner.
82. Brett Myers (331) – After all these years, Myers has simply never figured out how to keep the ball in the park. His career HR/FB rate is an astronomical 15.5% (!!!) and versus righties it’s 16.8% (!!%&*!!). He’s moving to a park that isn’t so massively conducive to HR/FB, so that’s a perk. But it’s pretty apparent that he’s never going to be what most of us statheads would call “normal” in this area (10%, generally). Still, if your team make-up can handle the 4.5ish ERA and high 1.3’s WHIP, his K’s may be worth it, though.
83. Chris Young (327) – He’s a gargantuan presence on the mound, and his deception of delivery is wicked. It’s too bad it looks like he’s never going to be healthy again. Still, I’d spend a buck (or more if it’s a really deep league) to see if he’s still got 150 innings in him. Young was born for Petco, so I hope he can get healthy and go back to pitching well there.
84. Barry Zito (296) – I can’t imagine him being worth too awful much in a mixed league (okay, maybe a few bucks), but he’s back to being not totally sucky in NL leagues at this point. I wonder if Brian Sabean ever lets it get to him that he’s paying Barry Zito $19 million per year to be his 5th starter.
85. Bronson Arroyo (316) – His BABIP was crazy lucky last year. I think he’ll give more strikeouts to his owner this year, but it’s going to be at a cost of an ERA closer to 4.5 than the 3.8 Arroyo ran last season. I also don’t think he sniffs the 1.2’s in WHIP. In other words, regress regress regress.
86. Erik Bedard (216) – Seattle’s a perfect place for him to play stats-wise. It’s just too bad nobody has any idea if he’ll come back remotely resembling the Bedard of old. I wouldn’t expect much more than 80 innings out of him due to his injury recovery (they’re saying June now, and it may be longer), although there’s a chance those 80 innings may be better than anybody else available to you in that span. Keep an eye on him.
87. Brad Penny (352) – He’ll be a groundball pitcher in no time with Dave Duncan’s tutelage. And he’ll probably be worth a small investment in NL leagues. Small as in not much.
88. John Maine (383) – There is no end to the joke that is the New York Mets medical staff. I think Maine could probably have some use in him given the right pitching coach and medical staff. But the Mets don’t instill enough confidence in me to recommend anything other than a good therapist if you own Maine.
89. Marc Rzepczynski (356) – I’m a fan. Keep him under consideration for cheap in almost all formats.
90. Homer Bailey (280) – I’m not as high on him as most, but I think there’s some upside here. I liked the velocity spike last year as he finally started throwing as hard as all the scouting reports said he did way back when. But again, keep your arms at Dusty Baker length with a young Reds pitcher.
91. John Lannan (ND) – You could do worse in deep leagues. He’ll get some Wins and have a 4ish ERA. He reminds me a lot of Kirk Rueter.
92. Luke Hochevar (ND) – My first rule with Kansas City players, especially developing ones, is avoid. Almost exclusively. But I’m so tempted by repeatable skills like improving strikeout rates and walk rates, a solid groundball rate, and a flukey LOB% that I am beside myself in again recommending Luke Hochevar. I’d definitely risk a buck in deeper leagues to see if he can figure out how to put everything together.
93. Kenshin Kawakami (425) – He had some control issues at the outset, but I liked what I saw of him in the 2nd half enough to say he warrants a small bid.
94. Kevin Millwood (406) – Have fun in the AL East, Kev!
(in no discernible order)
Chien-Ming Wang (420… go figure) – He may actually be a nice upside play in NL leagues. There’s a chance for his strikeout rate to uptick slightly, and I think he’s got some life left in the sinker yet. Still, the Nats’ infield defense is a bit uninspiring. Zimmerman is awesome, but Adam Dunn is so bad that he actually gives the Nats a net loss in runs if you combine him with Zimmerman. And despite Adam Kennedy once being a good fielder, he was pretty poor last year and is probably too old to project as being a plus defender any longer. Christian Guzman is slightly below average, too. That’s not a good combination for a heavy sinkerballer like Wang. Just be ready for some maddeningly annoying BABIP numbers from him this year is all I’m saying.
Martin Perez (ND) – The new dynamo arm in Texas. I doubt you’ll see him till September, but he is one of the premier dynasty league pitcher prospects (if there is such a thing!)
Derek Holland (370) – Good stuff, but his approach was pretty awful last year. Dave Cameron from FanGraphs likes him an awful lot, and that’s usually enough for me to give a guy a mulligan.
Alex Colome (ND) – Kevin Goldstein is likening him to Neftali Feliz. Here’s the thing, though. Feliz is only 7 months older, yet he’s already ascended to the big leagues in dominant fashion. I think Colome’s a nice prospect, but he’s no Neftali Feliz.
J.D. Martin (ND) – There’s a solid chance Martin is a legitimate asset in WHIP for you this year in NL leagues. He’s a deep sleeper for sure (if there is such a thing any longer).
Jake Westbrook (ND) – Westbrook is yet another in the long line of low risk/low upside sinkerballers. He’s fine at the end of an AL Only rotation or if you’re in a league where you can stream him either against mostly right-handed line-ups or while he’s at home.
Jaime Garcia (ND) – I really liked him for a couple of years before his injury. There’s no telling if he can ever fully recover, but he’s a guy I’d take a flier on in deep leagues with big benches or minors. He’s an absolute groundball monster, and he seems like just the type to match up well with Dave Duncan (i.e. the antithesis of former Cardinal prospect and perennial flyball master Anthony Reyes). UPDATE: Garcia reports feeling like he has a brand new arm. Seriously, I like this guy.
Ian Kennedy (ND) – He’ll finally get his chance to prove he wasn’t just a big great Yankee hype product. There’s still a little potential there, especially in the NL.
Jeremy Hellickson (ND) – I’ll get to see him pitch in Durham this year. I’m sure to report back on what I notice. All reports have him as having tremendous command and make-up as well as very solid pitches. I’m stoked.
Jenrry Mejia (ND) – How will the Mets screw him up? On the plus side, with how poorly Minaya has built his rotation, there’s a good chance you’ll see him very soon, Mets fans. I think he’s at least a year or two away from really contributing as a starter, though.
Casey Kelly (ND) – Too far away for me to venture a guess as to what he’ll be, but by all accounts, he’s got very solid #2 stuff.
Christian Friedrich (ND) – I still have a fundamental issue with projecting pitchers in Coor’s, but Friedrich looks pretty interesting regardless.
Zach Stewart (ND) – Solid potential in this Blue Jay prospect, but there are so many pitchers vying for a spot that he’s just one of the crowd at the moment.
Aroldis Chapman (267) – I subscribe to many theories, none of them more important than the theory that states Dusty Baker is the right hand of Satan.
Jorge Campillo (ND) – I would neither be surprised by Campillo being the second best starter on the Royals in 2010 or by Campillo being out of baseball due to injury by May.
James McDonald (ND) – He’s down, but he’s not out as a starter prospect. I think there’s still some solid core skills in McDonald’s repertoire. He could probably use a solid half-season (or more) at Triple-A while he irons out the kinks, though. I think he’s wasted in a reliever role right now.
Daniel McCutchen (ND) – I actually think he could be an immediate asset in WHIP in deeper leagues. He’s never going to be a good starter, but there’s potential for him to be a poor man’s Scott Baker given his very good control.
Sergio Mitre (ND) – If he were on an NL team, I’d love to have Mitre. He’s very good against righties and has some tools to get lefties out if he concentrates. If he’s dealt at any point to an NL team looking to salary dump, jump all over this guy. I feel like I say this every year, though.
Rick VandenHurk (ND) – Yes, I still think he’s a sleeper. He’s homer prone, but he can strike guys out and shows enough control to at least keep his K/BB over the magical 2:1 ratio. If he can ever figure out a pitch type of combination to lower his flyball ratio against lefties, I think he’d be a very solid Major League pitcher. Teach this man a cutter, for Christ’s sake!
Carlos Carrasco (ND) – I’ve seen him pitch in person a few times and I believe he’s got very solid #3 pitcher stuff – pretty good fastball, solid breaking ball, solid change-up, good control, good strikeout rates. I know a bunch of people in the media were harsh on Cleveland for not getting someone like J.A. Happ in the Cliff Lee trade, but I think those people are nutty. Carrasco’s got all the tools to be better than Happ in the next year or two. I’d still take Happ over him in 2010, though.
Edinson Volquez (ND) – I hope he comes back soon and that the surgery was successful. I love that change-up.
Bud Norris (ND) – He’s mildly interesting, and maybe even moderately so. He will provide solid strikeout rates, mediocre walk rates, and probably a few too many homeruns. What I’m most interested in is his big league BABIP, especially against right-handers. If he gets some moderate regression in BABIP (and possibly a little regression in HR/F, I think he can be a nice value pick.
Jason Vargas (ND) – You might get a decent couple of spot starts with him in AL Only leagues if you use him in Safeco against poor offenses with lots of left-handers. Too bad he can’t face his own team, huh.
John Smoltz (ND) – If he’s in the NL, he’s worth a look.
Felipe Paulino (ND) – He’s a purely speculative play, and he’s kindof a saber sleeper in the community. Yes, his xFIP was solid, as was his K/9 and K/BB. Yes, I think there’s a small chance he could be a useful part in deeper leagues. But no, I don’t think he figures out his homerun issues or his BABIP woes. Sometimes you have to actually know what to throw in given situations, and I don’t think Paulino has much of a clue right now in how to do that. How much he’s trained and learned over the off-season as well as how well he studies as the season goes on will really determine if he has any value or not.
Paul Maholm (421) – A groundball pitcher who lives right on the 2:1 K/BB ratio cusp (generally the threshold for pitching success, although not always). There’s a small amount of upside as his BABIP deflates from its lofty .325 perch in ’09 as long as the Pittsburgh defense plays along, but I wouldn’t rush out to own Maholm for anything more than the very back of a Mixed League rotation.
Luke French (ND) – Like any almost any lefty, he’s worth spot starting in Safeco against bad offenses. He’s not a bad $1 pick-up in deep AL Only’s.
Rich Hill (ND) – I believe in Dave Duncan. I also believe in Hill’s curveball.
Jon Niese (ND) – Again, I like him. Both he and Mejia have definite sleeper potential in New York this year with all of their rotation holes.
Pedro Martinez (ND) – There’s always a chance he’s scooped up by an NL team, and I think he’s very worthy of rostering for however long that relationship would last.
Josh Outman (ND) – Do you think Tommy John is proud of the distinction his name carries? Or does he walk around the house banging his head against the wall saying, “But I was a good pitcher! Why can’t they remember me for THAT?!” Also, it’s sad that Outman went down with his injury. I was becoming quite enamored with him.
Kris Medlen (ND) – I adore Medlen as a reliever, and I think he’s a fantastic sleeper candidate for saves should Billy Wagner get hurt. And I still think he has promise as a starter, too, if the Braves were to go in that direction. But odds are that they won’t anytime soon.
Gio Gonzalez (405) – I’m not sure if he’ll ever get the control in check, but my oh my is that strikeout potential alluring. My general recommendation would be not to roster both he and Oliver Perez on the same team, though. ☺
David Huff (ND) – I have high hopes that Huff will be a serviceable pitcher in AL formats this year. He’s got enough growth potential in strikeout rate to make him worthy of consideration.
Koji Uehara (ND) – I like him a lot, actually, and if he gets a starter gig back in Baltimore, I think he could surprise some people. If the O’s are worried he can’t hold up for the length of a MLB season, I understand the move to the pen. But I think I’d probably give it one more shot if I were them given how excellent Uehara’s peripherals were last year in a starter role.
Tim Wakefield (ND) – It’s maddening facing him in MLB The Show. It’s unfair – all I ever hit are lazy pop-ups to the outfield. Give me any hard-thrower over this guy in the game. And he’s always got a little upside thanks to his “fastball” and curve playing so well off the knuckleball.
Justin Masterson (ND) – He has a fun set of skills (good GB/FB ratio, solid K/9), but he needs to keep working on the walk rate before we can take him too seriously. Still, Cleveland’s park is a lot nicer to pitchers than Boston’s, and with a slight improvement, he could have a nice little year. I’d bid a buck in Mixed Leagues just to see what happens.
Dallas Braden (ND) – All of his pitches except his fastball had a positive run value last year (and he’s got like five of ‘em!) That intrigues me. Know what else intrigues me? His change-up – it’s one of those unreal “stops in mid-air” kindof Bugs Bunny change-ups that once inputted into a baseball video game, make hitters swear at guys like Braden with foul words you didn’t think existed. It gets in the mid-60’s and even looks sortof like a screwball sometimes if you squint hard enough. There’s no way he keeps up the low HR/FB rate, but I still think a low 4’s ERA, a mid 1.3’s WHIP, and a K/9 over 6.5 is possible. He’s got upside in almost every peripheral category.
Jason Hammel (376) – He’s mildly interesting. If he weren’t in Coor’s, I’d be a lot more apt to want to take a chance on him given his very solid K/BB, GB/FB, and 3.71 FIP last year. But something about that low walk rate for him screams regression. I swear, this is the exact type of stat line that I generally fall in love with only to see the pitcher go up in flames the next year. And it’s Coor’s, a field named after America’s worst big brand beer. Whatever. You could do worse than to own Jason Hammel in 2010.
Don’t Drink the Water
(in no discernible order)
Clayton Richard (364) – He might be worth a couple bucks in NL leagues just for K’s and Wins accrued, but he’s not someone I’d roster with much hope of getting upside.
Horrible Ramirez (ND) – If insanity is defined as attempting the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, why aren’t some of these Major League GM’s being carted off to padded rooms? Or maybe just to one communal padded room? Wouldn’t it be awesome to see Dayton Moore, Bill Bavasi, Brian Sabean and the like all in straight-jackets making deals with one another? I’d pay to watch that reality show.
Aaron Crow (ND) – Organization run by a ######ed T-Rex, meet stupid player who held out a year to make less money to play for you (and he apparently spent that year not even trying to learn a change-up… buwhahaha!) I’m sure he’ll be very motivated, and I’m sure you know just how to teach him what he needs to know. A match made in heaven.
Colin Balester (ND) – Balester may eventually mold himself into a decent 3rd or, more probably, 4th /5th starter type. But I don’t think he’s anywhere close to making that happen in 2010. He shied away from his change-up last year almost to the exclusivity of his fastball and breaking ball, and that was a big mistake. He needs to find that pitch again and also to hone the control of his fastball.
Cesar Carrillo (ND) – I just wanted to put his name on here so I could display his K/BB from last year with the Padres. It was 0.33. So for every strikeout Carillo had last year, he gave up three walks. I’ve gotta say, even with a small sample size, that’s amazingly awful. Even more amazing is that the Padres had another pitcher with the same affliction – Eulogio de la Cruz. If they come into pitch this year and you’re at a Pads game, it may be time for a smoke break (or a whatever-floats-your-boat break).
Oliver Perez (431) – Perez reminds me of the Setzer character in Final Fantasy VI. Setzer’s special power is “SLOT” and you spend the whole game thinking that playing his SLOT power is going to evolve into something purely awesome. Except it doesn’t. Every once in a thousand tries you may get it to do something fun, but otherwise, all it’s good for is “Game over, man. Game over.”
Garrett Olson (ND) – After finally getting to see Olson, I understand why he was never rated very highly by scouts. It’s because he sucks.
Braden Looper (ND) – Exhibit A on why Doug Melvin is probably overrated. And that’s one helluva strong exhibit.
David Hernandez (ND) – His minor league strikeout rates are wacky-doodle, and I think he’s a strong candidate to be an asset in that category for however long he’s on the mound this year. Still, he’s an extreme flyball pitcher without good control at the big league level, so he’s going to give up a boatload of runs via homer until he can figure one or the other out. There’s also a chance that the O’s just don’t have room for him if other guys work out more quickly. I’d only draft him if you were desperate for K’s.
Tomo Ohka (ND) – His name is very fun to say out loud. Try it. Now try it louder. Again, and even louder. It’s almost therapeutic.
Todd Wellemeyer (ND) – So he couldn’t repeat his Dave Duncan success? I’m not very optimistic.
Clayton Mortensen (ND) – I’m sure Billy Beane saw something in Mortensen that made him interesting. I just wish I knew what that something was.
Donnie Veal (ND) – Veal’s control is so shaky that I saw mothers hiding their children behind their seats with David Wright Great Gazoo helmets on their heads. Seriously.
Micah Owings (359) – Best pinch-hitting pitcher in the big leagues. I only wish he took his pitching as seriously.
Daniel Cabrera (ND) – There are no jokes left in the tank about Cabrera. I almost feel bad for him at this point.
Jeremy Bonderman (ND) – So maybe Beane was right not to want to take Bonderman after all?
Justin Lehr (ND) – Here’s a guy that brings pretty much zero to the table as a starter, yet the Reds couldn’t find anyone with more upside during a very down year to take a look at. He’s a junkballer extraordinaire, and I’d only sign him on my fantasy team if I was colluding with the guy who was taking home the prize.
Jhoulys Chacin (ND) – Based on his level of control last year in Triple-A as well as in the majors, I’d like to hope he has a career back-up plan in mind.
Yorman Bazardo (ND) – I think I once knew a clown by this name as a child. Those were happier times.
Brett “AntiChrist” Tomko (ND) – If Dusty Baker is Satan, then Tomko is Satan’s spawn.
Chris Jakabauskas (ND) – Sucks.
Jason Schmidt (ND) – El toasto.
Zach Jackson (ND) – Destined for LOOGY-dom.
Carlos Silva (ND) – Which would you rather own: Bradley’s temper or Silva’s tummy? The Cubs chose tummy, and I hope their buffet tables are prepared to deal with the ramifications of their decision.
Dontrelle Willis (ND) – There’s nothing left. Zilch. Zero. Nada. And I sure hope he saved the money from his last contract.
Sean O’Sullivan (ND) – He’s not much more than a back-of-the-rotation prospect. And he’s not ready to even be that mediocre in the big leagues just yet. Pass.
Charlie Haeger (ND) – When you type his name into FanGraphs’ search engine, two results appear - Haeger and Jaeger. I’ll take the second, please. And make that a double.
Adam Eaton (ND) – His time has come and gone.
Chris Tillman (412) – In the long run, Tillman has a good shot at being a solid #2 pitcher. In the meantime (i.e. this year), I don’t think you’re going to want him. His control is very likely going to be his undoing in 2010.
Aaron Poreda (ND) – If Nuke LaLoosh somehow mated with Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn, you may get an idea of the type of person capable of matching Poreda’s awful control at multiple levels last year. There’s a reason the Padres wanted him in the Peavy deal, but there’s also a reason the White Sox gave him up. I’m almost willing to believe in Kenny Williams moreso than the Padres’ guys (somewhere, deep inside, the 2007 me just threw up in his mouth a little bit). I also find it interesting that his velocity as a reliever was what his supposed velocity as a starter was reported to be. In other words, Poreda wasn’t throwing as hard last year as he had (allegedly) in the past. Add all of that up, and I’m not sure exactly what you get. But it’s not something I’m too interested in finding out for myself, at least in 2010.
Anthony Reyes (ND) – Express elevator to hell… goin’ down.
Brad Thompson (ND) – Do mop up men enjoy their jobs? What sort of rapport do they have with the other starters? Are they the class clown? Anti-social? I’m curious to know more.
Anthony Swarzak (ND) – The odds of him being good in the long run are slim. The chances that he’s good in ’10 are bordering on emaciated. (Can you tell I’m hungry right now?)
Jo-Jo Reyes (ND) – He’s a part of my recommended starter kit for a ****ty fantasy team this year.
Daniel Hudson (ND) – He’s got potential, but he’s got the same fundamental problem that Brandon McCarthy had when he was in Chicago (and when he went to Texas, too) – he’s a flyball pitcher in a homerific ballpark. Longterm, Hudson’s certainly an interesting pitcher. I don’t think you want to saddle up with him this year unless you’re very solid in ERA, though.
Kelvim Escobar (ND) – Oh Omar.
Chris Volstad (418) – His sinker isn’t quite as heavy as alleged, and he doesn’t have the control to compensate for his low strikeout rates. Not to mention the fact that the Marlins’ defense isn’t really that good. I’m likely avoiding at this point.
Tim Redding (ND) – Gosh, the Mets will give anyone a contract these days, huh. If 55-year-old Kevin Costner did a movie where he was a manager/pitcher for the Mets, how believable would that film be on a scale of 1 to 10? 7? 8.5?
Bartolo Colon (ND) – Unless your league awards prizes for most Subway sandwiches eaten in one sitting, I don’t think Colon’s going to help you out.
Tim Stauffer (ND) – Only if you’re feeling lucky.
Scott Olsen (ND) – He no longer has the 92+ mph fastball as a basis for his pitching style, and what we’re left with is a guy with an 88mph meatball who doesn’t have good control and gives up a lot of flyballs. If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for a crappy pitcher, I’d like to borrow some of what you’re smoking.
Fernando Nieve (ND) – I’m looking for the proper metaphor for Mets pitchers, and I think I’ve come up with one. Stinkhole?
Antonio Bastardo (ND) – I think he’ll make a fine LOOGY.
Brandon Morrow (354) – He’s never going to have good control. It may never even achieve average status. And he’s also fairly injury prone and not used to starting for a full season. Yeah yeah, the Mariners mishandled him bigtime. But there’s no going back, and I think Morrow is a lost cause – most especially for this year.
Dustin McGowan (ND) – Time has almost run out on McGowan being fantasy relevant with his litany of arm injuries. He’s still got a small chance he could make a comeback, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Andy Sonnanstine (ND) – What I wouldn’t give to see him in Petco. He’ll probably end up as the 6th or 7th starter in the pecking order for the Rays, and I’d expect him to get around 100 innings. He’s not a horrible choice as AL bench filler.
Dana Eveland (ND) – Fatty in Toronto! I wonder what the Canadians will feed him.
Jason Jennings (ND) – Reliever on the Rangers with crappy peripherals. Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be recommending him as a starter.
Brett Cecil (ND) – He’s got some upside, especially longterm. But the odds are against him being worth much of anything this year. He really needs to work on fastball location against righties and striking them out more by improving his change-up. When he does one of those things well, he’ll be a useful pitcher. If he ever does both well, he could be a very solid fantasy asset.
Russ Ortiz (ND) – I hope I have a child as lucky as Russ Ortiz.
David Purcey (ND) – Why does his control keep getting worse? I’m at a loss unless it’s an injury. Whatever. I sure wouldn’t own him at this point unless you like giving money away at your auction.
Kyle Kendrick (ND) – In leagues that count Groundball ratio, by all means, give this guy a whirl. Otherwise, I’d avoid.
Doug Fister (ND) – Ever wondered how Lady Luck can give a guy like Fister a very solid ERA for 60 innings pitched while constantly beating down and Tommy John-ing guys much much more talented? Life is so very strange.
David Bush (ND) – As a soft-tossing righty who gives up a boatload of homeruns, you’ve gotta wish on a star that he gets Wins and has one of his decent WHIP seasons to really do you any good. And even then, it better only be a deep league where you’re even thinking about rostering him.
Jeff Weaver (ND) – Do he and his brother get some sort of discount at the barber for having their hair cut like a #####?
Armando Galarraga (ND) – Filler and not much more.
Mark Hendrickson (ND) – Not on my fantasy radar. I hope he’s not on your’s.
Franklin Morales (379) – I think he’s a reliever from here on out. Either that, or a very tall waiter at Denny’s.
Nate Robertson (ND) – I’d avoid unless you like things that go boom.
Eric Stults (ND) – He’s a fine #4 starter. On a Triple-A team.
Fausto Carmona (434) – I’d still like to see the Indians try him out in the bullpen again if for no other reason than I enjoyed watching how far the other teams’ game-winning homeruns traveled off of him.
Anibal Sanchez (427) – His control isn’t good enough to be worth your time nowadays. (On ADP: Wow, he’s still getting drafted, huh. Some people have long memories of prospects from big-budgeted East Coast teams.)
Tom Gorzelanny (ND) – I was very surprised he didn’t do better as a reliever last year. I figured he would excel in the role. There’s still a little left to like in Gorz in terms of his peripherals being better than his final numbers. But he’s getting to the point where his team likely won’t have him on a long enough rope for it to matter.
Jason Berken (ND) – Berken may have some potential in the long run as a back of the rotation type once his control catches up to the big league level. But in the interim, he’s more or less a fantasy nuclear bomb awaiting detonation on your team.
Sidney Ponson (ND) – Sucks. And he’s a fatty. The two, however, are completely unrelated. Probably.
Trevor Cahill (ND) – I absolutely love the movement on his sinker. But after watching him in a few outings, what really surprised me was how ineffective his breaking ball was and how very little he threw it. So that’s when I went digging for his old scouting reports. Most of Cahill’s pre-season 2009 reports said he had an excellent breaking ball that he could throw in any count and 90-94mph velocity. But going back further, his pre-‘08 reports said he had a good change-up, a breaking ball that he only liked to use outside of the zone as it wasn’t super effective, and very spotty control overall. So yeah, the reports from 2007 seem a lot more accurate for what we witnessed in 2009. It’s uncanny just how bad Cahill was given his top prospect pedigree. I have to wonder if there wasn’t an injury hidden somewhere, because the Cahill we saw with the A’s in 2009 was nothing like the most recent scouting reports we had on hand. I’m willing to keep an eye on him given how much I like that sinker, but I’d be wary of using him before he shows signs of actually being a decent pitcher.
Matt Harrison (ND) – Blows.
Manny Parra (ND) – I’ve heard rumors that I recommended Parra as a solid breakout candidate last year. I will now light myself on fire with napalm. Parra is an enigma wrapped in riddles and taped with question marks. There’s a wee bit of hope left in me, but nothing a solid blow to the base of the skull with a tire iron couldn’t cure.
Jamie Moyer (ND) – I wouldn’t roster him, although I do love the guy.
Craig Stammen (ND) – Those strikeout numbers give me the willies. Avoid!
Billy Buckner (ND) – He gets by with his curveball, but those line drive rates are pretty atrocious. He just doesn’t have the type of peripheral stuff or control to get by with throwing 88mph fastballs. Great name, though.
Andrew Miller (ND) – It’s starting to look like he’s never going to figure out his control, which is a shame. He’s a super smart guy, but that awkward delivery looks like it may end up keeping him from becoming a quality fantasy pitcher. His velocity has sunk about 4mph since he was drafted, too, so there’s not much to like at the moment. I loved the stuff and the mental acumen coming out of college. Too bad the stuff is missing nowadays.
Kyle Davies (ND) – No way, Jose.
Scott Richmond (ND) – If you didn’t know anything about flyballs and homeruns, Richmond’s K/BB might seem appealing. But you might want to study up, because this guy is a posterboy for how bad homeruns can hurt a pitcher.
Vince Mazzaro (ND) – Bill James believes Mazzaro’s ridiculously low HR/FB ratio in the minors will translate to the big leagues. I think James is crazy. I’m not touching this guy with a 10-meter cattle prod.
Matt Palmer (ND) – This pitcher will destroy your team in almost any given category. If you like that sort of thing, go ahead and draft him.
Ian Snell (ND) – Mercurial.
Vicente Padilla (372) – No sir. Not interested.
Brian Moehler (ND) – He’s awful, which probably means the Astros will pick him as their 5th starter over Paulino.
Glen Perkins (ND) – He’s pretty much washed up at this point, which is a shame. His injuries never let him come back to his level of minor league dominance in his younger years.
Sean West (ND) – West has the potential to be a solid pitcher in the big leagues. But not in 2010.
Sean Marshall (ND) – A swing man who really doesn’t give you much. I’d probably avoid unless it’s at the end of a deep NL league roster.
Jeremy Sowers (ND) – Never again.
Ross Ohlendorf (ND) – I like his smarts a little more than his pitching.
Brandon McCarthy (ND) – I remember when Rob Neyer called him a better prospect than Felix Hernandez. I’ve also surprisingly forgotten all the stupid things I’ve said over the years. Go figure.
Ross Detwiler (ND) – There’s some upside in Detwiler in the long run, but I don’t think it will pay off anytime in 2010. His walk rates are likely to be too high this year to be worth anything other than fantasy anguish. (Signs you play fantasy baseball too much #1,342 – when fantasy anguish hurts just as much as real life anguish.)
Charlie Morton (ND) – It’s hard to get excited about Morton. I sure hope his friends feel differently.
Joe Saunders (254) – I don’t care how many wins he gets, Joe Saunders is not a good fantasy pitcher.
Aaron Laffey (ND) – Not funny.
Chad Gaudin (ND) – Nope.
Freddy Garcia (ND) – It’s good to see that Freddy hasn’t stopped drinking in his older age. http://deadspin.com/....s-for-the-cubs
Zach Duke (337) – Just another low strikeout pitcher with groundball tendencies and the ability to throw the ball over the plate. I’d expect more along the lines of a 4.50ish ERA this year just because this type of pitcher is so BABIP dependent.
Doug Davis (355) – AKA “The WHIP Bomb.” If you can eat the massive WHIP hit Davis brings, he’s a nice source of K’s and generally isn’t too bad in ERA/xFIP. I’d expect a 4.30-4.50 ERA with anything better being gravy.
Livan Hernandez (ND) – I remember when he was actually a solid pitcher and not a joke. Ah, memories.
Brian Tallet (ND) – With all the young starters in Toronto vying for jobs in the rotation, I just don’t think Tallet’s skillset as a starter warrants any consideration.
Mike Pelfrey (401) – The Mets had one of the worst defenses in baseball last year, and with a contact pitcher like Pelfrey, that’s a big deal. Do the Mets project to be much better this year? Not really. I’m avoiding Pelfrey for that very reason. Well, that and the fact that he’s not very good.
Tommy Hunter (419) – Somewhere, someone thinks Hunter is a good pitcher because he had a 4.10 ERA in Texas. Don’t be that guy.
Aaron Cook (261) – Cook is much more interesting in real life than in fantasy baseball. His low K’s and high WHIP give him very little upside to outearn more than a buck or two come the end of the year. I prefer the end of my rotations to have a little more upside, though.
Jarrod Washburn (336… hey, that’s my area code) – I figured Bavasi would’ve convinced Dayton Moore to sign him already. What’s the hold up? (There’s one catch – if Washburn re-signs with Seattle, he might actually be worth a look again thanks to the park and their defense).
Brian Bannister (ND) – He and Greinke should form a Fight Club in Kansas City to let out their probable sabermetric angst over having Dayton Moore as their GM.
Ricky Romero (276) – A heavy sinkerball guy with decent strikeout stuff, but he has control issues and a BABIP problem that’s plagued him for the duration of his professional career. I think he’d probably be an asset on a great defensive team that didn’t play on turf, but not the Jays in 2010. If you can take a WHIP sinking, he could be an asset in K’s, but it’s a risky play at best.
Randy Wells of Sorrow (330) – Groundballer who doesn’t strike many guys out but also doesn’t walk a plethora of people either. He’s definitely not my favorite pitcher given his lack of any special contribution to my squad. And honestly, I’m just not sold that he can keep his HR/FB and LOB% magic tricks up. I’d expect more in the realm of a low to mid 4’s ERA along with a 1.35ish WHIP (or higher) with very few strikeouts. There’s simply not much reason to bother with him in Mixed Leagues, although he’s not a horrible option in NL leagues. I am interested to see just how low he can get his BB/9…
Nick Blackburn (348) – No.
Scott Feldman (219) – An interesting pitcher if for no other reason than he did things backwards. He went from a side-arming reliever to a ¾’s delivery starter who just happens to have a very good cutter. He’s back-end of the rotation fodder, but he’s someone I root for in real life all the same – a maximizer of potential. (On ADP: He’s clearly an overdraft of immense proportions. He’s being taken over the likes of Ben Sheets, Jonathan Sanchez, Ervin Santana, Mark Buehrle, Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang and a litany of others with more talent. Stupid stupid stupid.)
Carl Pavano (ND) – Carl Pavano was kindof good last year. All things considered, though, I’d rather eat glass smothered in hot sauce than have to count on him this year. Dude has pitched fewer innings in the last five years than the likes of David Wells or Curt Schilling. This just in: they’re both retired now.
Jason Marquis (386) – A product of good infield defense coupled with homerun luck aided Marquis. I expect a heavy regression. Basically, if you own this guy, you better be in a deep NL league and you better be drunk when you’re drafting. I’m serious.
Last edited by Bodhizefa; 02-20-2010 at 10:48 PM.
Edited by Lehigh98, 22 February 2010 - 06:50 AM.