Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Touch Jimmy!

The Fantasy Flash would like to send a special shout-out to Jim Duquette, the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Baltimore Orioles.

Last week, I travelled home to New York City for a behind-the-scenes tour of Yankee Stadium when the O's were in town. Mr. Duquette took the time to be interviewed by the Flash, and I just wanted to thank him for adding some legitimacy to my operation.

Good look, Jim. I'm routing for you.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Funny Name, Serious Speed

The Pirates and Giants completed an unheralded trade at the deadline which sent Matt Morris to Pittsburgh in exchange for a speedy outfielder named Rajai Davis.

The trade wasn't talked about much because it was between two bad teams. We know about Morris. He's a better real player than he is in terms of fantasy baseball. He's got grit. He can get you wins, but his stat lines can kill a fantasy owner (7-8, 4.51 ERA, 1.50 WHIP this season).

Davis is an interesting player though. He doesn't have a ton of power, but after having watched him a bit more in San Francisco, it's clear that the rookie's wheels will be his biggest asset.

It seems like the centerfield job is his to lose with the Giants, after Davis had to battle with the likes of Nate McClouth and Chris Duffy (not household names) in Pittsburgh. Randy Winn and Dave Roberts are still in the Bay Area, but Davis is the youngest and most exciting of the three - especially considering that the Giants are out of it and will likely be evaluating their young talent for the rest of 2007.

Davis looks like a one-dimensional base stealer right now, with 14 SB and only 6 RBI this season. But 9 of those steals have come in the month of August, and if the Giants add any kind of offense by next season, Davis could turn out to be a high-run total guy as well as a good hitter for average (hitting .304 as of now).

So if you're desperate for speed coming down the stretch, Davis could be the answer. But next season, he might be a real sleeper if you're late in a draft without much speed on your roster.


I'm Juiced ...

... that Jason Giambi is back to mashing in the Bronx. I know you may think my New York bias is the reason I recommended him in my most recent tip of the week. But really, he's a just a damn good hitter.

The guy belted a pair of long balls in Friday's win over the Tigers and he has 4 total since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. But what I've noticed about him is that his timing at the plate is amazing for someone who'd been out of action since the end of May.

Giambi has surely been flying off waiver wires in A.L. Onlyleagues since coming back, but he's proving to be a viable option in mixed leagues as well. Giambi still has a ton of power and that great batter's eye - plus, he's in the middle of a Yankee lineup that has been almost unstoppable since the All-Star break.

He may not play every day, but four starts in a week for Jason Giambi can easily be as good as 6 or 7 for someone else you might plug into.

Long story short: If he's available in your league, he shouldn't be.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Oh Good ...

Yeah so my boy Wang ... 2.2 IP, 9 hits and a career-high 8 runs allowed in Toronto tonight. Out of my frustration for making me look bad right after singing his praises, I'm posting a pitcure that paints him in somewhat of a bad light. This hurts me more than it hurts you, Chien-Ming!

Pretty unsettling.


You Gotta Love Wang (pause)

I'll tell you what: Chien-Ming Wang is a pretty darn good pitcher. This guy just wracks up wins.

From a purely fantasy perspective, the problem with the 27-year-old righty is that he doesn't strike a lot of guys out. Heading into tonight's start against Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, Wang has only 64 K's in nearly 137 innings pitched. But remember, strikeouts are only one category, so if you have a staff that can accumulate strikeouts elsewhere, Wang is the perfect compliment because he's a lock for 15-20 wins, a good ERA and a low WHIP. In fact, his current numbers (13-5, 3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) would look a lot better if it wasn't for a pair of below-average starts against the Orioles.

Wang throws a very good sinker along with a slider and change-up. But his fastball, which I think is pretty underrated, hits the mid-90s often. He' just a consistent pitcher who commands the strike zone, and doesn't give up walks and homeruns.

Further, he uses that great sinker - and it is GREAT - to produce the all-important double play (He's among the league leaders with 21 GDP this season). Wang's efficiency often allows him to maintain a low pitch count and go deep into games, which makes him even more valuable if you have any kind of innings pitched incentive in your leagues.

So in closing, I advise you to keep a close on Chien-Ming Wang in the coming seasons. He strikes me as one of these guys who will go under the radar because he's not a high-profile power pitcher like a Johan Santana, a Roy Oswalt, or even an Erik Bedard, who has been amazing this season. Wang may not be in that category quite yet, but he will always be surrounded by a good offense in New York and his arm is more apt to stay healthy with that relaxed motion, which always seems to extend a pitcher's shelf-life, a la Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera.

This guy will be a regular in Cy Young races and a fantasy baseball staple for years to come. Hopefully he beats Halladay tonight. That'll make me look good.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

D-Train Derailed

What is going on with Dontrelle Willis? This is a question I've been trying to answer for over two months. After a 5-1 start in April, Willis has dropped 8 of his 10 decisions since and just can't seem to get it together. Something I've noticed in the last two seasons is that teams who draft Dontrelle in fantasy, which I did twice this season, don't do particularly well.

I would have no problem with my real team acquiring the D-Train. Let's not forget that he won 22 games in 2005 and could have won the Cy Young Award. But since then, Willis has not regained that form and fantasy owners have felt his struggles. The ERA (5.13) and the WHIP (1.65) leave much to be desired this season, even though the Marlins are not particularly good.

Anyway, the point is this: If you can't unload him this season, just be aware of who his starts are against for the rest of 2007. Don't be afraid to bench him if you don't feel comfortable about the opponent. When he gets pounded in back-to-back starts against the Nationals and Cardinals, it's hard to find any more favorable match-ups for him. He's better than he's shown, but be very cautious when trying to place a fantasy value on him in the future.


PS I used his mugshot as a show of frustration. Is that wrong?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Encouraging Signs

After many months of waiting, Brad Lidge finally got back in the save column. He faced four batters while pitching a scoreless inning for the second straight night on Tuesday. And since the Astros were actually ahead on the road in the 9th inning, Lidge got a chance to close it out.

The upsetting thing is that Lidge has been the subject of many trade rumors, though the Astros are now indicating they want to keep him. Of course, his value will plummet if he's dealt with the purpose of making him a middle reliever. But if he stays put and stays healthy, Lidge should provide fantasy owners with solid stats over the next two months.

I know the Astros stink, and they just lost a series in Washington, but they should improve somewhat down the stretch. Milwaukee is finally coming back to Earth, and Houston will be playing other teams in baseball's worst division for the rest of the summer. The Cubs should win the N.L. Central barring major injury.

Elsewhere, a couple of guys who had dreadful first halves are starting to show signs of coming out of it in July. Barry Zito beat the red-hot Cubs Tuesday night and Jermaine Dye is swinging a good bat despite the White Sox being a non-factor in the A.L. Central. Luckily I dropped Zito in one of my leagues just before his last start so I missed out. He's been bad overall, but his durability and the fact that he's now in the N.L. make him at least a viable second-string starter in fantasy. With Dye, the fact that Paul Konerko has been mashing as well makes a big difference, but it also just makes you wonder what was going beforehand (maybe the picture can provide a clue).

If you're in 10-team leagues, it's possible that one or both of these guys could be available. And if you're leagues without trade deadlines or with ones that haven't passed yet, then they're likely available in small deals. Don't give up too much though.