Happy 4th of July!!
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks looking for a used car for my daughter. She has a long list of wants including: sun roof, CD player, air conditioner, spoiler, cool wheels, tinted windows; a car cool enough so her friends don’t laugh at her. My list is much shorter. I want a car that is safe, reliable and won’t cost me a year’s worth of mortgage payments. The safest cars out there, Volvos. Most reliable, Honda. And, the “coolest” cars out there, Nissan GTR, etc. come at a premium. So, I saw my sister at a 4th of July party and it turns out she has decided to get a new car and wants to sell her 2008 Subaru Legacy Wagon for $2,000. Bingo! Safe (4 X 4), reliable (She had EVERY dealer scheduled maintenance ever required) and cool enough… ahem for me. Plus, it is only $2,000. Sometimes you have to go that route to get what you need, even if it is not an Audi TT or a BMW i8. No, my daughter is not happy with me.
Such is life in fantasy baseball, one of the most common needs for contenders this time of year is speed, or more specifically, stolen bases. The next most common is saves and also common this time of year are power, namely HR’s and top-tier starting pitching. The guys who own those commodities are getting a lot of offers now and realize the perceived value of their trade pieces, even if it’s above “sticker price”.
Hopefully, you filled your team at the draft with players who can give you double digit HR and SB across the board. If so, congratulations. Read about the pitchers.
Hopefully, you loaded up on stud SP who are still healthy and found a few more on the wire that helped out your staff (looking at you, Mike Montgomery). Maybe you drafted a stud closer early and guessed correctly on the closers who would take over early on. If so, congratulations. Go back and read about the hitters.
If you have all of those areas covered, have a beer and go do something else today. Otherwise, let’s look at some players who may help in those areas but won’t cost you more than the price of your sister’s used Subaru (even though it’s missing a hub cap). I will look at both the AL East and Central for players who might help. Those divisions don’t have a Dee Gordon or a Billy Hamilton, or even a Jacoby Ellsbury now that he is injured, and you’re not going to find a lot of cheap saves either. There are some power hitters and aces to be had though, and we’ll discuss them next week. This week, it’s steals and saves.
The Need For Speed – Stolen Bases:
Rajai Davis, OF, DET – I’m sure he’s on this list every season. No, he does not play every day, but he does enough to be on pace for nearly 30 SB this season. Earlier in the year he was losing some playing time to Anthony Gose, OF ; who managed 9 SB himself in the first half. But, the cream rises and Rajai has proven himself worthy. Davis is splitting time at the lead-off spot now with Jose Iglesias, SS (who also has 9 SB) instead of Gose. Between the two of them, they should be good for 25 more steals at least. The 4 hitters behind them are run-producers. So, your runs will get a boost as well; assuming Miggy is not out long. Unless Rajai is the main SB threat on another owner’s team, he should come cheap enough. Talk up the playing time issue. Iglesias is not a bad grab either and might even still be on your wire. He is a safe batting average, which is not always a given when it comes to speed guys, or shortstops for that matter.
Lorenzo Cain, OF, KC – I realize the Cain owner will want a lot more for Cain than Rajai Davis, but he will bring a lot more to the plate as well. I still regret letting Cain & Davis go in my 20 keeper contract league, thinking I could easily replace them in the auction draft for less money. Michael Bourn and Everth Cabrera did cost me a lot less, but I bought a broken-down pair of Geo Prism’s and got what I paid for, instead of keeping a Subaru and a Porsche for a little more. Cain is hitting .305 and on pace for 100 runs, so you’ll be giving up starting value for him. For the same reason, Jarrod Dyson, OF, KC who used to platoon with Cain and has 9 steals himself, is not a viable trade target. He will likely not get enough AB to be relevant, barring injury, but if injury strikes you need to be ready to pounce.
Brett Gardner, OF, NYY – I made the mistake last season of trading for Gardy about this time of year when he was on fire at the plate. I paid far too much, especially when he came back to earth soon after. Gardy is on fire at the plate right now. If you want him for steals, don’t pay for the production pace he is on (.297 BA, 120 runs, 18 HR, 80 RBI) as he likely won’t reach those levels by the end of the year. His owner will likely be demanding a hefty price tag. The Yanks will be better with Ellsbury back in the lineup, but it might have the opposite effect on Gardner and his steals. Negotiate accordingly. Gardner is on-pace for 30 SB and that is attainable. Pay for 15 more steals. I’d say buy-low on the rehabbing Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, NYY who has 14 steals as well. But, don’t do it for the steals as the Yanks may be far more conservative with him now with a possible pennant race looming.
Aaron Hicks, OF, MIN – Hicks only has 6 SB and is batting .235. He is also coming off injury and in his 2nd major league season. He may not be ready, but he might be on your wire and is worth the risk if you have a roster spot. I don’t know what he’ll hit, but with regular playing time I can see him hitting .260 with a dozen SB the rest of the way. He also has double-digit HR power. Take a chance, I am.
Adam Eaton, OF CHI – This was going to be Adam Eaton’s year. He was in a new place with a clear path to playing time and another season under his belt. After a rather ineffective 2015, he is batting .243 with only 5 SB. Like Hicks, Eaton is a risk both for production and playing time. But, also like Hicks, I believe he is worth the risk if you have a roster spot. Eaton could also hit .260 the rest of the way. The bump in his average would likely add 15 more SB. He also may be on your wire. Take a chance, I am. Besides, even if it doesn’t work out, Eaton’s wife Katie can steal a base or two herself.
Mookie Betts, OF, BOS – No, you are not buying low on this guy anymore. He is now on pace for a 20/20 90 run season and may do better than that if the rest of the Sox lineup gets healthy and starts to click. You might have to pay for 20/20, but you might end up with 20/30 and 110 runs. That is a tall-order, so I’m not counting on it. But, anything’s possible.
Kevin Pillar, OF, TOR – Pillar is on-pace for 25 SB, which gives you about 13 more the rest of the way. I believe the only person standing in his way for playing time is Michael Saunders, and he is hardly standing at all. Pillar is also hitting enough to justify the roster spot and that is the main variable to achieving that “Bakers’ Dozen” steals.
Steven Souza, OF, TB – In the preseason, we loved Souza for his potential to hit some long balls and he does have 15 homers. But he also has 10 SB and that was not expected. No, he is not going to lead the league in SB any time soon. But, since the beginning of mankind (or at least fantasy baseball) a 20/20 season has had tremendous value. His BA is wanting, but if you need a 4th or 5th OF you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Logan Forsythe, 2B, TB – Forsythe is quietly becoming fantasy-relevant. He went undrafted in most formats and it’s 50/50 that he’ll be drafted in 2016. But, if you need a dozen steals or so in the 2nd half and have an opening at an MI spot, this could be your guy. He has 7 SB now, but did not take over the 2B job until mid-May. Don’t expect much more than league average hitting, but the steals should be above average.
Save Me, I’m Sinking!! – Closers: I wish I had more to offer here, but the cupboard is bare other than the high end closers that anchor seven of the AL East & Central teams.
Roberto Osuna, RP, TOR – Osuna has only two saves in 2015. That leads all BlueJays though since Brett Cecil was removed from the closer’s role. Osuna could get anywhere from 5 to 15 saves the rest of the way. He is a hard-thrower and has no real competition right now other than Steve Delabar, RP, TOR. Delabar is a quality pitcher with the strikeout profile to close. He has one save so far, but will not get more than a few more unless Osuna fails. That is very possible, so grab both if you need every save.
Brad Boxberger, RP (20), Jake McGee, RP (3), Kevin Jepsen, RP (5), Steve Geltz, RP (2), Ernesto Frieri, RP (2), and Matt Andriese, RP/SP (2) give the Tampa Bay Rays six pitchers who have saved games in 2015. Andriese is in the rotation for now, Frieri is in the minors, and Geltz and Jepsen are better as set up men (darn good ones).This leaves Boxberger and 2014 incumbent Jake McGee as the likely collectors of the rest of the Rays’ saves in 2015. There is nothing showing that the Rays are about to switch from a committee approach, any more than there is indication that McGee is ready to take back the role. The only logical conclusion then is that Boxberger has a chance to get 15-20 more saves and McGee will still have a chance to pirate another 5-7. As we have seen though for the past few seasons, that situation could just as easily reverse itself. If your target is Boxberger, play up the McGee angle. If McGee is your target, the price is all about the Boxberger angle. Good luck on this quest, but unfortunately there are not a lot of AL East or Central sure fire closer options outside of the stud incumbents on the other seven teams.
Dellin Betances, RP, Andrew Miller, RP, NYY – Betances became the closer after Miller got hurt and many, including myself, rejoiced. Betances may retain the gig once Miller comes back, but I’d hardly put money on it at this point. Betances has saved 6 games since the change, but also has 2 blown saves in that time. He had not given up a single earned run all season as a set-up man, but now has 7 as the closer (4 came in a non-save situation, but it still counts). He still has a 1.50 ERA and nearly a 15.0 K/9 rate, so he is valuable in any role. But, a risky play for saves considering the price you’ll pay. Based on some of that information, Miller might be a great buy low while he is rehabbing and nearing a return. The window will close fast and slam once he gets his first save. I bet Betances is excited for his former Yankee teammate and former fellow Killer Bee, Manny Banuelos who is now starting for the Braves.
Chasen Shreve, RP, NYY – This guy is not getting more than a vulture save or two from here on out. But, he has been pitching lights-out and is worth an add in leagues that reward set up men. He also may be next in-line for saves if the above scenario were to collapse. Unlikely, but so is everything related to the closer position.
The “Need For Speed” logo courtesy of the 2014 movie of the same name.
Next week we’ll look for some power hitters and starting pitchers. See you then and again, Happy 4th!
(Click the BLUE link below to listen)
Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr, and Corey D Roberts on Sunday July 12th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will take live callers at 646-915-8596. This week’s topics will be Fantasy Baseball All-Stars, and key players drafted late, and can they keep it up.
Our special guests this week include the great Ron Shandler. Ron has been in the fantasy baseball arena since 1985, and is a member of the FSTA Hall of Fame. He is currently a writer with ESPN, and runs shandlerpark.com.
(Click the BLUE Link to watch the show)
Major League Fantasy Football Weekly Show: Join Corey D Roberts, Lou Landers, Ron McCleese, and Jeff Nelson on Saturday July 11th from 2-3:30pm EST for this week’s episode Major League Fantasy Football Weekly.
Our special guest this week is Zak Sauer who is a football writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com. Zak’s articles publish every Thursday morning lovingly called “Sauer Notes”. This week we will be focusing on Wide Receivers, Cornerbacks, and Safties. How to rank them, how to get the most out of your secondary, and how to play your wide receiver match ups based on knowing NFL secondary’s. We fully encourage our viewers to ask questions to the guys.
If you can’t catch the show live you can go to our YouTube channel and watch it when ever you want. Come by and ask some questions to the boys and have some fun!