When Jeremy Bonderman was designated for assignment on Monday, I left work, went to the bar next door, bought nine shots of Jameson, drank 11 shots of Jameson — I don’t know where the other two came from — and then drove home. I was ecstatic. Like Grey, I had been desiring an Erasmo-Ram for my behind for quite some time, and not until Monday did I finally get to feel its smooth touch. It was fantastic. On Monday night, in my drunken sleep, I once again fantasized about Erasmo Ramirez, but was interrupted when Grey entered my dream and caught E-Ram cheating on him with me, which pretty much ruined my night. Grey and I weren’t on speaking terms Tuesday, but Wednesday morning we agreed to share E-Ram in some type of fantasy domination sex triangle. The whole triangle, though, of course balances perilously on E-Ram’s nauseating Thursday matchup against the Red Sox — a matchup you don’t want to bet love, or at least sex on. This fantasy baseball Ramirez fantasy is so vivid and marvelous, of course, because Ramirez is one of those young studs that has the keeper potential to carry your staff year-in-year-out, allowing you to focus solely on offense for the first six or seven rounds of your draft. It’s a relieving feeling. I don’t really need to elucidate any further on what Ramirez offers as a one-year pitcher or a keeper guy, because a) Albright did that already, and b) love needs no explanation. What do need explanation, though, are those other guys who might not be so lovely, yet still look keep-able.
The fantasy trade deadline is approaching as fast as anything else approaches, but it warrants extra attention because if you cross the line unprepared, you’re dead. See? In keeper leagues, as I’m sure you know, not only do we have to make trades to help our odds down the stretch for this year, but we also have to try and gauge exactly how guys will be perceived next year, and if that said gauge merits acquiring said player now or if we can wait until next year’s draft to pick him up. Not to mention gauging whether or not that guy is even good anyway. If a player you have might be coveted next year but sucks anyway, well, you don’t want him. But you know this. Let’s get to the interesting guys that will/won’t help you down the 2013 stretch and who you should/shouldn’t keep for next year and beyond.
Alex Cobb (219.9, $2 ADP in 2013; 150, $7 next year)
Excitement surrounded Cobb coming into 2013, and that excitement has proven sturdily supported. Turns out, he’s pretty much throwing the same stuff as he did last year, which is kind of a boring thought. According to Fan Graphs‘ PITCHf/x, Cobb’s throwing fastballs 46.8% of the time after last year’s 49.3%, is throwing his curve 21.1% of the time after last year’s 19.1%, and has only increased change-up by 0.3%, a percentage not even worth mentioning, but I’ve already typed it, so it’s staying. All of this is pretty standard.
His strikeout rate is higher, his is walk rate lower, and he’s still getting a lot of ground-balls. One thing that strikes me as odd, though, is his left-on-base percentage. What sat at 68.5% last year, now sits at an uber-duper-super high 81%, especially for a guy who isn’t an uber-duper-super strikeout guy. That rate for a guy whose SO/BB is 4.17 with bases empty and 2.36 with runners on? That won’t hold.
Don’t want to kick a guy while he’s down (why the hell did the MLB decline adding kevlar to the inside of pitchers’ hats?), but he’s obviously not as good as he showed pre-concussion. If he comes back and puts up a 3.60-3.70 ERA for the rest of the season, his numbers will still be pretty at year’s end, so next year he’ll be drafted even higher than he was this year. He won’t fulfill those earlier picks, but if you keep him next year for the price paid in 2013’s draft, he’ll be a good fantasy #3. Go grab him from a bored, impatient owner, and cite Brian Roberts.
Jose Fernandez as suggested by Razz’s own Mike Buttil (Undrafted; 60s, $4 next year)
Jeez, guys, I’m sorry I excluded from my last pitcher column. He was undrafted this year and will shoot up the draft charts for 2014. Like, shoot like a gun. Guns shoot. Fast. Shoot fast. He will shoot fast. Up the draft charts. How do similes work?
It’s really hard to poke holes in a 20-year-old who already looks like a bona fide staff ace. He’s adored by scouts, throws five pitches for strikes, and has almost a 10-MPH difference between his four-seamer and change.
The one hole to poke, though, is that a guy with a 0.78 GB/FB rate won’t always have a 5.6% HR/FB rate. When you allow that many fly-balls your HR/FB rate will graduate closer to 7% than 5.6%. Fortunately for Fernandez — and hey, why not induce pops while pitching there? — he plays in Crayola Canyon. His home/road splits are weird — 1.47 ERA at home, 4.17 away — and you’d think that’s because of the Miami benefits for a fly-baller, but he’s only allowed one more homer in basically the same amount of innings. Chalk it up as a 20-year-old adjusting to away parks, and love him forever. Even if that homer rate levels, he’ll be going for much higher than you got him for this year and for what you’d have to pay for him in a trade right now. Go get him and Erasmo and enter the middle of that delicious Hispanic sandwich. He’ll help you now and later, like that crappy candy cheap people give away on Halloween.
Madison Bumgarner as suggested by @bkanexc (51.9, $17 ADP in 2013; slightly higher in 2014)
Bumgarner seems to have proven who he is — he’s been consistently around the same numbers for two-and-a-half years now. Fortunately for owners, who he is is a good pitcher.
Don’t ask my why the hell he takes the ball out of his glove so early:
it’s gross looking and reminds me of my handicapped cousin Esther in our family whiffle ball game, but it obviously works. I wonder if Ted Williams would be able to see the grip in his hand. By the way, Upton definitely hit that ball 450 feet.
Superficially, Bum’s having his best year as a starter. A 3.05 ERA and sub-1 WHIP are filthy gross and uber sexy and, for the most part, are legit. Standard BAbip problem exists, though — Bumgarner, as a pitcher, is closer to what he was last year than what he is this year.
After a freakishly high .329 BAbip-against in 2011 and a low .280 BAbip-against in 2012, Bumgarner’s BAbip-against this year is at an unsustainably low .235. Matched with a high 24% line-drive rate, that BAbip-against is even shakier. His career H/9 is 8.2. This year? 6.2.
He’s young, a southpaw, relatively healthy, is a borderline #1 and stud #2, and he’ll remain that way. You’d pay out of your hopefully-introduced-to-Erasmo butt if you wanted to grab him before the deadline, and you paid quite a bit for him in the draft, but you’re paying for a consistent stud who performs across the board. He’s not quite this good, though he definitely has time to get better, so ask yourself if you want to pay that slight surplus for security — I would.
Gerrit Cole (Undrafted in 2013; mid-200s, $3 next year)
He’s not there yet and all of that stupid “oh my god he’s 4-0!” hype was stoopid. With an 82% contact rate, he’s not missing bats; with a 26% line-drive rate, he’s, well, giving up too many line-drives; with a 3.7% HR/FB, he’s getting pretty lucky. He’s been a strikeout guy and he will become a strikeout guy as he gets older, but, seriously, 13.3% K-rate so far? Like, that’s worse than Eric Stults. He won’t be much help for you down the stretch, and his stock will, compared to how frenetically and heedlessly everyone ran to their wire when he came up, be lower come the 2014 draft. He’ll be drafted next year, but I don’t expect much production.
Julio Teheran (217.1, $3 in 2013; could go as high as 140, $9 in 2014)
I’m buying. Don’t you love those wonderful thoughts you get when a former stud prospect finally begins to look like he knows what he’s doing? I’m sure Homer Bailey owners know what I’m talking about. Teheran, Baseball America’s #4 prospect pre-2012 and MLB.com’s #5 prospect that same year, deserves an excusal for stinking while being up too early last year and the year before. He’s not walking anyone and is throwing first-pitches for strikes 67% of the time en route to an acceptable 20.3% K rate. He’s a fly-ball guy and an 8.6% HR/FB rate is high but regular.
He instituted a slider this year—a pitch he never threw in 2011 or 2012—and he’s throwing it 20.9% of the time; batters are making less contact and, according to PITCHf/x Pitch Values, the new slider is his second-best pitch after his dirty fastball, which sounds like a good cocktail.
Drafters will love the strikeout potential next year and his “win potential” being on the Braves will increase his perceived value, too, so grab him now if possible. He’s finally here to stay.
Time for some Razzmirazz.
Follow Terse on Twitter @TerseRazzball, he needs distraction from the stupid Geico pig who gets pulled over during every MLB.tv commercial. He’ll also be doing a Reddit AMA with Tom Jacks on Tuesday, 7/16, at 7 pm.