I shall open this column by quoting September 1st Grey: “I’m not enthused by the guys headed to the majors this September.” I agree completely – I thought there would be a lot more intriguing under-the-radar call-ups to discuss, both for NL or AL-only help over the next few weeks, or to grab with an eye on next year in keeper leagues. Instead, I’m reminded that keeping one’s head in the fantasy baseball game can be less fun and more chore-like with each passing day as we inch towards October.
In September, there’s a lot more inventory, but less of value. Veteran players on non-contenders are getting rested more often, as are young studs on playoff contenders. Starting pitchers are hitting innings limits. And since expanded rosters mean that there’s often no need to officially DL players, it can be hard to tell who is going to get at bats at all, and who is pretty much done for the year. If you’re still actively managing a fantasy team in a deep league at this time of year, there may be more names than ever to choose from on waivers… the tricky part is finding anyone who might actually help your team over the next three and a half weeks.
Now, just since I started writing this, news has arrived that J.P. Crawford and Luiz Gohara have reached the show, so things are getting at least a little more interesting. Meanwhile, here’s this weeks handful of guys who may still be floating around in the deepest of leagues:
Growing up, some of the best players in baseball were legacies. Juniors, so to speak. Think Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr., so on and so forth. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays have taken it upon themselves to bring the Jr.’s back to the game. It started unsuccessfully with Dwight Smith Jr., but has taken a turn for the better with the latest crop of Juniors. On yesterday’s podcast we briefly discussed Vlad Guerrero Jr. and his Lansing Lugnuts debut. Mostly because it was going on while we were recording, and I for one, love a good distraction. What I’m getting at is, we might have done you a disservice not listing this team as one to watch. With an exciting combination of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette (son of Dante), they’re definitely the best set of juniors out there. In fact the pair showed their oodles of upside Friday night, as each homered in the game. On Saturday they continued their assault on A ball, combining to go 3 for 8 with a run and an RBI. Some solid start for the duo, huh? Scouts rank Vlad Jr. amongst the top power prospects in the minors, and Bichette is viewed as a high upside middle infield prospect with 20+ homer upside. For our first Minor League Update of the season, it’s only right we go back to the future. Here’s what else is going on during opening weekend of Minor League Baseball.
There’s always a handful of player every season that are past their “rookie limits”, but they’re still kind of prospects. For many dynasty leaguers, like myself, these players are of keen interest. If you’re in a league where no minor leaguers past their limits can be stashed in minor league roster spots, then these guys are almost droppable. You watch the spring training box scores, scouting reports, and tweets, praying for news of a starting job. You don’t care if it takes injuries, suspensions, or jail time to the players ahead on the depth chart. If they don’t make the club out of spring then they’re burning a hole on your bench. What other option do you have besides dropping or holding? Might be the worst case scenario depending upon your league size, and setup regarding salary. Players like this can really put you in a pickle, and there’s a few hanging around this spring that could get you caught between first and second. Don’t get caught, get caught up, and hold or sell before it’s too late.
To paraphrase Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, “America has so many enemies: Iran, Iraq, China, Mordor, Josh Tomlin in away games, Justin Upton, Melvin Upton for the last two months, Clint Hurdle, the people on Twitter that take a trending topic and attach linkbait, Giancarlo Stanton’s groin when its injured, but not at all when its healthy, anyone that gets Mookie Betts out the once-in-a-blue-moon when someone can get him out, Clint Hurdle again, anyone that doesn’t appreciate blue raspberry, undesirable immigrants, by which I mean everyone that came after Carlos Martinez.” Yesterday, Carlos Martinez went 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 baserunners with 13 Ks to lower his ERA to 3.07. Thank you, come again! From last year to this year, C-Mart’s strikeout rate is down (9.2 to 7.8), his walk rate is unchanged, his velocity is virtually the same and his xFIP is up due to a lucky BABIP. So, what does that mean for Carlos Martinez 2017? Random prediction alert! I won’t be enthused about drafting him again next year, but he’ll likely be a solid #2 fantasy starter, i.e., good in a pinch, but not exciting, i.e., convenience forever, freshness never! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
I know the lede may scream Millennial, but I wasn’t born in the 90’s, my cursive writing is on point and I don’t wear a beanie in 95 degree weather. I never use shorthand when texting or emailing, but it’s tough to pass up on word play when Yu Darvish is part of the feature. Two weeks ago I gave you Tres Zurdos and this week I’m following up with Tres Diestros, or three righties for those of you who are north of the border. Carlos Martinez, $10,300 at Milwaukee is running point on our 3 headed monster tonight. I think most people will stay away from this one because he’s at Coors Jr, but he’s been lights out on the road this year. He’s 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA, granted his Ks aren’t where I’d like them to be, only 57 over 72.1 innings. Keep in mind the Brewers are still leading the league in Ks and in his previous two starts against Mil he racked up 19 Ks in just 13 innings. Darvish at $10,800 vs the Mariners is our middleman/comic relief for the evening. He walked 5 guys last time out, but he was in an National League park and he struggled to get the juices flowing in an unfamiliar place. Yu loves that hot Texas weather and I’m looking for him to bounce back tonight with at least 8-9 Ks to go along with a much needed Texas W. Closing for the Tres Diestros’s tonight is Jake Arrieta, $12,300 vs Pittsburgh. Yes I know he’s a bit pricey, especially since he hasn’t been the dominate Ace we saw in the second half of last season, but he owns the Pirates. When it comes to taking the mound against his Central League Rival he definitely brings his A game, as he’s 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA to go along with 33 Ks over 27 innings.
Manny Machado put up his right hand yesterday to measure it against a hand drawing every clubhouse has posted on its wall. The drawing is of Mark Whiten’s hand that once held four baseballs in it. Four baseballs for the four homers he hit in one game. In the Padres’ clubhouse, this hand has been removed because it’s just a not-so-subtle reminder of what will never be. In the Indians’ clubhouse, the hand is made into a turkey to celebrate the first Thanksgiving. In the Astros’ clubhouse, the hand has been cut out and fashioned into a t-shirt for Altuve. Imagine if Donald Trump wins the presidency and throws out a first pitch. He may never make it to the field, too distracted in the clubhouse by measuring his hands against Whiten. Yesterday, Machado came a fingernail short of the hand, hitting three homers with seven RBIs. Now has 25 homers on the year with a .307 average. Terrific, stupendous, adjective! What’s more remarkable is he does not have one steal all year. Almost as crazy, he’s only attempted three. Did he have a knee transplant this offseason with McCutchen as the donor? Machado stole 20 bases last year. To go to none? Wow, his feet definitely don’t measure up to the Rickey Henderson foot drawings in each clubhouse. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:
Steve Cishek hit the DL with the same injury that sounds like it once affected Nadia Comaneci –a torn labrum. Grey’s got Olympics fever! Which this year sounds like it can be transmitted by a mosquito. “I’m not wearing my Brazilian national flag t-shirt to sit in the room all day! Actually, I feel a little woozy too.” That’s a family of four coming down with the Zika Virus at this year’s Olympics. With Cishek likely out for the year, grab Edwin Diaz in all leagues. On a related note, I’ll leave you with the Double Dutch Bus, a song that Missy Elliott later made famous on Gossip Folks. The chorus for Double Dutch Bus sounds like it’s just me trying to say the name Steve Cishek. Fast forward to 2:15 if you’re not feeling early 80s funk and just want the guy to say Steve Cishek repeatedly.
Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
Mike Napoli hit his 27th homer yesterday. He now has five straight games with a home run. On the year, he is top 30 for fantasy value on our Player Rater. Dude is such butter right now brioche buns be jumping up on his back. (Why am I not writing rap lyrics?) Uh-oh, Napoli’s so hot, he’s bringing out my rap alter ego, B-Fire. Napoli is such butter right now brioche buns be jumping up on his back! Yo, he’s not whack like some homeboy going to a strip club with a quarter stack! In fact! Grey’s got more indoors, then you got outdoors, and technically there’s more room outdoors for you to have more but nope, my room’s got floors! *dance, prance, romance off your pants* My action lines got asterisks, smooth. Your action lines got an asterisk with an excuse down below why you can’t move. *said while bowing sushi chef-style* Napoli. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
Whatta day, here’s how it started. I woke up around 5 am, drank lots of coffee, did work stuff, got word around 8:15 that Alex Bregman would get the call this weekend and was set to join the surging Astros in Seattle. I then proceeded to pat myself on the back, throw a finger to the haters, and all the people who lived in the buildings I was prospecting in front of that called the cops on me when I was trying to make some money to feed my daughter. It was show and prove time for mi numero uno perspectiva fantasia. No longer would readers lament my existence while they starred down a dead spot on their rosters. For it was Bregman day and it was glorious. Then POOF it wasn’t, as A.J. Hinch decided to open his fat mouth and tell everyone that numero uno perspectiva fantasia Alex Bregman , would NOT be joining the team in Seattle. He did offer one assurance, Bregman could help the team down the stretch. Ahhhhh, hi A.J., my name’s Ralph, NO SH**. I’ve only been saying that forever. Doesn’t matter, he’s coming up. Maybe not this weekend, but maybe next week. Hell, maybe Monday! I’m the captain of the SS prospector, and I will sink this ship before I change course! Knowing I was writing this post for today, I thought “how appropriate everything is coming together for Ralph, The Summer of Ralph!!!”. Meh, enough of that let’s talk about the rookies that will give your redraft team a boost in the second half.
Tell me this isn’t the most American thing you’ve ever heard. I sit mere miles from Cooperstown, NY, sipping an American made brew, working away on the final stretches of my Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects for Fantasy Baseball, while fireworks crackle overhead. The smell of beer and lawn clippings fill the air, and I just cooked some bacon on the barrel of my rifle. The last sentence was complete bullshizz, but the part before it is fairly accurate. I mean I’m not enough of a tool that I would sit in the yard with my laptop writing. But I am enough of a tool that I was formulating what I would type, once the pack of wild animals I affectionately call my children decide to finally retire to their beds for the evening. Well, the time has come and here I am writing to you, and you alone. Without anymore rambling incoherent non-sense, allow me to introduce the Top 100 Prospects Fantasy Baseball. This list is built with an eye to the future, in other words my goal is for this list to be more reflective of a pre-season 2017 list than the pre-season 2016 lists. I went bold, and I avoided the boring. Meaning I have no use for your Julio Urias’, your Lucas Giolito’s, A.J. Reed’s, Cody Reed’s and the like. You know those guys, they’re playing in the bigs, at this point they’re A. owned in your dynasty or B. owned in your redraft league so C. they’re owned. You thought I was going to say there’s no C right? What do I look like Grey? Nope I’m much taller and my facial hair is more Don Johnson than John Oates.