After swinging a deal for Aaron Hill on Wednesday, the Red Sox have beefed up their bullpen trading for Brad Ziegler. Ziegler was rocking a 2.82 ERA, 1.46 WHIP and 18 saves with Arizona but he will likely be relegated to set up duty in Bean town. This is not to say his value is completely shot…yet. With Craig Kimbrel crying about his sore knee, Boston may be in need of an interim closer. Koji Uehara is the obvious first choice but his 4.96 ERA and 8 homers allowed in 32.2 IP make it seem like the choice ain’t so obvious. Still Koji’s 46/9 K/BB ratio makes me happy, and he notched the save Friday night (after surrendering a home run), so he’s the best bet for saves if Kimbrel misses any time. As for your new closer in the land of the rising sun? Tyler Clippard is the most likely candidate if you need saves or a buzz cut. He’s got a 3.06 ERA with 39 strikeouts over 32.1 IP, and saved 19 games for the Mets and A’s last year, but his career 57% save conversion rate certainly doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence. Daniel Hudson is the ideal saves candidate in Zona but has struggled mightily over the past month (12.96 ERA, 2.40 WHIP in 8.1 innings). Regardless, if you need a save and a haircut, I’d grab Clippard and Hudson in that order. And if you’re a Boston Red Sox team that desperately needs starting pitching, I’d recommend trading for a infielder and a relief pitcher.

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

With just over half of the MLB season in the rear view mirror, you should have a pretty good idea of where your fantasy team stands at the moment. The seasonal sample size is sufficient to properly evaluate the majority of the everyday players, and now is a good time to try to swing a deal to strengthen any weaknesses and make a push for the league title. The players on the extreme ends of the talent/production spectrum are fairly easy to identify. Who doesn’t want Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw on their fake teams? At the same time, it might be better to leave a lineup slot empty than to use either Alexei Ramirez or Yonder Alonso at any given time. Those are the easy decisions. The tough ones involve the players who are hovering somewhere in the middle, teetering on the edge of breakout or bust. Philadelphia Phillies 23-year-old third baseman Maikel Franco is such a player. After leading the Grapefruit League in homers and RBIs this spring, Franco looked as appetizing to fantasy players as an authentic Philly cheesesteak wiz wit. The first couple of months of the regular season weren’t all fresh Amoroso rolls and grilled onions for the second year player though. Through June 19th (263 plate appearances), Franco was sporting a .236/.281/.409 triple slash line with 19 runs, 11 homers, 33 RBIs, and zero steals. Not exactly the type of production that his owners had in mind. However, in his last 15 games and 66 PAs since then, Franco has slashed .375/.470/.786 with 14 runs, 6 homers, and 16 RBIs. So who is the real Franco? The mediocre three category liability that opened the season or the Miguel Cabrera clone of the last few weeks?

Let’s take a look at Franco’s profile to determine what can be expected from him over the remainder of the 2016 season. Here are a few observations:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

After the top 20 catchers for 2016 fantasy baseball, it’s all downhill.  And by downhill, I mean it will pick up speed and start moving quickly.  That really should be what “it’s all downhill” means.  I fixed you, English language, you’re welcome.  The top 10 for 2016 fantasy baseball and the top 20 for 2016 fantasy baseball were done the other day too.  I think this is what they call getting you up to date.  I don’t mean that as in, “We have to shave his unibrow into two eyebrows, and maybe have him wear something other than a sports jersey, so he’s ‘up to date’ a girl.”  This top 20 1st basemen for 2016 fantasy baseball goes to about 60.  Every year it seems like it gets longer and more unwieldy like the story you tell people on why you didn’t finish college.  As always, for each player there’s my projections and where I see tiers starting and ending.  There’s the position eligibility chart for 2016 fantasy baseball, and all the 2016 fantasy baseball rankings are under that linkie-ma-whosie.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 1st basemen for 2016 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Red Sox signed David Price to a seven-year deal for $217 million.  MFW I heard.  I get that half goes to the government, and ten percent goes to his lawyer, and ten percent goes to his agent, and ten percent goes to his business manager, and ten percent goes to his accountant, and ten percent goes to the guy in his business manager’s office that is pretending to be his business manager and moving money straight to a bank account in Turks and Caicos without anyone knowing, but $217 million is ludicrous.  The Ghost of Curt Flood says, “Ya’ll abusing the crack baby out free agency.”  The ‘crack baby’ modifier is popular amongst ghosts.  The Ghost of Marion Barry started it.  This contract makes me long for the days of collusion.  This doesn’t even take into account how stupid it is from the Red Sox perspective, and I don’t mean just due to Price’s unstellar (Made Up Word of the Day!) playoff history.  There will never be a contract where this much money ever makes sense.  Look at your World Champion Royals, they don’t have one guy making more than ten million.  Look at the past handful of huge contracts, have any of them looked good in hindsight?  By the third year, this will look as egregious as the contracts given to Sabathia, A-Rod, Cano, Ryan Howard…Okay, nothing will look as bad as Ryan Howard’s.  It’s not like contracts are secret either.  It’s not as if the Red Sox are sitting there scratching their heads wondering how much the Royals are paying Hosmer.  Big contracts get you nowhere!  I said that last sentence while pounding my fist on a lectern as a few kids dozed in the front row.  As for Price, he’ll turn 31 years old during the 2016 season, which is not exactly when pitchers get better, but he looks like he could stave off decline for a year or two.  Last year, his fastball velocity went up from 2014, his K-rate was above his career average and his walk rate was within sneezing distance of his career mark.  He was a tad lucky on homers, LOB% and BABIP, but he appears to be 2.70-3.20 ERA pitcher with neutral luck.  Of course, I wouldn’t draft him since I don’t buy number one fantasy aces, but I doubt Fenway or the AL East really hurt him that much.  At least not until the third year of his deal when there will be 217 million reasons why the Red Sox want to unload him.  For 2016, I’ll give him the projections of 17-7/3.03/1.10/225 in 220 IP.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this offseason for 2016 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, I was watching the Twins game and I fell asleep and had a dream that Razzball’s Twitter account got one of those blue check marks.  I’m not sure what this says about my fantasies, but it says something about Tyler Duffey and the Twins.  They lack a certain je ne sais Michelle Kwan.  The Twins seem to do this on purpose.  Very workmanlike.  Like a Minnesota woman who would handily beat me in an arm wrestling match.  Pun noted.  I’ve never been to Minnesota, but I picture the women looking like Jesse Ventura when he used to wear feathers in his hair and leotards.  As with just about every Twins pitcher since Radke, minus Liriano and Johan, Duffey is yet another Twins hurler that has solid control and okay, not great strikeouts.  Yesterday, he went 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 9 baserunners, 7 Ks vs. the Tigers, and had a 2.53 ERA in Triple-A with a 7 K/9.  I don’t see any huge upside here and is better in real life, which apparently the Twins play in.  The Stream-o-Nator hates his next start, but I would start him if I needed to gamble.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Matt Kemp went 2-for-3 with his 21st homer, and his 5th homer in the past ten games.  With the help of his last ten games, he’s quietly put together a decent season.  You’re likely thinking, “Quiet, yes.  Decent?  Well, he’s worn pants, if that’s what you mean by him getting himself decent.”  On our Player Rater, where do you think Kemp ranks overall?  For all players, not just outfielders or hitters.  If you said top 40, you’d be right and you likely cheated, because he did not feel like a top 40 fantasy player.   Outfield is absolutely stacked this year, and Kemp is only around the 15th best outfielder.  He’s been better than quite a few guys that you might think have been better Michael Brantley, Mookie Betts, Adam Jones…Okay, maybe you don’t think Adam Jones has been better.  Kemp is still nowhere near what he once was, nor will he be in 2016, and moving to San Diego from LA has had its challenges.  For instance, there’s real military at games and not just Mark Harmon fresh from the set of NCIS.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was able to pick up Pedro Alvarez (2-for-4, 19th homer) for the batty call yesterday, which is kinda silly since he has four homers in the last week, and now I don’t see how I can drop him.  Wouldn’t be the first time a batty call turned into living with each other for a few years, until the fighting becomes too much for each us.  But we’re not brave enough to leave, so we bitterly sleep with our backs to each other, and when Pedro falls asleep before me, I pull out my iPad, lower the volume so he can’t hear the sites I’m visiting and I excite my “Josh Reddick” until my “Marcus Semien” arrives and I cry myself to sleep.  Or something along those lines!  *giggles awkwardly, coughs, clears throat*  So, yes, that’s a vote for Pedro (just don’t get married to him).  Seriously, he’s hitting .252 with 19 homers, how is he only owned in 50% of leagues?  Not to answer, but to judge others.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yesterday, Latos was traded to the Dodgers, then not traded. Then CarGo was traded to the Mets, then not traded. Then Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers, and really traded, I think. I don’t know, I’m dizzy. Ruin Tomorrow Jr. was sad to see Hamels go, but this is the business he chose, after getting fired from Duane Reade for mixing up the garbage with “the important stuff.” And after getting fired for explaining to kids there is no Santa, after being dressed as the mall Santa. After being fired as Ruin Tomorrow Sr.’s personal assistant, but he maintains that was a misunderstanding. He thought, “Don’t tell your mother,” meant, “Don’t tell your mother until you see her.” After his no-hitter the other day, I said, “(Hamels’s) peripherals look fine and he’s just getting a tad unlucky. I could see someone thinking they’re selling high after this no-hitter, but Hamels is a low-3 ERA pitcher with a 9.6 K/9, i.e., a low-end fantasy ace.” And that’s me quoting me! I would’ve preferred to see him go to the NL, but Arlington is about a push with Citizens Bank and could see him stringing together a sub-3 ERA for two months. Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Williams were acquired by the Phils, and I’m sure Prospect Mike will go over them, after he gets their posters up in his living room. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Yankees outfielder Chris B. Young has been on fire in the past week and Krispie’s monster week culminated in last nights 3-hit performance including a 3-run homer run, his ninth. Ol’ Young has got himself a nine game hitting streak, with two homers, two stolen bases and eight RBIs in the stretch. He’s also managed four straight multi-hit games. Not bad for a guy with a .313 OBP! Ugh. Well, that number actually is bad. Still, Young’s batting .370 with three homers, 10 runs and 10 RBI in June and he’s managed to bring his average up to a respectable .270. The counting stats aren’t that bad for a guy who’s been stuck batting in the bottom of the order most of the year, but the fact that he’s been hitting higher in the order as of late could be a big reason for his recent success. He even led off on Thursday night! His BABIP suggests he may actually be getting a bit lucky, but sometimes, particularly in fantasy, lucky counts for just as many points as good. In deeper leagues, if you’re hurting for an outfielder Chris B. Young is definitely worth a look while he’s hitting all the baseballs. At the very least, he’s a reliable source of power in a good line up and a great park, and at just 10% owned he’s definitely worth a flier while he’s hot.

Here’s what else I saw Friday night in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I was in my IROC at a red light when a Camaro Z28 pulled alongside, revving the engine. I knew he wanted to race, so I pushed the button for my rear spoiler to emerge that reads, “Spoiler Alert: You Suck!” and spun my wheels until smoke enveloped both cars, then…I burned away from him! Turned out, the light was still red, I narrowly avoided hitting a few pedestrians and the Camaro Z28 was actually a cop. While the police officer was writing me a ticket, I got to thinking about how I’m always out in front of things. Whether it’s telling you to avoid Cano or draft Bryce, Donaldson or Arenado, it’s like I see the future. Sure, my Magic 8 Ball has a few blind spots, like the cop, red light, pedestrians diving out of the way and Gyorko, but I still beat him through the light. With this said, you need to get through the red light and get to Jon Lester first. Save conjecture and anecdotal evidence for the tales you tell your grandkiddies one day about your fantasy team, assuming you’re still talking about the imaginary team that got away in forty years. I know I will about Ryan Klesko’s 1-for-4 on the final day of the 2001 season that cost me everything. Everything! I mean, I already sent my bedroom wall measurements to ESPN for the championship pennant! So, what we know is Jon Lester used to pitch for the Red Sox, where Epstein was the GM. They are Peaches and Herb, and reunited does feel so good. Would Epstein go out and get damaged goods that he knew so well? Seems unlikely. Lester’s velocity is essentially the same this year as last, his K/9 is .2 different, which is nothing. His walk rate is up, and June has been his worst month for control (2.9 BB/9). From year to year, his walk rate went from an even 2 to (stutterer!) 2.3. Not a huge difference, but it’s there. Well, last year his May walk rate was 3.6 and ERA was 3.90, so he even had bad months last year, and his ERA last year was 2.46. It now sits at 4.25, and his BABIP is .344, which is unlucky. Yadda squared, what do all of these numbers mean?! It means Lester could have four months of a 2.50 ERA from here until September and it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I’d absolutely go out and buy him. Now, if you’ll excuse me *rear spoiler emerges, tires spin, car darts out into traffic* Spoiler Alert: You Suck! Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?