In Los Angeles, Matt Kemp played for one of the most popular sports franchises in the world in the 2nd largest city in the country. In San Diego, the Padre fans pride themselves not on wins and losses, but how well the Chablis goes with the brie while they watch the game from the picnic area. In Los Angeles, Matt Kemp went to all the hottest nightclubs. In San Diego, he’ll be frequenting places that look like the bar where Jodie Foster was in The Accused. In Los Angeles, Matt Kemp hung out with the hottest celebrities. In San Diego, “Hey, is that Natalie from The Facts of Life?” In Los Angeles, Matt Kemp dated Rihanna. In San Diego, Kemp’s dating Natalie. It’s only a mere two and half hour drive, but the culture shock is going to hit Kemp as soon as he arrives because he’s going to have to surrender his Lamborghini, there’s a town ordinance that everyone must drive a Jeep with no doors that they put plastic bags over when it rains once a year. On the backside of the site, I’m currently churning through rankings that will be coming in January. I nearly ranked Kemp higher than I want to admit to now. I was believing the 150 games played, 25 HR, 8 SB, .287 season he had last year. Whether I believe it or not, going to San Diego is going to hurt his value. From hitting in the middle of an All-Star lineup to hitting in the middle of Yellowstone. Kemp said on his first day in Petco, “It took some time to get my bearings. In other parks, you can set yourself in the batter’s box by using the outfield fences as a guide. Here, you have to assume the outfield fences are out there somewhere.” Kemp has money coming to him either way, so if he became a 20 HR, 5 SB, .270 guy for a few years, it wouldn’t surprise me. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 72/22/81/.276/8. Oh, and, yes, I’m cautiously optimistic this means Joc Pederson will now be the starting center fielder in LA. For more, I already went over my Joc Pederson fantasy. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:
Yasmani Grandal – Went the other way in the Kemp trade. Yeah, he’s now on sleeper radars. The obvious: better lineup, burgeoning power. (By the by, Burgeoning is my favorite red wine.) The less obvious: fly ball rate is increasing, can play first base if A-Gon finally breaks down, was once a former top prospect, solid walk rate, and again he’s leaving Petco! For straight fantasy value, I wouldn’t be surprised if Grandal outperforms Kemp in 2015. I wouldn’t predict it, but it does feel like one of those crazy BOLD PREDICTIONS that people make. Grandal does need to get his K-rate in order (inflated to 26% last year) otherwise he might only hit .198, but the possibility is here for a breakout. For 2015, I’ll give him 53/17/64/.231/2.
Rick Porcello – Traded to the Sawx. The Red Sox are going for quantity of starters over quality this offseason. Next thing you know they’ll make an offer for Bartolo. You can’t find more quantity than Bartolo. In Fenway, Porcello has a lifetime 6.41 ERA. Sawx fans, you are now contenders. Why even play the games?! Seriously, put the crown that was once worn by Babe Ruth on your head and prance through Faneuil Hall in your gotchies. I’m just joshing. That ERA was only in 19 2/3 IP and doesn’t mean anything. Porcello had the 20th lowest fly ball rate, and regularly induces ground balls. He should be able to handle Fenway about as well as he handled Comerica….Where he had a lifetime ERA of 4.58 in 529 IP! Let’s name him the World Series MVP right now, Sox fans! You got this thing in the bag! Porcello should be a serviceable fifth fantasy starter for mixed leagues in matchups, but I’m not a huge fan. For 2015, I’ll give him 14-8/3.91/1.29/121.
Yoenis Cespedes – Went the other way to the Tigers. Yoenis is going to love Detroit. It’s the last city on earth that loves 1950’s American-made automobiles as much as Havana, Cuba. Last year, he hit 22 homers, which sounds about right. Crazily, his HR/FB% was only 9.6%. If you know the tiniest bit about batted ball profiles, you know that means he hit a crapton of fly balls. You’d be right. He hit everything in the air. No wonder he hit .249 in Oakland in 189 ABs last year. That park is a rectangle that is 500 feet to center and five hundred feet behind first and third base. The Tigers led the AL in Home BABIP, and had a virtually neutral for HR/FB%. What does all this mean? Yoenis was behind the eight ball in Oakland, better in Fenway and just fine in Detroit. Due to his growing propensity for fly balls, he could hit 20 homers or 35 homers next year. Fo’really. For 2015, I’ll give him 73/26/87/.254/7.
Alfredo Simon – Will be replacing Porcello’s rotation spot on the Tigers. I try to keep this about fantasy over real world implications, but the Tigers essentially traded Porcello for Cespedes and Simon; I’d say the Tigers were the winners here. They made their offense markedly better and Simon should be able to give them roughly what they lost from Porcello. For fantasy, I don’t like Simon. He should feel comfortable in Detroit where his pregame routine of shooting his gun into the air isn’t frowned on, but his K-rate last year was 5.82. For that strikeout rate to work, he’d need a minus-2 walk rate. Instead, he had a 2.6 BB/9. Chuck that in with his 4.05 xFIP and the move to the AL, and I wouldn’t touch him with a nine-foot pole that then has twelve one-inch straws glued onto its end. For 2015, I’ll give him 11-10/4.17/1.33/109.
Justin Masterson – Red Sox signed him. Prior to this and their other pitcher signings this offseason, Boston wrote all free agent pitcher names on the bullpen wall, then coated those names with a layer of Super Glue. When finished, they opened the park to a visiting group of rhesus monkeys and escorted them into the bullpen. Where the crap hit and stuck, they signed. Masterson lost a ton on his velocity last year. So much, it appeared to be a result of an injury. He said it was his knee. If he’s healthy, he could be the best Red Sox starter, capable of a 3.50 ERA with 190 Ks. It’s a bit much to expect that though. For 2015, I’ll give him 11-9/4.02/1.32/145.
Kendrys Morales – The Royals got their replacement unathletic DH. Whew, who was going to clog the bases otherwise? The Royals couldn’t rely on Alex Gordon breaking a foot and playing through it on crutches like he’s Missy from Survivor (Am I the only one that still watches this? Prolly.). Morales also fills that new need on the Royals for the Largest Player With Under Ten Homer Power. Unless they were to sign Jose Molina, there wasn’t many guys they could’ve signed after losing Butler. Last year, Morales hit .218, but that was partly due to unfavorable luck. He should be good for a .250 average as long as his plate discipline doesn’t continue to whither as it did last year. For 2015, I’ll give him 60/18/74/.249.
Mark Reynolds – Signed by the Cardinals. On the surface, this seems like a whatever move that will only benefit daily NL-Only leagues, since Mini Donkey will only bat vs. lefties. Unfortch, this will cost Matt Adams ABs. Adams has spent his life struggling to find his ABs, don’t take them from him now! “If you hold my left moob up, I can point to an ab.” That’s Matt Adams locating his ABs for a passerby. For 2015, I’ll give Reynolds 39/16/43/.217/4.
Ross Detwiler – Traded to the Rangers. He throws plenty fast (93 MPH fastball), but doesn’t strikeout anyone (5.57 K/9). His K-rate makes him seem like he’s a soft-tossing lefty. His problem: he throws his fastball all the time. How did this guy get to the majors with one pitch? Last year, he threw his fastball 85.7% of the time. For qualified starters, Bartolo threw a fastball the most (82.6% of the time). Sure, Detwiler was a reliever and they can throw the same pitch over and over, but when Detwiler was a starter in 2013, he threw the fastball 88% of the time. He threw it more as a starter! No wonder he doesn’t get Ks; he throws like a batting cage machine. For 2015, I’ll give him 8-10/4.24/1.38/101.
Ervin Santana – Signed with the Twins. There’s an old chap in Minnesota who heard Ervin’s headed to his great state, and briefly thought his 60-year dream of the Minneapolis Lakers returning has finally been answered. Note to free agent pitchers: if you have to go to the AL, may as well be to pitch your home games in Hubert H. Homerfree Retrodome. Though, that’s only accurate per the strictest sense of knocking down homers. The Retrodome has played well for BABIP and runs of late. Either way, Ervin just pitched in the AL Central in 2013 and had a 3.24 ERA, so he’s capable of being a number three fantasy starter. For 2015, I’ll give him 12-10/3.58/1.27/168.
Mat Latos – Traded to the Marlins. If the Marlins are making a run at a championship this year, that means they could be selling off their entire team this time next year and moving to Montreal. I’m not even half-joking. I’m like twenty-nine percent joking. You know who is going to accept this trade with open arms? Dallas Latos. She looks forward to the challenge of insulting a new fan base on Twitter. She might need to learn some Spanish curses. The only thing stopping Latos from being a number one fantasy starter is health. He had knee surgery in the early part of last year and then got skipped in September due to an elbow bruise. When I Googled updates for Latos’s elbow, I swear to you I found multiple results that read, “Mat Latos’s wife says the injury is minor.” She’s one dye job from being Anna Benson. Latos is too young (27) to be breaking down, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but he does come with some risk. For 2015, I’ll give him 13-7/3.19/1.17/181.
Anthony DeSclafani – Headed to Cincy in the Latos trade. Threw 162 IP last year and logged major Frequent Flyer miles as he moved from Rookie Ball to the majors, stopping at Double-A and Triple-A on the way. Prospect Mike said about him, “Like the other pitchers listed (in the middle portion of the Marlins system), DeSclafani may never be more than a mid-rotation starter. With several of these arms getting closer to the majors there simply won’t be enough room for everyone either. Trades or shifts to the bullpen could be in the cards.” More like a trade could be in the Cards or the Reds. Huh, Mike, huh? Right now, DeSclafani is in the Reds rotation, but the only one that should be excited about that is his mustachioed mother on Staten Island.