greg-maddux-john-smoltz-tom-glavine
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It’s always fun to generate and debate lists. We’ll continue with the All-2000 to Present Braves Lineup.
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C – Brian McCann
1B – Freddie Freeman
2B – Martin Prado
3B – Chipper Jones
SS – Rafael Furcal
RF – Jason Heyward
LF – Jeff Francoeur
CF – Andruw Jones
SP – Greg Maddux
SP – John Smoltz
SP – Tom Glavine
SP – Tim Hudson
SP – Julio Teheran
Closer – Craig Kimbrel
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Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins
New York Yankees
Oakland A’s
Seattle Mariners
Tampa Bay Rays
Texas Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays

Feelin’ Beachy

25 June 2011


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Brandon Beachy is no joke. OK, so the 2-1 record is a little funny considering he has a 3.22 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and 57 strikeouts in 50-1/3 innings. Somewhere Matt Cain feels his pain. What Beach has been able to do this year has been remarkable.
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In his nine starts Beachy has recorded at least seven strikeouts on six occasions. Six times he has allowed two or fewer runs. Six times he’s allowed four or fewer hits.  He’s only walked more than two batters in one start.
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In his first start after returning from the DL he had his work cut out for him against Toronto. How did he respond? By pitching six innings and allowing one run on four hits with 11 strikeouts. He basically shut down one of the most potent offenses in the league fresh off the disabled list. That is ridiculous.
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It’s not the first time he shut down a potent offense. Twice he’s rendered the Brewers’ bats useless. He also silenced the Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals.
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About the only team that has had success against him is Philadelphia. His next start is scheduled to be against Seattle on Tuesday. Tell me that doesn’t make you lick your chops.
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Despite his success Beachy is available in about half of all fantasy leagues. Hurry up and grab him before a competitor notices his solid match-up next week.
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Also check out:


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We all know Dan Uggla isn’t going to win a batting title anytime soon. Sure he hit .282 as a rookie and .287 in his last year with the Marlins, but in between he hit .245, .260, and .243. There year his average is south of .200.
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Through 44 games Uggla is hitting .196 with 19 runs, seven home runs, 15 RBI, and a stolen base, which puts him on pace for a .196-70-26-55-4 season. The home run total is not bad, but it is short of the 30.8 he averaged in his first five years in the league. His run and RBI totals are even further below average.
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Obviously you can’t just cut him, but should you cut your losses and try to move him based on his name value alone?  On the flip side, if you don’t own him should you put a feeler out to see what his asking price is?
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I choose the latter. I have Uggla in one of my leagues and I am holding firm on him.  In other leagues I will make a play for him. After all, there are signs that suggest things will get better.
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Though the end results are nothing to brag about, he has had a slight improvement in May. He entered the month hitting .194. He has hit .200 this month to raise his average two points. His on-base percentage was .250. His May OBP is .304 to raise it twenty points. His OPS was .629. His May OPS is .671 to raise it sixteen points.
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He’s also striking out less than he has the past four seasons. His 22.0 percent strikeout rate is still high, but it beats the 25.3%, 26.6%, 32.2%, and 26.4% rates he’s posted 2007-2010. No, it doesn’t help his batting average, but it is a positive sign.
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Uggla has been unlucky. His BABIP is .210. Even with this year’s mark bring down his average, his lifetime BABIP is .297. With a track record of a much higher BABIP, one would think his luck would eventually work in his favor.
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It’s also worth noting that March/April has been the worst month throughout his career. His average before May is .238 and .265 from May on.
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At this point you’re probably hoping for a .240-.250 average at best for Uggla. While it’s not desirable, it sure beats one south of the Mendoza Line. Maybe he’s pressing to prove himself to his new teammates. Maybe it’s just taking him a little longer than expected to adjust to his new team and city. It’s typically taken Uggla some time to heat up. The power is still there. If you can swoop in and nab him before the average returns, you’ll be able to reap the benefits when it does.
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Also check out:


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While it still remains early in the year, Brandon Beachy’s 42-1/3 innings over seven starts can tell a story about him.
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He’s been a bit snake bitten given his 1-1 record despite a 2.98 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. Perhaps it is because Atlanta is going a good job of keeping his work load down. He has averaged 96 pitches per start, with a max of 111. He has only pitched seven innings on one occasion. Beachy combined for 135 innings at Double-A Mississippi, Triple-A Gwinnett, and his cup of coffee (15 innings) with the Braves. Obviously Beachy is a candidate to get shut down early, but that is something to worry about later in the year.
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Beachy had a 9.46 K/9 ratio at the Triple-A level last year, and it has translated well in the bigs. Last year Beachy had a 9.00 mark, and this year it has elevated to 9.57. While he has yet to crack double-digits in a start, he has fanned seven or more five times.
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Beachy’s control has dramatically improve from his first taste of the majors as he has lowered his BB/9 from 4.20 to 2.34. That is an alarming drop, but the 2.34 mark is right in line with what he’s done since debuting professional in 2008. He simply doesn’t walk a lot of batters. The lack of control he exhibited last year could have been nerves. It does help explain the bloated WHIP (1.53).
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While I don’t anticipate Beachy maintaining a sub-1.00 WHIP, it is right around where he’s been since reaching the Double-A level, not including last year’s stint with the Braves. I expect it to increase, but not dramatically.
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Another thing working for Beachy is the fact that he doesn’t have a ridiculously low BABIP to falsify his peripherals. His .245 mark is lower than it has been at any level, but it doesn’t set the alarms off. Part of it is allowing more home runs. Prior to this season Beachy had allowed eight home runs in 223 innings. He has allowed half as many home runs in 42-1/3 innings. A higher HR/9 ratio can explain some of the BABIP decrease.
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His batting average against likely won’t remain at .194, but he was at .218 at Triple-A last year.
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With his past success and current dominance, I believe Brandon Beachy is the real deal. Will he get shut down early? Probably, but you have a few months to utilize his services before that time.
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After going 11-4 as a rookie, there were high hopes for Tommy Hanson going into last season. Despite 75 more innings pitched, he finished with one fewer win en route to a 10-11 season.
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It would easy to be disappointed by the sub-.500 record, but there was more to the story. Despite a difference of 0.257 in winning percentage, his ERA went up just 0.44 to a rock solid 3.33. His WHIP actually dipped a bit from 1.18 to 1.17.
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While he struck out fewer per nine innings, he made great strides in his control picking up just ten additional walks in those extra 75 innings.
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A look at his splits are proof at how wins can be overrated. Take a look:
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Before the All-Star Game:  4.13 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .271 BAA
After the All-Star Game:  2.51 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .205 BAA
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Clearly he was 2-6 in the first half and 8-5 in the second half. Wrong. Despite pitching remarkably better in the second half he won just two out of eight decisions. continue reading »


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Yunel Escobar was a guy I was high on coming into the  year. He thanked me with a .238-28-0-19-5 line prior to the All-Star Break. He stunk it up enough that the Braves dealt him  (an Jo-Jo Reyes) to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez, Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky.

 

Gonzalez was tearing it up for Toronto with a .259–47-17-50-1 line before the deal. His fantasy owners have to be singing the blues. Gonzalez is moving from Rogers Centre with the 8th highest HR factor to Turner Field, which checks in at 17. While I wouldn’t recommend dropping Alex Gonzalez, I would keep a close eye on his production following the trade.

 

One doesn’t have to look any further than last year’s Blue Jays SS Marco Scutaro to see what happens when you leave Toronto. His numbers are down across the board for Boston.

 

Escobar is 16 for 51 (.314) with 7 runs, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 1 SB in 14 career games against the Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees.

 

You should be able to get him for a reasonable price. He could aslo be on your waiver wire as he’s owned in 41 percent of ESPN and 72 percent of CBS leagues.

With Rafael Furcal and Yunel Escobar landing on the DL, there will be some fantasy owners in the market for a new fantasy shortstop. Here are some reasonably available options.

 

Yuniesky Betancourt, Kansas City Royals
The Royals are 23rd with 104 runs scored, but Betancourt has been decent. He’s hitting .278 with 10 runs, 2 HRs, and 8 RBIs. He’s owned in 14.7 percent of ESPN and 18 percent of CBS leagues.
***Update***
With Mike Aviles back in the mix, he’s probably a more attractive option.

 

Cliff Pennington, Oakland A’s
Oakland isn’t an offensive powerhouse either, but Pennington is hitting .272 with 10 runs, 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 4 SBs. He’s owned in 18.9 percent of ESPN and 46 percent of CBS leagues.

 

Cristian Guzman, Washington Nationals
Guzman qualifies at SS despite playing 2B for the Nats. He’s hitting .271 with 10 runs, 8 RBIs, and 1 SB. He’s owned in 6 percent of ESPN and 15 percent of CBS leagues.

 

Juan Uribe, San Francisco Giants
Uribe qualifies at 2B, 3B, and SS making him very valuable. He’s hitting .292 with 11 runs, 3 HRs, 16 RBIs, and 1 SB. He’s likely not available in ESPN leagues (74.2 percent ownership), but may be had in CBS leagues (48 percent).

 

Orlando Cabrera, Cincinnati Reds
Cabrera is the opposite of Uribe. He’s owned in 59 percent of CBS and 19.3 percent of ESPN leagues. He’s hitting .253 with 10 runs, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, and 3 SBs.

Yunel Escobar is somewhat overlooked because he doesn’t steal many bases, especially for a shortstop, and doesn’t stand out in any particular category. Click here to see where I have him ranked among fantasy shortstops.

While that is true, it doesn’t mean he isn’t a quality SS. He finished 7th in runs (89), 10th in hits (158), 9th in doubles (26), tied for 6th in HRs (14), 5th in RBIs (76), 6th in average (.299), and 5th in OPS (.812) among shortstops.

Yunel  has improved each year, and at 27 should continue to perform at a high level, though he will need to improve against lefties. He hit just .232 against them last year. He was rather consistent  though, hitting .293 with 41 runs, 7 HRs, and 44 RBIs in 283 ABs before the All-Star Game, and .306 with 48 runs, 7 HRs, and 32 RBIs in 245 ABs afterwards.

Escobar struck out just 62 times in 528 ABs last year for a MLB best 0.92 BB/K ratio among shortstops. He puts the ball in play, which gives him an opportunity to accumulate fantasy stats for you.

If you don’t get a top six shortstop (Hanley, Tulo, Jeter, Reyes, Rollins, Andrus), you’re better served to address other needs for a few rounds. Then go ahead and grab a SS from the next tier. While others are taking Stephen Drew, Jason Bartlett, Rafael Furcal, and the like, I’ll take Escobar, and enjoy his across-the-board contributions.

Predictions:  .295, 95 runs, 17 HRs, 78 RBIs, 5 SBs

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:
Brandon Webb


Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Now an early look at the NL East.

1.  Will Tommy Hanson lead the Braves in Wins?
There is a decent chance he does. Jair Jurrjens pitched about as well as you can imagine last year and only managed to win 14 games. Tim Hudson always has question marks. Derek Lowe hasn’t won 16 games since 2006. That leave Hanson who won 11 in 21 starts. He stumbled a bit in July (1-2, 3.94 ERA), but rebounded nicely to finish the year off.

2.  Can Billy Wagner hold up?
He sure looked good for Boston last year. He had good velocity. He’s getting up there in age, but I believe the lefty could put together a 30 save season.

3.  Will Ricky Nolasco bounce back?
Nolasco was high on everyone’s list going into last year after his 15-8, 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 2008. Sure, his ERA bloated to 5.06, but his WHIP was a very respectable 1.25. What’s more is he had a better strikout ratio (9.49 K/9 compared to 7.88). Plus, he was 11-4 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP from June through the end of the year. Hopefully his first half struggles and overall numbers let him slide in your drafts making him a great value in 2010.

4.  Will Leo Nunez hold on to the Closer gig?
It’s his job to lose, but do note that he blew seven of his 33 save opportunites (21 percent). He was even worse in December with three blown saves in 11 chances with a 6.10 ERA.

5.  Is Citi Field cursed?
I can’t recall a team going through as many injuries at the Mets did last year. Reyes, Wright (see where he ranks among 2010 Third Basemen), Johan, Beltran, the list goes on and on. Seriously though, I think the offense will be fine. Jason Bay adds his big bat to an already impressive lineup (when healthy). The trouble is their pitching. I don’t see them having enough starting pitching to compete with Atlanta or Philadelphia.

6. Will Cole Hamels return to form?
I can’t think of a more important question for the Phillies. I think the role of Superman in the postseason may have got to his head a bit. He received a lot of negative attention when he said he couldn’t wait until the season was over. I didn’t take it as him quitting rather the year took a toll on him. I think he’ll work hard to get back to the level he and his fantasy owners have grown accustomed to. Despite his struggles, he did manage to produce a decent ERA (4.32) and a solid WHIP (1.29). He doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff anymore either.

7.  Will Jayson Werth continue to be a fantasy beast?
After a solid 2008 season, Werth’s numbers exploded last year as he scored 98 runs, hit 36 HRs, and had 99 RBIs. He matched his 2008 SB total with 20. He’ll turn 31 early in the year, and I see no reason he can’t continue to produce at a high level, especially in that lineup.

8.  Should you draft Stephen Strasburg?
Only in deep keeper leagues. He means too much to the future of the Nationals for them to rush him along. If you’re in a league with three or four keepers, he won’t be worth hanging onto just yet. Be patient with him, like the Nationals will be.

9.  Will Nyjer Morgan continue to produce?
I don’t see why not. He was solid for Pittsburgh before being dealt to Washington, where he was even better. He hit .351 with 35 runs and 24 SBs in 49 games with the Nationals.

 

That didn’t take long. Shortly after the Red Sox bolstered their pitching staff by adding John Lackey to the likes of Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, the Yankees made a splash of their own. They struck a deal with the Braves to land Javier Vazquez for Melky Cabrera.

Vazquez will join a rotation that already includes C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain.

The Yanks are now in the market for an Outfielder. They can go with Jason Bay or Matt Holliday if they want to make another big splash, or go for a lower end option to make a run at Joe Mauer next year.

As for the Braves, they will likely look to add a bat with the money the freed up by dealing Vazquez.

Also included in the deal were Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino going to Atlanta and Boone Logan coming to the Bronx.


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