This early in the season impatience almost always breeds irrationality. Owners faced with an already disheartening deficit rush to judgment about statistical deadweights, commodities just weeks before they placed on a pedestal. Often times, these category killers come from the ranks of the hyped, green but tremendously gifted prospects that fail to deliver instant results. Inevitably, they become the first casualties in roster overhauls, pawned off to sharks for a bag of Skittles and a song. In many instances, it's these careless moves that separate the fantasy men from the boys. Take this poor member of Noise Nation (From April 21):
DaddyJuice isn't the only virtual manager sipping the Haterade over Matt Moore. Looking at the players he's attracted in recent one-for-one industry deals — Brian McCann, Jose Altuve, Brian LaHair and Santiago Casilla — many have hastily jumped ship.
Surely, they're all in MENSA.
Underselling one of the best young arms in the game after a handful of starts is equivalent to booting Kate Upton from your one-man Jacuzzi party because she was a little sloppy. As spring gives way to summer, Moore will become one of the hottest properties in fantasy. The rookie is simply too talented to remain inconsistent long. Insiders around baseball unanimously agree the southpaw is a future frontline ace. One Rays scout told me this winter his stuff is "insanely good, the real deal."
According to scouting measurements, he does indeed possess all the tangibles/intangibles needed to execute at an extraordinary level. According to Baseball America, every aspect of his game scores well above average on the 20-80 scale. His humiliating mid-90s fastball and knee-buckling curve, in particular, are otherworldly. His deceptive change, too, is a plus pitch. Also blessed with a veteran cool on the mound, he is a franchise pillar. It's no wonder why he sold for nearly $20 in "expert" auctions in March and well ahead of reliable arms Matt Garza, Ricky Romero and Gio Gonzalez in average Yahoo! snake drafts. Potential is very, very seducing.
So why, for the most part, has he sucked the hind teet?
A number of different ailments are plaguing him. For starters, his supposed pinpoint control has failed. With a 4.50 BB/9, he's often missed spots, leading to an uncomfortable amount of fly balls (46.8 FB%), many of which have found the cheap seats (1.50 HR/9). This also explains why his K/9 has hovered in the 7.00 range, a far cry from his 12-plus rate in the minors.
Run support has also been an issue. Winless on the season, he's received a disappointing 4.20 runs per nine, the 60th-best mark among qualifying starters. Heck, even a pair of Padres, Corey Luebke and Clayton Richard, have gotten by with more help from their friends.
Yes, many of the problems impacting the lefty's numbers are alarming, but there are also underlying signs a turnaround is imminent. Nearly 64-percent of Moore's first pitches have attracted umpire yells, well-above the 59.3-percent league average. However, present in his 10.2 swinging strike rate (Still way above the league average), the opposition has only occasionally chased his stuff, causing the youngster to work deeper in counts and rack walks. And when hitters have pulled the trigger, many have made contact (80.2 CT%), particularly on offerings over the outer half of the plate.
Location is imperative for Moore to bounce back quickly. Once he begins hitting his spots with more consistency the kid should again be the central subject of AL Rookie of the Year conversations. Despite the hurler's mediocre final line in his April 26 turn (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K), Joe Maddon observed a pitcher that "looked more like the guy we saw last year." Channeling his inner "Carnac," the skipper added if he "keeps pitching like that, I can see many wins in his future."
Finally on the right side of the ledger Tuesday against Seattle, the Ray definitely packed plenty of sting. Granted it was against the Mariners, but he allowed just one earned over five innings, K'ing a season-high seven. Consider it a turning point. Moore faces Oakland, Baltimore and Atlanta over his next three starts, all winnable affairs.
Patience needs to be a priority this time of the year. For Moore owners who didn't bail, their loyalty will soon be repaid in a major way.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 134.1 IP, 9 W, 3.41 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 140 K,
FLAMES OF THE WEEK (Hot properties owned in less than 50-percent of Y! leagues)
Allen Craig, StL, 2B/OF (26-percent owned)
Craig, a defensive vagabond, could soon become Mike Matheny's Mark Trumbo. The post-season hero returned to the lineup Tuesday after an extended recovery from offseason knee surgery going 2-for-4 with a run, RBI and SB. When healthy, the 28-year-old can lay the lumber. Last season in over just 200 at-bats, he compiled a .315-11-40-33-7 line. According to Baseball Monster his subsequent 69th-best per game mark among hitters ranked ahead of starting staples Starlin Castro, Adam Jones and Billy Butler. Understanding the damage he is capable of as a full-timer, Matheny will have to get creative to feed Craig regular at-bats. With Lance Berkman on the shelf, steady PT at first base is the short-term plan, though he will be eased in initially. However, when the Big Puma prowls again, he could be relegated to some sort of utility role, a gig the Post-Dispatch describes as "a modified rotation at several positions." Best guess: He'll net roughly 4-5 starts per week juggling between 1B, LF, RF, 2B and possibly 3B, a spot he manned twice last year. Because of his noticeable power and high BA potential, he could develop into one of the sharpest Swiss Army Knives in the virtual game. Throw him a Bud in 12-team and deeper mixers.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 423 at-bats, .296 BA, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 61 R, 3 SB
Chris Capuano, LAD, SP (21-percent)
Matt Kemp may be from outer space, but Capuano, too, is becoming a galactic force for the Dodgers. Purchased in many leagues, even NL-only formats, for a crisp G-Dub, the southpaw has delivered numbers worthy of a double-digit bid. Through 29.2 innings he's notched a marvelous 2.73 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.80 K/9 and three wins, numbers good enough to rank him inside the top-35 among starters in Y! leagues. His 3.94 BB/9 and fly-ball heavy profile are a bit unnerving — games away from SoCal's subsiding air could get ugly — but Caps, when healthy, isn't a product completely out of left field. If he can continue to register first-pitch strikes, miss bats and avoid catching gopheritis, he has an outside chance of replicating his career-best numbers from his Brewers heyday in 2005 (18 W, 3.99 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 176 K). An increased reliance on a cutter certainly enhances his chances. He hasn't graduated from the stream class yet in shallow mixers, but for those in challenging formats, he should continue to log quality starts.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 153.0 IP, 11 W, 3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 132 K
LAMES O' THE WEAK (Soul crushers owned in more than 50-percent of Y! leagues)
Fantasy suckage is contagious on South Beach. Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Logan Morrison and Reyes have all contributed meek April numbers. Each ranks dozens, and in some cases, hundreds of slots below where they were drafted. The shortstop, in particular, has struggled the most. Currently the 668th-best hitter in the Y! game, Reyes is swinging an icicle. He's recorded just five multi-hit games, knocked in three and stolen five over 85 at-bats. Feel free to blame the ecstasy-infused walls of Marlins Park, but the underachiever's issues stem from decreased success versus fastballs, which has led to a sharp rise in groundball outs. Unless his approach against heaters steadily improves, expect 2010 with fewer homers. Considering his unappealing home environment, injury downside and batted ball concerns, it would be no shock if Mike Aviles or teammate Emilio Bonifacio bested him in total value come year's end.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 452 at-bats, .283 BA, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 66 R, 25 SB
Going from the friendliest pitcher's park in the game to a bandbox is bound to lead to depression and woe. Thus far, that's exactly what's happened to Latos. Because of the change in environment, most anticipated some sort of ERA spike, but with an increase in wins offsetting the negative. Sadly, he's managed just one W in five turns while also inflating other fantasy vitals. More discouraging, his K/9 has fallen off the continental shelf, plunging from 8.57 to 5.65. Part of his problem is likely due to slider under-use. Arguably his best offering last year, he's thrown it nearly eight-percent less of the time, instead featuring his fastball more. As a consequence, he's become more predictable and thus more prone to the long-ball, indicative in his 1.26 HR/9. There may be better days ahead for the 24-year-old, but, as his 4.55 xFIP suggests, they will likely be few and far between. Because pitching is always plentiful in 12-team mixers (e.g. Ross Detwiler is still only 39-percent owned), the heavily rostered starter is expendable.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 168.0 IP, 9 W, 4.26 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 149 K
QUICK HITTERS (Random musings from my demented head)
• Josh Hamilton's back strain in Sunday night's loss against the Rays is your yearly reminder to sell the former MVP high. Sure he could play 140 games, but Bartolo Colon could also finish a marathon. The guy, though incredibly productive when healthy, is held together with Elmer's glue and Juicy Fruit. Inevitably, he will land on the DL. Pray it's not the extended version. Considering he's the hottest hitter in the game not named Matt Kemp, it would be sage to dangle his services. In one-for-one industry swaps this week he was shipped for Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson and Felix Hernandez. Turn a profit.
• Kudos to Noise Nation resident @TheRealBunni for introducing his biggest #BallBustPlayers of the 2000s. Names like Rocco Baldelli, Sean Burroughs, Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge instantly regurgitated vile memories. Though all of those players are deserving of such a designation, my top two nutcrackers would have to be Mark Prior and Jeremy Hermida. The latter I continuously touted as a 20/20 player despite Brandon Funston's insistence he was nothing more than a below average MLB pine-rider. Credit to Funbags. Meanwhile the former, who stole my heart in 2003, owes me nearly 30 auction dollars from 2004 and 150 large for his customized jersey that same year. Knew I should've gone Ron Cey throwback.
• Pittsburgh's James McDonald is quickly becoming a poor man's Felix Hernandez. The former top farmhand in the Dodgers organization — Baseball America ranked him the No. 2 pitching prospect in LA organization in 2009 — is well on his way from shaking his stream-only label. Dominating the Bravos on the road Monday (7.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 K, W), McDonald, just four-percent owned, now sports a tidy 2.97 ERA. He has yet to surrender more than three earned in any single start this year. Because the Pirates wield plastic swords offensively, his run support will be far from generous. However, if he continues to exhibit sharp command (4.11 BB/9 in '11, 3.26 in '12), the righty may post a sub 4.00 ERA with 150-160 Ks.
• It's sad Chris Polk, who left Washington with a year of eligibility remaining, went undrafted due to nervousness over a possible degenerative shoulder. However, he couldn't ask for a better landing spot, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles post-draft. Andy Reid has already hinted he would like to reduce LeSean McCoy's workload next season, which could open the door for the rookie. Current backups Dion Lewis, Graig Cooper and Bryce Brown aren't exactly a fearsome threesome. If Polk enters camp healthy, there's no doubt he'll emerge as McCoy's sidekick come September, totaling roughly 8-12 touches per game. His all-around polish and bruising between-the-tackles running style are well-suited for the Eagles' system. By the time draft day rolls around, he might be more than a handcuff.
• A Polish dentist faces possible serious jail time for pulling her ex-boyfriend's teeth after her patient (Marek Olzewski) shortly called off their relationship. Obviously, Marek is not dealing with a full deck. No dude in their right mind would trust a likely unstable former lover in a setting where Novocaine and sharp tools are readily available. To be fair, if his ex was Jennifer Aniston's character from "Horrible Bosses," I could completely understand his shortsightedness. Dr. Julia Harris could yank out my bicuspids any time. Without drugs. Totally worth it. No doubt Charlie Day's harasser is easily one of the top-five hottest movie characters in motion picture history.
• Bryce Harper's stylish mop is not a skullet by definition. The hairstyle, often on display at Wal-Marts throughout the country, features a bone-polished top with a Kentucky waterfall cascading down the neck. The rookie's look has plenty of business in the back but the furry woodland creature that's called his dome home is the antithesis of 'skullet' material. And before you ask, yes, I'm extremely jealous.
• Finally, in other hyper for Harper news, the expectations many within the fantasy community have bestowed upon the former No. 1 pick are a wee bit outlandish. Remember, the greatest season by an age 19 big leaguer was Ken Griffey Jr's '89 effort in which he amassed a .264-16-61-61-16 line. The prepubescent prospect will be lucky to tally a third of that. Will he be studly? Sure, but probably not for another 3-4 years. It takes time for power to develop. Recall he was only a .250/.333/.375 producer at Syracuse before his promotion. Anyone predicting marked success this year are sniffing spray paint. Case in point …
Want to bean Brad in the head? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise and be sure to check him along with Andy Behrens, Brandon Funston and Scott Pianowski on The Fantasy Freak Show (Now on iTunes) every Friday at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET on Yahoo! Sports Radio
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