Roto Arcade: Replacing Soriano
By Andy Behrens
August 7, 2007
Oh, get off the ledge, Cubs fans.
Alfonso Soriano will miss four to six weeks after tearing his right quadriceps, that's true. But this is really a much bigger blow to fantasy owners than it is to the Cubs.
Soriano is an incredibly valuable fantasy asset. Before the injury, he seemed likely to finish the season with a 110-30-70-30-.300 line. In a fantasy league with five hitting categories, Soriano is significantly above average in four. That's a huge deal.
In non-fantasy terms, however, Soriano is not exactly irreplaceable. He's a spazzy corner outfielder with the 53rd-highest OPS in baseball (.847). Jacque Jones can be that guy for six weeks. In fact, last season Jones posted an OPS above .850 in four different calendar months. Eric Patterson has been called up from Triple-A Iowa, where he was leading off and hitting .299/.360/.470 with 14 home runs and 16 steals.
The Cubs are only trailing Milwaukee – a team with a .531 winning percentage – by a single game in the NL Central. Chicago can absolutely win the division, even if they have to play without Soriano into September. Ultimately, what should worry Cubs fans about their left fielder is the fact that he's going to cost $90 million in his age 34-38 seasons. Soriano's current injury is unfortunate, but it certainly doesn't finish off the 2007 Cubs.
But enough about real baseball.
Fantasy owners who've lost Soriano are in serious trouble. You can't just throw a Patterson at this problem. You probably only have a week in which to negotiate a trade. In one of my roto leagues, the guy who owns Soriano is just throwing him onto basically every offer he makes, like Alfonso is a sprig of parsley. In rotisserie leagues, Soriano has very little value right now. There are eight weeks left in the season, and he might miss the next six. When he returns, you have to assume that he'll be less inclined to steal bases.
It's time to drag out the old "Moneyball" line: "The important thing is not to recreate the individual. The important thing is to recreate the aggregate."
There are probably ways for you to replace Soriano's most valuable contributions to your specific team, even if you can't precisely replace his statistics. If you've lost him in a roto league, you need to identify the attributes that were helping you the most, and try to replace those. Let's say you were already leading the league in steals by 20. If that's the case, then you don't care so much about the loss in speed. You should care more about the runs, power and batting average, assuming those categories are tight.
Here are several players owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues who can help you recreate certain aspects of Soriano's production:
Dmitri Young, 48.0 percent owned
Also, of all the excellent chat room names that the brilliant folks at The Dugout have created, my favorite is "SteakGrowsOnDmitri."
Jason Giambi, 47.2
Chris B. Young, 44.5
Brian Giles, 34.3
Reggie Willits, 30.9
Josh Hamilton, 26.5
Dave Roberts, 24.5
Akinori Iwamura, 22.0
Billy Butler, 14.1
Shannon Stewart, 9.3
Randy Winn, 8.3
What I'm saying is that his batting average won't hurt you, he'll produce the occasional HR and SB, and he'll score some runs. He's a placeholder, not really extraordinary in any category. For some of you, that might be enough.
Justin Upton, N/A
Clearly, those guys aren't all outfielders and none of them can adequately replace Soriano, one-for-one. But again, in a roto league you might not need to do that.
In a head-to-head league, Soriano is an interesting trade target right now. He'll probably return by the end of September. That's championship week in head-to-head leagues. If you're in first or second place – that is, if you've already got the first-round bye – make an offer for Soriano. Not a great offer, necessarily. Just get the conversation started.
Onto the bullets …
When something's obvious to Rick Sutcliffe, you'd better believe it's pretty (expletive) obvious. Tim Lincecum was on deck last night in the bottom of the sixth inning, and a runner was on base. Sutcliffe seemed sure Lincecum would get pulled for a pinch hitter, since he was already over 100 pitches and the Giants season is utterly, inarguably over. But nope. Lincecum grounded out weakly, then came out to start the seventh. The 23-year-old ace of the 48-62 Giants ended up throwing 116 pitches.
Despite his reputation as an indestructible bringer of death, you have to think that at some point, the Giants will go easy on Lincecum. In a non-keeper league, I'd shop him, just to gauge his value.
Joba Chamberlain is about to join the Yankees. He might have the most well-publicized eight innings in the history of Triple-A. These are the numbers: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 18 K. That's insane, although it's obviously a very small sample. In a holds league, Chamberlain should be added, and he's probably worth a waiver claim. He can certainly be an ownable middle reliever in 5x5 leagues, too.
In a perfect storm of geekery, "Mythbusters" is devoting an entire episode to baseball. It's supposed to air Wednesday night. Jamie already reminded me of every 1970s relief pitcher. I love that show. The explosive jaw-breaker episode changed my life, though not in any sort of useful way.
Hunter Pence (broken wrist) is apparently already hitting off a tee. That recovery seems to be going well. If he was dropped in your league – and he's down to 68.5 percent ownership, so that may have happened – he's certainly worth stashing on the DL.
Eric Young Jr. has 61 stolen bases for Single-A Modesto. He stole 87 bases last year. He's obviously not likely to make a fantasy impact anytime soon, but c'mon … that's a lot of stolen bases. It shouldn't be hard to remember the name.
Wednesday streamables include Kevin Millwood (44.0 percent owned) versus Oakland, Jeff Francis (64.6) versus Milwaukee, Jon Lester (24.3) at LA of A, and Paul Maholm (1.1) at Arizona. These streaming adds are about the possibility of wins and Ks, you'll recall. Might these guys get shellacked? Sure. If they were totally earned run-proof, they'd be owned in more leagues.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Tuesday, Aug 7, 2007 4:46 pm, EDT