Buzz Index: Not-so-great expectations
Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let’s take a look at the Buzz Index from the past few days to see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – Adds
Fernando Rodney (Det – RP) 84,347 adds
Fantasy owners scrambled to pluck Rodney off the wire after it was announced that he would replace Todd Jones as closer.
Upshot: Rodney’s season ERA (5.17) is actually worse than Jones’ (4.99) but his WHIP is an improvement (1.34 to 1.54) and his BAA is substantially better (.190 to .293). At 0-2 and with more blown saves (2) than saves (1) and 10 walks in 15.2 innings, Rodney’s anything but a sure thing, but saves are saves. I’ll just echo Scott Pianowski’s take here – keep your expectations low.
Jason Isringhausen (StL – RP) 32,810 adds
The closer wheel is turning in St. Louis, as well, as Izzy has reclaimed his role of closer for the Cards, replacing the slumping Ryan Franklin.
Upshot: Isringhausen has posted a 3.79 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 16 appearances since returning from a DL stint in mid-June, with 18 hits, eight walks and 16 strikeouts in 19 innings. I’ll just echo Andy Behrens’ take – keep your expectations low.
Chris Carpenter (StL – SP) 28,574 adds
Carpenter is among the most added players for the second consecutive week. Last week it was in advance of his first minor league start, while this week it was in advance of his what is scheduled to be his first major league start since April 1 of last season on Wednesday.
Upshot: Carp’s abbreviated rehab stint was a total of 9.2 innings in two starts, during which he allowed five hits and two earned runs, walking five and striking out nine. It’s a good idea to expect a few initial bumps in the road, but anything resembling his past success down the stretch represents a serious return on investment for a free agent pickup.
Jeff Baker (Col – 1B, 2B, OF) 28,098 adds
Baker’s been swinging such a hot bat – .322, 9 HR since June 1 – that he’s moved out of his role as super-sub for the Rockies and into the everyday lineup at second base.
Upshot: He also has 35 runs and 27 runs batted in since June 1 (39 G), and he’s spent a lot of time in the two-hole for the Rockies lately. He’s the fourth-ranked player at 2B in the Yahoo! game over the past month and, in leagues where he’s still a free agent, there’s a good chance he’s better and more versatile than the worst player on most rosters right now.
Chris Davis (Tex – 1B) 22,634 adds
Davis has been raking in recent weeks, batting .355 (22 for 62) over his past 15 games, with 17 runs, 11 extra-base hits (5 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR) and 10 runs batted in. His current season line is .291/.330/.660, thanks to 17 extra-base hits (6 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR) in 27 games.
Upshot: As was mentioned in this week’s Splitsville, Davis was a monster in the minors, averaging 35 doubles and 35 home runs per 500 at bats. Barring an absolute meltdown, he’ll be the Rangers’ everyday 1B for the remainder of the season, so teams in need of run production should look no further.
Ubaldo Jimenez (Col – SP) 18,811 adds
Jimenez is on a heck of a roll right now, having compiled a 2.07 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in his past 10 starts (65.1 IP) and a microscopic 1.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in his past six starts (41.1 IP).
Upshot: Not a lot has changed since he got a mention in a recent Splitsville. He’s a rare combination in that he’s among the majors’ hardest throwers and top pitchers in terms of GB%. If his walk rate continues to shrink (5.1/9 in April/May, 4.6/9 in June, 3.3/9 in July) then he’s a good bet to remain among the better fantasy starters for the rest of the season.
Fernando Tatis (NYM – OF) 15,164 adds
Tatis has been red-hot in July (.406, 14 XBH in 24 G) and has been named the Mets’ everyday LF moving forward. In 55 games on the season, he’s batting .322 with seven home runs and 28 runs batted in.
Upshot: Don’t even try to tell me you saw this one coming. Tatis’ most recent season of fantasy relevance was in 1999 (.298, 34 HR, 21 SB) and he was away from the game for all of 2004 and 2005. He’s settled in nicely as the Mets’ No. 6 hitter, so just enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – Drops
Todd Jones (Det – RP) 37,193 drops
Jones was replaced as closer by Fernando Rodney after blowing three of his past seven save chances. He has an 8.71 ERA and 2.13 WHIP over his past 12 appearances (10.1), with four walks and just two strikeouts.
Lowdown: On the season he’s compiled a 4.99 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and .293 BAA in 39.2 innings, with 15 walks and 13 strikeouts. Jones’ own words pretty much sum things up: “I am 40. We knew this day had to come sometime.” Even if Rodney implodes and Jones once again gets a look at some save opportunities, he is better suited on waivers or someone else’s roster.
Jorge Posada (NYY – C) 25,536 drops
Posada was the most dropped players last week as he wrestled with whether or not to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, and he’s coming off all rosters now that he’s officially done for the year.
Lowdown: The 36-year-old’s season ends with a .268 average, 18 runs, three home runs and 22 runs batted in during 51 games. Not exactly what was hoped for after he hit a career-best .338 (with 20 HR) in 2007.
Ryan Franklin (StL – RP) 25,457 drops
Franklin was largely effective for most of two months after inheriting the closer’s role from Jason Isringhausen, but he’s been shelled in July (7.11 ERA, 1.97 WHIP in 12.2 IP since July 5) and subsequently has relinquished the stopper’s role back to Izzy.
Lowdown: Has he? Tony La Russa likes Franklin in the role when he’s “fresh” so it may just be a matter of him, well, becoming fresh again. With that said, if Isringhausen isn’t a colossal failure from the get-go, then it is hard to see Franklin bumping him once again. In a nutshell, avoid this situation entirely if at all possible.
Tim Hudson (Atl – SP) 25,434 drops
Hudson hit the DL on Monday and could be done for the season because of ligament damage in his right elbow.
Lowdown: The developments even caught Hudson himself by surprise. Huddy said he “was floored” and “didn’t understand” how it could be true because “nothing hurts”. Even if Hudson’s scheduled appointment with Dr. James Andrews doesn’t return the direst of news, the Teixeira-less Braves have little reason to push him back into action. Even a best-case scenario isn’t likely to produce anything less than a lengthy DL stint.
Damaso Marte (NYY – RP) 17,949 drops
Marte’s run as closer was fairly short-lived, as he was dealt from the Pirates to the Yankees, where he’ll set up for Mariano Rivera.
Lowdown: Marte isn’t likely to see any save opportunities moving forward, so the attention turns to the Pittsburgh bullpen. Lefty John Grabow has been widely speculated as Marte’s replacement, but he’s also a trade target and worked the seventh inning on Tuesday. Tyler Yates worked a scoreless ninth in that game for his fourth career save, which goes right next to his career 4.90 ERA and 1.57 WHIP (4.13 ERA, 1.61 WHIP this season). Suddenly he’s looking like the favorite. Denny Bautista (3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP in 18.2 IP for the Pirates this season) is a dark-horse candidate in what could be another muddled situation.
Brandon Morrow (Sea – RP) 16,909 drops
Morrow came off rosters in the wake of J.J. Putz’s activation from the DL on July 20. Putz is expected to reprise his role as the team’s closer in the very near future.
Lowdown: But wait, there’s more. Putz has blown saves in two of his past three appearances, including Tuesday night (L, 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER). Morrow did little to lower the team’s confidence level in him while he filled in for the injured Putz (10 SV, 2 BS) and his season numbers are stellar (35.2 IP, 1.51 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .139 BAA, 46 K), so I wouldn’t be so quick to drop him. If Putz can’t get things figured out, Morrow is likely to remain in the closer mix.
Aaron Laffey (Cle – SP) 14,992 drops
Laffey was optioned to Triple-A on Saturday after the Indians acquired Anthony Reyes from the Cardinals and activated Fausto Carmona from the DL. Laffey had been roughed up in recent starts, compiling an 8.37 ERA and 2.11 WHIP over his past five starts (23.2 IP).
Lowdown: The 23-year-old showed some good signs before his recent rough patch. His ratios were at a 2.83 ERA and 1.20 WHIP as of June 24 (currently a 4.23 ERA and 1.43 WHIP). Keep this groundball pitcher (50.3% this season) in mind for the late rounds of 2009 drafts.