Sunday, February 19, 2017

What I Look For When Drafting a Fantasy Baseball Team: Expert Advice

Spring training is almost upon us, and up North, in New York the temperatures have been in the 60's for the last two days. The bitter cold of the winter is starting to go away. The snow is disappearing and the kids will soon be going down to the sandlot to play ball. A lot of baseball fans just watch the game and enjoy the game. When the game is over, they turn it off. However, other people like myself turn the channel on the TV to another game or sports talk show. We can never get enough baseball. We never stop thinking about the game that we grew up loving. For the people like us that are trying to get more baseball and think about the game at a deeper level, we play Fantasy Baseball. We're the people who fill out the book at every game and can recite our favorite players stats like its nothing. We even know just about every player in league by their stance, windup or silhouette.

In a couple of weeks the annual Fantasy Baseball drafts for our respective fantasy leagues on many sites that have leagues for us. The draft gives us a restart from the team we had last year (unless u play in a keeper league), even if your team took first, last or any place in between, the draft brings back the competitive feeling that we all love. Most leagues have a rotisserie style draft which is a draft that starts 1-12 then 12-1 and back and fourth each round. This makes it a lot more fair than a league that drafts 1-12 every round which makes it so the  person who drafts first always gets the best players. The rotisserie style makes it even out because the person who gets the first pick gets a more even team rather than the best pick every round.

When I draft my fantasy team every year I look for certain players, I don't always follow the projected stats and rankings like people who are newer to fantasy baseball. I start off the draft by taking the best overall hitter I can find, some people may chose an ace for their first pick, but I prefer a batter because there are a lot of pitchers who can give you saves, low ERA, wins, whip and other stats. Pitchers also play every fifth day so they can't help your team every day like an elite hitter. With my first pick in the draft I try to find the player with the best OPS if the league states it, but if it doesn't, I look for a player who barely ever gets injured (I stay away from players like Stanton and Tulowitzki), is consistent and has high triple crown stats, weighing higher on average and RBI's than home runs. If you have the #1 pick in the draft, you have to take Mike Trout he is the best overall player in stats year in and year out. Also, when I draft players I try to steer clear of players with tons of strikeouts like Chris Davis and Chris Carter because they have bad averages, players with good averages are more likely to be better in other stats as well like stolen bases, runs and home runs because if they hit the ball more it's a lot more likely for the ball to go over the fence if you put it in play than if you don't. If you get the choice of your draft position you should try to get right in the middle so you get an all round team,not a few good players and bad players. When drafting pitchers first look at their ERA, it's the biggest indicated of how good of a pitcher they are, next I look at their innings for the last couple of years to make sure they don't get injured often and are consistent, also I make sure they have a good whip, and finally I like to pick up younger pitchers who are not gonna break down and have really good stuff that can play up. They have a lot higher potential then some of the old guys who throw in the low 90s and are getting worse. When looking for a closer I look for someone with a lot of strikeouts because you need a closer who gets people out without letting people on base, they need a low ERA and projection to have a lot of saves. Some good people to pick up who are undervalued in the draft are Wade Davis and Alex Colome. When you have a lot of high average players and not a lot of home runs, you might want to pick up a guy like Chris Carter or Mark Trumbo towards the end that will get that up for you but not be the center piece of your team, so if they are batting .210 it won't hurt you that much.

Just know that the team you draft is not your final team that you are stuck with, you can pick up people on waivers and get players who are doing very good at a certain time to boost your team. Finally, remember it's just a game and have fun, you might have some times bet money, but you did it knowing you have a chance to lose it all. Happy drafting!!!! Hope you have fun!!!

Meet a Prospect: Luis Cessa

Luis Cessa knows a thing or two about minor league baseball and New York and it’s a good thing after the Detroit Tigers sent him to the New York Yankees before the 2016 season in the Justin Wilson trade. This marks the second time that Cessa was traded this calendar year as he was also traded to the Detroit Tigers by the team who drafted him, the New York Mets, in the Yoenis Cespedes deal. Now Cessa, along with teammate Chad Green, head to New York to give the Yankees some Triple-A starting pitching depth at the very least and could possibly slide back into the rotation come Opening Day 2017, let’s meet him. This is Meet a Prospect: The Luis Cessa Edition.

Cessa is 21-years old and has a natural right-handed pitcher’s build. Cessa stands 6’3” and weighs 190 lbs. with plenty of room to grow and fill out his frame. Cessa was considered an underrated prospect while pitching in the same rotation as Steven Matz and Gabriel Ynoa but is still considered to have less upside than a frontline starter. Cessa is the type of pitcher to aggressively attack the zone and relies on his excellent pinpoint control to survive. Cessa keeps batters off balance with his developing curveball and is still considered raw since he was converted from the infield. The Mets drafted Cessa as an infielder in 2008 and converted him to a starting pitcher in 2011 so the 2016 season looks to be just his sixth professional season as a pitcher. That equals upside.

Cessa’s downfall may be his durability and the fact that he loses velocity the deeper he goes into games. Cessa doesn’t have electric stuff by any means but he gets the job done and could be an excellent relief pitcher eventually. Cessa is truly raw and the sky is the limit.

I was scouting around on a Mets Minors and found these grades from before the 2015 season:

Fastball: 45/55 Change-Up: 55/60 Curveball: 35/50 Control: 55/60 Mechanics: 60/60

Cessa is not going to change an organization by any means but at age 22 you never know. Justin Wilson was replaceable either inside the organization or via free agency so it’s not the biggest loss. At worst Cessa could become a serviceable relief pitcher, at best a decent starter. If last year was an indicator it showed us that Cessa needs to add another pitch to be an MLB pitcher but the guy can still get guys out, so who knows?

Meet a Prospect: Chad Green

Chad Green was the second prospect that the Detroit Tigers sent to the New York Yankees in the Justin Wilson trade before the 2016 regular season but he was the first to reach the Major Leagues and the first to reach the Yankees starting rotation.... and boy did he not disappoint. The other prospect, Luis Cessa, we will introduce you to again later this month. This is Meet a Prospect: The Chad Green Edition.

Chad Green is 24 years old, will be 25 years old on May 24, and has a great right-handed pitcher’s frame standing at 6’3” and 210 lbs. Green entered the 2015 season ranked as the Detroit Tigers 12th best prospect, although Baseball Prospectus gave him a C+ grade on their rankings. Green was an 11th round pick in the 2013 MLB First Year Players Draft out of Louisville.

Green has long arms, long legs and has the build to be a durable power pitcher for quite some time. He throws from a ¾ arm slot across his body and has above-average arm speed. Green can touch 94 MPH with his fastball but sits comfortably at 92-93 MPH. BP gave Green a 55 rating out of 80 with a future of 60 on his fastball, also known as nothing to write home about.

Green sports a low 90’s fastball but his biggest downfall may be the effectiveness of his secondary pitches. Some of this may be because it is easy to detect and pick up the ball out of his hand due to a long arm extension and straight up and down delivery. Green is said to have below average command on his fastball and secondary pitches and projects to be an organizational prospect in my opinion.

Green's 2016 season ended prematurely when an elbow injury ended his season after posting a 2-4 record with a 4.73 ERA. Green sprained, he did not tear, his flexor tendon and his ulnar collateral ligament and should be ready to pitch in 2017. If he is, and all signs point to the fact that he is, he could slide right back into his starting rotation spot for the Yankees this season.

Meet a Prospect: Tyler Austin

As recently as the beginning of the 2015 season Tyler Austin was graded by scouts as a B-, which anyone with a High School diploma, a GED, or an equivalent diploma can tell you... that is pretty darn good. He is a 3B by trade but also can play first base, where he'll likely start this season with the RailRiders, and the outfield while also being a potential DH type as well down the road. As a 19 yr. old he had one of the more polished bats in all of the New York Penn League (NYPL), the same NYPL that Mason Williams tore up in Staten Island. This is probably an anomaly but he was 18 for 18 in base stealing opportunities that season as well.

Drafted in the 13th round of the 2010 draft he broke his wrist in his 2nd pro game and missed basically the entire season. In his first season in extended spring training, the Gulf Coast League (GCL), and the NYPL in Staten Island Austin had a triple slash of .354/ .418/ .579 in 47 combined games including 26 extra base hits.

At 6'2" and 200 pounds his frame is athletic and speedy for a guy his size. He has shown that he can spray the ball to all fields although he needs to develop more power. He has nothing left to prove at the "lower" levels of the minor league systems and looks to bring his tools with him to the Bronx as he is knocking on the door as soon as 2016 after the injury to Greg Bird. The biggest concern with Austin is going to be what position will he play and can he find some consistency with his bat. The scouts are wondering whether he can be adequate enough to stay at the 3B position, although his lack of power thus far scares most away from having him be a 1B. Does Austin have the speed, the range and the arm to play right field? Honestly I think he can play any position he so chooses to, the guy is that talented. My biggest concern is the bat, can he find the consistency? He is very hit-or-miss and he's either on or off and unfortunately it's been more off than on in recent seasons.

Keith Law, insider required or I would link, even placed him on his "sleeper" prospects for the 2012 season saying “Third baseman Tyler Austin has turned himself into a pretty good defender over there, defying earlier predictions he’d have to move to first,” said KLaw of his sleeper pick for the Yankees. “[He] has a whole-field approach to hitting with pull power right now, and runs well for his size with a perfect stolen-base record in the pros.”

Austin will likely start the season in Scranton with the RailRiders in 2017 but may not be long for the minor leagues. Austin is more losing to a numbers game than he is a talent game at this point. Austin has minor league options while others like Chris Carter and Matt Holliday simply do not. Period. It's business. Austin is ready defensively and will try to make strides with the bat next season. If Austin's wrist injuries are behind him, which I truly believe that they are, there is nothing stopping this young man from making it back all the way to the Show. I've always been one of the biggest Austin fans around and I continue to be until he proves me wrong, and he hasn't yet.

Sticks and Stones may break my bones...

Some words are better left unsaid…

I was disappointed that the Yankees could not reach agreement with Dellin Betances before his arbitration hearing.  It’s never good when a player has to sit in a room to hear about his faults.  For Dellin, it was 90 minutes of destructive comments.  It’s hard to walk away without some residual adverse impact.  Once it was determined there was no common ground, the Yankees obviously had no choice but to allow the arbitration process to move forward.  It is just a very unfortunate situation.

Credit:  Andrew Savulich, The New York Daily News

The Yankees, based on prior arbitration cases, were probably fairly confident they would prevail.    The gap of $2 million may not have seemed to be great, but in terms of the dollars it could eventually cost the Yankees on new deals with Betances or the precedent it would have set could have been very costly in the grand scheme of things.

Yet, it was absolutely out of line for Yankees President Randy Levine to gloat after the arbitrators announced Betances would be paid the Yankees offer of $3 million rather than his request for $5 million.  Levine’s comments that Dellin’s $5 million request was “over the top” and “not based on reality” were unnecessary and ultimately inflammatory.  If Betances had any lingering hard feelings before, they’ve multiplied.  Given Levine’s extensive background in Labor Law, I am very surprised that he’d make those type of comments.  The words do seem out of character for a Labor attorney.  I’ve never been a big fan of Levine but it’s hard to overlook his notable accomplishments which included work at the U.S. Department of Justice during the Reagan administration, former Labor Commissioner for New York City, and MLB’s chief labor negotiator during the negotiations for the 1996 MLB Labor Agreement. 

So, maybe that’s why the unnecessary words that Levine spoke yesterday hurt even more.  He, more than anyone, should have known better.  There was no value in attacking Dellin’s attorneys, and the long-term impact is only harmful.  If Dellin eventually walks away when free agency arrives, we’ll be able to look back at this day as the first nail in the coffin.  Well, maybe renewing last year's salary at $507,500 was the first nail but I digress.

There are some guys in the Yankees executive management team that you want to keep away from talking to the media.  Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner is one, but you can certainly add Levine to the list.  Levine has been the Yankees president since 2000 but maybe it’s time to bring in a younger, more open-minded replacement.  If I owned the Yankees, I would probably promote Brian Cashman to President, Baseball Operations, hire a new general manager, and show Levine the door.

Goose being Goose…

Every spring, Rich “Goose” Gossage shows up and makes statements that sound like he’s been smoking too much weed in Colorado.  His remarks in training camp that he cannot be compared to “one inning” closers like Aroldis Chapman and Mariano Rivera was absurd to say the least.  

Nevertheless, I felt Brian Cashman’s comments were perfect when he said that he had more important things to think about like drinking his cup of coffee and working on his tan.  That’s exactly how I take anything Goose has to say.  

I loved the guy when he was the Yankees closer, and he was arguably my favorite Yankee (after the unfortunate loss of the beloved Thurman Munson).  

Goose is only trying to draw reactions with his words.  He played during a different time, and it’s very hard to compare the challenges he faced in the 70’s and 80’s to modern times.  The game has evolved.  Despite nearly 500 more career innings than Rivera, Goose had barely more than half of the total career saves.  Goose was a great Yankee for 6 years.  Rivera was a great Yankee for 19 years.  Rivera’s number (42) would have been retired even if MLB hadn’t retired the number league-wide for the great Jackie Robinson.  Last time I checked, Goose’s number (54) is neatly placed on the back of current closer Aroldis Chapman.

Goose just needs to enjoy his time in Florida before he hops on a plane to travel back to his favorite Cannabis shop in Colorado Springs…

Meet a Prospect: Jorge Mateo

The New York Yankees went out and signed a relatively unknown international free agent back in 2012 for a mere $250,000 and boy was that one of the greatest decisions the team and organization ever made. Mateo has grown from an international free agent that the Yankees signed out of the Dominican Republic to the top prospect in the entire organization according to many prospects lists released last winter before becoming the underdog here as we inch towards the 2017 season.

Mateo makes he way on the basepaths as the Yankees top shortstop prospect stole 82 bases in 2015 in 99 attempts. While Mateo is described as having "nervous feet" at shortstop he has the ability, the arm strength and the range to play either short, third base or second base in the future. New York even had Mateo work out at second base in the Instructional League as the team decides where Mateo will play in the future. At the moment Didi Gregorius is the shortstop of the present and the future in the Bronx so Mateo will either have to force at bats with the organization, move positions or become trade bait.

Jorge Mateo
6'0" - 188 lbs. - shortstop and DH

2012Yankees 214691514211841211.255.382.382.764
2013Yankees 164299507496726493452.287.378.450.828
2014Yankees 115651416510111717.276.354.397.750
20152 Teams117500661252311240824398.278.345.392.737
All Levels (4 Seasons)2109331452293919107514696178.279.359.410.769
FRk (2 seasons)783686588117834534663.281.379.438.816
Mateo broke out in 2015 which caused him to have all the eyes of the organization on him in 2016. For some that's a good thing, some players thrive off the pressure and attention, while for some they can be their own worst enemies. Unfortunately for Mateo it seems like he was the latter as he struggled for much of last season but in 2017 Mateo will be back to being that kid that can just have fun again, and that may be the best thing not only for Mateo but for the Yankees as well.

So It Seems I'm Feeling Young Again

Yes, yes I am. I'm feeling young again. Why? Well I'm back to writing, life is good all things considered and it's almost my favorite time of the year. Opening Day and baseball season. Not many things can top baseball for me and if they do they make me feel alive and young again. So with that theme in mind I am going to focus on prospects throughout the day and specifically I'd like to introduce you to a few.

You've been warned. Or enjoy. Whichever you prefer.

This Day In New York Yankees History 2/19: Lou Gehrig Signs for $300K

On this day in 1935 the New York Yankees signed Lou Gehrig to a one year deal worth $30,000. The season before the All Star first basemen hit .363 with 49 home runs and led the American League with 165 RBI's. Underpaid much?