Category Archives: Alfonso Soriano

>Weekend Update: Ryan Doumit, Scott Kazmir, Cubs’ Bats

>For those of us who’ve been waiting to vulture Ryan Doumit from the waiver-wire… you may want to wait a little longer.  A few minutes ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave an update on Doumit’s rehab:

“He’s been cleared to resume baseball activities, which means throwing and swinging a bat. Yesterday was the first time he threw soft toss from 45 feet and also took some dry swings. He did it again this morning. ‘It’s a progression and I’m going to ease into it,’ Doumit said, who’s beginning a two-week throwing/batting program. ‘I’ll do that for a couple of weeks and we’ll see where it goes from there.'”

Essentially, he’s still a while away from coming back.  Throwing from 45 feet is typically the first of three legs a catcher has to run through to prove his health… not even including working your swing back into… swing.  That all said, Doumit’s return shouldn’t be for at least another 3 weeks.  The good news is that you’ll start getting more regular updates about his condition and training now that he’s starting a regular program.

The St. Petersburg Times also provided a brief update on Rays’ starter, Scott Kazmir, who told reporters he would be starting up a rehab campaign this coming week:

“[Joe] Maddon confirmed LHP Scott Kazmir will start for Class-A Charlotte Wednesday.”

Short and to-the-point.  Nothing that I could find about Kazmir’s shoulder or side-sessions, but I’m sure most of that will be available after his first go-round on Wednesday afternoon.  Check back at the above link for more on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (as usual, I’m sure Rotoworld or MLB Trade Rumors will also have something on this).

Finally, the Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago Cubs fired team hitting coach, Gerald Perry.  Normally, this is a purely cosmetic move, but Perry coached one of the most feared offenses in baseball not even two-years ago.  So, needless to say, he’ll resurface somewhere within the next season or two.  Jim Hendry on the firing:

“Von [Joshua] has had a lot of success with our guys on the way up. We’re really, really struggling offensively for reasons way beyond Aramis (Ramirez) being gone. Every day we have guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star game. For whatever reason, they’re just not performing anywhere close to the level they’ve performed through their careers.”

That last part is huge.  Owners of Alfonso Soriano, Derrick Lee, and Milton Bradley may start to see some signs of life soon.  Though, Soriano has been struggling, now might be the time to try and make  a trade for the perennial fantasy superstar.  He and the rest of the Cubbies’ bats have the potential for a huge second half.

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Filed under Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs, Derrek Lee, Fantasy Baseball, Gerald Perry, Joe Madden, Milton Bradley, Ryan Doumit, Scott Kazmir

>Fantasy Baseball Prep: Outfield

>Far and away, the outfield portion of this series is the most mind-boggling.  Each day, before sitting down to write my latest post, I take a look at the spread sheet to see what names pop out at me as “strange.”  Not “strange” in the fact that it’s unfathomable that a players be ranked so highly, but “strange” that I didn’t think of this without the guidance of stats and numbers.

Today, however, “strange” refers to the former.
For this reason, I’m going to analyze this position the same way I did for catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop before pointing out a few outliers that found their way(s) “in.”
Starting with our first statistical category, points-per-opportunity (see introductory chapter for a rundown of statistics and formulas), Ryan Braun (2.92 pts/opp.) reigns supreme.  In fact, Braun tops every statistical category I’ve created for the purposes of this blog series.  It’s safe to say that Bill James has crowned Braun as the “cream of the crop” in 2009.
Behind Braun, filling out the top-three, are Alfonso Soriano (2.77) and Marcus Thames (2.76).  I can’t say I’m too surprised with the top-three.  Soriano rakes when healthy… but that’s been a bit of a problem for him recently (many Cubs’ fans know about his “hopping” problem in the outfield).  Thames, on the other hand, is projected to hit only 22 more singles than home runs in limited at-bats.  He’s not quite up to the rate of a Glennallen Hill, but he’s probably the closest the Majors have to offer.
The bottom three of the 120 ranked outfielders for this research produce two familiar names: Brian Giles (1.99) and Ichiro (2.05).  These two players are the typical examples of fantasy bats you’d expect to find at the bottom of a pts/opp. category.  One is an aging “power” bat (yeah, remember way back when?) and the other’s a singles-hitting-base-stealer.  Don’t be too concerned about Ichiro being ranked this low.  Remember that most of his opportunity is made by stealing bases and scoring runs, two things that are risky and that he has very little control over.
The median for this category is our favorite fluctuating fellow: Aubrey Huff (2.39 pts/opp.).  Huff was a “surprise” to most fantasy owners last year as he put up his typical “Devil Ray” numbers from almost 3-years ago.  Bill James projects similar numbers for 2009: 23 HRs, 80 RBI, 70 R, and a .280 BA.  
Notable “below-average” sluggers identified are Delmon Young (2.32), Nick Swisher (2.31), and Josh Willingham (2.31).  Of these three, I think it’s important to note that this may be Delmon Young’s last chance to live up to the “next Ken Griffey Jr.” billing we were all promised back in 2005-06.  I know that I can’t be the only one who was fed up with hearing about him and Lastings “the next Willie Mays” Milledge (2.43).
When thinking of Willie… the LAST word that comes to mind is “average,” which is what Milledge (.81) represents when moving to our next category, points-per-plate-appearance.
[I hope you all enjoyed the above sentence.  In the biz, that’s what we call a beautiful transition.  I’m gonna just read it one more time before moving on…]
The top-five of our OPS translator deliver four familiar names and one not-so-familiar name.  The four players whom you’ve undoubtedly heard about before are Ryan Braun (1.05 pts/pa), Matt Holiday (.96), Josh Hamilton (.95), Carlos Beltran (.949), and Manny Ramirez (.94).
Our out-of-nowhere member of the top-five is the EXTREMELY streaky Nelson Cruz (.967), who, along with Chris Davis, carried the Texas Rangers down the stretch of the 2008 MLB season.  Cruz is an interesting option in fantasy leagues this year.  Like fellow Quadruple-A member, Dallas McPherson, Cruz has been touted as too good for Triple-A… but not disciplined/good enough for the Majors.  
However, Rangers’ mangaer Ron Washington said that Nelson Cruz would bat clean-up for the Rangers if they added no offense in the off-season.  The Rangers’ added nothing offensively so far this season, so (barring a random signing of Manny Ramirez or something) one would expect Washington to make good on his commitment.  Cruz, 28, is in the prime of his offensive career and will be batting consistently behind Josh Hamilton in 2009.  
That’s too much to ignore.
Combine this with Bill James’ projected 28 home runs, 84 RBI, and 18 stolen bases and you have the foundation for what may FINALLY qualify as Cruz’s “break-out” season.  That all said, please don’t go ahead and draft this guy as your #1 outfielder.  You’ll be laughed at.  Seriously, laughed at.  I would rank him as a low-two, high-three… but please be sure to draft a serviceable back-up for protection if he struggles throughout April and May.  
However, if Cruz does for your fantasy team what he did for mine during the fantasy play-offs last year, you’ll be more than pleased you took the risk on this potential late-bloomer.

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Filed under Alfonso Soriano, Aubrey Huff, Bill James, Carlos Beltran, Delmon Young, Fantasy Baseball, Josh Hamilton, Lastings Milledge, Manny Ramirez, Marcus Thames, Matt Holliday, Nelson Cruz, Ryan Braun

>Coping With Soriano’s Calf Injury: OPS Replacements

>Seriously, who hops around while catching a fly ball? For those who did not witness Alfonso Soriano straining his calf muscle on Tuesday night in Chicago firsthand, it looked as though he was readying himself to turn a double play at second base. We’ve witnessed his unorthodox sidearm/sub-marine throwing motion in left field, but the whole dancing around an imaginary second base is unacceptable. All Lou Pinella can say is: “It seems like a natural move for him.” No way, Lou… maybe that’s because people have been fooling themselves thinking he belongs in the outfield. Now before anyone busts out his outfield assist numbers over the past few years, answer this: Would you not try to run on a converted second baseman? Of course you would! Soriano surprised some people and raked up the stats in the process. There’s no way he and superior defenders like Jose Guillen, Ichiro, and Melky Cabrera should be in the same category.

However, that rant is for another day. By now, I’m sure you can tell that Alfonso Soriano is on my fantasy team and I’m quite ‘miffed’ about his potential DL stint. For anyone who’s looking for a potential replacement for Sori, I’ve come up with a few names who you may be able to trade for or pick up off waivers in the meanwhile. For regular readers of this blog, you know I’m working with Johnny Damon and Andruw Jones on my roster. I also have Rick Ankiel and Grady Sizemore to cycle through as well, so I’m not in the worst shape in the OF, but I’m still on the prowl for a hot bat to insert in my active lineup over hot/cold players like Jones and Damon.

For OPS fiends (like my main man Mike Plugh), I’ve looked back at Soriano’s three year average OPS (2005-07) .874 and compared it to other similar OPS’ over that span. Here are a couple names that jumped out at me:

Luke Scott, BAL: This kid is off to a hot start with the AL East leading O’s so far. He’s hitting .386(BA)-.449(OBP)-.614(SLG) which is entirely respectable for a stopgap player. In his last six games, four of his seven hits have been doubles, which explains the slugging percentage being this high. Could those doubles eventually become home runs? Well, he does play in Camden Yards, so anything is possible. For as good as he’s been playing, you’re not going to get any stolen bases from Scott. He has less than 50 in five years in the minor leagues, so any SBs that come from him are going to be a freak accident.

Bill Hall, MIL: Obviously, this guy is not going to be available in your league, but he may be worth trading for in this instance. Soriano was probably an early pick for you this year and your team is going to struggle without him. So far, Hall his hitting to a tune of .204-.218-.519 and was extremely undervalued entering 2008. So what does this tell us? Well, he’s not taking pitches enough to walk, BUT when he makes contact, it’s usually for more than a single. It looks like he’d be murdering your Roto team, but points leagues may want to take a flyer on him. If his 3-year average is in line with Sori’s, there’s a potential for these numbers to rise as the year rolls along.

Chris Duncan (and Ryan Ludwick), StL: Dear Lord they’re so streaky. Duncan is the player who came up when I ran a 3-year average of OPS, but Ludwick has been just plan crazy for the first two and a half weeks. Staying with Duncan for the time being, his OPS is at .900 for 2008 and, like his brother Shelley, he can go nuts with the long ball for weeks at a time. The whole question with Duncan, though, is health. Well… right now, he’s healthier than Soriano… and that’s all you need to know at the moment. Back to Ludwick, he’s definitely going to be available, but I wouldn’t dive all over him unless you’re in a really, really deep league (I’m thinking 14-16 teams).

So those are three players (technically 4…) who jumped out at me in the 3-year OPS search. Below are a few waiver-wire hotshots who did not show up on that search who you should take a look at in your league:

Nate McLouth, Pit: His OPS is over 1.000 right now, which is Big Papi-esque. He’s a great fill-in for Soriano… but he’s probably already been picked up in your league. I slept on him because he’s a Buck-O, so I’m not going to completely tear you apart for letting him slip through the cracks.

Carlos Quentin, ChW: The anti-Nate McLouth. His OPS is hovering around .750, which is respectable, especially hitting in White Sox potent line up. However, he’s not getting regular ABs, which frustrates me. I was one of the people who thought Quentin was going to explode with the D-Backs last year… and I guess I am still optimistic that this may occur with the ChiSox. Don’t dive on him now… but please monitor him.

Moises Alou, NYM: Every year he’s underrated because of injury and every year he goes nuts when he’s healthy. Unless you’re playing with multiple Met fans in your league, Alou’s probably buried in waivers right now. He’s not going to be a fill-in for Soriano because he’ll be starting up his rehab assignment this weekend. But don’t let another owner in your league pick up a guy who’s OPS has been over .900 over the past four years… I don’t want to see that happen to you.

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Filed under Alfonso Soriano, Bill Hall, Carlos Quentin, Chris Duncan, Fantasy Baseball, Luke Scott, Moises Alou, Nate McLouth, Ryan Ludwick