Targeting Dan Haren, the Once and Future Ace

Dan Haren was the stalwart leader of many a championship fantasy pitching rotation for almost a decade. He has won 130 major league games and made three All Star teams and has even been a Cy Young contender in both leagues. He began his career back in the days of high-octane offenses during the steroid era and has thrown 200+ innings 8 times, providing tons of production for his fantasy owners. Haren’s career 4.09 K:BB and 1.87 BB/9 ratios are the best of all active pitchers, well ahead of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Adam Wainwright, King Felix, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw in the most important peripheral stats for pitchers. In fact, Haren ranks near the top in almost all of the career statistical categorys among active pitchers. That is a very impressive feat!

Given Haren’s remarkable track record of success, why is it that he was available for free in so many fantasy leagues last summer? He was actually unowned in 50-75% of Yahoo, CBS and ESPN leagues during June through July of last year. Why would a proven ace pitcher who had been so good for so long suddenly get dropped by so many fantasy owners? Well, after a stellar year in 2011 (16-10, 192 Ks, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP!) in which he was a Cy Young contender, Haren had a shaky and somewhat disappointing season in 2012. It was not bad enough to dump him, but then came a shockingly rude stretch of poor pitching in 2013. Most of his owners gave up on him way too quickly and allowed some patient, observant bystanders to snap him up with a few well-timed mouse clicks. Let’s take a closer look… Continue reading

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TDGX Motto: “Relax. It’s a Long Season.”

Disaster struck my squad in Week One. I sat in 17th place out of 20 in the TDGX league, with some significant warning lights flashing already. My first round draft pick, Ryan Braun, can’t feel the thumb on his throwing hand. More importantly for our purposes, that thumb happens to be kind of important for swinging the bat, something Braun did not do well at all out of the gate. My elite speed guys didn’t steal a single base. One of my primary AVG/Runs guys, Omar Infante, took a fastball to the face and went down like Eddie Richardson taking a left hook from Mike Tyson. On the pitching side, my #1 starter gave up 8 runs in his debut start. My ostensible #6 starter, a late-game pick I was extremely proud of, mind you, lost out on a rotation spot to Lucas Harrell. Lucas Harrell. A guy who had a 5.86 ERA and 89:88 strikeout-to-walk ratio in over 150 innings last season. And there still exists no plausible scenario in which anybody on my roster will log even one save this season. Clearly it was time to sell, sell, SELL!

Or not. Deep breath, kids. It’s the second week of the season. A couple solid days in a row already boosted me back up to 11th as of this writing, and the larger takeaway is that it is way, way too early to consider drastic measures of any kind. Even if your team hasn’t gotten off to the banner start you envisioned when you cackled maniacally to yourself in the dark after your draft ended, it’s important to not overreact to small sample sizes. Still, it’s never too early to start evaluating your team’s performance, so that when the time comes you’ll be in the best position possible to make the most appropriate moves. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the early storylines with my team in the context of early season strategy.

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Trader’s Corner: Mark Trumbo and Erasmo Ramirez Stop By

Last week I asked readers to send in their pending and completed trades for this weekly series. I was overwhelmed with the response I got as my inbox was full within 24 hours. So while I originally thought I’d be posting the second part of the “trade personality study“, I’m going to save that for a rainy day and get right into it this week with your trades. For each trade, I’ll provide the league format, some relevant roster info, and my own two cents. I’d encourage you to vote as the more votes we receive, the better informed the person asking for help will feel. This is a good time to tell you these are actual trades in real leagues, and my goal is for all of us to discuss and learn from them, so feel free to comment to explain your vote or provide your take. Also, keep sending your pending and completed trades to and I will get them in one of the upcoming posts.

TDGX Update:

Bret went over several of the TDGX transactions on Tuesday, so this will be repetitive for some of the regular readers, but here are the most recent trades made in the Dynasty Guru Experts’ League (20 teams, 40-man rosters):

Erasmo Ramirez, SP for Rob Kaminsky, SP

Andrew Cashner, SP for 2015 1st Round and 2015 3rd Round Draft Pick

Travis Wood, SP for 2015 2nd Round and 2015 5th Round Draft Pick

Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF,  Julio Urias, SP and Addison Reed, RP for Oscar Taveras, OF and Matt Barnes, SP

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#TDGX Recap: Team Goldstein: Rounds 21-30

We’re almost there. Only… TWENTY?! Ok, fine, twenty more rounds is a lot of rounds but we’re going to hammer them out here in the next two posts, meaning I’ll have recapped each and every one of my 40 picks, plus the small trade my partner and I made in the first week. Let’s get to it before the motivation leaves me.

Round 21 – Pick 419 – Matt Joyce, OF, TB

Sense a theme? More outfielders! Joyce is pretty much a platoon guy only at this point, but he’s very good against right-handed pitching (career 841 OPS) and he’s far enough down my outfield depth chart that I can bench him in a week with a bunch of lefties. Even if I don’t, the Rays won’t play him much against them, so the damage should be minimal. Was very excited to get someone who could provide the rate stats Joyce can this far down.

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Digging For Diamonds: Four To Watch

I’m taking a break from #TDGX this week to briefly discuss four minor-leagues names I’m particularly higher on than the majority — I see each of these players making significant strides and rising on prospect lists next winter. The first is a third baseman who is buried but not out, the second and third are Hunters, and the fourth is a Cubs pitcher not named C.J. Edwards. (Yes, they have those too.)

Christian Villanueva, 3B, Cubs

Since letting Aramis Ramirez walk via free agency, the Cubs have employed Josh Vitters, Ian Stewart, Cody Ransom and Donnie Murphy, with Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt splitting time in the present. Cubs’ fans are praying that Olt is the short-term answer and 2013 first-round pick Kris Bryant is the long-term plan, but lost in the prospect shuffle is Villanueva, 22, a 2008 international free agent (Rangers) from Mexico who the Cubs acquired for Ryan Dempster (*chuckles*)  in 2012. Bryant’s bat is potentially elite, but it’s Villanueva who owns the organization’s best glove. Not to be outshined by his teammates, the third baseman hit .261/.317/.469 last year, including 62 extra-base hits (19 home runs) across 155 games in Double-A. He’ll never likely hit for a high average, but his above-average power should play at the major-league level, in conjunction with his stellar handy work at third. He’s currently manning the hot corner in Triple-A, but we could see Villanueva at the next level by the end of 2014 — possibly before Bryant arrives. If Bryant can’t handle third and is forced to either corner outfield, Villanueva, not Bryant, could the Cubs next third baseman.

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The #TDGX Transaction Report: An Elite Prospect Changes Hands

You’ve been following TDGX. You love TDGX. We all love TDGX.  And every week here at The Dynasty Guru, I am going to be bringing you commentary from our flagship experts’ league, directly from the participants themselves. Today we’re going to cover all of the transactions made post-draft, including a few trades–one involving an elite prospect and another involving a potential high-end starting pitcher.

The goal here is to give you insight into the moves made by our group of experts so that you can use this information the next time you need to make a trade or prominent FA move in your league. So let’s not mess around with too much longer of an introduction. We’re going to break this up into three sections: trades, major league additions, minor league additions.


3/22/14: Mike Buttil trades Andrew Cashner to Ian Kahn/Tim McLeod for a 2015 1st round pick and 2015 3rd round pick

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Prospect Smackdown: Gary Sanchez vs. Blake Swihart

It’s been a while since our last Prospect Smackdown, when we saw Archie Bradley earn a narrow victory over Taijuan Walker in a battle of potential future No. 1 starters. Today, we’ll return to the offensive side of the ball and compare two prospects who are about as different as they come: Gary Sanchez and Blake Swihart.

It’s a battle of upside vs. probability, of average vs. power and, of course, of evil vs. good. A year ago, the answer to this question would’ve been “Sanchez” without hesitation. Now, it’s much closer.

Prospect Smackdown No. 7: – Who’s the better catching prospect: Gary Sanchez or Blake Swihart?

The Case for Sanchez

Quite frankly, the case for Sanchez is an obvious one: he’s got a much greater offensive upside than Swihart. With 6-plus power potential and the ability to hit for non-embarrassing averages, Sanchez could put up some gaudy numbers from a fantasy POV. His .254/.313/.420 line in High-A last season isn’t terribly inspiring, but he was a touch better in a smaller sample size in Double-A, and he doesn’t turn 22 until December. There are several factors that limit the likelihood of Sanchez reaching his ceiling, and we’ll get to those below. But if we’re talking pure ceiling, Sanchez might have the second highest of any fantasy catching prospect, trailing only Jorge Alfaro. One season of sub-par baseball with aggressive assignments doesn’t change that. Continue reading