As I hinted at in yesterday’s post on the updated Top 500 Dynasty League Rankings, Ben, Craig and I sat down to “record” the latest PFYE on the subject at hand. So for your amusement, we talked over gchat for almost an hour and a half about what we’ve liked and not liked so far during the 2013 season–along with some tough decisions to be made. The following conversation has not been edited, abridged or otherwise touched (besides cleaning up our names and the formatting so that it’s easier to read).
Without any further introduction (because this post is long enough as is), I present to you the Episode 2 of A Podcast For Your Eyes.
Bret: i’m back, babydoll!
Craig: BRETTY WESTSIDE
Bret: so you guys ready to kick this thing off?
Craig: as long as you’re not being Lucy to our Charlie Brown, yes.
Ben: i am prepared.
Craig: but seriously I just logged off twitter, so yes I’m ready
Bret: haha that’s hardcore
Craig: I’m drinking though, so
Craig: if you can call what Ben is imbibing “drinking”
Ben: ZZZZ (meta)
Bret: zima livin’
Ben: it was four z’s, guys. fourzies.
Craig: what happened to you man? you used to be cool.
Bret: i know, i was just assuming you were downing zimas like an extra in a pat benatar video
Ben: i dont know who pat benatar is because im not [REDACTED] like you are which i creepily know because craig creepily knows.
Bret: YOU KNOW WHO PAT BENATAR IS
Craig: c’mon Ben. Even I know who Pat Benatar is
and we’re probably the same age
Ben: all i know is she/he likes zima so he/she sounds kewl.
Craig: ok Bret. Hit him with your best shot.
Bret: on that note
welcome everyone, to the most recent installation of A Podcast For Your Eyes
joining me today, as always (the one time we did this before) is Craig Goldstein and Ben Carsley
say hello, gentlemen
Craig: hello, gentleman
Ben: pleasure to be here.
Bret: which of us is a gentleman, craig?
Bret: good choice
Craig: you sign the paychecks. there ARE paychecks, right?
Ben: confirmed: paychecks exist
Bret: so we are gathered here today to (mostly) discuss the top 500 dynasty league rankings which came out earlier today. and the first order of business..
let’s talk a little about what we look for in early season performance that either gets us excited or nervous
Ben: wins and RBI mostly
Craig: don’t forget runs
Bret: you always were a sabermathemagician, ben
Ben: i do it for the lulz. on a more serious note, i think scouting reports are wayyyy more important than stats this early but if i have to pick stats, K rates and BB rates, for hitters and pitchers alike.
Bret: completely agree on the scouting report point
Craig: I’ll third that, and second the walk and strikeout rates. Basically, approach is what I look for
Bret: with small sample sizes, first hand reports are all the more important
and are we now at the point in the season where you guys are genuinely excited about guys, or are we still in a wait-and-see stage?
Ben: i will look at stats if a player has a really aggressive assignment more than if he’s repeating a level or advancing traditionally. SSS, i know, but I think it helps provide a little context
Craig: To Bret’s question…I think that’s situationally dependent. At this point I’m still holding to a lot of my biases
if it’s a player I thought was going to break out, and they ARE for the right reasons…then I get excited
Ben: re: excitement — only if the scouting reports match. boring answer, but true. i am not excited about any players due only to numbers yet.
Craig: if they’re struggling, I’m still going to feel like a correction is coming…unless as Ben says, the scouting reports say something is amiss
Bret: now, can i assume that the statistical analysis means more for major leaguers than minor leaguers at this point?
Ben: the higher in the minors you are the more stats matter, so on that scale, yes. but still, it’s 6 weeks.
Craig: It definitely means more, just because the level of competition is going to be more consistent, but there’s still a lot of noise
Ben: what say you on this matter, bret? tell us about your feelings.
Craig: yes, grab a pint of ice cream and spill
Bret: i’m all about contact rates at this point in the major league season, as they are the first things to stabilize statistically
so if a player has lowered his strikeout rate, i get a little excited
Craig: this brings up a point I was discussing with someone in the comments of an article – what do you do with someone like Nate McLouth? He shows progression in all the right areas, including areas that are starting to stabilize…but basically his entire career begs to differ
Bret: i like mclouth – even though that’s absolutely correct
which brings us into the next topic to cover
players we like more right now than we did in the pre-season
and i’ll start with mclouth, since he’s one of them for me
Craig: ok, go cause I’m looking at his plate discipline number on fangraphs and it is literally screaming regression at me
I had to turn down the volume
Ben: I’ve written about this at TDG and on Fire Brand, but Ranaudo — he seriously seems like he’s back from scouting reports, and he’s already in Double-A. we’re talking about a gifted pitcher who could be in the majors this year.
Bret: well, it all depends what you think he’s going to be
(mclouth, that is)
Ben: if you want to go MLB players, I dont know how you can’t be even more enamored with Machado than you were preseason, and that’s coming from someone who was already high on MM
Craig: yeah, I’m in the same boat Ben. I was going to say Machado as well.
Bret: oh boy, are we moving right into the fawning over manny machado section of this?
Craig: I’ll add Jean Segura, who I liked a LOT already…
Ben: nothing machado is doing is anything i didn’t expect, i just didn’t think he’d do it this quickly
Craig: but I didn’t think he’d be what I thought he was so soon
Bret: and that’s the point, right? that’s why we’re all so excited about him
it’s not that we didn’t think he had the talent, just that he’s showing it sooner than most expected
Craig: exactly, and even though it’s been 6 weeks…we knew he had the talent. The probability of him doing this soon was just fairly low. But now that it’s happening, it’s not unreasonable to expect it to continue…unlike McLouth for me
Bret: well, that’s true, but mclouth is still ranked well well well behind machado
Craig: of course of course…I’m just saying why I buy one and not the other
Bret: if mclouth is a .270 hitter with 12 HR and 30 SB, doesn’t that make him a legitimate starting outfielder in all leagues?
Ben: it’s tough to envision a scenario in which you could rank machado behind mclouth in a regular league this season, nevermind a dynasty league
Craig: yeah, my comp wasn’t a comment on their rankings, whatsoever and re: the starting outfielder comment…yes, IF he is those things
Bret: i know, it’s just about setting expectations
Craig: but he’s also never stolen more than 23 bases in his career
Ben: yeah, i think that stat line is pretty unlikely
Bret: it seems to me like those are realistic expectations based on his underlying stats and what he’s done in the past
Craig: I don’t think his underlying stats are indicative of his talent level, even the ones that are reaching the stabilizing level
Ben: he’s only hit over .270 once and he’s never hit 30 SB, so you’re assuming an all-around career year
Bret: that’s fair – but other than the steals, isn’t this all stuff he’s done before?
Craig: which was my point before. He’s got an 84% O-Contact% which is 14% higher than his career average. That’s a big thing to me.
Ben: well, his only really good seasons were 08 and 09. maybe he has a career arc dissimilar from most, but that’s tough to project.
Craig: Additionally, his OBP is higher than I’d anticipate it being
Bret: well, let’s move on before this just becomes the nate mclouth show
Craig: 30 points above his career average, which says something to me, but yes…let’s move on
Bret: jean segura – you guys buying this?
Craig: yes yes yes
I mean, he’s not a .360 hitter
let’s make that clear immediately
Ben: i don’t think he’ll hit .360, but i think he’s good yes. durability remains a concern for me.
Bret: well, we all agree that he’s not a .360 hitter, but where do we think he falls from here on out?
Craig: I think he’s a .300 shortstop with 30 stolen bases and enough pop not to hurt you.
from here forward? I’d say between .300-.310
Ben: i think from here forward .270-280ish, but that’s still pretty good.
Bret: i fall closer to craig’s side — i think he’s going to be a near .300 hitter
Craig: again, I thought he could be a top fantasy shortstop, it’s the quickness of it that surprised me, so it’s very easy for me to believe this is real, even building in regression
Ben: no injury concerns for you two?
Bret: yep – but he’s also got more upside than just 30 steals in the speed department
i absolutely have injury concerns
Craig: definitely there are concerns. He’s had multiple hamstring issues and I believe he has Vladimir Guerrero syndrome (different length legs), but I guess I’m saying I buy his talent
Bret: but it’s not enough for me to slow down on getting excited about him
Craig: and the injury concerns haven’t overwhelmed my appreciation of that talent
Bret: any other players you have your eyes on so far? (on the major league level)
Craig: Shelby Miller falls into the Jean Segura mold for me
Ben: Chris Tillman
Craig: Also, Carlos Santana is finally doing what we thought he could, and Alex Rios is having a second consecutive good year, both of which seemed impossible 6 weeks ago
Bret: let’s start with miller
can he be a top-10 starter?
not this year, but in the future
Craig: this year? next 5 years?
Ben: the only reason I didn’t bring Miller up is because I had him as my third-best SP prospect to begin with. love him.
Craig: Yes. Yes I think he can.
Ben: Yes, Miller can be a Top 10 guy.
Bret: i’m with you guys — especially on that team
Craig: yeah, he’s a monster prospect of course, but I also didn’t know if he’d dominate from the word go. He’s KIND OF doing Matt Harvey things, only not getting the same attention
Ben: you look at the natural talent, the offensive support, that org’s history developing pitching … sky is the limit.
Craig: what Ben said.
Bret: indeed, so let’s jump to the next inevitable question: miller or harvey?
Ben: oh god. that’s so tough.
Craig: ugh this is a miserable decision. I always liked Miller better as a prospect.
Ben: call me crazy … miller. by a hair.
Craig: I think I’m with Ben. I don’t know that I have a great reason for this. Harvey has been an Absolute Stud. But I’m going to fall back on who I liked before and what I thought they could be. And that’s Miller for me
Ben: the improvement with Harvey’s control is the only thing that makes me rethink this, but yeah, still slightly Miller.
Craig: Yeah, Ben, I think it’s his control and that slider has jumped up a notch and I just don’t know if that’s going to hold.
Bret: i’m taking the other side of this – i’ll take harvey
Craig: Mets fan homer.
Bret: but it’s no slight to miller
Craig: seriously though, I think that’s just such a tough call, because I truly believe both guys are going to be tremendous assets in fantasy and real life, alike
Bret: absolutely – i just think harvey is going to be a monster
he is a monster
Craig: you wanna go, Sayre?
Bret: see a mets game? sure
Craig: oh god, what did I do to deserve that?
Ben: Craig, I must admit I don’t know — to what team do you pledge your loyalty?
Craig: oh I get it. Emphasize the LA because the Dodgers are terrible. YEAH WELL /searches for comeback, sits down, cries.
Ben: wait i think i know
Bret: i want to go back to chris tillman for a second
Craig: I support the LA Red Sox
I want to go back to black (miss you Winehouse!)
Bret: what can tillman be? is there a next level to his performance?
Ben: Tillman can be a No. 2 SP in his prime and a good mid-rotation P for the majority of his career.
Craig: Lots of innings too
I think there’s another level from what we’ve seen. I think that strikeout rate can jump, and he can return the walk rate to what we saw in 2012
Ben: he’s a guy i had flagged as a “just in case” before the season, and now I own him in most of my leagues.
Craig: He’s just so inconsistent
Bret: i own him in a lot of leagues as well
Craig: I’ll say that I believe he can reach the No. 2 pitcher level, but I’m not entirely optimistic, though I still like him as an asset
Bret: the FB tendency in baltimore scares me a bit, but he’s been successful despite that
Craig: I also like that he’s already bounced back from adversity. That’s an invaluable lesson and I like to see someone who has done that before
Bret: that’s a good point
so, on the opposite side, anyone we don’t like?
not, like, personally or anything
Craig: I’m gravely concerned about Albert Pujols and his teammate Josh Hamilton
Ben: i have a few younger options, but we can dive into this first. i’m starting to get really worried about pujols as well
Bret: it’s been really bad
Craig: the foot injury worries me, and I know he got off to a slow start last year, but I’m gonna leave that open ended. It’s just a lot of concern
Bret: i’m more concerned about him from an injury perspective going forward than a performance perspective, though they’re clearly tied together
Craig: well that’s kind of my concern. Slow start is one thing if he comes back and mashes…if he succumbs to injury, this season was just a flaming bag of poop
Bret: if he could actually get healthy, i think he could be at least the 2012 version of him again, but the risk is that he doesn’t truly get healthy again
Ben: from WARs around 9 to 7 in 2010, 4.3 in 2011, 3.6 last year. not what you want to see.
Craig: Should we talk Hamilton, or is that beating a dead horse at this point?
Bret: are we more or less concerned about hamilton than pujols? because i’m more concerned about hamilton
Craig: Yeah, I’m with you. The contact percentage stuff and swinging outside the zone has been said to death, but I buy it and it’s weird to say too, because he hit 43 homers last season
Bret: it’s really strange to say
Ben: i don’t know if I’m more concerned, although it’s funny — didn’t realize he was only 17 months younger than Pujols until just now.
Craig: plus there’s the difference between what they put into their bodies over the years…
Bret: i just don’t know how long hamilton is going to hold up for
for that reason exactly
though, i do think he’ll still be pretty good for another year or two
just not JOSH HAMILTON
Craig: I have a name who has been great so far, but who I don’t believe in at all – but let’s hear who Ben had in mind first
Bret: well, now i want to hear it
Craig: you’ll have to wait
Ben: three names that pain me greatly — Jesus Montero, Will Middlebrooks and (gasp) Eric Hosmer
Craig: worried, bailing (was before the season really) and believing (stubbornly)
Bret: not super worried, wasn’t crazy about to start, not super worried
i’m with you that montero has been terrible, but i think he’s going to hit
the problem from a fantasy standpoint is that, he could lose his catcher eligibility by the time he figures things out
Ben: so at what point do we walk away from montero and hosmer?
i know WMB never had the same ceiling and I never thought he’d be a superstar, but it’s shocking how horrible he looks this year.
Bret: like justin smoak level walking away?
Ben: if you’re not a LHP grooving FB down the middle, WMB can’t hit you.
Craig: that’s fair – WMB has been worse than I figured, but I just never believed for a second
Ben: and yes, justin smoak walking away because we all waited too long on smoak.
Bret: i don’t think i’ll be there for another 2 years or so
Craig: I’m willing to wait too long on Hosmer
Ben: wow. see i think that’s way too long.
Craig: not AS long on Montero but I do still believe a bit
Ben: how many years can we tell people to draft these guys and receive zero production, then tell them to draft again?
Craig: here’s my theory on Hosmer. He’s been terrible before (in the minors) and bounced back. He’s produced at the major league level
Ben: I guess you can always put the asterisk up and say “potential for more,” but ….
Craig: I’m going to believe that he can bounce back again
Bret: that just depends on the price
if he’s a 15th rounder next year, i’m buying
even if he sucks this year
Craig: if he’s a sub 700 OPS after next year, I’ll bail publicly and secretly believe for an extra season. And that’s the honest truth
Ben: i think then maybe you try to buy quickly when you see signs of life, but we need to stop assuming a comeback.
i guess im just having brandon wood nightmares.
Craig: I don’t think you’re out of line, but I don’t think his problems are the same as Wood (swing length)
Ben: obv very different players all the way around, just using as an example.
Bret: yea, i hated what happened to brandon wood, but it’s easier to envision success when you start with a better hit tool and hosmer and montero still both have the potential for strong hit tools
Craig: Hosmer’s hit has been fine (not plus to plus-plus like we thought) this year. He’s just had zero power
Bret: yea, he’s developing ryan sweeney syndrome
Ben: important update: guys i just snarkily responded to keith law and got 8 favorites i’m cool.
Bret: agreed. stamp of approval
Craig: breaking my twitter silence to go look
Ben: WMB just homered as well so our problems were misguided.
Craig: WMB’s ears must be burning
Ben: *our concerns. WMB does this to me.
Bret: his plate discipline is just so awful
Ben: it was truly much better last year. and this year it’s about as bad as you can imagine. have to believe the truth lies somewhere in between
Bret: i agree on that
any other disappointments to bring up before we touch on some minor leaguers?
Craig: but probably a 5-6% walk guy and a 20+% strikeout guy, right?
Bret: or are you just disappointed we haven’t talked about minor leaguers yet?
well, he’s not a disappointment, but the guy I was thinking of earlier
Ben: yep. just got to hope he cant go .260 with 25 homers and good D to make it worth it. i will stop with the WMB now.
Craig: I wanna talk about Nelson Cruz
Ben: and i wanna talk about dylan bundy.
Craig: WE JUST TALKED ABOUT YOUR GUY BEN
Ben: ugh fine.
Craig: Cruz has kinda been better than anticipated for me. Maybe I was low on him before, but I thought last season was the beginning of the end for him
and he’s mostly holding steady if not increasing his production right now
that said, I think he’s the kinda guy who could go over the hill really damn fast
Bret: i absolutely agree with that
if i own cruz in a dynasty league that i can spare him in right now, i’m selling him
Craig: there weren’t questions on his batspeed so much as knowing that it had gotten noticeably slower
Bret: i don’t think this ends well for him
Craig: I’d be selling Nelson Cruz as quickly as possible, basically. I know Bret dropped him 8 spots in his rankings, despite a good start to the season
and I basically just thought it was worth talking about briefly
Bret: yea, i think this will be a good season for him, but long-term, i’m worried
but, dylan bundy..
Ben: Cruz is a guy who’s much better for Fantasy purposes than in real life for me
Craig: well yeah the defense is a bleeping mess, but I’m not even optimistic that this season goes all that well for Cruz
Ben: it’s more than just defense I think. but bottom line, if you think he can at least go .260-25-85 with 8-10 steals, the dude is worth owning
Craig: definitely. I also think he’s worth trading to someone who believes because the downside is just so much bigger than the upside right now
But let’s talk Bundy
Ben: so I think the arm injury is a big deal for a few reasons
a good amount of his value was tied up in being close to the majors and in being “safe” for a pitching prospect thanks to athleticism, delivery, etc. the TOOTBLAN crowd is mocking me for that statement, and maybe they are right. i don’t know how you don’t knock Bundy down several pegs for this.
Craig: I think you mean TINSTAAPP
Ben: hahahaha i do, but the TOOTBLAN crowd is probably mocking me now too.
Craig: that mixup is brought to you by: bad bad wine
Bret: haha, that’s great
everyone’s mocking you right now
Craig: I’m mocking you 5th overall to Cleveland
BREAKING NEWS: Zack Greinke is throwing pitches in a major league game and I’m happy
Ben: TOOTPLAN = thrown out of the podcast like a nincompoop
Craig: coming back to Bundy…it IS a big deal, especially when it comes to immediate value
I also think that if you’re a Bundy owner, the ONLY thing to do is sit tight
Bret: i agree with that
Craig: the success rate of Tommy John (worst case scenario) is very good, though not perfect (John Lamb)
but it’s good enough that you have to see what he is when he’s healthy
Bret: but are we in agreement that this doesn’t substantially lower his ceiling?
Craig: I agree with that
Ben: he’s still an easy top 50 prospect and probably a top 25. and yes, his ceiling remains as high as almost anyone’s. true first-SP-overall potential.
Craig: I think the only sentiment I can muster for fantasy owners, pitching fans and Orioles fans alike is…this just sucks
Bret: and are we all just assuming he needs TJ at this point?
Craig: there’s not much to do about it, it just sucks
I’m not assuming he needs it just yet, but I am assuming he’ll need it within 24 months
Ben: i am assuming, yes. when was the last time a “shut you down for 6 weeks and let’s see” program worked?
Craig: I think Ervin Santana is the only guy I know pitching with a diagnosed partially torn elbow ligament
I know that’s not what Bundy was diagnosed with, but still
Ben: casey kelly, banuelos, weiland (if i’m not misremember), kyle gibson, etc
Craig: Billingsley, Lackey
Bret: yea, it’s definitely not a good sign, but it’s still not 100%, and i think he’s certainly a top-25 prospect
he just moves out on the curve more
Ben: so bundy or miller/fernandez now?
Bret: he essentially slides in just ahead of guys in A-ball who have really high ceilings
Craig: yeah, it’s kinda like Brett Anderson isn’t it? We all thought he’d be OK when he came back and it represented a buy low window
of course Anderson is a whole other story now
dangit Ben, why with the hard choices
Ben: i think i go miller – bundy – fernandez.
Bret: i take either of those two over bundy
Craig: I think I’m with Ben, again
Bret: i really like what i’ve seen out of fernandez so far
Craig: No argument there from me. I really like Bundy though
Bret: i agree with that as well
Ben: yeah. bundy/fernandez a coin flip for me. miller a bit ahead of both.
Bret: i had bundy and miller pretty close in the pre-season, so i’m definitely higher on miller now
Bret: well, we’ve been at this for quite a while now
Craig: The only other interesting name I’d throw out there to talk about is Cingrani, but I don’t have anything to add since I spent 1000 words on him already
Ben: i like.
an obvious sadface name i’ll throw out is casey kelly, who I thought would be a sneaky-good back-end fantasy SP this year. womp.
Craig: At all worried about the reliance (I’d say over-reliance) on the fastball for Cingrani?
Bret: i have a really big sadface over Casey Kelly
and the cingrani thing is well documented at this point
Craig: Fair enough
Ben: yeah i’m cingrani’d out too
Bret: when cueto comes back and he’s back in the minors, there will at least be a little reprieve
Craig: not so sure Leake doesn’t get the boot from the rotation
Bret: we’ll find out soon enough, but i think it’s time to close up shop tonight
we didn’t even get to the minor league topics either
i guess we’ll have to reconvene specifically to cover that
Craig: if you say so. I’ve got the Dodgers/Nats game on, so I can go for a while yet
Ben: my only regret is that I didn’t get to make a Pat Benatar joke
Bret: you’re not going to be happy though, craig
Craig: I wish we got Ben to admit his shame over what he was drinking
Bret: you know this
Craig: let’s face it, I’m never happy.
Ben: i’m not ashamed. i’m poor and full so i’m drinking a $16 bottle yellow tail. if you haven’t been there before, you haven’t lived. or at least not past college. it’s the daniel nava of wines.
and that is the perfect note to go out on
Craig: This can be off-air but…that assumes we drink wine. But also, 16 bucks? that’s a healthy price for wine. I assume you could do better than Yellow Tail for that price.
Bret: $16 could buy you a LOT of malt liquor
Ben: it’s a big bottle
Ben: 750 ml and i live in boston
Bret: that’s a lot of milliliters
Craig: is Boston expensive for alcohol? I honestly have no idea
Ben: everything is expensive here. not as much so as NY but still.
Bret: NY is crazy for liquor prices, but jersey is cheap and PA is ludicrous
alright kids, time to say goodnight
Ben: sounds good, this was fun as always
Bret: thanks guys for doing this
Craig: let’s do a prospects focused one soon to follow up
Bret: absolutely, it’s a date