Do The Murph

No one was more skeptical of Daniel Murphy than I. Of course, I usually am slow to accept unexpected breakouts. The owner of Murphy in my dynasty league is well on his way to a last place finish and had been shopping Murphy all year. I have Jason Kipnis and Ben Zobrist so I wasn’t particularly motivated and eventually the other owner sold Murphy for Austin Meadows and Carlos Rodon, a return that I thought to be extremely strong. For months I was told how he would provide better statistics with far few strikeouts – they count in my league. But I held firm, I was convinced that the day I hypothetically acquired him would be the day he reverted back to his high average low everything else ways. However, he hasn’t and shows no signs of doing so.

The new Daniel Murphy emerged in the playoffs last year when he stroked seven home runs in 14 games on the way to earning himself a nice new contract with the Nationals. To date, he hasn’t missed a beat. The following monthly splits are from this year.

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Prospects Poppin’: Who Is Victor Robles?

Trust and value your sources. Doing so is obviously of great importance when delving into the world of prospects, particularly since it’s impossible to keep track of the roughly 9,712 different minor league players currently getting a paycheck to play baseball. Whether it’s John Sickels of Minor League Ball, Keith Law of ESPN Insider, Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Ben Badler or JJ Cooper or any other the other fine folks at Baseball America, the great prospect team over at Baseball Prospectus — you get the idea — when a voice you trust tells you to pay attention to prospect you’ve never heard of, you’re best served as a dynasty league owner to take notice. Hopefully we have a few folks here at The Dynasty Guru whose opinions that you trust and value, and one person whose opinion I value greatly is Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus. When Jeff left this little nugget in his Spring Training notebook on March 26th, my ears perked up and I filed it away for later:

“Robles has yet to appear stateside in regular season action, so excitement should be quelled for the moment, but keep it in the queue. This is a name you’re going to hear a lot about soon.”
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Digging for Diamonds: Underowned Shortstop Prospects

Shortstop is certainly one of the most important positions to keep stocked as a dynasty league owner. I love shortstop prospects, almost to a fault. Other owners in leagues that I play in have joked that I should look into joining an all SS dynasty league because of my roster being continuously filled with them, particularly on the minor league side. There are many reasons why I do this, starting with the fact that many shortstop prospects will end up moving to other positions down the line and establish eligibility at other fantasy positions (like Addison Russell this year), and because the ones that do end up sticking at short can almost always be used as trade chips, even as minor leaguers, as they climb the ladder. This is especially true in deeper leagues, where there’s almost always somebody looking to upgrade from the (pre-2015) Zack Cosart experience. Once shortstop prospects reach Double-A, it’s often too late to grab them cheaply in dynasty leagues, so you’re often left scouring the lower levels in search of help. Even prospects just getting their first taste of full-season ball like Jorge Mateo, Amed Rosario and Ozhaino Albies are almost assuredly gone in your league.

Let’s take a look at three shortstop prospects that should be owned in more leagues than they currently are:
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Digging For Diamonds Profile: Anthony Alford

As requested, we here at TDG give the people what they want and take a deeper look at one of the most exciting athletes in the lower minors, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford.  Toronto selected the former Mississippi Mr. Baseball and Mr. Football in the third round, 112th overall in the 2012 draft. Alford was an option quarterback at Petal High School, and was viewed before the draft as a tough sign due to his pending scholarship to play QB at Southern Miss. The Blue Jays convinced Alford to sign for $750,000, but also allowed him to pursue his football career in the fall in addition to playing baseball in the summer, quite a coup to secure what some scouts felt was a top-10 overall talent. John Sickels of SB Nation’s Minor League Ball, rated Alford as the 53rd best talent in the draft class, appearing ahead of more notable current prospects Lewis Brinson and Nick Williams, Braves rotation member Alex Wood, and also in front of fellow high-school prospect (and likely top-10 overall pick in next month’s draft) Alex Bregman, who went on to star at LSU.
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Digging for Diamonds: The Most Interesting 23 Year Old In Single-A

Few fantasy prospects have captivated my imagination in recent memory like Rangers farmhand Ryan Cordell. Granted, I may be the only one, as he’s owned in less than one percent of CBS Leagues. Somebody out there has to own him besides me, so I know it’s not quite to the level of this, but needless to say, he’s available in your league. Cordell checks off a lot of the boxes that you look for in a fantasy prospect, as he’s an athletic 6’4″, 205 lbs, he hits for average (.294 career), has big time power (led all California high schoolers with 14 homers as a senior and hit 13 in 89 games in 2014), steals bases (21 in 2014), and is in an organization with a big league park conducive to offense. So why the hell is he still in Single-A ball, and repeating High-A for that matter, after putting up a .914 OPS in 2014?
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Up the Middle: Anthony Rendon

This will be the last Up the Middle post for a bit as the much anticipated dynasty rankings will be coming out shortly. We’ve talked about a bunch of good middle infielders in these posts, including both prospects and major leaguers. This week we’ll take a look at a second baseman who is just starting his major league career: Anthony Rendon. With some guy named Bryce Harper in front of him on the Nationals prospect depth chart, Rendon might not have received the white hot spotlight, but he was ranked #30 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list heading into the 2013 season. It took an early June injury to Danny Espinosa to bring him up for good and in 98 games for the Nats he smacked 7 home runs while hitting .265/.329/.396. Nothing earth shattering, but also nothing to sneeze at for his first year in the bigs. Its important to keep in mind that second base was rather new to him as well, with most of his games in the minors coming at third base. So what makes Rendon a good target for dynasty league owners? Continue reading

Up the Middle: Loading Up on Shortstops

I recently finished reading Joe Morgan’s autobiography A Life in Baseball. I really enjoyed it as he’s one of my favorite players and the book was written in a very honest, straightforward manner. One of my favorite parts of the book was when he discussed the “diamond within the diamond” and how important good defensive play is to building a winning team, especially at the positions of catcher, middle infield, and centerfield. That book was written two decades ago about a player who played four decades ago, and yet that principle still holds true. No matter how solid prospects start out at the shortstop position, there are many factors along the way, including the defensive ability mentioned above, that can determine whether that player will actually end up at shortstop in the major leagues.

Due to the fact that shortstop is still a very defensive position along with second base, the two positions can supply loads of value if you can find a player who is an offensive stud there as well. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to write about middle infield in the first place. But there is also the catch that the guy who you’ve projected as your dynasty league shortstop of the future ends up as a corner infielder. So what do I do as a dynasty owner? I load up on shortstop prospects and play the numbers game. Continue reading

Up the Middle: Eric Young Jr.

I admit I get wrapped up in the winter meetings. Before they even started, a big time second baseman named Robinson Cano was already spoken for. I could talk about the ramifications there, but I think it’s been covered. Instead, I’m going to go out on a sturdy limb based on some of the rumors I’ve heard floating around this week. Apparently the Mets are pushing Daniel Murphy hard in trade talks. If that is indeed the case and a deal gets done, Eric Young Jr. could be your starting second basemen in New York on Opening Day.

EY2 was really productive for the Mets as a sparkplug leadoff hitter after being traded from the Rockies. Consequently, they seem set on finding a way to work him into the everyday lineup. Everyday at bats are really the key here, as the Mets have already signed both Chris Young and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. I’ve seen two projections already for EY2, and one has him playing a full season while the other has him starting a modest 44 games. There are also rumors that Murphy could get moved to first base with an Ike Davis trade, which opens second base for Young. UPDATE: Davis has been all over the Mets rumors the past day or so. Either way, if EY2 can indeed get a playing time boost through Murphy moving off of the position, there are two main reasons why I absolutely love him for fantasy: Continue reading

Starlin Castro Hits Rock Bottom

Starlin Castro had a down year. A really down year.

Fantasy Pros’ No. 3 shortstop — and No. 36 player overall — in the 2013 preseason rankings was simply abysmal, slashing .245/.284/.347 with 10 home runs, 59 runs, 44 RBIs and nine steals in 705 plate appearances. The 23-year-old regressed in every major offensive category, leaving Cubs’ coaches and front office staff searching for answers. Just two years earlier Castro was the best young player in the game; now, he looks like the most lost.

Despite Castro’s struggles, general manager Jed Hoyer is on the record of backing his All-Star shortstop:

“We’ve always gotten hits on him,” Hoyer said on Monday. “People see him as a guy who was one of the best young players in the game a couple years ago and he still has all that talent…Listen, we’re excited to have Starlin. We obviously gave him a significant contract because we believe in him. We still believe in him.”

So while the Cubs still believe in Castro, the question for dynasty-league owners becomes, “Should you?”

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Up the Middle: Jurickson Profar

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sure all of us can think of at least one small thing that we can be grateful for today. For me, this month brought the birth of my second child, a baby girl, and gratitude is definitely one of the many strong emotions that comes with being a new parent. On the baseball front, the Rangers made a major play to free up their logjam in the middle infield by trading Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers. Since I own Jurickson Profar in a dynasty league, I couldn’t help but feel all warm and tingly inside when I heard the news. After bouncing around the Texas infield last year, I’d imagine Profar is more than grateful for the opportunity to show what he can do with everyday at bats in 2014. But will he suddenly put it all together in 2014 and live up to the massive hype that surrounded him prior to the 2013 season? I’m not so sure…

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