We’re back for another look into the hottest pickups and stay-aways in fantasy baseball in week two. I haven’t looked at the numbers yet as I write this, but if Jarrod Parker who burned me the 1st two weeks of the season isn’t here, I’m going to be sad.
Week Two Pops
Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves, C: ESPN +81.6%
El Oso Blanco isn’t messing around. He’s not just a great story, but he sure can hit. Gattis became just the 42nd player since 1916 to have 10 RBI’s in their first nine career games. He has four home runs and is playing everyday between catcher and first base with Freddie Freeman on the DL. Things will become iffy for Gattis’ playing time when Freeman and Brian McCann come back, but for now, the clean-up hitter on one of the better lineups is a must-own at catcher. I’ll also give some love to last weeks pop John Buck who was added in another 70% of ESPN leagues this week. Buck has been amazing for the Mets offense.
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves, SP: ESPN +52%
One of my predicted pops from last week, Maholm hasn’t given up a run yet this season. Since that’s not going to continue, I hope you snagged him and can sell high to help you elsewhere, go right ahead.
Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers, RP: ESPN +81.3%, CBS +27%
John Axford is out of the closer’s role for now. If you didn’t pay for saves, snap up Henderson if he’s still out there. It’s better than trying to catch fire with the Cubs bullpen that is without Kyuji Fujikawa and won’t give the job back to Carlos Marmol. If I had to own on Cubs reliever, it’d be James Russell. Same goes for the Tigers bullpen, but at least they have a pitcher the manager says will get the 9th inning work in Joaquin Benoit.
Chris Carter, Houston Astros, 1B: ESPN +30.3%, CBS +28%
Don’t be afraid of the words “Houston Astros”, their players can help your fantasy team too. Carter has pop (four home runs in 2013, 16 in 2012 in just 218 at-bats) if you’re looking for power, Carter can help you at a corner infielder or utility spot. He’s still available in a lot of leagues.
Predicting next week’s pops: Tommy Milone, Athletics, SP, Joaquin Benoit, Tigers, RP, Daniel Nava, Red Sox, OF, Tony Cingrani, Reds, SP, Emilio Bonifacio, Blue Jays, OF, and yes I still like Chris Johnson, Braves 3B/1B
Week Two Drops
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics, SP: ESPN -45.4% CBS -20%
Man, has Parker been frustrating. He was supposed to have a two-start week in week one that got changed into one start. He then proceeds to get rocked in his actual two-start week against the Angels and the Tigers. He’s gone from a must-start to spot-starter in two weeks.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox, OF: ESPN -43.9%, CBS -17%
One of the best players in spring training hasn’t carried it over to the regular season. Bradley could be on the verge of a ticket back to the minors for some more seasoning. His defense might be what saves him from that fate, but defense doesn’t count in fantasy baseball.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, C: ESPN -40.9%
Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, C: ESPN -40.5%, CBS -10%
For Gattis and Buck to be added in the amount of leagues they have, someone needs to take the fall and it’s Lucroy and Montero for now. I would definitely throw them on to a watch list and at the sign of them heating up, pick them back up. The walk-off home run for Lucroy on Sunday against the Cardinals, could be that turning point.
Predicting next week’s drops: Franklin Gutirrez, Mariners, OF, Ben Revere, Phillies, OF, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
I won’t lie – I have a soft spot for the Mariners. That seems a bit strange because I live near Oakland and root for the A’s in my free time. Let me explain: I went to Washington State University and spent four years surrounded by sad, wandering M’s fans.
There’s that, and the fact that they have an awesome stadium, badass jerseys, and a slew of fan-favorite heroes (A-Rod, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Edgar Martinez, Felix Hernandez, Ichiro, etc.). Anyway, it’s been disappointing to see GM Jack Zduriencik not really pull the trigger on any big moves in which Seattle was set up perfectly to do so.
The Mariners have a decently sized payroll, plenty of minor league depth, and a desperate need for hitters. Despite a lack of offensive punch, the Mariners managed to finish just a handful of games short of .500 in 2012, albeit still in fourth place.
With Hernandez leading the rotation, and a plethora of young pitching talent in Triple-A, the Mariners have the pieces to move to acquire a big bat. Today, this theory finally came to fruition. They went out and traded 14-game winner Jason Vargas to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.
Let’s break this thing down:
SP Jason Vargas
1B/DH Kendrys Morales
It’s hard to decide who wins this trade, but my gut tells me both teams come out pretty hot. The Angels, with the losses of Zack Greinke, Ervin Santana and Dan Haren this winter were in dire need of a pitching upgrade (and no, Joe Blanton doesn’t count). They made a nifty move in acquiring Tommy Hanson from Atlanta, but it wasn’t enough.
I’m not sure if you can say Vargas is the final piece they need, but it surely won’t hurt. This gives the Angels a pair of very good lefty starters in Vargas and C.J. Wilson to pair with Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver. We know Los Angeles added Josh Hamilton to the lineup, making Morales expendable.
But is it enough? Can the Angels improve on a 90-win ball club and return to A.L. West supremacy? Having Vargas in the third spot in that rotation will help them inch closer. And you have to expect a full season of Mike Trout, plus Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo, that they will be a better team.
For the Mariners, who are chasing the Angels (and everyone else for that matter) in the division, this should spell the end of the long-drawn out Justin Smoak experiment. Morales is an instant upgrade in all departments over Smoak, and will provide a good source of punch to the lineup.
With the emergence of Kyle Seager and a likely improvement next season from Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, the Mariners could be a sneaky dangerous team in 2013. As long as the rotation can pick up the slack left by Vargas, I expect an improvement for Seattle, though I don’t think they are quite ready to be a contender yet.
That being said, Zduriencik knows he needs another bat or two, and may be chasing an Andre Ethier or Michael Bourn-type player as the winter evolves. If they can pair one more veteran power bat like Ethier’s, or a good top-of-the-order guy like Bourn, without giving up too much pitching, I see no reason why the Mariners can’t make like the 2012 A’s and take the league by surprise.
As for grading this trade, I’m giving a slightly higher mark to the Mariners, simply for going out and being aggressive in adding a bat to a flat lineup. They have pitching depth and are on the right track with getting some power in there with Morales and Jason Bay (well…you know…maybe). Mariners Grade: B+
The Angels got an underrated starting pitcher, but still haven’t made up for lost talent in the rotation. Not to mention, Morales was as good a hitter as they could ask for in that DH/1B slot. The offense did downgrade with the loss of Morales and Torii Hunter, even after the Hamilton signing. Overall, it’s a good move, but they better make a World Series run before 2014 when Vargas is a free agent or be prepared to shell out a pretty hefty extension. Angels Grade: B
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Each league in 2012 is going to have quite a smattering of MVP and Cy Young candidates, and a few front runners for Rookie of the Year. I’ll tell you my choices here and give you a chance to make your own pick! Check it out:
*Note – these picks are solely those of Jeremy Dorn and do not reflect the general consensus of my Three Up, Three Down co-hosts!*
NL MVP – Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kemp fell ten hits or one home run shy (Triple Crown or 40/40, respectively) of a sure-fire unanimous MVP selection in 2011. Which makes it even more baffling that he finished 2nd to Ryan Braun. He’s used the snub as motivation and has publicly claimed to be chasing an unprecendented 50/50 season this year. The Dodgers look to be much improved on offense, and all the extra protection is going to boost Kemp’s numbers even more this season. I’d expect another solid average and at least 45 home runs and 45 steals. That should definitely get it done for Kemp.
NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
In all honesty, biases aside, my Dodgers should have swept these two last season. The voters didn’t screw up the pitching version of the MVP award last year, giving it to the young southpaw who won the pitching Triple Crown. Anyone who beats Tim Lincecum four times head-to-head in one season deserves the hardware. Kershaw is a year older, smarter and better in 2012 and will have better run support than last year. He’s got plenty of competition from the usual suspects (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Lincecum to name a few), but I think it’s his award to lose. Hello, repeat!
NL Rookie of the Year – Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
Let me preface this – I don’t like Harper. I’m in love with his potential, but his attitude bothers me. A lot. Besides, how can you root for a guy who admits to being a fan of the Lakers, Yankees, Cowboys and Duke? That’s the most insane, front-runner crap I’ve ever heard. Anyway, you can’t deny the kid’s talent and he’s got more hype than a fistfight between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant would hold. I think he’ll have a good, not great season whenever he comes up (it’s when, not if, people…get used to it). But the name alone will carry him to this award. I’m thinking .275/15/65 will do it.
AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Recent reports out of Tiger camp tell me that Miggy has learned how to catch grounders with his glove. Whoever told him using his face was more effective is a cruel prankster. But Cabrera isn’t in the big leagues for his defense anyway. He’s prone to hit 40 homers any given season, and this year will be no different. I’m expecting, if healthy, Cabrera to absolutely mash in the middle of that stacked Detroit lineup. If he doesn’t hit over .300 with 30+ homers and at least 120 RBI, I will honestly be shocked. Add in the fact that the Tigers might have the Central clinched by June and he’s a sure-fire MVP.
AL Cy Young – C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees
A trendy pick every year, and for good reason. You have to like Sabathia’s consistent production in the Bronx. He seems to not be phased by the bright lights and drama surrounding the pinstripes, but it’s his play on the field that makes him the front runner for me. It won’t be easy; Justin Verlander will fiercely defend his crown, and you’re also looking at guys like Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Felix Hernandez as potential Cy Young winners. But with the always-dangerous offense backing him and a better, more complete team overall, I think Sabathia wins 21 or 22 with his normal low ERA and high strikeout total.
AL Rookie of the Year – Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners
The kid the Yankees traded to get some pitching depth is going to make quite a splash in the Pacific Northwest (don’t worry Yankee fans, I still think getting Michael Pineda was the better end of the deal). He’s going to hit 25 home runs and drive in around 90 runs, even in an offensively-challenged environment. Montero seems to be the front-runner right now regardless of who you ask, and it’s understandable given his quick, powerful bat. Don’t forget about a guy like Matt Moore in Tampa, who could sneak right in and steal it from the young catcher.
– Jeremy Dorn (@jamblinman)