Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Art of Buying Low

"Some of the prettiest flowers bloom late". My mother used to tell me that in High School because my balls didn't drop until I turned 16. Little did mother know that not only was she giving me false self-confidence, but also valuable fantasy advice. Mark Teixeira, Ichiro Suzuki and Johan Santana are all players who usually wait until the second half of the season to have their balls drop...I mean start getting hot. With that being said, for every Ryan Howard who can slug .611 in the Second half, there is a Travis Hafner, who has apparently received a shipment of anti-steroids from Andruw Jones. In my opinion, leagues are won and lost on people who buy low on proven players. For whatever reason, it's relatively easy to find a panicking fantasy owner who loses all rational thinking simply because he can't stand to see his star player go into a slump. Here at Who Are You Karim Garcia, we feast on weak managers who can't wait a couple months for their flowers to bloom. Here are 4 prime targets that I believe will get things going very soon.

Prince Fielder

Somebody get that man a chicken wing! After trying out a new Vegan Diet, the Prince has started suddenly swinging the bat more like a Princess (Corny I know). His K/BB numbers are comparable to last years epic season coupled with a respectable .201 LD% and its tough to explain his early season struggles. His FB% of .399 is a little lower than anticipated, but is nothing to worry about and it doesn't seem as though Prince has been pressing at the plate throughout this slump. He is batting .338 in his past 17 games which bodes well for getting that average up to last years .288 but as his meager 18 XBH show, the power has yet to come out. However, Fielder frequently displayed a tendency to be a streaky hitter. In 2007, the Prince had two months of batting .321 or higher, yet also had four that were .277 or lower. Additionally, 24 of his 50 HR last season were hit in May and September alone. Trust me, you do not want to be the owner who traded Fielder before he breaks out because it is only a matter of time. With a solid #5 hitter in Corey Hart protecting him, and Ryan Braun's latest hot streak, Fielder should also supply very enticing RBI and Run totals throughout the season. Buy while you can because the window is quickly closing.

Projection- .280 43 HR 115 RBI 100 Runs

Justin Verlander

After posting an ERA on the wrong side of 6 in April, Verlander has actually had a decent May by posting a sub 4 ERA. His peripheral stats such as his K/9 are still not at the level they should be for this 100 MPH throwing youngster, but more recently Verlander has started to regain his 2007 form. Four of his last five starts have been quality and the other would have been had the bullpen not allowed its inherited runner. The soon to be additions of Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney also bode well for his future win and ERA totals seeing as how dreadful this Detroit bullpen has been. While I actually believed that Verlander was over-hyped before the season, he has actually become underrated because of his total statistics. Pitching statistics are much more difficult than hitting to alter throughout the season because one bad start can seriously damage the totals. Verlander's recent success has done little to disguise his ugly start because it will take time for those totals to drop. To put this into perspective, Verlander could throw consecutive perfect games and still have a mediocre ERA of 4.16 and a WHIP over 1.00, although at that time it would be tough to buy low. In other words, don't let Verlander's statistics deceive you because they are representative of a few very poor starts. Find the disgruntled Verlander owner in your league and pry him from him immediately, because like Fielder, the window is quickly closing.

Projection- 15 W 3.90 ERA 150 K's

Nick Markakis

Nick the Stick hasn't looked anything like the potential superstar he was labeled to be before the season started. Don't hop off the bandwagon so fast people, this Greek is fo' real. To start, his 7 SB so far indicate that maybe his surprising total of 18 last year were not as fluky as once thought. Furthermore, his 9 HR show that he is developing the pop that many believed he soon would. His .258 average is embarking on Julio Lugo territory, but rest assured, Markakis is too talented to continue this. His K rate for the season has dramatically increased to almost a strikeout per game, which seems to be the culprit for his slumping. Keep in mind however that Markakis has 11 TOTAL first half home runs in his first 2 full seasons and it seems that he will surpass that total this year alone. He managed a .279 BA in the 2007 first half and still pulled off a .300 average for the season due to a .325 second half. In 2006, Markakis held true to his slow start form as well, hitting just .268 at the dish in the first half compared to a .311 second half. The Golden Greek has hit as high as .339 in the minor leagues and is capable of churning out a 30/20 season this year. I believe that he is the best buy low of this group because he has not yet had an exceptionally strong season before that would leave his owners with a lot of confidence. Buy now because he is certainly going to be on sale.

Projection- .300 BA 30 HR 105 RBI 90 Runs 19 SB

Vladimir Guerrero

Quick question. Who is the only active Major League player to hit .300 or higher in 11 straight seasons. The answer-Vlad. Another quick question. Why would any Vlad owner actually believe that a guy who has produced so well for so long and is still in his prime at 31 actually would regress this considerably? The answer- I'm still searching. Vlad will hit .300 this year, I'm sure of it. While his body has worn down a good amount for a player of his age, it does not change the fact that he is still one of the most feared hitters in the game. He is sporting a healthy .201 LD% on top of a strong .466 GB% which indicates that he should be batting well above .300. And while we know Vlad's speed isn't what is used to be, his .279 BABIP is astonishingly low for a hitter who consistently sees that figure well above .310. And while I am strongly advising a buy low here, keep in mind that Vlad's power may not be what it used to be. Gone are the days of 45 HR's for Guerrero, so temper your expectations in that department. With that being said, a baseline of 25 HR's seems reasonable, maxing at around 35. His FB% of .331 is very low for a typical power hitter, but fantasy owners will not be disapointed in his overall numbers come the end of the season. Owners of Vlad may be hesistant to deal him so quickly because he has made a name for himself over the years. However, should they lose sight on this fact, capitalize quickly.

Projection- .307 BA 28 HR 100 RBI 90 Runs 2 SB

Do not hesitate to by on these or any other potential buy low candidates in your league. As aforementioned, leagues are won and lost from buying low and it truly is a science. It's important to distinguish a slump from simply a weak player and this can be helped by looking at prior year statistics as well as some deeper and more specific stats such as BABIP and LD% which can help to see if the slump is legit, or just a case of bad luck. Act swift and fast, but more importantly rationally and keep in mind that a buy low stays low for only so long.

The Other College B-Ball

As we sit here on May, 31, it is time to think about what the month of June will bring to us. For Barry Bonds, it means another month of unemployment and a lot of laughter from every person outside of San Fran. For David Stern, it means he can now donate sperm to every cum bank in the world because the NBA finals feature the two most storied franchises in the sport's history. For Joakim Noah, it means he can officially blaze his crib up with Josh Howard every night until training camp begins. (Is it just me or could you picture Joakim and Howard blazing in one of their basements with a giant calender hanging on the wall that crosses out the days until they have to report to training camp only the day training camp starts is labeled as FUCKKK.) For the MLB, it means the descent into those summer nights of humidity and baseball under the lights. Or does it?

Little does literally anyone know, the MLB draft is fast approaching. That's right, this Thursday the 5th of June. Does anyone care besides the 12,000 people that will be drafted? No. Why? How many times a year do you see a college baseball game on television? Exactly.

The thing is, there really isn't a legitimate reason why college baseball doesn't get put on TV. With the success of college basketball and football, you would think that the NCAA, being the scumbags that they are, would try and advertise this sport a little more. The college world series features 8 teams playing in a mini tournament to vie for the national title. It is a very well attended and well watched sporting event. Wouldn't it be great if you actually knew the names of some of these players before they got on ESPN in late June? Think of the benefit the MLB would get out of this. How insanely hyped would the first pick in the draft be if people actually knew who he was! Baseball is America's pastime people! Some will argue that the college baseball season is too short/south dominated to be put on TV. 1- Oregon State has won back to back national championships. That's equivalent to the United States winning the Cricket world championships. 2- College Football is so ridiculously south dominated that you really can not make that argument.

I am a huge fan of collegiate athletics. Getting baseball a little more pub would be a great thing not only for the NCAA but for the MLB. I just think it is time for the NCAA to take the next step with this sport. I like the college world series but I would LOVE it if I had some background on the teams and players other than getting it from the announcers three minutes before the game.

Bet of the day: Detroit Red Wings (Even) moneyline. The Red Wings are just too good. They almost stole game 3, a game that everyone and their brother knew the Pens would take. The Wings are going to take control of this series for good.

Fantasy Player of the day: Ben Sheets vs Houston Astros. Sheets owns the 'stros. In 158 innings, Sheets has racked up 10 wins and 141 Ks to go along with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He's also coming off two great starts. Look for Sheets to continue his dominance tonight.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Fo' Real or Fo' Fake

These days it's tough to tell whats real and whats not. Things aren't always as they appear and with it being only a third of the way into our fantasy season, we need to keep this in mind. It's easy to bail on a fallen superstar, just ask Roger. However, in fantasy you need to choose your loyalties wisely. Sometimes its tough to recognize whether a guy is just a flash in the pan (Chris Shelton 2006) or if he is the real deal (Ryan Braun 2007). When analyzing these breakouts, I like to consider three main things; the players previous year stats, their peripheral stats for the current season, and their reputation among baseball players, managers and executives (In that order). If there is anything that Moneyball has taught us, it's that baseball more than any other sport is a science. Sure, intangibles play an immeasurable factor in clubhouses and even on the field, but a little scratching beneath the surface statistics can go a long way in showing whether what you see is truly what you get. And without further ado, your 2008 fantasy baseball early season studs...

Dan Uggla

Who else would we start with? Let's first start with the good. Uggla is 3rd in the Majors with 16 Home Runs and leads all ML Secondbaseman, including Chase Utley, in XBH. Not too shabby for a guy coming off a season where he slugged just .479. Also, the Marlins lineup, like most of their team, has produced much better than expected, which bodes well for Uggla's Runs and RBI totals. Now for the bad. Uggla struck out 167 times last year and actually has a slightly higher K-rate this year. Obviously, the Power numbers are astounding, but take his current .307 BA and drop it about 40-50 points and that seems about right. His .368 BABIP and .496 FB% indicate that his average is ready for the downswing, but getting Adam Dunn like stats from your Second Baseman is nothing to sneeze at. Start Uggla with confidence the rest of the year knowing that his 40 HR potential will easily give you a 20-30 HR advantage over the other Secondbaseman in the league. With that being said, if you can sell him as a .300 hitter on top of that power then please do not hesitate.

Verdict- Sell High...If held, stay confident

Josh Hamilton

I'm sure by now everyone and their mother's has heard of Hamilton's Triple Crown Run. His freakish 58 RBI have some hoping he can make a push at Hack Wilson's record of 191 RBI (Please). Table setters Ian Kinsler and Michael Young both have become proven and reliable players to get on base and its no accident that Hamilton leads the Majors in RBI. However, credit Hamilton with his 31 XBH and .324 BA with his new team. He has always been a natural and has had all the tools to be successful at this level (Then again so has J.D. Drew...God Damnit). He has an impressive .225 Line Drive % and his balance of a .424 GB% and .351 FB% indicate that he can sustain both his power and average. However, it's tough to judge Hamilton because he literally has no track record before last year. Many wonder whether his body can handle the full 162 game season seeing as he has never played more than 96 games in a season at any level of the Majors. And while he is just 27, who knows what kind of effect his past abuses have had on his body (Miguel Tejada is actually 63 in Drug Years, just check his Birth Certifi...nevermind). To put it bluntly, Hamilton is a freak and while his RBI projections are insustainable, a 35-40 HR 120 RBI and 315 BA are totals that are very attainable.

Verdict- Hold...And see if he's got anything left over from the past few years...just kidding...but really we don't want that going to waste.

Edinson Volquez

First off, can you beleive how unreal the Volquez-Hamilton trade has been for both sides. Seriously when is the last time a trade like this worked out so well for both teams. I guess they have both been overdue for an intellegent executive move for some time so it only makes sense. Volquez is tied for the NL lead in Strikeouts and has ONE, yes ONE, start in which he has let up over 1 run. And in that start he got lit up to the tune of TWO runs. Volquez's track record in the Majors is weak to say the least but his 9.21 Minor League K/9 and downright nasty stuff leave many hitters wondering if they are witnessing the next Pedro Martinez. It's tough to argue with his stats right now, but I beleive that Volquez is the most prime sell high target on this list. To start, his 4.79 BB/9 is downright frightening. He's keeping the ball in the park with only 3 HR allowed this year, but keep in mind this is the first time NL hitters are seeing him. Once teams have gotten a good scouting report on him, I think we will see the ERA balloon to over 3. His K rate should take a small hit, but that is the one thing that Volquez has consistently shown he can do. Also, I find it hard to believe that with Dusty Baker's track record of young pitchers, that the Reds front office won't do everything in their power to baby Volquez. This team is not going anywhere this year but their future is bright and I doubt they will do anything to risk sacrificing that. I'm still not sold that Volquez will outproduce Johnny Cueto for the rest of the season and while he is real to an extent, I think the value you can get for him right now is too good to pass up.

Verdict- Sell High, Real High...Like Josh Howard High

Nate McLouth

I've seen McLouth everywhere on people's rankings, but props to Eric Karabell of ESPN who predicted McLouth to go 20/20 before the season started. With all due respect to Mr. Karabell, I don't think he could have even dreamed of this start. McLouth has an impressive 29:26 K:BB, 32 XBH and one shitty team to play for. His career high for HR's is 13 and .258 for BA and what's even more interesting is that not only do I think his start is for real, I think he can actually produce more, just bear with me. In one 3 year span, McLouth swiped 105 bags in just 260 games. To put that in perspective, thats 65 SB per 162 Games. While that period was roughly 4-6 years ago, McLouth stole 16 bags in just 67 Second Half Games last year. His .466 FB% and .201 LD% indicate that his power is in fact fo' real but his .333 GB% may bring about a slight drop in his batting average. Right now McLouths power is actually hurting his stolen base oppurtunities seeing as literally half of his 64 hits have been for Extra Bases. I firmly believe that Mclouth can reach 30/30 in his magical age 27 season and a line of .285 25 HR and 25 SB is an absolute minimum for his production. Start with confidence.

Verdict- Buy High...Does that make sense?

What would a Rich Man's Matthew Berry column be without some Just Saying's...

Just Saying

...That Barry Zito has let up 3 runs or less in each of his last 5 starts, if you are in a deep league don't be embarassed to grab him

...That Chipper Jones had has ONE month of batting under .364 since the beginning of Last June. I think the HOF hears him loud and clear

...That Evan Longoria will fill in for Jason Bartlett at SS when he needs rest. Longoria in a keeper league at Shortstop, now thats scary

...That Johan Santana led the AL in HR's allowed last year and has given up 12 in 74 innings this year. Scouts are starting to say his velocity is down and thats not a good sign for those of you who gave up a first rounder to get him. Right now I'm taking Webb, Hamels and a healthy Jake Peavy over him

...That Tim Lincecum has 10 Quality Starts this year. Tim Lincecum has 10 total starts this year. You do the math

...That Fausto Carmona had 22 K's and 35 BB's in 56 IP with a 2.25 ERA BEFORE he got injured. Something ain't right there

...That Lance Berkman has a .145 LD% and a .397 BABIP and is batting .384. Right now he's battling the 1996 Brady Anderson for luckiest season of all time

...That they are still the Devil Rays. You know it and I know it.

Swiping the V-Card

Starting a blog is a lot like starting a relationship. In order for it to be affective you must check on it a couple days a week. You have to feed it information, be constantly thinking of new anecdotes to keep it interesting, and, if you really want to make it strong, love it. That's right, love your blog. That is why I feel a little immature swiping Karim Garcia's v-card on the first day of our relationship. This is like if a 25 year old MLB pitcher ever took advantage of a 15 year old country music phenom, oh wait...So as you can see I am a little worried of the ramifications of this ordeal. Will Karim go through a little pain? Probably. Will there be blood? Ask Daniel Day Lewis. Will Karim become so attached to the point of obsession? Time will tell. My friend B-Webbz has stated that nothing good can come out of swiping a one's v-card. Well B-Webbz, we're coming out to prove you wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you 'Who are you Karim Garcia?'

Bet of the day: Mixed Martial Arts. Favorite wins 95% of time. Try a parlay on two or three favorites tonight.

Fantasy Baseball Player of the day: Dan Uggla. Someone needs to tell Uggla he was an average second-baseman last year. Over the past month Uggla is hitting .351 with 12 home runs and 31 RBIs. He'll look to continue that tonight against Brett Myers whom he is hitting .389 with 2 home runs and 6 RBIs in only 18 at bats in his career.