Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: John Baker the Fantasy Point Maker

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. As we enter into week three of the fantasy baseball season, chances are you are starting to either love or hate your fantasy team. If you’re anything like me, you’re starting to wonder what has happened from draft day till now that has changed your entire outlook of your team. If anything, I would have thought my pitching staff would be the strength of my team. Instead, Cole Hamels and Francisco Liriano have decided not to show up for the start of the ’09 season. Although my initial reaction is to make some changes, I’m going to hold pat and hope that things start to work themselves out.
For those of you who are in similar situations, here's some advice. While you can always tweak your roster and make minor adjustments, now is not the time to panic. It is entirely too early for an impulse trade that will change the nucleus of your team. Now if you’re team continues to struggle into early-mid May, then it's time to start making some changes.

For now, lets talk about some hits and misses for this upcoming week.

Big Hits

John Baker (C, FLA): John Baker has been just one of the many back stories behind baseball’s best early season story. Through Sunday, the Fish are a remarkable 11-1 and with a series against the perennial basement dwelling Pittsburgh Pirates upcoming, the Marlins don’t look to be slowing anytime soon. Baker has started the year hitting .333 with 1 HR, 9 RBI’s and 8 runs. Although he does have limited MLB at-bats, he projects to be around a .300 hitter with great run potential because of his spot in the Fish lineup between Emilio Bonafacio and Hanley Ramirez. If Baker can get regular at-bats in ‘09, it would not be out of the question to expect above average fantasy numbers from him.

Jordan Zimmermann (SP, WAS): From one of the best stories of the year, to one of the most disappointing. The Washington Nationals have been nothing short of awful to start the '09 season. In response, the Nationals have called on one of their top prospects to try and breathe some life into a clubhouse that is a few defeats away from being complete lost. Zimmermann has had an impressive minor league career and he will look to improve on his professional record with two starts this week. It will be tough for anyone to right the ship in Washington but I would be willing to take a flier on this guy. Regardless of how he pitches, he may lose out on some victories because of his supporting cast but if you’re in need of some starting pitching, it can’t hurt to take a chance.

Jason Kubel (OF, MIN): So what would you rather do in a MLB game? Would you rather hit for the cycle, or hit a grand slam? Well if you’re Jason Kubel, you would do both. In one of the most electrifying moments of the young ’09 season, Kubel topped off his Friday night performance with a grand slam to complete his cycle. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kubel became just the third player in the past 100 years to do just that. Kubel continued his rampage on Saturday going 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs before finally coming back to earth on Sunday. Despite his 0 for 4 clip on Sunday, Kubel managed to improve his ’09 batting average to .333. If you project his prior MLB numbers over an entire season, you’re looking at an outfielder that is capable of hitting .275 with 23-25 HRs, 90 RBIs and 85 runs. Those are great numbers for someone you could go out and grab on your waiver wire.

Big Misses

Huston Street (RP, COL): A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that it was only a matter of time before Huston Street would lose the closer job in Colorado. Even before I thought it would happen, Street was demoted before Friday night’s game against the Dodgers. Street has been relegated to regular bullpen duty and manager Clint Hurdle’s decision to put Street in for “mop-up” duty in Sunday’s blowout loss speaks volumes about the confidence he has in him right now. For the time being, Street’s fantasy value has taken a significant hit and until further notice, he is not worth owning.

Barry Zito (SP, SF): In a time of economic strife, the San Francisco Giants know all too well about getting burned by a bad investment. Since he signed his seven year $126 million dollar deal in 2006, Zito has been a huge disappointment to his fantasy owners and to the Giants faithful. Despite his struggles since his move to San Francisco, some owners were still willing to spend a pick on Zito in ’09. In true Zito-fashion, he’s rewarded them with two brutal starts which have accumulated to 9 innings pitched, 2 losses, a 10.00 ERA and 6 walks. It doesn’t look like Zito will regain his velocity any time soon and without that added 3-5 mph, his once lethal curveball is nothing more than a "get it over" breaking ball. If your looking for a young lefty to take his spot on your roster, look no further than Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero. But at this time, Zito is not worth rostering and unfortunately for the Giants, he may not ever be worth owning again.

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.

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Marc Edelman said...

Barry Zito, a big miss, hmm?

You know, I thought the same last week when I finally cut him from the last pitching slot in the Sportsjudge fantasy league. Then Zito goes off and rings up seven zeros against San Diego.

I know it's San Diego, a team with pre-season offensive ratings that rank somewhere between the XFL and Water World. However, every time I'm about to "finally" write off Barry Zito for good, he gives us a glimpse of his own self.

What a tease Zito is!

Scott said...


The timing of my Barry Zito call was almost as good as my prediction that Jason Motte would have some opportunities to prove himself as the Cards closer. Although Zito pitched well the other night, I don't expect to see a different Zito this year. I hope I'm wrong because when he was at his best, he was one of the most entertaining pitchers to watch. Unfortunately, the velocity just isn't there anymore. Without the ability to generate that arm speed, he can't get on top of that breaking ball as well and it isn't that filthy 12-6 that he used to throw. He still throws an above average breaking ball but its not that devasting out-pitch that it used to be.

The only way Zito comes back to his "old-self" is if he can re-invent himself. Whether its developing another pitch (ala Clemens with his splitter) or changing arm angles, he needs to do something.

Obviously I don't know him, but if you see an interview with the guy, I'm not so sure baseball is his number one priority. It seems like he'd be just as happy sitting on a beach playing his guitar. If he wants to be an elite pitcher again, he can do it. The problem is he's collected his big contract and I'm not so sure his legacy in baseball is as important as it should be to him.