Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: "Chris Davis, The Rangers Are Waiting For You"

Welcome back to another edition of the Buzz Around The Bullpen. It is June 16th and for the first time all spring, we've got a full slate of Major League baseball games that will not be overshadowed by either the NHL or NBA playoffs. While the NBA playoffs did finish on Sunday night, yesterday was a light day for baseball with only four teams total in action.

Before I go any further, I have to brag for a minute about my Pittsburgh Penguins. In what ended up being one of the most unlikely outcomes in recent sports history, the Pens overcame a 2-0 defecit in the series to rally back to a 3-3 tie with a game seven in one of the most hostile environments in sports. Putting history and all of the statistics aside, the Pens marched into Detroit and won a thriller earning their third Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history. Although some are already suggesting, only time will tell if this was the official changing of the guard amongst NHL perennial powers.

In the world of NBA basketball, the Lakers flexed their muscles and finished their best of seven series against the Orlando Magic only needing five games. I have to admit, I'm not much of a fan of professional basketball but the NBA playoffs did not disappointment providing some great entertainment for even the most casual of fans.
Now it's time to put the pucks and basketballs away and focus on the boys of summer. If you're any type of baseball fan, you've already been tuned into Baseball Tonight while balancing the rest of your sports schedule. If not, now's the time to start watching as teams begin to distinguish themselves as contenders or pretenders. The same goes for your fantasy team because as we approach the All-Star break and the trade deadline, it's time to solidify the nucleus of your championship team.

Let's take a look at a couple of hits and a miss for the upcoming week of fantasy baseball.

Big Hits
Juan L. Rivera (OF, LAA): Rivera has been on fire of late and as a result, he is finally receiving consistent everyday at-bats. Since his big league debut in 2001, the most at-bats Rivera has had in one season is 448 which occured in 2006. In 2006, Rivera responded with a .310 batting average, 23 HRs, 85 RBIs, 65 runs and an OBP of ..362. Rivera is once again receiving consistent ABs in 2009 and is currently on pace to surpass some of his career highs. If the Angels of Anaheim can continue to find ABs for Rivera, he could be a huge asset for both the Angels and your fantasy team. He's still available in 70% of leagues and it definitely can't hurt to take a flier on him. If he remains in the Angels lineup, you will be pleasantly surprised with some productive fantasy numbers. The worst that can happen is that he stops getting consistent ABs and you stash him on your bench until an Angels' outfielder suffers an injury or struggles at the plate.

Chris Coghlan (2B, FLA): If you look at Coghlan's numbers right now, they aren't anything to write home about. Actually, if you take away his numbers from this last week of play, you're looking at a player that would not be owned in even the deepest of leagues. Although Coghlan got a slow start to his big league career, he's starting to get comfortable in the leadoff spot for the Florida Marlins. With his speed and ability to get on base (.375 OBP), an increase in his run and stolen base production is not too far away. As a result, now would be a good time to start monitoring Coghlan. He's still available in over 80% of leagues so you'll have some time before you need to make a move. But, if you need some immediate speed and run production, there's probably not too much else left on the waiver wire so give Coghlan a chance.

Big Miss

Chris Davis (1B/3B, TEX): Alright...let me be the first to say that I, among many fantasy baseball fans had already given Chris Davis the key to the city before the first pitch of the 2009 baseball season. What wasn't to love? He had limitless power potential, positional flexibility, a great minor league stat line and even shined in a brief stint with the Rangers in 2008. However, what I and I'm sure a lot of his owners never expected was a guy who either hit a homerun or struck out. Unfortunately, through 202 at-bats in 2009, that has been all that Davis has done. In fact, through those 202 ABs, Davis has struck out an outrageous 92 times. As manager Ron Washington acknowledged after sitting Davis on Sunday, he needs a "mental break."

I'm not so sure that a mental break is all that Davis needs right now. In order to salvage any bit of confidence he may still have, the Rangers need to send Davis down to work on his swing and approach at the plate. Evidenced by his numbers, pitchers are seeing something in his swing/approach that they are exploiting at will. He's not helping his team and he's certainly not helping himself by continuing to be dominated by pitching he clearly cannot handle at this moment. He needs to get back to watching film of his at-bats last year and "keying-in" on his mechanics. Also, he needs to watch pitch sequences from last year and compare them to sequences this year to see if pitchers are focusing on a certain location or pitch which he is struggling with in particular.

From a fantasy standpoint, you need to sit Davis down and let someone else take your 1B/3B at-bats. Even if they lack power potential, they will be able to put the ball in play a lot more than Davis has thus far. Moving forward, Davis is a professional hitter and I predict he will adjust. It may take time and you want to start looking for long term solutions for the remainder of the season. The worst thing you can do right now is to trade Davis. His value will never be lower and my prediction is that he gets demoted and after being recalled, finishes with a strong August/September. Until then, maintain and try to stay afloat at the 1B/3B position. Give a look to corner infield options like Lyle Overbay, Andy LaRoche, Casey Kotchman (coming of DL soon), and Joe Crede.

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

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Chris said...

Yeah Davis is getting a lot of heat in texas. With 2 strikes on him he is something like 9-130. Not that good. The Rangers have a young 1b in the minor waiting too but they are in no hurry to rush him up. I guess the only thing saving Davis is that it is his first full year so the Rangers are willing to wait it out.

On another note if you don't have a viable second option at the corner spot should you just leave him in or play no one at 1b. It goes along with my catcher argument. If you have a horrible catcher (which all but 3 catchers are) then why play a catcher at all on your team. You have little to gain when they bat .250 with 13 HR and 60 RBI all year. So sit Davis in lieu of no one?

Scott said...


Thanks for your comment Chris. Solid as always. I actually came across some news on Smoak(think that's who you're referring to)and he is currently on the DL in the minors with an oblique strain. Although some are predicting he may get the call some time later in the year, I have to believe the Rangers will be somewhat hesitant to rush him to the big leagues. From everything you read, he's a future superstar and you'd hate to see his development rushed when he probably needs some more minor league at-bats.

You also present a very interesting question/strategy for an owner with a clear weakness at a position. First, I think you have to distinguish the difference between CI and C. With catchers, you're absolutely right. There are so few producing in '09 that you really do have contemplate leaving the position vacant as a whole. However, because there are so many available 1B/CI options, I think your best option is to go out and find someone that is "serviceable". No matter how deep your league is, there has to be someone out there that can help you. Just off of the top of my head, Pedro Felix, Andy LaRoche, Casey Kotchman, Melvin Mora and Lyle Overbay are available in most if not all leagues. Will any of this guys win you a championship? Absolutely not but if you're in a rotisserie league, they can all hit .270+ with 15+ HRs, and 65-70 RBIs. Those numbers won't kill you and you can always use some extra HRs and RBIs.

Now if you're in a rotisserie league and your team avg is awful (sounds way too familiar for me), and the only guys available can hit 12 HRs while hitting .245, then I'd leave that position vacant. Otherwise, I'm finding someone to take those at-bats.

But back to your catcher question, it is an interesting strategy. Although I think you can still find some value in guys like Kurt Suzuki and Yadier Molina (guys other than the usual suspects at C). If you're struggling at the catcher position, I'd through some offers in the direction of the owners of Soto and Doumit. They are great buy-low candidates right now.

So in my longwinded response to your question, I think you definitely start someone instead of Davis and unless you've exhausted all of your options, give someone some ABs behind the dish.

Scott said...

Obviously meant Pedro Feliz and also "throw" some offers not "through" some offers. This is what happens when you don't proofread kids.

Chris said...

Just to give some love to my blog, I wrote this back in April to give people an idea about what I am talking about with the no catcher theory.