Edge in Fantasy Baseball Auction: Ryan Dempster or Carlos Zambrano?

Ryan Dempster will start the Cubs’ season and home opener, not Carlos Zambrano. Is there more to Dempster than that and how about Big Z?

Analysis: Opening Day pitchers are often over priced on Auction Day, yet the mercurial and talented Carlos Zambrano is the consensus larger-than-life Cubbies’ Ace. So which one is the better buy and why?

Zambrano ERA+ K
2010 131 117
2009 118 152
2008 118 130
2010 113 208
2009 122 172
2008 155 187

If strikeouts are one of your league’s categories, then this is a no-brainer. Let’s leave the wins for another day.

In the meantime look for these lines in 2011:

Zambrano 184 162 3.77 1.39 3.81
Dempster 209 189 3.79 1.31 3.87

Auction Price vs. Projected Stats Value: How much should you budget before inflation, if you’re in a 5 X 5 keeper league? They will probably go for $7 to $12  at auction. Big Z should earn $8 to $10, while Dempster should be worth $10 to $14. In a $260 salary cap rotisserie league at the end of Auction Day a $20 profit = First Division finish and a $40 profit = Contender all season long. If they go for the same price, then buy Dempster.

Don’t Believe the Tsuyoshi Nishioka Hype

Tsuyoshi Nishioka comes over to MLB after a .346/.423/.482 triple slash line in 2010 with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He should play at second base for the Twins and much is expected from him from a fantasy standpoint.

Analysis: If you look at recent big names to come over from the NPB like Kosuke Fukudome or Akinori Iwamura, they both disappointed fantasy owners greatly. The reward isn’t worth the risk and there is a ton of risk involved with Nishioka. There is no possible way he’ll hit more than eight to ten homers especially in the new pitchers park known as Target Field. He’s also had health issues, never amassing more than 500 ABs in his NPB career with the expection of last year when he tallied 596 AB.

Projection: Give me Alcides Escobar every day of the week over Nishioka. At least with Escobar you’ll get him a few rounds later and he’ll come close to out producing Nishioka. It’s not hard to project slap hitting Japanese middle infielders anymore so expect a .280 AVG, 5 HR, 18-20 SB.

Will Justin Morneau Start 2011 on the Disabled List?

The Twins burly first baseman reported to camp this morning, still dealing with prolonged issues from a concussion suffered last July.

Analysis: A former MVP and feared power threat, Morneau hit the Disabled List on July 7 after his head and the knee of Toronto’s John McDonald made dangerous contact while attempting to prevent a double play. Over seven months later some symptoms still remain, leaving his availability for Opening Day up in the air. At the time of his injury Morneau was on pace for one of his best seasons yet, hitting .345 with 18 home runs in 81 games. However, the days and weeks following that fateful day have been a tough road for Justin, who has reportedly run the gamut of concussion symptoms since. Early reports out of Twins camp are that Morneau plans to participate in a regular training schedule but that he will miss at least the first four games of the team’s Grapefruit League schedule.

Projection: Trying to predict a timetable when concussions are involved is almost an impossibility. Add that to the fact that this was Morneau’s third concussion (one as a child, one in 2005 after being hit in the head with a Ron Villone pitch) and you’re entering very choppy waters. Personally, Morneau has been a perennial keeper in my H2H league since 2006. I’ve decided, after much trepidation, that I have to cut him loose this season. Although the obvious potential to produce is there, I don’t think that the possibility of lost time is worth the risk at a position where several prominent alternatives exist.  He is definitely someone to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks.

Brandon Webb Yet to Throw Off Mound

The Rangers are being very careful with righty Brandon Webb, restricting him to long toss every three days until his arm strength is at a sufficient level.

Analysis: The 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner has not pitched in a big league game since April of 2009, and his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery has been an arduous process. Because of this, noone should be surprised that Texas is handling Webb with kid gloves. It should not be a shocker either that pitching coach Mike Maddux has stated that Brandon may not be on the active roster come Opening Day against Boston. With the offseason loss of Cliff Lee, the Rangers are depending on Webb to give them a respectable number of starts this year. The last thing they’re going to do is rush him along.

Projection: Although this news should not be unexpected for someone who hasn’t seen a Major League mound in almost two full years, it is still disheartening to Fantasy owners who have their eye on Webb. Aside from mild soreness, he said that he feels fine following his long toss sessions thus far in camp. This is a good sign, but until Webb faces live hitters it is tough to speculate where he really is. His surgery was serious, but so were his numbers prior to being shelved. A 22-game winner in his last full season, Webb averaged 33 starts a year between 2003-08, twice leading the NL in games started. The three time All-Star also finished runner-up in Cy Young voting the following two seasons after he took the award home. Before surgery, Webb was one of the best pitchers in the game on a consistent basis. The Rangers would be happy with him being half the man he used to be, and Fantasy owners looking for a bargain are doing the same. In a well-informed league, Webb will be far from a sleeper pick. However, because of the obvious risk involved, he may not hit the board for a while. Monitor his progress throughout the next several weeks, and keep his name in your back pocket in the meantime.

Carlos Gonzalez Is Not A Top Ten Pick

After a .336 AVG, 34 HR, 26 SB year the hype machine just won’t stop with CarGo and almost all experts are tagging him as a top ten pick.

Analysis: Gonzalez hit .380 and hit 26 of his 34 homers at home last year. That stat alone should raise the red flag on his consistency issues. His BABIP was an unsustainable .384 and should come down at least thirty points to even out his average to about .300. Gonzalez’s plate discipline is also a concern, he’s swinging at 37% of pitches outside of the strike zone. To put this into perspective, Alfonso Soriano’s career O-Swing percentage is 35%. The bottom line is CarGo isn’t a top ten player due to an inflated batting average and an unsustainble output at home in 2010.

Projection: Gonzalez is no doubt a top 12-15 player because he’s a five category stud but the batting average and power numbers will take a hit this year. Expect a .295 AVG, 28 HR, 22 SB at a relatively deep outfield position in 2011.