Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Gameday Inactives
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Red Zone Stats
Teams
Schedules
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Teams
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Teams
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: False hope springs eternal

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

What happened here?

Four days into the regular season, Lorenzo Cain is 1 for 11, Todd Helton is back to playing his age and the Brandon Belt-to-the-minors movement is no longer considered blasphemy.

Guess we're not in Arizona anymore.

Well, the Diamondbacks still are. And teams like the Twins, Astros and Yankees never were. But whether you use the Cactus or Grapefruit League as your basis for comparison, the point is this: Spring training is so last month.

Nobody cares that Carlos Santana hit .200 during the exhibition season now that he's had a two-homer game. Nobody remembers that Ricky Romero, Adam Wainwright and Josh Beckett all posted spring ERAs below 2.00 now that they've burned their Fantasy owners one time through the rotation.

Nobody will ever bring up those four players' spring numbers again. And all it took was three real games to render them obsolete.

So what are we waiting for with all the other players?

Oh, I see. It's different with them. Yeah, you were so enamored by Cain's .371 batting average, five homers and five steals this spring that you drafted him to be one of your starters in the outfield, and now you just really need it to work out.

See the problem there? You're basing your decisions on what you want to happen rather than what's actually happening. But this isn't Star Wars, and you aren't Obi-Wan Kenobi. You can't just walk up to Cain, wave your hand, say, "Those aren't the numbers you're looking for," and, wham, he's Shane Victorino.

The biggest issue I have with spring training is that it creates a false sense of reality. Between the batting orders, the box scores and the win-loss records, all the elements of honest-to-goodness major-league competition are there -- except, of course, for the competition.

I'm not just talking about the influx of career minor-leaguers who -- let's face it -- have no business playing against All-Star-caliber talent. That's part of it, but of greater concern to me is the wide range of incentives and goals among the major-leaguers themselves. Some players are competing for jobs. Others can afford to sleepwalk for a month. Some have systematic approaches to spring training, working in a pitch here or a pitch there. Others just do whatever comes naturally to them. Some actually care about the results. Others are just going through the motions. And through it all, the ballparks, schedule and playing environment only vaguely resemble the real thing.

Most Added Players (as of 4/9)
Player % change
1. Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox 43
2. Alfredo Aceves, RP, Red Sox 40
3. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 33
4. Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals 26
5. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals 25
6. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners 24
7. Jake Arrieta, SP, Orioles 24
8. Jeff Samardzija, SP, Cubs 22
9. Joel Peralta, RP, Rays 19
10. Javy Guerra, RP, Dodgers 18

You get the idea, right? In the end, the numbers are virtually meaningless.

Now, here's where I add the second layer that makes a seemingly straightforward argument suddenly more complex: It still might work out, you know. The whole Cain thing -- or Helton or Belt thing, whatever -- still might go exactly the way you want it to go. Yes, the sooner we can move on from spring numbers, the better off we'll be, but assessing a player based on four days of data would be just as short-sighted.

Notice I didn't condemn Romero, Wainwright and Beckett to bad seasons just because they had bad starts. All are still ace-caliber pitchers, and all could still go on to put up fantastic numbers. But whatever unrealistic expectations developed because of their spring numbers have since gotten a healthy dose of reality. And now, instead of Cy Young, their owners are probably thinking, "Eh, maybe I should just be happy with the status quo."

And that's precisely the point.

When assessing a player -- be it a proven commodity or a potential breakout -- you have to rely on the full spectrum of the information at your disposal. Sure, spring numbers helped forecast breakthrough seasons for Alex Gordon and Michael Morse last year (who, by the way, were doing as poorly through three games as Cain is this year), but Fantasy owners had good reason to buy into them even before the exhibition season began. Gordon was earning rave reviews for a new swing he developed with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, and Morse was coming off an 11-homer performance during a two-month stint filling in for an injured Josh Willingham. Last spring didn't make them sleepers. It just provided reassurance for what was already there.

So here's the question: How excited were you about Cain before his spring performance?

Did you see him as a Victorino-type player whose varied skill set would make up for his lack of a standout category, or did you see him as career minor-leaguer who thrived on disproportionate competition as a 25-year-old at Triple-A? Did you see Helton as an on-base specialist who might just have another productive year in him as part of a solid Rockies lineup, or did you see him as a constant injury risk whose declining power numbers made him hardly worth the trouble? Did you see Belt as a high-upside player whose combination of patience and power should make him a force in the heart of the Giants lineup in the not-too-distant future, or did you see him as a Quadruple-A type whose numbers were inflated by Triple-A Fresno?

If the former, great. You should be happy waiting him out, regardless of the outcome. But if, in tallying up your reasons for liking a player, all you can come up with is, "Well, he had a good spring," you might need to a do some soul-searching.

So do I like Cain, Belt or Helton? That's really not the point. In most leagues, I'd probably hold on to Cain and Belt because of their upside (with Helton being more of an as-needed option), but if I found out another potential breakout player who had gotten off to a hot start was still available on the waiver wire, I wouldn't let the spring numbers prevent me from making the switch.

In the now ... A look at how recent events have impacted certain players' Fantasy value

Don't Just Play, Play to Win!
Fantasy Baseball Today Be sure to catch Fantasy Baseball 360 LIVE at 5 p.m. ET every weekday to dominate your Fantasy leagues. Our writers will have the latest news, analysis and roster trends each afternoon.
Fantasy Baseball TodayCheck out the latest episode!

Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox: With Santiago's rise to the closer role, unexpected as it may have been, comes surprising job security. It's genuinely his role. Unlike Alfredo Aceves in Boston or Brad Lidge in Washington, he's not just filling in for an injured player, and unlike Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta in Tampa Bay, he doesn't have to contend with anyone else for saves. Plus, the White Sox really seem to want him closing because he's equally effective against both lefties and righties and allows Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain to remain in their setup roles. Of course, he actually has to perform to remain the closer, but considering he wasn't even on the radar for saves before spring began, he seems to have a knack for rising to the occasion.

Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves: Though Jurrjens' performance at the Mets on Saturday -- three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings -- is hardly the expectation for him going forward, it was a welcome reminder that at less than his best, he's actually pretty ordinary. He's fine if you don't need strikeouts and just want a guy who can eat innings with a respectable ERA and WHIP, but his counterpart from Saturday's game, R.A. Dickey, has been doing the same thing, only better, for the last 3 1/2 months (dating back to last season). And he's owned in 36 percent fewer leagues.

Javy Guerra, RP, Dodgers: You'd think Guerra's two saves in two near-perfect innings this season would have solidified his place as a top reliever in Fantasy. And yet he's still owned in only 14 percent more leagues than Kenley Jansen. Guerra has 21 saves in the Dodgers' last 77 games, which would translate to 44 over a full season, not to mention a 2.01 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning during that stretch. Those numbers are about as good as it gets for a closer, so even if Jansen's pure stuff is better, the Dodgers would be as foolish to mess with a good thing as you would be to leave a player with Guerra's saves potential on the waiver wire.

Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres: Volquez's electric stuff combined with his move to a pitcher's ballpark made him a top sleeper entering 2012, and it's not like either factor has changed since then. But unfortunately, neither has he. His problem since his breakout 2008 and subsequent Tommy John surgery has been poor control -- he's averaging 5.4 walks per nine innings over the last three seasons -- and while his 11 walks compared to 13 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings this spring was discouraging, his four walks in five innings Thursday is pretty much a telltale sign that he'll deliver more of the same this year. If you don't like Jonathan Sanchez, you won't like Volquez either.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

Adam Dunn, 1B, White Sox: True, Dunn's sudden collapse last season is still without explanation, but that's no reason to ignore what he's doing now. His prodigious power returned this spring, when he hit six homers, and was on display with his towering blast to right field in the team's season opener Friday at Texas. If you include spring training both years, he already has half as many homers in 2012 as he did in all of 2011, and though any comparison involving spring numbers is dicey, the difference in bat speed is noteworthy regardless of the level of competition.

Down the line ... A brief update on some of the minor-leaguers who have caught the attention of Fantasy owners

Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals: With three homers in four games, Adams is looking more than qualified for Triple-A Memphis after hitting .300 with 32 homers in 463 at-bats for Double-A Springfield last year. Of course, between Matt Carpenter (who is already on the roster) and Allen Craig (who is due back from knee surgery in the next few weeks), the Cardinals are already overloaded with heavy-hitting corner infield-outfield types, but with Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday all on the wrong side of 30, the next opening is just around the corner.

Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres: Though he never had a chance of making the opening day roster, Grandal found his stroke midway through March, hitting .450 (9 for 20) with two home runs in seven games to close out spring training. So far, he has picked up where he left off at Triple-A Tucson, going 5 for 10 in three games. Though overshadowed by fellow catcher prospect Devin Mesoraco while with the Reds, Grandal only has Nick Hundley standing in his way now. Already 23 and with an advanced approach at the plate, Grandal might only be a couple months away from taking over full-time.

Michael Taylor, OF, Athletics: Taylor doesn't have quite the long-term appeal of Adams or Grandal, but at age 26, he's clearly in a now-or-never stage with the Athletics. And so far, he's doing his best to make sure they regret sending him down, going 7 for 15 with a homer at Triple-A Sacramento. The Athletics are already having enough trouble finding at-bats for Collin Cowgill, so Taylor might just have to bide his time until someone gets injured. His size and strength still make him an intriguing enough prospect for you to consider stashing him in a deeper AL-only league.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

  •  
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Ben Zobrist homers, doubles in two runs
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:14 am ET) Rays infielder Ben Zobrist played a big part in Tuesday's 5-1 win over the Brewers.

Zobrist went 2 for 4 in the win, and drove in the first two runs for the Rays in the win. He brought the first around on a sixth-inning solo home run, and then drove in another with a double in the eighth.

Zobrist is hitting .271/.361/.421 with nine home runs and 31 RBI in 93 at-bats. 


Ned Yost: Billy Butler is our DH if he continues to hit
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Royals designated hitter Billy Butler is still under the miscroscope despite his recent surge. He must keep hitting to remain a starter.

"If Billy keeps hitting, Billy's going to DH," Ned Yost told the Kansas City Star.

Butler played the role of hero in the weekend series against Cleveland with six hits, including two home runs, and five RBI to help his team win three of four. But he took the collar Tuesday night.


Grady Sizemore slugs first homer for Phillies
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:06 am ET) The resurgence of Grady Sizemore continued Tuesday, as the Phillies' outfielder hit his first home run for the team in a 6-0 win over the Mets.

Sizemore had just one hit in the win, as he went 1 for 4 with one run driven in and one scored from the home run. He is hitting .314/.352/.451 in 51 at-bats since joining the Phillies, and has three home runs in 236 at-bats overall on the season. 


Chase Utley slugs grand slam in victory
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Phillies infielder Chase Utley had just one hit Tuesday, but he made it count in a 6-0 win over the Mets.  

Utley went 1 for 4 in the win, and made his presence felt with his seventh inning grand slam. The home run is Utley's ninth of the season, but first since July 9. He is hitting .291/.353/.429 on the season. 


Freddie Freeman blasts off in loss to Dodgers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) First baseman Freddie Freeman certainly can't be blamed for his team's loss Tuesday night to the host Dodgers.

Freeman gave his team a brief lead with a two-run homer in the third inning. He added a single and walk to push his on-base percentage on the year to a fine .376.


Matt Kemp ends home run drought with two on Tuesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Dodgers right fielder Matt Kemp jacked up his trade value a bit with a renaissance performance Tuesday night against the Braves.

Kemp smashed his first two home runs since June 25 - two-run jobs in the second and seventh innings. He added a single to improve his stat line to .282/.347./.453. He has 14 hits in his last 31 at-bats with nine RBI in eight games.


Jimmy Rollins homers, scores twice in win
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:56 am ET) Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made an impact Tuesday, in a 6-0 win over the Mets.

Rollins reached base twice and scored each time, and he did all the work on one of them. He slugged a solo home run in the third inning, and then scored following a walk in the seventh, finishing 1 for 4 in the win.

Rollins' overall average has tumbled all the way to .239 during the month of July, but he has remained productive while hitting six of his 14 home runs so far in the month. 


Michael Morse mashes 15th homer in loss to Pittsburgh
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:54 am ET) Left fielder Michael Morse prevented the Giants from being shut out Tuesday night against Pittsburgh. His solo home run in the second inning gave his team its only run.

Morse, who now has 15 home runs on the year, has hit safely in five of his last six games, but has not achieved a multi-hit game since July 21.


Josh Harrison stays on home run roll in win over Giants
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Pirates leadoff hitter Josh Harrison continued to sizzle Tuesday night with his third straight game with a home run.

Harrison blasted off to begin the game against San Francisco and added a walk to sweeten his stat line on the season to .299/.338/.469. He is 7 for 12 in his last three games.


John Baker scored winning run after pitching
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Cubs catcher John Baker appeared in just one inning Tuesday against the Rockies, but played a big part in the 4-3 extra-inning win.  

Baker entered the game in the top of the 16th inning as a pitcher, the first time he has ever pitched as a professional. He got through the inning on 11 pitches, while walking one batter and allowing no runs, and then came to bat in the bottom half of the inning.

Baker walked in his first plate appearance of the game, and came around to score the winning run as the Cubs rallied to bring him around.

Baker has been mostly limited to part-time duty this season, and is hitting just .216/.308/.256 in 125 at-bats, with eight runs scored. 


 
 
 
Rankings