Show Notes: 7/13
Jose Altuve signed a long-term contract with the Astros (four-year deal through 2017 with club options in 2018 and 2019), which marks the first big signing under the ownership group as the franchise continues its rebuilding process.
The Astros have 12 players ranked in the latest Top 200 prospects list, including five players in the top 40. Derek thinks they have the young talent base to make a quick leap (~2015) to become contenders in the AL West, which is shaping up to be one of the best divisions in baseball. Also, Altuve's new contract gives the team's young prospects a path to long-term security in the form of a pre-free agent contract.
Both of the Upton brothers were out of the lineup Saturday, and B.J. Upton's injury is an adductor strain that could keep him out even after the All-Star break. He's hitting .177 right now with eight homers and seven steals through 84 games, and has to be considered one of the biggest free agent and fantasy busts in recent memory.
Corey Kluber seems like a pitcher that is undervalued in almost every league right now, especially when you consider that he's striking out a batter per inning and limiting his walks (4.2 K/BB). Plus, he gets plenty of run support in Cleveland. Derek would classify him as a top-40 pitcher the rest of the season.
There are still owners unwilling to fully buy into Carlos Gomez. He has always had power and elite speed, but at age 27, it seems like he's just gotten comfortable with the type of player he is. He's probably going to hit well over 20 home runs and steal over 40 bases this season, and his .823 OPS over the past two calendar years suggests that his 2013 campaign is hardly a fluke.
Paul Sporer Guest Segment
Doug Fister pounds the strike zone when he pitches, and although that results in him giving up some runs sometimes, he consistently pitches deep into games, and is still undervalued in most leagues.
That Anibal Sanchez had a shoulder injury is definitely a concern (especially given his pre-2011 track record), but trading him away will require discounting him, and that may be too difficult to pull the trigger on considering how well he's pitched outside of his stint on the disabled list.
Paul isn't buying into Jeff Locke's first half, and while DVR has him outside the top 90 on the starting pitchers cheat sheet right now, Paul suggests selling him for just about anything available given the lack of strikeouts and extremely high strand rate.
Hyun-Jin Ryu hasn't come close to the 30% strikeout rate he posted in April, and now looks like a good time to trade him, seeing as most of his metrics are in a steady decline.
On The Farm: Guest Segment with Jesse Siegel
Byron Buxton is now the top ranked prospect, and he's a lot further along in his development than most people projected when he was drafted by the Twins last June. He has exceptional speed and is even hitting for power in High-A right now at a very young age.
Even though George Springer strikes out a lot, he has the potential to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases, which Jesse believes warrants him being ranked second on his prospect list.
Bubba Starling was really raw coming out of high school because he played football as well as baseball (he was signed away from a scholarship to play football at Nebraska), but the Royals thought he was deserving of an early first-round selection, and Jesse is not ready to give up on him yet ? especially with reports that he was battling vision problems this season.
Mark Appel seems like he has a pretty fast track to the majors, but the pitchers ranked above him are ranked higher because they have had the opportunity to prove themselves in the minors against professional competition.
Kyle Crick had some shoulder injuries, but has since pitched very well, and Jesse believes he has the potential to move into the top 30 in the prospect rankings as long as he stays healthy.
Dodgers pitcher Zach Lee deserves more respect in the rankings because he's still just 21 years old (and like Starling, was signed away from a chance to play college football upon being drafted) and Jesse believes he has all the tools to be considered one of the elite pitching prospects in all of baseball.
AL Pickups: Guest Segment with Andrew Martinez
Jarred Cosart looks ready, and will probably be a regular in the Astros' rotation going forward, but there is concern is his control. It's possible that he could miss in the zone too much and really get knocked around as he makes adjustments throughout the second half.
Grant Green isn't playing every day, but Andrew believes he's still worth picking up in keeper leagues. The A's have had a revolving door at second base since Jemile Weeks' regression and subsequent demotion last season.
Andrew likes Danny Salazar in keeper leagues over guys like Trevor Bauer, especially with his great strikeout rate right now, excellent velocity (100 mph fastball) and ability to limit his free passes.
Seattle has shown a willingness to promote guys whenever they believe they're ready (Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, etc), so it should not be surprising if Taijuan Walker is promoted after the All-Star break. Walker has pitched well in his first taste of Triple-A since being promoted to Tacoma in June.
Sonny Gray has had a great bounce-back season, and he's worth grabbing in keeper leagues, especially for owners of Bartolo Colon who may be worried about his ties to the Biogenesis clinic.
Andrew wants to believe that Manny Ramirez isn't of any concern, but all he really has to do is be better than an unhealthy Lance Berkman, and he could see serious time at DH in Texas.
David Hernandez pitched a perfect ninth inning Friday night to earn the save, and with J.J. Putz and Heath Bell having issues, Hernandez is worth picking up at least in the short term. Given that Bell has already struggled once in the closer's role this season and that Putz has had trouble staying healthy, Hernandez remains a good speculative bet in the second half.
Joe Terdoslavich could see some consistent playing time in the short term (and perhaps longer) with the Braves' injury troubles in the outfield. Terdoslavich has already hit 18 home runs at Triple-A Gwinnett this season and at age-24, has moderate upside if he can carve out enough playing time.
His availability is likely limited to mixed formats, but Carlos Villanueva's numbers overall and opportunity to take the ball every fifth day with the trade of Scott Feldman this week should afford him some job security.
Juan Uribe is actually having a decent year hitting .276/.349/.422 with five homers and 28 RBI, and he could be worth a pickup for teams in need of production at third base as the Dodgers lack options to replace him at the present time.
Dan Uggla hit another home run Saturday and although he's not having a great season (he was hitting .199 entering play Saturday), he can still provide some power. He's less of a drain in leagues that replace average with OBP, but Uggla's optimal use comes from owners punting AVG, or in daily leagues against lefties and in favorable matchups on the road.
Miscellaneous Baseball Notes
Edwin Encarnacion has 25 home runs now, and although most people were skeptical after he put up big numbers last season, he looks like he's on track to blast 40 again this year.
Luke Scott always seems to be available (of course, it depends on the league parameters), and he puts up decent numbers, but on a day-to-day basis he's just too inconsistent to be treated like the same player he was when he was hitting 20-25 home runs in Baltimore.
Seattle eased Russell Wilson into the starting quarterback position last season, but when they finally opened up the playbook, he ranked among the elite fantasy options down the stretch. With Percy Harvin now in Seattle, the quality of the weapons at Wilson's disposal has improved and things should be easier for Sidney Rice. Rice is going 133rd overall in NFFC drafts right now, and taking him late seems like a better value pick (relatively speaking) than taking Harvin early, especially considering Harvin's health issues.
Colin Kaepernick is talented enough to create offense on his own, and Jim Harbaugh has always overachieved with the talent he's had, but the loss of Michael Crabtree is still going to have a big effect on San Francisco's offense. It's an opportunity for Mario Manningham or A.J. Jenkins to take on a large role, as it seems unlikely that Anquan Boldin can completely replace Crabtree at this stage of his career.
Thorn believes that guys like Darnell Dockett on the Cardinals' defensive line will probably be turned loose on the quarterback this season with adjustments to the Arizona scheme, and they should be cheap as IDPs.
Larry Fitzgerald is going 33rd overall in fantasy drafts, and that's a little low. He should get much better targets this season, and although Carson Palmer is not a hall of fame quarterback, he should be an upgrade over what Fitzgerald had to work with in 2012.
Howard Bender Guest Segment
LeSean McCoy has had a wide range of placements on early draft boards, but Howard expects him to have a nice bounce-back season as the primary runner in what figures to be a multi-back offense under Chip Kelly in Philadelphia.
Lamar Miller is a late fourth-round/early fifth-round guy right now, but that low ADP may just be due to his lack of experience. He may jump up the ADP list between and draft day in late August/early September, especially since Daniel Thomas is his biggest competition for carries to open the year.
Howard believes that late in the second round seems way too early for Randall Cobb to go, even with Greg Jennings gone now. The fifth round seems like a more appropriate slot for Cobb, although it seems unlikely that he will be available that late in most drafts. Cobb still has to contend with Jordy Nelson and James Jones for targets, just as he had to a year ago.
The inconsistency Chris Johnson has shown recently is probably due to being overworked earlier in his career, and there seems to be fewer owners willing to target him as a top-25 overall pick at this point.
Howard suggests that Tom Brady is underrated right now because of the loss of Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, the likely absence of Rob Gronkowski to begin the season. Danny Amendola seems like a good fit in that system and Brady is usually productive no matter whom he's throwing to. In many NFFC drafts (a 14-team format), Brady is going late in the fourth round and appears to be a bargain in that spot.