First few paragraphs, no baseball stuff. Scroll down if that's what you want. I'm just thinkin' ‘bout things.
So it seems to me that TV writers all run in the same circles, and when one has an idea, it — intentionally or otherwise — gets circulated through the whole group. The best ideas inevitably end up in, like, five shows at once.
For example, addicts. Sure, we've had addicts on TV just about forever. But all of a sudden, there are recovering addicts everywhere. Characters can't sit back and have a beer, characters have to go to a meeting, etc. Just on a quick glance through my own DVR, Sherlock Holmes is sober in Elementary, Deacon Claiborne in Nashville, Ryan Hardy in The Following, Richard Webber and Amelia Shepherd in Grey's Anatomy, every damn character in Mom.
(Maybe I'm tipping off some of my viewing preferences that are ripe for mockery, but there's no such thing as a guilty pleasure, so whatever, I like what I like.)
I mean, sure, combatting addiction and the desire for a drink (pill, etc.) is a great source of drama. It might be a coincidence. But I tend to think TV writers and the like all do run in the same sorts of circles, and often have similar backgrounds or interests, and as such often stumble upon the same general ideas at the same time, or at least at similar times.
It's the same sort of idea I stumble across doing what we do here. Sports writers — fantasy writers — run together. I follow Kantecki, Kantecki follows Stultz, Stultz follows me. Sometimes we come across the same ideas at the same times. I was going to write about Anthony Gose for Wednesday, but Jeff Sullivan got there first. I did it anyway, but whatever.
The point of this is that I'm always trying to find a new way to present my stuff. Maybe I succeed, maybe I fail, but if I'm the fifteenth writer to suggest a certain player or use a certain conceit for a piece, I'm not offering any help to anyone.
Anyway, that's why I use The Ticker. It's a stock-minded look at fantasy baseball right now, as values rise and fall. It's not the most unique thing out there (and screw it, I'm fine with "most unique" as a phrase, and I'll happily debate that with you if you disagree), but it's a conceit I don't see very often, and I'm happy with it. There are six categories:
Stocks I'm buying: low-owned players who did well the week before, and I believe it
Stocks I'm not buying: low-owned players who did well the week before, and I don't believe it
Stocks I'm selling: high-owned players who struggled, and I'm bailing on them a bit
Stocks I'm not selling: high-owned players who struggled, but I still trust them
Futures market: low-owned guys without an obvious line to fantasy productivity yet, but there are things that could change in that department
Hedges: handcuffs; low-owned guys who have a starter in front of them, but injuries or starter awfulness could change things
(Ownership percentages are as of Thursday evening.)
Keep me on my toes, and us on ours. If something feels done to death, say it. Otherwise, we're all just talking to each other, and no one's getting anywhere.
Okay, off my soapbox. I need a drink.
Stocks I'm buying
Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY (42 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
Even before he got progressively worse, and more brittle, and frustrating, Teixeira had a perennial knock on him — the slow starts. He has a career .778 OPS in March/April. In no other month is that number below .860, and only in June does he even dip below .900. So while it's still crazy early, seeing Teixeira jump out to a .241/.361/.655 (1.016 OPS) through the first week-plus has to be heartening. On top of that, if you ignore his 15-game 2013, Teixeira has been at the least a fine power producer forever; his 22 home runs last year marked a career low, and he did that at less than full strength. Teixeira appears to be healthy now, and while his heyday is well past him, he ought to be a fine corner-infield option going forward.
Norichika Aoki, OF, SFG (24 percent)
Aoki is who he is. He isn't going to hit a lot of home runs — probably not even double digits, though 10 or 11 is at least possible. He isn't going to run a tremendous amount, though 20 steals is on the table. RBI will be limited, as he hits leadoff in a lineup that is subpar to say the least. But his batting average is always going to be a help. He's hit .288, .286 and .285 in his three big-league seasons, and he's up near .400 so far in this one. And while the Giants' lineup is never going to sit near the top of the league in runs scored, it is currently about as bad as it's likely to be. Brandon Belt has to improve. Buster Posey is about at his low believable point. And the capper is the eventual return of Hunter Pence from the DL. A top of the lineup that has Joe Panik and Angel Pagan in the 2-3 holes is execrable; one that has Pence third and everything else shuffled accordingly is at least acceptable. Aoki isn't great. But for what he does, he can help.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, CIN (14 percent)
In general, I use this space for a guy I wasn't really paying attention to, but who has done enough to force my gaze his way. Not so for DeSclafani, who I was in on well before the season even began. People were put off by his 6.27 ERA with the Marlins a year ago, ignoring the fact that it came with a 3.77 FIP and, heck, was only 33 innings and five starts. DeSclafani isn't of ace caliber — he'll never be a No. 1 or close — but he will he can be a fully serviceable back-end guy. At the very least, from fantasy purposes, DeSclafani's WHIP has a ceiling, as dude comes in with crazy good control — he kept his BB/9 under 2.0 all the way through the minors until last year, while still striking out more than seven per. His ERA will obviously climb from 1.38, but DeSclafani will be a productive starter and will keep his WHIP low for fantasy. (Bonus: In most leagues he qualifies at RP as well, so you can diversify a bit.)
Stocks I'm not buying
DJ LeMahieu, 2B, COL (26 percent)
The Rockies do this. They were 22-14 through May 7 last year, then went 44-82 the rest of the way. The same date in 2013, they were 19-13, and went 55-75 after that. Peeked over .500 a few different times early in 2012, played sub-.400 the rest of the way. Best team in baseball early in 2011, one of the worst after. Here, chart:
At That Record
|Record After||Winning Percentage
Whatever it is, this is in recent years a fast-starting team that collapses, and the roster we see in Colorado is one ripe for collapse as well. Assuming health, it ain't comin' from Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, all those guys. But LeMahieu, hitting .514/.528/.571 so far, is very obviously going to come down from those highs, and homey's gonna come down hard.
Nick Martinez, SP, TEX (10 percent)
As a Rangers fan, with Yu Darvish and Derek Holland on the shelf, whatever, seeing Martinez come out and look strong through two starts is nice. But in those two starts, 14 innings, he has six total strikeouts (including one in seven innings Tuesday) against five walks. In 140.1 innings last year, his K:BB ratio was only 1.4, and that led to an ERA of 4.55 and a FIP of 4.94. He'll be in the rotation, because Texas is just out of options. But he is miles away from being a fantasy option, even at 2-0, 0.00.
Yonder Alonso, 1B, SDP (4 percent)
Alonso's been frustrating so far in his career, with top-flight pedigree aligned with a .719 OPS and 22 homers in 1,282 plate appearances once he joined San Diego. While the power hasn't exploded so far this year, the rest is looking great, as he's hitting .355/.459/.516 right now. Still, Alonso is 28 and has one game of more than 100 games in his career. Meanwhile, the Padres have to improve their defense one way or another. Melvin Upton Jr. is coming back at some point, and while he can't outhit you or me, he's the best defensive outfielder San Diego has by a factor of, like, 10. He'll play often enough. And when he does, they aren't going to sit Wil Myers, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton. They're going to sit Alonso, and one of those outfielder (Myers most likely) will move in.
Stocks I'm selling
Jeff Samardzija, SP, CWS (96 percent)
Ultimately, this is like last week in this space; it is far too early to be changing our opinions dramatically about guys we were willing to invest in two weeks ago. So if you bought in on Samardzija a few weeks ago, stick with him. You did it for a reason. But personally, I was never high on Samardzija with the White Sox. He struggled mightily with the move to the American League last year, and that was in the pitcher's heaven that is Oakland. Through two starts, it's been a drag with Chicago, as Samardzija has seven strikeouts across 13 innings with nine earned runs and 17 baserunners. No, it won't stay that bad. But he's not going to be the Samardzija you thought you were getting.
Yadier Molina, C, STL (92 percent)
Molina came off the DL in late August last year. From there to the end of the season, he hit .267/.309/.317 with no home runs. He added a .524 OPS in the postseason, and has come out this season about the same. He turns 33 in July, with more than 1,300 games caught under his belt. Molina isn't done. But top-flight-fantasy-option Molina? He probably is.
Stocks I'm not selling
Fernando Rodney, RP, SEA (93 percent)
I mean, whatever, he's never going to repeat that 2012 season. His WHIP is going to hurt you, and his ERA isn't any great shakes. But where LaTroy Hawkins had Adam Ottavino breathing down his neck and Joe Nathan had Joakim Soria, who does Rodney have? I think Danny Farquhar would do fine if given the closer role, but the Mariners appear to be a team stressing the importance of "closer experience," and ain't no way Tom Wilhelmsen is taking the job. Rodney won't give you a lot. But he's going to get saves.
Alex Gordon, OF, KC (89 percent)
Dude's hitting .150 through Thursday's games, and even that is only because he went 2-4 Wednesday. But even with his disastrous start, Gordon's on-base percentage sits at .370, close to a career high. Sure, that's in part because of being hit by four pitches, but still, his batting eye is working. His BABIP is at .214. At just 31, he'll get the hitting thing worked out soon enough.
Danny Salazar, SP, CLE (29 percent)
This would have looked smarter if I had run this piece Wednesday, before the Indians announced Salazar would come up for his first start of the season Saturday. Still, though, Salazar has elite pedigree, and is only a year removed from being everyone's darling entering last season. That 2014 didn't go as predicted, but much of that was bad luck — his ERA was 4.25, but his FIP and xFIP were three-quarters of a run lower. He's an elite prospect coming up to a good team, and considering the awfulness of T.J. House's first start and the lack of security in Zach McAllister, Salazar's rotation spot should be pretty safe. He'll be good this time around.
Maikel Franco, 3B, PHI (1 percent)
Ryan Howard can't hit. Like, his bat speed has dropped to Eeyore-in-molasses levels, and there isn't much to be done about that. Darin Ruf hasn't shown much more the last couple seasons. And neither guy is on the right side of the age curve. Franco, meanwhile, has at least the potential of being in the Phillies' future. It's far from a guarantee, but the Phillies could move on from Ruf, shut down Howard, all of that. Franco deserves a shot, and with Cody Asche hitting crazy well at third, Franco's shot would come at first. The Phillies might be too stubborn to do it, but it's the right move.
Alex Guerrero, OF, LAD (11 percent)
I list Guerrero as an outfielder because it's the only place he has eligibility in Yahoo!, but he's likely to add at least third base as the season goes on. The knock on Guerrero has been that he doesn't have the glove for any position, and that appears to be true. But he's up now, and his bat will play. It might not be full-time appearances, but the occasional start at third, maybe a game or two in the outfield, maybe first, whatever. If Guerrero hits, he'll find a lineup spot often enough. In a deeper league, he can help.
Chris Young, SP, KC (2 percent)
Yordano Venture probably hurt himself again as I was typing this sentence, though he'll be fine for his next start. But still, dude can't stay 100 percent, and something bigger is always on the horizon. Meanwhile, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas are classic "guys we start until we can dump them." Young, acquired by Kansas City late in the preseason, will be the next man up if and when someone currently in the rotation has to drop out. I don't really buy his 3.65 ERA in Seattle last year — it was accompanied by a 5.02 FIP — but dude hasn't had a truly awful season since 2009. In the deepest of leagues, if you're scrounging for some starter, he might be one before too long.