I'm going to switch it up a bit today in honor of the start of the 2011 season. Instead of going in depth on a couple of questions, I'm going to answer some quick hitters that I received at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.
People seem down on Ryan Franklin. Would you swap him for Joel Hanrahan or Drew Storen?-- @Cwhitney1
Far too many people seem reluctant to tab Hanrahan this year, and I just don't get it. Just compare his numbers versus Franklin last season.
Hanrahan: 12.92 K/9, 3.85 K/BB, 1.05 GB/FBFranklin: 5.82 K/9, 4.20 K/BB, 1.15 GB/FB
Everything being equal, I'll take the guy who strikes out twice as many guys and doesn't rely on smoke and mirrors to get outs.
Storen has looked completely lost at times this spring, and the plan in Washington right now is to go with some sort of committee approach which could be led by Sean Burnett. Do yourself a favor and grab Hanrahan. It might now work out, but he is the hurler I'd take without question (for more on why that is see How to Evaluate Relievers).
With Brad Lidge out for a couple months, who's the safer pick -- Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras?-- @tjaden_buster
Madson is by far the "safer" selection (see Radiant Relievers). However, apparently no one in the Phillies organization realizes that fact as he has constantly taken a backseat to Lidge for ninth inning work in recent years. With the news about the shoulder injury with Lidge, one that could keep him out of action well into June, that means Madson will finally be given the chance to close, right? Actually, no. It appears almost certain that the Phillies will call on Jose Contreras to take over closing duties. Contreras was dominant last year with more than a K per inning and an impressive 3.56 K/BB mark, but he is also "reportedly" 39 years old, had never posted a K/BB mark above 2.44 (albeit as a starter), and has four career saves. Contreras appears likely to have more early season value, but Madson is still the "safer" play based on his skill set.
Should I keep Justin Morneau at $18 in a 6x5 mixed. $260 budget? OPS is our sixth batting category.-- @frankdepino
I don't have much faith in Morneau. He might go out and hit 25 homers with 100 RBI, but it's a huge risk as he is still working his way back from a concussion. People seem to be thinking he is going to pick right up from last years level of production (.345-18-56 in 81 games), but I'm just not sold. First, he has a career .286 average and has only three seasons in his career over .275 if you include last season. Second, though his OPS was tremendous last year at 1.055, he's only posted a mark over .880 once in a full season (.934 in 2006). Third, and most obvious, is his health -- will he be able to play everyday? Personally I wouldn't have spent that much on Morneau, there's just too much risk for me, but if he plays 145 games he'll surely produce $18 worth of production.
Ryan Raburn is a better pick up than Logan Morrison?-- @mattextreme
Raburn is a player everyone seems hot on right now. Do to popular demand, I wrote a piece about him entitled 2011 Player Profile: Ryan Raburn. Here's a quick recap. He's a great power option if he qualifies at second base, but as an outfielder he is merely a depth option. Regardless of where he qualifies, Raburn is still the choice between these two guys in my mind. Morrison could easily have the more productive big league career, but in terms of his fantasy value he is somewhat limited. He won't steal many bases -- he's only swiped 23 over the past five years -- and though he hit 24 homers at Single-A in '07, he's managed a mere 29 homers over his last 1,264 at-bats. His stroke is much more doubles-oriented at the moment than one that will lift balls into the seats. His plate discipline is a strong suit, and he could walk as many times as he strikes out, which should allow him to produce an effective batting average, but without power or speed Morrison's 5x5 value is somewhat limited.
Twelve team 5x5 mixed league. Kila Ka'aihue or Mark Trumbo?-- @truesportsfan
No team scares me more than the Royals, who never, and I mean never, seem to have a consistent plan. Take the case of Alex Gordon. He's been demoted to the minors, asked to switch positions, and basically marginalized by the team. He goes to Spring Training this year, tears it up at the dish, and now seems likely to open the year in the third hole in the batting order. That makes total sense to me.
Ka'aihue should have been playing full-time in Kansas City last year. With Eric Hosmer coming quickly, the Royals need to determine if they truly have something in Kila since both guys play first base (and don't forget about Billy Butler who really should be a DH). Kila has 25-30 homer pop, and the young man knows the strike zone (last year he had 88 walks and 69 Ks at Triple-A). He has the exact kind of patient/power approach that teams crave at first base. His future appears to be pretty bright after a strong spring and the Royals finally deciding to commit to him as a full-time player.
Trumbo was a monster at Triple-A last year (.299-36-122), and has looked capable of providing a ton of power this season if we look at his Spring Training numbers (.297-6-20 with a .978 OPS in 25 games). At the same time, I worry about where he will play once Kendrys Morales returns to action (potentially by mid to late April). The issue is this -- the Angels have one too many players for 1B/OF/DH. For those five spots they have six guys: Trumbo, Morales, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Peter Bourjos. The key to Trumbo's playing time is likely Bourjos. If he hits enough to get on base and use his 40-plus stolen base wheels he'll be in the lineup everyday (I didn't even mention his defense, which some consider to be as good as any outfielder in baseball) leaving Trumbo without a consistent spot in the lineup.
If choosing between these two first basemen I'd take Kila.
What do you think of Tim Stauffer?-- @johndasher
Stauffer is one of those pitchers who somehow has moved up 35 spots on some people's draft boards despite never having thrown a pitch in a regular season game. Hell, some people probably didn't even know who he was two months ago. I'm not one of those guys, as I was trumpeting him back in January in 2011 Player Profile: Tim Stauffer. Bottom line, there's a lot to like with this Padres' hurler.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.