April 12, 2012

I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

Note: The following article is filled with plenty of questions that might seem knee jerk and laughable to you. Trust me though, these aren't the only questions I've received along these lines. It's like there is an epidemic of itchy trigger fingers in the world of fantasy baseball right now. Before proceeding to read my answers to today's questions, I'd suggest that all of you take a moment to read Panic In the Streets.

A guy dropped Josh Johnson 2nite...

-- @Gregor21

It's been TWO starts covering 9.2 innings. If you were going to draft Johnson in the first place how on earth could you bail on him after two starts -- when he's healthy? The key with Johnson will be his health. If he can take the ball 30 times he'll be a strong option -- period. The only real issue with Johnson is his track record of ill health. The guy owns a 3.05 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and an 8.23 K/9 mark for his career. I'll trust 735 innings over a poor 9.2 to start the 2012 season, won't you?

Who is next in line for saves if Joe Nathan tanks?

-- @Steverland

I'll admit to understanding this question, though I'm still not a fan. Closers can lose their jobs much quicker than starters, and with roughly a third of all the big league teams making some type of change in the 9th inning versus what their plans were two months ago, I totally understand the trepidation anyone would have if they see one of their guys struggling in the 9th inning. At the same time, we're talking about four innings with Nathan. F-O-U-R. In his first three of his outings of the year he allowed one hit, no walks, and one run. Sure he gave up three runs in his last outing, but he's still sporting five Ks and no walks through four innings. Hell, Mariano Rivera gave up two runs while recording only a single out in his first trip to the hill this season. The Rangers manager, Ron Washington, said that he will give Nathan Thursday off to collect himself, but he also emphatically stated that Nathan is still his closer. Believe him. If I had to chose a backup option, I'd be thinking Mike Adams.

Should I drop Kenley Jansen for Fernando Rodney? No other current closers available on wire.

-- @TheSchwan

This question is prompted by two things. (1) The inequitable way we reward relievers in the the fantasy game. (2) Worrying too much about right now and not enough about the next 150 games.

(1) We reward saves in the fantasy game. Therefore, any time a change is made in the 9th inning a virtual stampede occurs. No one pays any attention to the relievers and tries to decide if the pitcher is any good. All we care about is getting the saves. It's why I've long championed changing saves to Solds in the fantasy game (Solds = saves+holds). If we used Solds we'd be more worried about rostering the better pitcher than we are about being consumed with adding the guy who is currently holding down the role of closer.

(2) Through a week of the season, Rodney has three saves and has looked solid whereas Jansen has done the same thing -- albeit without the saves. As a result, Rodney's current value in the fantasy game is higher despite the fact that he isn't a better pitcher. In my book, especially this early in a season where I'm not desperate to chase saves, I'm going skills over role. That means I want Jansen. Think I'm crazy do you? Let's compare some career numbers with the two hurlers.

Jansen: 15.23 K/9, 4.31 BB/9, 3.54 K/BB, 2.21 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .151 BAA

Rodney: 8.20 K/9, 4.85 BB/9, 1.69 K/BB, 4.26 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .242 BAA

Are you seeing what I'm seeing? Jansen betters Rodney in every category, and five of the six by a massive amount. You can roster Rodney and hope he some doesn't revert the pitcher he has always been, but my money is on Joe Maddon realizing, sooner rather than later, that the last time Rodney was a better than average big league hurler was 2007.

I can't keep Stephen Strasburg at the end of this year. Would you trade him for Tim Lincecum straight up?

-- @SubtleStatement

This is the most reasonable question I received in the last day about Lincecum who went out and laid another egg in his second start of the season. I'm utterly amazed at how quickly people are considering bailing on Lincecum. Consider the following. (1) Lincecum has made 4-straight All-Star teams. (2) Lincecum has two Cy Young Awards in four seasons. (3) Lincecum has never finished outside the top-10 in Cy Young voting in four full seasons. (4) He's the only pitcher in baseball with at least 220 Ks each of the past four seasons. No other pitcher has more than two 220 K seasons the past four years (Jon Lester and Felix Hernandez). (5) Even with his struggles this year he has 10 Ks in just 7.2 innings, and with only three walks still has a 3.33 K/BB ratio which is better than his career mark of 2.98. (6) Lincecum has done this before -- struggled mightily I mean. In 2010 he went 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA and 1.82 WHIP in the month of August. He rebounded to go 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in September.

I would do this deal. It's quite possible that Strasburg will better The Freak in both ERA and WHIP, but with the potential of 50 or more innings from Lincecum, remember the Nationals have set an innings pitched limit with Strasburg of 160, I'd take the Giants ace.

How patient should one be with Brandon Belt situation?

-- @jfeiger

Great question. I've been on record for months now telling everyone that I didn't see how Belt was going to get 500 at-bats this season. Most didn't listen, everyone wants to believe that the next big thing will be the next big thing right away, but alas, the Belt situation is playing out as I expected it would. The Giants have an overpaid run producer in Aubrey Huff. Since he's also a team leader, he figures to play almost every day, either at first or in the outfield. The Giants traded for Melky Cabrera who will play every day. They also added Angel Pagan to add a speed element that the team is sorely lacking. If all three of those guys are in the outfield than Belt can play first base. However, I've totally left out the Giants best defensive outfielder who just so happened to pop two long balls Wednesday in Nate Schierholtz. Obviously, this situation is going to leave one guy out in the cold every day. Given that Belt hit just .225 last year, and that he's started out 1-for-11 this year, it appears that he is already losing ground to the other "proven" players. I'm fully aware that Belt is "the future" and that he has been given only 198 at-bats to this point of his career, but unless he turns things on quickly, or one of the other four is injured, Belt may struggle for at-bats in the early going.

What do you think about Aramis Ramirez? Buy-low trade candidate?

-- @Fury5701

Remember that article I referred to at the top of the piece entitled Panic in the Streets? If you didn't give it a read then now is the time to scroll back up to the top of the page to read it because it will point out something about Aramis Ramirez that should help you to easily answer this question.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

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