Indians' Santana still a solid threat at catcher - Sports Illustrated

MLB fantasy mailbag: Santana still a very solid threat at catcher

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I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account in my never ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players thereby making myself obsolete.

Drop Carlos Santana for Salvador Perez, Ryan Doumit, Willin Rosario, or Jonathan Lucroy?-- @Krisr0ck27

First off, everyone needs to make sure they do a two-catcher league next season. This is especially so in the the myriad of 10 team leagues that I receive questions about every day. If you can literally go to the waiver-wire an add any of those last four names, you should be ashamed at the lack of depth in your league. Lucroy is hitting .324 on the year. Rosario is tied with Buster Posey for the NL lead in homers (19) for catcher. Doumit has been a top-10 catcher this year (.294-14-59). Perez has hit .298 with eight bombs in a mere 39 games.

When the season started I would have said to go with Santana. Over the past four weeks, only one catcher on this list has outperformed him (Doumit who has hit .311-7-17) as Santana has hit .270 with six homers and 19 RBIs. Santana has also hit seven bombs with 23 RBIs, a .410 OBP, a .542 SLG and .953 OPS since the All-Star break. You can move to Doumit if you need a bit of an average boost, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with holding on to, and riding, Santana.

First in all offensive categories, close to last in pitching categories. Is it worth giving Carlos Gonzalez for Matt Cain for the home stretch?-- @stealyurbase

It's certainly the time of year in rotisserie that you have to play the categories. That means making deals that sometimes may not make total sense off the top. Would I ever draft Matt Cain ahead of Carlos Gonzalez? Are you on dope? Would never happen. But we're 4.5 months into a six-month season, so if your team needs pitching help this is certainly something to consider.

Cain continues to marvel with his consistency. Last year he had a 2.88 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. This year he has a 2.99 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Moreover, since the start of the 2009 season, a span of 122 starts, Cain has a 2.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. All he does is take the ball every five games and give the Giants a chance to win. Period. My only hesitation here is that Cain has been a bit below his normal standards over his last seven starts as he's been saddled with a 4.30 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, not awful numbers, but he's not exactly trending in the right direction.

The deal isn't a world beater by any means but it's also solid, given your needs.

I've been offered Hunter Pence for my Alex Gordon in a 12 team, H2H league. Seems like a good buy low but a lil worried.-- @NotoriousBox

I understand the concern, Pence is hitting a mere .177 with the Giants, but let's compare these two guys efforts to one another.

Pence has doubled Gordon in homers, 18 to nine. Pence has 24 more RBIs -- 70 to 46. Pence has scored one fewer run (66 to 67) and stolen two fewer bases (five to seven).

The only category in the fantasy game that really favors Gordon is batting average (.293 to .259). What about that average? Pence has a career .288 mark. Gordon's career mark is .267. Pence also has hit at least .282 each of the past four years. Yes Pence is hitting .183 over his last 30 games and Gordon is hitting .341, and that's a mind boggling difference. Still, I assume we can agree that neither player is likely to continue their pace since the All-Star break, right?

I'd take a shot on Pence. He's got too much history on his side not to think he could still make a run to .280 this season, and he clearly has displayed a significant power advantage over Gordon this season.

Give up Granderson for Ethier and Wainwright? Could use a starting pitcher.-- @LKrukowski

Granderson has 30 bombs, 68 RBIs and 79 runs scored putting on pace for another excellent season. Of course there are some among you who are disappointed with that effort as he hit 41 homers with 119 RBIs and 136 runs scored last season. He was never going to repeat those numbers. He's also continued his bizarre trend of alternating impressive an average steals totals from season to season (26, 12, 20, 12, 25 and eight this year). His batting average has also dipped to .235 an it's looking like this will be his third sub .250 effort in four seasons.

Ethier will certainly give you a nice batting average boost. A career .291 hitter, he's batting .288 this season after back-to-back efforts of .292. He's nowhere near the run producer that Granderson is though as he's hit only 22 homers over his last 241 games. Furthermore, after a torrid start to the year that included 44 RBIs in 50 games he's driven in a mere 12 runners over his last 31 contests. On the hill is Wainwright, and he is surging. Over his last seven starts he has a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, nearly a K per inning (44 in 48.2 frames) and he's walked only eight batters. It took a while for him to find his footing, but over the past two months he has looked as good as he ever has.

If you need starting pitching help I think this is a solid deal, especially since Ethier should help to smooth out the ding that Granderson put into your batting average. Let's just hope that the Cardinals don't shut down Wainwright early to protect his arm. After all, he didn't throw a big league pitch last year.

In tight battle for 1st in a 15-team league. Worried about Dan Haren rest of year. Time to cut bait or hang tight?-- @99hokie

Haren clearly isn't 100 percent because of that back. As a result of the physical woes his performance has been up and down. A prime example. After allowing a total of four runs in three starts he permitted five earned over 3.1 innings in his last outing. That still gives him a 3.80 ERA over his last four starts, nearly a run below his 4.68 mark for the season. If we pull back a bit further he still has a solid 3.00 K/BB ratio on the year. His GB/FB ratio of 1.00 is right on par with his mark the last two years. He is surrendering more homers than every before (1.44 per nine versus 1.04 for his career) and that number could normalize a bit. He's also dealing with a .283 batting average against, and only once since 2005 has that number been over .260 so it's possible that he could be a wee bit stingier with the base knocks the rest of the way.

Admittedly there is no way to know exactly where Haren's body is at, but I'd still profess faith in his ability to get batters out. You can't expect the 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP guy from last season, but he should still be an above average option on the bump, especially in a 15-team league.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.