Here is Part II of my daring look at the 2010 Meekrats fantasy baseball team (mostly it’s just a helpful reminder for 2011). It’s the epic conclusion that people around the world have been waiting for. So, without further delay, let’s introduce the pitching portion of my roster.
Let’s look at the arms that carried me to the Fantasy Promised Land in 2010.
Cliff Lee, SP [TEX] – Acquired via trade, 2009 (Chone Figgins for Cliff Lee)
This could be the savviest move for my fantasy team. The manager who I traded Figgins to was in need of stolen bases and I was in need of some arms. Ultimately, the manager I traded to ended up winning the league and finishing 3rd in stolen bases (I still finished first, thank you very much). However, I picked up the premier arm for the second half of 2009 and a man who has been pitching lights-out for a contract for two seasons now.
If you’re not aware of the dominance of Cliff Lee, allow me to educate you:
After I picked him up during the Break of ’09, Lee went on to go 10-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 104.2 innings. He struck out 88 and only walked 10 in 104.2 innings pitched. Pretty good.
Let’s see how he topped that ’10.
His final line for the 2010 season was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 212.1 innings. He struck out a career high 185 batters and walked 18 batters. 18! His WHIP on the year sat at an even 1.00.
Right now I am watching him absolutely own the Rays in the ALDS. He just struck out his 11th batter in the bottom of the ninth. It brings a tear to my eye.
Now that’s a pitcher.
Roy Oswalt, SP [PHI] – Acquired via draft, 2008
When healthy, Oswalt demonstrates why he’s a top-flight arm. His bulldog mentality and downright filthy slider, coupled with a mid-90’s fastball make Oswalt a pleasure to watch and own on a fantasy team. Being traded to Philadelphia invigorated him like his predecessor, Cliff Lee. This led to Oswalt’s best K/9 (8.51) and ERA (2.76) since his rookie season. He was aided by a low.261 BAbip, but anyone who watched Oswalt pitch before and then after his trade to Philadelphia could tell that playing the end of his career with a contender is going to help him extend his National League dominance up ’til the end.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP [COL] – Acquired via draft, 2008
Before Jimenez lit the world on fire with whispers of a 30 win season, he was a promising pitcher with trending stats who worked in a less than desirable pitching environment. Jimenez has improved his control as of late (BB/9 – 3.5/3.7, ’09/’10 v. 4.1/4.9, ’07/’08), which has translated to around an extra strikeout per 9 (K/9 – 8.2/8.7, ’09/’10 v. 7.5/7.8, ’07/’08).
He slumped hard during the dog days of June and July this summer, posting an ERA of around 5.21 over that two month span, but settled down and showed that he could keep it together by finishing the year strong. When I needed it the most, he finished with a 3.30 ERA and 88 K’s over his last 80 innings pitched.
Brandon Morrow, SP-RP [TOR] – Acquired via draft, 2008
I have nicknamed Brandon Morrow ‘Perses’, the Greek God of destruction because that’s what he’s capable of when it comes to other teams’ lineups. If that doesn’t stick, those Grecians need to come up with a name for the Greek God of strikeouts, because Morrow is it. His stuff has always been electric, however, beginning his career mismanaged by Seattle and them bouncing him from the bullpen to starter and then back to the bullpen again didn’t do his arm any any favors.
Toronto recognized this mismanagement and clearly had a plan in place for Morrow when they traded Brandon League and a player to be named later to Seattle for him last year. Now pitching the unfavorable AL East, Morrow survived his first year in Toronto with a 4.49 ERA. However, the number that really jumps out at you in Morrow’s 178 strikeouts over 146.1 innings in ’10, capped by an August 8th 1-hitter against the Rays in which he posted the following line:
He is a high-end pitching prospect that has clearly demonstrated his potential. Now I just need to hope that he can produce consistent results. And rain destruction down upon opposing lineups.
John Lackey, SP [BOS] – Acquired via trade, July 23, 2010 (Jason Bay/Billy Wagner for Garrett Jones/John Lackey)
He may be the same age as Cliff Lee, but that’s about as far as you’ll get with a comparison like that. John Lackey is an incredibly unsexy pick in both fantasy baseball and real life.
Over the course of his career, he hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been fantastic either (other than ’07. That was a pretty solid year). Lackey is more name at this point in his career than he is stats, but that’s not to say that he can’t prove valuable. Over the last month of the season, Lackey threw 39 innings, struck out 35, and posted an unseasonably low WHIP of 1.02.
While Lackey only made a handful of starts for me down the stretch, his arm was healthy and 5 out of his 6 last starts were quality starts (unfortunately that only translated into 2 W’s).
Lackey’s one of those guys who, when you have him on your roster, there are moments when you realize why, but pitching in that brutal AL East provided Lackey with fewer of those moments in 2010.
DL Jake Peavy, SP [CWS] – Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)
I don’t want to comment much on Jake Peavy. I miss him too much. And by ‘him’ I mean ‘Peavy’s monster fantasy numbers’ that vaporized less than a season after I traded for him. When he was healthy, he was a top-flight starting candidate (240 K’s in 223.1 IP back in ’07. Jeez.) But since his leg problems as well as his latissimus dorsi flapping in the wind like a towel on a clothesline, he hasn’t even been close to approaching what he once was.
Mike Gonzalez, RP [BAL] – Acquired via draft, 2008
His arm troubles have haunted him these past few seasons. He’ll be looking for work in fantasy baseball next season, unless the status quo in Baltimore changes between now and then.
Matt Capps, RP [MIN] – Acquired via draft, 2008
5th in the league in saves (42). His status on my roster could be in jeopardy depending on how things with Joe Nathan and Minnesota go this off season.
Andrew Bailey, RP [OAK] – Acquired via waiver wire, 2009
Example 1 as to why you don’t pay for saves. Claimed off the wire because of the Oakland closing fiasco at the beginning of ’09, Bailey posted a sub 1.00 WHIP (.959), a 1.47 ERA, and 25 saves (one less than last season) in half the innings (49).
Now let’s look at example 2…
Chris Perez, RP [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 14, 2010
Joel Hanrahan, RP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire, July 28, 2010
Hong-Chih Kuo, RP [LAD] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 6, 2010
Koji Uehara, RP-SP [BAL] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 26, 2010
Hisanori Takahashi, RP-SP [NYM] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 17, 2010
2010 Biggest Regret – Not moving on Mat Latos.
Mat Latos was released on May 4th after a tepid start to the season. Latos was high on everyone’s prospect lists at the beginning of the year, but had yet to show the brilliance oft assigned to him. But, just like in economics, you need to beat the market. While you’re thinking, someone is doing. While I himmed and hawed about whether Latos was worth a flier or not, someone jumped aboard the Latos train. By the end of ’10, Latos only finished with a final line of 2.92/189/1.08 (ERA/K/WHIP) over 184.2 innings.
2010 Best Billy Beane Moves – Take a deep breath. Claiming Chris Perez, Joel Hanrahan, Hong-Chih Kuo, Koji Uehara, and Hisanori Takahashi all off of the waiver wire.
Those five players are why you N-E-V-E-R pay for saves. All those players, claimed off the wire, combined for 62 saves this season.
Perez was actually on my roster at the start of the ’10 season because I didn’t think Wood’s arm would hold up, but when it looked like Wood had a solid hold on the job, I made room for another arm, before finally claiming him again off waivers a week or two before Wood was shipped to New York. That makes Forrest Gump’s story sound simple.
I picked up Kuo because he had downright filthy numbers as a RP across four categories, but he just wasn’t putting up the saves. And then Jonathan Broxton imploded, leaving Kuo in the driver’s seat for saves down the stretch. If you haven’t picked up on the theme of this portion of my review, it’s that you don’t have to draft saves. At some point during the year, the setup guy or a flaming hot reliever (hello, Evan Meek) is going to get a crack at saves somewhere. I use Eric Karabell’s fantasy list of closers and next in line, and add all of the setup guys to my watch list at the beginning of the year. Sometimes you’ll miss out and end up with guys like Ryan Perry. He stands out in my mind as a whiffer in 2010 because I picked him up and was treated to a grandslam in his first outing. He never recorded a save before I dropped him. But other times, you’re going to hit. And that’s where you should really be digging for those saves.
Koji Uehara was my handcuff for Mike Gonzalez. Without save value, Gonzalez probably won’t repeat with the Meekrats for the 2011 season.
I’m hoping Pittsburgh is happy with Evan Meek in the setup role and will keep Hanrahan and his outrageous strikeout numbers. Hanrahan finished second on the Buccos as he struck out 100 batters… in 69.1 innings. That was 1/3 of the innings that team leader in K’s Paul Mahalom (102 K’s) threw in 2010. Clearly the upside is there.
Takahashi was a speculative pickup that paid tremendous dividends once K-Rod decided to beat the bejeezus out of his father-in-law.
All-in-all, I feel that I managed the hell out of my pitching staff and maximized the waiver wire about as much as I could.