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Schwartz answers fans' fantasy questions

Schwartz answers fans' fantasy questions

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Fans had many questions for MLB's fantasy baseball guru Cory Schwartz during Tuesday's chat, especially regarding relief pitching, speed and outfielders. Below is a complete transcript.

jwcm: I have been offered a trade of Jonathan Broxton for Rajai Davis. In a vacuum, which side do you like better? Thanks for your insight!

Schwartz: Davis is flying up the draft boards this year due to his SB potential and spring power surge. Broxton, on the other hand, has not been sharp this spring and is very risky after his awful second half last year. There's risk to both of them, but Davis looks like the better choice.

jwcm: Will Starlin Castro be a superstar?

Schwartz: The scouting community seems to think so, but I don't think he will be this year for fantasy purposes. He'll hit for AVG, but hits too many ground balls to be a power source, and while he has speed, he's not a good baserunner. From a fantasy viewpoint, I think he's overrated this year.

lisandro78: Hola. Cual es tu opinion de jugadores como Jake Fox (C Baltimore), Brandon Wood (3B Anaheim), Michael Morse (OF Washington), Mark Trumbo (1B Anaheim) jugaran dia a dia?

Schwartz: Hola! Wood has washed out many times, you can ignore him. Fox has legit power and several routes to playing time, but is limited offensively and defensively. Trumbo should play regularly while Kendrys Morales is out, and has good power and a little speed. I think the situation with Kendrys may linger a while, so Trumbo has value in deeper and AL-only leagues. All that said, Morse is the one to watch here. He has legit power, is eligible at two positions and not only won the LF job in Washington, the club got rid of his competition entirely (traded Nyjer Morgan, sent Roger Bernadina to Triple-A). He should be a good, cheap power source this year, but won't help much in the other categories.

jjjur: What should I make of Trumbo's chances this season, especially once Morales comes back? Do you see him sticking around in the lineup?

Schwartz: OK, let's expand on that. ... The timetable on Kendrys' return keeps getting pushed back, and if the ankle problem lingers all year, Trumbo could stick. However, keep in mind that the Angels are already experimenting with an all-MI infield of Kendrick (1B), Izturis (2B), Aybar (SS) and Callaspo (3B), so Trumbo doesn't appear to be a long-term solution.

Chippchipp: If I had to keep one of these five relievers on my fantasy team, which one should it be -- Daniel Bard, Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams, Tyler Clippard or Matt Capps?

Schwartz: It depends on needs, but Capps is the most likely to get a meaningful number of saves this year. Joe Nathan was not sharp during Spring Training, so Capps could get plenty of save chances in the early going, and would own the job if Nathan had to go back to the DL. Adams and Bard could also get saves, but are behind much more stable closers.

toddinstl: Which reliever do you predict will finish the season with the most saves for the Toronto Blue Jays?

Schwartz: Probably Francisco, because of his previous closer experience and excellent strikeout ability. Rauch should do fine as a stand-in, but he is viewed as a setup guy and has said he prefers that role, and Dotel's struggles against lefties will preclude him from many save chances. FF should be the leader by default.

sturmtank: Hello. What do you think about Grady Sizemore? Will he bounce back?

Schwartz: I'm not encouraged by the slow pace of his recovery and the lack of successful returns by players with comparable injuries. Let's not forget that I had as many HRs last season as Grady did, and he had 128 more at-bats than I did!

punksroo: What are your thoughts on B.J. Upton for 2011?

Schwartz: Upton had 18 homers and 42 steals last year despite batting only .237. He doesn't make good enough contact to hit for a high average, but if his work with Rod Carew this winter pays off and he hits even .260, he could hit 25 homers and steal 50 bags. I took him in the third round in NFBC (43rd overall) and expect big things.

notnick: Lots of OF prospects are now in the Minors. Which third outfielders to you recommend as fifth fantasy outfielders?

Schwartz: Two to watch are Seth Smith of the Rockies and Matt Joyce of the Rays. Both of them struggle against lefties and might be platooned somewhat, but both have big-time power and should hit 20 to 25 HRs even if they only get about 400 ABs each.

sbraway: Who will be getting the most save chances for Tampa Bay?

Schwartz: I've been saying all winter that Joel Peralta is the one to watch here. He, Kyle Farnsworth and Jake McGee will share the job until J.P. Howell returns, but even then Howell may be brought along slowly, and manager Joe Maddon has talked about working McGee into the full-time closer role slowly. Farnsworth has had the job before and lost it. That leaves Peralta, who figured out lefties last year and was dominant. I think he'll approach 20 saves this year.

wiggyfiggy: Kevin Gregg gets over 25 saves with Baltimore. True or false?

Schwartz: True. He's not very good by MLB reliever standards, but every year he seems to find a way to hang on to the job. Koji Uehara and Michael Gonzalez should also get their share of save chances, but if Gregg doesn't implode, I think he'll sneak past the over in the waning days of the season.

Joeyt2: Think Figgins is a good enough replacement for Utley while he's injured?

Schwartz: He'll contribute in SBs, and the AVG should rebound back into the .280s, but of course he's not a power guy, and I don't think he'll score many runs given the sad state of Seattle's lineup. He's a worthwhile fill-in if you need speed and have enough power elsewhere.

bilyjoe: Do you think Josh Beckett will rebound this year?

Schwartz: Assuming health, he should post his usual ERA in the mid/upper 3.00s with a lot of strikeouts and wins, thanks to the potent Red Sox offense. He hasn't been particularly effective this spring, but spring stats don't count, and the 16-4 K-BB ratio is encouraging. He's worth a look, but don't overpay.

THECLIP: Who would you rate higher? Pagan or Rajai Davis?

Schwartz: Very similar, but Rajai gets the nod based on having the more favorable lineup spot, league and home ballpark. Never mind the fact that he could top 50 SBs this year while Pagan is more of the ~35 type, not that that's bad.

busterbose: In a keeper league, seventh overall pick, is Crawford too risky and lacking the high-end power to choose over an established bat like Votto or Cabrera? Any other outfielder you would take at seven over Crawford?

Schwartz: Crawford should be the first OF off the board, keeper league or otherwise. He's one of the most consistent and reliable players in fantasy, he's gradually getting better each year and now he's going to bat third in what should be one of the top two or three offenses in baseball, if not THE best. I'll say this 'til my last breath: Keeper league or not, pick the players who give you the best chance of winning right now.

shbates: Corey, who do you think has better numbers this year, Mike Morse or Freddie Freeman?

Schwartz: Hi, no "E," my parents couldn't afford it! Joke... Anyway, I'd take Morse for the power upside, though Freeman probably has more job security and is more likely to have a worthwhile AVG. But if I could only take one, it would be Morse.

hoffm: I need some speed, and I've been offered Pagan for Carlos Lee. Good deal?

Schwartz: Very fair deal. I'm a big believer in Pagan, and while I think Carlos Lee will bounce back somewhat this year, Pagan's overall value is greater. And if you need speed, that's a ~30 SB upgrade, which certainly helps!

punksroo: Will the Rays' McGee get save opportunities this year?

Schwartz: See above. I think McGee will get a handful of chances, but talks of him seizing the job outright are very premature. He has very, very little MLB experience, never mind working in the ninth inning of a one-run game against the Yankees or Red Sox, and he's essentially a one-pitch pitcher right now. It's a heck of a pitch, but let's give him some time.

latebite: Best SP flyer -- Carrasco, Hammel, McClellan, McCarthy -- and your thoughts.

Schwartz: I like Hammel and Carrasco from that bunch. Hammel has the Ks and ground balls to survive Coors, and with some positive regression from last year's unlucky hit and strand rates, should post an ERA below 4.00 with strong Ks. Carrasco has been awful this spring, but that's a buying opportunity. ... He's a very solid prospect with solid K/BB numbers and also gets plenty of ground balls.

Joeyt2: What do you think about Pedro Alvarez this season? Think he'll do OK as my starting 3B?

Schwartz: Depends on the depth of your league, but in any mixed league of 10 or more teams, he should be fine. He's very strikeout prone and hasn't proven he can hit lefties yet, so he might go through some painful slumps. But the power is legit, and I love the RBI chances he'll get hitting behind Tabata, Walker and McCutchen. Does .255-30-100 work for you?

toddinstl: Does it bother you when people misspell your name even when it's printed on the screen in front of them?

Schwartz: Ha ha, no. I've been called a lot worse than "Corey," so I don't mind.

Chippchipp: Should I draft Pablo Sandoval or Mark Reynolds for third base?

Schwartz: Reynolds is tough to value. If he hits .230, he'll be extremely valuable for the 30+ homers and double-digit steals, but if he hits .199, he'll destroy your AVG even if you have Pujols, Ichiro AND Braun. Sandoval's true level is somewhere between last year and 2009, but I think he bounces back to go .300-20-90 this year, making him a much safer pick than Reynolds.

wiggyfiggy: R, TB, RBI, SB, OBP are the categories in my roto league. Which catcher should I drop: Yadier Molina or Jarrod Saltalamacchia?

Schwartz: Saltalamacchia has my favorite nickname in MLB -- "pits" (think about it) -- but I'm very skeptical about his ability to hit MLB pitching. Yadier is nothing great but has a regular job, and his value is fairly well established. Keep him, drop Pits.

velve: No real question, just wanted to say thanks for all the past and future questions answered! You rock!

Schwartz: You are very kind, thanks!

sbraway: Over or under 40 steals for Crawford in the No. 3 hole?

Schwartz: Over. I think the Red Sox will be a track meet this year with a top three of Ellsbury, Pedroia and Crawford, regardless of the order. Don't forget that Ellsbury stole 70 (!) bases two years ago. This is a running team, and they have the burners.

Ghick: What can we expect from Carlos Pena as a Cub? Will he do something about the black hole for AVG, or will his power make you forget about it?

Schwartz: We'll have to see how he adjusts to the new league, but anything more than a .220 to .230 average is optimistic based on his poor contact and line-drive rates. Still, he should top 30 homers and play good defense at 1B, so I think the Cubs will take that on a one-year deal.

cozzolino: Are you ready for our draft tonight? NS

Schwartz: I'm psyched! Fantasy 411 listener league draft at 10 p.m. ET tonight. Twelve-team mixed, can't wait!

315rick: Looking for a CI late in a 14-team league. Who do you take: B. Wallace, K. Ka'aihue or B. Belt?

Schwartz: Belt appears to have made the team and is a top prospect, so I would take him. Wallace has not impressed me so far in the upper Minors or MLB and is in a very poor lineup, and Kila has big-time power but very little job security with Hosmer coming up fast behind him. Belt could be NL RoY this year.

latebite: In keeper league, who's the best stash for impact midseason and beyond: Hosmer, Lawrie, Minor, Banuelos, Britton?

Schwartz: All things being equal, take the bat, so that's Eric Hosmer. If Kila gets off to a slow start and Hosmer is hitting in Triple-A, and there's no reason to think he won't, he could be up by the end of May.

hoffm: Can James McDonald be a factor in 10-team mixed leagues this year?

Schwartz: Probably not in 10-team leagues, but with his rising strikeout rate, it's possible. However, he still walks too many for my tastes, and I'm not sure he'll get enough offensive or bullpen support to win more than 10 to 12 games. Bright future, but too early for shallow leagues.

weeman24: Which two will get the most saves this year -- Fuentes, McGee, Contreras, Gregerson? Any of them have a chance at 20? My other RPs are Perez, Kimbrel, Rodney.

Schwartz: I doubt any get close to 20, but I'd give Fuentes the best shot at 10+. Bailey hasn't even started throwing again yet, so I don't think he'll be back until at least late April/early May, and the A's should be a good enough team to present Fuentes plenty of save chances by then. He's the one to get, and don't be afraid to cut Rodney if he struggles early. Saves aside, he's just not very good.

Schwartz: OK, folks, let's take this up to noon or until the questions run out, so if you have more to ask, get them in now!

toddinstl: What are your thoughts on Jorge De La Rosa?

Schwartz: My Fantasy 411 compadre Mike Siano is a big fan, and I'm coming around on him, too. He gets excellent strikeout numbers, his ground-ball rate is increasing and he's holding the walks steady if not improving. I doubt he'll be a star, but he could be a very solid No. 3 in vanilla mixed leagues.

dmestre210: Is Chris Young (P) a good fill-in for Latos' DL stint? Trying to find quality arm in a big ballpark. C. Richard also available, but who wants to play it safe?

Schwartz: I'm not a fan of Young. Citi Field should help protect from his EXTREME fly-ball tendencies, but he has no velocity left, so I doubt he'll enjoy much success this year. I'd rather pick up Richard and start him only in home games; he had a 3.15 ERA at PETCO last year!

cozzolino: Please rank these "second tier" closers: Valverde, Thornton, K-Rod, J. Nathan, H. Street. Thanks.

Schwartz: I like them in this order: Thornton (K rate and ability to handle righties means he could crack top tier this year), K-Rod, Valverde, Street, Nathan. If K-Rod is healthy, there's no reason to think he won't be back to his top-10 ways this year, too.

jkhl: Thoughts on Brett Anderson?

Schwartz: Big fan. Doesn't have great strikeout numbers, but he's an extreme ground-ball pitcher and doesn't give up walks. If he stays healthy -- and he finished very strong last year, so let's assume he does -- he's a very strong #2/3 SP in vanilla leagues. The A's offense is better this year, too, so don't rule out 15+ wins for him.

dannimal: Hedging for LaRoche, would you take Freeman or Belt?

Schwartz: Belt... see above. If he makes the team, and it appears he has, he becomes the Opening Day favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

wiggyfiggy: I kept Werth in my fantasy auction league. How bad does his value fall off with his move to the Nats?

Schwartz: He's always done much better at Citizens Bank Park than on the road, so no doubt the venue change hurts him, but not as much as you might think. He's not really a .300 hitter to begin with (think .275 or so), he has the power to hit 30 pretty much anywhere and if he does bat second all season as Riggleman plans for now, he could get back into the 20-steal range. He'll produce plenty of value again this year.

hermPA11: What is going to come of Chris Davis in 2011? Any chance he is more than a AAA stock?

Schwartz: I'm not a big fan. He'll likely be traded somewhere and get a fresh start, but who knows how long that will take? Worth a late-round flier in keeper leagues, but that's about it for now.

shbates: Jhoulys Chacin or Eric Bedard?

Schwartz: We know two things about Erik Bedard: 1. He is always effective when healthy; and 2. He is rarely healthy. He's had a big spring, but with a total of 164 IP over the past THREE years, it's hard to get too excited right now. Chacin, on the other hand, struck out a batter an inning last year and looks like a rising star. I'd rather take his upside over the gamble that Bedard stays healthy for more than seven minutes.

Speed round coming up in 3... 2... 1... NOW.

toddinstl: Who's in line for saves if Brian Wilson stays on the DL for an extended period of time?

Schwartz: Romo.

toddinstl: Are you concerned about Cueto's injury, or do you think he is still a potential breakout candidate?

Schwartz: Yes I am, but I do like his potential if healthy.

Chippchipp: Which of these pitchers should I pick up for my fantasy team: Edwin Jackson, Jair Jurrjens, Johnny Cueto, J.A. Happ or Jonathon Niese?

Schwartz: E-Jax, much better after coming to Chicago last year. Still improving.

Ghick: Haven't heard many talk about Andrew Cashner. Think he is worth a flier at SP?

Schwartz: Big Cubs fan, I see. Excellent prospect, but let's see if he can throw enough strikes to survive in the rotation. Worth a flier, though.

gmanesq: Who do you like more: Davis, Niese, Beachy, Harang or Hammel?

Schwartz: Hammel on K and GB rates. See above for more.

sbraway: Out of Oakland's top three starters, who do I need to target the most?

Schwartz: I like them in this order: Anderson, Gio, Cahill. Cahill put up big Ks in the Minors but needs to do that in the Majors now, too.

hoffm: Hey, no need to post this in the chat, but you and Mike are the best fantasy resources out there. Thanks for all the advice and entertainment. I'm a loyal audio podcast listener (and, as you may remember from my constant pestering, a frequent tweeter). Thanks.

Schwartz: C'mon, OF COURSE I'm going to post that! Thanks!

pacifickid: Hey Cory, dynasty trade question: My Tyler Flowers/Anthony Ranaudo for their Derek Holland/Donavan Tate. ... Do I do the deal?

Schwartz: Yes. Holland should help now and down the road.

Chippchipp_2: I have Jonathan Papelbon, so should I trade him now? Bard could take over as closer.

Schwartz: Trade any player if you can get fair value or better by doing so. But, that said, I'm not worried about Papelbon losing his job.

Chippchipp_2: Is Juan Uribe or Omar Infante a better choice to be my starting shortstop?

Schwartz: Very different players. Uribe has good power but terrible AVG, while Infante will help AVG and runs. What do you need?

velve: Another closing pitcher question: Who is best short-term and who rest of season? (We get holds, too.) Romo, Rauch, Farnsworth, Gregg?

Schwartz: Romo should have the best combination of short-term saves, long-term holds and strong ratios. The others are scary in their individual ways.

315rick: Manny Ramirez, does he bounce back? What are his numbers going to be?

Schwartz: Depends on how many at-bats he gets, but expecting any more than 400 or so is a mistake.

joeytip1: Which Boston SS would you rather have, Lowrie or Scutaro?

Schwartz: Scutaro is actually a little underrated, and may hold the job longer than people think. But Lowrie should get plenty of at-bats all over the field and will play regularly in case of any injuries.

Last one...

shbates: Thanks Cory, You guys do an awesome job.

Schwartz: OK, one more...

latebite: Pretty deep in OF with Tabata McLouth as my 4/5. Could either Crisp or Venable be better than Nate? Points league where SBs count heavily.

Schwartz: Crisp has the highest SB upside of the group; he had 32 SB in 75 games last year, and if he stays healthy (big IF), should rack 'em up this year. McLouth is a good bounceback candidate, though, and Venable should provide 30 or more SBs now that he's the full-time leadoff hitter. You have the depth to make a trade!

That's all for today, thanks for all the great questions... Sorry if I missed yours, but post them on Twitter for me (@schwartzstops) or Mike Siano (@fantasy411), and we'll get to them over there. Also -- shameless plug time -- tune in for the Fantasy 411 every day on MLB Network starting on Monday, April 4.

Good luck with everyone's drafts, and enjoy Opening Day! Happy baseball!

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