Roto Riteup: April 23, 2013

The Coca-Cola Company released “new Coke” on this day 28 years ago. Having visited Atlanta earlier this year and also having a very good friend from Atalanta, Coke is more than just a pop to some. The author has been asked by said friend “Would you like a Coke? We have about five different kinds” which is received with a head tilt and quizzical look from the author. Apparently Coke can be an  interchangeable term with all pop down there. And if you refer to pop as  “soda” well then that is just awful.

On today’s agenda:
1. Josh Donaldson‘s early start
2. A useful Chicago Cubs reliever
3. More playing time for Devin Mesoraco

Josh Donaldson‘s early start
At the time of writing, Josh Donaldson is just one of seven third base eligible players to reach double digits in both runs and RBIs. Arbitrary cutoffs aside, Donaldson has shown value at a position where injuries have derailed the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Alex Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez, and Hanley Ramirez. Donaldson won’t put the up the same type of numbers to be a full replacement of those injured players, but he does have eight extra-base hits including two home runs. A slight downside is that he has been hitting all over the lineup so RBI chances aren’t guaranteed to come along as frequently as being locked in the clean up spot. That being said, the A’s have the fourth best team on-base percentage in baseball. Where he hits isn’t as important as the fact that he is getting the playing time to hit. Donaldson is freely available in over 60% of CBS formats, 75% of ESPN leagues, and almost 90% of Yahoo! leagues. If you are hurting at third base playing Donaldson is a worthwhile option.

A useful Chicago Cubs reliever

So the Cubs have a bottom 10 bullpen in terms of both ERA and FIP. Time to avoid Cubs relievers, other than the closer, right? Not necessarily. Besides the usual small sample size caveats this time of year, James Russell‘s current pitching triple slash is 0.00 ERA/1.08 FIP/2.35 xFIP.  He has tallied nine strikeouts against one walk and has a 10.05 K/9. He has been very fortunate in terms of the BABIP/LOB% and HR/FB% side of things, however he is pitching very well to begin with. Prior to yesterday’s 1.1 innings, his 12.5% SwStr% went along nicely with his 36.8% strikeout rate. Regression is expected of course, however thus far Russell has proved his worth in holds leagues.

He has three holds and the same number of shut downs and his recent outings have come in the late innings — and not just in a LOOGY role. Russell leads the Cubs in relief appearances and as long as his numbers hold up even decently well, he makes for a useful reliever. His velocity won’t blown anyone away, however he mixes his uninspiring 88 mph fastball with a solid slider and a show-me change-up. If you are looking for holds, grab Russell until he melts down. It is the author’s personal philosophy to generally punt saves in head-to-head leagues and only pay for one closer in roto leagues. Making use of the waiver wire to find up-and-coming relievers being used in high leverage situations is preferable to blowing a large amount of the budge or an early/mid round pick on a shaky closer. As is with most middle relievers, Russell is widely available.

More playing time for Devin Mesoraco
Devin Mesoraco will step into the starters role in the wake of the Cincinnati Reds placing Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list. Presently Mesoraco is hitting .281 with an even 6:6 K/BB ratio. He is yet to hit a home run this year, but playing half of his games in a very favorable park for right-handed hitters, the dingers will come with time. He slugged five home runs in not even 200 PA’s last season so the power is there for more long balls to come with more playing time. If he hits and receives well enough in Hanigans stead, Mesoraco could wrestle more playing time away from the veteran. For those of you in two catcher leagues, Mesoraco is ownabled as long as Hanigan is out. You can find Mesoraco available in over 90% of the three major fantasy websites.




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20 Responses to “Roto Riteup: April 23, 2013”

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  1. ML says:

    Dale would be doing your fantasy team a service letting russel pitch only to lefties

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    • Ender says:

      It is hard to say. Last year and so far this year he handled righties as well as lefties. The sample size is small enough it is hard to tell if this is a new found skill or a fluke though.

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      • David Wiers says:

        We’re still easily withing the SSS realm of not just this season, but his entire career. In 2010 and 2011 he was torched by righties, but as Ender said (and I failed to address in the article), Russell has been very good against right-handed hitters last and this season.

        So, I guess we’ll see. I haven’t watched many Cubs games to see Russell, however. Maybe a Cubs fan can weigh in on this.

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  2. Daniel says:

    It says soda right on the bottle on some brands

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    • yaboynate says:

      Some brands of Coke? Which kinds?

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    • shibboleth says:

      “Pop” is basically unheard of in my NY/NJ/CT tri-state area. It’s a familiar term for one’s father, but not much else.

      What is meant by a “show me” change?

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      • David Wiers says:

        That’s curious. I call my dad pops sometimes, but I would never call my carbonated beverage soda.

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      • David Wiers says:

        And a “show-me” change-up (or any pitch for that matter) that is sparsely used. It is there, but is more or less a pitch just to be seen.

        Russell throws his FB or SL over 85% of the time. He does use his change-up relatively often against right-handed hitters, however, as one would expect.

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      • Giovani says:

        Originally from the Midwest and grew up saying “pop,” but I’ve been outside the region for the last decade. Everybody I know who still lives in those parts says pop, and every time I hear it I cringe a little on the inside. Especially with those hard Midwestern vowels, getting harder the further you get from the cities.

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      • Man, I hope there’s no pop quiz on this.

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  3. ZK says:

    Great stuff as usual, David. I’m in a one catcher league and own Jesus Montero, who is becoming increasingly frustrating. Would you suggest picking up Mesoraco (bench spots are limited though) in case Montero continues to struggle? What do you think the likelihood of Mesoraco outproducing Montero is?

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    • David Wiers says:

      Montero will have more playing time than Mesoraco overall, but in the short term, if you were to drop Montero, I doubt anyone would scoop him up. I would make the swap and grab Mesoraco.

      For me, in one catcher leagues — and sometimes even two catcher — I punt catcher and stream. Guys like Gattis will come along and crush the ball for a few weeks, then I’ll swap him out and go with Jaso. Maybe I’ll drop Jaso in a few weeks and pick up Iannetta, etc.

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  4. Darren says:

    David, I have Gyorko and he isnt fairing well, I have rickie weeks available, should I jump on weeks??

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    • David Wiers says:

      As long as it isn’t a keeper league where you have Gyorko cheap, yes.

      Weeks is off to another slow start again thanks to a 32% strikeout rate and a very poor 69% contact rate. I think Weeks will be fine in the long run. Expect at least a 15-15 season with 80+ runs scored from Weeks.

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      • Darren says:

        Thanks!! Nope, not a keeper league. How long should I sit and wait on Adam Dunn? will he pull through??

        Your a big help, thanks!!

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      • David Wiers says:

        Dunn is such a tough case. I have him rated at 6 dollars in an OBP league and 2 in a regular 5×5 format.

        Do you have a lot of guys with high average to offset him? His power is still there, as evidenced by his three dingers, but he has been a disaster otherwise. I would put him on the bench until he begins to turn it around, as a sub .200 batting average just torpedo’s almost any fantasy squad.

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      • Giovani says:

        No longer.

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  5. Jon says:

    Dear Fangraphs,

    You’re adding so much quality content every day that sometimes articles posted that very day (e.g., this one) get pushed right off the home page. Please fix! (My suggestion would be to write fewer good articles, but perhaps there’s a nerdy tech solution out there as well.)

    Thank you,
    Jon L.

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    • jimbo says:

      I second that.

      When the team-by-team reviews (rotation, infield, outfield) were being churned out I couldn’t keep up with the other articles that came out in between…

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    • David Wiers says:

      IF you have any questions regarding a specific team/lineup/player, I’d be happy to try and address em in the comments section.

      Or we could just writer fewer good articles! Haha, thanks for the feedback.

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