Back To The Game

Writing about painful things is never fun.

It can be useful catharsis, of course; but the last couple of years for the Texas Rangers didn’t feel like necessary dues-paying or “part of the process”…my impression was that the Rangers zigged when they should have zagged. They took the wrong turn at Albuquerque. They missed the last plane to Lisbon. And so on. That is to say, I felt they wound up where they were by making some bad choices, not necessarily as the part of the normal decline of a good team.

And so, everything I tried to write was negative. I couldn’t focus on the positive, because I felt that half the problems were self-inflicted wounds. Covering things from that point of view just ends up starting fights; fights I really wasn’t interested in. And then going into this season, as I saw the Rangers revamp their pitching program from the ground up, and saw real results from changing batting coaches and instruction, and saw Texas finally embrace technology and advanced analysis, I saw real reason for hope.

Ironically, this time a large percentage of the fanbase wasn’t engaged in optimism. A lot of people still think that the Rangers will never win again without a Front Office tear-down. Or specifically, without a Jon Daniels tear-down, as the entire rest of the Front Office is new at this point.

But I’M optimistic, dammit, and I’m writing this, and what we need now is a sign from the baseball gods that everything is gonna be alright.

Yesterday, Josh Hamilton suddenly showed up in Central Texas. Sober, clean, melancholic? Yes. And being a father to his softball playing girls.

He’s back because it’s time…or rather enough time has passed.

His knees feel fine, but he wants to be with his girls.

He could still DH. Dear Lord, we all KNOW he could still DH. And he knows it. But he wants to be with his girls.

He misses playing baseball. He never watched it much, but finds himself watching games sometimes. While he’s taking care of his girls.

He misses being that Josh Hamilton, and he knows that WE miss him being that Josh Hamilton.

But he wants to take care of his girls.

Stay clean. Stay sober. Take care of his girls. Take care of himself. Be a contributing member of the community. That’s his mantra.

On August 17th, he’ll be back at Globe Life Park/The Ballpark in Arlington, a place he helped make important every bit as much as Nolan Ryan, Rafael Palmeiro, and Adrian Beltre. And Yu Darvish, Elvis Andrus, Joey Gallo, and all your favorite Rangers. Josh Hamilton will become a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame, an award he surely deserves…one of the greatest Rangers to ever play the game.

He's back now because maybe it’s just time. Time to be a part of the game again? I guess we’ll see. Time to be honored by his peers, certainly. Time to be loved by his fans again; pretty sure that’s gonna happen. Time because the Rangers, for the first time since Hamilton left after the 2012 season, have another Josh Hamilton in Center Field.

Time because the Rangers are alright, now. And Josh is alright, now.

May the baseball gods smile on both.

Welcome back.

joshhamilton.jpg

When Do You Blame The Coach?

A week ago, the Texas Rangers bullpen had been performing in a very iffy manner, and Sam Dyson was atrocious in the "closer" role.

No one mentioned Brad Holman as the problem.

The Rangers offense has been consistently inconsistent; running up the score in one game, looking completely ineffective in the next.

There has been no outrage over Anthony Iapoce, the Hitting Coach.  Except for a couple of guys who have been grumbling about him since he was hired.

Bullpen management has been a mess, and there have been some concerns about Left Field and First Base playing time.

Manager Jeff Banister has been criticized fairly heavily, but to be somewhat fair he's not doing anything differently than in previous years.

Beyond the usual suspects, there hasn't been too much muttering about Pitching Coach Doug Brocail.  Until he was asked for some comments about the surprising and unexpected pull of Yu Darvish in a game against Oakland.

"The 1st 5 innings he got away w/ a lot of stuff. He didn’t pitch in at all. I was ready for him to come out."

Darvish was pulled by Banister without any mound visits, without any signalling, and without any significant communication between Catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Pitcher Darvish.  After an 8 pitch walk to Yonder Alonso, which went to a full count and featured three foul offs by Alonso, Brocail informed Banister "(he) had seen enough."  There was never an attempt to communicate, according to Brocail, because Darvish hadn't adhered to the "game plan" of pitching inside.  Banister, for his part, said Darvish was pulled without warning because "He was brilliant, then got behind hitters. As good as he looked through five, the sixth just got extremely challenging on him."  This is a hard quote to take from Banister, who has repeatedly preached a philosophy of letting (other) pitchers get themselves out of jams, including the inability to find the strike zone.  Which, I will note, Darvish was still doing...just not as well.

These comments caused a minor storm of controversy after the game, most of which was anchored to Brocail's comments.  Doug Brocail came across as nit-picking Darvish's performance publicly, a huge no-no for coaches at the MLB level.  He seemed like a petulant teacher unhappy that a student had solved a problem using an alternative process, and furthermore punished the student for doing so.  Banister's comments indicated a Manager not actually in control of his team, seeking to blame his actions on his coach and the player.

Some have called for Brocail to be fired.  The inevitable response is that coaches don't actually do all that much, so firing Brocail wouldn't actually accomplish anything.  This defense is predicated on the idea that the Pitching Coach isn't actually on the mound making pitches, and further doesn't have the power to make a pitcher throw the pitch the coach wants at any given time.  Or indeed any time.  This is true, of course.  Although, as we clearly see from the Darvish game, the Pitching Coach apparently has the ability to bypass normal routines and get the best starting pitcher on the staff pulled prematurely from a game.

As frustrated as many Rangers fans are, you're never going to get anywhere arguing with the beat writers, the team's news editors or PR people, the managers and coaches, or the front office.  Evan Grant, to pull a name at random, is never going to agree with you that Doug Brocail should be fired, unless Brocail does something so public, embarrassing, and possibly borderline illegal that Grant loses more credibility and readership by ignoring it.

Doug Brocail may not be back next year...I can't make a predictive statement on that yet.  The current Rangers management doesn't seem to like firing people mid-season, though.  In fact, I suspect Banister would be the first to go if any of the on-field staff get canned.  Banister's management choices have a much more obvious and direct impact on the games than Brocail's and Iapoce's.  You could even argue that the Rangers would be .500 or better except for choices made in-game by Jeff Banister.  You can't PROVE that, of course...but there is plenty of evidence to support the argument.

At the same time, Brocail and Iapoce can both make pretty good arguments that they, at least, are doing their job.  When the Rangers' bats work, they work gangbusters.  Rougned Odor still isn't on top of his game, but he HAS been more patient this year.  And just as with the Pitching Coach, Iapoce can't actually get on the field and tell Odor how to make every single swing, or tell him mid-at-bat to NOT swing at this pitch as it's coming toward him.  It's just not possible outside of video games.  And to be honest, if Darvish would have been pitching inside to Oakland hitters, maybe he would have had better results.  Personally I doubt it; Darvish has never had any luck challenging Oakland hitters.  It was pretty amazing to see him getting the outside edge calls that were requiring Oakland to swing at pitches they couldn't do much with.

But even saying all that, Brocail should still be in the hot seat.  I have no problem with his pitching philosophy, or his gruff attitude.  His comments and treatment of one of his players was out-of-line, though.  It was made worse by comparison with how other members of the pitching staff have been treated in similar situations.  You don't get accusations of insubordination against Cole Hamels, or Sam Dyson.  Or even Martin Perez.  Darvish, however, gets the typical rookie treatment of a short leash and needling comments.  You can bet that Brocail and Banister are just as frustrated when any of those pitchers have trouble, yet they neither get the same fast hook, nor the same comments.  This is inexplicable to me.

It has been stated repeatedly that this was a baffling move by Banister and Brocail.  A big part of that is because Brocail has been perceived as MORE open and communicative than Mike Maddux was.  Brocail can't make Darvish's pitches for him, but his job is to implement organizational philosophy and do his best to put each pitcher in a position to succeed in every game.  The comments Brocail made, and his part in pulling Darvish unexpectedly, do not further those goals, they work against them.

This is where Doug Brocail did screw up, and deserves some blame.  From my perspective anyway, either Darvish felt he could completely ignore Brocail, or Brocail did not communicate the "game plan" properly to Darvish.  When Darvish got results with a different strategy, Brocail seemingly failed to either work with a plan that was effective, or failed to adapt a new plan that would transition Darvish to a strategy Brocail felt would work even better.  And finally, when Darvish did have trouble, there didn't appear to be any effort made to correct the situation, just a quick yank without any communication.  That's poor management anywhere other than life-threatening situations.

I'm willing for the moment to give Brocail some benefit of the doubt.  His chosen actions and subsequent comments were likely due mostly to frustration, for understandable reasons.  Unless this becomes a habit with Brocail, my consternation is still firmly fixed on Banister.  He is Brocail's superior on the baseball field, and as a self-professed and lauded players manager who values proper leadership, as well as understanding the emotions and motivations behind player's actions, he should have been in between Brocail's hasty judgement and a poor game management move.  Normally my criticism of Banister is limited to his extremely poor choices of words during interviews, and his, in my opinion usually deplorable, bullpen management.  It really seems unusual to me that Banister engaged in pulling Darvish at that time.

BUT...I'll also readily admit that I don't know what all Banister considers when he makes any of these decisions.  He can run a bullpen opposite of how either "The Book", conventional wisdom, or modern analysis says to run a bullpen one night, and the next make almost perfect changes at almost perfect times.

Then again, as TMAC pointed out to me yesterday on Twitter, the Manager always looks better when the players execute.  Which is true.  It was pointed out frequently in 2015 that Shawn Tolleson wasn't the best option at "closer", but as long as it worked out no-one wanted to complain TOO loudly.  Blaming the coach is all about judging what you can see without all of the contextual information, and trying to understand what you can't see.  And that's an article for another time.

Whither the Rangers in 2017? Insights on Hope and Despair Part One

Is it Darth Vader?  Or is it all in your mind?  Yes.

I had three articles in the planning stages, and I decided to generally combine them into one.  This one.  But then I didn't.  This is the one where I talk about Derek Holland, and the implications of his departure on the starting rotation.

Derek Holland wasn't very good in 2016.  Actually, there wasn't a lot about Derek Holland's 2015 to offer any reason to expect better in 2016.  And Derek Holland's 2014 wasn't anything to write home about, either.  And come to think of it, 2013...no wait.  He was good in 2013.  In fact, 2013 was the best Major League season Holland ever turned in.  After a solid 2011 in which Derek Holland showed not only a pretty good year for a Middle-of-the-Rotation lefty, he showed the promise of being *even better*, followed by a full season in 2012 that looked a lot more like a decent season for a back-end, innings-eating guy.  Then the really good 2013 that was an improvement of 2011 all the way around.

And then began the injuries.  In 2014, Dutch pitched 37 innings for the Rangers.  His results were *fabulous*, although his xFIP (eXpected Fielding-Independent Pitching, a statistic that produces an ERA-like number based on normalizing a pitcher's fly ball and home run results, as well as applying a leavening factor to strikeouts and walks.  This will, with effective pitchers, usually show an ERA-like number better than their actual ERA.  Less-effective pitchers will frequently sport a higher xFIP than ERA.  These are generalizations, not absolutes) indicated a performance similar to 2013 and 2011 rather than the giant improvement his 1.46 ERA would suggest.

In 2015, Holland was injured again...this time his return to the Bigs was disastrous.  Over 58.2 innings, he produced numbers very similar to 2009; his first appearance with Texas.  The good news was that his xFIP *this* time indicated that he should return to at least being that serviceable, back-of-the-rotation pitcher that he had looked like at his *worst*.  Because of that, it was widely assumed that the first of his two contract options would be picked up by the Rangers at the end of 2016.  The prices for back-end pitchers had started to skyrocket, and Holland's $11 million price tag was a bargain.

And THEN 2016 happened.  In some regards, Dutch *technically* improved his performance in some areas.  Very, very slightly.  But the important number was:  his strikeout percentage was WAY down.  Derek wasn't throwing nearly as hard as he used to.  Despite similar Batting Average on Balls in Play to his career numbers; despite a similar walk rate; a similar Ground Balls Induced percentage; and a similar Home Runs allowed percentage, his ERA and FIP (Fielding-Independent Pitching, like xFIP except it doesn't normalize home runs allowed) were still around 5.00.  Worse, his xFIP was 5.14, almost a full point higher than 2015.

The stinker is, there is very little evidence of a "smoking gun" statistic.  His numbers were all in line with recent years (keeping in mind those were mostly bad years).  Where you see it all fall together is in comparing 2016 with 2011 - 2013.  Everything was just a little bit worse, and almost everything WAS worse.  Just a little bit, mostly.

When you combine pitching just a little bit worse with a fastball that just wasn't quite good enough to get people out anymore, you wind up with a guy who was actually LUCKY he didn't do worse in 2016.

And *that* is what I was referencing when I kept mentioning during the year that Holland wasn't actually pitching very well, even though he got good results in several games.  However, even then I still expected Texas to pick up his contract option, considering how expensive Middle Rotation and Back End pitchers have become.  It genuinely surprised me that they didn't.

There are possible reasons, of course.  Texas may know, or at least suspect, that Holland has serious or long-term damage in his shoulder or some other important body part.  It could simply be that the right people see the negative performance trend and believe (probably rightly) that pitching at that presumed level could be filled by cheap, internal options.

In conjunction with that is the possibility that Texas really is committed to improving the rotation.  As much as you can blame the Toronto series that ended 2016 on very, very, bad officiating; you also can not escape the fact that the starting rotation wasn't as good as it was expected to be.  In particular, Cole Hamels wasn't very good in the second half of 2016.

The bottom line is:  while everyone keeps saying "you don't worry about Cole Hamels", I think we all need to consider how often we heard that line repeated in a reassuring tone by many, many bloggers and analysts last year.  Hamels' 2016 was his worst year since 2006, his first season.  The big culprit was a huge increase in walks; all year batters sat back and made him make his pitch, and he didn't with the same consistency as previous years.  Considering Martin Perez *also* threw up career worsts in strikeouts and walks; this isn't a questionable rotation after Cole, Yu and maybe Martin...it's a questionable rotation after Yu.  And Yu has not been extended past this next year.  And may not be, considering he can expect a minimum contract AAV north of $20 million and will almost certainly at least be talking about $25 million for five or more years.

THAT is why people are making "absurd" calls to trade Yu now.  Looking *only* at the rotation, it's not an absurd notion.

But the Rangers, like every other baseball team, is comprised of not only pitching but also fielding and hitting.  And the other parts look pretty good.

More Trend Analysis: Pitcher xFIP

More trend lines!  xFIP, or eXpected Fielding Independent Pitching, is intended to not only take team factors out of a pitcher's performance (FIP), but also "normalize" home run outcomes by applying a constant to Fly Balls Allowed based on averages.  The stat has a pretty good history of telling you the true talent level of a pitcher once you take most of the variables out.  It also, therefore, does a good job of telling you when a pitcher is legitimately pitching worse or better.

xFIP works like ERA; high is bad.  The trend line follows suit; high side on the right is trending up which is bad, low side on the right is trending down is good.  A flat line indicates stability and is good, as long as the number it represents is good (like, under 4 is groovy).

Cole is, until we have a better understanding of how Darvish is going to play out, the most important member of the roster.  Hamels has been steady, and is legitimately pitching slightly worse this year...but not by much.  He's been pretty solidly a 3.5 xFIP guy, and as you can see, Cole is sitting around 3.7/3.8 this year.  The trend is good though, so there's every reason to believe he'll finish the year in fine form.

Speaking of Darvish, there obviously isn't a trend line, but his one game is one of the best starts by a Rangers pitcher this year.  Optimism!

How 'bout Martin Perez?  The trend is right, but that's as much because of a bad start.  It wouldn't surprise me to see Martin stabilize right around 4.00; anything under that would thrill me.  And take note that would put him on par with Hamels.

Solid as a rock.  In fact, he was trending down to 4.00 like Perez before his last bad start.  This is probably what Colby looks like all year, and once again puts him in that "#4 starter" territory.

Oh, dear.  The good news is, without the one game, the trend isn't quite as bad.  But it's still bad.  Pitchers have managed to outpitch their xFIP for entire seasons.  It's not unusual.  But it's not the norm, either.  If/when Holland blows up, it shouldn't be unexpected.

As with Delino Deshields, we must ask ourselves:  "Was Shawn Tolleson actually performing that poorly?"  As you can see, the bad appearances were getting worse and worse, and he only had a few good appearances.  More importantly to Jeff Banister, I suspect, is that Tolleson wasn't predictable.

That's what you like seeing in a closer.  At least the recent results.  Since being made the closer, Dyson has been exceptional.  Remember that big uptick at the end is the average, which I include to "normalize" the line a bit.

Matt Bush's trendline is good, but I'm not too thrilled that it's centered on 4.00.  And of course, as has been a frequent topic of discussion, there are other factors to consider with Bush's quality of pitching. 

Jake has been very off-and-on this year which makes his 2.5 xFIP stable trendline somewhat misleading.  He's still the second-best reliever behind Dyson.

Here's Tony Barnette with two really bad appearances.

Here's Tony Barnette without the two disaster appearances.  More stability would be nice, but trending from 4.00 to 3.00 is a decent indicator that he can keep filling in reliably.

This is both starting and relieving.  It's about as good as it gets in a spot-starter/long-reliever.

I almost forgot about Alex Claudio, and it looks like that would have been a mistake.  Not only is better at his worst than some of the other relievers, he's steadily improved.  Again, remember that last big uptick is the average.  I would bank on Claudio getting a lot more time, soon.

There is still a good core group of relievers here.  Looking at the performance histories and trends, I'm seeing consistency as a bigger problem than actual ability.  Consistency can be a function of the pitcher of course, but it can also be a function of the catcher; a position that has been highly unstable for Texas this year.  It can also be a problem with game planning, and Banister is working with two new coaches this year as well.

Taking all of that in, I'm still a lot more worried about injuries and arm fatigue than I am who's on the roster.  As the roster itself stabilizes, I think the relief corps will, as well.

The Fantasy Value of Rangers Players (Movie Quotes Edition)

Baseball season is upon us.  Fantasy baseball season is also upon us.  Some of you love the fantasy, some of you think it is for nerds, some of you think I might as well be writing this in German.  

However, what do we all love?  Movies.  Everyone loves a good movie.  So how do I sucker you into reading my pre-draft fantasy analysis?  By doing it using movie quotes.  Boom.  

“Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the line! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, riding in the green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!”

“Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.”  - Gladiator (2000)

Adrian Beltre

It is clear who the General is for the Texas Rangers. 

To make this plain and simple: Adrian Beltre is Adrian Beltre.  ESPN has Beltre ranked as the #17 fantasy player overall and the #1 third baseman with a $28 value in auction leagues, which seems about right.  He will be who he always has been, he will be the general on the field, he will show his unparalleled glove, and he will put up glorious fantasy numbers from a weak position.  Will the other Rangers stay with him?

Relevant Stat: Beltre hit only .262 with RISP away from Globe Life Park.  Expect a big increase in this number this year, and with that, and increase in BA and RBI.

 

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”- Airplane! (1980)

Prince Fielder

Surely you aren’t giving up on him after one bad season, are you?  Fielder is ranked as the 11th best fantasy first baseman and a sixth round draft pick ($15).  Don’t be scared to reach for Fielder a little earlier and throw down a few extra bucks for him.  He had no previous injury history before 2014.  He looks healthy.  All systems go.  I am serious. 

Relevant Stat: Further proof that Prince’s neck injury was the cause of his early season struggles: Fielder hit only .208 on pitches on the outside half of the plate, the area that he said caused him the most pain to reach.

 

“Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?"

"These go to eleven." - This is Spinal Tap (1984)

 Rougned Odor

This kid is full-blast at all times.  Not only does he go to 11, but he is stuck there.  ESPN has Odor ranked 199th overall with an auction value of $4.  Honestly though, are there 198 players you would rather have than Rougie?  I didn’t think so.  What we saw last year was the rookie season of a 20 year old.  I repeat: The kid is still just twenty-one years old.  If you are in a keeper league, grab him earlier, he is here to stay. 

Relevant stat: Rougie hit an astonishing .282 on ground balls.  The kid is pure hustle.  Once he gains some experience and lowers his K rate, expect his numbers to rise rapidly. 

 

“But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe -- hear it? -- Carpe, Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."- Dead Poets Society (1989)

Elvis Andrus

He may have a living legacy working immediately to his right, but as Elvis goes, the Rangers go.  Let’s hope the same is not true for your fantasy team.  Andrus does so much for the Rangers, and his down year in 2014 had a huge effect on the team.  However, most of what he does really well does not translate to fantasy value.  If you can figure out a way to get fantasy points out of defensive range and baserunning instincts, then Elvis is your guy, seize the day.  However, in the meantime, ESPN’s ranking of Andrus as the 7th best fantasy shortstop is a reach.

Relevant Stat: Elvis hit more homeruns (2) than triples (1) for the first time in his career during the 2014 season.  Avoid him if you play in an OPS league.

 

“Lieutenant Dan!  You’ve got new legs!  New Legs!”-  Forrest Gump (1994)

Shin-Soo Choo

Choo’s first season in a Rangers’ uniform was disappointing, there is no other way to describe it.  However, I can honestly say that I felt relieved to find out that he needed surgery on both his ankle and his elbow in the off season.  I mean, hurt is way better than horrible, right?  He is back, healthy, and started training hard early.  I expect a rebound season for him, but would not consider drafting him anywhere near where he went last season.  Consider Choo and his new legs as a value pick somewhere around the 15th round.

Relevant Stat: Choo was caught stealing 4 times in 2014 while swiping only 3 bases.  Expect 15-20 SBs from this year’s version.

 

“I feel the need, the need for speed”Top Gun (1986)

Leonys Martin

I hate the bunt.  I hate sacrifices and playing for one run.  I hate donating free outs to the other team and killing a potential big inning. 

Ron Washington loved the bunt. 

With that said, Leonys is one of the few players that makes the bunt a legit weapon at all times.  Will Bannister allow Leonys to freely bunt and freely steal?  How aggressive will Bannister be?  If Leonys has a green light, watch out, his speed makes him a steal around the 11th round.

Relevant Stat: Leonys hit .586 when he was bunting for a hit in 2014, reaching base safely 17 out of 29 attempts.

 

"I love waking up in the morning not knowing where I'm gonna go or who I'm gonna meet. Just the other night, I was sleeping under a bridge, and now here I am, on the grandest ship in the world, having champagne with you fine people."- Titanic (1997)

Robinson Chirinos

Don’t get cute.  I know you love your Rangers, but Chirinos is not a homer pick worth making.  Allow him to continue to develop his relationship with Yu while avoiding having him destroy your relationship with your fantasy squad.  He is just happy to be in the grandest league in the world, leave it at that.

Relevant Stat: Chirinos hits .221 at Globe Life Park, which is considered by most to be one of the better hitters’ parks in the league.

 

“We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.”- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, (2002)

Joey Gallo

Do you draft Gallo with plans to have him help your league this season?  Nope.  Should you grab him late and stash him if you are in a keeper league?  Yep.  The future is near.

Relevant Stat: Bombs. Lots and lots of bombs.

 

"You're hit. You're bleedin', man!"

"I ain't got time to bleed."- Predator (1987)

Yu Darvish

The Rangers camps are split here.  The old Nolan camp thinks Darvish is a quitter and that he bailed on his team last year.  The JD camp thinks it was a wise move to save your investment and shut down Darvish in a lost year.  Either which way, Darvish heard the complaints, and he is motivated for this year.  Expect the man with the second highest K/9 rate in the league to put up big numbers and don’t worry about a little spring training tenderness.  ESPN has Darvish ranked as the 14th best fantasy pitcher, but he will finish the season well within the top ten.

Relevant Stat: Darvish struck out 30% of opposing hitters while limiting them to a .241 batting average.  If he can keep his pitch count low, expect big things.

 

“We got no food, we got no jobs... our PETS' HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!”Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Derek Holland

We all know that Dutch Holland is about the biggest Dumb and Dumber fan on the planet, so this quote was just about the best way to sum up last season’s horrific string of injuries.  Nothing went right.  Everyone was broken. 

However, as much as those injuries drove us crazy as fans, our emotions were nothing compared to those of Holland.  Expect Derek to show the brilliance that he brought to the mound at the end of 2014 for the most of the season.  He is a motivated man, with the departure of Ron Washington, the frustration from last season, and his emotional connection to the loss of Briggs Berry fueling him along the way.  Holland will be a difference maker for your fantasy team if you pick him up in the late rounds.

Relevant Stat: Holland made hitters swing and miss 21% of the time and forced them to chase 34% of pitches he threw out of the strike zone.  The stuff is there, it’s just a matter of staying healthy and remaining focused.

 

“Oh, I can barely lift my right arm ’cause I did so many. I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand.”Anchorman (2004)

Yovani Gallardo

Every MLB team needs an inning eating workhorse.  Gallardo was brought to Texas to be just that guy.  He is another player who can contribute to your fantasy squad, but don’t expect him to be a stud.  He will add to your strikeout total and provide innings while doing minimal damage to your WHIP and ERA.

Relevant Stat:  Gallardo threw 3,216 pitches last season, 62% of which were strikes. Work. Horse. 

 

"I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it."-  Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Neftali Feliz

Feliz has entered spring training by taking a stand.  “It’s my job” Neftali told Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News.  I don’t doubt him.  The thing about closers is that you want them to be confident, you want them to be a little bit nuts.  This season is the right time frame for Neftali to be properly healed from Tommy John, so I expect him to grab the job and hold on, becoming a contributor in saves and K’s in the realm of fantasy baseball.  Feliz is no Kembral, but I expect him to provide much more value than the 32nd best reliever, which is where ESPN currently has him ranked. 

Relevant Stat: Neftali limited batters to an incredible .183 batting average after he regained the role of closer.  He’s back.