You've got questions, we've got answers. Below are three fantasy baseball topics for our expert crew, hopefully with different perspectives. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 7
1. Of these struggling pitchers, rank them (and rank is the perfect word) in order best to worst in fantasy the rest of the season: Brett Myers, Bartolo Colon, Jose Contreras (right), Sidney Ponson, Brandon Webb (right, below).
Eric Karabell, ESPN Fantasy Games Senior Editor: I'm trying, really trying, to stay on the Contreras bandwagon, but he doesn't make it real easy. But I'd select him first as the guy with the best chance of having the usable fantasy second half. How's that for being positive. I also like Webb. He really hasn't been bad, he just walks way too many hitters and Arizona never scores for him. Then I pick Colon and Myers, both of whom have the stuff to succeed. I won't touch Ponson.
Scott Engel, Fantasy Games editor: 1. Colon: I still believe he can be an above-average fantasy starter. Colon can't overpower opposing hitters, so he's going to have to learn how to outfox them more; 2. Webb: He's got good movement on his off-speed stuff, and it's not his fault he gets lousy run support; 3. Ponson: He has always been overrated. Ponson might spend the rest of his career trying to live up to his 2003 numbers; 4. Myers: He has live stuff, but he still has a lot more to learn and work on. Myers' location issues could be his biggest detriment right now; 5. Contreras: Bad location, shaky confidence, and he's simply not cut out for New York. He would function much better in a low-pressure environment.
Kevin Rounce, Fantasy Games editor: This is a tough list to handle. I am going with Bartolo Colon. He has more of a history of better second halves then the others on this list. After him, the enigma that is Jose Contreras. Then Webb, Myers and Ponson, who just looks lost on the mound.
Scott Ridge, ESPN.com Baseball editor: Aside from a 3-8 record, Brandon Webb actually has decent numbers. Beware, he struggled the second half last season but Webb has been the most consistent of this bunch. The rest in order: Contreras (biggest upside), Colon (biggest backside), Myers (biggest mystery), Ponson (biggest bust).
Vincent Hui, Fantasy Games Producer, Writer: Contreras, Myers, Colon, Ponson, Webb. As you can see, they're ranked based on how much run support they're perceived to receive. Contreras is a no-brainer since he has the best stuff of all five pitchers listed here. Myers is erratic, but has pitched a few gems, but the other three guys are basically lost causes. Bartolo has been declining since he left the Indians, Ponson's clearly not a number one starter, and Webb and his control problems are well documented.
CONSENSUS: Interesting results here, really. A few votes for Contreras, but also a last place vote. Odd. Webb has a first and a last, too. No consensus here at all.
Karabell: I'm not a huge fan of any of these fellas. Is Hidalgo the same guy who had a 44-homer, 122-RBI season? Well, he's looked like it the first 18 games as a Met. I'd say a 50-RBI second half could definitely happen, so he goes first. Matsui is next; it took him a few months, but the guy can play. Think about a 15-HR, 25-SB season, it's possible. Then Cameron, who is a 20-20 guy, and has to get that average to about .250 at some point. Then Wigginton; I don't think he'll lose his job soon. David Wright won't be up next week, in part because Ty is playing so well. But since I predict Reyes will get hurt soon, or that Wigginton will end up at first a few days a week even if Wright comes up, I think Ty can continue a very underrated David Bell-like season. Reyes is last. He's not going to run, and I bet he's on the DL at least one more time.
Engel: 1. Hidalgo: He is determined to prove he is still a good hitter, and he is not intimidated by New York; 2. Matsui: He still needs to work on his fielding, which doesn't concern fantasy owners; 3. Reyes: He'll continue to improve if his hamstring lets him do it; 4. Cameron: His health and inconsistency will continue to hurt his value; 5. Wigginton: Even at his best, he's mediocre from a statistical perspective.
Rounce: Hidalgo is enjoying some sort of career renaissance, and while he won't continue his current pace, he can settle into a good groove and help the pennant hungry Mets. Cameron will have good power and speed to go with his horrendous average. Reyes should come around, but it may take a while. Matsui is fourth on the list as he gets used to the league and then Wigginton, who will likely lose his job.
Ridge: A bit of a flier here, but Kaz Matsui is 14-for-his-last-30 and showing the much-hyped power and speed he had in Japan. Reyes takes the pressure off at the top of the order and will make Matsui a better defender. Adds up to a big second half. The rest in order: Hidalgo (eight homers, 15 RBI in 18 games with Mets), Cameron (batting average too low), Reyes (not running), Wigginton (David Wright on the way).
Hui: Hidalgo, Matsui, Reyes, Wiggington, Cameron. The first three guys have potential while we know the latter two are what they are. Hidalgo's on a tear and while inconsistent, he has the most power here. Kaz and Reyes have been big disappointments, but both can run so you can't underestimate their speed; also, both are middle infielders and good 2B and SS are always at a premium. Wiggington and Cameron don't have any fantasy upside so it's eye of the beholder here.
CONSENSUS: Seems like we all think Hidalgo is the real deal. And Wigginton, despite 2B eligibility doesn't have many fans.
Karabell: I may be in the minority here, but I think Riske keeps this job and has a nice second half. He's a good reliever. Look up 2003, he was borderline dominant in the second half. And just this June, he allowed only one run in 18 nice innings. Wickman is a nice story, but come on. Riske first, then strikeout machine Ryan, who might steal a few saves from horrible Jorge Julio at some point. Third is Koplove, who might keep that 'Zona job longer than we think, even if Jose Valverde returns. Worrell fourth, for the three or four saves he'll still get, then Wickman, who I doubt will do too much.
Engel: 1. Koplove: Jose Valverde has been inconsistent when healthy, and when is Matt Mantei healthy?; Worrell: A very efficient setup man, and Billy Wagner always seems prone to some occasional health issues; 3. Ryan: No saves, but he's very impressive otherwise; 4. Riske: His last name should end with a "y" instead of an "e". Wickman: Discussing Cleveland relievers for much longer could seriously ruin my credibility.
Rounce: I really want to believe that Eric Wedge and the Indians understand that it would not help them to place an old man as their closer, but something tells me Wickman will get the job when he is ready. So, here are my rankings: Koplove (undisputed, but for a bad team), Wickman (for the short term), Riske (for the longer term), Worrell and then Ryan.
Ridge: B.J. Ryan is a staff stabilizer with off-the-charts numbers (45.2 IP, 30 hits, 62 strikeouts). He had nine strikeouts and no earned runs in 5 1/3 innings last week. That's better than most starters despite no saves or decisions. The other relievers on this list are hit-and-miss. The rest in order: Riske (very), Worrell (steady), Wickman (unsteady), Koplove (Jose Valverde on the way).
Hui: Koplove, Wickman, Riske, Ryan, Worrell. Riske's a walking disaster and Cleveland's given their bullpen plenty of save chances so Wickman should take over before August. Koplove's the known commodity right now so he gets the nod over either of the Tribe closers. Ryan's as good as it gets without saves and Worrell is solid should Billy Wagner go down again. Still, I don't see either Ryan or Worrell taking over for the duration of the season.
CONSENSUS: Koplove seems to have more fans than he deserves. Does anyone really WANT to deal with the Cleveland bullpen?