The Chase Is On: Chase Headley And The Hangovers Lead The Pack

April 26, 2010

Over in the Big Ballers League, I’m pretty freakin’ happy to see my Harlem Hangovers on top of the standings. With Nelly Boomstick‘s grand theft in Boston leading the way, The Hangovers have been burning up the base paths and scoring a lot of runs on their way to a +5.5 point week. That makes a total of 105, up 6 on the next best team, The Hillsboro 5 Tooler’. Pretty good for a team that hasn’t heard a peep from Mark Texiera or Gordan Beckham. With The Supernatural‘s call-up looming and a possible return of Brandon Webb, it looks like The Hangovers have a lot of winning to look forward to this year.

One big contributor to my success so far has been Chase Headley. He along with Chris Carpenter came over in a preseason deal for Carlos Lee, Tim Hudson and Brandon Lyons, in what’s looking like the kind of robbery I almost feel bad to have carried out. Carrying a gaudy .371/.421/.500 line coming into play on Monday, Headley’s been on an absolute tear, spearheading The Father’s resurgence out in SD, with 15 Runs scored in 76 PA. Little wonder he’s scoring so much when he’s on base over 42% of the time! While he’s been the beneficiary of a very lucky .417 BABIP, his lifetime BABIP sits at .344 due to his propensity for hitting line drives. In fact Chase is what fielders do a lot of when he’s up at bat, as he’s been hitting liners at a 26.2% clip. What can we attribute his recent success to? It seems like he’s taking a different approach to the plate, as he’s cut down his K rate by an amazing 50% in the early going of 2010. Currently his BB/K rates sit at 7.9%/12.9%, in contrast to his career 9.3%/26% rates. This is particularly noteworthy, since he’s swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone 4.3% more frequently than in the previous year. While he’s swinging more at pitches outside the zone, he’s also making more contact, with an increase in his O-Contact (percentage of contact made on pitches outside the K zone) from 52% to 59.5% between 2009 and 2010. What has been most surprising about Headley’s emergence is his speed. Even the most optimistic fan projections listed on his Fangraphs entry, see Headley with 12 swipes. Headley already has 8, including 3 in a game last week, against the SF battery of Dirty Sanchez and Eli Whiteside. I can easily see Headley knocking on 20 before the season is done.

I knew Carpenter was going to be lights out, little did I know that the $2 Chase Headley would develop into this kind of fantasy baseball stud. I’m not going to say, I thought so, but I did in fact take Chase off of waivers when he returned to the bigs in his second call-up, back in ’08. What’s not to like about a guy who posted a .330/.437/.580 line in AA ball back in ’07? With slick fielding Kevin Kouzmanoff manning the hot corner, Headley spent more time in LF rather than at his natural position of 3B. With Kouz shipped off to Oaktown, Headley seems at home back at third, providing solid defense along to go along with his solid stick. While I don’t believe Headley can sustain this otherworldly pace and I believe that some regression is due to catch up with him, if Headley keeps performing anywhere near as good as this, he’ll be a familiar name among upper tier third basemen for years to come.

Other notable Hangover contributors this week:

Robinson Cano: 9/21 7R/1HR/4RBI/1SB/.538OBP I’m getting tired of talking about how awesome a year he’s having. On second thought, I’m not. Robbie lives to hit baseballs. When he’s on, he makes hitting lasers all over the park look downright easy. He’s streaky, so I imagine he’ll slump at some point but right now he’s the best hitter in the Yankee lineup.

Mike Pelfrey continues to roll goose eggs out there, contributing 12 more this week. That’s 24 innings since he’s given up a run in total now, after his rain shortened victory against Atlanta last night. With 2W/9K/0.00 ERA/1.33 WHIP, The Mets sinkerballer is proving to be a fantastic waiver pickup for me.

Franklin Gutierrez has been anchoring the Mariner lineup as well as my own so far in 2010. With a 6/20 4R/2HR/4RBI/.375 week, he finally got into the HR column. Is there nothing The Big FraGu can’t do?

Added: Pittsburgh 3B Andy LaRoche. 6 for 8 since returning to the lineup, LaRoche Minor’s hot stick will provide a little corner depth.

Dropped: It was nice while it lasted, but I think Brett Myers‘ hot streak will end soon. Let him be on someone else’s roster when it does.

You Gotta Dance With The Girl That You Brought To The Party

April 15, 2010

At around the two hour mark of the Big Ballers League auction a name popped up who’s very utterance makes my lips curl and my blood boil.

Scott Kazmir for $3″

A flood of memories come back. Mets fan wretch when they think back to July 30, 2004. It’s a Pavlovian reaction to the acute form of PTSD that we suffer from after years of abuse at the hands of a terrible baseball organization. With his team flailing in the summer heat and it’s record dropping below .500, then GM Jim Duquette made the worst deal in Flushing since Tommy Huang bought the RKO Keith in 1986. I won’t go into details because they’re too painful to recollect but I’m pretty confident that with Kazmir, The Mets could have won just one more game in ’06 or ’07 or ’08. The kid who once threw four consecutive no-hitters in high school, has had a pretty successful (if injury interrupted) career so far, turned 26 this season. Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato are no longer pitching in the majors.

I liked Kazmir as a back end starter going into my drafts this preseason. I knew he would come cheap, since he’s lost a lot of luster over the years due to the wear and tear of snapping off those sliders. His once coveted left arm is always a pitch away from the DL it seems. That was the knock on him back when he was coming up with The Mets. That he was too small, an injury risk because he threw hard and he snapped off wicked sliders. The Rays were more than happy to take that risk, and they went to the World Series not long after. Smart teams do things like that. When TB found themselves flush with young pitchers last season, they shipped Kazmir and his salary over to Anaheim.

In a bid that was half wishful thinking and half price enforcing, I went $4 on Kazmir. Crickets. Sold.

Checking out the Rotowire feed after the auction, I read that he was put on the DL with a strained quad. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have taken him, but $4 ain’t much and Scott Kazmir should do better out in the AL West. He also complained about the move, saying he was ready to go last week. On the other hand, he doesn’t have The Rays defense behind him anymore and his flyball rates have ascended the past two seasons.

Kaz makes his season debut tonight against Phil Hughes and The Bombers at The Stadium. I really don’t know what to expect. He has pitched well in his career against The Yanks, but not so much in The Bronx. This will be his first appearance in The New Stadium (Rudy and Bloomie say: bread and circuses motherfuckers, what!?) so maybe Aura and Mystic won’t get to him until he heads to Sin City after the game.

A lot of fantasy owners will be benching Kazmir tonight. I probably should be too but I’m going to play him. Shit. In an alternate universe, he’s still a Met and this is a real Subway Series, like in October, not June. My head got me 2 starts from Padilla last week, so I’ll go with my heart. What the hell do I know?

You gotta dance with the girl that you brought to the party. Man up Kaz!

*****UPDATED 10:16pm*****

I guess I should have left this girl in the cab. Kazmir done in by the long ball, chased after giving up 6 runs in 4 innings. A small consolation is that I have Robbie Cano on The Hangovers. He jacked off twice tonight. Yankees lead 6 – 2, bottom of the 8th.