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Dear RotoRob: Bullpen Chatter

March 26, 2007 | By James Morris | comment on this post
Texas Rangers relief pitcher Frank Francisco has had his issues in the past.
If Frank Francisco can keep his head and his health, he may be able to help the Rangers this season.


Nice to hear from you.

Wes Littleton hasn’t looked very well this spring…perhaps it’s just an adjustment period. But Frank Francisco is looking good…

So…have you changed you mind about Brendan Donnelly yet?

I still like him over Joel Piniero. I can’t trust that guy.

And Mike Timlin can say whatever he wants about his ‘right to close,’ a bad back is the death knell for pitchers over 41. Just ask Randy.

So…tell me…why aren’t the Blue Jays pursuing Armando Benitez?

It’ll cost us (yeah I’m from Toronto) an Adam Lind and/or Ricky Romero.

Considering our weak bullpen behind B.J. Ryan, it makes sense.

What’s your take on that?

And who do you like better…Darin Erstad or Brian Anderson?

It seems Ozzie Guillen loves Erstad’s hard-nosed style.

But Anderson has better range in the field.

And he’s been no slouch at the plate this spring.

I look forward to your comments.



Pineiro started the spring off on a rough patch, but he has looked pretty good in his last few outings. Donnelly, on the other hand, has been shaky when given the ball. I’d bet Pineiro starts the season as the Sox closer (provided they don’t get someone via trade), but will be on a short leash at the same time. The Red Sox closer situation is a bit muddy to put it nicely. (Editorial note: As we all know by now, this situation was settled when Jonathan Papelbon decided he’d rather close than start after all.)

Littleton has just been horrible this spring (he gave up three earned runs in one-third on an inning today). His 24.00 ERA assures he will not be with the Rangers to start the season. And, since he has an option remaining, you will be able to see him if you go to an Oklahoma RedHawks game. Francisco has a 4.50 ERA, but hasn’t been all that bad. I think the Rangers are deep enough to make sure he is fully healed from the Tommy John surgery to send him back to the minors for a while longer.

Why aren’t the Jays going after Benitez? Because of Ryan and Brandon League. They don’t need Benitez at what he will cost. Could they use him? Sure. But, is it worth it to pay him to pitch set up innings? Not really, from a financial standpoint.

Erstad or Anderson…I think Erstad leads off the season on the field with Anderson in Triple-A, but due to his weak defense and the inevitable injury, I’d bet Anderson gets called up and has his shot at some point. I’m not a Sox fan here, and even less of an Erstad fan. But, hey, I’ve got an opinion on everyone!


Thanks for the very thoughtful letter.

I am very honoured to have garnered such a reply.

Oh, but what a web we weave…

It’s funny how Matthews broke his silence since I wrote that letter.

So now we are to believe that he ordered HGH for his hamsters or whatever.

I do believe that, in theory, the lines can easily be blurred if we try to determine what is exactly “illegal” relating to drugs and professional baseball, since one can argue that a smoothie is a drug.

But HGH and steroids, “Cream” or whatever else they come up with…it’s just wrong.

I ‘sort of’ admire Jose Canseco (I’m from Toronto, so perhaps I’m at a natural disadvantage), for at very least having the balls (or not, if you read some of those white papers) to expose the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.

I say “sort of” because I saw him in that terrible reality show…and he and his brother Ozzie seem to create trouble in bars.

And he likes guns…a lot.

But besides that, yeah, you’ve got to give at least some credit to the big guy for exposing this huge pimple residing on MLB’s butt.

It’s been there for a long time, and it’s festered.

We have a player about to smash the most sacred record of baseball, and there’s a stench in the air. Regardless of how we feel about Barry’s right to be honoured, it’s there.

The very fact that we are wondering how he’ll be treated represents this enormous embarrassment, and failing, of the MLB and MLBPA collectively.

Regarding Matthews, I do believe that if he withheld the fact that he took performance-enhancing drugs and negotiated a contract based on the assertions that his past performance was achieved au naturel, then, morally he misrepresented himself.

It’s a civil matter.

Either that or the hamster can go 300 mph.

I agree with your spin on the spin. Business is business as they say.

I wish Matthews well. He is a great fielder. He better be…at that price.


P.S. Perhaps Dave Roberts or Randy Winn will go down and the Giants will trade Bengie Molina for Matthews.



Sure do have an opinion don’t ya? 😉

Anyway, I don’t think Matthews told even one-tenth of the truth. I think he was sending out feelers to see exactly what MLB knew and didn’t know. He wanted to see just how guilty he was before he made any official statement. Just as any time a player says “it’s not about the money,’ that’s when you know damn well that it’s all about the money! Any time a player says “I don’t even know how they got my name,” they know exactly how they got their name.

But, Matthews did nothing wrong at the time according to MLB guidelines.

Now, that being said, don’t mistake that for me taking up for him. I detest any player who takes a little something extra to boost his play. Sports is about natural ability, not bionic implants and ‘roiding up until your muscles tear off your limbs due to stress. I wish Bonds would just come out and admit what he did so we can all just erase the record and move on. I mean what exercise do you do to make your head grow? How do you even get your nugget to expand? Bar-Roid is the epitome of everything that is wrong in baseball.

We pretty much know Bonds did it, now we pretty much know Matthews did it. But, Matthews still has one season to prove that last year wasn’t a steroid-induced career season. If he can do it again, then all the talk will go away. But, anything short of hitting .300 and he is labeled a cheater. Either way, I do not believe the Angels have any legal right to void his contract for him doing something that technically was not illegal at the time. Should the civilian authorities prosecute him? You betcha! If I can’t do it, neither should he. But, does MLB have a right to punish him or void his deal? Not in my opinion.


I’m getting ready for a draft for my real fantasy league and I have a few questions.’It’s a 10-team league so it’s pretty shallow, so it got me thinking.’With only 10 teams, that leaves 20 players at each position that won’t be on a team.’There are guys at 2B and 3B that aren’t ranked very highly and I don’t think people will draft them until very late, but I don’t think they will be much worse than other guys. What do you think of 2B Ty Wigginton, Ray Durham, Jorge Cantu, Tad Iguchi, Ian Kinsler, Rich Aurilia, Sanchez?’And 3B Morgan Ensberg, Chad Tracy, Mark Teahen, Aubrey Huff, Edwin Encarnacion, Alex Gordon, Akinori Iwamura?’

It’s all the positions and one utility spot so there’s nine batters and we use three SP, two RP, and three P, so eight pitchers and 1,500 innings minimum, so wouldn’t you think pitchers are very important? Also, CG is a stat so who do you think will have some CG this year? So do you think I should draft good pitchers and wait until late to get one of those 2B and 3B?

Also, what do you think of Chris Duncan? Do you think he can hold down’the OF3 position?

The hitting categories are H, R, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OBP.’Since there is H and OBP, do you think it would be wise for me to draft guys with better averages instead of just power guys?

The pitching categories are W, L, K, CG, ERA, WHIP, SV. I would go with mostly closers in the attempt to win L, ERA, WHIP and SV, but there is a 1,500-IP minimum, so do you think I should draft mostly starters?

Sorry for so many questions, but thank you for your help.



First off, what’s a “real” fantasy league? I mean, does that differ from a ‘fantasy’ fantasy league?

Anyways, given that it is a 10-team league, I wouldn’t worry about sleepers really. I mean, keep your eye on the ball for breakout seasons, but don’t spend a lot of time looking at the sleeper reports either. Of the guys you mentioned, Sanchez (if you meant Freddy Sanchez) is a player I really do like this season (even though he may begin the season on the DL). I also like Ensberg and Teahan. I would look to not have the 3Bs on my team in a 10-teamer though. If you draft smart, you won’t need an Ensberg/Teahan. I would still take Sanchez though.

I am a huge pitching guy, but I play a lot of Diamond Mind Sim leagues too. I won two titles (1927 and 1946) and am crediting it all to pitching! Now, real time…every position is equally important in a roto league. You fall too far behind in any given stat, and you can fall out of the race really quick in a league that small. I would alternate between hitting and pitching for picks. You see the first CL go, you snatch the best one available with your very next pick. There is a very real line of top-tier closers and then the rest.

CGs…that’s not something that you can predict or even really count on, to be honest. Past seasons are a good indicator of who will throw more than others…but it is also a good indicator of who’s wing is going to fall off! Aaron Harang, Chris Carpenter, Brandon Webb, Dontrelle Willis…they should all toss some full gamers. But, it is not something you can draft for specifically.

I think you should draft each position to make sure you have a starter in place before you take depth or sleepers. Get your starters in place, then go for hopefuls.

Duncan…will he hold the job or not? He is the starter right now and as long as he keeps hitting like we have seen (1-for-3 tonight), then he will keep the job. I wouldn’t draft him too high, but don’t ignore him either. In a 10 teamer, though Duncan is a weak third OF.

I draft on OPS. I don’t care if that’s a points stat or not… OBP + SLG = OPS. It gives you the best chance to win. Draft off the highest OPS over the last three seasons and you will not go wrong.

Now…the pitching is just a crap shoot really. I draft three to four CLs: Two bingo closers for the saves, one second-tier closer just for some protection in case one of my top two goes down, and some knucklehead that is a maybe (like Seth McClung). I draft best available and not worry about the stats. They will even themselves out if you do a good job drafting. I take the best available masher with pick one, then the best arm for pick two. Then, I go hitter, pitcher, hitter, pitcher, etc. I grab a CL in round five unless one goes before then. I get a C real early. Catchers that hit are about four or five deep in the league, so if you get one, you are in better shape already (I might even look to take Brian McCann first depending on where I pick). After that, go for 2B, 3B, and SS. 1B and OF can wait since you can swing a dead cat without hitting three 1Bs and OFs on the waiver wire. That corner of the infield is crucial in a draft. The amount of C, 2B, 3B, and SSs that can hit is a lot smaller than the number of 1B or OF that can mash.

In a 10 teamer, 1B and OF can wait for a while. I might draft them last in terms of starters unless you see some crazy run go. Ten teams is too small for a realistic league. It is my all-star team versus your all-star team.

Follow us and we will lead you to the promised land, Brian.

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