Five For Fighting: Mark Schruender of Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove

J Ellet LambieCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Joe Crede #24 of the Minnesota Twins poses during photo day at the Twins spring training complex February 23, 2008 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Welcome to another installment of Five For Fighting, where I’ll team up with other fantasy baseball bloggers and columnists to ask and answer questions on players, strategy, trends and other facets of the game we love. Each installment will see yours truly trade five questions with a talented writer from elsewhere on the web.
My questions and their answers will appear here, in this humble forum, while their questions and my answers will appear on their site, in this case here. Hopefully this segment will provide you with valuable insight from a variety of sources and introduce you to new writers whose work I think you’ll enjoy.

Joining me this time around is Mark Schruender from Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove. He started blogging about fantasy baseball the day after the Phillies won the World Series last year to help him cope with missing baseball during the winter.

He counted down the top 158 players by profiling one player per day to fill the off-season. He now asks bloggers of various MLB teams for their take from a fantasy perspective and writes his own articles about whatever happens to be on his mind. Big thanks to Mark for being a part of this experiment. Now let’s get to it…


1. Give me one player owned in 10 percent or less of Yahoo or ESPN leagues that should be on my roster

How about a guy who is owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues! Joe Crede is swinging a hot bat so I would snatch him up. He had three home runs in four different games, so that shows me that he’s not been ranked in the top 100 in the last week and month based on one at-bat like some other players.

Most of the time when you are scanning free agents, the Jason Bartlett types who do the equivalent to your team as a heart surgeon who makes you feel like a teenager again aren’t going to be there anymore, so I’m just looking to squeeze every drop of stats out of the scrap heap. I don’t expect Crede to stay hot or healthy, so when it ends get ready to find the next flavor of the week.

Stay tuned though. I think Clay Buchholz will stick when he gets the call up and will be nasty. I just wouldn’t waste a roster spot on him yet.


2. Which oft-injured, under-performing slugger are you more concerned about and whyCarlos Quentin or Josh Hamilton?

Quentin. I really thought he was going to take another step forward or at least replicate his 2008 season, but he hasn’t performed. Whether or not it has been the foot injury or the wrist which he claims is irrelevant.

Hamilton meanwhile has hits in three straight games and hit a dinger in Houston over the weekend. I think Hamilton can be a great buy-low guy right now.  


3. If you were forced to take the entire starting rotation of any MLB team for your fantasy team, which would it be and why?

It wouldn’t be five for fighting if we didn’t get to talk about the best five-man rotation. The Dodgers, Cardinals, and Royals have the top three ERAs in baseball, but I don’t want any of those teams. I feel like the back of their rotations has resembled a reality show more than a baseball team. The team I want is the San Francisco Giants even though they struggle to win games.

Lincecum had a tough start to the season, but after his first two starts, nobody in baseball has had more strikeouts. He also has a quality start in all but one of his last seven starts.

He’s not the only guy that can get strikeouts on staff as Randy Johnson and Jonathan Sanchez strikeout about one batter per inning. Matt Cain—despite not winning a lot—is a legit number two on most MLB teams and generally gets hot in the middle of the season. Barry Zito isn’t worth the money he’s paid, but he has been pitching better lately.

The Giants have two of the better pitching prospects in Double-A in Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner. Chances are that Bumgarner, who is only 19, won’t be brought up, but it’s nice to know if RJ shows his age that there could be a potential ace in waiting.


4. Of the following closers who will lose their job and when do you think it will happen, roughlyKerry Wood, David Aardsma, Ryan Franklin, Fernando Rodney, Brad Lidge.

Wood will hit the DL on June 10. He will come back on July 8 and hit the DL again (for good) on August 14. I still see Mark Prior’s shadow following him around…

Aardsma throws hard, but there is a reason he has pitched for five different teams in five seasons. Looking at his career splits he has really struggled in July and August, so hopefully for Mariners fans Brandon Morrow can right the ship by that point. Otherwise say hello to Shawn Kelley.

I think Franklin will be saving games into October.

After going through one rough patch in April, Rodney has been solid. The job is his until he gets hurt. Joel Zumaya will already be injured when Rodney gets hurt so don’t bother adding him.

Charlie Manuel is sticking with Lidge, but I’m thinking he retracts that statement next week. Something is obviously wrong when he’s averaging more than a run allowed every inning. At the rate things are going I can see them giving Lidge a “mental break” where the Phils try to bring him into situations that Nick Swisher would be pitching.

If Lidge continues to struggle after that, similar to what the Red Sox have now with David Ortiz, they will have to move him out of the role until he proves he can get hitters out. If he doesn’t turn it around, look at Ryan Madson in a week.


5. Give me one hitter and one pitcher off to a slow start that you believe will turn it around in a big way and tell me why

Hitter: Alexei Ramirez. He actually has doubled his walk rate so far in 2009 which has been encouraging. The stolen bases are right about where I would have expected them and given that his on base percentage hasn’t been great he should steal more than the 28 he is on pace for. Lately he’s been putting together better at-bats and with a .237 BABIP the average is bound to come up sooner or later.

Pitcher: Daisuke Matsuzaka. He pitched well in his one start coming off the DL against the Mets, but the line doesn’t show it. If Julio Lugo turns a double play that 90 percent of shortstops turn, he would have allowed two runs instead of four.

Everyone assumed that Daisuke was rolling a hot dice last year (p-u-n-!) after walking so many last year, but the reason he walks so many is because he pitches on the corners and rarely gives hitters a pitch that they can drive. That correlates into a high WHIP, but a low ERA and with the Red Sox lineup a good wins per start rate.

So there we have it. Big thanks again to Mark. You can check out the other side of this experiment here, where Mark tests my fantasy sanity with some fantastic questions.

Again you can read the counterpart to this story here, at Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove.

Until next time kiddies….



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