After an All-Star break hiatus, welcome back to the SCFE Week 16 Hot Topics column. The MLB non-waiver trade deadline is two weeks away and the Fantasy Baseball home stretch is beginning.
Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting old, but something seems wrong about seeing back to school stuff in mid-July. What the hell is that? If you’ve ever seen Summer School, you know there’s a very valid reason for summer vacation: the human brain needs rest. If you haven’t seen Summer School, do so now.
With the British Open this week, the choice for the column’s theme seemed obvious. It’s golf movie time. I’ve already featured what I consider to be the funniest movie of all time; now I’m going with the most quotable movie ever. Even if you’ve never seen Caddyshack (and I weep for you if you haven’t), you’ve most likely either heard or even used a quote from Caddyshack during your life.
Have you ever shouted (or heard someone shout) “Noonan!” when a player is shooting a free throw, attempting a kick, or hitting a putt? This is where it comes from. Have you ever heard or said, “right in the lumber yard?” Yup, it’s Caddyshack.
Released in 1980, in the early days of Cable TV, Caddyshack was a constant presence. Looking back, Caddyshack featured a comic All-Star team: Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and Rodney Dangerfield. Wow. The now-legendary Bill Murray/Chevy Chase scene was not even part of the script. They basically made that up on the spot.
No matter how many times you’ve seen it, Caddyshack always makes you laugh. Caddyshack is one of those things you can count on to make you feel better about life in general, just like Fantasy Baseball. No matter how your teams are doing, a day with Fantasy Baseball is better than one without. Whatever else happens, never forget to enjoy yourself. Here are the Week 16 Hot Topics.
Week 16 Hot Topics
Hot Topic No. 1: “I kinda thought winning wasn’t important. Me winning isn’t, you do.”
Jose Quintana, SP, Chicago Cubs
I give you the wit and wisdom of Chevy Chase as Ty Webb. Like Danny Noonan being confronted with Ty’s grammatical excursion, my initial reaction to the Jose Quintana trade was confusion. Actually, I hated it when I first read about it.
The Cubs just gave up their top prospects again? Aroldis Chapman; we hardly knew ye. I have to stop myself, however. I said last year that if the Cubs won the World Series, then the Chapman trade was worth it. And there you go. Bob and Tom fans will get that one.
Upon further reflection, the Jose Quintana trade is completely different than the Aroldis Chapman trade. This isn’t just about this year for the Cubs like the Chapman deal; it’s also about the next three years. My first reaction to the Jose Quintana trade was horror, but I also wanted the Cubs to draft Jon Gray instead of Kris Bryant. So what do I know?
When it comes to the trading season, Theo Epstein (or as I call him, Cursebreaker the Mighty) always likes to strike early, whether he’s buying or selling. This trade is also consistent with Theo’s Epstein’s draft philosophy: Acquire a surplus of hitting prospects to trade for established cost-controlled pitching.
And that is what makes this trade different from the Aroldis Chapman deal. Jose Quintana is not a rental. Jose Quintana is under team control through 2020 with team options in 2019 and 2020. The annual salaries: $8.85 million in 2018; $10.5 million in 2019; and $11.5 million in 2020. For a quality 28-year old SP, that is ridiculously team-friendly. The Cubs are going to pay Jose Quintana less than Edwin Jackson. Seriously!
Here are Jose Quintana’s career numbers prior to the trade: 50-54 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 890 Ks in 1,055.1 IP. Those are great numbers pitching in the AL for a White Sox team that was really going nowhere for most of those seasons. Ignore wins. Prior to this season, Jose Quintana’s highest ERA in any season was 3.76. Again, in the AL. A pitcher going from the AL to the NL is like Transformers versus Gobots; the level of competition changes thanks to the lack of a DH in the NL.
Prior to the trade this season, Jose Quintana posted a 4-8 record, 4.49 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 109 Ks in 104.1 IP. Forget about the record and ERA; he got off to a slow start for a rebuilding team with bullpen issues. He’s also putting up a career-high 9.4 K/9 ratio this season and allowing a career-low .246 AVG.
Calling his first start with the Cubs on July 16 dominant doesn’t do it justice. Against the Orioles, Jose Quintana picked up the W with a 7.0 IP/3 H/0 ER/0 BB/12 K stat line. Wow. Like Danny Noonan winning the caddy tournament, that’s an impressive performance.
Theo Epstein knows the Cubs’ championship window is officially open, and this trade reflects that. Even though Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease were the Cubs’ top hitting and pitching prospects, they are currently both in single A and unlikely to be MLB-ready for a couple of years. If you’re trying to win another world championship, you’re not waiting on prospects.
NL-Only league owners should’ve gone all in on Jose Quintana like Mike McD against Teddy KGB at the end of Rounders. If you had the top waiver claim, you just flopped the nuts straight. However, this trade might turn out in the future, Jose Quintana is the one making the impact this year.
Hot Topic No. 2: “So I got that going for me, which is nice.”
Bradley Zimmer, OF, Cleveland Indians
Bill Murray as Carl Spackler is one of the most iconic movie roles ever. This quote regarding Carl’s experience caddying for the Dalai Lama (you know the Lama’s a big hitter) sums up Bradley Zimmer’s recent opportunity with the Cleveland Indians.
Bradley Zimmer was the 2014 first-round (21st overall) pick of the Indians. He’s 24 years old and stands 6’-4”. Bradley Zimmer has the power/speed combo profile that Fantasy Baseball owners stampede after. He has a good batting eye, but (say it with me), like most young hitters has strikeout issues and can struggle against left-handed pitching.
Bradley Zimmer’s career minor league numbers are solid: .270 AVG/.372 OBP/218 R/42 HR/171 RBI/103 SB stat line in 338 games. He also had 44 SBs in 2015 and 38 SBs in 2016. Like Bishop Pickering trying to play through the monsoon, however, there is some disturbing news. Specifically, the aforementioned strikeout tendencies; including 171 Ks in 2016.
Called up on May 16, Bradley Zimmer has posted a .276 AVG/19 R/5 HR/25 RBI/10 SB stat line in first 51 games. His upside was limited because he was stuck in the bottom half of the lineup, however. But with Jason Kipnis hitting the DL, Bradley Zimmer is getting a shot at the leadoff spot.
He definitely has the speed to lead off, and Jason Kipnis wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire before heading to the DL (.232 AVG/.292 OBP/5 SBs in 66 games). If he takes the job and runs with it (pun intended), Bradley Zimmer could stick atop of the Indians’ lineup.
Bradley Zimmer will likely go unnoticed because he’s an AL rookie not named Aaron Judge. He’s currently owned in only 12% of ESPN leagues and 13% of Yahoo leagues. That’s actually kind of shocking considering how valuable speed is for Fantasy Baseball owners.
These days, speed is a precious commodity like Unobtainium. Sorry, Avatar was on cable this week. Unobtainium was also a fictional substance in The Core. Interesting twist on disaster movies. The core of the earth has stopped spinning! If you’ve never seen it, you should check it out. But I digress.
If you need some speed for your roster, you should be sprinting to your waiver wire for Bradley Zimmer. He not only provides SBs, but also has the potential to contribute in the other offensive categories. This could be one of those sneaky acquisitions that wins you a Fantasy Baseball championship. Like Carl Spackler, this could make you the Cinderella Story of your league.
Hot Topic No. 3: “Hey, you scratched my anchor!”
Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
Starling Marte owners probably feel like Judge Smails after Al Czervick (there was absolutely no one who could’ve played that part better Rodney Dangerfield) expressed his concern about damaging his anchor while destroying Judge Smails’ boat.
In 2016, Starling Marte posted a .311 AVG/71 R/9 HR/46 RBI/47 SB stat line. He also had 19 HRs and 81 RBI to go with 30 SBs in 2015. The power/speed potential is off the charts, and Starling Marte is considered a breakout threat every year. If you drafted him, you probably spent some serious draft capital.
And then came the suspension for an old-school 1980s steroid on April 18. 80 games. Ouch. If you’re a Starling Marte owner, you probably reacted to that suspension like Judge Smails coming home and finding Danny Noonan with his niece.
Like Judge Smails forgiving Danny for his indiscretions with his niece, you just have to put the past behind you. Have a Fresca. If you held on to Starling Marte (and you should have), you should expect a jolt to your SB totals at the very least.
As of July 18, Starling Marte has been reinstated and will be leading off. Since his return, he has gone 2-for-8 with two runs scored and two strikeouts. Apparently, some owners panicked despite Starling Marte’s eligibility to return and contribute this season. For some reason, he is unowned in 26% of ESPN leagues and 21% of Yahoo leagues. Go check the waiver wire in your leagues; you might thank me later.
The suspension hurt, no question about that. But you’re still getting Starling Marte for the Fantasy Baseball stretch run and the playoffs. Starling Marte’s return could also have a ripple effect on rest of the Pirates’ lineup. As a frustrated Gregory Polanco owner, I’ll take the extra lineup support.
If Starling Marte dominates for the rest of 2017, the Fantasy Baseball police may withdraw the charge for attempted Fantasy Baseball homicide against him. He can still put up big numbers during the rest of the season and into the Fantasy Baseball playoffs. Like Happy Gilmore coming back from his suspension (it was all Bob Barker’s fault), it should be interesting.
There are your Fantasy Baseball Week 16 Hot Topics. The trade deadline madness is upon us, and the Fantasy Baseball playoff push begins. Of course, if your team is struggling, you can always measure yourself against other Fantasy Baseball owners by height like Ty Webb. Until next time, always remember that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, in the opposite direction.
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