In this series, I will give you my personal scouting report from watching lots of baseball during the week while trying to leverage my perspective as a former college ballplayer and lifelong baseball fan. I will also do my best to fuse this visual examination with the underlying statistics that we all know and love to provide the most accurate analysis possible.
Matt Garza: Milwaukee Brewers
Still in the league. It’s true, I saw it! My family doesn’t believe me. They believed my Uncle Rick when he claimed to see Bigfoot, but I see Matt Garza on television in 2017 and NO ONE
Amir Garrett: Cincinnati Reds
I know, I know- “you’re going to pick on him after he gets rocked by ‘God’ from the KBL?” Yes. Yes I am. Monday was the first time I caught more than just glimpses of the young lefty. I just don’t see it. I called him a “junk baller” in the text chain of my home league. Maybe that’s a step too far as he is throwing 90-91 from the left side. Still, I haven’t been overly impressed. For example, Alex Wood has been mediocre at best – Yet I’ve still had moments where I go “wow” at the stuff.
Garrett throws what looks like an average major league fastball and does mix in an occasionally devastating slider. The slider, more of a slurve, looks inconsistent to me by the eye test in the early going. I think it’s to the point that the PitchFX data on Fangraphs is actually confused. They list him as having a curve and a slider. I think the system is just confused because one gets such positive results and one gets such terrible results.
It’s still really early so the pitch data probably isn’t perfect, but I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if they’re getting the same pitch mixed up as two.
He threw a few cement mixers that currently live on the moon – care of Eric Thames. Pitches like that will continue to land very, very far away. I imagine those are ones that Pitch FX classified as a curve. He is largely a flyball pitcher who plays for a bad team, with a bad bullpen, in a bad park.
Consider Garrett a high-end streamer. Hopefully he regains some value in his next start against the Cards. If so, I’d look to deal him as a sweetener to owners that overvalue young guys. If you can’t get anything you want, enjoy the ride while it lasts a la Jason Vargas. I’ll try to profile Vargas in the next week or two as well if his magic carpet ride is still going strong.
Current eye test advice is to either sell high or juice the orange. Manage your expectations, and don’t be afraid to cut ties if someone truly exciting is on the wire.
Angels Offense as a whole
I kind of imagined that I would be streaming starters against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever the hell they make you call them these days. They are a pretty ugly looking lineup outside of the best overall player, Mr. Trout, and Old Man Pujols. You will still have to put up with Trout being on base and Pujols figuring out ways to plate him; that’s just the way it is. Even Mike Scioscia can’t screw that up.
The rest of the lineup, while unimpressive, just doesn’t strike out. It’s infuriating to watch at times. I am still far from scared of this lineup, especially with talented right handed pitchers. At the same time, they are not in my top-5 for “auto-stream” status like I thought they might be. Current top-5 in no particular order: Padres, Royals, White Sox, Dodgers against lefties, and Rays against righties.
Steven Souza: Tampa Bay Rays
I really wanted this one to be true. I was just about to change a few team names to Dr. Souza with a “Cat in the Hat” avatar. It’s probably good that Souza got an owwie because it forced me to not get too attached. I had Souza as a HUGE sleeper coming into last year, and I whiffed like Joc Pederson against left handed pitching. I was just about to buy back in, but the strikeouts have returned. After striking out just three times in his first eight games, he has struck out 20 times in the next 57 plate appearances.
The skills change is probably not real. I’m a bit too close to this one, but the elbow bruise and my initial worry about a DL stint has helped snap me into reality. Have to thank the stars for that scare as it’s helped keep my Irish pig headedness from getting in my way. Souza is like the girl who you should dump and you can’t do it because you’re delusional about how great she is. You remain that way until you find out she cheated on you. This bone bruise is just enough to make me see what Souza really is.
The point is, don’t get too attached. Let him go if you need to or if the injury ends up being more serious. He is and will continue to cheat on you like that fictitious girlfriend. His one true love is, and likely will always be, strike outs. Eye test confirmed it prior to the injury. He was lunging at balls and taking bad hacks. Jim Finch, our esteemed editor always reminds us to ride the hot hand in his weekly waiver article. Souza is hitting now, but it’s probably going to stop soon. Don’t be surprised or afraid to drop him when the train comes to station, or sooner.
Michael Conforto: Mets
PLEASE! LET THIS BE IT! Between FAAB and draft dollars these last two years, I’ve spent enough money on Conforto to buy a Chevy, or to finance a much nicer car – something German. I ALWAYS say to bet on talent and skills and assume the playing time will work out. But the problem is, Terry Collins is the Trump card to that rule. Terry Collins does not care how good Michael Conforto is.
The injuries might have opened up enough of an opportunity that the papers, fans, and senior management will shame him into doing the right thing when Duda returns. Conforto was viewed as having insane potential coming into the draft last year, and many (including myself) predicted .290 with 25 home runs and solid counting stats. Nothing has changed. Last year he had trouble finding consistent playing time and got a bit pull-happy. This year he seems to be back. He looks balanced and smooth like he did during the Mets’ World Series run. He looked like a flipping superstar taking Max Scherzer to task in Prime-time on Sunday night.
Here’s the deal. Michael Conforto has 20-10 vision when it comes to the eye test. The contact skills are great, he might have even more pop than we thought, and he’s a plus defender in the corner outfield slots. We just need a bit of luck with having him forced into the lineup long enough to stick. It’s time for Mets and fantasy fans alike to do what is necessary. We need to switch out Duda’s Ibuprofen with sugar pills so his elbow doesn’t gain mobility back too quickly. Give Curtis Granderson bad directions to the ballpark or hide his glove. We just need this kid to play uninterrupted for a month or so and we shouldn’t ever have to worry about his playing time ever again.
Eye test and optimism say to add him everywhere and to buy high in keeper/dynasty leagues.
Jose Bautista: Toronto Blue Jays
Joey Bats is one of my all-time favorite players. He hit dongs during the dong depression. He flipped his bat to a level that has never been matched. He has been a legit threat to be the best player in formats with OBP and points leagues in any given year. And then last year, he was a bit banged up. He also got punched in the face by a guy who hates Joey Bats almost as much as he hates walking (Odor walked 19 times in 632 PAs in ‘16). Watching Bautista this year, I’m worried. I’m not quite hitting the panic button, but I am looking at said button.
I’m normally Mr. “sit back and relax – things will normalize”. I’m concerned. Watching him last night, he fell down for no reason on a Mike Trout bloop down the line. All I can think is that he was tired from catching the previous Mike Trout bloop in the exact same spot. He must have needed to rest for a second. Watching him at the plate – he still has the trademark approach. He still spits on more close balls than anyone this side of Joey Votto (although maybe not ‘17 Votto this year, which we’ll explore in a week or two if it continues). Bautista should still walk a decent amount because of his elite plate approach. He looks bad overall, though.
He’s missing pitches that he used to crush. I wouldn’t drop him like some people are doing, that seems crazy. I would see if there’s any “sit back, it’ll normalize” people in the league that will give you close to fair value. He’s not far removed from killing balls in the WBC, so maybe I’ll feel foolish in a few weeks. But Bautista is 36 years old and coming off a down, injury-plagued season. I’m not going to bury him, because guys like Robbie Cano and Justin Verlander have looked done before only to re-emerge as fantasy stars.
The eye test does give you permission to panic a bit if you are inclined to such behavior. I’m nervous, but I would try to pawn him off on someone who isn’t.
If you’re not visiting Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy baseball needs – you’re doing it wrong.