The Rosin Bag 4/5: Early Season Questions

Gabe Zammit kicks off this season's weekly mailbag with his answers for some of our reader questions. This includes a look at whether we should sell Cleveland's José Ramírez, what to do with Nick Senzel, and some early season stash options.

Welcome to the first edition of The Rosin Bag!

I have always loved reading mailbags regardless of the subject matter. They provide a space for differing perspectives, discussions, and viewpoints. One of my favorites growing up was Stan Lee’s Soapbox found in the back of Marvel Comics. Stan would seemingly tackle just about whatever question he wanted, and as a huge comic book nerd, I loved the variety and sometimes randomness of the responses.

At the heart of this weekly column is YOU the reader. Questions submitted by real people are almost always more interesting to me than the random player spotlight article or weekly recap. So, the goal of this article will be to field a series of questions about baseball, fantasy baseball, or whatever I feel like really. Your questions can be submitted over on our Discord channel. We have a section just for mailbag questions, but there is also so much more baseball goodness there. So, if you aren’t a part of the Pitcher List Discord community yet, then hurry up and join us!

With all that being said, let’s get to it!


From Joshua: When is it time to overreact to good/bad performances?

This is really the hot topic every year at about this time isn’t it? We are about a couple of weeks into the season, and the temptation right now is certainly to look at your league standings. Depending on where your team sits, you are either taking a premature victory lap or sweating more than Mike Tyson at a spelling bee. I’m here to offer you just a little, tiny piece of advice…. DON’T WORRY ABOUT YOUR STANDINGS!

At least, don’t worry about them on April 5. If your team isn’t performing the way you had projected, there is still plenty of time to right the ship. So place the panic to the side. Yes, these games do count. Yes, some players have been harder to watch than Nicholas Cage in a dramatic role. As of this writing, most starting batters have had 30 or so at bats and most starting pitchers have maybe a couple of starts under their belt. My advice is, when it comes to your marquee players (the guys you spent premium draft capital on), don’t make any rash decisions yet unless you have some real concrete evidence that something is wrong. Don’t feel the need to sell low, and most importantly, in the name of all that’s good in the world, don’t drop a guy like Corey Seager (who is off to a less than inspiring start) for a guy like Tim Beckham (who is clearly playing at an unsustainable pace).

To the original question then, when is the time to consider performances. Unless you had an amazing draft, or unless you play in a 10-12 team league, you probably have a couple spots at the end of your bench with fringy guys. Those are the ones I’m always ok turning over for players who have gotten hot. It is important to grab those guys, just don’t do it at the expense of your top-end players. Once we get about 4 weeks of games in, that is when I start to take the sample size more seriously for players who are either under or overperforming projections. Until then, try your best to take a measured approach, and maybe even look around for possible buying opportunities from an owner who may be a little panicked about a bad performer on their squad.


From Wyatt: Might be another slow start, but would you sell JoRam? (Bad offense. No Lindor. Last year’s late slump.)

So, this question ties in with the previous one in a big way. José Ramírez has looked pretty bad so far, and to make matters worse he fouled a ball off his foot in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays. The good news about the injury is that it has been labeled as just a foot contusion. Meaning, he may just miss a little time depending on his pain tolerance. The bad news is that this just adds one more layer to the uncertainty that has been Ramírez’s recent history.

Ramírez’s last 230 ABs in August and September last year resulted in a .210/.343/.387 slash line, which pales in comparison to everything that preceded that point of the year. To this point, this year his slash line looks even worse at a measly .135/.167/.182.

All this to say my advice right now if you are an owner is to hold, and if you aren’t, would be to buy if you get the sense that you could get him for even 80 cents on the dollar. Last year Ramirez was bound to regress some after the way he lit the league on fire before August, and this year the sample size is just too small to jump ship.  This is still a 26-year-old who can contribute in every category and is buoyed by an incredible walk rate. Unless word comes out about an injury or something similarly negative, I’m not worried. Not to mention, for what you likely paid to own him, it’s unlikely you are going to receive appropriate compensation to let him go.


From Erik: What are you doing with Nick Senzel if you drafted him in a 12-team league? Did the ankle injury change anything for you?

Senzel was a very buzzy guy through spring training and heading into drafts, particularly when the Reds announced he’d be getting looked at in center field. This dissuaded the notion that he wouldn’t find playing time because of the logjam with the Reds infield. However, he was sent down after spring training, and subsequently sprained his ankle.

This is a great question and all revolves around league and team context. It is clear that the Reds want and need Senzel to give their lineup a boost. They are looking to get him in however they can and the only reason he didn’t begin the year on the major league roster was probably to save service time. Now, there hasn’t been a ton of information about the severity of his injury, which leaves things so muddled. It’s hard to imagine Senzel tracking down fly balls in center on a less than 100% ankle or turning a double play at 2B even (although that seems like a better fit at this point for his health).

If I owned Senzel, and I could spare the roster space, I would hold until we got more information about the injury. It might not be too bad and maybe Senzel is up mid-May. Everyone is scouring the wire for this year’s breakout rookie, so if you drop him, my guess is someone in your league is going to snap him up based on the potential alone.


From davidbowieub40: Good under the radar stash options? AJ Puk?

Considering we are only a couple of weeks into the season, there are a lot of guys with stash potential depending on your team needs. You could gamble on some of the higher profile rookies and pray for a call up, or maybe an injured major league player sitting on waivers, or there’s always the bench bat with potential who just needs regular playing time. This is totally another league context question. In deep leagues a lot of guys I might mention will have been long gone, so I’ll try my best to hit a variety of guys here and also list their ownership percentage based on Yahoo.

Tyler O’Neil, OF, Cardinals (5% owned):

Is Dexter Fowler really still a thing? Ugh…. The answer is yes… unfortunately. O’Neil is the most likely next man up in that Cardinals outfield if/when Fowler goes down with an injury or loses ABs due to his poor play. I really like the idea of grabbing and holding O’Neil now before the hype gets too loud. He can hit for power, and honestly, it’s just a matter of time before he sees more ABs.

Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (3% owned):

One of the bigger surprise cuts coming out of spring training this year was Austin Hays. He was batting .351 with 5 homers and looked like a lock to make the starting roster. However, the Orioles decided he needed more seasoning in the minors… or some other made up garbage… and so instead we get the stalwart outfield of Cedric Mullins, Joey Rickard, and Dwight Smith Jr. There is no reason once Hays passes certain service time markers that the Orioles won’t call him up. Once up, he should still have some ups and downs as he adjusts, but he should also become the most fantasy-friendly outfielder in Baltimore.

Jesus Luzardo, SP, Athletics (18% owned):

Luzardo had so much helium in draft prep, but a strained rotator cuff had him missing the cut for the major league roster. This could be a guy who immediately jumps to the front of this rotation. Luzardo is an electric talent and has the kind of potential that saw him getting drafted in the top 40 SP in some leagues before the injury. I would much rather stash Luzardo if available over the guy we are going to touch on next, but know there is always risk involved with pitchers coming back from shoulder injuries. I mean, they kind of need those to work properly in order to throw.

AJ Puk, SP, Athletics (2% owned):

TJ surgery derailed Puk’s (and fantasy owner’s) hopes to break onto the major league roster in 2018 and mow down batters similar to his minor league rates. The good news now is that Puk is throwing and on track to debut this year. The bad news is that it likely won’t be until July and the Athletics may have him on an inning cap for the year. Is he a good stash? I’d say yes if you play in a league where he qualifies for the IL or you can put him in a spot that doesn’t clog your bench. There’s just no guarantee when he returns he will perform, so owning him is risky.


Thanks so much for joining me for the first Rosin Bag mailbag! I am so excited to grow this community and if I didn’t get to your question, feel free to hit me up on twitter: @gabezammit

Don’t forget to send in questions via our Discord channel. You can also submit questions by sending an email to: [email protected]

Good luck in your fantasy leagues and I’ll see you back here next week!

Gabe Zammit

Gabe Zammit has been writing about baseball since 2017. He is a contributor on Pitcher List in addition to Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Outside of the baseball world, Gabe is a music director and producer and loves to chat about anything and everything music.

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