Sunday, February 24, 2008

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thing to Watch In Spring Training, Part Deux

Friends are going to spring training in Arizona this year and I was invited. Intrasquad games and closers coming in for the third inning? I took a pass. The only thing exciting about spring training is its conclusion. Nevertheless, there are some things to keep an eye out for while continuing to catch every episode of the RR/RW Challenge: The Gauntlet. (BTW, The show is an hour now, but I almost wish it were only a half hour so there would be twice as many episodes. Talk about bittersweet. Loved how Danny was happy his wife, Melinda, got a concussion so she wouldn’t be vulnerable for elimination. That's love!)

Felipe Lopez – It’s official; Felipe Lopez slept with Manny Acta’s wife. Last year, he refused to play small ball and it cost Felipe Lopez (as Gollum would say) precious steals. This year, Acta announced Ronnie Belliard would be the 2nd baseman and Cristian Guzman would be the shortstop, leaving Lopez on the bench. I don’t think highly of Felipe Lopez, but saying Cristian Guzman is a poor man’s Felipe Lopez is an insult to poor men everywhere. Watch to see if Felipe can get off the bench and in the lineup somewhere because he could be a bargain if he’s taken in the final rounds. Cristian Guzman’s going to suck and stink, but he won’t stick.

Cubs Closer – Marmol, Howry or Wood? Wood, Marmol or Howry? Hell if I know. My guess is Howry because Piniella’s got a thing for the proven and Howry’s the closest thing to proven. If you had ESPN Deportes, you saw Marmol be lights out in the Caribbean Series for his DR team. Wood can be lights out. Whichever way this goes, you need to know.

Dave Roberts – You’re rooting for him to perform badly in spring training so Fred Lewis (potential steals) or Nate Schierholtz (potential power) get a chance. If it makes you feel any better rooting for the end to Roberts, keep telling yourself he had a nice career. (Sure, it would be a lie, but whatever. If you can’t lie to yourself, who can you lie to?)

Colby Rasmus – In his Double A debut, .275/.381/.551 with 29 home runs, 37 doubles and 18 stolen bases. Could he unseat Ryan Ludwick in rightfield? I think sooner rather than later, but it may not be as early as this spring training. He will probably take over sometime this year though, so keeper owners need to have Rasmus on the brain at draft time.

The entire Oakland A’s lineup – You need to see who is batting and where, especially in AL-only leagues. If Cust is cleanup and Chavez is batting third, then they need to be drafted in mixed leagues. Barton batting second? Might not be bad to take a flier. Chris Denorfia is going to be entering that magical 27 year-old year. (And, yes, that is the only time magical and Chris Denorfia will ever be in the same sentence.) He’s considered to be the frontrunner for centerfield and could potentially give you 10/20 numbers with a .280 in a full season of at-bats. “Could” is the key word.

Tomorrow I’ll look at some more spring training battles, until then…


Things to Watch for in Spring Training

2008 Spring Training is here. Pitchers and catchers and even some “out to prove something” players are already reporting. It’s a glorious time when absolutely nothing matters. If Pujols strikes out fifty consecutive times in spring training, he can go on to win the MVP. Or maybe he’ll carry that into the season and have an atrocious April. Either way, you can’t tell from spring training. It’s an exhibition. Got that? Good. Okay, time to contradict myself. Here’s some things that actually do matter in spring training:

Jay Bruce vs. Ryan Freel – Don’t think Freel’s going to lose this one. Bruce has hit everywhere he’s been. Rocketing through the minors, but he’s still extremely young. But Josh Hamilton won the starting centerfield job last spring, so you never know. Then again, Dusty’s in town. Bruce is headed for Triple A; you still watch. See what all the hype is about.

Mike Hampton – He can’t strikeout anyone, probably nothing but an innings eater at this stage in his career, but the Braves say he’s their number starter. I say he hasn’t pitched since 2005. This is something to watch in NL-only leagues if for no other reason than to see if Jair Jurrjens gets a chance. Remember every pitcher gets drafted in NL-only, why not grab one on a team that should have a winning record.

Carlos Quentin – He’s already reported to spring training and he wants to play. Shoulder’s said to be healed; hopefully his OBP will be, as well. Throw last year away, it wasn’t indicative of his promise. Why you’re watching? See if he gets the job. Outfield got crowded with Pretty Boy Swisher.

CJ Wilson – It’s being reported that he’s the team’s closer. Saves are predictably saves, so if it’s Wilson, he must be drafted.

Zach Greinke – Harnessing his demons and his fastball towards the end of last year proved fruitful. He’s still only 24.

Pedro Martinez – He’s already reported to spring training and he’s already talking. He insists that his incredible steriods’ era numbers were un-enhanced. Good for Pedro. He’s still old and his body’s frail. Check to see how he looks this spring. He might be a steal on a team that will win a lot of games. Just keep expectations in check – i.e. 150 innings is a gift.

Will be back tomorrow with more things that matter in spring training when nothing matters, until then...


Friday, February 15, 2008

The Philly Infield, Point/Counterpoint

Let me start by saying, I received an email from Rudy Gamble saying we should do a feature where we breakdown the Philly infield – like a point/counterpoint. I said -- Ok, point/counterpoint needs controversy, where’s the controversy with the Philly infield? Feels kinda obvious. Then he emailed me saying we should do a feature where we breakdown the Philly infield and he’d use his newfangled player rater that he put together with a calculator. I see. He’s trying to make me look bad. First, I need to point something out; the calculator is a fairly new invention. Sure, the abacus as been around the block, but who uses an abacus? Babylonians. And what happened to the Babylonians? I think Prince dated one once. Other than that, Babylonians are bubkus. There’s surely not too many Babylonians playing fantasy baseball. So, with that said, if you want the Philly infield the non-scientific way, look at my fantasy projections. If you want scientific and/or you are a Babylonian, scroll down to Rudy’s.

Grey Albright:

1. Chase Utley – He’s the cheese and Rollins is the macaroni. If I could reinvent myself in someone’s image, I’d choose Chase. Hey, that's got a good ring, Choose Chase. He should run for Philly mayor using that slogan. Right now, he’d win. This is a no-brainer for me. 2nd base is the toughest position to fill in fantasy where you need some value (Catcher is the hardest, but you can do workarounds there.). In an abbreviated '07, he still gave you 1st round numbers. Here’s what I said in the top ten overall in fantasy baseball post, “Weak position, monster lineup, great ability, fierce determination. Projections: 120/32/115/.325/12.” I stand by those numbers, but that was before Feliz. With the addition of Feliz, subtract five runs.

2. Jimmy Rollins – Philly’s a racist town. Rollins won the MVP and yet he doesn’t see the love like Chase. That’s facts, man. And it’s depressing me. But what’s it doing to J. Roll? Will this make Rollins better or worse? Will Rollins tie his cornrows tighter and play with even more determination? J. Roll seems like he’s that type. To let it roll (pun intended, but still bad) off his shoulders and play even harder, but can he? I’m not so sure. Here’s what I wrote on the top twenty overall post, “…his thirty home runs were the best of his career and now he’s going to be 30 years old in 2008. So if someone else takes him earlier, c'est la vie. Yes, that may be the only time c'est la vie has ever been written in a fantasy baseball blog. Projections: 130/22/70/35/.290.” I stand by those numbers, but with Feliz's addition you have to subtract five runs and RBIs.

3. Ryan Howard – He’s a monster, probably will lead the majors in homers and could easily beat either Utes or Rolls in a game of “I will eat seven pounds of hamburger meat quicker than you.” He’s below Chase and Jimmy simply because the 1st base position is easier to fill with a heavyweight (I think this is a pun, too, and I apologize.) Back in January, I said his projections would be: 100/50/140/.275. With the addition of freakin' Feliz, drop ten runs and five RBIs.

4. Pedro Feliz – I got one nice thing to say about Feliz, at least he’s not David Bell. The albatross hanging around the Phillies’s neck is third base, but it doesn’t need to be your burden. Pedro Feliz will kill your morale and you’ll end up muttering to yourself on a street corner. Write this on your fantasy cheatsheet, “Stay Away From Pedro Feliz.” Projections: 65/22/85/.245 so unless you’re drafting Ichiro, an ’07 Magglio Ordonez and a ’94 Tony Gwynn, “Stay Away from Pedro Feliz.” You're welcome.

Rudy Gamble:

Welcome to our first edition of Point/Counterpoint. Grey (the guy who writes most of the posts) and I tend to have different approaches when ranking/judging players so we thought this might prove to be interesting. When we do agree on fantasy baseball, it tends to be either wise (Peavy will have a great 2007!), obvious (Reyes will steal a lot of SB in 2007!), or a harbinger of a roto-disaster (how can Jason Schmidt fail in LA!).

Anyway, without further ado, your very own Phillies infield, America!

4. Pedro Feliz – Signing this guy to a two-year contract drew the ire of some prognosticators. A naïve student of the game might look at the progression of Philly 3B over the years (Schmidt, Rolen, David Bell, Pedro Feliz – with some Dave Hollins, Wes Helms, and Charlie Hayes along the way) and see it as an insult to the Philly fan. On the contrary, Philly fans love to hate their 3B and welcome any justification to do so. Hating Schmidt – perhaps the best 3B of all time – took a lot of effort. Hating Rolen was slightly easier and seems prescient now that he ran himself out of St. Louis. But Pedro Feliz – jeez, you can find so much not to like. I don’t think he makes my top 30 3Bs. The weakest member of a quartet since Ringo Starr. (note: Pedro Feliz = Peter Happy. All he’s missing is Jeff Kent’s pornstache and he’s ready to bang. Best baseball player porn name since Kazuhito Tadano).

3. Ryan Howard – My projected MLB HR leader (47 HRs) and a top 5 finisher in RBIs (130 RBI). But aside from slightly above average run production, not much else from the big man. I have no problem drafting a HR/RBI guy in later rounds if you need power but in the 1st/2nd round, your only need is to draft the best overall player. I project the average 1B to hit .286 – Howard is projected at around .273. That’s roughly the value equivalent of removing 4 HR or 15 RBIs. Add no SBs and it makes him a 2 ½ stat player which gets him an early 3rd round value in my book (where he’ll be already off the board in all drafts) and a #3 ranking in the Philly infield. (note: Ever notice that Ryan Howard is also the name of the white intern-promoted-to-boss on ‘The Office’? It’s set in the Philly suburb of Scranton. Not one joke about it? I enjoy it when people of different races have the same name – gives me the warm and fuzzies. I wait for the day when a white, black, latino, and an asian baseball player all share the same name. All we need is an Asian Lee in the majors to make it happen on the last name (Cliff Lee – White, Derrek Lee – Black, Carlos Lee – Latino). If only Sang-Hoon Lee had panned out…)

Now for the tough one – Utley or Rollins. I think they are close enough in value that taking one ahead of the other wouldn’t qualify as a blunder. Position scarcity doesn’t play a role here – the only difference I see in 2B and SS projections are that SS has better SBs. Otherwise, you’re looking at about 15 players in each position that’ll average about 85/18/72/.283. Both players project about the same for runs. Utley has more value at HR, RBI, and AVG. Rollins has more value on SBs. I’ve got Utley’s HR/RBI advantage equaling Rollins SB advantage (will explain more in upcoming Player Rater just how) so Utley’s better AVG puts him over the top. Maybe they’ll let him win the MVP this year to set the record for the most consecutive MVPs on a team averaging less than 90 wins.

2. Jimmy Rollins (early 2nd round value)

1. Chase Utley (late 1st round value)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Fantasy Baseball Draft Lists

First off, you’re welcome. We put the “Thank you” in your mouth because you were too proud to say it. How did we know you were thinking it? Cause you’re a fantasy baseball nutjob, just like us. We appreciate you here. So much so, we’ve covered the 2008 fantasy baseball draft lists for every single position. Eat them with a slice of humble pie:

Here’s our 2007 Player Rater for some prospective. One of these days, Rudy Gamble will get around to doing our 2008 Player Rater. When? When he's finished combing CHONE, ZIPS, PECOTA, ROTOWORLD and ROTOWIRE, that's when. Until then...


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Around the Majors

The Fantasy Hurler breaks down what he thinks 2nd base is going to look like in ’08. Usually, the Hurler and I are pretty copasetic. This time, not such much. I like Cano. The Hurler makes some pretty valid points that are all wrong. He thinks Cano’s fleet-footed with little power and overrated because he plays in the Brawnx. Maybe they are valid? See his list here; stay for the other draft guides.

Brock For Broglio pointed out a very cool thing to me the other day. You can search Baseball-Reference using your search engine bar on your Firefox browser. Very cool.

Rotonomics broke down tiers for ’08 catchers. If you haven’t seen it, worth a look even if we disagree in places. They have Martin over Victor (Disagree). Either way, check it out and tell us how you think they did. Or tell them; don't be shy.

Finally, Roger Clemens met his accuser today in front of Congress. (SPOILER ALERT!) Roger Clemens took steroids and is now lying about it.


Frank Thomas, Big 2008 Sleeper?

By Hater Bell

ESPN’s top "analyst," Eric Karabell, lit a flame nugget under me when he decided to tout Frank Thomas as a big 2008 sleeper. That’s right, the soon-to-be 40 year-old, Toronto DH who limps around the bases. Seems to me that Karabell has been sleeping for the last ten years. You need to be an ESPN Outsider to read the entire Frank Thomas is a “big 2008 sleeper” hooey, but I’ll recycle the relevant rubbish here:

The Big Hurt isn't young, has a limited ceiling and certainly isn't the same player who put up Hall of Fame stats for more than a decade, but he's hardly a bad option at this point. In fact, in one of the January drafts I had, Thomas was my 22nd-round pick, the second to last player I chose. I kept waiting and waiting and nobody wanted the guy. I was stacked on offense, and intended to use my utility spot for steals, but how could I turn down a shot at Thomas?

Utility spot filled with a diminishing-skills 40-year-old? This is mind numbing. Was Dave Roberts already off the board? How about Mike Schmidt? Greg Luzinski?

Karabaloney doesn’t say who was still on the board this late in the draft, but you absolutely have to take an upside guy (LaRoche, Kotchman, Votto, etc.) or round out your pitching with a quality middleman who might get you saves (Rodney, Broxton, Betancourt, etc.). If you take Frank Thomas, you’re just not trying hard enough or paying attention. The Big Limp is not hitting as many fly balls and his average is (updated) around .260 since 2001. Sure, he takes walks, but he should be lifted every time he gets on the basepaths. Watching him run is as painful as watching Claire Danes act. At age forty, if his career continues to decline (which there’s no reason to think it won’t), he’s lucky to go 22-80-.260 with a paltry 60 runs. As Rich Dad might say, that’s a liability not an asset.

To see some guys that are actual sleepers, look here, here and here. You're welcome.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keeper Question, From Me to You

Giving invaluable advice is what we do and all you do is sit there eating your cranberry bran muffin and reading it. Over a hundred of you subscribe to the feed, over 2,000 of you stop by daily. As Juan Encarncion might say, “I can’t see you, but I know you’re there.” Without you, it wouldn’t be half the fun. Okay, maybe it would be half the fun, but definitely not three-quarters of the fun. So to repay me, I’m letting you help me with my keeper team.

Caveats you must know:

It’s a NL-only ten team, five player max keeper, standard $260 budget. Scoring categories are: Offensively -- Home Runs, OBP, Runs, RBIs, Sbs, Total Bases. Pitching – ERA, Innings, Strikeouts Minus Walks, Saves, Wins, WHIP. I refuse to pay more than $30 for any single player and no more than $100 total on my pitching staff. It’s my oldest keeper league and the winner gets close to two grand, so, ya know, pay attention. Onto the keeper letter to you:


First off, great reading of my site! In the last two years, I’ve traded away Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez for nothing. There might be more numbskulled moves, but I’m drunk trying to dull the pain of past blunders. Guess you can also see why I’m soliciting advice. Can’t do much worse! So going into 2008, I have few options. Not “a” few, just few. For $29, I’m keeping Matt Holliday. This is a bargain in our league, or any for that matter. Plus, he falls below my imaginary Mason-Dixon $30 line. Now for the cream of the rest of my crap:

Pedro Martinez at $11. I think he’s got 130 inning/10 wins/ 3.35/good Ks-BB/good WHIP. This seems like a no-brainer to me for $11, but I have my doubts and may wait until spring training’s assessment of the number three man on the Mets.

Jose Valverde at $10. I wish I was able to convince myself not to keep him, but at $10 I’m having a hard time. He’s a nightmare when he explodes, Berkman’s all but said he’s not welcome and I don’t like paying $10 for any closer. I think he could get 35 saves and decent peripherals, but I’m not sold.

Jeff Francis at $12. I don’t think there’s an argument available that could convince me to keep Francis for $12. Believe I can toss him back and not pay more than $10 if I want him again, which I’m not totally against.

Yorvit Torreabla at $5. I’ve sung my praises already for Torreabla. Probably had nice things to say because I’m trying to convince myself he’s worth $5. I’ll probably keep him since I’d like to have catching squared by the draft because the next “great” NL catcher available at the draft may be LoDuca. LoNoThankYou.

Kevin Frandsen at $5. He intrigues me. In little September time as Durham got the bench, Frandsen hit 5 homers and stole 4 bases. Unfortunately, his minors’ numbers say to expect less and he has a lot of minors’ numbers, since he’ll be 26 in May. Still for $5; I might take a flier. Any Giants fans out there that could shed some light on this slap hitter with no speed?

John Patterson at $5. I think I can get him back for close to $5. There you have it; my team sucks.


P.S. When’s Bo Bice’s new album coming out? Can’t wait!

Going through this list really depressed me. If anyone has any thoughts, please comment below, until then…


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hidden Draft Day Bargains

by Lou Poulas of Fantasy Insider Online

The key to any draft - whether it is auction style, scratch, or keeper - is to find value where your competitors don’t see it. Each year owners scour the web and other print publications for information on sleepers, injuries, and any type of data they can get their hands on to help weed through the hundreds of available players to discover who’ll breakout in the coming year.

This is at best a painstaking exercise at the worst a fruitless one. Each publication has their own ideas and frankly they don’t always do a great job of backing up their beliefs. Sometimes they even contradict each other.

An alternative way to look for value is through gauging your competitor’s belief in certain players, and anticipate where they will fall in the draft. A common bias in all leagues is to put too much emphasis in how a player faired in the previous season, instead of looking at a player’s career path as a whole. Statistics fluctuate annually (sometimes through luck, other times due to legitimate reasons such as injuries) and for established players most of it is just noise. A player may simply have a good or bad luck year.

A quick way to get at this data is to compare the Fantasy Rank of the previous year to their projected rank to the upcoming season. Large differences often signify where an owner may over or undervalue a player, and knowing this allows better planning for your draft. I’ve identified some batters who are likely to be valued incorrectly.

Overvalued – These players are likely to be drafted earlier than they should be. They still may be good players, even great, but don’t plan your draft strategy on obtaining their services.

Aaron Rowand - At 29 years of age, Rowand had his career year in 2007, setting career highs in R, 2B, HR, RBI, and OBP. A great rule of thumb is to never pay a premium for players coming off a career year as they are almost always going to disappoint. Rowand is no different. If you need more reasons to avoid him, remember he’s leaving his bandbox of a park (Citizens Bank) for San Francisco which is average at best. Plus, and more importantly, he’ll be surrounded by one of the worst everyday lineups in baseball.

Magglio Ordonez – I like Ordonez, he’ll certainly be a good player this year, but too much of his value in 2007 was in due high batting average (.363). He is a career .312 hitter with a previous high of .320 and in 2008 projects to a line of .308, 85 R, 20 HR, 94 RBI which is more in line with a top-20 Outfielder than the Top-3 version he was in 2007.

Mike Lowell – I admit I dislike Lowell and usually avoid him at all costs. This didn’t work out so well for me last year, but it will work out fine for me in ’08:

2007: .324 AVG, 79 R, 21 HR, 120 RBI, 3 SB, 8th Ranked 3B
2008: .283 AVG, 68 R, 15 HR, 77 RBI, 3 SB, 18th Ranked 3B

Other Mentions

For each player below, the difference between his 2007 Rank and 2008 Projected Rank is displayed. All Rankings are “within the position” as opposed to overall.

-20: Ichiro Suzuki, OF (17, 37)
-20: Randy Winn, OF (40, 60)
-19: Eric Byrnes, OF (2, 21)
-11: Shane Victorino, OF (29, 40)
-10: Placido Polanco, 2B (9, 19)
-10: Casey Blake, 3B (12, 22)
-6: JJ Hardy, SS (9, 15)
-5: Khalil Green, SS (6, 11)

Undervalued – the heart of every winning season is finding the draft day steal.

Nick Swisher – The new Chicago White Sox center fielder had a down year in 2007, batting just .265 while achieving close the bear minimum of counting stats required for a fantasy outfielder – 78 R, 84 RBI, 22 HR. With no speed, Swisher ranked the 38th best in the OF in 2007.

2008 looks to be a bit different. Why? Swisher is better than what he showed last year and is moving from an extreme pitchers park to an above average hitters park. His projected stats are improved almost across the board t0 91 R, 94 RBI, 30 HR. His batting average still figures to be low (.264) but this projection makes him a top 20 outfielder.

Alfonso Soriano – Many, including myself, had Soriano ranked 1st coming into last season and he never did live up to expectations, even when on the field. He missed almost a month of playing time, but even projected over 160 games his 2007 stats don’t electrify – 39 HR, 114 R, 83 RBI, 23 SB. Very good of course, but not worthy of a 1st overall pick.

Fast forward to 2008. Owners still have sour tastes in their mouths having spent $40+ on him last year, and are likely ready to stay away this draft day. His projections are still great though – 35 HR, 97 RBI, 91 R, 22 SB. Watch him fall a bit and grab him early in the second round.

Miguel Tejada – We can all agree Tejada is no longer the elite shortstop that he was a few years ago. Coming off an injury plagued and disappointing 2007, Tejada finds himself with a new team and ready to start anew. He is 32 years old and not likely to completely self destruct. For fantasy owners, the better news is that his counting stats were held down last year due to his missed playing time. He hit 18 HR, with 72 R and 81 RBI making him a lower tier option at shortstop.

His projections are solid - .297 AVG, 76 R, 19 HR, 85 RBI, 4 SB and perhaps more importantly his competition will not be as good. Khalil Greene, Orlando Cabrera, JJ Hardy, Julio Lugo, Jhonny Peralta, and Edgar Renteria were all ranked higher than him last year but project to be ranked worse than him this year. Let your fellow owners draft this crew before Tejada, and a few rounds later get the same value for less cost.

Other Mentions
For each player below, the difference between his 2007 Rank and 2008 Projected Rank is displayed. All Rankings are “within the position” as opposed to overall.

+19: Andruw Jones, OF (31, 12)
+16: Vernon Wells, OF (42, 26)
+9: Rafael Furcal, SS (15, 6)

+7: Troy Glaus, 3B (22, 15)

+5: Miguel Tejada, SS (14, 9)

+5: Tad Iguchi, 2B (19, 14)

+5: Aramis Ramirez, 3B (10, 5)

+5: Josh Fields, 3B (16, 11)

+4: Alex Gordon, 3B (17, 14)

Final Note: Earlier I said, “A common bias in all leagues is to put too much emphasis in how a player faired in the previous season, instead of looking at a player’s career path as a whole.” This only works for established players and you should of course pay specific attention to players at the very beginning or very end of their careers.


Friday, February 8, 2008

2008 Sleepers, the Rookie Edition

You got some sleepers here. Now you want rookies. What, you want this year’s Ryan Braun? Well, you may have to wait another lifetime because The Hebrew Hammer set the all-time rookie slugging percentage record at .634. These things don’t happen every year. More often than not, you get rookie numbers like Delmon Young put up. Respectable, but nothing more than 5th outfielder type stuff. Just don’t overpay for some of these guys and you’ll be fine. Risk averse? Draft Lyle Overbay and come in fourth in your league. Better yet, draft Chad Tracy and come in 7th. Better still, have your niece draft your team for you. If you’re in a keeper league, you absolutely must draft a few of these 2008 rookies. In advance, you're welcome.

Joey Votto – Opposite field power in a hitter’s park? Yes, please. All indications point to Votto having the 1st base job in ’08. Dusty Baker at the helm? Okay, Votto might get 120 games in. Baker thwarted Murton’s growth and he could do it again, but Votto looks special. Minors numbers, a near .900 OPS. 1st year projections: .285-20-75

Geovany Soto – I got called out for excluding Soto on my top twenty catchers draft list; I also have money riding on Kristy Joe winning Rock of Love (she looks like a long shot at best) and had Fidel Castro in my ’07 death pool, so I’m not perfect. I’m starting to come around on Soto and he’s looking more and more like he needs to be drafted in every mixed league. Got a PCL MVP under his belt, plus power in Wrigley -- fifteen homers might be an underestimate. Still use caution, but Soto might be a great steal on draft day. Projections: .270-17-65

Manny Parra – I’m high on Parra, as he’s already turned up on one of my sleeper lists. Grab rookie pitchers with nasty stuff when the league doesn’t know them, then use extreme caution in their second year when they hit their adjustment period (Jered Weaver in ’07). Projections: 8-3/3.30/1.22/130 over 140 innings. If he's not in the rotation in April, just wait for Sheets to get injured.

Daric Barton – At 22, I think he’s still way too young to make an impact in mixed leagues, but in AL-only keepers, you gotta grab him. He should be a great one in two years tops; his eye is right out of the Moneyball mold. A top twenty pick overall by 2012 (when, obviously, you will be doing all of your drafting in flying cars). This year’s projections: .290-15-70.

Clay Buchholz – The other day a Sox fan emailed me this, “One word – BuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckettBuchholzBeckett!” Ah, Southies. Buchholz has nasty stuff. An Oswaltian 12-6 that falls off the table, a major league ready changeup combined with a low-90s fastball. AL East is not too kind to pitchers, but he could make an impact this year with a spot in the rotation, which he’ll probably have. Projections: 13-6/4.25/1.20/140 in 160 innings.

Joba Chamberlain – Can’t have a Sox mention without a Yankees follow-up. It’s Constitutional. Obviously, Joba was filthy in ’07 as the 8th inning man. Can he do it again? Sure, but probably as a middle reliever again. At least for part of the year. Does this mean you should avoid him? Nah. As you can see from our 2007 Player Rater, lots of value from solid middle relievers. Projections: 8-2/2.25/1.00/115 in 110 innings.

Cameron Maybin – Wrap your head around this; he was born in 1987. That’s right; the same year Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Iron Sheik were caught doping up in the same car. They were hated rivals! But I digress. Do I see big things for Maybin? Yes, in three years. Let’s just hope he makes the Reggie Abercrombie era a distant memory. Projections: Lots of growing pains and 20 steals. Come back in ’09 mixed-leaguers. NL-Only, take a look. Keepers, you gotta take a flier.

Evan Longoria – Quick stroke with power. Hopefully, the Rays don’t hesitate as long as they did with Upton and Young. Just start the major league clock already! Keep your expectations to a minimal. There will be Mike Seaver-sized growing pains. Projections: .275-15-70

Justin Upton – Now here’s a team that doesn’t hold its prospects in the minors. Technically, he’s not a rookie anymore, but it’s my site and I do as I do. At the time of his call up, Baseball America considered Justin to be the minors' best prospect. Once upon a time, they awarded the same honor to Gregg Jefferies, back in 1987. (At least it wasn’t Sgt. Slaughter and the Iron Sheik. That would have been devastating.) But, no caveat emptor, Justin’s better than Jefferies. In fact, his ceiling is Miguel Cabrera with the bat and his brother on the bases. 30/30, not this year, but it may not be that far off. I say you should grab him as early as your fourth outfielder in mixed leagues and he’s probably taken already in your keeper. If he’s not and you’re rebuilding, you gotta grab him before someone else. He could be a top twenty player by as early as 2010 (and if you’re following along, that is two years before flying cars). Projections: .290-15-60-25

Jay Bruce, Clayton Kershaw, Steve Pearce – They don’t seem like they’re ready yet, but I’ve been wrong before... Damn you, Fidel!

Post down in the comments names you think I’ve forgotten, until then...


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Around the Majors

Big news in New York this week. No, not the Giants. Morgan Ensberg signed with the Yankees. Let me ask you something, if you sign a player in the biggest media market and it makes no noise, are you still signing a player? The Pinstripes Daily blog has a post on this that gets right to the heart of the matter, “Worse version of Giambi.” Effects on fantasy? In deep leagues maybe someone might pick him up off waivers, but let’s hope you’re not that desperate.

Just out of Spring Training there was word that so and so is “losing weight” from his “new exercise regimen” and he’s “finally back from last season’s injury.” Just in time to “work on his new pitch.” You probably recognize these as the tried and true Spring Training clichés. Tim over at RotoAuthority has a whole list. Check it out; it’s funny, cause it’s true.

Is Richie Sexson a Razzball All-Star or a mediocre hitter with a looping swing that will hit .230 or are those the same two things? We’ve gone over before what you should do with Sexson, discard. The hopeful people over at The Seattle Mariners blog have middling hopes for Sexson and by middling, obviously, I mean optimistic. If he hits .250 over 500 at-bats, you still don’t want him on your team. If you don’t know why, check out what our very own Rudy Gamble says.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Potential Closers For 2008

We’ve gone over a few lists of sleepers here and here. Gave you some draft lists here. Even chucked a player rater your way. This here? This is a sleeper closer list. You won’t find Mariano Rivera on this list, cause he’s not a potential closer. He is a closer. Nathan? Nope. George Sherrill? Yeah, he’ll be here. Got it? Okay, let’s look at a few teams and some potential closers for 2008.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays – Troy Percival

Al Reyes – Why did they trade for Percival? A guy who was retired this time last year compared to a guy who was their closer last year. It’s really surprising the Devil Rays are perennial losers; they make such astute baseball moves.

Kansas City Royals – Joakim Soria

Yasuhiko Yabuta – His numbers in Japan were good for Japan, but not great (2.73/1.18). Soria struggled at times to understand that strikeouts are good and walks not good. Tomko has been rumored to be in line if Soria fails, but I didn’t put his name down because Tomko will never be a successful closer and he shouldn’t be drafted in any leagues including 16-team AL-only leagues.

Baltimore Orioles – An in-house mess

Chad Bradford – The Orioles are going into Spring Training with a closer buffet of crap, unless they trade for someone. Bradford is the best arm but all signs seem to want to keep him in the seventh or eighth. There’s a chance the next guy might be their savior (get it?).

George Sherrill
– The trade of Bedard to send Adam Jones and Sherrill seems just about complete with Bedard going for a physical as I type this. So Sherrill gets traded and take over immediately as the Orioles closer. Last year his ERA/WHIP was 2.36/.99. He carries a great strand rate, as well. By draft time, he may not even be much of a sleeper anymore. Shoot, by next week.

Florida Marlins – Kevin Gregg

Taylor Tankersley
– Do you think Kevin Gregg has another good season in him? The Tank hasn’t shown the promise yet in the majors and he’s a lefty. Maybe he never becomes the closer of the future for the Marlins, then again he’s only 24.

Texas Rangers – C.J. Wilson

Eddie Guardado – The Rangers gave Wilson the role last year and then took it from him as he succeeded. This proves one thing; they don’t like him in the role. By June of ‘08, Everyday Eddie could be simultaneously the worst closer in the majors and have a secure job. I’d run from this, but if you need saves you gotta do it. New math, Guardado + Arlington = Mylanta

New York Mets – Billy Wagner

Aaron Heilman – Wagner made a total meltdown (along with the team) last September. It probably was nothing, but he complained of back pain and he’s going to be 36 this year. I will be drafting Heilman on at least one team this year because the Mets will have late inning comebacks wins this year. Saves for Heilman? Possibly.

There will be more potential closers to come, until then…


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Deep Sleepers for 2008

Take Alex Rodriguez with your first pick. He performs half of what you expect from him and you’re pissed, but it won’t lose you your league. Take Nomar with your last pick and he gives you nothing. Also, you may not lose your league. Take Alberto Callaspo with your last pick and he gives you tenth round numbers. This is how a winning fantasy baseball team is born. Let’s look at some deep sleepers for 2008. But if you take one of these guys before the last round of your draft; you’re not paying attention. These are deep sleepers. Last round only.

Joey Devine – Why is Huston Street still on the A’s? The question will probably be dated by May. The A’s just auctioned off Billy Beane’s parking spot for $40/month and a bag of buttered popcorn. Do you really think Street’s making it to Opening Day with the A’s? The Brewers are lining up candidates to fill in for Gagne post-injury. Why not Street? Why not the Cubs? Why not the Rangers? Street will be somewhere; it’s not going to be with the A’s. So Devine steps in and gets a few saves. I don’t like Devine cause I’m still smarting from two years ago when he gave up, like, 6 runs in 1/3 of an inning, but someone’s got to get the A’s saves.

Manny Parra – You missed Yovani Gallardo? Manny’s a lefty with some nasty stuff. He struck out 26 in only 26 innings last year while averaging a K and inning in the minors. This year Ben Sheets gets (SPOILER ALERT!) injured and Parra steps in and mows down hitters the first time through the league. You’re welcome.

Matt Diaz – Slot him in against lefties. The man can rake(.356 over 188 ABs). If by some divine miracle, Cox figures out he’s not that bad even against righties (.318 over 170 ABs), you’re money.

Jeremy Accardo – Caveat, only draft Accardo in the final round if BJ Ryan starts the season as the Jays closer. BJ suffers a setback in spring training or if Accardo opens the season as the closer, draft Accardo earlier then the final round. Basically, I’m saying Accardo will pick up plenty of saves even if Ryan is supposedly ready to close.

Alberto Callaspo – The aforementioned Callaspo has a chance for some playing time. At second base, he’s got to battle Grudzielanek (retire already!) and at short Tony Pena Jr. (you’re embarrassing your father!). Callapso has a great eye and good speed. The Royals could be this year’s '07 Brewers (which in the AL Central means a fourth place finish).

There will be more sleepers to come, until then…


Monday, February 4, 2008

Josh Fields or Andy LaRoche, Keeper Question

While watching the New York Football Giants leave the New England Patriots crying like a bunch of little girls who just learned that the American Girl store closes at 9 and not at 9:30 like their fathers assured them, I received a keeper question from Herb Urban, humorist and man with an unhealthy obsession with John Oates. (Being a baseball blog, you might think I’m talking about John Oates, the second rate catcher from the 1976-82ish era. You’d be wrong. Herb’s crackers over the short, mustachioed member of Hall and Oates.) Anyway, check out Herb’s site for yourself. Now onto the Andy LaRoche/Josh Fields’ keeper question.


Sorry to keep asking for your input on young players. I took over a team in an indefinite keeper that was an utter mess and I've been trying to rebuild for the future all off-season. The previous owner only had Morneau, Cano, Mauer, Mariano Rivera and nothing else. I was able to turn those guys into Ian Kinsler, Rickie Weeks, Delmon Young, Nick Swisher, Brad Hawpe, Rich Hill, John Maine, Joe Nathan, Clay Buchholz, Joba Chamberlain, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Josh Fields, Jered Weaver and Andy LaRoche. So I'm trying to decide whether Fields, Weaver or LaRoche are worth keeping in a 12-team league. I have the first pick in the draft with all eyes on Billy Butler, unless I can trade for him.

Fields came to me with Nathan for Rivera, and strikes me as a very interesting guy to watch. Your thoughts on him will be greatly appreciated. I look forward to reading them, and promise to stop bugging you with questions about my team.



First, that’s a Musharraf-type coup getting the players you did for what you had. Since this is an indefinite keeper league, you’re looking at hitting (LaRoche or Fields) over pitching (Weaver). I’d agree with that. If you can also keep Weaver, I’d consider it, but I don’t know what’s out there or how many players you can keep. At this point, you already seem to be keeping a lot. So I’m going to assume this is a battle between Andy LaRoche and Josh Fields. Let’s look at some projections.

Josh Fields
-- Rotowire projects 76/27/86/7/.267 with a .345 OBP. Our in-house statistician, Rudy Gamble, predicts Fields will have a season on par with Edwin Encarncion. Personally, I like Encarncion more than Fields for ‘08. Let’s assume Crede is traded to the Giants, which seems to be a deal that will happen. So Fields is starting and hitting some bombs with an average that will hurt you. Okay, now Andy LaRoche.

Andy LaRoche -- Coincidentally, LaRoche places just about even with Fields on the preseason Rotowire charts. In a little more than a half season, Rotowire predicts LaRoche will be 66/12/51/1/.269 with a .385 OBP. In house, Rudy Gamble predicts a season no better than Brandon Inge. Personally, I really love LaRoche. He’s done all he can do in the minors, Nomar’s on his way out and his OBP is excellent. I see his numbers closer to 60/22/75/5/.310. My numbers are optimistic for ‘08, but this is a keeper league and he’s a top ten 3rd basemen as early as two years from now. Whereas, Fields makes me balk and I’m not sure he’ll ever be anything but a poor man’s Troy Glaus. I say go with LaRoche; he’s a maneater.



Friday, February 1, 2008

Boomer Goes Absolutely Apeshit

In honor of the Super Bowl, I figured I'd do my one non-baseball related post. The only non-wonderful thing about this video is it took eight years to come out.