Thursday, March 25, 2010
-Lawr Michaels reminds me of Lazlo from the classic 80's movie Real Genius. It seems like he's the nicest guy in the league though, and I'm sure would be interesting to have a conversation with.
-Ron Shandler is a bit sure of himself, despite not performing all that well at fantasy anymore. Perhaps it's time for retirement. With that said, I would also be annoyed as hell if I had to deal with Jed Latkin for more than a couple days, and would likely act like an asshole, too. I think it was pretty obvious early on that Shandler had no interest in letting a 'laymen' into his elite league.
-The main character, Jed, is a massive tool.
-It's hilarious to watch people gush over having a player on their fantasy team...to the player. It's even more hilarious to watch the player give them a weird look and not give two shits about it. I love fantasy sports. I write about it. I spend more time than I should playing it. But I don't understand how anyone can come to the conclusion that players actually give a crap how much you paid for them in your fantasy draft. It's delusional, and no one cares.
-It's interesting to see the difficulties Jed had with trading in the league. In public leagues, we see little trading because there's very little communication and participation. In leagues with your friends, it's all about the trading and talking. Usually there's a sucker in these leagues, and trades happen left and right. However, when everyone knows what they're talking about and are fully involved, trading again becomes more difficult. It's much more difficult to make a trade that benefits both owners in fantasy than it is in real baseball for a couple reasons. First, there's no future value (beyond this year), so prospects are out of the question. Secondly, there aren't salary concerns once the season starts. Reducing salary midseason does nothing for your bottom line, since your bottom line is the total stats put up by your players. Getting a discount after the auction isn't all that useful.
-There are interesting incentives for the guys in Tout Wars. Much of their expert reputation is laid on the line, especially when they're competing against someone who's not considered an expert. I'm sure the fact that Latkin's team finished ahead of Shandler's is embarrassing, despite the enormous amounts of luck involved in one season of fantasy.
-There were trades being made using non-fantasy assets. This is collusion. Making deals like trading apartments and paying to go to AFL conventions is total BS. If this happens in your league, quickly kick that person out.
-Vernon Wells calling Latkin a racist was a pretty awkward moment.
-Latkin makes a mistake by trying to explain to Shandler how old and worthless Joe Borowski is, despite asking for him in a trade. This is so transparent I don't think I need to explain it. People talk about how crappy a player is all the time when they're trying to get him from me in a trade a lot in some of my leagues. If he's so terrible, why do you want him!?!
-The Jeff Kent beanball incident is something I never heard before. Hilarious, but these things are a definite concern for MLB. Fantasy is technically gambling in the sense that it creates incentives on the field that don't necessarily align with the team. What if Derek Jeter has Dustin Pedroia on his fantasy team with significant stakes?
-Murray Chass is an assclown. As are the other writers they interview. They're correct in that fantasy has changed the landscape of fanhood. But who cares!?! It gets fans more involved in the game than ever before. As someone who researches sport and demand for sport, I find it absolutely fascinating. I'd love to research how fantasy sports influence spending and fandom for professional teams. There's got to be ways in which to capture this change. In addition, Fantasy is no different from the history of sports gambling in general. These writers complain that you don't care if you're home team wins because your player did well. What about the Vegas style sports gamblers (a huge industry for a long time) that bet on the spread or the other team? This is NOT a new phenomenon brought on by fantasy, it's just more focused on players rather than teams.
-Why do the Latkins have a Simpson's Pinball Machine in the baby room?
-If Jed annoys you as much as he does me, fast forward to about the 1 hour and 8 minute mark. Despite bringing a glove to the Wrigley bleachers and looking directly at the field waving his arms for a ball, Latkin gets smoked IN THE FACE by a line drive home run in BP.
-I'm almost 99% sure they had him ask questions to Rusty Kuntz just so they could put his name up on the screen.
-They kicked him out of the league, apparently because he made too many trade offers. That's a bit of an asshole move, given his 6th place finish (though, I'd be pissed if he showed up to my house with no announcement, too).
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
1. Jacoby Ellsbury is worth a 2nd (1st) Round pick
Sure. If you really want to destroy any chance you have of getting large numbers of HR and RBI in a standard roto league. Chasing stolen bases so early from a guy who dreams of hitting home runs like Shane Victorino can cost your team dearly in the early rounds. There's no reason not to wait for Juan Pierre in Round 12 if you're really worried about stolen bases. You could always take Carl Crawford with literally twice the power. This year there are so many SB options in the outfield that I would argue Ellsbury is THE most overrated player in fantasy. I have him ranked at #29 over at FBJ, and that's using ESPN rankings. ESPN loves Ellsbury, you shouldn't.
2. Joe Mauer isn't worth a 1st Round pick because he's a catcher
Look, I understand the worry about injury. But this kid is how old? Now, there are other reasons to think Mauer isn't worthy of a 1st Round pick, but the fact that he's a catcher doesn't automatically mean he can't be as talented as hitters we see at 1B or in the OF. Mauer has some injury history, as well as a power surge that I'm not convinced is fully repeatable. But it also took a while for us to trust Adrian Gonzalez (also a great opposite field hitter) in Petco Park. No, he's not going to hit Adrian HR levels, but let's not completely throw out his first fully healthy (once he returned) season of his career. Given the enormous advantage he brings you, I wouldn't hesitate to take him well before Tim Lincecum in just about any league around. I'd rather take a more sure pick in Utley or Braun very early on, but if it's between Mauer and Howard with Pick 10 or 11 in Round 1, I'll probably take Mauer. The again, maybe I'm going to that part of my BA love, and hatred of a player looking like an idiot when someone throws them a curveball.
3. Manny Ramirez is washed up
I've talked about this a lot in my lists of draft results. Washed up? Really? We're talking about a guy who, in his most recent full season, hit .332-37-121. Most of this came in pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium. I understand that he burned a lot of owners last year with his suspension, but we have to remember it was just that: A SUSPENSION. His ISO dropped a bit last year, but nothing worrisome. He's still in a potent lineup surrounded by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, and he's still Manny. The guy is coming into a contract year, and if there's one thing we know about Manny it's that he likes $$. His .324 BABIP was actually LOWER than his career average of .338 last season, and given the at bats he had in the year before, he was on pace for 30 HR and 100 RBI. Taking into account that he had a 50 game lull between the start of the season that started out to a .372-5-19 pace for the first 22 games, I'm not too worried about investing in the Hall of Famer. It's not always easy coming back from a layoff like that, and he comes into 2010 with a full spring training under his belt. Much of his poor average was a result of a .241 BABIP in Sept/Oct, but I'm using "poor" pretty liberally considering it was .290 on the season. Don't sleep too much on Manny. He's not Manny circa 1999, but he's not Jason Kubel either.
4. Jason Bay won't hit many HR at Citifield
This is pure BS. While he probably won't hit 36 again, Bay is a guy who has hit 30+ HR 4 of the last 5 seasons. The one season he had injury problems. He's not an elite player, as his batting average has taken a bit of a hit in 2 of the past 3 seasons, but with Jose Reyes back, he'll have plenty of RBI chances and I don't see a problem with projecting 28-32 HR. Even CHONE projects 34. I've seen some pessimism over Bay lately, which is fine, but a recent statement at Fake Teams got me a bit in a tizzy, where 'jumperjah' stated that 25 HR is the ceiling for Bay this year. A ceiling? Really? I don't buy that.
5. Nick Markakis > Adam Lind
Mock Draft Central has Nick Markakis slotted at the #50 position, with Lind one behind him. Markakis took a huge step back last year, and while he's still young with lots of talent, I think he's shown his power potential is nothing beyond 27 or 28 HR. His speed gets hyped up, but he really doesn't steal much (6 last year). He hits for a nice average, but his walks just disappeared. Be wary of him, especially with guys like Lind, Ethier, Ramirez, Carlos Lee, Sin Soo Choo and Bobby Abreu on the board. Is he really any better than Hunter Pence?
6. Grady Sizemore is a Demigod
A lot of 'experts' are calling for Sizemore in the 2nd Round. THE SECOND ROUND! This is where players like Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Howard, Matt Holliday, and Justin Upton reside. And it's before Joey Votto or Ryan Zimmerman are picked. I've never, ever been a huge fan of Sizemore, given his problem with keeping up his batting average and striking out over 150 times a year. I read at Razzball someone giving him the possibility of a 40-40 this year, but soon claimed it's a ceiling. Sizemore has never hit more than 33 HR, has trouble keeping his average up, and is coming off an injury that limited him to 13 Sb in 503 plate appearances last year. Your'e talking about a guy with less power than Nelson Cruz, with about the same BA. If his steals don't rebound, we're talking Nate McClouth with a 2nd Round draft price. I have him ranked at #62 overall, but there is some power upside there. As a whole, no thank you. Wait, wait, wait on Grady Sizemore.
7. Aaron Hill is overrated as a 5th Round pick
There's plenty of reason not to believe Hill will ever hit 36 home runs again. Ever. But there's also plenty of reason to believe he has more power than Nick Markakis at a weaker position. If Hill is around in the 5th or 6th Round, I'm taking him without question. He had quite a power spike last year, but we have to keep it in context. Hill was on his way to being a fantastic player in 2007, when he hit 17 HR with 47 2Bs in his first full season in the bigs. Not to mention, his BABIP was a bit below his career levels last year, which makes for some hope to reboud in BA. He doesn't walk much, so he's not as great of a real player as a fantasy player. But with Adam Lind hitting behind him, he should score a decent number of runs, while hitting a solid .300-25-90 clip. The only reason to think 5th Round could be high is that everyone passes up on Jose Lopez, who I've seen drop below Round 10. Lopez and Hill have similar skill sets, but Hill has the overall advantage in power, speed (Runs), and batting average.
8. Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward are worth taking in the preseason draft
If it's the last round, and you think Heyward will get 450+ ABs this year, then by all means take him as a flyer pick. However, Strasburg almost certainly won't be called up until June. He's being drafted in the early-to-mid-teen rounds from what I've gathered from my 10-12 team drafts, and I don't think it's warranted. First off, he's overrated. Any pitcher that has as much hype as he does is overrated. Period. You can't seriously suggest to me that passing up Raul Ibanez or Juan Pierre (contributors throughout the season at a much higher level) to get Strasburg is good practice. If you want to go young, super high upside hurler, look for Phil Hughes, Neftali Feliz, or David Price in the last rounds. They're available there, and they actually have MLB experience. If you don't trust them to put up a respectable WHIP, then take Matt Thornton, Mike Adams, or Michael Wuertz. They're also available very late, and will contribute more to your ERA and WHIP than Strasburg with comparable K numbers, given he won't be up until June. Can we really project an ERA anything less than 3.75 from Strasburg? Do you really think he'll have a K-rate above Thornton as a starter? In his first full season? Let's try to remember the development of Price and Hughes before jumping on the Nationals' savior. Unless you're in a keeper leauge, spending draft picks on Strasburg is an enormous waste.
9. David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero are done
I'll take one of these at a time, beginning with Ortiz. Big Papi had a miserable start to the season in 2009, hitting ONE home run in the first two months. Everyone seems to remember this, but we should also keep in mind that he was still recovering with a wrist injury. He's started slow, but we all know how little Spring Training matters. From June 2009 and on, Big Papi posted a 0.913 OPS with 27 HR and 81 RBI. His age is showing, but it's not like he's 50...he's 34. Of course, the DH only position for these guys (Ortiz with 1B and Vlad with OF eligibility in very lenient leagues) hurt their value. But if you can get both of them in the late teen rounds, rotating the matchups leaves some flexibility if you have the bench room. As for Vlad, everyone is convinced he can't stay healthy. He's just too old and creaky. But wait, his plate appearances in the 3 years prior to 2009 were as follows: 665, 660, 600. He's almost a lock for .300, and playing in Arlington with a full season of ABs and a lineup that could even make the Yankees blush, it's not out of the question to think Vlad could put up a .310-25-100+ season. His slight downfall is in the Runs department, but he'll get plenty (80-90) to justify putting at your Utility slot in a 10 team league given relatively decent health. His power dipped last season, as did his walk rate, but we have to remember his injuries. He hit more fly balls, less grounders, and more line drives than the previous 2 seasons. Being in Texas can only help that fly ball increase, and I don't see him sustaining the 13.7 infield fly percentage that likely drained some of his power (9.7% and 7.1% the previous 2 seasons). He swings at just about everything, but he also makes contact with it, too. Both of these UT guys have plenty of potential to far outperform their late draft positions. Don't sleep on them.
10. Tim Lincecum is a 1st Round draft pick
Baloney! Have you seen the pitching available this season? Now that the likes of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez aren't throwing 260 innings anymore, there's is a huge plateu of pitchers. Lincecum is the best, without a doubt. But does that mean we should be taking him over Joe Mauer (who would have put up #1 value last year if we extrapolate his numbers to a full season), Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, or others? Not only are pitchers erratic, but they aren't rare in the least. Let's look at the list of potential 200 K candidates:
Tim Lincecum, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Zack Grienke, Justin Verlander, Yovanni Gallardo, Ricky Nolasco, Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Clayton Kershaw, Javier Vazquez, Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, Chad Billingsly, Ubaldo Jimenez, Tommy Hanson, AJ Burnett, Jonathan Sanchez, Cole Hamels, Jorge De La Rosa, Scott Kazmir, Wandy Rodriguez, Matt Garza, Phil Hughes, Neftali Feliz, Brett Anderson, Aaron Harang.
Now, some on the end of that list are questionable, no doubt. But there seems to be more of a plateau at the SP slot than in recent years. What about WHIP? Let's remember that both Ted Lilly and Randy Wolf had 1.06 and 1.10 and below WHIPs last year. Lincecum's is always great, but also projected at 1.16 or so. No, the two pitchers mentioned probably won't repeat that, but there's just plenty of talent out there at SP to hold off on Lincecum. Let someone else take him in the first Round while Braun, Kemp, or Fielder drop an extra spot to you.
In my own rankings (that assume 33% of salary should go to pitching), I have Tim Lincecum as the #17 overall player. That's for a 12 team league with only 3 OF. I do believe that Lincecum gains some ground in deeper (in terms of # of teams) leagues that count things like QS, but not in an overly significant fashion. However, power dries up quickly in snake drafts, and passing on a guy like Fielder can really hurt you in hitting. Don't sleep on Gallardo, Nolasco, J Johnson, Kershaw, Beckett, Ubaldo, Peavy, or Billingsly. They have all the talent to put up numbers close to Lincecum. None of these guys seem to be taken before Rounds 5 or 6. Focusing solely on hitting in Rounds 1-5, then taking 2 or 3 of these guys in the Round 6-10 area is the best bet. Kershaw was the most unhittable pitcher last year, while Yovanni was the only 200K pitcher not to throw 200 innings. Becket is in a contract year and always K's 190+ with a WHIP under 1.20, and Jake Peavy is a former Cy Young winner coming off an injury (which he came back from last year without much problem). If you take Lincecum in the 1st round, you're likely ensuring that you have to draft nothing but hitting for 6 or 7 Rounds thereafter, and will miss out on the likes of Gallardo, Johnson, Beckett, etc. One man pitching staffs are baaaaad juju.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Now to the league. Our league consists of 20 teams, mixed pool, and we have $300 for a slow auction. The structure is H2H Categories (8x8-BA/OBP/SLG/HR/RBI/R/SB/H & W/L/K/HD/SV/ERA/WHIP/QS). Some might find these categories redundant, but I've found them to work quite well, and I enjoy leaving traditional stats in a fantasy league. As for the redundancy, these categories ensure that players like Juan Pierre and Adam Dunn are still valuable. It makes for a LOT of different types of strategies for roster construction.
These are big rosters, too. We have 30 man rosters, with minor leaguers. Minor leaguers cost $0, and I won't go into the rules stipulating keeping them, but they're fairly liberal. So the young player pool is beginning to dry up now after 5 seasons. The positions are: C-1B-2B-SS-3B-3OF-UT-5SP-4RP-12 BN-3 DL. Depending on trades and strategy, some teams have as many as 13 minor leaguers, or as few as 0. They can be moved up mid season, but are subject to contract after that, so we might not even see Matt Wieters or Elvis Andrus in the player pool this year! Keepers are subject to contracts in the form of the original salary they were bought for, plus $3 per year of contract. For example, I got Adam Lind in 2009 for $9, and signed him to a 2 year contract, giving him a salary of $15 for both 2010 and 2011. We are allowed 6 major league keepers. Here it goes, beginning with the keepers:
Yovanni Gallardo - $7 (only 2010)
I traded for Gallardo in the offseason in a multiplayer trade. At $7, Gallardo is an enormous value in our league. For a context of things, Felix Hernandez will probably go for $40+ this year. I've explained how much I love Gallardo in past posts, so I won't go into it here.
Ricky Nolasco - $7 (only 2010)
Nolasco came to me in a trade with Gallardo, while I gave up some minor league assets and Andre Ethier (on a 2 year contract for $15). I don't trust Ethier to keep up huge power, and we recently put in a maximum IP per 2-week session, so I'm expecting a small increase on middle level starters in the auction. I wanted to make sure I have a good base of pitching before going forth. Plus, having 2 200K guys for under $15 is quite a bargain. Nolasco will bounce back this year.
Josh Beckett - $25 (only 2010)
Usually, I wouldn't keep a pitcher at $25. However, Beckett is at value (for our league, Last Player Picked has him as a $25). Like I said with Nolasco, I wanted to enter the draft with a good pitching base, and 600 K's for less than a top tier pitcher would go for in the auction is well worth keeping. Considering one team has Lincecum ($10 keeper) and Halladay ($35), I think it's safe to say I should hang on to some strikeouts. Lincecum and Halladay are 1-2 (and that team also has Longoria for $19 for the next 6 years, Hanson at $10 for 3, and Gordon Beckham and Kyle Blanks at $0 still as minor leaguers!), but I'm happy with my 3 pitchers as a base of my staff, which ESPN has ranked as the #13, #16, and #19 SP overall. In a 20 team league, that's pretty solid.
Garrett Jones - $1 (only 2010)
We also have option contracts for players, in which they can be kept for only one season for the salary they took in the previous year. This was the case for Jones, who I picked up off the waiver wire just before he went crazy. While I don't expect Jones to be a starting 1B, he's probably a $16 value in our auction, and you can't go wrong with a $1 keeper that, even with regression, could be looking at a .270-30-95 season with 15-20 SB. Plus, I can have some flexibility with OF and 1B eligibility.
Juan Pierre - $5 (only 2010)
Pierre was another option contract for me, and it wasn't an easy choice. While I think he could flirt with 50 to 60 SB's, he's someone that could honestly take a toll on my other hitting categories. Last year, I got Pierre in auction for $5, as I usually don't like spending big money on the likes of Crawford or Sizemore. As a bench player, Pierre was a monster for me, and now I don't have to target stolen bases in the auction too much. Perhaps a risk averse move by keeping him, but I don't think this can really hurt my team, as my only other keeper options were Randy Wolf ($9), Ted Lilly ($14) and Huston Street ($14). Rotating Pierre and Garrett Jones with my DH's should keep his power deficit in check, while giving me needed stolen bases when that category is close for the session.
Adam Lind - $15 - (2010 and 2011)
Adam Lind got me to the championship last year (with some help from FA pickups like Andrew Bailey, Randy Wells, Scott Podsednik, and Garrett Jones). I traded Bailey during the season in a deal for Mark Teixeira, so he wasn't an option, and traded both Pods and Wells in the offseason to get some minor league help. A lot of projections don't like Lind much yet, but LPP had him at about a $47 value for our league last season. His numbers seem pretty real, though his power jump was huge for a single season. Even if Lind gives me a .290-25-95 line, I've got a nice bargain for the next 2 years at $15. I just hope he plays OF enough this year to have eligibility there in 2011.
Jemile Weeks $0 (minor leaguer)
I'm low on minor leaguers right now because I used up a lot of my minor league assets last year to land Mark Teixeira and Andre Ethier last season. Unfortunately, I've had Adrian Gonzalez at $13 since 2007 and ended up trading him in the Ethier deal, too, since 2010 was the last year of his contract. I'm not usually a fan of hanging on to minor leaguers, and end up with late picks (which I've done well in) in our minor league draft. I traded Randy Wells and Kelly Johnson for Weeks this offseason, becasue I didn't want to be bound to KJ's contracted $14 salary ($7 penalty if I dropped him). While I lost Wells in the deal, I saved myself $4 (kept $3 of Johnson's contract) and got Weeks. Minor leaguers are very valuable at the trade deadline when teams begin dumping for the following season, so I'm hoping to package him up and get a nice player to run me to the championship again. For example, last season I was able to get Gavin Floyd and Stephen Drew for Kellen Kulbacki and a bunch of minor league picks. That was nice, considering my entire staff went on the DL at some point in 2009 (Peavy-Lilly-Slowey-Saunders...the list goes on). I needed Floyed to get me through the playoffs, and minor leaguers can be nice assets, even if you don't plan on keeping them for your own major league roster in FBAL.
MAJOR LEAGUERS IN AUCTION:
Below I have the guys I won in order of when I won the auction. There are multiple auctions going on at one time, which makes for a dynamic strategy. Here we go.
C - Chris Iannetta - $11
Iannetta could lose some time this year to Miguel Olivo, but I'm not sure it's justified. Iannetta struggled in some aspects of the game (and Olivo is a relatively solid defensive option at catcher), but his walk rate is far superior to Olivo and he's so young. Olivo was probably one of the best slugging catchers last season in terms of HR/AB, but Iannetta was right there with him. With an $11 salary, I'm obviously hoping Iannetta comes out of spring training strong and grabs hold of the starting spot for the Rockies. If not, I'll have to go to my backup. Given Iannetta's strong spring, the Rockies have to start rethinking a full platoon they claim to be planning for the two catchers. Luckily, I have both, and if I play my daily lineups right, could get a 30 HR and 90 RBI season from my catcher position. Not too bad.
3B - Pedro Feliz - $2
At this point, I'm wasn't sure what I'm doing about my 3B position. I snatched up Feliz early because he has a gig and, in full time at bats, can at least be rostered in a 20 team league. Doesn't come much cheaper than $2, and it's nice to have a bench player on my team early on. Remember that not all the top players are released in the first round, it's staggered throughout the auction, so care is needed when contemplating when values may come about. If you wait too long, you might run into problems. Feliz isn't a value here, but he can get me some numbers while my other 3B has an off day. That's important in H2H.
DH - David Ortiz - $12
Ortiz is on the downhill slope of his career, but that doesn't stop my team from being able to use a guy that could go .270-30-90 in a bad year. My valuations have him at $25, which I think is a bit high. However, it's not out of the question that Ortiz could put up numbers that deserve more than $20 in salary for this league. I'll likely play some matchups with him, and have him rotate in with Juan Pierre, Garrett Jones, and Vladimir Guerrero at my Utility slot to get a nice speed/power combo without hurting my average too much. My hope is that Ortiz comes hot out of the gate and I can trade him for some Saves or Middle Infield help. A nice value early on in the draft...though, he could bust at any second.
Interlude: You can see that my players above are NOT going to help my batting average. That's okay, as I plan on making it up later on in the auction. I've got plenty of money left.
RP - Aaron Poreda - $2
My first relief pitcher buy is an early flier. He could get some holds, and has shown promise in the past. He had a strangely high walk rate last year, and it could be that he was slightly injured or just still getting his bearings. Poreda is no superstar, but with the likes of Matt Thornton and Matt Guerrier going for 5x as much, I'm willing to take a chance here. It could work out, it may not. There's not too much lost with this buy, though his recent demotion is concerning and I might have to exchange him when waivers open up.
2B - Orlando Hudson - $5
Hudson is a nice value at $5. While he's not going to give me much power, he could add some slight speed, definitely help my batting average, and hopefully get me a good number of runs toward the top of the Twins order. The Twins have a better lineup this year, and with Mauer and Morneau hitting behind him, Hudson could be a nice addition to my team for a very cheap price.
SS - JJ Hardy - $12
A lot of people think I splurged on Hardy here, but for comparison, Jhonny Peralta went for $14. Hardy had a terrible year last year, and I suspect he'll rebound a little bit. He's in a nice lineup in Minnesota, and I can back up both Hardy and Hudson with Nick Punto or snatch up 3B starter Brendan Harris, which leaves me with more flexibility with my $$ instead of buying 2 separate backups for 2B and SS. If Hardy gives me a .265-18-78 season, I'll have gotten my money's worth. For a bit, I was a little upset with my buy, as Jose Reyes went for $40 (before the announcement of his Thyroid deally). I would have liked Reyes at $40, but not now.
SP - Kevin Correia - $7
People were going nuts on pitching, I assume because we now have maximums on Games Started for each session (18 starts in a 2-week session), and a minimum of 9 as well. That means that you need solid quality from your starters, instead of splurging on hitting and putting together a bunch of $1 guys with 30 starts a session going for the counting and RP categories. I expected a shift upward, but not as much as we saw early on. Correia had a solid season, and is my #5 starter (maybe #6). Considering Joe Saunders went for $13, and Kevin Millwood topped $15, I was happy with Corriea at $7 in the spacious Petco.
SP/RP - Colby Lewis - $7
Since this is a keeper league, I overpaid a bit for the upside in Lewis. He had Johanesque seasons in Japan, and while I'm not expecting that in MLB, his insanely low walk rate indicates he's changed since he was the 6.00+ ERA pitcher before he moved across the Pacific. If he gives me 10 wins and an ERA in the realm of 4 with okay strikeout numbers, he's worth the $7. If he ends up a RP, he'll likely have SP eligibility and having this on a team with starts maximums is helpful for the counting stats (as long as it's not ruining the rate stats). If Lewis can bring over what he learned in Japan, I could have a keeper on my hand. Don't worry, I don't have my hopes too high here.
RP - Matt Guerrier - $7
Since holds are a category, I snatched up Guerrier. My plan was to get Matt Thornton (like all my other leagues), but he went for $11. Looking back, I may rather have him at that price than Guerrier at $7. Holds are easy to come by, but Guerrier has a chance to snatch up some saves in Minnesota with the recent injury to Joe Nathan. Either way, Guerrier will be nice on my WHIP and should put up decent ERA numbers. He should also be one of the top Hold guys around.
RP - Brandon Lyon - $10
We had Jonathan Broxton go for $24, so I'm okay with putting $10 on Lyon. Having 2 closers is nice, but even 1 closer in a 20 team league can win you the category around half the time when he's matched up with some other solid relievers. Lyon had a great year last year, but don't expect him to repeat that. The Astros paid a ton for some reason, and aren't even sure he's going to play much of a closing role in the bullpen yet. I'm hoping for 30 saves and an ERA below 3.75 here...nothing special. I'm not a fan of spending big bucks on relievers, but I like to have a diverse crowd awaiting good matchups. Later on I handcuff my Lyon buy with Matt Lindstrom at a decently low price. Broxton, however, was tempting at $25, as he can strike out as many as a starter. I just couldn't pull the trigger on that one.
3B - David Wright - $64
Everyone in this league ends up splurging on a superstar. It's just the way things have gone the last couple years. If I don't follow, I'll likely be a bit behind in the hittering department, though with more depth overall. At some point, you have to have a big gun in your starting lineup. I expect David Wright to return to his normal form (or close to it) this year after abandoning the unbelievably stupid 'hit everything the other way' strategy. I don't think he'll hit 35 HR, but a .310-25-100-100-25 season is very possible. For $64, I sure hope it is at least. I have a feeling the problems Wright had with his strikeouts should be fixed this year as well, if he's planning on not allowing the ball to get so deep on him to take it to right field. Look for him to smack some inside pitches out of left Citi Field this year. If not, he pads my BA a little bit, which I need with Hardy, Ortiz, and Garrett Jones manning my lineup. With Jason Bay hitting behind him, he should see plenty to hit. Hopefully Beltran and Reyes come back quickly, and he gets plenty of RBI opportunities as well. Without those two, it could be another rough year to own Wright, even if his power comes back.
1B - Adam LaRoche - $11
Adam LaRoche gets overlooked a bit much in fantasy. While he's not an elite option at the corner, in a 20 team league he's more than serviceable. At $11, I get a dependable hitter who I know will give me at least .275-25-80. However, with the move to Arizona in a young and very solid lineup (assuming it continues growing this year), I could see him putting up some career numbers with a .280-30-95 line. Even ZIPS projects him for a .287-26-109 season (.363 OBP and .500+ SLG). We're getting into Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee territory here. Honestly, I expect a little more in the HR and a slight bit less in the AVG department than ZIPS. But hitting behind Justin Upton and Kelly Johnson (and in front of Mark Reynolds), LaRoche should have a great year. Usually a slow starter, he's been hot this spring. This could end up being one of the best values in the auction.
OF - Manny Ramirez - $37
Until the last second, I had Manny and Bobby Abreu locked up. Unfortunately, someone outbid me on Abreu and I was still in need of antoher pitcher. However, I'm happy with Ramirez at $37. While a lot of 'experts' have him ranked far down the OF list, I'm not so convinced he's on a monsterous decline. The guy put up 19 HR despite missing 50 games last year, and seems to have implied wanting another Free Agent contract after this year. While I'm not one to fully believe in the 'contract year' hype, Ramirez is one I could see this actually applying to. He's a hard worker, and when he gives his all, he's one of the best players in the history of the game. The lineup around him is very solid, and I'll be disappointed if he hits anything worse than .287-30-115-100 for me. Considering we had Denard Span go for a ridiculous $36 ($4 more than Abreu!!!), I'll take Manny at $37 without a second thought.
RP - Rafael Betancourt - $3
In our league, $3 is a great deal for a guy like Betancourt. I put him in with the likes of Matt Thornton, but with a better shot at getting some saves. He strikes out at a great click, keeps his ERA and WHIP down, and gets me holds. I suspect he'll be sitting at my RP slot all season with Guerrier and Lyon while I rotate in some others. If you're looking for RP help, don't overlook Betancourt, and keep him in your mind as another deep sleeper for saves if Street's other two backup closers can't cut it. Betancourt is starting the year slowly getting into throwing, as he's had a minor injury problem, but I'm not too concerned and the Rockies seem to be happy with his progress.
RP/SP - Robinson Tejeda - $4
Why oh why would I pay $4 for this scrub? Well, given our starts limit of 18 per session, having a RP eligible at SP can play an important role in maintaining leads in strikeouts and snaking extra wins. With Tejeda and Colby Lewis (assuming neither gets a starting gig), I might be able to have 2 extra pitchers in at all times. That's a huge advantage as long as they're not hurting your rates. Tejeda isn't Matt Thornton or Rafael Betancourt, but he strikes out more than a batter per inning and he's young. The Royals may give him a shot at the rotation out of spring training, but my hope is that he stays in the bullpen to strengthen his K-rate and probably his ERA and WHIP, since he can ramp it up a little more. Who really wants a starter that pitches for the Royals besides Grienke? Then again, he did thrive in his starting role toward the end of last year. But, the only reason I spent $4 is for the SP eligibility for a reliever. Hoepfully, that doesn't go to waste.
RP - Matt Lindstrom - $4
I was happy to grab up Lindstrom at $4. While he and Lyon aren't going to help my ERA or WHIP too much (unless Lyon gets another lucky year like 2009), I need Lindstrom to handcuff my only closer. Experts don't seem to be too sure if Lyon has a lock on the closer job, so it's important that I get Lindstrom here. With the fall of Joe Nathan and Huston Street, I could be looking at 3 or 4 different guys getting save chances (Guerrier included) instead of the 1 that I had planned originally. This is why I diversify my RP portfolio.
OF - Xavier Nady - $2
If Nady ends up with a job in Chicago, this could be an absolute steal. He was on his way to perennial All-Stardom before going out all of 2009 with the Yankees. He's better than Fukudome (I'm not sure about fielding, he's a bit below average while Fukudome is a bit above), and if he proves he's healthy, I think the Cubs should take a chance at him throwing up a .280-25-90 line in the NL Central. If not, I've got a nice platoon backup outfielder to go along with Garret Jones and Juan Pierre.
2B/3B - Jeff Baker - $3
Because it's a keeper league, I thought I'd take a chance on Baker. Considering Mike Fontenot is a terrible baseball player, Baker could get a chance at a regular gig in the Cubs infield. He's not making much of a push so far, and Pinella likes the piss poor Fontenot right now, so that's a little disappointing. This former top prospect has done nothing but mash in the minors, and hasn't looked too bad in the MLB either. I'm curious what he could do with a full season's worth of AB's. Nothing special, just a flyer buy.
3B/SS - Brendan Harris - $1
I needed to make sure I had a backup for Hardy at SS. I don't see a problem with Hudson losing his job, but if Hardy stumbles out of the gate, look for Nick Punto to take some of his time. However, Punto is a worthless fantasy player, while Harris is only marginally worthless. Since Harris probably has the starting 3B gig with SS eligibility, I figured Harris was the better buy. Still contemplated grabbing Punto to back up Hudson and Baker at 2B, but then some clown bid $2 on him so I backed off.
DH - Vladimir Guerrero - $10
I must be crazy buying up 2 DH's, but I couldn't let Vlad go for $9. Considering he's in Texas, he could put up a VERY nice season. We're talking about the Rangers lineup, in Arlington (which Vlad absolutely loves). For $10, I'll take a chance on another DH hitting .300-25-100 in a stacked lineup. I know he was hurt last year, but we're still talking about Vlad. Given 500 AB's, he should excel in my lineup and I've got Ortiz to back him up. Plus, there's plenty of trade value for solid hitters, even if they are only available at the UT position. Having the ability to rotate Vlad and Big Papi into my UT slot for the combined price of $22 could result (if done right) in seeing a .285-30-100 type of season out of that roster place....or perhaps even better.
C - Miguel Olivo - $1
With Iannetta on my team, I had to snatch up Olivo. Now I don't have to worry about C, and for $1, I can't complain about having a possible 15 HR from a C on my bench. These two could put up 30 HR at my catching position this year.
SP - John Maine - $10
Given my Top 3 starting pitchers and the 18 start limit, I decided to finsihing my staff up with upside pitchers. It's likely I won't throw more than 12 starts a session (and there's a minimum of 9), which means I'll be playing the matchups with Maine, Lewis, Correia and Marcum (next player) until I know what to expect from them. Maine has a solid K rate, and should give me decent peripherals in a nice park at Citi Field. He's had some shoulder problems, but even 25 starts from Maine should be sufficient for my team in this type of league.
SP - Shaun Marcum - $10
See my explanation for Maine. Marcum is also coming off an injury, but the Blue Jays already have enough confidence in him to name him their Opening Day Starter. I'll take a chance here, and perhaps both of these pitchers end up being decent keepers for me in 2011. Last season, I snatched up Ted Lilly and Randy Wolf for a combined $23, along with Randy Wells off waivers. All season I hit a waiver wire gold mine (and we're limited to 16 waiver moves, barring pitcher injury, per season). I snatched up, in addition to Randy Wells, Andrew Bailey, Matt Diaz, Garrett Jones, and Scott Podsednik. These are the kind of players that make or break your team in a 20-team league. Hopefully, these last two buys will help to 'make' it.
SP - Dustin McGowan - $2
For my final roster slot, I grabbed McGowan at a nice cheap price. He was on his way to having #2 fantasy pitcher credentials before being derailed by injury. Both Marcum and McGowan have great upside, and if he stays healthy through the end of the season, he could be a nice guy to keep for 2011. Hopefully he doesn't lose too much on his K potential with the injury, and perhaps I have another RP with SP eligibility if Toronto decides he's not ready for a full time starting role yet. There's a lot of risk here, but I like the potential and the price.
I actually like this team better than the one I drafted last year. Ultimately, my 2009 team finished in 2nd place (losing to FBJ editor Eriq Gardner who has also written fantasy pieces for Hardball Times, Blooomberg Sports, and Sports Illustrated). He's currently the 3-year defending champoin, but the rest of the league seems to be catching up. He has another formidable lineup, but I'm finally out of his division after finishing in 2nd place in the division 2 years in a row. I expect that I'll have to deal Vlad or Ortiz, depending on the demand, for an upgrade somewhere else in my lineup. Hopefully I can wheel and deal like last year, and get lucky on the waivers again. None of the teams look particularly strong across the board, but there are a few teams that have some really potent batting lineups. Luckily, none of those guys are in my division this season. I've got 3 drafts left. One is an Razzball Commentor league (but regular style, not Razz style), and two leagues with some friends with some really strange roster and category settings. I'll also try to recap the rosters in this 20 team league.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Also up is a new post by Eriq, who is now cross posting his articles with the new Bloomberg Sports product. Eriq, as I've mentioned, is our editor at FBJ, and has written for Sports Illustrated, Hardball Times, Slate, the New York Times, and The Hollywood Reporter. Pretty exciting, as we get to use some of the Bloomberg Sports graphics on FBJ now!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Stars N' Scrubs
This guy was certainly not worried about filling out a full roster. His excuse "in a 10 team league, it doesn't matter. $1 players are still good." The result? He may actually be right, and his team is awfully scary:
Albert Pujols $44
Hanley Ramirez $41
Alex Rodriguez $39
Tim Lincecum $36
Chase Utley $31
Ryan Howard $31
Then he left. For those of you who don't feel like doing addition, that's $222 on the first 6 players. $38 left for the rest of his team. It didn't work out too badly. Here are the highlights of his autodraft:
Johnny Damon $9
Brad Hawpe $3
Franklin Gutierrez $2
David Ortiz $1
Mike Napoli $1
And a reasonable staff to go with Lincey:
Ricky Nolasco $9
Gavin Floyd $1
Wade Davis $1
Aaron Harang $1
Hiroki Kuroda $1
Brad Lidge $1
David Aardsma $1
Kerry Wood $1
The others are nothing special...but I think the moral of the story is it's possible to splurge hardcore on guys in a league like this and fill in with everyday players. I'm curious to see if he pays attention all year (this is again a Champions League) and if this strategy really works.
I'll just go over the Reds (and a couple other, shall I say, stupid picks), as his team sucks in general. Not sure how I swiped Votto in this league with his obvious love of all things Dusty Baker.
Marco Scutaro $4
This was the 2nd player put up for auction. And he went for more than $1. Why?
Steven Strasburg $10
With Ricky Nolasco going for $9, I'm not sure this was a very good investment. I wouldn't even make this investment if this were a keeper league.
Aroldis Chapman $1
He won't see the Majors this year. What's the point?
Micah Owings $1
Arthuer Rhodes $1
Given Rhodes' season last year, fine. But still, don't expect a repeat. I think he's 70.
Johnny Cueto $10
In a 10 team league, Cueto shouldn't go for more than $2. If that. He's an unbelievable talent, but who knows what his role will be.
Team 11 Year Old Jabbermouth
I want to work out a trade with this kid, as I'm lower on pitching than I'd like. But I'm not into trading Pablo Sandoval and Matt Holliday for Tommy Hanson. Sorry bud. His team's not terrible, but will need some help in the HR/R/RBI department. Here's the hilarious staff:
And his love for steals:
Michael Bourn $13
Juan Pierre $10
Ichiro Suzuki $19
Rajai Davis $2
Erick Aybar $1
Oh, and I guess I'll get into my team. I wasn't too happy with the end of the draft, as it was just me and suspected Dummy Team jumping on any player anyone nominated that wasn't terrible. He sucked up a lot of the closer options here. I'm not a huge fan of my team, but I think it will be solid if my staff lives up to its young potential. Here we go:
OF - Ryan Braun - $39
Not much to say. It's Ryan Braun...right about at where I have him valued for a league like this. He's good.
1B/3B - Pablo Sandoval - $25
I got caught here trying to bid him up. He went for an absolutely ridiuclous sum in my keeper league ($70 in a 20-team $300 cap with only 3 OF and no CI/MI slots). I figured he was overvalued in most places, and got stuck with a $25 price tag. It kept me from some deals I was hoping for later on in the draft, but he should help my Average at least.
1B - Prince Fielder - $35
Look for Fielder to have a big year. In 2008 he had a rough time, but don't count this guy out for a 50 HR season. He's better than Ryan Howard, and doesn't look quite as stupid on curveballs.
1B - Joey Votto - $22
Surprised I got him at $22. Votto is poised to have a monster season, as I've mentioned in previous posts. Looks like I've got my 1B/CI/UT filled up already.
OF - Matt Holliday - $26
What's not to like having Holliday and Pujols in the same lineup? Holliday is ready for a huge year hitting with Prince Albert for a full season. At $26, I'd argue he's a bargain. I can't imagine anyone is going to come close to my batting average here, especially with my next two picks.
SS - Troy Tulowitzki - $28
I think I spent a little much on Tulo, but I love the guy. Perhaps some speed decrease from last season, but should give me 25+ HR and plenty of RBIs and R.
2B - Robinson Cano - $18
If Cano repeats last year in that Yankees lineup, $18 is a great value here. I like Cano to continue to mature with a bunch of monsters around him in New York.
SP - Ubaldo Jimenez - $10
Ubaldo seems to go overlooked in a lot of drafts. He's a 200K beast, and for $10, he could be my ace. Colorado doesn't even matter for this guy. While he's not my favorite young 200K potential pitcher, I love him at $10.
OF - Jason Kubel - $8
At the time, $8 seemed like a nice deal for Kubel. Then I remembered his terrible splits and watched guys like Derrek Lee go for $9. Kubel will play full time and has a better lineup than before around him. He's about at value with an $8 buy. I'll take it.
SP - Yovanni Gallardo - $14
My man crush on Yovanni continues. This is the most I've paid for him, I think. Considering many fantasy aces go for over $20, I like the price tag. It seems that the older, known options go for quite a premium in these leagues, when there's PLENTY of guys around the Ubaldo/Gallardo/Kershaw/Johnson area going for under $15. So I decided to buy them all.
SP - Josh Johnson - $12
While I love Gallardo, Johnson should never go for less. This guy is a true ace, and for less than half the price of Grienke. I didn't get Hanson (SP lover got him), but he went for $13. All these guys are so similar (I'd group Nolasco, Wainwright, and possibly Scherzer in this group as well).
SP - Clayton Kershaw - $8
$8 for an ace in the NL West, on a team with a great lineup? Look for Kershaw to get more Wins this year, with a bit of regression in ERA. Guy competed for the ERA title last year as a 9 year old (or something like that). 200+ K's shouldn't be a problem, and putting him with the other 3 guys makes for a very nice staff.
2B - Orlando Hudson - $2
Hudson's nothing special, but he's steady. In a very solid Twins lineup, I could see him having a very good year. I needed to get SOMEONE in my MI slot before resorting to JJ Hardy, so Hudson it is. However, because ESPN has Miguel Tejada ranked so low, he went undrafted. I quickly exchanged him for Hudson on waivers after the draft.
OF - Nolan Reimold - $2
Two bucks is well worth it for Reimold. I've been following him since he was drafted out of Bowling Green and he's done nothing but hit. Expect 20+ home runs this year and plenty of RBI chances in a developing lineup.
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka - $1
I nominated Dice K when the team I suspected of being a dummy came back. I was hoping he'd grab him at $2. I was wrong, and got stuck with him. However, Dice K has plenty of ability to bounce back in a big way. At least, I hope so. There's plenty on the waiver wire if he doesn't work out.
RP - Octavio Dotel - $1
Thankfully, he let me get a closer. Unfortunately, it was this WHIP killer. Hopefully he gets 30 saves in 30 IP so it doesn't really matter for my team. Dotel will get plenty of strikeouts, and he can be a very underrated pickup if he has a good year and some BABIP luck.
OF - Juan Rivera - $1
People still don't seem to like Juan Rivera. He went for $7 in my 20 team league that we saw Kung Fu Panda get a whopping $70! Here, he's $1. For a guy that, if healthy, can hit .285-25-90, that's cheap.
C - Kurt Suzuki - $1
Look for Suzuki to build on last season with steady ABs in Seattle. He's nothing to call home about, but he'll give you production steadily in a place that seems to go haywire sometimes.
RP - Brandon Lyon - $1
I've gone over Lyon before. He'll get some saves, but see a regression in ERA. Hopefully, the regression will be mitigated by heading over to the National League. If not, I guess I get some cheap saves.
SP - Francisco Liriano - $1
I have no problem taking a chance on him for $1. He could go well with my other SP options, and is again easily replaceable. He had a great winter and hopefully can build on that this year in a subtely stacked Minnesota rotation.
SP - Phil Hughes - $1
I've professed my love for Hughes before, so I won't reiterate. He could be this year's Kershaw.
OF - Magglio Ordonez - $1
Magglio doens't hit for power anymore, and everyone has his first half 2009 fresh in their minds. What they don't seem to take into account is his fantastic late season hitting. No, he didn't crush lots of home runs. But he hit for a nice average and still has the likes of Miguel Cabrera around him in the lineup. As a bench outfielder, I'll happily take him at $1
RP - Matt Capps - $1
More cheap saves. Have I mentioned that you shouldn't pay for them? Especially in a 10-team auction league when everyone is loading up top heavy. Capps should return to decent form.
RP - Jason Frasor - $1
Frasor is more than a closer. He should get a lot of innings, and is the favorite. Why not grab up some more cheap saves.
SP/RP - Neftali Feliz - $1
More Feliz. See Hughes, Phil for a comparison. They'll both strike guys out, and are currently jockeying for a rotation spot on good hitting teams. Upside galore with another flamethrower.
Update: I dropped Dice K for Matt Thornton. Thornton has a chance to be a top reliever this year, and puts up Broxton-like numbers without the saves. He'll be good for my rate stats with young pitchers that may walk too many guys. I already mentioned getting Tejada on waivers for Orlando Hudson. Not too bad either, with multiple eligibility coming soon.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Talk about an extreme Woopsies! While I'm not quite as gloom and doom about sports subsidization as J.C. Bradbury, I think the Olympics are a terrible way to spend money. If you really are going to invest in sports--and you think it is planned the right way as a worthwhile endeavor that includes other things valuable to society--it better be something that's there for more than 3 weeks. But this? I'm curious how the Times can even claim the Olympics 'generally stayed within budget.' Did they leave themselves $825 million in wiggle room?
Hat Tip: Libertarianism from A to Z