Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Myers Named Astros Closer

Talk about a surprise.  The Houston Astros named Brett Myers their closer for the season on Tuesday...creating extra value for Myers (who for the most part has gone undrafted in many fantasy drafts to date) and a sudden interest in a player that was slated to be in the Astros starting rotation.  

Myers’ move to replace the traded Mark Melancon puts Brandon Lyon in a setup role for the final year of his three-year deal and first since ending his season in June for biceps surgery. It also pushes a stable of young relievers into the competition for setup jobs and gives Livan Hernandez a clear shot at a rotation that had one fewer hole before and Jordan Lyles, Kyle Weiland, Zach Duke and Lucas Harrell better shots.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Run Down

We are just a few days into Spring Training 2012 and the news is flowing out of Florida and Arizona as players begin to work out all of the rust accumulatted over the winter.  Catchers and pitchers reported last week and the remaining positional players are set to join their clubs as teams prepare for the start of the Spring Training season.  

Among the most notable news from the weekend is the end of Joel Zumaya's 2012 season...the Detroit Tigers former closer-in-waiting signed on with the Minnisota Twins was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. If he wants to return to baseball, he will need Tommy John surgery.  Zumaya is considering retirement after this latest setback to his career. 

The Cleveland Indians will be working out pitchers to replace Chris Perez as the team's closer for the short term.  Perez, will likely start the season on the disabled list.  Cleveland’s All-Star closer will miss at least one month and possibly six weeks with a strained left side muscle he injured throwing off the mound for the first time in spring training. Perez said Sunday he had thrown about 30 pitches Thursday when he pulled up with what he thought was a cramp.  Instead, he strained an oblique muscle.

Not sure what I make of the current Josh Hamilton situation in Texas.  The All-Star outfielder and former MVP relapsed this past winter - still you can't deny that the guy has put up the numbers to warrent a long term contract extension.   It'll be interesting to see what Nolan Ryan and the Rangers do with Hamilton during spring training and the regular season.  

I took part in my first ESPN draft of the season last night and here is what my roster looks like:

CMiguel Montero, Ari C
1BMichael Morse, Wsh 1B, OF
2BRyan Roberts, Ari 2B, 3B
3BBrett Lawrie, Tor 3B  DTD
SSElvis Andrus, Tex SS  DTD
2B/SSDustin Ackley, Sea 2B
1B/3BAdam Lind, Tor 1B
OFJacoby Ellsbury, Bos OF
OFJustin Upton, Ari OF
OFShin-Soo Choo, Cle OF
OFLogan Morrison, Mia OF  DTD
OFJason Kubel, Ari OF, DH
UTILBilly Butler, KC DH
PFelix Hernandez, Sea SP
PDavid Price, TB SP
PMatt Moore, TB SP
PDrew Storen, Wsh RP
PYu Darvish, Tex SP
PRyan Madson, Cin RP
PBrandon League, Sea RP
PTyler Clippard, Wsh RP
PJim Johnson, Bal RP  DTD
BenchJesus Montero, Sea DH
BenchBryce Harper, Wsh OF
BenchPhil Hughes, NYY SP

Can't say that I have displeased with the results of this draft.   Team is young and has the potential to boast quite a few breakout players.   Harper was selected in the 23rd round.  I tried to resist drafting him, but given that he was there in round 23, I couldn't really resist. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Return of Braun

Some early season drafting may have paid dividends already for some fantasy baseball owners.  Those who ended up getting a discount on Ryan Braun due to the recently resolved 50 game suspension issue (which was overturned yesterday) should think they are blessed...the 2011 NL MVP ad fallen to the 4th and 5th rounds in most drafts.   That being said, I am not sold that Braun will produce as effectively as he did  in 2011, when he had Prince Fielder with him on the Milwalkee Brewers.  Fielders departure to Detroit leaves Braun without protection and not much to work with in the rest of that lineup.   We also haven't resolved whether or not Braun was actually on PED, and the overturning of his suspension leaves many to doubt the legitimacy of the MLB drug testing policy.   You also have to think that this favours Manny Ramierez and his potential to join the Oakland Athlethics on opening day. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Darvish Throws Left-handed?

No - I didn't alter the photo...but this is Yu Darvish throwing left handed during the opening week of Spring Training with the Texas Rangers.    The Rangers off-season international acquisition apparently takes to throwing with his left hand in order to keep his non-throwing arm strong and his body balanced.  

Ryan Howard has been taking some batting practice.  The Phillies first baseman has been recovering from surgery to repair his torn left Achilles tendon.  The Phillies are looking for Howard to rebound from his poor 2011 season.  Howard has lost quite a bit of value as a fantasy player over the last two seasons.  

Bobby Abreu has requested a trade from the Los Angeles Angels if he is not going to be an every day player for the Angels this season.  The Angels have a crowded OF corp, that might even see highly touted prospect Mike Trout not make the major league roster come opening day.   With the return of Kendry Morales to the fold, the OF becomes even more crowded.  The Angels need to find room for Trout, Abreu, Vernon Wells, Morales, Tori Hunter and Peter Bourjos.    Abreu will likely be moved...but where?

Roy Oswalt continues to look for a new home.  Oswalt has spoke with the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers about his services this off season but has yet to sign on with a MLB club.

More updates to come as Spring Training gets into high gear....


Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday afternoon thoughts...

Alright it's Monday afternoon and "Family Day" here in Ontario for most people (by most people, I mean almost everyone but me!).    Some interesing news coming over the inter-net thing...AJ Burnett has been traded by the Yankees to the Pirates...the talented Burnett gets shipped from a contending team to a team that seems to be perpetually terrible (anyone remember when they had a championship team...that was the pre-steroid Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonillia) since the mid-90s.   The Yankee's received a couple of prospects - but really, I think the team had enough of Burnett and his underachieving ways.   The Yankees have agreed to take on a large part of Burnett's rather handsome salary.   You can read more here.

Tommy Hanson was involved in a one-car accident Monday morning.  He blew a tire and hit his head.   Lucky for the Atlanta Braves that one of their top starting pitchers didn't start the season on the disabled list...still, you have to wonder if the car accident is a sign of things to come for Hanson this season.  

The Yankee's kept busy after trading Burnett by signing Raul Ibanez to a one year contract.   The aging Ibanez will likely serve as a left handed DH for the Yankees, and fill in for the other aging wonders on this Yankee's roster (yeah - I'm talking about A-Rod and Jeter). 

The Washington Nationals have pretty much confirmed that Stephan Strasburg won't be pitching more than 160 innings this season.  This shouldn't be surprising since the 160 inning cap was also placed on fellow National's starter Jordon Zimmerman when he returned from Tommy John surgery.  

After taking part in some mock drafts...here are some players I see that are going way to early:

  • Bryce Harper - will likely start in the minors for the Nationals - very slim change of making opening day roster.
  • Brett Lawrie - I've seen Lawrie taken ahead of Alex Rodriguez AND Evan Longoria.  This shouldn't happen especially for a 3B with a small sample size. 
  • Matt Moore - he's started 1 game for the Tampa Bay Rays but it seems that expectations are high for Moore.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

And It Begins...

Getting ready for draft day...here are some tips from the Talented Mr. Roto (aka. Matthew Berry from ESPN):

OK, it's game day, baby. Time for the big show. Don't bother cramming on the way in or anything stupid like that. It's like a test. You know it or you don't. You're pregnant or you're not. You want to project an air of confidence -- even if you don't feel it. Make others sweat, be it in person or through chatter in your draft engine. That's my first draft day hint.

1. Never show fear. Just be confident. You don't have to be cocky or a jerk. But occasionally sighing a breath of relief when the owner before you picks as if to say, "Glad you didn't grab the correct guy," will do wonders to rattle your weaker-willed leaguemates.
2. In auctions, throw out a young, hyped player early. Reliable performers like Roy Halladay will be thrown out soon enough. But the first guy I'm throwing out this year is Brett Lawrie. Everyone loves him this year. And he'll go for at least $5 more than he should because he's sexy and everyone has money at that point. That extra $5 off the table will be helpful much later in the auction.

3. If you find yourself getting run out of a position, don't panic! Say you've got Pick 11 in a 12-team league and find yourself on the short end of a second-base run. Instead of reaching for a guy such as Daniel Murphy just to have someone, grab another closer, even if you already have two. Or a second decent shortstop. Give yourself something to trade for what you need.

4. If you are in a snake draft, especially at one end of one, grab what you need when you can. Let's say you really want a good No. 1 first baseman. You see there are at least six guys left whom you wouldn't mind having. So you grab another starting pitcher. But one good run, and you're left holding the bag. It's 20 picks until you get to choose again, if not more. Don't wait. Grab what you need, get surplus later (unless you're in a situation like I described above).

5. Don't listen to anyone else during the draft! (Basically, don't fall for No. 1.) As I mentioned in my theory section, nobody knows anything! And that includes me and any other fantasy baseball analyst. Yes, we analysts probably spend a lot more time looking at stats, trends, players and teams and the like than you do, but that's because you have a life. And we've probably been playing a bit longer. So we probably have a more informed opinion. But that's all it is. An opinion. An educated guess. Emphasis on the word "guess."

So if I'm telling you that "experts" (and notice I put the word in quotes; I consider myself an analyst, not an expert ... there's no such thing in fantasy) aren't always right ... other people in your league sure as hell aren't. If they mock your pick or sneer at your team, who cares? Don't let it rattle you! I often find that the loudest person at the draft is the stupidest. I've seen too many good drafts screwed up because someone listened to some loud jerk rather than trusting his own opinions. Listen, you've done the research, you've played the game ... you've even read this far. You're into it. And your opinion is as good as, if not better than, anyone else's in that room.

6. For those in auction leagues, especially keepers, consider bringing last season's rosters with you. Say someone throws out Evan Longoria. You look at last year's rosters and see one person had him at $36. It's likely that the owner who had him last year will go up to $36 to get him back. How many times have you said to yourself, "Aw, hell, I'll throw him back, see if I can get him cheaper. If not, I can still pay $36 to get him back." So you bid the guy up to $36. It's not a strategy for the weak of heart; you can get stuck. But worst-case scenario, you're stuck with Evan Longoria. Not the most unpleasant thing in the world. And if you're successful, you can take a lot of money off the table a little bit at a time.

7. For the players you do get, write down the name of the last person who bid on him or the ones who complained that you snatched him up right out of their draft queue. That will come in handy later when you're looking for trade partners.

8. The later the draft or auction goes -- and it will go long -- the more people get antsy and stop paying attention. This is when you need to be your sharpest. This is when the cheap guys come in. This is when you got that $1 Jordan Walden last year. This is when you win or lose your league. Not by paying $40 for Prince Fielder.

9. Speaking of the end game, this is where you need to swing for the fences. A guy like Mark Buehrle will always be there -- someone "safe" who you know exactly what he will bring -- you can always grab him or someone similar if need be. But the end game is where you swing for the fences and hope to hit on one or two breakouts. Too many people go "safe" in the late rounds.

10. Have fun. Remember, we do this for leisure. We all (especially I) take it very seriously, and I play to win, but it's not worth ruining friendships over.  Unless you've got a shot at winning. In which case, you can always get a new friend.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

MLB 2012: Pre-Season Thoughts

Well it's early February in Ottawa and the snow/ice is still on the ground in Canada's national capital.   The Superbowl is over and sadly, I have to deal with the endless discussion about whether or not Eli Manning is an "elite" quarterback (for the record - he's only one in his own mind).     With the end of the NFL season, it's time to start gearing up for the upcoming MLB season and more specifically to the various fantasy baseball league drafts I'll be involved in this year.   With some significant changes over the winter, this upcoming year is going to be extremely interest.   Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols are now in the American league - joining the likes of Mark Texeria, Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera in the Jr Circuit and leaving only Joey Votto as the only legitimate power hitting first baseman in the National League.   CJ Wilson is now an Angel,, but the Texas Rangers quickly replaced him with Yu Darvish.   To me, the 2012 MLB season could be a year of transition...the dominance that Pujols has had over the past few seasons will likely be replaced by  someone else.  

While this blog will primarily deal with Fantasy Baseball, I won't forget my beloved Toronto Blue Jays who are on the verge of becoming true contenders in the AL East.   It was a stake in the heart that the Jays didn't bid nearly enough to get the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish...in fact, had I been the GM of the Jays I would have spent the money given to Brandon Morrow in an attempt to grab one of the biggest free agent names on the block.   Darvish will be a number one for years to come for the Rangers and the Jays missed out not only on a staff ace, but also a major promotional opportunity especially in the MLB International market.   This will likely be one of the few things I will not like from the Jays young GM Alex Anthopoulos.  

Looking forward to the MLB season and all the fantasy discussions.