Spring is in the air! That means it is time to prepare for your Strat-O-Matic league. Sometimes the difference between coming home with a championship are those handful of 'freak' cards that may not be the best long-term talent, but will do a fantastic job in a platoon or as a pinch-hitter in the right situation. We will cover pitchers in an upcoming blog entry.
Hitting: Orlando Hudson should be an asset when not hurt, but Casey Blake is consistently overrated by media types who care about things like being a “clubhouse leader.” Still, James Loney should improve, and a healthy Rafael Furcal would really help. I do worry about Russell Martin getting so overworked, but the outfield is a major strength. Manny Ramirez will be a big liability on defense, but I have to disagree with the statisticians who think he’s only worth 1-2 wins.
Pitching: The Dodgers are hardly a juggernaut, but this is the year Chad Billingsley should become a true ace, and while Clayton Kershaw will likely battle control problems, he’ll still be awfully tough to hit. Hiroki Kuroda is a solid No. 3, while Randy Wolf and James McDonald form a fine back end of the rotation. The bullpen isn’t all that deep, but Jonathan Broxton is a shutdown closer, and only health can halt the unstoppable force that is Hong-Chih Kuo – he had an OK 44:2 K:BB ratio over 26 innings against lefties last season.
As players from Japan have become more prevalent in MLB, RotoWire has tried to be on the cutting edge of fantasy coverage of top players in Japan and other foreign leagues. We've expanded our coverage this spring by adding Patrick Newman of NPBTracker.com to our staff.
Newman is going to cover Japanese Professional Baseball player news for RotoWire. Newman's blog has drawn widespread industry praise for his coverage of Japanese baseball. He'll add his insight, and ability to read the actual Japanese media sources, to our coverage. Check out our Foreign Player News page, where his work will primarily appear.
In addition to Newman helping our expanded coverage, we've also added two new cheatsheets to our fantasy baseball coverage.
According to the hype, we currently have several of the best ever players in the NBA at their particular positions all playing right now. Is this all just recent-memory syndrome? Unfounded hype? Or is this really one of the best periods in NBA history?
Call me crazy, but I currently view Jason Motte as a top-10 closer. Sure, there are safer options, but then again, there’s also quite a bit of uncertainty in the closer’s market right now (B.J. Ryan, Brian Fuentes, Francisco Cordero, etc.). There’s always the chance Tony La Russa goes all Ryan Franklin on us, but I always draft for skills, not role, and he’s probably a smarter manager than that anyway. I like Chris Perez, but he’s walked 5.6 batters per nine innings throughout his career, and I’m not sure why he’s generally considered the pitcher with more upside. Motte, a former catcher, didn’t even start pitching until two years ago, compiling a 11.9 K/9 mark throughout 164.2 minor league innings. When you combine last year’s stint with the Cardinals and his stats this spring, you get an acceptable 31:4 K:BB ratio over 21.1 innings. And this has all been accomplished throwing primarily his fastball, as his slider remains a work in progress (and it’s showing definite signs of improvement). With terrific command of a devastating fastball, he only needs the slider to be average anyway. Go get him.
I'm not one for conspiracy theories generally, but does anyone else think it's strange that in the midst of his steroid scandal this spring which was threatening to overwhelm the team's preparations for the season that ARod suddenly discovers a hip cyst which necessitates his removal from camp and immediately causes the scandal to die down?
Interesting article on the world of defensive statistics in the Seattle Times today. For starters, that a newspaper would take the issue seriously without resorting to cliches and snide asides regarding sabermetrics, stats, et al, is perhaps an indication that advanced statistical measurements are gaining acceptance among the last of the holdouts -- the mainstream media.
Sure, there is a little hope in Washington. Jordan Zimmermann is looking fantastic in camp, Nick Johnson is still healthy, the sun is shining. But if you had any doubt that this was still Jim Bowden's team, or that it'll take a while for new/interim GM Mike Rizzo to climb out of the hole his former boss left the organization in, consider the case of Dmitri Young.
If you're not using the RotoWire Fantasy Baseball Draft Software, you should be. It's the best thing since sliced bread. Especially in keeper leagues where you can quickly figure out who's available, who has money left to spend and what the estimated inflation will be for players.
In using the software for a few drafts, here's some tips for even seasoned users.
Ryan Braun’s intercostal strain has officially become a major concern. Considering it’s the same exact injury that limited him to a .208/.304/.356 line in September last year, his latest setback can’t be taken lightly. The fact it lingered after a full offseason of rest was worrisome in the first place. I just drafted him with the seventh pick in my main league and am already regretting it. I knew I should have went with Timmy.
The Angels' rotation has been dealing with a handful of injuries this spring. They still seem to be the consensus favorite in the AL West, but could this be a year where the A's knock them from their perch?
Deep Sleeper Tuesdays travels to the AL side of the equation this week, looking at one guy trying to avoid a Quadruple-A label, and another who nobody really knew what to make of coming into the spring.
If you want to have a good laugh, check out the NY Times' baseball blog today. It implies that fantasy owners are not drafting ARod in part because of offseason distractions ranging from dating Madonna to the steroid scandal.
While the Pirates didn't make any front pages with their offseason acquisitions, one signing could end up having a big impact on the fantasy fortunes of their pitchers: first base coach and 'unofficial' infield coach Perry Hill.
There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner (among hitters) since 1967 when Carl Yastrzemski went 44/121/,326. That's 41 years without one when prior to Yaz, Frank Robinson had won in 1966, Mickey Mantle in 1956, Ted Williams in 1947 and 1942, Joe Medwick in 1937, Lou Gehrig in 1934, etc. In other words, this is an unprecedented dry spell for Triple Crowns.
I'm one of those people who reflexively takes a union's side in just about any union/management dispute, especially in sports. Neither the "they should be happy playing a boy's game" argument nor the "spoiled millionaires" argument holds any sway with me, and the "higher salaries equals higher ticket prices for the little guy" argument has been debunked time and time again. If there's money to be made, and there clearly is, then the players generating the revenue should get a large share of it, and their union should be there for them to make sure they get it.
The 2014 AL LABR auction went down at the Arizona Republic offices in downtown Phoenix Saturday night. It's a 12-team, 5 x 5, AL-only league with 2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B. 1 3B, 1 SS, 1 CI, 1 MI, 5 OF, 1 U and 9 pitchers. Everyone has $260 to spend.
Billy Hamilton went for $28 in the NL LABR auction this past weekend. I discussed this with a fellow writer who participates in Tout Wars with me later this month and we discussed the problem with investing heavily into Hamilton.