Archive for March, 2009

Predicting The Rookie Of The Year Winners..

March 31, 2009

Next up in Prediction Week is the AL & NL Rookie of the Year. Winning the Rookie of the Year award can be a springboard to a great career (Albert Pujols, Mike Piazza & Andre Dawson) or it could be the one shining moment in a player’s career (Bob Hamelin, Ben Grieve & Jerome Walton). Who will win this year’s award? Let’s take a look…

Qualifications for the Rookie of the Year are a pitcher can’t have more than 50 innings pitched and a hitter can’t have more than 130 career ab’s.

NL

Candidates – Cameron Maybin, Jason Motte, James McDonald, Jordan Schafer, Chris Dickerson & Jordan Zimmermann

Can Maybin steal the ROY?

Can Maybin steal the ROY?

ROY – Cameron Maybin

WHY – Maybin will be the Marlins starting CF from Day 1 which is an important factor in considering who will win. Maybin hit .500 in a 32 ab audition last year for the Marlins and has all the tools to be a star in this game. He should hit around .260 with 10-15 hr’s, 70-80 runs scored and 20-30 sb’s. That should be good enough to win him the award.

AL

Candidates – Matt Wieters, Travis Snider, Brett Anderson, Chris Getz, Elvis Andrus & Brett Gardner

ROY – Travis Snider

Why – I know it is taboo to not to think that Matt Wieters won’t hit .450/40/140 but I like Travis Snider for a couple of reasons:

1. While Wieters will be riding buses from town to town in Triple A until May, Snider will be the Blue Jays starting LF from Day 1. This will give Snider roughly a 100-120 ab advantage.

2. I know Longoria and Braun won the ROY after being called up in May, but they weren’t catchers. Not only will Wieters lose ground to Snider because he won’t be in the majors until May (maybe even June) but he will also lose ground because even when he gets to the majors, he won’t be playing everyday because he is a catcher. Wieters would have to put up astronomical numbers to win the ROY in roughly 400 ab’s.

Spring Position Battles Update…

March 30, 2009

On Sunday New York Yankees Mgr, Joe Girardi announced that Brett Gardner will be the Yankees starting CF. Not surprised by this move at all. Cabrera projects to be nothing more than a 4th OF, while Gardner has a lot more speed which Girardi likes and overall had a better spring than Cabrera.

Gardner goes from projected winner to winner.

Yankees CF, Brett Gardner vs. Melky Cabrera. Cabrera and his .268 lifetime avg seems to be nothing more than a 4th OF. Gardner, who struggled in 127 ab’s last year with a .228/0/16/.283 has really turned it on this spring. Gardner has put an impressive .395/3/6 with 4 sb’s in 38 ab’s. Perhaps Gardner can be for the Yankees was Scott Podsednik was for the White Sox in 2005. Winner – Brett Gardner

Predicting The Cy Young Winners…

March 30, 2009

With the season just 1 week away, it’s time to kick off Prediction Week here at The Ghost of Moonlight Graham. Monday through Friday of this week, I will make my predictions for the Cy Young, ROY, MVP, Comeback Player of the Year, Division Winners, Wild Card and of course the World Series champion.

Here is the schedule for predictions

Monday – AL & NL Cy Young Award

Tuesday – AL & NL Rookie of the Year

Wednesday – AL & NL Comeback Player of the Year

Thursday – AL & NL MVP

Friday – Division Winners, Wild Card, PLayoff & World Series Champion

Since today is Monday, let’s kick off Prediction Week by predicting the NL & AL Cy Young Award winners.

NL Cy Young

Contenders – Johan Santana, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Chad Billingsley, Tim Lincecum

NL Cy Young Award – Cole Hamels

NL Cy Young winner?

NL Cy Young winner?

Why – It was a tough decision between Santana and Hamels but I think Hamels win the Cy Young for a couple of reasons:

1. Hamels got better as the season went on last year (2.98 2nd half era) and I think he carries that over to this season.

2. Hamels only had 14 wins in 08  but wth the Philles expected to be the favorites in the NL East again, I expect his wins to increase.

And no, I am not concerned about Hamels elbow. He threw 45 pitches on the 26th and reported no problems. He was scheduled to pitch in a minor league game on Sunday but that got rained out.

AL Cy Young

Contenders – Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay, Scott Baker

AL Cy Young Award – Zack Greinke

Why – About 3 weeks ago I was talking to my buddy Tom and I mentioned that I thought that Greinke would win the Cy Young. In a snickering response he said “put that in your blog.” Ok, I will. Zach Greinke will win the AL Cy Young.

Now in Peter Gammons’ blog he mentioned that one AL GM think Greinke will win the Cy Young as well. I hope it wasn’t Royals GM, Dayton Moore playing favorites. Even though this GM stole a little bit of my thunder, here is why I like Greinke this year:

1. He is only 25 and entering the prime of his career

2. His K/9 rate in the second half was 9.3 which means he got better as the season went on.

3. He won 13 games last year on a 75 win team. The Royals should be much improved in 2009, which will enable Greinke to get more opportunities for wins.

Looking At Fantasy Closers Update…

March 29, 2009

According to the Chicago Tribune, Lou Piniella has named Kevin Gregg the closer for the Chicago Cubs. This was a choice between a young, inexperienced closer who has trouble controlling his emotions but has potential in Marmol or a mediocre pitcher who has closer experience but melted down in Florida last year. In a move that I question, the Cubs chose the later. Then again, I have questioned a lot of things the Cubs have done this offseason.

That being said, with Gregg being named the closer, it’s time to update my Fantasy Closers post.

Dennis Eckersley Division

These are your cream-of-the-crop, top closers headed into 2009. These guys are #1 closer material in any fantasy league

1. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets – Krod, who broke Bobby Thigpen’s record for saves with 62 in 2008 with the Angels will now attempt to close out games in Flushing. While many people point to Krod’s diminished strike out rate (declined every year since 04) and his rising BAA (increased every year in the majors), it’s not like Krod had 62 saves with a 4.50 era. Krod’s era was still a dominant 2.24. With the Mets offering their closers plenty of save opportunities (72 in 08), Krod figures to close 45-50 games in 09.

2. Mariano Rivera, Yankees – Many thought the 2007 was the beginning of the decline for the great Rivera because of a 3.15 era (highest since he became a reliever). 2008 proved that was anything but the case. The 39 year old had one of the best seasons of his career, netting 39 saves with a paultry 1.40 era. If all is well from off-season shoulder surgery, Rivera once again will be one of the top closers in 2009.

3. Joe Nathan, Twins – Nathan, one of the most consistent closers in baseball had another stellar year in 2008 with 39 saves anda 1.33 era. You can pretty much pencil in the Stony Brook product 35-40 saves with an era under 2.

4. Joakim Soria, Royals – “The Mexecutioner” burst onto the scene in 2009 for Royals posting 42 saves with a nice 1.60 era. The 24 year old has been practically unhittable since reaching the majors in 2007 as he has only given up 85 hits in 136.1 innings. Soria should be a top 5 fantasy closer again in 2009

5. Brad Lidge, Phillies – Lidge had a season for the ages in 2008, going a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities. While I don’t expect Lidge to be perfect again in 2009, he should once again be one of the top closers in baseball as the Phillies figure to contend in the NL East.

6. Jonathon Papelbon, Red Sox –The Red Sox closer set a career high in saves in 2008 with 41. Fantasy owners only concern with Papelbon would be he threw a career high 79.1 innings last year including the post season. Look to see what Papelbon does in April. If he is strong through April, then a typical Papelbon season is in order

Tom Henke Division

The next 4 are right under the great closers but will still put up solid numbers for you in 2009

7. Jose Valverde, Astros – Finished 2nd in baseball in saves with 44, high era of 3.38 but lots of K’s with 83

8. Jonathon Broxton, Dodgers –With Saito off to Boston, Broxton takes over as the full-time closer in LA. 35-40 saves with 80+ K’s is more than doable in 2009

9. Francisco Cordero, Reds –With the Reds improved in 2009, Cordero might reach the 40 save mark. Something Cordero has done twice before. Unfortunately, Cordero’s usually high era will leave him out of the top 6

10. Kerry Wood, Indians – One of the better season signings in baseball, Wood gives something Cleveland hasn’t had in a very long time….A LEGIT CLOSER. There is always an injury risk when picking Wood but if healthy Wood is certainly a top 10 closer. I like 35+ saves for Wood in 2009

Jeff Montgomery Division

The perfect #2 fantasy closer. These next 5 guys are perfect #2 closers

11. Bobby Jenks, White Sox – How does a guy who throws 98 mph only strike out 5.55 guys every 9 innings? Just doesn’t make sense.

12. BJ Ryan, Blue Jays – Ryan isn’t the strike out pitcher he used to be but he still knows how to save a game. Pencil in 30+ saves again for Ryan in 2009.

13. Huston Street, Rockies –I am on the Huston Street bandwagon this year. A fresh start with the Rockies and this being an odd year, Street should have a nice bounce back year. Street, like Bret Saberhagen pitches very well in odd years

14. Brad Ziegler, A’s – Ziegler burst onto the scene last year by starting off his career with a 39 inning scoreless streak. I expect Ziegler’s era to increase from 1.06 to around the high 2 mark in 09. With the A’s very much improved expect Ziegler to register 25-30 saves

15. Brian Fuentes, Angels –I am not sold on Fuentes as most people are. He lost his closers role in 07 only to gain in back in 08. With Shields and Arredando looking over Fuentes’ shoulder it will be interestingto see how Fuentes fairs. The Angels offer a lot of opportunities for saves so 30+ saves with an era in the high 2’s is not out of the question

Armando Benitez Division

These guys can get you saves but when you need them the most they will blow a big one in September

16. Kevin Gregg, Cubs In a move that surprised a lot of people, Kevin Gregg was named the Cubs’ closer in 2009. Gregg had 29 saves for the Marlins last year but also blew 9. That is a lot of blown saves in 38 opportunities. Gregg melted down in the dog days of August when he had an 0-4 record, 3 blown saves and an era of 10.14. If he couldn’t handle the pressure in Miami how is he going to handle the pressure pitching under a microscope in Chicago? Gregg will get his saves early because the Cubs will be competitive in 2009 but I don’t see this ending well. I suspect Marmol will be closing games at some point during the season.

17. Brian Wilson, Giants – 41 saves, 4.65 era in 2008

18. Trevor Hoffman, Brewers – It will be weird to see Hoffman in a Brewers uniform. At this stage of his career Hoffman will get his saves, perhaps 25-30 with an era of around 4.50

19. Matt Capps, Pirates – Good for 15-25 saves on once again a very bad Pirates team

20. Mike Gonzalez, Braves – Had 14 saves in 36 games in 2008. High era of 4.28. Injury always a concern with Gonzalez

21. George Sherrill, Orioles –1st time closer in 2008, Sherrill had 31 saves before an injury ended his season. Lots of hits and a high era is something to be wary of in 2009

Al Reyes Division

These closers are usually 8th inning set-up types that are forced into the closers role because the team has no one else. These are the guys you only draft if you desperately need to fill a closers spot

22. Brandon Lyon, Tigers

23. Dan Wheeler, Rays

24. Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks

25. Heath Bell, Padres

26. Ryan Franklin, Cardinals

27. Joel Hanrahan, Nationals

28. CJ Wilson, Rangers

29. Tyler Walker, Mariners – With the Heilman trade yesterday, it looks like Walker might get the 1st shot at the closers role. Officially the worst closer in baseball headed into 2009.

Octavio Dotel Division

These are the 2 question marks going into the season. Great as 8th inning set up guys but are now asked to close games. Big difference between the 8th and 9th innings. These guys can either be in the Tom Henke division or the Armando Benitez division

?. Matt Lindstrom, Marlins – As I wrote in my post about the Marlins, Lindstrom is the X factor for the team in 2009. I like Lindstrom more than Marmol because of less pressure in Florida and Lindstrom proved he can do the job by going 5-5 in September. I like 25 saves and an era in the mid 2’s for Lindstrom

Norm Charlton Division

Top set up guys who are waiting in the wings and could fill in adequately if something happened to the current closer

1. Carlos Marmol, Cubs

2. Scot Shields, Angels

3. JJ Putz, Mets

4. Ryan Madsen, Phillies

5. Grant Balfour, Rays

Mark Davis 1989 Division

This is for the one guy who I will think have that ridiculous year, seemingly out of nowhere. Good the year before and this year explodes on the scene

Jonathon Broxton, Dodgers –As I mentioned earlier, I really like Broxton this year. The Dodgers offered their closers 55 save opportunities last year, so racking up saves shouldn’t be a problem for this 24 year old. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in baseball should help Broxton dominate in 2009

Placing Some Baseball Bets…

March 28, 2009

I was surfing the web and I happened to come across Bodoglife.com, a site that allows you to place bets on various sporting events. I checked out the baseball section and noticed they had prop bets for both players and teams.

Here are the prop bets I like and don’t like for the upcoming season…

Player Bets

Aubrey Huff. Over/Under 23 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over

Dustin Pedroia. Over/Under 40 1/2 Doubles – I like the Over

Josh Beckett. Over/Under 14 1/2 Wins – I like the Over*

Joba Chamberlain. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Under

Derek Jeter. Over/Under .303 average – I like the Over

Evan Longoria. Over/Under 107 1/2 RBI – I like the Over

BJ Ryan. Over/Under 34 1/2 Saves – I like the Under*

Zach Greinke. Over/Under 13 1/2 Wins – I like the Over

Miguel Cabrera. Over/Under 34 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over

Gary Sheffield. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under

Bobby Abreu. Over/Under 99 1/2 RBI – I like the Under

Brian Fuentes. Over/Under 32 1/2 Saves – I like the Under

Ken Griffey Jr. Over/Under 18 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Under

Brett Myers. Over/Under 11 1/2 Wins – I like the Over

Albert Pujols. Over/Under 117 1/2 RBI – I like the Over

Adrian Gonzalez. Over/Under 29 1/2 Hr’s – I like the Over

Randy Johnson. Over/Under 10 1/2 Wins – I like the Under

Team Bets

Tigers. Over/Under 81 1/2 Wins – I like the Under*

Twins. Over/Under 83 1/2 Wins. I like the Over

Braves. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over

Dodgers. Over/Under 84 1/2 Wins. I like the Over

Mets. Over/Under 89 1/2 Wins. I like the Under

Cardinals. Over/Under 82 1/2 Wins. I like the Over*

Giants. Over/Under 80 1/2 Wins. I like the Under

Royals. Over/Under 75 1/2 Wins. I like the Over

* indicates Best Bet

Looking At Fantasy Shortstops In 2009….

March 28, 2009

Let’s take a look at fantasy Shortstops headed into 2009. This group is very top heavy. My strategy is, if you don’t get one of the top three, then wait. There is a Cecil Fielder sized drop off after you get past the big three. So in honor of the of some of the best (and worst) Shortstops of all-time, let’s see who are the best fantasy Shortstops in 2009.

Honus Wagner Division

The best of the best, Wagner is the greatest SS of all-time (Arod doesn’t count because he is a cheater) and these three Shortstops are by far and away the best Shortstops in this fantasy draft.

Ramirez is the #1 SS

Ramirez is the #1 SS

1. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins. One of the top 5 players in the game, Ramirez will go top 3 in most fantasy drafts. He can do it all. Hit for avg (.301 in 08), hit hr’s (33 in 08), get on base (.400 obp in 08) and steal a base (35 in 08). The only thing you can say he doesn’t do well is drive in runs. That will change in 2009 because Ramirez will be moved down to the 3 spot in the order.

2. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies. After winning the MVP in 2007, Rollins had a very disappointing 2008. I think he bounces back in 2009 and will have a better fantasy season than Jose Reyes. Look for Rollins to put up a .285/20/80 with 40+ sb’s and over 110 runs scored

3. Jose Reyes, Mets. While I question Reyes as a player (I don’t think he is a winner), there is no questioning his fantasy value. Reyes is a look for 110+ runs scored, 15+ hr’s and 50+ rbi

Alan Trammell Division

It’s not that Alan Trammell was a bad player. A matter of fact, Trammell was one of the better Shortstops in the game from 1983-1990. The point is that there is a major drop off from Honus Wagner to Alan Trammell. These next 10 guys are the last 10 guys you want to draft before you have to scramble.

4. Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks. I have Drew ranked higher than Jeter and Furcal because 1. He can stay healthy and 2. In Keeper Leagues he is a much better option due to his age (26). Drew seems to be getting better with age and it’s not out of the question that he approaches a 30 hr season.

5. Derek Jeter, Yankees. Jeter’s runs, hits, hr’s, rbi’s, avg and obp have declined in each of the last 3 years. But in the weak category of SS, Jeter still provides value. Expect Jeter to put up a .305/10/65 with 10 sb’s.

6. Rafael Furcal, Dodgers. Furcal was off to a rip roaring start in 2008 before his back gave out. Furcal hit double digit hr’s from 2003-2006 but with a bad back I am not sure he can reach double figures again. The Dodgers should have a very good offense, so 100+ runs and a .300 avg should be expected from Furcal in 2009.

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies.I had asked in a post, “Can Tulo Bounce Back?” My answer back then was yes and my answer no is yes. Will Tulowitzki be as good as his rookie year? Probably not but he can certainly put up a .285/20/80.

Don't sleep on Hardy

Don't sleep on Hardy

8. JJ Hardy, Brewers. Hardy has really come on with the power slugging 50 hr’s in the last 2 years. Hardy seems to be underrated in most drafts but he is good for a .280/28/80 in 2009.

9. Michael Young, Rangers. Young will qualify as a 3B and a SS but has move value as a SS. Last year was the first year since 2003 that Young didn’t have 200 hits. Will his switch from SS to 3B hurt his offense? I don’t think it will but his days of 200+ hits and 100 rbi are gone.

10. Jhonny Peralta, Indians. Peralta had a career year in 2008 putting up a .276/23/89 with 104 runs scored. Peralta is tearing up Spring Training hitting .435/3/11 in 46 ab’s. The Indians lineup looks to be improved in 2009 with the returns of Martinez and Hafner, so it’s possible Peralta could improve on his 2008 performance. If only he stole bases he would be much higher up on the food chain.

11. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox. Alfonso Soriano part 2. A tall, lanky 2B who has all the potential in the world? Sounds like Alfonso Soriano part 2 to me. Ramirez had a solid rookie year putting up a .290/21/77 in just 480 ab’s. Now moving over to SS, Ramirez still will qualify at 2B for fantasy purposes which raises his stock even more. The only stat Ramirez hurts you in is obp(.317 last season) but a .300/25/90 with 10+ sb’s is not out of the question for Ramirez.

12. Mike Aviles, Royals. Aviles qualifies at SS and at 2B but has more value at the 2B position. The New York native burst on to the scene last year and hit .325 with 10 hr and 51 rbi in just 102 games for the Royals. I like Aviles to hit .300 again but not .325. Look for a .310 avg with 15 hr and 60 rbi from Aviles in 2009.

13. Miguel Tejada, Astros. Tejada looks to be on the downside of his career as his avg, hr’s and rbi’s have declined each of the last 3 seasons. Tejada is going to bat 5th this year so a rebirth in rbi’s is possible. A .280/14/80 should be expected from Tejada this season.

Kevin Elster Division

Elster was mostly a good glove, no hit SS with the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers. Elster did have one magical year by his standards in 1996, when he hit 24 hr’s and knocked in 99 runs for the Rangers. Most of these next 19 guys are either good glove, no hit or can marginally help your fantasy team in 2009.

14. Jed Lowrie, Red Sox. Now the starting SS will get you runs scored and a solid obp. Might lose ab’s when Lugo returns from the DL.

15. Orlando Cabrera, A’s. A very consistent player, you know what you are going to get. .280 batting average with 8 or 9 hr’s, 60-70 rbi and 20 sb’s.

16. Yunel Escobar, Braves. Don’t give up on him just yet. He is still only 26 and has has shown good patience at the plate in his short time in the majors.

17. Ryan Theriot, Cubs. Good average, solid obp and will get you 20+ sb’s.

18. Elvis Andrus, Rangers. The new starting SS in Texas, Andrus has good value in Keeper Leagues. He will probably go threw some typical rookie struggles but he can run (54 sb’s in Double A). Expect 25-30 sb’s in 2009.

19. Edgar Renteria, Giants. Clearly on the downside of his career but he is back in the NL where he belongs. Still capable of hitting 10 hr’s and driving in 55.

20. Jason Bartlett, Rays. Zero power what so ever but he will get you stolen bases (53 in the last 3 years).

21. Khalil Greene, Cardinals. An obp killer (.276 combined last 2 years) but leaving Petco should help him get back to the 20 hr mark in 2009.

22. Christian Guzman, Nationals. Will get you a .300 avg and maybe 50 rbi’s and that is about it.

23. Erick Aybar, Angels. 15+ sb potential but will have to hold off Izturis and perhaps Brandon Wood for playing time.

24. Yuniesky Betancourt, Mariners. See Khalil Greene but without the 20 hr potential.

25. Cesar Izturis, Orioles. Very much like Jason Bartlett and will get you 20 + sb’s.

26. Jeff Keppinger, Reds. Will replace Gonzalez at some point during the season. Is a better offensive option than Gonzalez

27. Alex Gonzalez, Reds. After missed all of 2008 with a fractured knee (ouch!!) he will be competing for playing time with Keppinger. Gonzalez could hit 10 hr’s but is an obp killer.

28. Nick Punto, Twins. One of the dubbed “Piranhas,” Punto is a typical good glove, not hit SS. He will get your team 15 – 20 sb’s

29. Jack Wilson, Pirates.At 31, Wilson is headed towards the end of his career. Not that he was any better when he was 26. Wilson might move into a platoon role to make room for Brian Bixler.

30. Adam Everett, Tigers. The only reason he is still in the league is because of his defense. The Tigers version of Jason Bartlett?

31. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays. A better offensive option than John McDonald and that is not saying much.

32. Luis Rodriguez/David Eckstein, Padres. Uglier and ugliest. Neither of these players add any value to your team.

Keep An Eye On

Brandon Wood, Angels. I didn’t rank Wood because I have no idea what the Angels plan on doing with this guy. He is killing the ball this spring to the tune of .347/4/13 in 49 ab’s but the Angels have Figgins at 3B, Aybar at SS and Rivera at DH. Keep an eye on this situation. If he is able to get playing time over any of the above names, then Wood is a pick up you should make.

Looking At Fantasy 1st Basemen In 2009…

March 27, 2009

It’s time to take a look at the big boys of baseball….the 1st basemen. There are some serious sluggers in this group of 1st basemen which include Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira, Adam Dunn and Prince Fielder. In honor of the 25th anniversary of WrestleMania (April 5th from Reliant Stadium), let’s see who the top fantasy 1st basemen are. 4 Horseman style!!!

Ric Flair Division

These are the world champions. The best of the best. Look for these guys early in your draft and let them drive your limousine. WOOOOOOOOO!!!

Ric Flair

Ric Flair

1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals. With Arod shelved for 1 month, Pujols is clearly the best player in baseball headed into 2009. He should go either 1 or 2 in your draft. If he is still there after that, grab him!!

2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers. If Pujols doesn’t go #1 it is because someone took Cabrera instead. Now that Cabrera has adjusted to the AL, he should be a force in 2009. If the Tigers can compete in the very average AL Central, Cabrera might be in line for the MVP.

3. Lance Berkman, Astros. One of the most consistent hitters in baseball. You know what you are going to get with Berkman. .300 avg, 25-35 hr’s, 100 rbi’s and an obp hovering around .400

4. Mark Teixeira, Yankees. As I wrote in my first ever post here at The Ghost of Moonlight Graham, “The Unexciting Teixeira,” I felt Teixeira was highly overrated. That thought hasn’t changed but he will put up .300/30/110 hitting in the Yankees lineup. With Arod out, it will be interesting to see how Teixeira reacts to being “the man” in New York.

5. Justin Morneau, Twins. Morneau has finished in the top 2 in MVP voted 2 out of the 3 years and there is no reason to think he won’t put up MVP numbers in 2009. His numbers might suffer if Mauer misses significant time, but not to the point where you would be turned off by him.

6. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox. Youkilis had a career year in 2008 putting up a .312/29/115/.390. I think Youkilis can repeat those numbers in 2009. Youkilis qualifies as a 3B and a 1B

Arn Anderson Division

Solid. Dependable. Never the star on the team but someone you knew always produced. Like Arn Anderson, these next 6 guys fit that description.

7. Ryan Howard, Phillies. Howard would be higher if A. he didn’t kill your team with K’s (199 the last 2 years) and B. he didn’t kill your team in batting avg. and obp. I am not trying to kill Howard, but know what you are getting into before drafting him. Great hr’s and rbi’s. Below average avg., obp and a massive amount of K’s.

8. Prince Fielder, Brewers. Seriously, go back to eating meat!!!

Mr. Dependable

Mr. Dependable

9. Derrek Lee, Cubs. OK Cubs fans, Derrek Lee is not going to return to his 2005 form when he hit .335/46/107 ever again. At this point in his career, Lee is a .300/20/90 hitter. Which is good but nowhere near his 2005 season.

10. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres. Gonzalez is quickly moving into the Paul Molitor category of “if he played in NY, he would be a superstar.” How good is Gonzalez? He drove in 119 runs on a team that only scored 637. That is incredible. Gonzalez is getting better with age and should have no problem putting up .281/33/110 in 2009.

11. Chris Davis, Rangers. Everyone’s mancrush headed into 2009. The term “sleeper” no longer applies to Davis because I think even my mother knows who he is. Davis will put up his numbers hitting the Rangers lineup but don’t jump the gun and draft him too early.

12. Joey Votto, Reds. Love this guy. The runner up in the ROY voting should improve on his .294/24/84 in 2009. The 25 year old, who hits like a seasoned 29 year old will be an All Star in 2009. You heard it here 1st.

Barry Windham Division

Windham was a great, great wrestler but is often overlooked when talking about the best wrestlers of all time. Mainly because he was overshadowed by Ric Flair and left the WWF right before it exploded in the late 80’s. Don’t overlook these next 6 guys as they can be solid contributors to your team.

13. Garrett Atkins, Rockies. Many people don’t realize that Atkins played 61 games at 1B last season so he qualifies at both 1B and 3B. Atkins’ hr’s, rbi, avg and obp have dipped each of the last 3 years so don’t go crazy over Atkins. Expect a .285/25/95 season from Atkins in 2009.

14. Carlos Pena, Rays. Interesting note…In the same amount of ab’s (490) in 2008, Pena had 15 less hr’s, 19 less rbi’s, and hit 35 points less than he did in 2007. So the question is can he hit like he did in 2007 in 2009? Ummm no. 2007 for Pena was one of those magical seasons that won’t be repeated. Expected something similar to his 2008 of .247/31/102 in 2009.

Huff is Windham

Huff is Windham

15. Aubrey Huff, Orioles. If anyone screams Barry Windham it’s Huff. Often overlooked but nobody realizes he just put up a .304/32/108 last season and qualifies at both 1B and 3B.

16. James Loney, Dodgers. Loney quietly drove in 90 runs last year with the Dodgers. Loney should benefit from having Manny Ramirez in the lineup for a full year. 100 rbi’s is a possibility in 2009.

17. Adam Dunn, Nationals. Dunn played in his postseason during the WBC. Now he will go play for the last place Nationals and hit .240/42/105/.380. Dunn also qualifies as an OF.

18. Hank Blalock, Rangers. I am higher on Blalock than most. I believe Blalock will have a year similar to is .276/32/110 of 2004 season. Blalock also qualifies as a 3B.

Steve McMichael Division

Now you are getting into some of the shakier 1B options out there. McMichael was a mediocre member of the 4 Horsemen and these next 6 guys would be mediocre members of your team.

The mediocre McMicheal

The mediocre McMicheal

19. Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks. Doesn’t Conor Jackson look and sound like he should be better than he is? He looks like he should be a .290/25-30/90-100 type guy. But instead he is a .290/15/75 type guy.

20. Adam LaRoche, Pirates. One of the few draftable Pirates, LaRoche has hit more than 20 hr’s in each of his last 4 seasons and more than 85 in each of his last 3.

21. Carlos Delgado, Mets. Let’s get this out of the way right now, Carlos Delgado is not going to hit .271 with 38 hr’s and 115 rbi’s again. It is just not going to happen. .255/26/92 seems more like it.

22. Jorge Cantu, Marlins. After being useless in 2006 & 2007, Cantu surprised everyone with a 29 hr and 95 rbi season in 2008. Cantu will not sneak up on anyone again in 2009 and I expect a little drop in 2009.

23. Pablo Sandoval, Giants. Another “sleeper,” Sandoval qualifies at 1B, 3B and in some leagues may qualify as a C. Sandoval hit .345 in 145 ab’s last year and with a full season under his belt a .310/15/80 is not out of the question. Just don’t expect obp as Sandoval only walked 4 times in those 145 ab’s.

25. Billy Butler, Royals. I have Butler this high for 2 reasons. 1. His age, he is only 23 and 2. His potential. If you are in a keeper League and can afford to let Butler develop on your bench while occasionally giving him a spot start against left-handed pitching (.340 the last 2 seasons), then it might pay dividends in the future.

Paul Roma Division.

Roma was the worst member in 4 Horsemen history. These last guys are your worst options for fantasy 1st basemen

26. Paul Konerko, White Sox. Terrible year last year and he is not getting any younger

27. Jason Giambi, A’s. Giambi will give you hr’s and obp and that is about it.

The worst of the horsemen

The worst of the horsemen

28. Mike Jacobs, Royals. Start only against righties and don’t complain about your team’s obp (.299 for Jacobs last season) after you draft him.

29. Casey Kotchman, Braves. A younger version of Lyle Overbay

30. Lyle Overbay, Blue Jays. Wasn’t he supposed to be a great hitter?

31.Todd Helton, Rockies. Smoking the ball this spring (.423/4/11 in just 26 ab’s) but can his back hold up?

32. Carlos Guillen, Tigers. Guillen will qualify at 3 positions this year (1B, 3B and OF) but has age caught up with this versatile player?

33. Gabby Sanchez, Marlins. Potential Rookie of the Year candidate

34. Kendry Morales, Angels. The has big holes to fill replacing Teixeira

35. Russell Branyan, Mariners. This years Carlos Pena?

36. Chad Tracy, Diamondbacks. In a battle for playing time in the desert but could still hit between 10-15 hr’s.

37. Nick Johnson, Nationals. Mr. Injury. At least you will get obp with him.

38. Ryan Garko, Indians. Will be really hard pressed for playing time.

39. Travis Ishikawa, Giants. Officially your worst choice as a fantasy 1B. If you draft him, just call it a day

 

 

Meet Travis Snider….

March 26, 2009

Heading towards the season all the hype is about Orioles rookie catcher, Matt Wieters. Well there is another rookie on a team of birds that might steal Wieters’ thunder during the season. His name is Travis Snider of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The next AL ROY?

The next AL ROY?

Snider was the youngest player in the majors last season when the Blue Jays called him up on August 29th. In 73 ab’s he hit .301 with 2 hr’s and 13 rbi’s. Pretty impressive for a 20 year old and he has showed no signs of slowing down this spring (.371/3/8 in 35 ab’s). Snider only had 73 ab’s last year so he still qualifies as a rookie and since he is projected to be the Blue Jays Opening Day LF, Snider should be in contention for the Rookie of the Year award all season.

Here are some other facts about Travis Snider…

Age

21

College

None – drafted out of High School

Drafted

14th in the 1st round of the 2006 draft out of Washington State HS

Minor League Stats

Single A: .279/4/7 in 61 ab’s

Double A: .262/17/67 in 362 ab’s

Triple AAA: .344/2/17 in 64 ab’s

Keith Law Ranking and Analysis

Ranking: #5 out of 100 best prospects in baseball

Analysis: “Snider was rushed to the majors this year, but to some degree it’s his own fault, as he never stumbled after any of his previous promotions and continued to hit in the majors despite a big drop in his contact rate. Snider is a fair athlete who should have defensive value — especially from his arm — but the bulk of his value will be in his bat. His setup and swing are very simple, and his path to the ball is short, so he should be able to hit for a good average even if he’s striking out 140 times a year, and he’s already showing good power and projects as plus down the road. He looks a little stiff, but is an average runner and more than adequate in right field, with a 60 arm. Putting him directly into Toronto’s lineup this year is probably too aggressive — he was the youngest position player to get a major league at bat in 2008 — but he should be a big league regular by Opening Day 2010 and an impact player two or three years after that.”

Don’t Call It A Comeback….

March 25, 2009

As Americans we all love a good comeback. In the last year we have had Mickey Rouke, Robert Downey Jr (again) and Britney Spears all make comebacks. Well in baseball there are 10 players who are trying to make a comeback from injuries they suffered last year. Let’s take a look and see how these players are fairing this spring.

Penny making a comeback

Penny making a comeback

1. Brad Penny, Red Sox. Penny who spent the majority of 2008 on the DL with a bum shoulder, signed a 1 year $5MM contract with the Red Sox in the offseason. After getting off to a slow start in Spring Training, Penny pitched in his first game against major league hitters on Monday and looked like the Brad Penny of 06 & 07. Penny pitched 3 innings, was hitting 92-94 on the gun and afterwards said he felt “100%.” The Red Sox won’t need a 5th starter until April 12th and it remains to be seen if Penny will be ready by then. However, it does look like Penny is on the right track to making a solid contribution to the Red Sox in 2009.

2.Mike Lowell, Red Sox. After hip surgery in October, many doubted the 35 year old Lowell could regain his old form. Those doubters have been quieted this spring as Lowell has looked like he never had hip surgery. Lowell is 6-16 with 2 hr’s so far this spring. Lowell looks on track to be the Opening Day 3B for the Red Sox.

3.Jorge Posada. Posada was limited to only 51 games in 2008 after torn labrum and damaged rotator cuff ended his season. The question headed into Spring Training with Posada is not whether or not he can hit (.333 in 30 ab’s this spring) but whether or not he can catch. In Sunday’s game against the Pirates, Posada threw out 3 of 4 baserunners so Posada’s shoulder looks to be holding up just fine so far. It will be interesting at 37 if Posada’s shoulder can hold up during the season.

4. Chase Utley, Phillies. Utley like Lowell had offseason hip surgery and like Lowell looks on pace to be in the lineup on Opening Day. Utley hit his 1st hr yesterday off of BJ Ryan and is 5-18 so far this spring.

5. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. After only appearing in 5 games the last 2 years because of injuries, Carpenter has been a buzz saw in Grapefruit League competition. Carpenter hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings and Carpenter felt he had his best stuff all spring when he struck out 6 Nationals in 5 innings on Monday. There isn’t a player in baseball who holds the key to his team’s success more than Carpenter does this year.

Escobar won 18 games in 07

Escobar won 18 games in 07

6. Kelvim Escobar, Angels. It’s amazing, Escobar wins 18 games in 07 and goes down in 08 and nobody flinches. Chien-Ming Wang wins 19 games in 07 and goes down in 08 and the world turned upside down. The Angels lost an 18 game winner from the previous season right before the season started and they still finished with the best record in the AL in 08. It just goes to show you what a solid franchise the Angels have become. But back to Escobar. It seemed as if Escobar was destined to rejoin the Angels in midseason, but after an impressive performance in a minor league game on Monday where he hit 96 on the gun, it might be sooner. Escobar is now throwing every 5th day in order to build strength in his right arm.

7. Travis Hafner, Indians. A shoulder injury limited Hafner to only 57 games and destroyed his 2008 season. Even when Hafner was in the lineup he just wasn’t himself. In those 57 games, Hafner hit .197 with 5 hr’s and just 24 rbi. This spring Hafner has been slow in reverting back to the form that made him one of the most feared hitters in baseball from 04-07. Hafner so far this spring has hit .157 with 0 hr and 3 rbi in 32 ab’s.

8. Erik Bedard, Mariners. Ladies and gentleman, your 2008 Bust of the Year award winner. Bedard was the centerpiece in the trade that sent Bedard to the Mariners and Adam Jones, George Sherrill and 3 minor league pitchers to the Orioles and failed to live up to expectations. Bedard suffered injuries to his hip and left shoulder which limited him to only 15 starts last year. Bedard is making progress (1.08 in 8.1 spring innings) and because of his impending free agency, I look for him to have a bounce back year in 2009.

9. Eric Chavez, A’s. Talk about being a shell of your former self. What on earth has happened to this guy? From 2006-2008 he has averaged 13 hr’s and 44 rbi’s. Not what Billy Beane was looking for when he signed Chavez to a 6 year $66MM in the spring of 06. Chavez has had 2 surgeries on his right shoulder and 1 major surgery on his lower back. He claims he has never felt better this spring but that remains to be seen. Chavez is currently hitting .091 with 0 hr and 0 rbi’s in 11 spring ab’s.

10. Troy Percival, Rays. Percival, who hadn’t saved more than 20 games since 2004, saved 28 for the Rays last year. He would have saved more if not for a back injury that ended his season. Now at the tender age of 39, Percival is attempting another comeback. Having thrown a scoreless inning in each of his last 3 outings, it appears Percival will be the Rays closer on Opening Day.

Spring Position Battles Update….

March 24, 2009

Yesterday New York Yankees manager, Joe Girardi announced that Xavier Nady will be the starting RF come Opening Day. Girardi’s reason for starting Nady…”Nady did a lot of good things last year, so he had the upper hand going in.” Well there you go. I am kind of surprised by this move. Much like the Red Sox, the Yankees like guys who grind out ab’s and Swisher certainly does that while Nady does not.

Given Nady’s and Matsui’s injury history, Swisher will find his ab’s this year. But for now Nady is the Yankees starting RF. Projected Winner – Swisher, goes to Winner – Nady.

Yankees RF, Nick Swisher vs, Xavier Nady. For a team who is approaching a $200MM payroll, it seems odd that they would have 2/3’s of their outfield unsettled. Between Swisher and Nady, neither has had a spectular spring. Whoever loses this battle will be relegated to bench duty because the DH spot is being occupied by Hideki Matsui. With Swisher having the ability to switch hit and work the count (avg 93 walks the last 3 years), he might have the edge over Nady. Winner – Xavier Nady