Posts Tagged ‘Brian Roberts’

Starting Nine: American League East

January 11, 2010

I was rummaging through some articles last week and I came across a piece by Morgan Campbell of the Toronto Star. He gave an early look at what the Toronto Blue Jays’ starting lineup might look like in 2010.

That piece got me thinking. With all the moves that happen during the free agency period it’s hard for a casual fan to keep up with their favorite team. Why not take an early look at each lineup in baseball as presently constructed?

So what I will do give each team’s starting lineup by division for the next six days. Obviously this will change as the offseason progresses, so I will do an update to these posts as the season approaches.

We will start in the American League and with the best division in baseball, the American League East.

New York Yankees

1. Derek Jeter, SS

2. Nick Johnson, DH

3. Mark Teixeira, 1B

4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B

5. Jorge Posada, C

6. Robinson Cano, 2B

7. Curtis Granderson, CF

8. Nick Swisher, RF

9. Brett Gardner, LF

Quick Take – Best and deepest lineup in baseball. Could made even better if Johnny Damon accepts a one-year deal to play left. Cano and Posada could flip-flop between fifth and sixth in the order.

Boston Red Sox

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

3. Victor Martinez, C

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

5. David Ortiz, DH

6. Adrian Beltre, 3B

7. Mike Cameron, CF

8. J.D. Drew, RF

9. Marco Scutaro, SS

Quick Take – Not a classic Red Sox lineup. Not a lot of high OBP guys and nobody jumps out and scares you. Terry Francona is loyal to Ortiz, so he bats fifth ahead of Beltre in the lineup.

Tampa Bay Rays

1. B.J. Upton, CF

2. Carl Crawford, LF

3. Evan Longoria, 3B

4. Ben Zobrist, 2B

5. Carlos Pena, 1B

6. Pat Burrell, DH

7. Kelly Shoppach, C

8. Gabe Kapler, RF

9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Quick Take – This lineup will go from very good to great if Upton and Burrell come back strong in 2010. Kapler will find himself in a platoon situation with Matt Joyce to start the season.

Baltimore Orioles

1. Brian Roberts, 2B

2. Nick Markakis, RF

3. Adam Jones, CF

4. Luke Scott, DH

5. Nolan Reimold, LF

6. Matt Wieters, C

7. Ty Wigginton, 1B

8. Garrett Atkins, 3B

9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Quick Take – First four in this lineup is very good, but after that, this lineup gets very weak. Orioles are still looking for a first baseman, so don’t expect Wigginton to be a starter for too much longer.

Toronto Blue Jays

1. Jose Bautista, RF

2. Lyle Overbay, 1B

3. Aaron Hill, 2B

4. Adam Lind, DH

5. Vernon Wells, CF

6. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B

7. Travis Snider, LF

8. Alex Gonzalez, SS

9. John Buck, C

Quick Take – My lineup is a little different than Campbell’s as I have Overbay hitting in the two-hole. This lineup has the potential to be good, but Gonzalez and Buck represent too many automatic outs to be really dynamic.

Tomorrow, I will cover the American League Central.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Brian Roberts Breaks Single Season Record For Doubles By A Switch Hitter

September 30, 2009

At 60-97, the Baltimore Orioles have had a terrible season. There were many reasons for the Orioles terrible season, but that is for a different post. This post is to talk about something positive that happened last night in the Orioles – Tampa Bay Rays game.

Roberts broke a record last night

Roberts broke a record last night

In the top of the third inning, Orioles 2B Brian Roberts doubled to left centerfield off of Wade Davis. The double was Roberts’ 56th double of the year, which broke the single-season record of doubles by a switch-hitter.

I know it’s not the biggest record in baseball, but it is a record none-the-less. The previous record was 55, set by Lance Berkman back in 2001.

It’s been a typical year for Roberts offensively. He has put up a .287/.358/.460 line with 29 SB’s and has tied a career high for runs with 107. His stolen bases and OPS are down from last year, but not to be a point where the Orioles would be very concerned.

No matter how bad a team is, you can always find something positive to write about them. Kudos to Brian Roberts for breaking this record.

Well deserved for one of the good guys in the game.

Fantasy Week In Review, August 17-23

August 24, 2009

Lot’s of big news in the world of fantasy baseball last week. A couple of potential Keeper League players were called up, there is a new closer in Chicago (about time), and everyone’s preseason man crush will be returning in Texas.

Here are the fantasy studs, the players who have had their fantasy value fall, and the potential pickups for the fantasy week that was August 17 – 23.

Fantasy Studs

Brian Roberts – .379/4/8/.471 with three SB’s. Roberts had a MONSTER week last week. Roberts remains one of the top fantasy second basemen in the game today.

David Ortiz – .400/3/10/.500. Ortiz was hitting the ball so hard last week that he had AJ Burnett talking to himself on the mound.

Hideki Matsui – .261/4/10. Matsui won’t give you average at this point in his career, but he will still hit the long ball and can drive in runs.

Jayson Werth – .440/5/9. Werth is starting to heat up again. When Werth is hot, he brings the Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup to a whole other level.

Adam LaRoche – .419/4/9. One of the most notorious second-half hitters in the game today, LaRoche’s 2009 is no different.

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

Your 2009 NL Cy Young winner?

I still haven’t figured out the Adam LaRoche for Casey Kotchman trade for the Boston Red Sox.

Chris Carpenter – 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 14 K’s in 15 IP. Carpenter is making a serious run at the Cy Young award and I think if the season ended today, he just might win it.

Ubaldo Jimenez – 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 14 K’s in 16 IP. Jimenez outdueled Tim Lincecum yesterday and is clearly the Colorado Rockies’ ace heading down the stretch.

Jose Valverde – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in four IP. Valverde is making up for the time he missed in the first-half because of a calf injury.

Reasons for Concern

Francisco Liriano – Placed on the 15-day DL because of “left arm fatigue.” I put left arm fatigue in quotes because I just think the Minnesota Twins needed an excuse not to start him.

Liriano is 5-12 with a 5.80 ERA this season and has been one of the main reasons why the Twins are not where they are supposed to be in the AL Central.

Liriano hasn’t been the same since he had Tommy John surgery and has limited fantasy value until he can prove he can pitch effectively on a game to game basis.

Johnny Cueto – Placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Cueto was terrible in his last eight starts before winding up on the DL.

Cueto was 0-6 with a Tim Stoddard-like ERA of 10.63. This is the second year in a row that Cueto has broken down in the second half.  This is something to consider when drafted Cueto next year.

Kevin Gregg – Who in the Chicago Cubs’ front office thought it was a good idea to make Kevin Gregg their closer? I thought this would be a disaster from the beginning.

After melting down in San Diego last week (Florida Marlin fans are all too familiar with this), the Cubs have removed Gregg from his closer duties.

Gregg has zero fantasy value going forward.

Potential Pickups

Matt LaPorta – LaPorta was called up for a second time by the Cleveland Indians last week and unlike the first time LaPorta got the call, he is actually playing.

LaPorta hit .333 in four games for the Indians last week. LaPorta has a ton of Keeper League potential, so picking him up now might pay off in the future.

Drew Stubbs – If you are looking for stolen bases, Stubbs might be your guy. Another player with Keeper League potential, Stubbs had 46 SB’s in Triple-A before being called up to the Cincinnati Reds.

He projects to be the Reds’ starting centerfielder for the future.

Carlos Marmol – Thanks to Kevin Gregg’s now annual August meltdown, Marmol takes over as the closer for the Cubs.

Marmol is a little too shaky for my liking, but he should be able to pick up a couple of saves down the stretch.

Back but better than ever?

Back but better than ever?

Chris Davis – After hitting .335 with six HR’s for the Oklahoma City Redhawks, Davis is expected to be called back up to the Texas Rangers this week.

The Rangers have tweaked Davis’ batting stance and now think his early season struggles are behind him. Davis is not guaranteed to start, but could potentially take AB’s away from Hank Blalock.

2009, The Year Of The Second Basemen…

May 14, 2009

Normally, when I am drafting my fantasy team I like to take a top 2nd baseman early because there are so few good ones out there. That strategy has been blown out of the water this year because it is looking like 2009 will be the year of the 2nd baseman. Has anyone else noticed the depth of the 2nd base position this year? There are 15 to 16 2nd baseman right now who are having legit fantasy seasons and that doesn’t even include 4 other 2nd baseman who have the potential to be in the top 10 at the position.

Look at these fantasy numbers put up by 2nd baseman so far in 2009….

Aaron Hill – .357/9/30

Orlando Hudson – .343/3/20/.424 and 4 sb’s

Felipe Lopez – .328/4/9/.390 and 4 sb’s

Alberto Callaspo – .327/2/12

Ian Kinsler – .326/9/28 with 8 sb’s

Dustin Pedroia – .320/1/12 with 4 sb’s

Luis Castillo – .318/0/11/.392

Asdrubal Cabrera – .318/1/17 with 6 sb’s

Freddy Sanchez – .317/3/11

Robinson Cano – .313/6/18

Chase Utley – .294/10/23/.419

Brian Roberts – .281/4/13 with 4 sb’s

Akinori Iwamura – .277/0/12 with 7 sb’s

Rickie Weeks – .274/8/22

Brandon Phillips – .265/6/22 with 4 sb’s

Those are some pretty impressive stats through the 1st month and a half of the season. How about the performance of Aaron Hill so far? He has carried the Blue Jays and it looks like the side effects of the concussion he suffered last year have seized. Do I think he can keep up this pace? Probably not. I mean, he is on pace for Ruthian 50 Hr’s and about 163 RBI. I can see the average being there at the end but, it’s more likely Hill will end up with 25 HR’s and 80-85 RBI.

That list doesn’t even include 4 guys who are off to slow starts and have the ability to be a top 2nd baseman…

Howie Kendrick – .241/4/19

Kelly Johnson – .235/3/11

Dan Uggla – .193/4/20/.310

Jose Lopez – .248/3/19

Poor Dan Uggla, he really hasn’t been the same since that disastrous All-Star Game performance last year at Yankee Stadium. He hit .226 in the 2nd half last year and is off to a .193 start this year. I wonder if that game did permanent damage to Uggla mentally? It would be a shame if it did.

As you can see, you should have no excuse finding a quality 2nd baseman this year for your fantasy team.

Also, you may have have noticed a new Link Category to the right called MLB Memorabilia. The folks over at Bigflysports.com, who are fans of The Ghost of Moonlight Graham are happy to offer a 10% discount to all my readers.

Simply click on the link to Big Fly Sports and enter the Promo Code:  ICGHOSTS

USA vs Netherlands…

March 16, 2009

I would like to introduce a new category on The Ghost of Moonlight Graham called Inside The Lines. I am going to a do a running blog during select games and the idea is to give analysis of a game or games as they happen.

Since tonight is an elimination game for Team USA, I thought I would start the category off with tonight’s USA vs Netherlands tilt.

Starting Lineups

Netherlands

1. Kingsale, CF

2. Decaster, 2B

3. Simon, 1B

4. De Jong, DH

5. Engelhardt, LF

6, Rooi, 3B

7. Van’t Klooster, RF

8. Jansen, C

9. Schoop, SS

Van Den Hurk, P

USA

1. Rollins, SS

2. Roberts, 2B

3. Jeter, DH

4. Youkilis, 1B

5. Wright, 3B

6. Dunn, RF

7. Braun, LF

8. Iannetta, C

9. Granderson, CF

Oswalt, P

Top 1st

Oswalt comes out firing with 4 straight fastballs and K’s Kingsale to lead off the game. Solid start for Oswalt. Oswalt looks to have good velocity as all 4 pitches were in the mid-90’s.

Oswalt gets the Netherlands 1-2-3 as Braun makes a sliding catch to rob Simon of a base hit to end the first.

Bottom 1st

Not sure I get USA’s lineup. Jeter batting 3rd? Braun batting 7th? It appears Davey Johnson had to adjust his lineup due to a Chipper Jones injury. Jones will miss the rest of the WBC with an oblique strain.

After a Jimmy Rollins pop-up, the new man on the team, Brian Roberts ropes a single to right. With Jeter up maybe a hit and run right here.

Jeter walks, runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out for Youkilis. No hit and run which is not surprising since Davey Johnson is a wait for the 3 run HR manager. Van Den Hurk was clearly rattled by the threat of Roberts stealing 2nd. Van Den Hurk right now is all over the place. 2-0 to Youkilis and already up to 22 pitches for the inning. Van Den Hurk walks Youkilis. Bases loaded and 1 out for Wright.

On the first pitch Wright gets a sac fly to right. Roberts scores to make it 1-0 USA. Though Wright got a sac fly, I disagree with his approach. Van Den Hurk just walked 2 guys in a row and Wright goes up there and swings at the 1st pitch. A little baffling.

Dunn goes down swinging to end the 1st. Good 1st inning for Team USA.

Top 2nd

De Jong singles up the middle to get the inning started. Oh man what a great play by Rollins to start the double play. Dives to his left, backhand flips to Roberts and Roberts fired to Youkilis to turn the double play.

On the very next pitch, Dunn tracks a ball down and runs into the bullpen wall to make the catch. USA flashing some leather in the 2nd. Through 2 innings Oswalt has thrown less than 20 pitches. Looking good.

Bottom 2nd

Braun starts off the inning with a solid single to left. ESPN just showed the crowd at Dolphin Stadium. It looks like there is maybe 10,000 in the stands. Pretty disappointing crowd. Besides the obvious answer of weather, I question why baseball would put games in Miami? The Marlins don’t draw so why would the WBC?

Braun gets gunned down trying to steal 2nd on a rediculous throw by Jansen. He threw out Braun from his knees. Great throw.

After an Iannetta strike out, Van’t Klooster misplays a ball in right and Granderson ends up on 2nd. Good hustle by Granderson.

Rollins just crushes one to right field. 3-0 USA. Van Den Hurk threw a mediocre 2-1 fastball down the middle and Rollins crushed it.

Roberts hits a frozen rope down the right field line. So far the addition of Roberts is paying off as he is 2-2.  Jeter grounds out to SS to end the inning.

3-0 USA after 2.

Top 3rd

Oswalt just made Van’t Klooster look really silly. Struck him out on 3 pitches. 1st an error in right and now a K on 3 pitches. Rough night so far for Van’t Klooster.

Netherlands SS, Schoop is 0-18 in the WBC. Do they not have a backup? Make it 0-19 as he strikes out on a nasty curve ball from Oswalt.

Kingsale singles and now it is 1st and 2nd with 2 outs for the Netherlands. Decaster singles sharply to right and now the bases are loaded with 2 outs.

Randall Simon is swinging out of his shoes right now. He is either going to hit one 450 ft or K. He does neither and pops up to Rollins. With the Netherlands offense struggling, that might have been their best opportunity to score.

Bottom 3rd

Juan Carlos Sulbaran replaces Van Den Hurk. This kid is 19 and will be facing Youkilis, Wright and Dunn. When I was 19, I was barely passing an accounting class.

After a Youkilis ground out, Wright rips a single to left. It looks like Wright has got his stroke down. Has hit the ball solid twice tonight.

Dunn hits a rare ground ball but is able to beat out the double play with some nice hustle. Dunn is proving JP Ricciardi wrong by the game.

Braun flies out to center and it is still 3-0 USA after 3.

Top 4th

De Jong hits a soft grounder to 3rd but for some reason Wright nonchalantly throws to first and throws the ball into the ground. Not sure why Wright did that…E5.

A little dribbler in front of home plate and Iannetta throw a pea to first to nail Engelhardt. De Jong advances to 2nd.

Van’t Klooster hits a squibber between 3rd and SS and beats out the throw from Wright. Runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 out. For the second straight inning the Netherlands is threatening. Oswalt is already up to 68 pitches, so if anything, at least they are making Oswalt work.

Oswalt throws a nasty curve to strike out Jansen to get out of the inning. Hawkins was warming up so I am wondering if Oswalt is done for the night. At 70 pitches, I am sure the Astros are hoping that Oswalt doesn’t push himself.

Bottom 4th

I love this Tim Lincecum commercial for 2K9 Baseball. Very well done.

Iannetta starts off the inning with a walk. He is slowly becoming one of my favorite players in the game.

Rollins is hitting the cover off the baseball as he triples to the gap in CF. Kingsale played that pretty poorly but none the less, a rocket by Rollins scores Iannetta. 4-0 USA. Rollins now has a triple and a HR, the 2 hardest parts of a cycle. I am just sayin.

Netherlands has the infield in with Roberts at the plate, who has hit 2 ropes tonight. Good luck with that Mr. Infielder. With the infield in, Roberts decides to hit over everyone with a 400 ft shot off the wall in CF. Roberts triple scores Rollins. 5-0 USA. Roberts now has a triple, double and a single. He needs a HR for the cycle. I am just sayin.

The Netherlands is going to the pen and it looks like the clock is going to strike midnight for this cinderella story. Michiel Van Kampen is now in for the Netherlands. This guy might have the most hurky-jerky delivery I have ever scene. He reminds me a little of Oakland A’s and Team USA pitcher, Brad Ziegler.

After a Jeter walk, Youkilis hits a soft grounder to SS but the Netherlands can’t turn two as Youkilis hustles down the line. Roberts comes in to score and it is 6-0 USA.

Wright grounds out to end the inning and after 4 it is 6-0 USA. USA is playing with a sense of urgency that I have not seen them play with before in this WBC.

Top 5th

LaTroy Hawkins comes in and replaces Oswalt. Good effort from Oswalt who grinded out 4 innings without his best stuff.

ESPN is interviewing Bert Blyleven who is the Netherlands pitching coach. I am sure at some point during this interview Blyleven is going to complain about not getting into the Hall of Fame.

Hawkins sets the Netherlands down 1-2-3. You know things are going well when Hawkins breezes through an inning.

Bottom 5th

David Bergman is now in for the Netherlands and is greeted by an Adam Dunn rope to RF.

Bergman is getting smoked as Braun rips a ball to left. My guy Iannetta bloops a single to left and now the bases are loaded. Netherlands right now is playing like they are a bunch of Triple-A players.

Just when I say that Randall Simon makes a great play to throw out Dunn at home. Simon threw the ball from his back and the ball rolled to home. The fact that he was able to get the ball to home was pretty remarkable.

Rollins hits a sac fly to CF to score Braun. 7-0 USA and Rollins now has 4 rbi on the night.

Diegomar Markwell is in for the Netherlands. Since Markwell is a lefty, that will force Roberts to turn it around and bat righty. With Roberts going for the cycle, Markwell throws 4 pitches out of the strike zone. Bases loaded with Jeter coming to the plate.

Jeter is really having a battle with Markwell. Fouling off pitch after pitch. After a long AB, Jeter grounds to 3rd and leaves the bases loaded.

7-0 USA after 5.

Top 6th

Scot Shields is in for Team USA. Dave O’Brien and Rick Sutcliffe were talking about how important Shields is to the Angels bullpen and Sufcliffe wonders who is going to close for the Angels now that Krod left. Umm memo to Sutcliffe, the Angels signed Brian Fuentes in the offseason.

Shields is getting roped. After 2 hard hit singles, Wright makes a diving play at 3rd and throws out the runner at 1st. That play probably saved a run.

2 outs now with runners on 1st and 2nd.

Shields is able to get out of the jam and the Netherlands can’t score again. You can start to see the look of defeat on the faces of Team Netherlands.

Bottom 6th

Leon Boyd is in the game for the Netherlands. He has been the Netherlands closer throughout the tournament but with the Netherlands down 7-0, there is no reason to save him for the 9th.

Adam Dunn is a horse!!! Dunn hits a big-fly over the CF fence to make it 8-0 USA. Man is Dunn strong. He just flicked his wrists and the ball went 400 ft.

Other than the Dunn moon shot, USA went down pretty quietly against Boyd. 8-0 USA after 6.

Top 7th

Brad Ziegler becomes the 4th pitcher for Team USA. Ziegler doesn’t throw hard (1st pitch 74 mph) but his sidearm delivery makes for a deceptive motion.

After getting the 1st out, Ziegler allows back to back singles. It seems like the Netherlands has gotten runners on every inning but has not been able to push anything through. Maybe they can push one through in this inning.

Decaster smacks a double to RF and the Netherlands finally pushes across a run. 8-1 now USA. Runners now on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Ziegler just doesn’t look right out there. It almost seems like he is trying to push the ball instead of throw it.

Ziegler gets out of the inning without further damage due to the nice recovery by Rollins to throw out de Jong at 1st. Rollins bobbled the ball, stuck with it and fired a rocket to get the out. Nice play.

8-1 USA headed into the bottom of the 7th.

Bottom 7th

19 year old Dennis Neuman is in for the Netherlands. Neuman is property of the Boston Red Sox and seems to have a pretty live arm. For a kid in rookie ball, this must be a pretty amazing experience for Neuman.

With Granderson at 1st and 2 outs, Brian Roberts is coming to the plate with a chance to hit for the cycle. This will probably be his last chance. Roberts didn’t get anything he liked and took a walk. What a great night for Roberts, 3-3 with 2 walks, 2 runs scored and 1 rbi. Not a bad debut.

Jeter grounds to 3rd and after 7 it is 8-1 USA

Top 8th

Marlins pitcher, Matt Lindstrom is now in for Team USA and is promtly greeted by a HR by Engelhardt. 8-2 now USA.

WOW!! Lindstrom just threw one at 95 mph behind Rooi. The Netherlands is hot!!! That pitch was definetly on purpose.  I guess Lindstrom didn’t like the way Engelhardt admired his HR from home plate. I like this from the Netherlands. They won’t be bullied around by the USA and they won’t go down without a fight.

Both benches were warned which is a pretty dumb thing umpires do. I believe the team who is being thrown at should have a chance to retaliate with no repercussions. With a warning, that opportunity is taken away.

Lindstrom has really incited the Netherlands. They are all up on the bench and it wouldn’t surprise me if despite the warning, someone in the USA lineup gets plunked.

The Netherlands pushes across another run to make 8-3. All of a sudden, the Netherlands is learning how to hit.

Uh oh, Davey Johnson and the trainer come to the mound to check on Lindstrom. Apparently there is an injury. Such a weird outing for Lindstrom. He gives up a bomb, throws behind someone, gives up another run and now is being taken out of the game because of injury. 

John Grabow comes on to replace Lindstrom with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd. Grabow comes in and walks Kingsale. You are up by 5 runs, stop putzing around and just throw the ball down the middle.

Grabow gets out of the inning without further damage and after an eventful top of the 8th, USA leads 8-3.

Bottom 8th

Berry Van Driel is now pitching for the Netherlands. Let’s see if he throws at someone. It would shock me if he didn’t because right now he looks like a man possessed.

He didn’t throw at Youkilis, instead he threw 4 pitches nowhere near inside and walked him.

McCann pinch hitting for Braun doubles off the wall and scores Youkilis. 9-3 USA. Iannetta flies out to right and leaves McCann at 2nd.

So nobody was thrown at and we go to the top of the 9th with USA leading 9-3.

Bottom 9

Apparently Team USA is short of LF’s, so Brian McCann will stay in the game and play LF. According to Dave O’Brien, McCann has never played LF in either the minors or majors. I am sure the Braves are beyond thrilled McCann is doing this.

Jonathon Broxton is on to close the game for Team USA. Broxton is throwing heat. His last pitch was 98 mph. Another pitch at 99 mph. Another pitch at 99 mph. This is silly.

Broxton gets Engelhardt to ground to SS to end the game and Team USA wins 9-3 and stays off elimination for at least 1 more game.

Koudos to the Netherlands who nobody believed would make it this far. Outside of tonight, they pitched well, fielded well and really impressed me with how they played the game. The goal of this tournament is to increase the popularity of baseball across the world and in the Netherlands, the sport of baseball has never been more popular.

Team USA Humiliated….

March 15, 2009

The team that was representing the country where baseball was invented was humiliated last night at the World Baseball Classic. Team USA was mercy ruled in a 11-1 loss to Puerto Rico last night. The last time I was witness to the mercy rule was when I was coaching Little League back in 2000.

This game was a disaster for USA on all levels. They made the remarkably average Javier Vazquez look like Tom Seaver for 5 innings (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 K), Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton were throwing batting practice and their 1-5 hitters went a combined 1-15.

In my “Looking At Team USA’s Roster For The WBC” post, I wrote that “If Team USA doesn’t win the WBC, the starting rotation will be the reason.” Well, unfortunately that prediction so far seems to be holding water. Team USA’s starting rotation of Peavy, Oswalt, Lilly and Guthrie have a combined era of 10.69. That is not going to cut it when you are playing against some of the best players in the world.

Oswalt needs to step up tonight

Oswalt needs to step up tonight

Roy Oswalt gets the first crack at turning things around tonight in an elimination game against the Netherlands. If there is a team that can cure USA’s pitching problems, it’s the Netherlands. In 5 games so far in the WBC, the Netherlands has only scored 7 runs. 

If Oswalt and the rest of Team USA can’t turn it around against the Netherlands, it will be another WBC disappointment for the country that invented the game all the way back in 1846.

In other Team USA News

Orioles 2B, Brian Roberts will replace Dustin Pedroia for the rest of the WBC. Pedroia will miss the rest of the WBC because of a strained oblique muscle. While Roberts is a more than capable replacement, losing Pedroia is another blow to USA’s chances of winning the WBC. Since the original USA roster was announced, they have lost Sizemore, Nathan, Hawpe, Ryan and now Pedroia. That is a lot of talent to lose.

Recapping My Fantasy Draft….

March 14, 2009

I play in 2 fantasy baseball leagues. One league is mediocre at best and my other league is about as solid as you can get. 12 teams, 12 owners who know the game and it is very competitive. I try to play in no more than 2 because after that players start to really overlap and things get confusing.

So with the completion of my solid league draft, I thought I would give a recap of my team and here what your thoughts were on how I did.

The league is a 12 team, total points, keeper league. The draft is 26 rounds (yes, it’s a long one) and you keep 5 players. When you keep a player, you lose that pick in next years draft. For example, if I decide to keep my first round pick from this year, I lose my first round pick in our 2010 draft. So we added a little strategy to the keeper format.

Here is my team with the round I picked the player and his ESPN fantasy position ranking. I had the 8th pick. And oh, one last thing. I won this league by 1/2 a point last year. Yes, a 1/2 of a point because Joe Mauer struck out (K’s = -.5 points) in the 1 game playoff against the White Sox. Sorry Odie, had to bring it up.

Catchers

Chris Iannetta – 8th round. #9 ranked C

1st Basemen

Albert Pujols – 1st round. #1 ranked 1B

2nd Basemen

Brian Roberts – 5th round. #5 ranked 2B

Shortstops

Miguel Tejeda – 13 round. #12 ranked SS

Elvis Andrus – 26th round. #16 ranked SS

3rd Basemen

Evan Longoria – 2nd round. #2 ranked 3B

I am hoping Gordon can break out

I am hoping Gordon can break out

Adrian Beltre – 17th round. #9 ranked 3B

Alex Gordon – 15th round. #13 ranked 3B

Outfielders

Nick Markakis – 4th round. #7 ranked OF

Nate McLouth – 6th round. #17 ranked OF

Jay Bruce – 9th round. #27 ranked OF

Jayson Werth – 19th round. #39 ranked OF

Rick Ankiel – 15th round. #46 ranked OF

Cameron Maybin – 21st round. #48 ranked OF

Starting Pitchers

Lackey leads my rotation

Lackey leads my rotation

John Lackey – 3rd round. #10 ranked SP

Aaron Harang – 14th round. #40 ranked SP

Clayton Kershaw – 10th round. #47 ranked SP

John Danks – 11th round. #48th ranked SP

Jeremy Guthrie – 22nd round. #60 ranked SP

Manny Parra – 18 round. 64th ranked SP

Dana Eveland – 24th round. 92nd ranked SP

Paul Maholm – 20 round. 97th ranked SP

Kyle Davies – 25th round. 118th ranked SP

Relief Pitchers

Joakim Soria – 7th round. #4 ranked RP

Jose Valverde – 12th round. #6 ranked RP

Joel Hanrahan – 23rd round. #21 ranked RP

My goal was to get at least one top-10 player at each position and I accomplished that with every position except for shortstop. I reached a little for Iannetta in the 9th round but I think I got steals with Maybin (21st round) and Jayson Werth (19th round).

Strengths – Corner IF’s, OF’s and RP’s

I think I did very well at the corner IF spots with Pujols, Longoria, Gordon and Beltre. I am hoping for a nice season out of Gordon. If I can get a .275/20/80 with 10 steals out of Gordon, he would be a steal in the 15th round.

I should be all set with the closer situation with Soria and Valervde. If one of them falters or should get injured, I drafted Hanrahan who will be closing for an improved Nationals team for insurance. Between Soria and Valverde, I am expecting 80+ saves.

My OF might be the best part of my team led by Markakis, McLouth, Bruce and Ankiel. Maybe McLouth takes a step back, but the expected solid seasons from Bruce and Ankiel should make up for it. I like Ankiel this year due to his impending free agency after the season. Boras will have him ready for the season. I was also able to nab a ROY candidate in Maybin in the 21st round. That might be a steal.

Weaknesses – Starting Rotation and Backup IF’s

I went with the Billy Beane philosophy when it comes to starting pitching… Buy in bulk and hope that one breaks through. I am really banking on the progression of Kershaw and a bounce back season from Harang. If neither of those happen, I will be in big trouble. I am also hoping that out of the Maholm, Davies, Parra and Eveland foursome, one of them have a breakout season. Davies is having a tremendous spring (0.71 era in 4 outings) so maybe that will carry over to the regular season. Fingers are crossed.

With so many starting pitchers and outfielders I fell a little short on backup infielders. My only back up middle infielder is Elvis Andrus who is a 20 year old rookie. I am going to need to address this during the season. If Roberts, Pujols or Tejeda go down at any point during the season, I could be in trouble.

So how do you think my draft went? Who did I reach for and who may be a bust?

Looking At Fantasy 2nd Basemen In 2009…

February 23, 2009

It’s time to look at who are the best fantasy 2nd basemen headed into 2009. I always like to take the top 2B or SS early because finding a top hitting middle infielder is a hard to come by. They are few and far between.

In honor of latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, I have broken down this years 2B class by swimsuit model. Enjoy

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

Like this year's cover girl, Bar Refaeli these are the best of the best

1. Ian Kinsler, Rangers –Kinsler was tearing up major league pitching last year until a sports hernia injury ended his season in August. I like Kinsler a lot this year. He is the most complete 2B headed into 2009. He will give you hr, rbi, avg, obp and sb’s. If he can stay healthy for the whole season than a 25 hr/25 sb/90 rbi season is not out of the question.

2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox –The reigning AL MVP heads into 2009 as the 2nd best 2B on the board. The reason I have Pedroia 2nd is because I expect a little dip in his power numbers numbers (hr & rbi) from last year. Look for the heart and soul of the Red Sox to have a .320/14/75/.380 type season.

3. Chase Utley, Phillies –Any other year Utley is by far the #1 2B on the board. But because of offseason hip surgery, Utley’s ranking dips a little. The Phillies are optimistic about Utley being ready for Opening Day but you never know how someone is going to come back from hip surgery. April is key for Utley. If he looks healthy in April, then a typical Utley year of .295/28/95 is in order.

4. Brandon Phillips, Reds

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

not the cover girl, but like Brooklyn Decker these are the next best thing and nobody is complaining

 5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

6. 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

7. Dan Uggla, Marlins – Most fans remember Uggla for his horrific performance in last years All-Star game which is unfortunate. Uggla is a terrific player and one of the most consistent producing 2B in the game. 3 straight years of 25+ hr’s and 85+ rbi proves that. Uggla had career highs in hr (32), rbi (92) and obp (.360) last year so similar numbers should be expected again in 2009.

8. Robinson Cano, Yankees –I don’t think Cano will ever again hit .342 like he did in 2006 but his power numbers and rbi totals should keep Cano a top 10 2B for years to come. 15+ hr’s and 80 rbi is realistic for Cano this year

9. Jose Lopez, Mariners

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

I would never kick Jessica Hart out of bed and you shouldn't kick these 4 guys out of your fantasy drafts

10. Mark DeRosa, Indians –DeRosa will qualify at 2B, 3B and OF but has the most value at 2B. DeRosa had a career year last year hitting .285 with 21 hr and 87 rbi for the Cubs. Leaving Wrigley will hurt DeRosa’s numbers a bit but 17 hr’s and 75 rbi is realistic for DeRosa in 2009

11. Howie Kendrick, Angels – Can this guy ever stay healthy?? Every year the Angels have depended on him to stay healthy and every year he has let them down. Kendrick has never played in more than 92 games in a season but I think this year Kendrick stays relatively healthy and plays in 130 games. If Kendrick can get to 130 games then .315/10/65 with 15+ steals is doable

11. Kelly Johnson, Braves

 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

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 4 guys can play on your team too

Alison Preston isn't a swimsuit model but she made the issue, these next 5 guys can play on your team too

13. Rickie Weeks, Brewers –One of these years Weeks is going to break out. He has too much talent to be this mediocre for so long. I think he breaks out this year. By breakout, I mean .260/21/55/.375 with 20+ sb’s. It’s not much but it will do for now

14. Placido Polanco, Tigers

15. Orlando Hudson, Dodgers – You know what you are going to get from Hudson, .285 – .290 with 10 – 13 hr and 55-65 rbi. Going from Chase Field to Dodger Stadium might hurt his power #’s but if the Dodgers re-sign Manny then Hudson will benefit in the runs scored category.

16. Freddy Sanchez, Pirates

17. Mark Ellis, A’s

Shanon Lersch helped round out the Swimsuit Issue and these 4 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

Shanon Lerschhelped round out the Swimsuit Issue andthese 5 guys will still help you round out your fantasy team

18. Kaz Matsui, Astros –Matsui will give you some value in the sb department but that is about it. He has only played in more than 100 games twice in 5 seasons so don’t count on him too much.

19. Felipe Lopez, Diamondbacks –  Want a sleeper for 2009? Take a look at Lopez. He will go into the season as the starting 2B and is playing in a good hitters ballpark. In 2005 he put up a nice .291/23/85 and in 2006 he stole 44 bases while hitting .274. A bounce back season in 2009 might be in order. Keep an eye on Lopez in April, if he gets off to a good start, snag him before someone else does.

20. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays

21. Akinori Iwamura, Rays

22. Clint Barmes, Rockies

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is havin these guys on your fantasy team

Seeing Star Jones in a bathing suit is not pretty and neither is having these guys on your fantasy team

23. Mike Fontenot, Cubs –Fontenot will get you avg and obp but that is about it. A good “baseball player” but not a good “fantasy player”

24. Alexi Casilla, Twins

25. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

26. Luis Castillo, Mets – Castillo enters the 2nd year of a ridiculous 4 year $25MM contract and boy do Mets fans hate this guy. Castillo only played in 87 games last year and hit a measly .245. At this point if Castillo is still the starting 2B by May (big if) then he might have some value in the runs scored category.

27. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

28. Emmanuel Burriss, Giants

29. Edgar Gonzalez, Padres

30. Chris Getz, White Sox – With Alexei Ramirez moving to SS, Getz gets first crack at winning the 2B job

31. Anderson Hernandez, Nationals – Hernandez is officially your worst 2B option headed into 2009. No power, no speed and little potential for scoring runs.

So there you have the 2b rankings headed into 2009. As I mentioned I always like to draft a middle IF early because there are few good ones. Good luck and next up will be fantasy 3B.

Looking At The Week That Was In MLB….

February 22, 2009

Back from a much needed vacation and a week away from the computer, I thought I would take a look back at the week that was in MLB.

Albert Pujols Drops Out of WBC – Another crushing blow to the credibility of this tournament. How can this tournament be taken seriously when the best pitcher in the game, Johan Santana and the best hitter in the game, Albert Pujols aren’t participating?

Jeff Francis Out For Season – Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis will undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum flap and will be out for the season. To lose your ace before the season starts is a crushing blow to the Rockies’

Losing Francis is a crushing blow

Losing Francis is a crushing blow

playoff hopes. Francis was 17-9 for the Rockies in their World Series run of 2007 and looked like an ace in the making, but since then it has all been downhill for the big lefty from Canada. Look for either Greg Smith or top Rockies pitching prospect, Greg Reynolds to replace Francis in the rotation

Brian Roberts Agrees to Extension – The Orioles and Brian Roberts agreed to a 4 year $40MM extension. I like this move by the Orioles and there offseason in general. They signed their best player in Markakis to an extension, locked up one of the best lead-off hitters in the game in Roberts, traded for Felix Pie and Rich Hill who both needed a change of scenery and signed Ty Wiggington. The Orioles had been one of the most dysfunctional organizations in baseball throughout the 2000’s, so it’s good to seem them finally on the right track.

Nate McLouth Agrees to Extension – The Pirates and CF Nate McLouth agreed to a 3 year $15.75MM contract. McLouth who had a breakout season in 2008 put up an impressive .276/26/94/.356. He also swiped 23 bases to boot. Great value signing by the Pirates as McLouth is one of the rising stars in the game. Like Orioles previously, it’s good to see the Pirates starting to lock up their young players and begin to turn the corner.

Twins Sign Joe Crede – The Twins signed 3B Joe Crede to a 1 year $2.5MM contract. Crede, one of the best defensive 3B in the game fits in nicely with the Twins defense first mind set. The issue with Crede has been health. He only played 11 games in the 2nd half last season and only 47 games in 2007 because of a bad back. Not sure how Crede’s back will hold out on the hard surface of the Metrodome, but this is a low-risk, high-reward sign by the Twins.

Also on the Twins front, according to the Star Tribune, the Twins have made an offer to free agent relief pitcher Juan Cruz. This would be a NBA-esque sign and trade scenario. While so many teams are putting their wallets away, the Twins are going for it. I believed the Twins were the favorites in the AL Central before the Crede signing. If they can land both Crede and Cruz, then that only strengthens my belief.

Ken Griffey Jr Signs With Mariners – The man who helped save baseball in Seattle returns to perhaps play his final season in a Mariners uniform. Griffey figures to be the Mariners primary DH and occasionally play the OF in inter-league games. I can see why Griffey would return to Seattle but I am a little surprised he didn’t look for a team that would give him a chance to play in his first World Series. The Mariners are not expected to compete for a playoff spot this year.

The side story to this deal is that Griffey picked the Mariners over the Braves. It feels like the Braves have missed out on every free agent they have originally pursued this offseason. Smoltz, Burnett, Furcal, and now Griffey spurned the Braves this offseason. The Braves desperately need another OF. With Griffey now off the market, not sure where they are gonna go.

Dodgers Sign Orlando Hudson – The Dodgers signed 2b Orlando Hudson to a 1 year $3.4MM contract. Hudson can make another $4.6MM if he reaches certain incentives in 2009. What a steal for the Dodgers. To get

Hudson is a steal for the Dodgers

Hudson is a steal for the Dodgers

Hudson, a .282 lifetime hitter with 3 Gold Gloves for just $4.6MM is almost highway robbery. The Dodgers now have one of the best double-play combinations in the game with Furcal at SS and Hudson at 2b. Because Hudson is a Type A free agent, the Dodgers will surrender their 1st round pick (#17 overall) to the Diamondbacks. But is losing this pick such a big deal? I don’t believe it is. Out of all the drafts in the 4 major sports (yes, hockey is still considered a major sport), the major league baseball draft is the most inexact science. Let’s look at the #17 pick from the 1997 – 2006 major baseball draft:

1997 – John Curtice, P

1998 – Brad Lidge, RHP

1999 – Nick Asasdoorian, OF

2000 – Ben Diggins, RHP

2001 – Daniel Denham, RHP

2002 – Cole Hamels, LHP

2003 – David Murphy, OF

2004 – Scott Elbert, LHP

2005 – CJ Henry, SS

2006 – Matt Antonelli, 3B

That’s a pretty good sample size and as you can see, besides Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge there isn’t a lot of major league talent on that list. So losing the #17 pick in the draft isn’t as big of a deal as people make it out to be.

Also, Keith Law wonders where the Mets were in all of this? but I am wondering where the Cardinals were in this as well? As I wrote in my “Cardinals Offseason” post, I believed Hudson would have been a perfect fit for the Cardinals. I have a difficult time believing that the Cardinals organization thinks that Skip Schumaker is a better alternative at 2B than Orlando Hudson.

It was a pretty eventful week throughout baseball. If you noticed I didn’t mention Alex Rodriguez’s press conference where he made even more of an idiot out of himself than he already has. I don’t think it’s worth writing anymore about a compulsive liar who embarrasses himself by the day.