Posts Tagged ‘Chris Iannetta’

Starting Nine: National League West

January 16, 2010

Last but least in our Starting Nine series, is the National League West. Usually known as being the worst offensive division in baseball, the NL West has improved offensively this offseason.

The San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks have added offensive pieces this offseason and as long as the young Colorado Rockie hitters continue to improve, they will always be dangerous.

Here are the lineups for each team in the National League West as presently constructed today.

Colorado Rockies

1. Dexter Fowler, CF

2. Carlos Gonzalez, LF

3. Todd Helton, 1B

4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS

5. Brad Hawpe, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Chris Iannetta, C

8. Clint Barmes, 2B

9. Ubaldo Jimenez, P

Quick Take – This lineup is the class of the NL West. This lineup has everything you want–speed, power, and patience. Look for Carlos Gonzalez to have a breakout year and become everyone’s mancrush when it comes to fantasy baseball.

San Francisco Giants

1. Freddy Sanchez, 2B

2. Edgar Renteria, SS

3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Aubrey Huff, 1B

5. Mark DeRosa, LF

6. Aaron Rowand, CF

7. Buster Posey, C

8. Nate Schierholtz, RF

9. Tim Lincecum, P

Quick Take – It’s hard to make up a lineup when every guy in that lineup is the same. This lineup has very little power, very little speed, and not a single person that scares an opposing pitching.

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Rafael Furcal, SS

2. James Loney, 1B

3. Manny Ramirez, LF

4. Matt Kemp, CF

5. Andre Ethier, RF

6. Casey Blake, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Blake DeWitt, 2B

9. Chad Billingsley, P

Quick Take – I originally had Ethier in the two-hole and Loney in the six-hole like the Dodgers had in the NLCS last year. I didn’t like that lineup then, and I don’t like it now. Ethier is better served in a RBI position in the lineup.

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Gerardo Parra, CF

2. Stephen Drew, SS

3. Justin Upton, RF

4. Mark Reynolds, 3B

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Conor Jackson, LF

7. Miguel Montero, C

8. Kelly Johnson, 2B

8. Dan Haren, P

Quick Take – With the addition of LaRoche and a healthy Jackson, this lineup all of a sudden looks very deep. Upton is only getting better and he will be a MVP candidate in 2010.

San Diego Padres

1. Everth Cabrera, SS

2. David Eckstein, 2B

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B

4. Kyle Blanks, lF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. Nick Hundley, C

7. Will Venable, RF

8. Tony Gwynn, CF

9. Chris Young, P

Quick Take – Kevin Kouzmanoff was traded to the Oakland A’s less than 24 hours ago, so now there is zero reason to pitch to A. Gonzalez in 2010. With Kouzmanoff gone, this is a big year for Headley. Look for newly acquired Scott Hairston to platoon with Gwynn in center.

Well that’s it for our Starting Nine series. I hoped you enjoyed it. I will update this series as the regular season approaches.

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

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Rockies Add A Catcher, Sign Miguel Olivo

January 5, 2010

Tired of haggling over contract specifics with Yorvit Torrealba, the Colorado Rockies decided to move in another direction to fill their need for a catcher.

According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the Rockies have signed former Kansas City Royals’ catcher Miguel Olivo to a one-year, $2 million contract. The Rockies also have a club option for $2.5 million for 2011.

Olivo will replace Torrealba in Colorado

The Olivo signing means that Torrealba will have a new team in 2010. While it might be tough for Olivo to replace Torrealba’s leadership, this is not a bad signing for the Rockies.

Olivo will compete with Chris Iannetta to be the Rockies’ starting catcher in 2010. Last year, Olivo hit 23 home runs with a .249 average in 114 games for the Royals last season.

Yeah, I know he refuses to walk. But not everyone in a lineup can be Jack Cust. If Olivo can hit a home run every 18 AB’s like he did last year and play decent defense, the Rockies will take it.

Defensively, Olivo threw out 28.2 percent of the base runners attempting to steal a base last season. That percentage ranked third amongst American League catchers last season.

To put in perspective, the Rockies signed Olivo to a one-year deal and the team he left–the Royals–signed Jason Kendall to a two-year deal. I believe Olivo is the better player.

I wrote about the differences between Olivo and Kendall here.

As to where this leaves Torrealba? I think he will have a couple of options.

I believe the New York Mets could be interested if they can’t come to terms with Bengie Molina. I also believe the San Francisco Giants could be a possibility as well. I believe they don’t think Buster Posey is ready to be a full-time starting catcher yet and Torrealba could serve as a nice mentor to Posey.

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

Rockies And Chris Iannetta Agree To Three-Year Deal

December 11, 2009

Following the model that made the Cleveland Indians very successful in the 90’s the Colorado Rockies are locking up their young players.

The Rockies have already locked up Troy Tulowitzki, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brad Hawpe, Aaron Cook, and Jeff Francis. And now they have locked up another young talent.

The Rockies today locked up 26-year-old catcher Chris Iannetta for three more years. The Rockies signed Iannetta to a three-year, $8.3 million contract with a $5 million club option for 2013.

The contract cancels out Iannetta’s arbitration years and as Tony Renck of the Denver Post points out, it gives the Rockies cost certainty going forward.

Now the question I have is–did the Rockies just sign the next Ben Petrick or a guy who could be one of the best offensive catchers in the game?

For those of you who don’t remember, Petrick was supposed to be the Rockies’ catcher of the future in the late-90’s/early-2000’s. In 2000, Petrick hit .322 in 52 games and everyone thought–including myself–that Petrick would be the next big Rockies’ slugger.

Petrick then hit .238 in 2001 and .211 in 2002 and by 2004 he was out of baseball. Petrick went from young stud to bust rather quickly.

Iannetta looks to be on the same path as Petrick. In 2008, Iannetta looked like he was going to be a star. He hit 18 home runs and had a .895 OPS in 104 games.

Iannetta was supposed to take his game to the next level in 2009, but things didn’t work out that way. Iannetta slumped to a .228 average and his OPS dropped 91 points to .804.

The Rockies are probably wondering if the former Tar Heel is Petrick Part Two?

I don’t think he is. I think Iannetta will have a bounce back 2010 season–regardless if the Rockies bring back Yorvit Torreabla or bring in Miguel Olivo.

I really believe Iannetta will have a season more like his 2008 season than his 2009 season. If Iannetta hits the way he is capable of, the Rockies offense will go to the next level in 2010.

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

2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team

September 16, 2009

With most teams having roughly 18-20 games left on their schedule, I think its’ safe to say we know by now which players were surprises and which players were busts in 2009.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the All-Fantasy Breakout Team. As for today, I think we will take a look at who were the fantasy busts in 2009.

These are the players who owners drafted very high in hopes that these players would lead their team to fantasy supremacy in 2009. Instead, these players fell flat on their faces because of various reasons and cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Without any further adieu, here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team sponsored by the Julio Lugo, Co. “Nobody Knows Sucking Like A Lugo.”

Honorable Mentions – Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, JJ Hardy, Rick Ankiel, Kevin Gregg, Garrett Atkins, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Jake Peavy

CatcherGeovany Soto, .222/10/40

After winning the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award with a .285/23/86 hitting line, many owners expected a repeat performance from Soto in 2009. Not so much.

Davis has not lived up to the hype

Davis has not lived up to the hype

First Base – Chris Davis, .216/19/49

This was a close call between Lance Berkman and Chris Davis, but because Davis was so ridiculously over-hyped, Davis wins it. Everyone’s preseason man-crush has fallen flat on his face in 2009.

Things got so bad for Davis that he was sent to the minors in the middle of the season. That my friends, is a bust.

Second Base – Mike Fontenot, .232/9/40

Second base was the hardest position to pick a fantasy bust because so many two-baggers are either having breakout years or their typical years. Fontenot on the other hand, is having neither.

At this point in the season, Fontenot has roughly 100 more AB’s than last year and has the same amount of HR’s (nine), RBI (40), six less runs scored, and his average is 72 points lower than last years.

Not what the Cubs or fantasy owners were expecting this year.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, .279/2/15

I had a dilemma with this pick. Do I pick the guy who has just sucked all year in JJ Hardy? Or do I pick the guy who has missed the majority of the year with an injury in Jose Reyes?

I will go with Reyes because Reyes, who was taken in the first two rounds in most leagues and crippled a lot of fantasy teams this year. Reyes went on the DL on May 26th and was never heard from again.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, .202/4/12

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Alex Gordon. That’s what I was telling myself when I drafted Gordon in my league. Instead, 2009 has been a disaster for the Royals young third baseman.

Gordon got off to an awful start in April, then had hip surgery, came back, got sent to the minors, and now is back up again. I am not even sure if Gordon is worth keeping in my Keeper League at this point.

Outfield – Milton Bradley, .260/12/39

It seemed like everyone knew this was going to happen except Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry. Bradley is like the movie GI Joe. Sure, we all knew it was going to suck, but we kind of wanted to see it any way just to see how bad it was going to be.

I mean 39 RBI in 121 games? Pathetic

Outfield – Josh Hamilton, .270/10/49

Hamilton was the feel good story of the 2008 season. His performance in the HR Derby was stuff of legend and he put up a .304/32/130 hitting line.

2009 has been a lost season for Hamilton. He has been hurt the majority of the year and really never found his groove at the plate.

Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, .296/7/40

From 2006-2008, Ordonez averaged 24 HR’s and 115 RBI. In 2009, Ordonez’s power has vanished faster than the storyline’s on Entourage.

Very puzzling how Ordonez has kept his average up, but has lost all his power.

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Starting Pitcher – Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.71 ERA

Like Alex Gordon previously, this was supposed to be the year for Liriano. He was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins were expected to compete in the AL Central, and at 25, Liriano was going to mature into an ace.

None of the above happened. Liriano is one of the main reasons the Twins are not in first place and is now pitching out of the bullpen

Starting Pitcher – Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA

Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008. Going into last night’s action, Matsuzaka has won a grand total of 1 game in 2009.

Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, otherwise known as the World Baseball Classic for this.

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Webb, 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA

Last year, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. All fantasy owners got out of Webb this year, was one lousy start.

Webb was the third overall pick in my league and in most leagues went in the first two rounds. If your first or second pitcher taken doesn’t win a game during the season, it usually spells doom for your team.

Closer – Brad Lidge, 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA and 10 blown saves

Despite having 29 saves this year, Lidge has been a fantasy disaster all season. He doesn’t have a win, he leads the majors in blown saves, and has killed fantasy owners all year long in the ERA category. His WHIP is 1.823 which is not helping the situation either.

The Colorado Rockies Are Winning From Within

August 27, 2009

I say this with a staunch and unblemished record of heterosexuality — I have a man-crush on the Colorado Rockies. That’s right, not just one player, but the entire team.

I usually reserve my man-crushes for individual players like Michael Young, Chase Utley, or back in the day George Brett. However, the Rockies are a different case. I love the way this team plays.

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

Tulo is a home grown Rockie

They play great defense, they can beat you with a big fly or small ball, they have a very high baseball IQ, and this team can pitch. They are a very fun team to watch on a night in and night out basis.

However, above everything I just mentioned, there is one thing that stands out to me when I watch this team. It’s the fact that the Rockies are winning with home grown talent.

Everywhere you look on the field, the Rockies have players that they drafted and groomed in their farm system. Look at the core of this team…

Chris Iannetta – Drafted in the 4th round of the 2004 draft

Todd Helton- Drafted in the 1st round of the 1995 draft

Clint Barmes – Drafted in the 10th round of the 2000 draft

Troy Tulowitzki- Drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft

Ian Stewart – Drafted in the 1st round of the 2003 draft

Seth Smith – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2004 draft

Dexter Fowler – Drafted in the 14th round of the 2004 draft

Brad Hawpe – Drafted in the 11th round of the 2000 draft

Garrett Atkins – Drafted in the 5th round of the 2000 draft

Ryan Spilborghs – Drafted in the 7th round of the 2002 draft

Ubaldo Jimenez – Signed as an amateur free agent in 2001

Aaron Cook – Drafted in the 2nd round of the 1997 draft

Other key contributors such as Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, Jason Marquis, and Jason Hammel have been acquired via trades. Only Matt Herges, Josh Fogg, and Juan Rincon were signed to free agent contracts and their contacts were all minor league deals.

To break down the Rockies current 25-man roster, 52 percent are home grown talent (drafted, signed as an undrafted free agent, or signed as an amateur free agent and developed in the Rockies system), 36 percent came from trades, and just 12 percent came from minor league free agent contracts.

That 52 percent would be higher (64 percent) if Dexter Fowler and Aaron Cook weren’t currently on the DL. To have over 50 percent of your talent come from drafts and amateur free agent signings is amazing.

It just goes to show what a tremendous job Dan O’Dowd has done recently in reshifting his strategy of handing out large free agent contracts to reinvesting that money back into their minor league system, scouting, and the draft.

Back in the day, the Rockies tried to play with the big boys in the free agent signing game. Mike Hampton, the late Darryl Kile, Denny Neagle, Larry Walker, Darryl Hamilton and the legendary Tom Goodwin all signed free agent contracts to come to Colorado.

Those days are long gone. The Rockies have found their winning formula and the ingredients have come from within.

Fantasy Week In Review 5/18-5/24

May 26, 2009

Since I missed my weekly fantasy week in review post last week because of a family matter I needed to attend, I was planning on doing a super 2 week fantasy review this week. Unfortunately that is not going to happen. Why? Because there isn’t a site out there that gives stats for the past 14 days!!! Every site is either 7 days, 30 days, etc… Very frustrating. Does anyone know of a site that gives 14 day stats?

That being said, I will do my normal fantasy week in review this week. Here are the fantasy studs, the players who are of concern, injury news and potential pickups for the week of 5/18 – 5/24.

Fantasy Studs

Joe Mauer – .458/4/13/.516. The best catcher in baseball, might soon become the best player in baseball.

Jason Bartlett – .385/2/13/.469. I thought this guy was only supposed to play defense?

Michael Cuddyer – .448/4/12. Any player who hits for the cycle is a fantasy stud.

Mark Teixeira – .444/5/10. I guess having Arod hitting behind you really does help.

Brandon McCarthy – 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 IP. Threw the very rare CGSO last week and at 25, looks to be coming into his own.

Madson has been lights out lately

Madson has been lights out lately

Joel Pineiro – 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 IP. 2 Quality Starts and a CGSO makes for a very good week.

Ryan Madson – 3 Holds with 0.00 ERA and 5 K’s in 3.2 IP. If your in a league that counts holds as a stat (one of my leagues does), then Madson is your guy. Right now he is the best set-up guy in the game.

Reasons For Concern

Brad Lidge – 2 blown saves, 6 hits, 2 walks and a 15.43 ERA in 2.1 IP. After not blowing a save in 2008, Lidge has now 4 blown saves in 2009. Lidge looked terrible against the Yankees. He has a 9.15 ERA on the season and is now wearing a special insole in his cleat which is designed to alleviate pain in his knee. There are a lot of reasons to be concerned with Lidge at this point.

Ricky Nolasco – Things have gotten so bad for Nolasco that he was sent down to the Minors after Friday’s start. If I had Nolasco on any of my fantasy teams, I wouldn’t drop him. I just think he has hit an extreme rough patch and he is too good to be this bad. He could help your team out in the second half of the season.

Chris Davis – .053/0/0. Everyone’s preseason mancrush struck out 10 times in 19 AB’s last week. On the season, Davis has K’d 66 times in just 150 plate appearances. That is almost half the time!!!

Scott Kazmir – Kazmir has been awful this year and was placed on the 15 Day DL last week. As I wrote, I am a little skeptical of this move. I could be wrong, but I think this is more the Rays asking Kazmir to take a time out rather than Kazmir having a serious leg injury.

Travis Snider – The Blue Jays sent the struggling Snider to Triple A last week. I guess if I pick you to win the Rookie of the Year award, you will be sent to the minors. I also predicted Cameron Maybin to win the award in the NL. Good times. I do however, expect both Snider and Maybin to be called back up in the second half.

Injuries

Chris Iannetta – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a strained right hamstring. This hurts because Iannetta was hitting .276/5/13/.364 in May.

Mike Aviles – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a strained right forearm. Aviles has fallen flat on his face this year and will not be missed by fantasy owners.

Rich Harden – Placed on the 15 Day DL with a bad back. Harden is halfway to filling his quota of two trips to the DL per year.

Losing Weeks is a big blow

Losing Weeks is a big blow

Edison Volquez – Placed on the 15 Day DLwith back spasms. I am not too concerned with this injury. Volquez should be ready to go the first week of June.

Rickie Weeks – Out for the year with a wrist injury. Crushing blow not only to fantasy teams but more importantly the Brewers. Weeks was headed for a breakout 2009.

Potential Pickups

Tommy Hanson – Hanson is ready and it is only a matter of time before he gets called up. Snag him before someone else in your league does. Especially if you are in a keeper league.

Anthony Swarzak – Swarzak threw 7 scoreless innings against the Brewers in his major league debut. He was one of the Twins’ best prospects before he was called up, so the potential is there.

Derek Holland – I really like Holland. He just reminds me of a young Steve Avery on the Braves, not the washed up Avery on the Red Sox. He pitched well in his first start of the season against the Astros. He only made one bad pitch and that was to Berkman in the 5th. Expect some rookie growing pains, but he should be in the Rangers’ rotation for the long haul.

Ryan Madson – Madson might be worth picking up if you have a roster spot. If Lidge continues to pitch like The Ghost of Wayne Gomes, then Madson would be next in line for save opportunities.

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.

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 Team USA’s Roster For The WBC…..

February 25, 2009

As I have written several times I am not a fan of the WBC. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t root for Team USA as I feel it is always important to route for your country any time you can. Tonight on the MLB Network, the final rosters were announced for the WBC. Let’s take a look at Team USA’s roster and what are there strengths and weaknesses.

Starting Pitchers

Jake Peavy, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Guthrie, Roy Oswalt

Relief Pitchers

JP Howell, Jonathon Broxton, Scot Shields, Brian Fuentes, Brad Ziegler, Matt Lindstrom, JJ Putz, BJ Ryan, Scott Thornton, Joe Nathan

Catchers

Chris Iannetta

Brian McCann

Infielders

Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Mark DeRosa

Outfielders

Brad Hawpe, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson

 

Potential Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Chipper Jones, DH

4. Ryan Braun, LF

5. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Brian McCann, C

8. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

9. Brad Hawpe, RF

 

Stengths

1. Bullpen – Team USA has put together a who’s who of top set up guys and closers. This is a smart move by Team USA because of the new pitch count rules for starters. Starters in the 1st round can only throw 70 pitches, 85 in the 2nd round and 100 in the semi-finals and finals. Knowing starters can only throw a certain amount of pitches in the WBC, Team USA built their team around it’s bullpen. They can match up against lefties late in the game with Fuentes and Thornton, if they need a strike out in the 7th inning they can bring in Lindstrom or Shields and if they need someone to close the game they can turn to either Broxton or Nathan. No team in the WBC has the bullpen Team USA does

2. Team Speed – Sizemore, Jeter, Pedroia, Granderson, Wright, Rollins and even Ryan Braun can steal a base. I think team speed is important in any type of baseball game but in particular an international game. Pitchers from countries such as Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, etc… usually take a little longer to get a pitch to home plate. Team USA can take advantage of this.

 

Weakness

1. Starting Rotation – I have no issues with Oswalt and Peavy, but is Ted Lilly and Jeremy Guthrie really the best Team USA can do?? Where is Lackey, Halladay, Lincecum, Lester, Haren, Webb or Greinke??? I understand there is a deemphasis on the starting rotation due to pitch counts but this is ridiculous. Lilly and Guthrie might not even get to 70 pitches. If Team USA doesn’t win, the starting rotation will be the reason.

 

Overall Analysis

This team from top to bottom is much better than the one that took the field in 2006 and they are determined to give a better showing than they did that year. Team USA will have their hands full with Venezuela, but at the end of the day I think they will win their group and go on to compete with Japan, Cuba and the Dominican Republic for the right to win the 2nd annual World Baseball Classic.

Looking At Fantasy Catchers in 2009….

February 16, 2009

There might be no other position in baseball where the difference between #1 and #30 is so great. That is the dilemma fantasy owners face when it comes time to draft a catcher. If you don’t get one of the 10 best, then you are really stuck picking from the bottom of the barrel. To make sure you don’t draft the bottom of the barrel guy, here are the 2009 fantasy rankings for catchers.

Johnny Bench Division

These are the best of the best at the catcher position. These are the guys you want to draft as your #1 catcher

1. Joe Mauer, Twins – Despite offseason kidney surgery, Mauer remains the #1 fantasy catcher in baseball. The 2-time batting champ won’t get you home runs, but will get you rbi’s, obp, avg and hits.

2. Brian McCann, Braves

3. Geovany Soto, Cubs

4. Russell Martin, Dodgers – Martin slipped a little in 2008 by posting lower avg, hr and rbi totals than he did in 2007. I expect Martin to have a bounce back year in 2009 and Martin does steal bases (49 career sb’s in 3 seasons) which makes him unique amongst catchers.

5. Chris Iannetta, Rockies – Ladies and gentleman, your 2009 fantasy breakout catcher. In only 333 ab’s in 2008, Iannetta posted a .261/18/65/.390 line. At 25 and now the Rockies #1 catcher headed into the season, Iannetta should break out in 2009. If Iannetta can get to 140 games caught, expect a .275/24/85/.380 stat line.

Ted Simmons Division

These catchers are a notch below the top 5 but can serve as #1 catchers on your fantasy team. Like Ted Simmons, these catchers don’t grab the headlines but can put up some nice stats for your team.

6. Bengie Molina, Giants – Quick, how many people knew that Molina put up a .292/16/95 line last year? The best hitting Molina brother had close to 100 rbi last year…amazing. The reason Molina doesn’t crack the top 5 is because he is 34 and will be hard pressed to duplicate last season. .278/15/75 is more likely for Molina this year.

7. Victor Martinez, Indians

8. Mike Napoli, Angels – Napoli smacked an impressive 20 hr in just 227 ab’s last season for the Angels. Napoli is not the best defensive catcher in the world, which hurts his playing time. If Napoli can improve behind the plate, it will mean more ab’s. 25-30 hr’s is not out of the question for Napoli in 2009.

9. Ryan Doumit, Pirates – Occasionally the Pirates will have someone who makes a top 10 list. Because Doumit plays on the Pirates, he flew under the radar last season. He posted a nice .318/15/69 while playing in a career high 116 games. Doumit never hit more than .274 with 9 hr’s in a season before last season so there is a chance that last season was a fluke. I don’t think it was. Look for Doumit to post similar numbers again in 2009.

Terry Steinbach Division

Much like Steinbach for most of his career, these catchers are good for 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi.

10. Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks

11. Jorge Posada, Yankees – After having a career year in 2007, Posada missed much of the 2008 season with a shoulder injury. Now at 37, Posada is at the tail end of his career and his .338/20/90 2007 might have been his last great fantasy season. Look for Posada to have a season similar to his 1999 season. Which was a .245/12/57 line.

12. Ramon Hernandez, Reds

13. AJ Pierzynski, White Sox

14. Brandon Inge, Tigers – Inge is slated to be the Tigers opening day 3B headed into 2009 but he does qualify at the catcher position based on his work from last season. Inge has much more value as a catcher than he does a 3b. 10-15 hr’s and 50-60 rbi is realistic for Inge.

Terry Kennedy Division

The very last guys you want to take before you head down Desperation Rd.

15. Dioner Navarro, Rays

16. Kelly Shoppach, Indians – Shoppach enjoyed a breakout season in 2008 due mainly to the absence of Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner. Now with both players back, it will be difficult for Shoppach to crack the lineup. However, it’s worth taking a flier on Shoppach because if Hafner can’t make it back from injury, then he might get some time at DH.

Tony Pena Division

If any of these guys are your #1 catcher headed into the season, then you might be in serious trouble.

17. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers

18. Gerald Laird, Tigers

19. Jason Varitek, Red Sox

20. Yadier Molina, Cardinals

21. Kenji Johjima, Mariners

22. Kurt Suzuki, A’s

23. Miguel Olivo, Royals

24. Rod Barajas, Blue Jays

25. Jason Kendall, Brewers

26. Nick Hundley, Padres

27. Brian Schneider, Mets

28. John Baker, Marlins

29. Humberto Quintero, Astros

30. Jesus Flores, Nationals

31. Gregg Zaun, Orioles

Matt Wieters Division

32. Matt Wieters, Orioles – This is Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria part 3. Clearly ready for the majors, Wieters will most likely start the season off in AAA because the team wants to delay an arbitration year. When he is eventually is called up, Wieters has the ability to be a top 5 catcher. A switch-hitting catcher with his power comes along only so often. If you are in a keeper league and need a catcher, Wieters should be your #1 choice.

So there you have the catcher fantasy rankings for 2009. As you can see, almost half the league is undraftable. Make sure you get 1 of those top 10 guys, because if you get stuck with Brian Schneider, then it might be a long season ahead.