Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NFBC Journal: Week 6 - Welcome to the season Jimmy Rollins!

Well - it took 6 weeks but Jimmy Rollins finally showed up this week. My first round pick, who had been stinking up the joint. Ian Kinsler, the guy I talked myself out of taking at #8, was of course as hot as a piston. While I didn't expect that kind of production from my SS, his struggles were really hurting my team, particularly in the SB department. So needless to say, the best news of the week was Rollins' production.

A seven game hit streak, 3 multi-hit games, 3 sb's, a run scored in every game and even a HR thrown in made it easily his best week of the season so far. It also is the kind of production I will need if I want to climb a bit more in the overall standings and reel in the teams ahead of me in my Main Event league.

At the end of Week 6, I am sitting in 3rd place with 103 points. In the overall standings, I moved up to number #59 by weeks end. My pitching has been consistently good, as I ended the week with 64.5 out of a possible 75 points. I am leading the league in ERA, WHIP and SV's. On the hitting side, I made some gains, but still have room to move up from my 38.5 points. While I have crept my BA up to a respectable level, I will need a power and speed boost to make up points quickly. The good news is these counting stats can be the easiest ones to make up ground on in season. There are 10-12 points waiting for my team to grab with a prolonged power and/or speed influx.

Week 6 was a solid week for the team. New addition Jerry Hairston provided a speed boost as expected with 3 steals. He and Rollins led the way to an 11 steal week, 2 spots up in the category and put the middle group within reach. Colby Rasmus was the weeks most dissapointing player, he did smack a homer, but overall he failed to capitalize on Rick Ankiel's absence from the lineup.

My pitching continued to impress. Max Scherzer fnally got his first W and Brett Myers finally had a start worthy of a #2 SP. Papelbon and Fuentes were both solid. My pitching has been so good that I actually am down to one P in reserve, Kawakami. I dropped Dan Wheeler for this weeks pickup, OF Carlos Gomez. This was a speculative grab, for $3, as the big money went elsewhere. I see an opportunity for Gomez to get some starts this week - so I am trying to hit on some SB's from him for the week.

I also have inserted Baltimore's Nolan Reimold, who I picked up a couple of weeks ago for $1. Rasmus and LaPorta, who might be sent down head to the bench. Rick Ankiel should return this week, but I will wait to see it first before staring him. Kevin Louzmanoff almost made it back into the lineup, but I elected to go with Gomez for this week at least. Ryan Doumit (DL) and Cameron Maybin (AAA) fill out the bench.

It is rather unorthodox to have 6 hitters in reserve, but injuries have forced the issue. Also I interestingly have 5 players with SS eligibility, which would help explain my power slump. I need Ankiel to come back a add some pop and it wouldn't hurt for Kouzmanoff to start hitting. While Marco Scutaro has been a very pleasant surprise, I can't count on a full season out of him.
Also - Hairston will surely be a stopgap - as he usually is - he produces when he plays, but it never lasts. Injuries always come - but I will ride him while he hits. As of today, he might be the first guy I would cut, as Alex Gonzalez figures to steal AB's shortly.

Anyway, looking forward to Week 7, and happy to report that Kendry Morales has started me off with 2 HR's tonight, and Carlos Gomez stole a base. Keep it up guys, keep it up!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NFBC Journal: Weeks 4-5 - Hairston and LaPorta to the rescue

Missed a weekly update - so we'll have to catch up with this week.

Rick Ankiel becomes the second Mugger to go down with an injury, and anyone who saw his head first collision with the center field wall knows that it could have been much worse than a trip to the DL. Colby Rasmus replaced Ankiel in the everyday St. Louis lineup and will do the same for the Muggers.

After a fairly pedestrian Week 4 showing, which saw us slip down in the standings and drop below 90pts overall led to a couple roster moves. We officially ended the Felix Pie experiment. I really thought the change of scenery and an everyday job would help Pie turn the corner. It was a late round gamble on a guy I thought would at worst give me a 15/15 season. Sadly I couldn't wait on him anymore. The picking on the wire are slim, so I took another path and speculated on Baltimore prospect Nolan Reimold for $1. Reimold is simply tearing it up in AAA and the buzz has him coming up with Matt Weiters once June arrives. It is a speculative move, but for a buck, could pay huge dividends.

My other big move after week 4 was to grab Toronto SP Brett Cecil. Injuries created an opportunity for Cecil to stake a claim to a full time rotation spot as he would be getting a look. A two start week made him as nice guy to speculate on. I was able to get him for only $15 and cut Ross Ohlendorf to do so. He rewarded me with two nice games, giving up only 1 run in 14 IP and chipped in a W and 12 K's. He looks like he will stick with Toronto for now. By grabbing him a week early - I saved a ton a FAAB money.

I also was able to grab a just waived Kenji Johjima to replace Jason Jaramillo as my Ryan Doumit replacement. Johjima cost me only $2 and quite frankly, I shouldn't have been able to get him. I can live with him in my lineup til Doumit returns.

Going into week 6 I tabbed only one new Mugger. Desperate for some SB's I grabbed Jerry Hairston Jr. who looks like he will get consistent playing time for the first time all year. He cost me $35 FAAB dollars and I had to cut loose Pedro Alvarez. I doesn't look like Alvarez is coming up anytime soon, so he was the guy to let go.

Also, I gained the services of Matt LaPorta, who got called up by Cleveland. However, Cameron Maybin got sent down to AAA by the Marlins. This was a blow, because I was counting on Maybin for a power/speed boost. He really made the Hairdston aquisition necessary.

Week 5 was a good week for the Muggers. We gained ground in the standings with a balanced attack and have moved up to fourth place in the league. Also, the team that has been holding down first place just lost Manny Ramirez for 2 months. Should bring him back to the pack a bit.
In the Overall Standings, we are back in the Top 100, at #86.

Chris Davis and JJ Hardy both look to be heating up, which is nice to see. Jimmy Rollins is still scuffling and I have to admit, that I shouldn't have talked myself out of Ian Kinsler at pick 8. I also am constantly reminded about my choice of Matt Kemp over Evan Longoria. Kemp has been solid, but Longoria has been the best hitter in fantasy to this point. If I had made those two picks, I'd be in first place today.

But, we are glad to be in contention. That is what you aim for, be close enough to see first place, then keep chipping away. We are there, andI think this offense is just about ready to go on a tear. Also, I think Brett Myers is due for a hot stretch as well and he will further boost what has been the best staff in the league so far this year.

Now if Eric Wedge would only start playing Matt LaPorta everyday, I'd be really happy. Come on Wedgie, I need his power and so do the Indians. Play him already!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NFBC Journal: Week 3 - Doumit injury beginning off tough week.

One of the challenges of fantasy baseball is that it is a 26 week marathon, rather than a sprint. The teams that sit at the top of the standings in your league (and mine) are the ones who have had the appropriate mix of skill and luck. Luck comes in two forms of course, good and bad. I got my first bad break of the season as my top C, Ryan Doumit, went on the DL with a broken bone in his hand. He will be out for 8-10 weeks. It is a big blow, and I appropriately went out and grabbed his replacement Jason Jaramillo. He has started out well and I can only hope he is decent while he holds down the forst.

For the week, the Doumit injury was the beginning of a fairly mediocre week for the Muggers. We didn't excel anywhere and gave back all of the gains made in our big Week 2, sliding back down to 6th place, with 94 pts. In the Overall standings, we tumbled down to 125th.

Taking a quick look at my team's Week 3 stats: Offensively, Jimmy Rollins continued to stick up the joint. O sb's is not what I drafted him for and it is really killing me in that important category. Matt Kemp had a down week, but he was due for a correction after his torrid start. Nick Markakis continued his torrid hitting, and is easily my offensive MVP. My Felix Pie gamble was a disaster as he was awful for the week. He survived being cut for one more week, but he is squarely on the chopping block.

On the bright side, Chris Davis, Rick Ankiel and Kendry Morales - three very important power and rbi sources for my team all finally woke up. Asdrubal Cabrera and Kosuke Fukodome have continued to be fantastic values as late round picks. Cabrera has even been moved up the the two-hole in the Indians lineup, so he should see a nice value boost at least in the short term.

My pitching was good, but inconsistent this week. Billingsley continued his great pitching and has been everything I could have hoped for. J Cueto and J Jurrjens both turned in stellar starts, but I need to get more K's from Cueto. Brett Myers needs to get it going for me soon though, he had another rough outing last week. Kenshin Kawakami found out that Cincinnatti is not a fun park to pitch in if you don't have your best stuff and Paul Maholm came back to earth a bit.

As the week came to a close, I needed to obviously address my catching situation. As I stated earlier, I placed a bid on Jaramillo with numerous conditional picks to make sure I came away with a sub. Ryan Perry was the casualty as saves don't look like they will be coming his way anytime soon. Having to carry a DL'd player means my bench got one player shorter. I also decided to grab an 8th starter and cut Todd Coffey. Hoffman is back and Coffey will head back to middle relief. I almost cut Pie, and if Hoffman hadn't come back I would have. I bid on Scott Richmond, but didn't get him - he went for $51. The runner-up bid was $45. I bid $41. My fallback was Ross Ohlendorf, who has pitched well of late. I got him for $1.

I held onto Matt LaPorta and Pedro Alvarez for another week. LaPorta is tearing it up in AAA, and may get called up sooner than later. Andy LaRoche has finally started hitting, so it may be time to give up on Alvarez. Pie will be the next Mugger cut though. I dropped Perry and Coffey, but held onto Dan Wheeler for another week. I still believe he'll get a chance to close at some point.

For week 4, in a move aimed at trying to get some SB's, I have inserted both C Maybin and C Rasmus into the lineup this week. Pie and Scutaro head to the bench. K Morales finally has his CI eligibility, so he moves there. Kawakami gets a break this week and Ohlendorf gets a start. I may start targeting two-start pitchers for the 9th spot in my rotation on a weekly basis.

Okay - that's the weekly update. I am very pleased to say that Jimmy Rollins stole his first base last night - I can only hope it is the start of a hot streak for him and my team this week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NFBC Journal: Ryan Doumit's wrist my first bad break.

Well, it was bound to happen, but the news of Ryan Doumit's broken wrist was a real fantasy buzz kill. What was initially reported as a day-to-day injury has now turned into a broken bone in his wrist that will require surgery and shelve my #1 C for up to 8-10 weeks.

It's a tough injury, coming at a time when my team was off to a nice start. Couple in the fact that the pickings at C on the wire are pretty dismal. It puts a real dent in my draft strategy, which was to grab 2 C's earlier than most, giving me a decided advantage at that scarce position.

There was inherent risk involved here, because catchers are prone to injury, but still this injury basically erases whatever advantage was gained by choosing Doumit in the 7th rd. I will have to make up his production elsewhere, and must be careful not to roster a replacement who does more harm than good. Doumit's best attribute was his .300+ average from the C spot, a nice way to bolster your team in that spot and take guys like Rick Ankiel later on. I am reserved to the fact, that anyone I pick up will be lucky to hit .250.

The other thing to consider, is with no DL spots in the NFBC, I will have to carry Doumit in reserve, tying up a roster spot with an unproductive player. I will also have to follow his injury status over the upcoming weeks and if it seems like he will miss more than the initial 8-10 weeks, I may have to cut him outright. Wrist injuries have a way of lingering even after the player returns.

Oh well, time to circle the wagons and go check out which catchers are available in my league.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Yankee Stadium: Coors Field East???

I was able to pay a visit to the New Yankee Stadium over the weekend. I didn't get to see my Indians 22 run outburst, but did see yesterday's game, the second game of the series where a game changing homer squeaked over the wall in RF.

Buster Olney is reporting that the Yankees are privately worried about the balls (20 HR's in 4 games) flying out in the first four games.
ESPN-Buster Olney

It would have to have you a little worried now about starting Yankee SP's against high powered lineups at home.

Jensen Lewis, who gave up Jeter's and Posada's dink shots over the weekend commented that they were both "Pop flies in any other park."

The problem, if it is for real, is complicated by the fact that there are no fences to move back down the line.

My own observation is, that while the field dimensions are the same, the stadium is smaller inside, and it seemed like any ball hit high to right was carrying.

Here is a good look at the NEW Yankee Stadium
New York Times

Now here is a look at the OLD Stadium


You can clearly see how much more open the Old stadium was - especially behind the fences. Also, the new scoreboard and signage is much more enclosed than the old stadium.

How much will this effect Yankee starters???

Don't ask CW Wang.

NFBC Journal: Week 2 - Why is Matt Kemp still batting 7th?

My good friend Don commented on my last post by saying "April is for fools!". A nice pun, and one that is very true when it comes to fantasy. Take a look at the standings right now and you just might think you have actually been transported to an alternate universe with the Marlins, Blue Jays, Mariners and Royals all in first place today. Experienced fantasy players now to take April stats, fast starts and slumps with a grain of salt, but everyone wants to get off to a healthy and fast start.

Week 2 was a good one for the Muggers. A look at the standings for Week 2 show that we won the week with a balanced attack. The weekly win moved us up in the YTD standings from 6th place to 2nd place. The Muggers gained 15.5 points to 101 (out of 150 possible). In the Overall Standings in race for the $100,000 we moved up 130 spots to 51. So while others are lamenting the fact that they started Chien-Ming Wang or Joel Hanrahan last week we can exhale and enjoy a quick start.

Matt Kemp
(.391, 8R, 2HR, 9RBI, 3SB) and Nick Markakis again led the way with stellar weeks. Marco Scutaro, my Week 1 FAAB pickup, continued to produce and Kosuke Fukodome, who sent Cameron Maybin to the bench, rewarded me with a solid week while Maybin continued to struggle. On the mound, Chad Billingsley was rock solid again in a 2-0 week (17 k's) and is looking like the Ace that I will need at the top of my rotation. While W's didn't pour in this week, all my starters were decent and I suffered no blowouts. Carlos Villaneuva had the worst week on my staff and likely lost his chance to stake a claim to the closer's job.

A quick look at my team for Week 2 shows that I still have some sleeping bats, mainly Rick Ankiel's and Jimmy Rollins'. Hopefully the latter's home run late in the week will be the beginning of a hot streak for a player I really need to get going to help my SB numbers.

Again, I have avoided the injury bug, which is the goal of any player starting out and with a solid 7 SP's the need to tinker with my roster was small. Villanueva was the guy to drop and I decided to put a speculative $31 bid on his bullpen mate Todd Coffey, which I won. I overspent because apparently I was the only one who think his solid start has moved him up the ladder in MIL. On second thought a $1-$2 bid should have been made here. Justin Masterson and Chris Dickerson were guys I made bids on - but not ones that were competitive. I would have dropped Pedro Alvarez to get one of them, but I don't view either of them as game changers. I will hold onto Alvarez for another week.

As for lineup changes - Kenshin Kawakami goes back in since he draws Washington this week, meaning all my starters are in. On the hitting side, Maybin stays on the pine and I am playing a hunch by starting Felix Pie this week. The O's have 7 games this week, so I'll give Pie the start over Colby Rasmus. Rick Ankiel gets another chance to get it going.

Hopefully we'll get to the top spot next week. Happy 4/20 all my Green pals out there!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NFBC Journal: Week One - Scutaro fills in nicely

Okay - one week is in the books and while a late week rally by my team dragged me up out of the cellar, the results were mixed. Here are the standings for my Main Event league after one week. In the quest for the $100,00 Grand Prize, I am sitting at 180th place (out of 390). The early weeks of the season see wild swings in the standings, but at least I am in the top half of the competition after one week.

It only takes a minute to see that my offense was seriously lacking in week one. While I managed to score runs at a good clip, my other numbers were off the pace by quite a bit. Horrible weeks from Jimmy Rollins (.083 , 0 SB's), Chris Davis (.045, 0 HR's) and J.J. Hardy (.087, 0HR's) hurt. . Rick Ankiel, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Cameron Maybin chipped in little. The bright spots were Nick Markakis, Matt Kemp, Ryan Doumit and my lone Week One waiver add Marco Scutaro.

Since Kendry Morales doesn't have his CI eligibility yet, I needed a two week fill in there. The choices were slim and I needed to cut Dallas McPherson to find a replacment. I will admit that my strategy early was to hold onto my FAAB dollars so I made a very small bid on STL David Freese and backed it up with a conditional bid on Marco Scutaro. I liked Scutaro's multi-position qualifications (2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI) . Emilio Bonifacio was available, but he didn't have the CI status that I needed. In the end I landed Scutaro for $2 of my $1000 and was rewarded with a team leading .385, 10 runs, 2 HR, 5 RBI performance.

On the bright side, my pitching was very good for the week. Johnny Cueto was my only starter not to record a W and my back end starters Jair Jurrjens and Paul Maholm had nice two-start weeks.

The only way to improve your team is through the once weekly FAAB bidding. There were no really intriguing bats available, with Marlon Byrd the most interesting. And I had the luxury of feeling pretty good about my starting pitching. Jorge De La Rosa was the player ticketed for release and I decided to speculate on Det RP Ryan Perry. I bid $59, $19 more than the second place bid and he is now a Mugger. I don't expect him to get any saves til maybe mid-season - but with only Lyon and Rodney ahead of him - I like his chances down the road.

I decided not to add any bats and go with what I have, while hanging onto AAA prospects Matt LaPorta and Pedro Alvarez. With weekly lineups and a seven man bench you can carry minor league players as long as injuries don't strike. We have no DL spots, so injured players must be carried on your active roster. With Andy LaRoche off to a dreadful start in Pitt, I am going to hang onto Alvarez a little longer, and I really believe that LaPorta will be up for good after June 1.

Heading into week 2 my only lineup change was to sit Cameron Maybin down in place of Kosuke Fukudome. I like the fact that the Cubs play at home all week, so I went with the upside of Wigley in April. Now - onto Week 2.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nick Adenhart - R. I. P.

Sometimes fantasy baseball has to take a back seat to reality, and in this case tragedy. Nick Adenhart pitched the best game of his career last night, shutting the A's out for 6 innings.

It would also, sadly, be the last game he will ever pitch. He was killed in a car accident shortly after midnight. The crash occurred hours after the 22-year-old appeared in Wednesday night's Angels game.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Adenhart's family and the entire Angels organization.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Yesterday: Bonifacio runs wild!!!

Well that was quite an Opening Day - for Emilio Bonifacio. Bonifacio went 4-for-5 with four runs scored, three stolen bases, two RBIs and even an inside-the-park home run. Waiver wire's across the country were buzzing with everyone rushing to be the guy in their league to claim this year's darling of Opening Day. Time will tell if he will be this years Tuffy Rhodes or not.

Monday, April 6, 2009

NFBC Journal: "Bad" Brett Myers makes Day 1 one to Forget

Well we got that one out of the way - after months of preparation and excitement, the official beginning of the season came last night in a nationally televised game between the World Champion Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. The World Series trophy made an appearance and the atmosphere was euphoric as the fans of Philadelphia cheered for their heroes. And I was there, tuning in to watch one of my guys, Brett Myers, officially kicking off my own "quest" for $100,000.

Unfortunately, the euphoria didn't last. Brett Myers served up three gopher balls in the first two innings, staking the Braves to a 4-0 lead. Brian McCann, Jeff Francouer and Jordan Schaefer (who homered in his first major league AB) all took Myers deep. He simply didn't have good command of his fastball. You could see it right away. To make matters worse, he was hanging his breaking balls and that was a recipe for disaster. He rebounded well with four scoreless frames and 6 K's, bringing his ERA for the day to a still ugly 6.00.

After the third inning, I decided not to watch anymore and told my wife to flip over to HBO to watch the Gabriel Byrne drama "In Treatment". Today will be another day, with a full slate of games to watch - except for those snowed or rained out. Onward and upward.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NFBC Journal: 2009 NFBC Main Event Roster

Okay time to break down my Main Event Roster pick by pick with the thinking behind each. I was drafting out of the 8th spot.:

Pick 1 - Jimmy Rollins, SS - My thought process here was posted earlier, but basically I wanted to start out with 5 category players in the first 3 picks, passing up the Top 1B and trying to nab either Chris Davis or Joey Votto in Round 4. I chose Rollins over Kinsler, Utley, Teixeira and Howard.

Pick 2 - Matt Kemp, OF - Kemp was a player I was targeting before the draft, and I knew that he would never make it back to me in the 3rd. Pedroia, Soriano and Crawford go before I pick leaving me to decide between Evan Longoria, Kemp, Fielder, Mourneau or J Santana. I think I took the whole minute to decide to stick with my plan and take Kemp. I projected him for 20/20 , but obviously I am hoping for more across the board this year.

Pick 3 - Nick Markakis, OF - I was thinking Alex Rios or Nate McLouth with this pick. Possibly Alexie Ramirez. The guy right before me at #7 gets me back for gifting him Longoria by grabbing J Ellsbury dropping Markakis into my lap. He needed the speed after getting none in the first two Rds. I gladly scoop up Markakis and now set my sights on Rd. 4.

Pick 4 - Chris Davis, 1B/3B - My plan coming in was to grab a 1B this rd - either Davis or Votto. Both were still on the board, but if McLouth somehow made it to me I would grab him. He doesn't so I grab Davis over Votto. This is a pick I might regret, but I like Davis' power potential more than Votto's, although Votto has already gone through a full season while Davis has only 117 AB's to his credit.

Pick 5 - Jonathan Papelbon, CL - I stuck to my plan and drafted 3 of my targeted players and grabbed Markakis at a discount. So I was feeling very good about my start. With conservative projections for Kemp and Markakis I had myself at 90 HR's'/75 Sb's, with considerable upside particularly in the power department. The second phase of my plan was to grab a top Closer, Catcher and Ace. I orginally thought I would wait til the 6th to grab the last of the Top Tier Closers and either grab a C or SP in the 5th, but the Top 4 Catchers all were off the board and Mauer was hurt, so I was going to wait on C's. I was going to implement my own version of the Papelbon Plan, so when the best closer on my board slid to me in the 5th, I gladly grabbed him.

Pick 6 - Chad Billingsley, SP - Jay Bruce was the player I was hoping would slide to me. Once he was picked I started looking at SP and C. Mauer and Ryan Doumit were both available - but I went Sp choosing Billingsley over Roy Oswalt to anchor my rotation. His Whip is a little high for a staff ace, but that is the reasoning behind using the Papelbon Plan.

Pick 7 - Ryan Doumit, C - I gambled that Doumit would make it back to me and he did. I considered Robinson Cano and Aubrey Huff here, but again decided to stick to the plan and grab a Top C. After Doumit the position drops off quite a bit with only Chris Iannetta and Bengi Molina offering offensive upside. After 7 picks, my draft was proceeding as planned and I had even gotten 3 players (Markakis, Papelbon and Billingsley at value prices).

Pick 8 - J.J. Hardy, SS - I was thinking about grabbing another SP here and 3B and 2b were still needed. The choices at 3b and 2B were unispiring as were the OF choices at this point. Joba Chamberlain and Javier Vazquez were guys I was targeting. Vazquez went, but Joba was there. I took a last look at my board and saw one player that had somehow slid, Hardy. The second group of SS went off the board as expected in Rds 6 and 7. Hardy somehow was there. He shouldn't have been. Sometimes you take what the draft gives you and I will gladly slide Hardy and his 20+ HR's into my MI slot.

Pick 9 - Brett Myers, SP - It was time to get another SP, and I gladly tabbed Myers. I am hoping that the reports of his off season workouts are not just "noise", but I love the team and his strikeout ability. The only other guy I thought about was OF Adam Jones, who I would try to slide around the turn. He went in the 10th prior to my pick unfortunatly.

Pick 10 - Brian Fuentes, CL - I had been targeting Lastings Milledge and Adam Jones for this pick. Alas, both got chosen higher than I anticipated. Usually the second group of closers is already gone by the middle of the 10th, but this draft still had many guys on the board and many teams without a Closer yet. Fuentes was easily my Top ranked CL, and his problems in ST and bad back news apparently have scared off other owners. Jose Lopez is the other guy I wanted, and if I could do it again I would've grabbed him as he went two picks later. But, Fuentes gives me another CL on a playoff caliber team. I don't want to have to chase saves this year on the wire and with two of the Top 10 Closers, I should be good to go.

Pick 11 - Mike Napoli, C - Rickie Weeks, Alex Gordon, Placido Polanco and Pablo Sandoval were all considered. I talked myself out of all four to gamble on the power potential of Napoli. If he stays healthy, I should have the best C tandem in the league and a clear advantage at that scarce position.

Pick 12 - Max Scherzer, SP - Must to my dismay all of the above targets fly off the board. I am upset that I don't get one of them and still have open 3B and 2B slots. Looking at my sheets I decide I must now wait on both positions and go for a SP with strikeout potential. I love Scherzr's upside and I'm happy with having rostered him.

Pick 13 - Cameron Maybin, OF - Maybin was my fallback plan after missing out on Milledge and Jones. I decide to grab him now and his power/speed combo fits into my plan in the OF. Tremendous upside with this pick and I like him more than others do this season.

Pick 14 - Johnny Cueto, SP - Another high strikeout SP. Cueto slots into the middle of my rotation and I like his chances of taking a big step forward this season with a much improved Reds team.

Pick 15- Rick Ankiel, OF - I was looking for a power boost with this pick and was glad that another player I liked slid to the point where he was a tremendous value. I can easily absorb his BA, and people are forgeting that after hitting 20 HR's by the All Star break in '08, he battled injuries the rest of the way. 30 HR's seems certain, and there just weren't many of those kind of bats left.

Pick 16- Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B - After passing on other 3B, I decided I could wait no longer. Kouz offers me enough production at 3B that I am glad that I waited. 3B is top heavy this year - but after that you will see little difference between the guys who went 7 rounds earlier and Kouzmanoff. Add in the fact that the Padres will likely look to trade him to a contender and you are looking at even better numbers if he ever gets out of Petco.

Pick 17 -Jair Jurrjens, SP - I have decided that I am going to wait on 2b at this point. I have Hardy at MI, so I can wait. I grab some pitching, and Jurrjens is a great guy to slot into my #5 spot. He has to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and that he can do it again. I am happy to gamble on an Atlanta starter at this point.

Pick 18- Kendry Morales, CI - I needed to address this position and I really likje Morales this year. He isa finally going to get an extended look after hitting over .300 for three straight years at AAA. He had a monster offseason and should be a nice BA booster for my squad. He won't be eligible at the CI spot for two weeks so I will have to fill in until he is.

Pick 19 -Paul Maholm, SP - More pitching with one of my favorite sleepers for this year. Maholm is a former top prospect who made great strides last year for the Bucs. He is their #1 starter this year and brings a nice ERA and WHIP to the back of my rotation.

Pick 20 - Colby Rasmus, OF - I still needed another OF and the picks were slim here. I decided to grab Rasmus with hopes that he can make the team out of camp. I like the speed upside with Rasmus and I don't think that Chris Duncan can hold him off for long. I am rewarded when Rasmus indeed makes the team and looks to be in the starting lineup on Opening Day. He could be a big plus for me this year.

Pick 21 - Dan Wheeler, RP - It is always nice to get three closers if you can, and I like Wheeler to at worst have a share of the job in TB this year.

Pick 22 - Felix Pie, OF - Another gamble here, but Pie will finally be given the chance to deliver on his 20/20 upside as Baltimore will give him eavery chance to play this year. He fits the bill as I was looking to grab as many power/speed OF's as possible.

Pick 23 - Kenshin Kawakami, SP - I saw that Kawakami went much higher in almost every draft out there. Somehow guys fell asleep on him in my league and he was too good to pass up at this point. He is my 7th SP, and he has plenty of upside at this point of the draft.

Pick 24 - Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B - After waiting on 2B-men, I am happy to come away with Cleveland's Cabrera. As an Idians fan, I needed to get at least one of my boys. I think Cabrera has 10/10 upside. He could easily outperform many of the guys taken ahead of him.

Pick 25 - Carlos Villaneuva, RP - He was a speculative saves pick, who will likely be in my starting lineup in Week 1 as he will be filling in for the injured Trevor Hoffman. He has huge upside if Hoffman flops as I think he will. In any case 10 saves seems all but certain.

Pick 26-30 - Dallas McPherson, Matt LaPorta, Jorge De La Rosa and Pedro Alvarez

These picks figure to be the first guys to get dropped from my squad for free agents. I like De La Rosa's K/9 numbers and Alvarez was picked just to bring him into the player pool. I will hang onto LaPorta as long as possible, because I think Hafner might be done and the Tribe will turn to LaPorta sooner than later.

Well, that was my draft. I was happy with my team. Hit all of my targets and luckily avoided injuries. McPherson didn't win the 3B job, so I will need to address that in Week 1. Up next will be Week 1 FAAB bids and Opening Day. Can't wait for the season. Good Luck to all of you with your teams this year.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rockies to Roll with Fowler!

The future is now for the Rockies' Dexter Fowler. In an unexpected move the Colorado Rockies have confirmed that the 23-year-old has made the team to open the season.

There are risks in keeping Fowler on the big-league roster, so the Rockies will handle him with a certain amount of care and make sure he gets enough at-bats.

"It will be our responsibility to continue his growth and development, and his responsibility to keep his focus and discipline," Hurdle said.

Hurdle said he is prepared to use Fowler regularly even though the Rockies head into the year with an outfield of Seth Smith in left, Ryan Spilborghs in center and as leadoff man and Brad Hawpe in right. Not using him regularly would raise questions over whether he's better off in Colorado Springs playing every day.

Fowler making the club gives the Rockies two players who skipped Triple-A. Starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leaped from Tulsa during the 2006 season.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How To Steal a Title on Draft Day

The stolen base is that elusive stat that very likely will go a long way to determining whether or not you win your fantasy league this year. I have never been an advocate of dumping a category during the draft, and that goes double for SB's. Unlike saves, another category often ignored in drafts, stolen bases don't come into the league via the waiver wire. If you are going to build a team that will compete in the stolen base category, you will need to find your speed at the draft table.

Speed always comes at a price come draft day, so it is no surprise that the elite speedsters and 20/20 players disappear from draft boards in the opening rounds. Take a look at the players projected to steal 10 bases or more and you will see that about half of those players (40-50 hitters) will likely be drafted in the first half of drafts.

In most leagues there is usually one or two owners who load up on SB's and one or two who neglect or "punt" the category. Then there will be everyone else in the league grouped in the middle where the difference between 10th place and 3rd place might be 20-40 sb's over the course of the season.

Your goal should be to finish no worse than 3rd place in SB's this year. Take a look at last years standings to give you an idea of what to shoot for - but in mixed leagues using standard rotisserie lineups (14 active hitters) - 140-150 sb's is a nice range to shoot for. Let's assume for arguments sake that you have drafted your fair share of speed early in the draft, that would be about 4 speed guys in the first 12 Rd's, and about 80-100 sb's. That means you will need to find at least another 40-50 sb's the rest of the way.

The key is to try and draft a lineup that will help pad your stolen base totals without rostering players who drag you down in other categories. You know the guys I am talking about: Willy Tavarez, Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn are all names you will see drafted by owners looking to grab those 40-60 sb's with one pick. But these players often offer so little in the other 5 categories that the damage they inflict often negates the one positive attribute they bring to the table.

Now, you can put all your eggs in a speed demon like Tavarez's basket or you can spread the risk and draft sources of cheap speed later in drafts while still providing enough pop to keep you competetive across the board. Here is a list of players to target in the middle and end of drafts to help you steal those precious points in the stolen base category. ADP's are from Mock Draft Central's current list.

  • C - Mike Napoli - LAA - ADP 156 - '09 Outlook: 8-12 SB - Besides offering tremendous power upside, Napoli also is the only Catcher outside of Russell Martin with the potential to add double-digit sb's for your team. He is an injury risk, which explains why he is often rostered later in drafts. But if you are waiting on the position or looking for the ideal #2 Catcher, Mike Napoli is the name to remember.
  • 1B - Gabriel Sanchez - FLA -ADP Undrafted - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - First base is not the position to go looking for SB help. Only Lance Berkman stole more than 10 bases from the position last year. That being said in deeper leagues, if you get to the end of your draft, Sanchez makes a nice end-game SB gamble for your bench.
  • 2B - Rickie Weeks - MIL - ADP 222 - '09 Outlook: 20-30 SB - Weeks' disappointing 2008 has him falling in drafts to the point where his power/speed combo and upside potential makes him undervalued this year . If you can roster him as your MI, even better.
  • SS - Elvis Andrus - TEX - ADP 299 - '09 Outlook: 30-40 SB - The Rangers believe in Andrus' ability enough to have moved Michael Young to 3B this off season. He has been a trendy pick in expert leagues, such as the NFBC, but it is very likely here will be there for the taking late in many leagues. If you are going to target a one category speedster late - make it a MI and not an OF.
  • 3B - Alex Gordon - KC - ADP 158 - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - The shine is off the former can't miss prospect, but if you miss out on David Wright, my advice is to wait and set your sights on Gordon right around Rd 10. The speed he brings to the table makes him at least as valuable as Garrett Atkins, who is being drafted 70 picks higher. If you somehow miss out on Gordon, Mark Reynolds can be a fallback plan, but he provides less speed and is a BA liability.
  • MI - Felipe Lopez - ARI - ADP 317 - '09 Outlook: 15-20 SB - The MI position is a place where most fantasy owners will try to shore up their team speed later in drafts. Kaz Matsui, Alexi Casilla, Cliff Barmes, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Ryan Theriot, Jason Bartlett and Emmanuel Burriss are others who will provide cheap speed from this spot. I like Lopez the best because he's leading off in Arizona, and there is at least double digit HR potential in his bat.
  • CI - Josh Fields - CHW - ADP 332 - '09 Outlook: 10-15 SB - Look, Fields should be a reserve player on your roster if you draft him since he hasn't proved he can be the everyday guy. He is also a major BA risk. But he has displayed good speed in AAA to go along with better than average major league power. As nice guy to target as insurance if you draft a Chipper Jones or Ryan Zimmerman as your starting 3B.
  • OF - Adam Jones - BAL - ADP 174 - '09 Outlook: 15-25 SB - Jones will be hitting in the 2 hole this season for Baltimore. Brian Roberts in front and Nick Markakis behind. He has already snagged 7 bases this spring and announced that he will be more aggressive on the base-paths this year.
  • OF - Fred Lewis - SF - ADP 225 - '09 Outlook: 18-23 SB - Lewis is one of those players that help win titles. He has the LF job all to himself this season and is recovered from the foot injury that slowed him up down the stretch last year. He'll chip in at least 10-15 hr's as a bonus.
  • OF - Elijah Dukes - WASH - ADP 246 - '09 Outlook: 13-23 SB - Dukes is a risky pick, I won't lie. He has been injury prone and his emotional problems are well documented. All this has done is keep his price reasonable. But if you are feeling lucky - few OF's in this range offer the 30/30 upside of Dukes. Of course that means a full season of a healthy, happy and motivated Dukes.
  • OF - Cameron Maybin - FLA - ADP 277 - '09 Outlook 25-35 SB - Lastings Milledge's stock keeps rising by the day. He no longer qualifies as undervalued. Maybin's value is still being held down by his rookie status. But the Marlins have inserted him in the lead off spot, moving Hanley Ramirez down to third. Even if he struggles at times, 10 HR's and 20 SB's seem certain for the jewel of the Miguel Cabrera trade.
  • OF - Jordan Schafer - ATL - ADP Undrafted - '09 Outlook 15-20 SB - Schafer at this point is potentially a steal of any draft. The Braves prospect has won the CF job in Atlanta. The Braves traded Josh Anderson to Detroit so the job is Schafer's. He brings power/speed skills to the table and will be given every chance to succeed this year.

You get the idea - don't go for the one category guys anymore - grab multiple guys who help you across the board. Some other names to consider: 2B Chris Getz, SS Mike Aviles, Of Coco Crisp, OF Randy Winn, OF David DeJesus, OF Daniel Murphy, OF Colby Rasmus, OF Chris Dickerson, OF Felix Pie, OF Ryan Spillborghs and OF Shin-Soo Choo.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Around the Majors: D-Train on DL with anxiety disorder.

Dontrelle Willis, a former 22-game winner, was placed on the DL due to an anxiety disorder.

Willis said the diagnosis came after follow-up blood tests showed something of concern. Doctors told him that the condition is treatable and that they'll start him on a regimen.

"I'm not crazy", Willis said "though my teammates might think that I'm crazy." He went 0-2 with a 9.38 ERA in eight appearances with the Tigers last season following his blockbuster trade to the Tigers the previous off season. Despite making adjustments to his delivery, the southpaw continued to struggle this spring. Willis allowed 15 runs (12 earned), 17 hits and seven walks in 8 2/3 Grapefruit League innings. " No word on if the Tigers will provide any help for the anxiety that Willis gave to his fantasy owners last year. Elsewhere around the majors:

  • Angels ace John Lackey received a cortisone shot aimed at reducing the inflammation in his strained forearm.
  • The Washington Nationals addressed their logjam in the OF by placing Willy Mo Pena on waivers.
  • The Blue Jays are very concerned with B.J. Ryan's loss of velocity despite seemingly being 100 percent healthy. His velocity has varied between 83-86 m.p.h., way down from last year. If you own Ryan, you need to look at the possible replacements should he need to stay behind to build up his velocity. My choice would be Scott Downs.
  • Bill Madden of the Daily News wrote today about the fast rising Yankee SS prospect who may push Derek Jeter to CF as soon as next season.
  • Brett Gardner has officially won the Yankees center field job.
  • Hopefully if you spent a high pick on the Cub's Carlos Marmol, you were smart enough to draft Kevin Gregg many rounds later. If you didn't you probably don't want to hear about how Pinella just named Gregg the new closer.
  • The Dodgers Chad Billingsley had no set backs today and is on track for his first start on April 8th.
  • Brewers' closer Trevor Hoffman played catch today for the first time since March 20th, but still seems destined to start the season on the DL. Carlos Villaneuva would likely step in a the closer were Hoffman to miss any time. I drafted Villanueva in the end-game of my NFBC draft for just this situation.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Around the Majors:Tejada gets slap on the wrist

Miguel Tejada received a year of probation and 100 hours of community service, in addition to a $5,000 fine for lying to Congress about performance-enhancing drugs. Tejada briefly addressed the court, "I apologize to the Congress, to the court, to all the fans of baseball and especially the kids," Tejada said quietly. The sentence was tied to Rafael Palmeiro, who implicated Tejada as a way to explain away his positive test for steroids in 2005. Palmeiro said that Tejada had given him a B-12 shot, which is believed by some to be a steroid masker. Other news from around the Majors:

  • The Atlanta Braves sent top prospects Tommy Hanson and Jason Heyward to their Minor league camp on Thursday.
  • Emilio Bonafacio seems like a lock to be on the Florida Marlins Opening Day roster. He may have even played himself into a regular job at 3B if Gaby Sanchez isn't ready at 1B. Jorge Cantu would seemingly slide across the diamond opening up starts for Bonafacio at the hot corner.
  • Angels C Mike Napoli will test his surgically repaired shoulder for the first time this spring on Friday. If you drafted him early this year (like I did), you will be waiting anxiously for the reports out of Angels camp. Napoli provides tremendous power upside from the C position, but health has always been an issue. He need to take the next step in his rehab to increase his chances of making the team out of ST, where his power bat would at the very least give him some DH at bats right away.
  • Angels SP John Lackey is experiencing some forearm tightness. While he says it is nothing to worry about, it has to be noted that he missed the first 6 weeks of the season last year with a forearm injury.
  • The Detroit Tigers are starting to face the economic reality that has engulfed the entire city. There have already been internal discussion on what to do with Dontrelle Willis and the $22 million that he is owed for 2009 and 2010.
  • The entire city of Milwaukee, not to mention countless fantasy leaguers are concerned about Ryan Braun's injury status. After seeing him struggle down the stretch with a similar injury last year, we understand.
  • Cincy's Johnny Cueto looks ready to improve upon last year's mini-breakout. He simply dominated the Red Sox yesterday as he faced the minimum 18 batters in his six innings of work. He struck out 5 in all and was so efficient with his pitches that after his outing he was sent to the bullpen to throw 20 more pitches just to get his work in.
  • The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders says Todd Helton's power was the biggest surprise of Rockies camp for him.
  • CC Sabathia was not only named as the Opening Day starter for the Yankees, but it was also announced that he will pitch in the Yankees home opener on April 16 as the Yankees open their new ballpark.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NFBC Journal: Main Event Roster

Okay - here is the rest of my Main Event roster. I will be doing a more in depth look at the entire draft, breaking it down pick by pick. I'll delve more deeply into the thought process behind each pick as I try to build a team to win not only my individual league - but also the $100,00 overall title. For those interested in just a quick look, here is the rest of my team and what round I picked them at:

C - Ryan Doumit, Pirates (7)
C - Mike Napoli, Angels (11)
1B- Chris Davis, Rangers (4)
2B- Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians (24)
SS- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies (1)
3B- Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres (16)
MI- J.J. Hardy, Brewers (8)
CI- Kendry Morales, Angels (18)
OF- Matt Kemp, Dodgers (2)
OF- Nick Markakis, Orioles (3)
OF- Cameron Maybin, Marlins (13)
OF- Rick Ankiel, Cardinals (15)
OF- Felix Pie, Orioles (22)
UT- Kosuke Fukodome, Cubs (27)
SP - Chad Billingsley, Dodgers (6)
SP - Brett Myers, Phillies (9)
SP - Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks (12)
SP - Johnny Cueto, Reds (14)
SP - Jair Jurrjens, Braves (17)
SP - Paul Maholm, Pirates (19)
RP- Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox (5)
RP - Brian Fuentes, Angels (10)
RP - Dan Wheeler, Rays (21)
BN - Colby Rasmus (20), Matt LaPorta (28), Dallas McPherson (26), Pedro Alvarez (30)
Kenshin Kawakami (23), Jorge De La Rosa (29), Carlos Villanueva (25)

NFBC Journal: The Main Event

This past Saturday 390 Fantasy Baseball players converged on 4 cities (Las Vegas, New York, Chicago and Orlando) to simultaneously draft their teams for this years upcoming National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Players compete individually within their 15 team leagues and then compete for the Grand Prize of $100,000 against the other 389 entrants.

This was my first year participating in the Main Event, and I would be drafting here in my hometown of Manhattan at the ballroom of the Sheraton on 52nd St. That's right, home cooking before the big event. Needless to say the biggest challenge was tempering my excitement and getting a good night sleep on Friday.

My preparation for this year began early in December, when I was chosen to participate in a Champions Draft for Fantasy Sports magazine. Since then I had also done a 30 rd slow draft, a 20 team mixed league draft and a final NFBC Satellite league on March 14th. I knew the player pool, knew who I was targeting and had constructed for myself a fairly elaborate draft tool/sheet to take in with me.

My sheet had a section devoted to Player Rankings, with Tiers and $ values. Next to that was a list I created which I called my ADP/Position Scarcity Report. Here I again ranked players at various positions, but also incorporated the most recent ADP data available to NFBC drafters. The goal of this list in unison with my Rankings list would be to help me gauge and exploit pockets of value throughout my draft. In the upper section of my sheet I had an up to date Depth Chart for all MLB teams next to a Roster Tracker for the 15 teams in my league.

In addition to my sheet I had 1 magazine, Rotowire's, for quick look ups of any players I needed to do some quick research on. I chose this mag, because it listed it's player write-ups in alphabetical order, a must for quick searching. Also, they had previews of 1,500 players - more than just about any magazine in the marketplace.

I also had another chart, which broke the draft down into 5 sections, looking at 6 rds at a time. Here I listed players using the ADP data available, with color codes to help me at a glance identify which positions might be more heavily targeted at certain points. It would also help me identify certain players that were rising and falling in relation to their pre-draft ADP's. Lastly, I had a clipboard, with my own personal Roster Worksheet. After picking a player, you enter his name and projections and work toward you pre draft goals/targets in the 5x5 categories.

I arrived early, and entered the draft room. We were in the ballroom at the Sheraton and the room was already buzzing with excitement. Eight leagues would be drafting here in NY, with another 18 happening simultaneously in the other 3 cities. Las Vegas had the largest room, with 11 teams I believe, Chicago had 4 leagues, Orlando 2 and the NFBC even added 1 Online league this year to the Main Event. Everything was very well organized and our New York coordinator Tom Kessinich had everything under control. I found my U-shaped draft table, and took my spot at #8, smack dab in the middle. I introduced myself to the guys sitting to my right and left and proceeded to unpack my stuff and lay it all out. Needless to say, my elaborate set-up garnered more than a few looks from my league mates. Just as planned. Yes I was new to the competition, but I was ready to rumble! I had made the decision early on to forgo my laptop, mainly because the NFBC doesn't allow plug-ins. But, I was still surprised that I didn't see more computers. It would seem that the NFBC has more Old-school pen and paper guys than I was anticipating.

Okay, everything was ready to go. I started going over my strategy and somewhat scripted attack plan for the first few rounds. At #8, I had a good idea of who would be available to me and that initial pick would go a long way to determining who I chose in the next few rds. In my mind my choices would be Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira and Ian Kinsler. There are many different plans of attack in the NFBC - and where you pick in the first rd helps narrow it down.

My goal was to draft 5 category guys with my first 3 picks. So for my plan, Teixeira was out. That left Rollins and Kinsler. SS and 2B. I really liked them both. They both brought power and speed to the table at scarce positions. Kinsler slightly more power and Rollins more speed.
For me the deciding factor was reliability and injury risk. Who was more reliable and less of an injury risk. That led me to stick to my pre-draft plan and select Jimmy Rollins as my first pick in this years draft. Now I'd just have to get the rest of the guys I wanted to make it all work.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This Party Has Officially Ended

With those words, typed into his blog 38pitches, Curt Schilling announced his retirement from MLB after an illustrious 20 year career. He joins Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina or the list for what could be and interesting class for induction to the Hall of Fame in 2014. Other news around the majors:

  • The Florida Marlins finally got their stadium deal passed. The team is slated to move into their new digs for the 2012 season.
  • The Cleveland Indians demoted LHP Jeremy Sowers today, leaving LHP's Scott Lewis, Aaron Laffey and Zach Jackson to compete for the 5th Starters job. Also of note, OF Matt LaPorta was sent to AAA while prospect Trevor Crowe remains in camp and may still have a shot to make the team as a 5th OF.
  • We wrote about Shawn Hill getting released by the Nationals recently. Well he couldn't have asked for a better landing spot. The San Diego Padres signed Hill to a minor league deal and he might be the front runner for the 5th spot in their rotation. NL-only owners should keep tabs on Hill, as Petco Park is a great place to jump start a flaggin career. Just ask Randy Wolf.
  • Lastings Milledge was one of the very trendy picks this weekend at the NFBC. His owners will be very happy with the news that he will now be the leadoff hitter for your Washington Nationals.
  • David Price may yet be headed for AAA, but he had his best start of the spring on Sunday.
  • We should have a decision from Lou Pinella as to who will win the team's closer job, Carlos Marmol or Kevin Gregg. Early drafters have already spoken and it's Marmol by a wide margin.
  • BJ Upton is an almost sure bet to start the season on the DL. Getting hit on the hand the other day just kind of cemented the thinking that was already growing in the Rays's camp.
  • Xavier Nady has been named the Yankees starting RF. Nick Swisher heads to the bench for now.
  • Ubaldo Jiminez had another strong outing on Monday for the Colorado Rockies.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Young Guns: My NFBC March 14 Roster

Here is my team from my recently completed NFBC Satellite draft from the #3 spot- I have decided to name them Young Guns

Catchers: G Soto (5) J Saltamacchia (21)
Corners: Aubrey Huff (7), Casey Kotchman (14), Mark Reynolds (15)
Middle: Jose Reyes (1), Placido Polanco (13), Aaron Hill (20)
Outfeild: BJ Upton (2), Nate McLouth (3), Corey Hart (4), Raul Ibanez (11), Adam Lind (16)
Util: Juan Rivera (26)

CL: J Soria (6), D Wheeler (17), T Walker (27)
SP: J Vazquez (8), J Chamberlain (9), D Price (10), M Scherzer (12), A Sonnastine (18),
S Marshall (19)

Bench Hitters: T Glaus (23), D Fowler (24), M LaPorta (25), R Belliard (30)
Bench Pitchers: J Smoltz (22), J Blevins (28), R Porcello (29)

I went right to my Plan B as I was expecting David Wright to be my first pick. I happily grabbed Reyes and it should be fun to own him on one team this year. My overall strategy going in was
to target speed and power early and i achieved that with my first 4 picks-I would have taken Mourneau in the 2nd or Votto in the 4th but neither was available. 11 1b were off the board when I chose Hart - I had Huff next on my board, waited and I got him in the 7th.

I Grabbed a C early, which I rarely do, but wanted to test out in this draft. I then chose Soria as my closer deciding to try Todd Zola's "Papelbon Plan" on for size. Now I usually wait for C and Closers, so this was a departure from my usual strategy. Last year in my NFBC draft I grabbed a Tier 1 SP in Rd 5-6 and waited longer on Closers. After grabbing A Huff to fill my 1B void it was time to roster some starters. I targeted SP with high K/9, low Whip's on winning teams. Vazquez and Chamberlain fit the description well. I Gambled more than normal with so many young arms - but the upside is very tantalizing.

One pick I regret a little is David Price. The second run of closers had started earlier in the rd and I should have grabbed my second one here. Yes I can say I drafted him, but if he might start the season in AAA or just be a bust. If so I just burned that pick. For the Main Event, I will try to remind myslef that RD 10/12 is when that 2nd Tier of reliable closers will be drafted.
Max Scherzer is another risky pick - but I am not unhappy with where I got him.

At this point in the draft my team was a little short on power. Polanco and Kotchman were drafted next as BA balances since I had reserved myself to the fact that I was going to have to roster Mark Reynolds for his Power. I timed Reynolds (who slid down in this draft) just right as the guy right after me typed "Bastage!" right after I picked him, then grabbed Kevin Kouzmanoff. That made me feel better about rostering this BA killer.

The next stage of the draft filled out my starting roster. I like Marshall and Sonnastine at the back of my rotation. I should get some nice help mid-season from Glaus/Fowler/Laporta and Smoltz will be good when he pitches. Since I didn't need SB's late I also gambled that Aaron Hill can deliver some power at MI. I am hoping for 35-45 saves out of Wheeler/Walker/Blevins.

My projections were: R 1090 HR 270 RBI 1095 SB 170 BA .283
W 83 SV 73 K 1149 ERA 3.68 WHIP 1.25

I think this team can compete, and it looks like I will be streaming two start P as well as W's may be a problem with so many young arms. As you can see by my roster, the 15 team format of the NFBC provides an interesting challenge. Your goal going in is to hit your targets, and I did pretty well in that respect.

This draft was a tuneup for my Main Event draft this Saturday. My goal aside from winning this league was to test out my feel for the marketplace as we get ever closer to D-Day.

Spring Training Report: St. Louis Blues

The question of who will open the season as the St. Louis Cardinals closer just got a lot murkier (if that's possible) with the announcement that front-runner Chris Perez will be shut down with shoulder discomfort. Tony LaRussa has not named a closer as of yet and it is not that far-fetched to see him employing a closer-by-committee approach. The other names in the mix for saves include Jason Motte, Ryan Franklin, Josh Kinney and Kyle McClellan with Motte seemingly in the lead at this point. Elsewhere around major league camps:

  • Joe Torre says that Hideki Kuroda will be the Dodgers Opening Day starter. He will be followed in the rotation by Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. Torre has yet to name his No. 5 starter.
  • Time to scratch SP Shawn Hill off your cheat sheets. The Washington Nationals released the promising but chronically injured pitcher yesterday. Someone else will probably sign him and give him a look, but the chances of him having any value this season are very slim.
  • Marlon Byrd's big spring means that Andruw Jones' chances of making the Texas Rangers out of camp are slipping away.
  • Hideki Matsui will be restricted to DH duties until June. This could be a problem for the Yankees and manager Joe Girardi. Jorge Posada is coming back from shoulder surgery and won't be able to catch everyday. LF Johnny Damon also seemed slated for DH duty at least once a week to help keep his legs fresh. So it looks that Matsui will be sitting at least once a week and with that his overall numbers will take a hit. Adjust your values accordingly.
  • Carlos Villanueva. That is a name you are likely to hear called out late in a lot of drafts after today. Closer Trevor Hoffman strained a rib cage muscle over the weekend and might miss the beginning of the season. In case you forgot, Hoffman is 41 years old. Villaneuva struggled as a starter last year but flourished once moved to the pen. Before Hoffman was signed manager Ken Macha mentioned that Villeneuva was first in line for closer duties, so likely he is the Brewers Plan B.
  • No real surprise, but the Jose Reyes will bat third experiment has likely been scrapped.
  • Not that you were likely looking to draft the Pirates 4th or 5th starter this year, but it is still worth noting that Tom Gorzelanny has been demoted and former Yankee Ross Ohlendorf has firmly grabbed the 4th spot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish

With less than a week to go before my NFBC Main Event draft it is time to cross one more thing off my to-do list.
I need to come up with a name for my team.

A quick look at the last names of my competitors reads like a roll call from a Sopranos convention: DiVeglio, Bono, Martino, DiMauro, Ciepela, Crescenzi, Piazza, Janovici and Sisto. I look at that list and sense that Ryan Patrick Carey needs to call on his Gaelic roots and put it out for all to see. Never mind that I'm half Italian - in this league I will assume the role of resident Mick.

So, we need to come up with a name. I have a short list but am open to any clever suggestions. Here is what I have so far:

Drunken Irishmen
Irish Rovers
Finnegan's Wake
Vernicious Micks
Shane McGowan's Liver
Lucky N' Charming

Got anything better? Let me know.

"My [butt] feels good and that's that."

That's how Erik Bedard summed up his successful return to the mound today for the Mariners. It was his first appearance since being scratched due to a sore butt. Bedard has a 1.59 ERA on the spring in 5.2 innings pitched, so it's time to move him back onto your radar as a big value play later in drafts. It should be noted that this is a contract year for Bedard and if he proves he is healthy the M's will surely deal him by mid season. Lots of other stuff happening in camps as teams continue to prepare for the season and we prepare for our drafts:

  • If you were thinking of drafting Jason Schmidt as an end-game pick, you might want to think again. Manager Joe Torre said he was out of the running for the 5th Starter's job. It bears mentioning that Jeff Weaver got shelled and will be used exclusively in relief.
  • Cole Hamels is going to have his elbow examined, which is never something you like to hear at this point in camp. He very well may be fine, but if I was drafting this week I would be very leery of spending the high pick or big bucks it will take to draft him.
  • By now you know about Ervin Santana's elbow sprain which will likely delay the beginning of his season. He reportedly started his throwing program today, which while encouraging still can't get me to stop thinking about Francisco Liriano. Like Liriano, Santana relies on his Slider to be effective, throwing it 33% of the time last season. My worry is that when he returns, will he shy away from the slider?? Will he compensate by changing his arm slot and lose control? History tells me that the answers are Yes and Yes, at least in his first few starts.
  • I guess the fact that the Mariners signed Chad Cordero means we have to at least add him to the closer mess/mix in Seattle.
  • Khalil Greene is having a great camp, hitting .447 as he settles into the St. Louis lineup. I temper your excitement by pointing out that another SS, Angel Berroa is tearing it up this spring at a .429 clip.
  • Baltimore's Adam Jones stole his 7th base of the spring yesterday. He stated earlier in ST that he wanted to steal more bases this year, and if he can deliver on that promise he will be a nice find later in drafts (ADP 184)
  • Jordan Zimmerman had another nice day pitching 4 scoreless frames and striking out 6. For the spring, Zimmermann, 22, hasn't been scored upon in 12 1/3 innings and has struck out 16 batters.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

National Fantasy Baseball Championship

Today I will be participating in an NFBC satellite draft in preparation for the Main Event. I realize that many of you may not be aware what the NFBC is, so follow one of these links to their homepage to see for yourself. As you can see, it is a national contest with an overall grand prize of $100,000.
This season thee will be 390 individuals competing in 4 different cities: Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and Chicago. Also, due to the lousy economy, organizers have added a phone option this year that will allow those that could not afford to travel to the live drafts to continue to participate. The NFBC holds the Main Event draft simutaneously in the 4 cities. In addition to the Main Event, the NFBC has bookend events on Friday and Sunday. On Friday, they hold Al, NL and Mixed League Auctions and on Sunday they hold their Super and Ultimate drafts in which owners pay $2500 and $5000 dollars to compete. The entry fee for the Main Event is $1300.

In the buildup to the big draft weekend, the NFBC also offers a full slate of Satellite drafts. These range in price from $125 to $1000, and are a great place to dip your toes into this competiton. I played in two Satellite leagues last year and was lucky enough to win one of my leagues, here are the final standings from that league. So, by virtue of winning my league I won a Free Invite to this years Main Event. I will be blogging a little more about that team this week as I look back on what went right with that team. The NFBC has also teamed up with NBC this year, and is offering an online contest consisting of 12 team leagues. The entry fees are lower and this contest already has over 400 people signed up with weeks still remaining til drafts take place.

So, today is my last Satellite before the Main Event. I have the #3 pick and have already decided I am going to take whoever is left between Jose Reyes and David Wright. I already have Albert Pujols on another Satellite team and as a New Yorker, look forward to having a local star to anchor my team and follow all season long (even if it's a Met). I will post the results of this draft later in the day. Sorry, gotta go check my sheets and prepare for the draft to begin.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stuck in the Middle

Okay - the results are in and I now know what spot I will be drafting from and who I will be drafting against. Drum roll please.......#8 pick.

Good news and bad news here.

First off I got my 8th preferred slot from my KDS - and ended up at 8. I like to draft in the middle because you can see the draft developing around from both directions. You don't have to wait to long between picks in either direction, so it makes it easier to keep yourself from missing out on positional runs on scarce positions, like Catchers and Closers.

The somewhat bad news is that since the Arod injury, in my mind there is a definite talent dropoff after pick #7. My draft board right now from #1-7 looks like this: Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, David Wright, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera. 8 would have been alot sweeter before the news that Arod would miss at least 6 weeks as you could have just allowed the draft to dictate who to choose. Sizemore, Braun or Cabrera would have fallen to you and you happily snap him up. Pick 8 is a tough one now - You have to consider all the guys not in the Elite Tier of players: Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Ian Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Matt Holliday, Carlos Lee, Dustin Pedroia and then the real wildcards...Chase Utley and Arod himself. I will be looking at all the players mentioned above and will likely go to find out more about hip injuries than I ever planned as I evaluate the risk/reward of Utley and Arod.

Who knows, since it is a New York league, I can say a prayer that someone above me has to have Big Tex and somehow Sizemore slides to me at #8. Hey, it's my birthday...let me enjoy my wishes. Anyway, here are the guys I will be drafting with on March 21st. Most interesting name on the list, Mike Piazza. Could it be him???? We'll see.

1. Lenny Diveglio, Medford, New York
2. John Bono, Albertson, New York
3. Joe Martino, Melville, New York
4. Brian Zirlin, Short Hills, New Jersey
5. Louis DiMauro, Staten Island, New York
6. Steve Ciepela, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
7. Michael Crescenzi, Wake Forest, North Carolina
8. Ryan Carey, New York, New York
9. Bobby Brendler, Rockville, Maryland
10. Larry Lensak, Wayne, New Jersey
11. Mike Piazza, Watervielt, New York
12. John Sisto, New Rochelle, New York
13. Scott Fleming, Totowa, New Jersey
14. Justin Pappas, Farmingdale, New York
15. Steve Janovici, Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Today is my birthday.

Friday the 13th...Gotta love it!!!

So what am I doing to celebrate the big day...as you might have guessed, right now it is fantasy related. I am camped out in front of my computer at high noon here on the East Coast along with 100's of other National Fantasy Baseball Championship owners eagerly awaiting the announcement of my League and draft position for the Main Event.

The Vegas leagues are coming out first, so I'll have to wait a little longer to learn my fate and begin my 8 days of draft prep for my Main Event draft.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

KDS - What is it???

The first big decision of the NFBC season is setting your KDS. For those of you saying to yourself, "What the heck is a KDS?", here is a primer:

KDS stands for Kentucky Derby Style preferences. It is the system used to determine draft positions in the NFBC Main Event, Ultimate League and all NFBC Satellite Leagues. The KDS process allows owners to rank their order of preference for Draft Day, ranking their preferences 1 through 15 before the leagues are randomly selected.

It adds another level of strategy to the season as you get some say in determining where you will pick in the draft. Even before the leagues are formed all owners submit a ranking list to the people running the contest. Once leagues are formed, names are drawn at random. Rather than simply slotting the owner into that position, KDS allows the owner to indicate alternate preferences via your KDS rankings.

As an example, I set my KDS preferences this way for the Main Event:

1, 4, 6, 5, 7, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Now I did this quickly right before the deadline, so I didn't really spend a lot of time debating the merits of my choices - but I made one clear choice - after pick one, I moved the 2nd and 3rd slot down in my preferences. How will this work? Easy. When the names are drawn, the powers that be at the NFBC will look at the corresponding owners KDS and assign the best possible position based on your rankings. If my name gets drawn second say, and the #1 pick is already taken, I would be assigned pick #4 instead of pick #2.

Some owners would rather draft in the middle, if they are selected early in their league; others like to stay near the top and others like to move down to the lower end. Many owners leave their KDS 1-15 and live with the luck of the draw. The good people who run the NFBC say that most NFBC owners will get a more preferred draft spot than the random slot would have given them.

I personally like the KDS system a lot and if you are the commissioner of a league looking to add a little spice to the run-up of your upcoming draft, give KDS a try. I think you will find that your league members will enjoy the added element of draft strategy.