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.