Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Finally ...

I have good news for L.A. Dodger fans as well as any fantasy owners looking for some pop.

James Loney has been inserted into the regular starting lineup with Nomar Garciaparra being moved across the diamond to third. It's unclear how the latter move will play out, but the 23-year-old Loney has broken out in the month of June with his sudden abundance of at-bats in L.A.

At the time of this post, the Dodgers are back in first place in the N.L. West, thanks in large part to Loney's 3-hit hit night in Arizona. After spending the season' first two months with Triple-A Las Vegas (where he hit .380 last season) , Loney is back with the big club and picking up where he left off last season.

In 2006, the lefty hit .284 with 4 homers and 18 RBIs in 48 games. He also set a National League rookie record and tied the Dodgers' franchise record with a career-high 9 RBI against the Rockies last September. Loney is batting .471 in 2007 as he looks to stick with Grady Little's club. He's put together a 5-game hit streak, which includes four multi-hit efforts, three doubles, two triples and a pair of long-balls ... Not bad.

Anyway, while I'm sure many fans wondered aloud why this opportunity took so long for James Loney (including my dear friend and lifelong Dodger fan dating back to the team's Brooklyn days, Stanley Kaplan), the fact is: He's up now ... so don't sleep and go get him.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


It was a very frustrating weekend for me in my head-to-head fantasy league, the Shlub Scrumptious league. In a rematch from Week 1 (when I won 7-2-1, thanks in part to some rain delays), my team went up against perhaps the deepest offensive team in the league - with names like Sizemore, Ordoñez and Ortiz.

My squad of Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez were great. On Sunday, the last day of the fantasy week, my boys forged ahead of Danny Andrews' team, The Dazzlin Dasherss (the kid adds extra letters to certain words - I'm not sure why). My team held slim leads in homers and total bases (in place of batting average), and trailed by a couple of RBI. I was really feeling another victory over Danny, who is the bane of my fantasy baseball existence.

So what happened? Well, Corey Hart of the Brewers hit his 3rd homerun of the week to tie his game in the 9th inning. Then Brian Roberts hit his second homerun of the weekend in Arizona (he has 4 total on the season) to put me one homer and couple bases back ...

How 'bout some insult for your injury? Jason Varitek, who'd already tripled in Boston's finale in San Diego, added a solo homerun just to stick the knife in a little deeper, and putting it out of reach. I lost 6-4 overall, dropping homers 14-12 and total bases 141-136. I mean that sucked.

Things like this tend to happen in both fantasy baseball and fantasy football leagues. Narrow losses eat away at everybody, so don't feel bad. There's always this week.


Sunday, June 24, 2007


What's up everyone ... Haven't posted in a minute because I was visiting my old stomping grounds in NYC. But now I'm back to help people prepare for their second-half drafts and also to help re-tool some squads for the majority of owners in "full-season mode."

Preparing for a New Draft:

I like to call the second-half draft a fantasy owner's mulligan. So much has changed between the start of the season and now, and there are some tough questions to ponder if you're looking you start up a new team. With all the information we now have, the first three rounds will look a lot different than they did in March.
One key to success will be getting players with you're second and third round picks that were definite first-rounders in the preseason. Of course, you'll also have to avoid overrating the guys who look like first-rounders now but who'd never have been picked there a few months ago.

A perfect example of this is Magglio Ordoñez. He's had great years before but now he's leading the Majors in hitting and looking like an M.V.P. front-runner. But is he worthy of a first round pick? I don't think so ... Go ahead and take a shot if he's there in the second round. He is a great player - I just worry about his past injuries resurfacing.

Matt Holliday is also making a case for garnering a first round selection. He was a great third round pick to begin with - maybe even a good second rounder. He's turned into a Top 10 player in many mixed leagues (I'd draft Holliday ahead of Ordoñez).

Here's the point: Breakout seasons from the above two guys and others like Prince Fielder may push some established superstars like Ryan Howard, David Ortiz and dare I say - Johan Santana out of the first round ... and you need to be ready to pounce if any of those guys falls to you in the second round.

You have to take advantage of the people using only the first half of 2007 as a guide to the second half. You must use the big picture to see that some guys who've had disappointing first halves like Howard and Big Papí (still pretty good) - and to a far greater extent Garrett Atkins - will lose some value early in drafts and therefore become far more valuable to you when you pick them up in the second round (or a bit later in Atkins' case).

On the mound, I have a feeeling that a few folks out there may get courageous and make Jake Peavy or Cole Hamels the first pitcher off the board. If this happens, consider yourself very fortunate and take Johan Santana if he somehow falls to you. It won't happen often, but all you need to know about the great lefty is this: since 2004, he's *****32-3 after the All-Star break***** ... 'Nuff said.

Mid-Season Evaluations:

For those fantasy owners trudging along through the full MLB season, the actual midpoint (meaning 81 games into it) is a crucial stage as you try to gain ground or solidify a spot at or near the top of your league. If you have some pieces to part with, I almost always advocate chasing a big star who's been strugging, but a couple of these big names are already starting to come around - except for Andruw Jones (what is going on there?).

I think the guy to really go after is Carlos Beltrán. He's starting to come out of his funk and not coincidentally, the Mets are too. Roy Oswalt hasn't thrilled his fantasy owners either this season, but keep your ears to the ground on this guy. If you hear that someone in your league is disenchanted with Oswalt, it's definitely worth making an offer for him. Forget the bullpen struggles in Houston, this guy is a lot better than he's shown and his value probably won't get any lower (7-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.38 WHIP right now).

In closing, I encourage all my fellow owners to just stay with it and know that there is still time to recover if your struggling and there's always room for improvement - even if you're in first place. Tonight I will share my views with the world once again on Beltway Baseball, inside the 10 PM edition of SportsNite on Comcast SportsNet (Ch. 628 on your DirecTV, Ch. 45 if you have local cable in Montgomery County or something else if live someplace else). Hopefully I'll get to talk to Kelli Johnson again.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Is This Guy Serious?

I don't often praise members of the Boston Red Sox outside of Manny and Ortiz, though Kevin Youkilis has come on strong this season as well.

But this post is all about DUSTIN PEDROIA, a little man with a big bat! I've been debating about whether to dedicate a whole post to him, but a 5-for-5 effort against the Giants on Friday sealed the deal. Pedroia could keep putting up big numbers if he continues to bat in front of one of the great run-producing duos of all-time in Manny and Ortiz. Plus he's got that Green Monster out in left field - where high fly balls become homers.

Anyway, the comparison I've been hearing out of Bean-town is to Jody Reed. Admittedly, it sounds funny to call someone 'the next Jody Reed,' but then I remembered that Reed used to eat up the Yankees in the late 80's and early 90's. These days Pedroia is really starting to swing the stick well, and though he doesn't boast a lot of power, his spot in the order makes him look like a good source of runs and average for years to come. I'm just glad the Red Sox don't still have Hanley Ramirez to go along with him.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Prospects to Big Leaguers

I have to give a big shout out to my man Mitch Tischler for this one. Justin Germano of the Padres is coming into his own at baseball's highest level. He's been working his way through the minors since 2000, before appearing briefly in the Majors in 2004 and 2006. His 7 starts this season are already a career-high. He allowed two runs or less in each of his first 4 starts, got beat up in two straight, then pitched 6 shutout innings against the Devil Rays last night. That may not be the world's greatest accomplishment but hey, he's 5-0.

Most of the glory on the mound in San Diego goes to Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman, which is fair. But fantasy owners shouldn't forget about a very valuable and underrated pitcher in Chris Young- a great ERA and strikeout guy. Even Greg Maddux is still holding it down in a lot of mixed leagues.

However, Justin Germano is dangling out there in a lot of mixed leagues, and if you need an option at the back of your rotation, this guy looks like a steal. I always lean toward the N.L. pitchers anyway.

Elsewhere in prospect-land, Matt Kemp is back up with the Big Club in Los Angeles (I'm talking about the real LA, where the Dodgers play - not the imaginary one in which the Angels play). Anyway, this guy was actually a factor last June when he belted all 7 of his career homers.

That seemed like a random power surge, but Kemp is putting together another good month of June this season. He can also steal some bases and could see more action if Grady Little doesn't find an excuse not to play him.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Falling off a Lidge

Well, the Brad Lidge experiment got off to a terrible start last night in Houston. The Astros' hard-throwing righty surrendered a game-tying homerun to Oakland's Mark Kotsay leading off the 9th inning, as he sought his first save of the season. The Astros later won the game, but I know Lidge's BS (blown save) is certainly upsetting to those owners who plugged him back in upon hearing about his return to the closer's role (I picked him up just in time to insert him into one of my lineups).

But don't worry - I'm not going back on my promise to aid my fellow owners in the saves category. Give Lidge a chance to get reacquainted with the 9th inning before you dump him. Elsewhere in closer news, it looks like Huston Street won't be back by the All-Star break as the A's had hoped. That means Alan Embree will be assured of more time at closer - at least until the A's make a move. Who knows? Maybe the A's will trade for Brad Lidge (as long as Billy Beane doesn't have to pay him).


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Leanin' on Lidge

I should have mentioned that of all the guys listed in my previous post, Brad Lidge is the guy to target first. Check on his availability before picking up or trading for another closer in deeper leagues. Hopefully he's over the fact that Albert Pujols ruined his life.

Steals and Saves ...

These are perhaps the two most frustrating categories in fantasy baseball ... at least for me. In the Comcast SportsNet fantasy league (one of the three I belong to), I drafted Carl Crawford, Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu with 3 of my first 4 picks. I took Lance Berkman second ... so it's been a rough go. Anyway, drafting for speed early cost me in the power stats later on.

Not too long after, I took Mariano Rivera, who got off to rough start this season. His rough start contributed to a dreadful start for my pitching staff. I've yet to recover.

Thankfully I've managed to hold my own in two other leagues, but bringing up the rear in my office league is a downright embarassment. So as you look ahead to potential mid-season drafts and/or eye future transactions, I'd recommend being reserved when chasing down steals and saves. Of course, you can still go after a Jose Reyes or Grady Sizemore, but often guys with high stolen base totals are just too one-dimensional to invest a lot in. Guys like Julio Lugo and Chone Figgins can swipe a ton of bags, but kill you in power and average, etc ...

In terms of saves, the closer position is one that's coveted but also risky. B.J. Ryan is done for the season, Salomon Torres has lost his spot with the Pirates in favor of Matt Capps (and is now on the DL as well), while the revolving door in Houston has brought Brad Lidge back into his original role. Add to that the struggles of guys like Chris Ray and the injury risks of guys like Eric Gagne, and it's easy to see how finding a consistent source of saves can be a fickle business.

Well, I've been all over the waiver wires in my leagues, and I hope these guys can help you out if you're in need of a quick fix:


Reggie Willits
.311 AVG, 30 R, 15 SB
A nice little player. He's starting to get noticed and is proving to be asset - even in deeper mixed leagues. Unfortunately, Garret Anderson's return to the Angels' lineup with cost Willits some at-bats

Nick Punto
.230 AVG, 24 R, 12 SB
The average is ugly, but at least he's part of a good offense, he walks a decent amount, and he's eligible for 3 infield positions. Utility players can be very valuable, though Punto may be a better option in A.L. Only leagues


Antonio Alfonseca
3-1, 5 Saves, 3.62 ERA. 1.46 WHIP
Six fingers on each hand, six toes on each foot and 5 saves in 6 chances this season. What else could you ask for? He's at least got the job until Brett Myers returns, or until the Phillies can confirm that Tom Gordon is still alive.

PS I know the picture of Alfonseca is an old one, but I wanted you to see his extra appendage

Alan Embree
0-0, 7 Saves, 3.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Embree is on his 9th different team since coming up since 1992. His 7 saves are already a career-high. You never know about Huston Street's long-term health, so Embree could be a viable option for a while.

Brad Lidge
2-1, 0 Saves, 2.35 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
Phil Garner will finally go back to Lidge in the 9th inning of ballgames. Hopefully he doesn't run into Albert Pujols in the near future. I figured the righty would have been dealt by now, but the Astros have re-discovered their faith in him. And if Lidge saves a couple of games right out of the gates, you will too.

*Stats through June 11th


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Freddy Garcia ...

Now on the disabled list ... awesome


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Interleague Play in Fantasy Baseball

One of my general philosophies in drafting and trading throughout the fantasy baseball season is to target A.L. Hitters and N.L. Pitchers.

Clearly, this is not something I adhere to all the time (for example, I just traded a lot for Alfonso Soriano in two different leagues, though he did homer three times last night - which is great). But in general, the DH in the American League adds value its offensive players while the lack of a DH in the National League makes its pitchers more valuable in the long run.

At the time of this post, 7 of the top 9 run scoring teams in baseball are in the A.L., while 7 of the 10 best pitching staffs (in terms of team ERA) play in the N.L. (Oakland is 2nd because Dan Haren is a stone-cold beast).

Anyway, my point is that with Interleague play now in effect, the average A.L. hitters on your team(s) will now run into some better pitching, while your average N.L. pitchers will suddenly be forced to deal with the DH and somewhat deeper offensive teams.

Of course, I'm not suggesting you bench your best players because of interleague play. It doesn't matter who's pitching to Vlad Guerrero (he still rakes in Interlague play anyway), or which team Brandon Webb is throwing against. The great players are going to get their numbers regardless.

But look at a guy like Doug Davis of the Diamondbacks. He's a decent pitcher with an ERA under four, and he's a relatively safe bet against teams like the Giants and Padres. But last night, he got roughed up by the Red Sox because they can actually hit.

So over the next two weeks, just be cognizant of your pitching match-ups and don't be afraid to bench a middle-of-the-road N.L. starter against a good A.L. offense, while a mediocre A.L. could have some success against a light-hitting N.L. squad.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some guys that have historically done well in interleague play ... hopefully some of them are available in your leagues and can serve as nice stop-gap players.


PS These stats are through 2006 ...


Mike Young - .347 AVG.
Derek Jeter - 227 hits
Jim Thome - 52 HR

Randy Johnson - 15 Wins
Johan Santana - 2.40 ERA
Mariano Rivera - 49 Saves


Mark Loretta - .339 AVG.
Craig Biggio - 180 hits
Garret Anderson - 111 RBI

Freddy Garcia - 19 wins, 2.34 ERA
Livan Hernandez - 17 wins
Jamie Moyer - 16 wins, 2.54 ERA

Friday, June 8, 2007

That's What I Call a Jinx!

After pumping up Melky Cabrera in a previous post, he proceeded to 0-for-3, with a pair of strikeouts in the Yankees' series opener against the Pirates. He also made a horrendous misplay in centerfield that led to a Chris Duffy inside-the-park homerun.

That sounds about right.


The Dave Letourneau Special

Dave Letourneau is an outstanding videographer for Comcast SportsNet. Much to my chagrin, he's also an Angels' fan.

But his west coast bias is not without an upside, as he tells me I should spread the word about Casey Kotchman. Kotchman plays first base in Anaheim, even though his team calls itself the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," which I'm still trying to figure out.

Anyway, I looked into it and it turns out Kotchman is having a very nice season for the Halos. Coming into today (June 8th), he boasts a .315 average, with 7 homers and 30 RBI.

I belong to three different fantasy leagues, two of which have 12 teams and one of which has 11. Kotchman is available in two of the three leagues. That's pretty good.

Kotchman may be even more attractive if you you're in specialty league, such as an A.L. Only fantasy league, or one in which stats like OBP and OPS are counted.

One thing you should be aware of is that Kotchman was diagnosed with mononucleosis during spring training, which likely attributed to his slow start in 2007. But as long you keep at an arm's length, you should be fine.


Call Me Crazy ...

This may sound like a stretch, but if you're in need of an outfielder in your fantasy league, and you're finding the waiver wire a little thin, take a look at Melky Cabrera.

I know what you're thinking: 'Wait, Melky Cabrera? Isn't he a fourth outfielder for the Yankees? Why the hell would I want a guy who doesn't play every day?'

With Jason Giambi's heel injury and/or pending suspension and Johnny Damon's lingering leg problems, Yankee manager Joe Torre is committed to playing Cabrera in centerfield every day (his range and throwing arm are much better than Damon's - hell, my arm is better than Damon's).

Cabrera filled in very nicely for the Hideki Matsui in 2006, but coming into this season, he wasn't assured of a consistent spot in the lineup because the entire outfield was healthy and Giambi was slated to DH full-time. Melky started off very slow this season, most likely because he was just trying not to lose his job.

But now that the door has opened again due to injury, Cabrera seems poised to re-gain his form from last season (he scored 75 runs, drove in 50 and stole 12 bases in 130 games). Melky is also a switch-hitter, which means he'll start against most lefties and righties ... plus he can bat 9th (in which case Damon would be behind him) ... or he could bat leadoff or second, which means Derek Jeter or Bobby Abreu will be backing him up.

I'm not saying you should drop a prime player for Melky, but if you're in a deep league of 10 or more teams with a lot of roster spots - or ESPECIALLY if you belong to an A.L. ONLY league, take a look at Cabrera. Heading into New York's weekend series with the Pirates, Melky has hit in 7 of 8 games - including 5 multi-hit efforts.

With the Yankee offense finally starting to come around, you could be looking at a hidden gem that will provide you with some power and speed for the rest of the season.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

James Shields

By now you've probably heard of Devil Rays' RHP James Shields. If you have this guy, DON'T DEAL HIM (unless it's just too good to pass up)! If you want him on you're squad, go get him. I realize the Devil Rays and starting pitching don't normally go together, but wow, this guy can pitch. Admittedly, Tampa Bay's bullpen is among the worst in baseball (though Al Reyes has done a very good job in the closer's role).

BUT the great thing about James Shields is that he doesn't give his relievers much of a chance to waste his performances.

As of the time of this post, he's pitched into the 8th inning or beyond in 9 straight starts. It's very unlikely he's available in any leagues outside of 6 or 8-team superstar leagues, etc ... But if somehow he's slipped through the cracks, picking him up should be your next move.

Down the road, if you're in trade talks with a team that has Shields, see if you can get him added to the deal. People who know less than you may think his good start is a fluke and be willing to part with him because Tampa Bay stinks.

Shields showed flashes of this last season, though the overall numbers look a lot better in 2007. Just remember the name - JAMES SHIELDS - for future trade considerations and also if your planning on entering a new league for the second half of the season.


Opening Statement

What's up, everybody? It's almost 4 AM, I'm watching the replay of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and I'm writing up the first-ever post on my blog.

I just want to let everyone know that this page is for any and all fantasy baseball owners (and baseball fans in general). Whether you're serious or casual about "the game", whether you're young or old, or whether you consider me inept or a freakin' genius, I'm happy to accept your comments and questions for the rest of this MLB season and beyond.

FYI, I love the game of baseball in general ... so if you want to ask me any questions about the game itself, playoff predictions (I know it's very early), or prospects on the rise that will be helping your "real" teams (as well as your fantasy teams), I'm open to discussion about pretty much anything.

So whatever you do or wherever you are, if you love talkin' baseball and/or you're really into fantasy baseball, this is the blog for you! And remember, you're not the only one combing the box scores in the wee hours of the morning ... I say if it interests you, do what you want!

That's real talk ...

Good luck from here on out to all my fellow owners ... I look forward to our future discussions and dialouges.