Category Archives: JUAN URIBE

Can’t Be Worse in 2013… Right?

This picture made me very happy but has little to do with the article. Fair warning.

This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.

I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.

So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously.  If they did it might break math or something:

Michael Young

static lip reading: “shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot”

Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…).  I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012.  If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast.  Bizarrely so.  No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly.  Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting.  Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury.  He had been a model of consistency.  So just how bad was he?  Let’s look at some numbers!  Hooray numbers!

Young had a negative WAR, -1.4.  You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad.  In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG.  Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).

Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200.  Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics?  Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.

WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms.  Maybe you don’t like WAR.  Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats.  Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP.  If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been.  In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312.  Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career).  Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).

Toss aside numbers for a moment, though.  If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad.  Some skills fade with age, sure.  Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again.  But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map.  With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball.  As for the real thing?  The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old).  After all, it can’t get much worse.

Thanks, Vin! You’re welcome, Mike.

Eric Hosmer

shucks.

Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic.  Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive.  Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise.  We all assume he is really, really good.  He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year.  Dare I say sophomore slump?  Sophomore slump.  Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence.  I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’  Pay attention.

As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is).  Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign.  He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals.  So at least he was trying.  When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.  

Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs).  Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC):  it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  Cool right?  That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht.  The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right?  Well Hosmer sucked at it.  Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective.  Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer.  Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:

Andres Torres (87) // Omar Infante (92) // Rajai Davis (86) // Justin Smoak (85)

None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.  Skate Play better, man.  Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics.  Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR  (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).

Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping?  Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI.  Check his splits.  He stunk prior to the AS break.  He stunk after.  He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it.  LHP/RHP splits – both bad.  I could go on.  He stunk.  On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’).  The best news?  You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price.  The further good news?  Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a  year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’  Also?  He can’t get much worse.

right back at you, dawg

Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average.  Sorry Carlos.

he seems okay with it.

Ricky (retch noise) Romero

(sobbing)

Where to start with Ricky?  As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely.  As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly.  He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up.  I know, I know – cool story, bro.

More numbers?  More numbers.

FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was.    As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word).  Romero’s line?  FIP: 5.14   xFIP: 4.86

Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets.  To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre).  His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22.  His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone.  The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched.  In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games.  So… good job, good effort.  He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…).  The good news for Toronto?  They made a few move this offseason, I think.  As for Romero?  It cannot get much worse.

it’s good to have hobbies.

Ervin Santana

keep askin’

You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?”  IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012.  He gave up 39 homers.  Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there.  That’s really bad.  I’ll add a few more.  He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas.  I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year).  However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature, I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.

Honorable Mentions/Tie: Heath Bell / John Axford / Alfredo Aceves

An he held his arm there for 4 days, but no one would give him that pound

Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion.  He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall.  Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested.  He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts.  Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout.  The numbers fib, in this case.  As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense.  Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.

His FIP was a poor 4.33.  He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on.  He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33.  But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast.  This guy made an awful season worse.

Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen.  Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season.  Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo.  Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe.  I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL).  For Axford, it can’t get much worse.  As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out.  I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.

distracting.

There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012.  Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.

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Spring Training 2013: Non-Roster Invitees With Great Names

Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen.  MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening).  Anyone can see any team from anywhere.  It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example).  The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year.  Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable).  But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names.  You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity.  Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man.  Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:

Gary Sánchez   C   NYY

Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion.  He’s actually a solid prospect.

Slade Heathcott   OF   NYY

Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade?  Exactly.

Matt Buschmann   SP   TB

I’m more of a Coors man, myself.

Brock Bond   IF   SF

Simply an awesome baseball name.  Sounds like one a video game would generate.

Kevin Quackenbush   P   SD

You are welcome.

J. B. Shuck   OF   LAA

Oddly, speaks fluent jive

Kyle Knudson & Dan Rohlfing   C   MIN

twins

Great names.  More to the point, great MLB catcher names.

Adam Weisenburger   C    MIL

wesienmil

Made me think of this (one of my favorite scenes ever).

Nick Struck   P   CHC

I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.

Wirfin Obispo   P   ATL

Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.

Yangervis Solarte   IF   TEX

From the club that gives you Elvis…

Sugar Ray Marimon   P   KC

Can’t decide between jokes here.  I just wanna fly?  Something about frosted tips?

BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Josh Booty (yes, him)   Knuckleballer   ARZ

Josh Booty

Heh, booty.  Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere?  Anyone?

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Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

With the Oscars taking place in just a few short days, we do what comes naturally: make comparisons between nominees and MLB players that may or may not make sense. Everyone does it. If not, everyone will do it.  They put the start of spring training and the Oscars in the same week for a reason…Right?  You’re welcome, internet.

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

 Oh, Hugh again. Jackman’s Jean Valjean searches for security, for liberation from Javert’s merciless pursuit in Les Miserables (the second word is silent, or at least the pronunciations are trending that way). Jackman has cemented himself as a bankable action entertainer and awards show host, but he is still seeking to earn his place among the finest actors (see the elder three in this category). Perhaps this performance has pushed Jackman from action star to layered big screen performer, but for now he is…Mike Piazza. The ladies love him. Everyone knows who he is. He performs at the highest level of anyone in his position (catcher for Piazza, film actor/host/stage actor for Jackman) and does so with a prominent geniality.

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

Baseball-appropriate facial hair? Yes.
Oscars-appropriate facial hair? Maybe.

I cannot argue with Daniel Day-Lewis taking home the award on Sunday night (the essentially unanimous prediction), but Cooper’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook is one worthy of the award in most years and worthy of our praise right now. His real, raw, riveting portrayal of a man struggling to find himself amidst psychological chaos has, for this viewer at least, pushed Cooper into that same group that Jackman hovers around the edges of. Having made his mark in comedies like The Hangover, look for Cooper to reach superstar status as an Oscar-level performer in the next few years, perhaps beginning with the promising work The Place Beyond the Pines, coming this year starring Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Having showed off his versatility and ready to establish himself as a consistent, superstar performer, Bradley Cooper is…Andrew McCutchen, the standout who is primed for another elite season.

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

This is Washington’s 6th Oscar nomination. Wow. One of the most likable and consistent actors in the world for the past two-plus decades, Washington probably won’t take home the trophy this year, but he has long since established himself as more than just a pioneer for minority actors. Washington will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of this or any generation. With 2 Oscars, 2 Golden Globes, and numerous other memorable performances, Coach Boone/Frank Lucas/Det. Alonzo Harris/Mr. Shuttleworth is a surefire “Hall of Famer” for our purposes. He is… Derek Jeter. Sometimes you want to hate him (or his characters), but you just can’t because he is so doggone consistent and effective. Knows how to win on the big stage and constantly delivers, even as he gets older and older and should be breaking down.

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

This is Day-Lewis’ fifth Oscar nomination, and he will likely be taking home his third trophy. Having won for his stimulating performance in There Will Be Blood in 2008, a victory this weekend would give Day-Lewis two wins in six years, a remarkable stretch in this field. He will never be the most bankable star in Hollywood, but Day-Lewis has proven over the past two decades that his ability to disappear wholly and beautifully into a character is second to none. He brought Lincoln to life just as he did for Daniel Plainview, Bill “The Butcher,” and many other figures over the course of his career. He’s got a little to a lot of craziness in him, and we can’t always understand him, but his overwhelming talent cannot be denied. Daniel Day-Lewis is… Albert Pujols – the machine pumping out award-winning roles, homers, what have you. We can’t always understand what he’s saying, but he quietly goes about his business and constantly exceeds high expectations.

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

With his role in The Master, Phoenix reminded moviegoers that he is more than a certifiably crazy person. Don’t get me wrong; he is still seemingly absolutely loony. That being said, this role was perfect for him: An unstable man in an unstable world trying to find meaning. This is Phoenix’s third nomination. His performances in Gladiator and as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line were worthy performances but could not overcome more worthy nominees in Benicio Del Toro and Philip Seymour Hoffman doing an uncanny Capote, respectively. A man with a wealth of talent and a impressive body of work, Phoenix’s actual identity has often taken the forefront over his incredible performances. He is…Manny Ramirez. Heck, he’s probably peed in weirder places than the Green Monster. Their offstage, off-field actions often overshadow their Oscar, HOF-worthy work on the screen or field. Eccentric and inane without question, and always entertaining.

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

Oscar nominations back to back years? She aight. Zero Dark Thirty is a relevant and well-timed work, and the same can be said for its budding star. Seemingly in every movie out there since The Help, Chastain, like Mr. Cooper above, is on her way to reaching superstar status. She’s already taken home a Golden Globe for her role, and she and Lawrence seem to be the frontrunners in this category. A late bloomer who has loudly announced their sticking around, Jessica Chastain is…R.A. Dickey, another performer whose story and work could not have come at a better time. Chastain’s work comes in a film as relevant to American livelihood as any out there. Dickey’s work was a wonderful respite from the talk of steroids and suspensions.

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

Confession: I may be a bit biased here, as I would like to maybe marry Jennifer Lawrence. Moving on. She won’t be going away for some time with The Hunger Games continuing as well as what is sure to be a full offer sheet for at least a decade. Jennifer Lawrence is only 22 (within range for me!). Already a nominee in 2011 for the delightfully titled Winter’s Bone, Lawrence absolutely came alive as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook. She and Cooper lit up the screen, and without Day-Lewis, a sweep for Playbook would seem likely. Nevertheless, I am excited for Lawrence not just because she is my future wife, but also because she has decades before her filled with stunning performances like the ones she has turned in for the past few years. With undeniable talent, youth, and a wonderful passion, Jennifer Lawrence is…BRYCE HARPER. Is she a great interview? That’s a clown question, bro. Would I marry him? See last answer.

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

Nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams, this is Watts’ second Oscar nomination. In all likelihood, she won’t win this year, and she shouldn’t, but her performance as a desperate survivor in The Impossible is worth the OnDemand fee. A solid Hollywood star who isn’t quite among the elite performers of her time, Watts is still a respected veteran. She is… Aramis Ramirez. Yes, the resemblance is uncanny. And yes, they are both boringly effective, producing solid work that may not be remembered years from now without some prompting.

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

Wallis is electrifying in Beasts of the Southern Wild, as you have probably heard. You probably also know that she was only 6 during filming…I was starring in critically panned home movies at that age…I haven’t made much progress since. Still only 9, who knows what’s in store for Wallis, and who cares to be honest. For her sake, I hope she lives a normal childhood and goes about life as she pleases…naaaahhhhhht gunna happen. I’m not too worried about her though. With an infectious spirit on and off the screen, I think Wallis will be a Hollywood force somewhere along the road. Given her age, innocence, and unknown future, Quvenzhane Wallis is… Aroldis Chapman, still blissfully immature but brimming with talent and energy. We don’t know what the future holds for them, but we know their work will be done with a room-filling smile.

Emmanuelle Riva

Riva is really old. Sorry, but it is the truth. Having the oldest nominee ever and the youngest in Wallis in the same group is something special that will surely produce laughs or even tears on Sunday night. Riva has been in about a million French films, most of which I haven’t heard of, but her performance in Amour is heartfelt and beautiful, and I’m glad to see her recognized in this talented group. She’s old as balls but dammit she’s got talent. Emmanuelle Riva is…Torii Hunter. She’s done a lot of work we may not remember, but it’s all been pretty good. Little known fact, she also robbed Barry Bonds of a homer in 2002. She loved playing Triple Play, the greatest video game of all time. Also, maybe Torii is a French name or something. Thankfully, she’s far less active on Twitter.

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

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The PED Scandal in Baseball No One Wants to Talk About

The Backyard Baseball Banned Substance Scandal: A DotP Exclusive

Backyard Baseball is/was a beloved institution among cartoon sports enthusiasts.  Now the world must deal with the shocking revelation that many of the players were enhancing their performance with illegal substances.  After a lengthy investigation and the cooperation of a handful of sources, DotP has learned a large number of Backyard Athletes boosted their performance using everything from something called ‘Juice,’ to doctored baseballs, to drugging the other team, causing them to think the ball is dancing around laughing at them.

The allegations are widespread and shocking.

May I remind you that Backyard Baseball really hit it’s groove in 2001.  That game is one of the finest of all time, up there with NBA Jam and Tecmo Bowl.  But there is a dark, dark history there that no one wants to see the light.  Here’s a sampling of some of the MLB players featured in that game:

Jose Canseco.  Juan Gonzalez. Alex Rodriguez. Jason Giambi. Ivan Rodriguez. Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. Mark McGwire.  And Marty Cordova.

As you can see, all but one of those guys is filthy with drug use, implicated every which way from Sunday (One of these guys is Marty Cordova.  I don’t think he’s a former steroid user, it’s more just funny that the Twins were so boring in the early 2000’s that their representative was Marty Cordova.).  My sources are reporting this interaction resulted in a slew of the Backyard Baseball gang succumbing to the allure of performance enhancing drugs.  Forced to compete with the aforementioned ‘roided up MLBers, it is no wonder many players resorted to PEDs – but it is also no excuse. What follows is the list of players we can confirm as cheaters in the Backyard League and their documented rule-breaking:

Kiesha Phillips

Ms. Phillips leads the list due to her recent admission that she was, in fact, too old to be playing in the Backyard League at the time.  Documentation further proves Phillips regularly consumed a cocktail of drugs meant to mask PEDs.  Receipts have been shown that Phillips had a standing monthly order for large, large doses of Human Growth Hormone supplements, a fact that is obvious in hindsight due to the fact that she was double the size of any other Backyard athlete.

Kenny Kawaguchi

In one of the most shocking revelations of the Backyard report, Kawaguchi was cited as utilizing a wide variety of performance enhancing substances.  A hero to millions, Kawaguchi served as an inspiration for his play despite a disability.  Evidence now points to Kawaguchi using a variety of blood thinning agents, bull extract, the now-infamous ‘deer-antler spray,’ and amphetimines to maintain his solid play and remarkable upper body strength.

Ronny Dobbs

A solid player before 2001, Dobbs saw a tremendous spike in power production following that season.  He is repeatedly found in documents linked to shocking amounts of testosterone supplements as well as anabolic steroids such as Boldenone, a horse steroid.  While his power surged, evidence of the steroid’s side effects can be seen (well, heard) in Dobbs’ extreme high-pitched voice and disproportionate head size.

Tony Delvecchio

In another shocking turn, seeming everyman Tony Delvecchio is named in the report for using a wide variety of stimulants to aid his workout routine.  The report further suggests that Delvecchio tested positive for an exceedingly high rate of the amusingly named Bromantane as well as Pentylenetetrazol, both workout stimulants.  Known for his strong throwing arm, Delvecchio appears to have taken a variety of substances to maintain and bolster his arm strength.  Documents also insinuate that Delvecchio’s famous lollipop was, in fact, a hybrid stimulant for in-game use.

Luanne Lui

Ms. Lui repeatedly shows up in listings for orders of amphetamine blends and for masking agents for the drug Amiphenazole.  The more concerning aspects of her drug use, however, stem from documentation that she regularly consumed enormous amounts of MDMA prior to games.  The combination of stimulants and MDMA undoubtedly gave Lui her loopy disposition, but also allowed her to run incredibly fast for extended periods of time due to the fact that she rarely felt connected to the ground.  DEA officials have confiscated her teddy bear as it is still unclear whether or not the stuffed animal was in any way distributing any or all of these drugs to Ms. Lui in-game.

Mikey Thomas

Thomas tested positive for elevated levels of Ephedrine and Androstanediol in 2003 but had suspension overturned when he won an appeal.  Claiming a mishandled sample, Thomas alleges his elevated levels were due to a cold medicine he was taking at the time.  While this story has held for some time, as Thomas continued to be a boogery mess, these new reports point to Mr. Thomas using cold medicine as a cover for routine widespread juicing.

Ernie Steele

Steele is listed as taking a schedule of Human Growth Hormone, Fluvestrant, and Zeranol regularly starting in 2000.  These drugs have been tied to bone growth, and inside sources report they may have contributed to Steele’s intensely bizarre long limbs, as well as his girlish physique and vocal patterns.

Pete Wheeler

In what is likely the least surprising aspect of these reports, Pete Wheeler is said to have routinely failed drug tests for Cannibus, starting his first year in the league.  However, due to his All-Star status, the league regularly swept these failures under the rug.  Between 1997 and 2009, it is said Wheeler failed no fewer than 30 tests.  However, as one source said to me, “he maintained an incredibly high level of play, despite what seems like staggering, rap-posse-esque marijuana usage.  Also, the kid rarely seemed to know what sport he was playing, so I’d imagine the fans have suspected for some time and simply didn’t care.”

webers

Ashley & Sidney Webber

The Webber sisters, since retiring from the game, have gained some notoriety for their hard-partying ways and inclusion on the short lived Celebrity Twinz reality series.  While they report has them linked to heavy mood enhancers and several stimulants (including Fenbutrazate, a psychostimulant used as an appetite suppressant), sources also report the Webbers would routinely spike opponents coolers with everything from low-grade LSD to bath salts, often to horrific effect (recall the under-grounder incident of 2006). The Webber sisters have recently been linked to a cocaine ring in their home town, separate from this PED report.

The Masterminds: Dmitri Petrovich & Jorge Garcia

Behind every scheme, there are the ultimate schemers – someone pulling the strings.  In this case, the Backyard Sports World lay at the mercy of two black market drug kingpins.  The Backyard Athletes behind a rampant drug culture throughout the league were intelligent, seemingly mild-mannered gentlemen.  Both with bookish, shy exteriors, Petrovich and Garcia masked a devious and dangerous system, weaving its way throughout the league.  It appears Jorge ran the business and distribution side, while Dmitri was the brains behind the science of the drugs – often experimenting with new ‘drug cocktails,’ emboldened by the success of such substances in other leagues.

Due to lagging testing policy in the BBL for many years, the duo appears to have operated unchecked since 2002, supplying clients across not only the BBL, but other Backyard sports leagues as well.  Our sources assure us this is the tip of the iceberg, and that the culture in Backyard Sports was one of drugs, lies, and deceit.

Neither a superstar in the league, the pair seemed content to lay in the shadows, bit players in a game of their own making.  Both declined to comment for this expose.  Commisioner Clanky plans to release a statement sometime next week.  An official within the Backyard League informed me, “We have no comment at this time.  The league is conducting an investigation into these allegations and will be open and forthcoming in the days to come.”

It should be noted that Superstar Pablo Sanchez, long suspected of PED usage, has not been found to have any connection to Petrovich and/or Garcia.

This story is still developing, and I urge any reader with further evidence to come forward.  The silence in the face of such cheating has tainted a beloved game for long enough.

We apologize for any childhoods that have been ruined.

-W

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Because the Red Sox Make Me Sad

yaaaaaay!  NYAN PEDROIA!

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3rd Basemen ADP: Fools Rush In

It's okay if you don't recognize this one. It's a movie. Starring Matthew Perry. So... you probably skipped it.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012.  It’s crazy to think everyone can get a superstud to start at first,it’s a matter of numbers- everyone can’t have Pujols or Votto – just as it’s crazy chasing Amy– it’s just a matter of statistics (and gender preference, but I mean, just watch the movie.  C’mon.).  We don’t all get what we want, just ask the Rolling Stones, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we need.  And what you need is good value.  The Prince Fielder move has brought another titan to the ranks of 3B, but after the top two tiers, there are a ton of question marks.  Unless you’re in a 4 person league, you’ll probably need to be thinking about how to finagle value out of you 3B/CI position late in a draft.  Be smart, let someone else take Brett Lawrie in the 5th or 6th round.  Don’t get me wrong, he will have every shot at going 20-20, but people are taking him ahead of Matt Cain, Buster Posey, James Shields and Michael Young, not to mention fellow 3B Aramis Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval.  All proven fantasy commodities.  So go ahead and reach, just remember… wait for it… only fools rush in (am I killin’ it or WHAT?).

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

P.S. Salma Hayek and Matthew Perry?  In what bizzaro world does that happen?  Is he funny or something?

THIRD BASEMEN

There are 7.5 Third Basemen in the top two ‘levels,’ in my book, now with the inclusion of Miguel Cabrera.  Longoria and Cabrera are elite talents who can anchor a team, with David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman excellent options as “1A’s.”  After that you have Alex Rodriguez, who is in that category- if he stays healthy (hence the half mentioned before).  Then there’s Aramis Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval who are nice parts for your team and contribute across categories.  Everyone else is a combination of injury risk (Youkilis), upside (Lawrie), or single category stuffers (Reynolds).  Most leagues are larger than 8 teams, so you’ll likely have to be creative at some point in some league with the position.  There’s some potential huge windfall late in the drafts at third base.  And let’s be honest, you shouldn’t settle for Mark Reynolds.  Unless you love watching major leaguers miss pitches by a foot.  Then be my guest.

Pedro Alvarez (PIT) and Mat Gamel (MIL) ADP’s 253.7 and 255, respectively.

nice stache

I have already written about both of these gentlemen at length (Gamel here and Alvarez here), as for some reason I have a good feeling about the pair (call me Flo Rida).  They’ve maintained similar ADPs and both have that feel of post-hype sleeper-dom.  It’s easy to forget, especially in Gamel’s case, just how highly touted and thought of these guys were coming up before their more recent scuffles.  Instead of taking Ryan Roberts (ADP 195) who, sure, is an interesting player not only because he is covered in tattoos, wait a few rounds and snag one of these guys.  Or swipe them off waivers if they’re hanging around and you have a need.

 

Ty Wigginton (PHI) – ADP 257

what an excellent screencap

Ty Wigginton has averaged an extra base hit every 11.2 plate appearances for his career.  Turns out, that’s pretty good.  Wigginton is a very solid player who is stepping into some serious at bats in Philadelphia.  Ryan Howard has suffered a setback.  Placido Polanco is, well, Placido Polanco.  Wigginton can also play second (if Utley is hurt), and outfield, where he will likely get a few at bats.  He’s listed at 1B, 3B, OF in most leagues, which is valuable in and of itself.  But coming in with an ADP around 257, he’s an equally valuable chip to gamble on as the aforementioned post-hype sleepers, just more boring veteran than sleeper.  Wigginton won’t hit .300.  He won’t drive in 100 runs.  But given even 400 AB, he has demonstrated the ability to hit for a playable average (.250-.270) with extra base power.  His OBP will be below average.  I know I threw a bunch of mixed signals at you just there but consider this:  Citizen’s Bank Park is a banbox.  Wigginton is a utility man with the opportunity for an above-utility number of at bats.  As a draft wears on, you would be wise to pay attention to how many multiple-eligibles are left, because Ty Wigginton can give you serious bang for your buck (seriously, he hit 23 homers in 386 AB in 2008.  That’s nuts.).

 

Ian Stewart (CHC) – ADP 393

that's the look of a man with something to prove

I find the lack of faith in Stewart very interesting.  So, sure, maybe Theo Epstein is not quite the genius we all thought he was, but he didn’t grab this guy for nothing.  Stewart, despite his many flaws in the majors, has undeniable power.  Click the link, look at his ISO averages in the minors, look at his output in the majors- the kid can mash.  So why would someone take Miguel Tejada or Jose Lopez ahead of him?  Don’t even get me started on Danny Valencia, who at MDC, is going over 100 spots ahead of Stewart.  What does Valencia bring to a fantasy team, pray tell?  I’ll give you a minute…

… time’s up, it’s nothing.  Stewart, as late as he’s going, is a treasure trove of power given the opportunity.  Imagine him hitting in Wrigley in prime slugging conditions.  In significant time when he was sent down to AAA in 2008 and 2011, Stewart put up ISO’s of .327 and .316, respectively.  Even is his sporadic and taciturn MLB time, he’s hit a homer ever 26 plate appearances.  The Cubs are in rebuild mode, for sure.  But that may actually be just what Stewart needs.  Given the opportunity, he could be the cheapest 25 homers you come across if you play your cards right.  We’re past the days of steroid-induced 50+ homer seasons occurring all over.  If you can get a power threat like Stewart this late in a draft, I suggest you jump on board.

 

So there you have it, the Filene’s Basement of 3rd Basemen.  Which type of flyer to take really has a lot to do with how your team shakes out.  If you have relatively solid 3B situation, maybe you want to roll the dice with a post-hype sleeper like Mat Gamel or Pedro Alvarez.  If you’re going into a season with Chipper Jones as your 3B, maybe it makes more sense to go for the solid production and flexibility of a guy like Wigginton or go crazy and draft Juan Uribe.  Golly do I love me some Juan Uribe.

there can be only Juan

-w

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2nd Basemen ADP: While You Were Sleeping…

He's actually throwing her in front of that train. Real twisted film, that one.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012.  It’s crazy to think everyone can get a superstud to start at first,it’s a matter of numbers- everyone can’t have Pujols or Votto – just as it’s crazy chasing Amy– it’s just a matter of statistics (and gender preference, but I mean, just watch the movie.  C’mon.).  We don’t all get what we want, just ask the Rolling Stones, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we need.  And what you need is good value.  Second Base, for a while, was exceedingly top-heavy position to draft.  Then slowly (see what I did there? Those words don’t go together!), the bottom rose up.  There is value to be had at second throughout the draft, so be alert.  You don’t want a bargain to pass you by… while you were sleeping… (boom, nailed it.)

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

2ND BASEMEN

Second Base may not wow you for fantasy purposes.  Sure there is some elite talent in the likes of Cano, Kinsler and Pedroia, but after that you’re worried about Utley’s health, Rickie Week’s health, or, sigh, Dan Uggla.  But have faith, there are a unique combination of rising young talents and forgotten veterans just waiting to contribute to your team.  Admittedly, some of the second basemen lower in drafts do not offer the same impact across the board as, say, Cano, but if you miss out on the top there are a slew of guys who can contribute to a variety of categories for you.  If you’re looking for some pop from your second baseman and are thinking of taking Dan Uggla, wait a tic, there’s value to come (like Danny Espinosa or Jason Kipnis).

Jemile Weeks (OAK)- ADP 150.55

The younger Weeks is sandwiched in-between two other high-value picks, the aforementioned Espinosa (ADP 147) and Kipnis (ADP 165).  I’ll delve into them briefly.  They’re hot sleepers for most prognosticators  and deservedly so.  Espinosa is an awesome snag for 20-20 in 2012 (he came close in 2011), but he still has some holes in his swing and shouldn’t be trusted to hit above .250.  Kipnis, on the other hand, also has solid 15-20 homer potential with less speed but a higher average.

Weeks is a very different type of player.  Sometimes I think my judgement is skewed on the entire Weeks family due to our buddy Tim’s infatuation with both brothers (it’s intense.).  But I’ve seen Jemile with my own two, borderline superhuman, eyes, in addition to sorting through both his minor league and 2011 numbers, and he’s a unique talent for fantasy, especially in leagues where people are reaching for Ackley or are inexplicably drafting Neil Walker (ADP – 141 – I just don’t get it).  He’s a solid hitter and runs extremely well.  He was impressive if unspectacular in 2011, but imagine these hypothetical numbers: 30 doubles, 10 triples, 30 steals and an average around .300.  Add on his solid eye and manageable K rate and you’re looking at a very productive player at a very reasonable price.  If, by some miracle, the Oakland offense outperforms your local little league team, Weeks could also be a real quiet source of runs.  Even if the A’s stink (likely), Weeks’ ‘individual’ stats, so to speak – triples, steals – will be high production at a low slot.  Orlando Hudson was a pretty valuable chip in fantasy for a while back in the day, and Weeks could put up comparable, solid numbers with a lot more speed. Keep an eye on Jemile and for the love of OshKoshBaGosh don’t draft Neil Walker.

Marco Scutaro (COL) – ADP 253.7

I know, I know, he’s listed as a SS all over, but it is both documented and common sense that he’ll slide over to second in Colorado.  Unless you thought he was unseating Tulo after the deal.  Silly Goose.  You may be reading some of the names on these lists thinking, what the hell kind of league is he in to be looking at Marco Scutaro?  It happens, people.  Our Ducks on the Pond League has 16 people in it, and when you get that large, you need to find production at value.  Scutaro is an excellent example.  Sure his numbers with Boston were fairly tame by fantasy standards but this is an issue of both value and situation.  Scutaro won’t win any foot races or batting titles but he hits productively and gets on base.  Given the proper at bats, he has shown excellent doubles power and in a good lineup, always seems to score runs.  He hits line drives and doesn’t strike out often.  And now he’s in Colorado.

The days of guys suddenly adding 25 homers at Coors are gone (Sorry, Vinny Castilla), but that doesn’t change the park dimensions.  With his solid eye and those gaps, it’s not unreasonable to think Scutaro could push 40 doubles if he stays healthy.  He’ll probably hit somewhere around .275 and have an OBP around the .340-.350 range.  And Colorado has a good lineup, one which he figures to be a sparkplug for (hitting second, according to RotoChamp).  I don’t care what a projection says, if that lineup hits and he’s in that spot, he’ll score 85+ runs.  With double digit-ish homers (in the 7-12 range), isn’t he a steal over a guy like Cliff Pennington in a similar rank (ADP 252)?  Isn’t a safer value pick than Allan Craig (ADP 239), a sleeper for many, but who’s a guy that has struggled to find his way into the lineup?  Maybe that was LaRussa’s doing, but for my money, Scutaro is worth taking a look at as your draft winds down.  Or in a larger league, as you scramble in the teens to find a MI.

This last one is going to make you wonder what I’m on but…..

Freddy Sanchez (SF) – ADP doesn’t even really count but: 445.65!!!!!!!!!

Seriously!  Where’s the love!  Sure lately the man has been more delicate than a house of cards but he’s a very good hitter when healthy (‘professional hitter’ is the term many people with real blogs use).  So let us assume he stays healthy enough for 450-500 AB, which isn’t outside the range of projections (except for RotoChamp, those Debbie Downers).  Given that amount of time, he has demonstrated the ability to hit for a good average with a bunch of doubles.  If you can take a guy who could hit .300 with 30 doubles with the last pick of your draft, wouldn’t you?  More importantly, people based on ADP at Mock Draft Central are taking Brett Hayes and Jamey Carroll ahead of Sanchez.  Take the flier to fill that MI position.  Seriously, Jamey Carroll?

Second Base provides more interesting options than I can remember in years past.  Though it might seem like a Giants bias, discussing Aubrey Huff in the 1B ADP post and Sanchez here is more due to my surprise at their ADP’s than any affinity towards San Francisco.  Not everyone winds up with Cano.  In deeper leagues, you often need to backup your backup.  There are sleepers and there are fillers, second base can provide you with both.  There’s a crop of youngn’s in Espinosa, Weeks, and Kipnis who could soon be considered top-tier.  There are also some old stalwarts who are probably worth a flier in the latter rounds.  Sure someone like Scutaro might be boring.  But sometimes boring helps you win.  Otherwise, Placido Polanco would have been out of a job a long time ago.

But if you want some excitement, there’s always Juan Uribe…

this is in the middle of the 4th inning. He got tired after running down a pop-up. Cuz that's how Juan Uribe rolls. Know about it.

-w

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Don’t You Forget About Me: Dayan Viciedio

 

Dayan Viciedo

While everyone (including the White Sox) has been clamoring over the newest Cuban defector, Yoenis Cespedes, the South Siders have had a Cuban mash artist stashed all along.  Dayan Viciedo has had little exposure in the majors (104 AB in 2010, 102 AB in 2011) but performed well in the minors, hitting 20 homers both of the last two years in AAA.  If you’ve seen him play (which I have both in person and on TV), you can see that he has very evident raw power.  His 20 homers in AAA Charlotte in 2010?  They came in 363 plate appearances.  That’s a homer every 18.5 plate appearances.  That’s excellent.  Viciedo lacks plate discipline- he’s definitely a prototypical “free-swinger.”  But he also has very solid contact rates (swinging at 35ish% pitches outside the strike zone is a large number but maintaining a 75ish% overall contact rate means he has the ability to hit the balls he swings at, regardless of the strike zone).

He ranks as the 72nd Outfielder on Mock Draft Central’s list.  To be clear, that is behind Seth Smith (64th), Alejandro De Aza (69th), and Lorenzo Cain (57th).  His ADP is 225.48, with a 41% draft rate (as of the date of writing).  By that point in the draft, you should not be going for Seth Smith, honestly.  At least the other two have sorts-of upside.  My point is this- you can’t argue with his ADP, Viciedo is unproven.  But at that point in the draft, upside is king, and the Cuban Tank has power upside to spare.  His upside has upside.  While De Aza and Cain have upside to be more effective than their positions (if you’re drafting Smith over them, you’re a lost cause or in a HUGE draft), Viciedo has POWER.  Power, for the first time in a long time, is legitimately at a premium.  Late in the draft, go for the Cuban.  Players taken that late are likely to be dropped.  Unlike the others around him and the ones I mentioned, Viciedo has not had the opportunity to prove himself.  25-30 homers that late in a draft could be the power bump that puts you into the playoffs.  He’s competing against the aforementioned DeAza, the ghost of Alexis Rios, and Brent Lillibridge (in addition to anyone they pick up before spring training, like, say, Cespedes.).  My bet is he starts in Right all year(Bill James has him playing 132 games.  Reasonable enough).  He’ll get the shot to swat some dingers.

Analysis complete.  Don’t you forget about…

 

(not Dayan Viciedo)

 

… Dayan Viciedo

-w

BONUS: How great is the old school Sox logo?

awesome.

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Mike Stanton: Be Large and Swing a Big Stick

….Is that not the famous saying?

So I have to admit… this is a piece I sent into MLB as a sample for my winning application for the MLB fancave.  I truly believe Mike Stanton is going to have a spectacular year this year.  Read my brilliance and draft accordingly. -w

that is a very large baseball bat.

Players and fans alike should beware Mike Stanton in 2012 and going forward.  Normally I am wary of batters with such prolific strikeout potential but Stanton is different.  For all the talk of his strikeouts, his BB:K  ratio is actually a manageable  0.36 for his career.  Scouts talk about the ball ‘sounding different’ off his bat when he makes solid contact.  While I cannot claim to have been in the stadium for any of Stanton’s games, I watched many of them on MLB.com.  Any casual observer can tell you that a Mike Stanton homer looks different.  His homer run balls travel at such majestic trajectories, one might think they were designed to look that way.  But these reasons are anecdotal.  His numbers, coupled with the improvements the Miami Marlins have made this offseason, lead me to believe he will be contending for an MVP sooner rather than later.  It remains to be seen how the new Marlins Park will play (on first glance, the outfield appears quite large).  However, I would argue that with a player like Stanton, it won’t matter.  He will hit his 40-ish homers.  With an improved team and lineup in front of him, it seems his first 100 RBI season is ahead of him (Bill James agrees).  What would seem to hold him back from an MVP award, for most forecasters and fans, is the strikeouts and average.  It would not take much for Stanton’s upcoming great season to turn into an MVP-worthy season.  In the majors, his Kpercent has been around 30percent (31.1percent as a rookie in 2010, 27.6percent in 2011).  This has led to his average being around .260 and a mediocre OBP.  However, his BABIP (one of my favorite statistics) has remained an excellent .330 in 2010 and .314 in 2011.  Bill James expects this BABIP to remain about the same and so do I.  So all Stanton needs to do is strike out closer to 20percent of the time rather than 30percent.  I look to his 2009 and 2010 seasons in the minors.  With a K-rate closer to 20percent in single A , Stanton produced an OBP of .390 and an average of .294 in 2009 before getting called up to AA.  The next year, before being called up, he again kept his Kpercent down closer to 20percent and put forth a monster .442 OBP and .313 average.  If he could translate this type of success in the majors, he could easily come up with a 40-plus homer season with over 100 RBI, an above-.300 average, above .420 OBP and an OPS far over 1.  Those sound like MVP-worthy numbers to me, especially if the Marlins put together a playoff run in 2012.

-w

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Ouch.

 

Just in case you’re one of the millions of people in the USA who don’t follow hockey to closely, here’s a badass clip of Milan Lucic LIGHTING UP Amurrrica’s goalie Ryan Miller.

 

I’m not usually one to post about Hockey, but stuff like this is fascinating.  The game is brutal.  The rule is simple – out of the crease, fair game.

But, like my sport baseball, there are these tricky unwritten rules.  It is widely seen as in poor taste to light up a goalie like that.  Miller has a concussion – but is that really so odd in Hockey?

Just got me thinking about how differently the leagues handle similar, unwritten “moral” codes.  Lucic will probably get a fine (he meets with NHL officials today).  The Sabres GM is calling for a suspension.  The Canadian authorities are pressing assault charges.  If you understand that last bit, you’re either from New England or a clever hockey fan, so, congrats.

 

All that said, nice hitstick (right joystick) Lucic.  If I could skate, I would’ve done the same thing.

 

-w

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