Category Archives: offseason

Ducks on the Pond Looking for Writers!

 

Howdy Reader(s)!

 

We’ve been terrible about posting, we know.  L.J. Hoes is in primetime  Houston, the Celtics are now located in Brooklyn , the Sox have doubled down and cowboy’d up with Peavy, and other gnarly stuff I personally am glad we abstained from writing about.

But football is itching to come about and the playoff picture is coming in to place and we want to get serious.  So help us out!  If you like to write, or ramble, about sports, send us a sample!  We’d love to get some folks contributing on, well, whatever sports you’re into, we suppose.

If you look at the tone of the site, all we ask is you be respectful(ish) and passionate about the sports you write about!  So if you’re looking for a space to vent some thoughts on sports in your idle time, here’s Vinnie the Gooch extending a personal invitation – come join us at Ducks on the Pond, the pay is non-existent, but it feels good to vent, folks.

email anything you’d like us to read at duckscheckemails @ gmail.com or tweet us if you’re interested @duckfromthepond 

 

Here’s to you and your future & current fantasy teams readers, you’ll see no Riley Cooper dark horse candidate articles here.

 

– V 

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Filed under About the Blog, Baseball, basketball, College, Fantasy Baseball, Football, MLB, NBA, NCAA, NFL, NHL, offseason, Opinion, PLAYOFFS

Fantasy Mustache: Second Base

despite this indication, things are not thumbs-in-an-upward-direction for Mr. Beckham. Cool hat, though.

Gordon Beckham needs help.  Tearing through the minors at an absurd pace (259 plate appearances.  That’s no typo, I triple checked), Gordon showed immense promise with a very solid rookie year in 2009.  Hopes were once high, now most fantasy owners would accept a leap to mediocrity.  The last two years, Beckham scraped by with WARs of 1.0 and 0.8, respectively (yuck).  Jamey Carroll tripled that, to put things in context.

Beckham could use any and all help, just look at Bill James’ projected numbers for the young second baseman.

31 2B / 67 R / 15 HR / 62 RBI / .246 AVG / .314 OBP / .712 OPS

Beckham needs to rejuvenate his still young career.  Perhaps his lack of minor league experience has resulted in a fundamental lack of knowledge on some of the deeper hoodoo rituals  (reference, here) and good luck tricks.  I am sure he has studied hours of video, tinkered with his swing, called his high school coach, tried a different pre-game meal etc.  But those are small scale.  Beckham needs a supernatural performance overhaul.  He needs, if you will, a mystical makeover.  He needs a mustache.

image

wow. that’s a fuzzy mouth doormat.

 

SO HE GETS A MUSTACHE.

Look at that thing.  Really look at it.  That is a power mustache.  Look at that face.  The intensity of that gaze is now matched by the intensity of that pushbroom under his nose.

Gone is the meandering young man with the sub-1 WAR.  Enter the Beckham Wrecker, a true force on the field.  With perfect hair atop his head and billowing from his nostrils, he is ready to blossom into the player we once believed in.  Wielding his bats like a Bunyanian axe, a Beckham mustache season will be one to remember.  Here’s the readout from the Mustache Season Processing Unit:

40 2B / 88 R / 22 HR / 99 RBI / .297 AVG / .385 OBP / .820 OPS

Observe.  A mustache really brings up Gordon’s lagging stats.  No longer a free-swinging hooligan, Beckham has refined his approach and game as he has refined his facial hair.  This type of mustache growth demonstrates a commitment.  These follicles need time and care.  The patience and dedication to his upper lip will spill over to his craft and Beckham will no doubt stop being terrible.  This is more than science, people.  This delves into something deeper.  Something spiritual.  A mustache is more than a growth.  It is a statement of faith in yourself, which Beckham clearly needs.

 

And if the mustache doesn’t work, Gordon can always call upon Jobu:

Stay groomed, ‘readers’

 

 

-V

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, offseason, second base

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Sleeper Mustache Candidates

#1 Travis D’Arnaud

image

That is a stare that says, “I’m ready to bludgeon some baseballs, and maybe some kittens.”

image

But wait through the magic of technology, add a Buford Tannen mustache and POW! It works.

It is difficult to project rookies, especially talented ones on bad teams.  Issues from playing time to (more practically) service time add a complex variable to when a rook will play, how much they’ll play and therefore if and when they’ll get comfortable.  That said, D’Arnaud has been projected to be a solid MLB starting catcher for several years now, so it is no stretch to give him a solid, if ordinary projection line pre-mustache.  With the mad dog mustache power added to his already steely glare, D’Arnaud figures to be a force to be reckoned with once the Metropolitans call him up to be their non-John Buck catcher (think sooner rather than later.  MUCH sooner with that ‘stache).

Pre-Mustache: .260 AVG// 16 2B // 45 R // 13 HR // 50 RBI

Post-Mustache: ..301 AVG // 25 2B // 66 R // 20 HR // 80 RBI

Again, the numbers don’t lie – the mustache variable cannot be discounted.

#2 Devin Mesoraco

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout baseball n’ stuff

Oh, hey there.  Just thinkin' bout what kind of eggs you'll want in the mornin'

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout what kind of eggs you’ll want in the mornin’

With experience comes confidence.  Even if that ‘experience’ is fabricated.  Trust me, I was a middle school boy once.  It will be no surprise, then, when Mr. Mesoraco takes a big leap in not only playing time, but also production, with the addition of those ladykiller whiskers.

Bill James Projections (Pre-Mustache): .255 AVG // 29 2B // 2 3B // 16 HR // 56 R // 59 RBI //

Mathematical Mustache Magic Practical Prognostication Algorithm (TM): .315 AVG // 39 2B // 4 3B // 22 HR // 70 R // 70 RBI //

Devin’s new stat projections reflect what his ‘stache is telling you – I’ll take more, but only if you ask me to, toots.

#3 Jeff Mathis

mathis

I have no projections to give.  Mathis is merely a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad bad hitter.  At this point, why not try a mustache, man?

Stay groomed, First Basemen coming soon.

-v

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, GOOSE, MLB, offseason, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

We Need to Talk About Jason…

The folks over at the finely tuned machine that is Fangraphs had a great article several days ago on the “forced retirement team,” that is, players who seemed to have gas left in the tank, couldn’t find work, and were forced to ride off to the sunset. I’m not sure where, if at all, Jason Varitek falls on that team. His place on a realteam is a much more relevant for now. Admittedly, his skills have diminished. Yes, he can still run into a fastball. Yes, he is still notorious for working tirelessly on game planning, something even the dumbest of pitchers appreciate (cough, John Lackey). But his defensive skills have deteriorated and he’s almost 40 years old. Those two pieces of information alone usually signify the end for a catcher, especially one with weakening offensive skills and no opening at DH to slide into. The final, industrial-sized nail in Jason Varitek’s Red Sox coffin may be the 2011 team’s collapse.

 

Red Sox fans have loyally stuck by Tek as his production has decreased, citing all sorts of justifications. He’s a top-notch game caller. He’s a gamer. He hit A-Rod. Varitek undeniably gave his heart to the organization. If you question his passion for his team, go back and watch that clip of Varitek shattering his elbow as he desperately goes after a foul ball, or watch him shove Alex Rodriguez’s centaur-face. I watch that video when I’m having a bad day. Red Sox Nation knows what Varitek has meant to this franchise, and no one questioned for a second that he deserved to be the captain.

But there’s the rub — he earned that right to be captain. He therefore must shoulder the considerable responsibility that comes with the now-infamous collapse of the Red Sox in 2011. Pitchers slacking off, giving up, players appearing to lose interest- these are not on Terry Francona entirely. Part of the concept behind naming a captain is to help a manager facilitate the clubhouse.

Francona was notoriously a “players’ manager” yet still faced the type of behavior in 2011 that has come to light. What’s the point of having a captain if they cannot reel in a team losing respect for a manager?  A captain should be the last line of defense against that kind of insubordination. Either Varitek stopped trying to be a leader (in which case it’s time for him to take a break) or he was complacent in the disaster that was the epic turmoil that was the end of 2011 for Boston (in that case, good riddance to him, in my book).

Regardless of whether Varitek had an active or role in the 2011 Red Sox demise, his situation and Tim Wakefield’s retirement bring to light an interesting conundrum in all of sports. What do you do with an aging cornerstone of the team?

The city of Boston has two teams dealing with this type of situation as the aging Celtics are facing a critical juncture with its ‘Big Three.’ Like Varitek, Paul Pierce has been a hardworking and loyal teammate. The difference between the Big Three and Varitek is value. Teams would still like to have any one of the Big Three on their team for a playoff push. Varitek will either be brought back to the Sox or likely retire. So the question really is- what, if anything, does a team owe a player beyond a contract? What is loyalty in sports?

a job at Seaworld, perhaps?

When people look back on ‘the good old days,’ they lament today’s sports contracts, attitudes, and a (perceived) lack of loyalty. Players leave the team they came up with every year for the highest dollar (Ahem, Mr. Pujols.), abandoning fans and cities, taking their ‘talents’ elsewhere. Those quotation marks may seem unnecessary, but Lebron James effectively ruined that term for athletes forever. So what has changed? Why are there not more players like Stan Musinal? Ted Williams? Bill Russell? John Stockton? These guys who were not only pillars of the team, but pillars of the community.

Money, as usual, lies at the root. Players make a lot of money nowadays, if you didn’t know. The staggering dollars even marginal players make compared to eras past cannot be discounted. Sure, maybe guys felt stronger ties to cities and programs back then, but our concept of loyalty then is just as tied to money as it is now.

Players in all sports stayed in one place because it made sense financially. It’s a heck of a lot easier to transition into some sort of business after your playing days are over if you have a base in the area.  In the ‘modern era’ we see players hanging on to their playing days, leaving their teams for another city, another paycheck, because they have nowhere else to go. Players across the sports world often have no clue what to do after the game.

There are only so many seats at a pregame show and only so many color commentating spots. Many players do not plan for being retired, and see no need to. There is so much money nowadays (comparatively) that a smart player does not have the need to have a ‘real job’s’ skill set, as he may have had to in the past. Superstars or even guys with ‘personality,’ such as Kevin Millar can easily find endorsement deals or talking head spots. But some are in the in-between, like Varitek.

Varitek was never a superstar, nor was he a yapper like Kevin Millar or Tony Siragusa. He possesses a determination and work ethic that his peers respect which, in turn, makes us the fan respect him. He seems destined, as the newly retired Tim Wakefield does, for a place in the Red Sox organization. Call it a loyalty program. However there’s no one, fan or ownership alike, can pretend 2011 did not happen. So what was Varitek’s role or lack thereof in the team’s follies?

Wakefield was a less instrumental part of the 2011 team. He will remain a huge influence in Boston as he has been heavily involved in the Jimmy Fund and other charities for his entire career. A job at NESN is not out of the question. But what of Varitek? Does he still have the gravitas to be a bullpen coach? A pitching coach? A bench coach? A minor league instructor? We may never know the inner workings of the 2011 collapse in terms of who stood out and who stood idly by. But as Varitek’s lack of place on the team and likely retirement looms, we’re going to need to talk about Jason.

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Filed under catchers, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted

Got Yu Where I Want Yu (aka Imagine Me and Yu part Deux)

Gosh, say what you will about the money spent on Yu Darvish, but for those of us masquerading as bloggers, he’s paying for himself 10 times over in puns alone…

In my previous article I discussed how much money it was just to talk to a guy with NO major league experience.  I maintain that stance.  However, that’s more my skepticism with the posting system as a whole than the actual monetary value of Japanese players.  That being said, the Rangers managed to put together a phenomenal deal to actually sign Yu Darvish.  Considering the two sides were a) close on the monetary value (the issue was the extra year) and b) in a situation where he sort of HAD to come over, the whole deal of the contract really boiled down to pride and respect.  Which means, in my opinion, that in some ways making a deal that was respectful and smart likely took much more effort than we laypersons would think.  A GM doesn’t wan’t to get into a ‘Dice-K, Diva’ situation with all kinds of crazy perks and more importantly, a GM/Owner does not want to be in the situation where the incoming foreign player feels ‘disrespected.’  This is what happened to Daisuke Matsuzaka (for a variety of reasons) and I maintain that everything from the smallest issue (picking his masseuse) to the obviously stupid (pitching in the World Baseball Classic- a lot) was a detractor from anything Dice-K could have contributed under his substantial contract.

Yu Darvish, by most accounts and legal documentation, is different.  He made a point upon arrival to tell Rangers GM Jon Daniels he did not want a large ‘posse,’ merely a trainer (who he worked with in Japan) and interpreter (who is a top Rangers scout).  I have ranted about Daisuke not only because I am a disgruntled Red Sox fan, but also to highlight the simplicity and relative sense of the Darvish deal.  From the Rangers financial perspective, as I said in first piece, the deal makes sense merely by the splash a big foreign player can make.  Based on the structure of the deal itself, I think both sides will be very happy.

Darvish has the potential to be an ace, that is for sure.  Nolan Ryan seems excited.  In my readings, many experts and projections see his worst-case scenario being a #2 pitcher or top-tier #3.  Which got me thinking- I like the deal, think he will succeed reasonably well, and I KNOW there are guys with similar upside/realities who get paid a whole lot of money – how would Darvish compare?  His deal, simply, breaks down like this:

2012: $5.5 million
2013: $9.5 million
2014: $10 million
2015: $10 million
2016: $10 million
2017: $11 million

The last year of the deal has an opt-out clause (two explanations here and here) involving Yu’s placing in the Cy Young balloting.  This makes sense for Darvish and seems fair, as Darvish will be allowed to seek more money than his (fairly reasonable) contract originally states if he really does turn out to be an ace.  But I know what you’re saying, “Will, how many pitchers are making over 9 million dollars a year, really?  There are a lot of bad pitchers in baseball,” you say.  And you are correct.  However, I found that by doing some research on the internet, I came across some facts (in the wilderness of the web, there is truth to be found).  Here is the USA Today report of 2011 pitcher salaries.  I’ll pull a few names out to discuss.

don't ask why.

I include the sabermetric measure of WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for these guys because it is a relative, comparative measure.  For those of you who don’t know what WAR is, it essentially is a number comparing how valuable a player is to the team compared to a ‘replacement’ level player from the bench or minor leagues.  You can read a far, far deeper explanation at fangraphs or Baseball-Reference, two of my favorite sites (also where I got contract info), who do an great job going into the statistical breakdown of the metric.  But I digress.

Kyle Lohse (2.5 WAR) made $12,187,500 in 2011 and will make $11,875,000 in 2012(To give you a bearing, Roy Halladay had a WAR of 8.2 in 2011, Jon Lester a 3.7 – in two very different seasons.).  Based on his contract, Yu Darvish will NEVER make that much money with the Rangers!  Do I think Darvish will step in and be as good as Halladay? NOt at all.  Can he come over and be a (much) better pitcher than Kyle Lohse?  You better believe it.  Seriously, you better.

Mark Burhele (3.4 WAR) made $14 million in 2011.  He was another big-name pitcher to sign this offseason, landing with the new look Miami Marlins.  And good for them.  I admire Burhele and his consistency and work ethic.  He eats innings and puts his team in position to win games.  Heck, he was a point of comparison for my rant against the posting fee for Darvish!  But let’s look at that contract a bit closer.  Initially, Mark will bring in $6 million in 2012 – oh, wow, nice- what a steal… wait.  He will then make 11 mil in 2013, 18 in 2014, and 19 in 2015 – seasons in which he will be ages 34,35 and 36, respectively.  As I said, I admire Burhele and the way he works.  But he’s going to be old, no two ways about it.  If you look at the posting fee as a necessary but separate move from the contract, Darvish’s deal compared to the lefty’s is a bargain.

I highlighted the last two because they are solid-if-unspectacular hurlers who made big bucks by being free agents in a good market.  Are they overpaid?  Certainly.  but compared to some, they too are bargains.  So when you look at the Darvish deal compared to, say John Lackey and Barry Zito, things truly come into perspective.  Zito was at least at the top of his game (sort of) when he signed his disasterous deal.  He made $18.5 million in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  His COMBINED WAR in those years was 3.5 (he’ll make $19,20, and 18 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014).  Lackey’s deal with the Red Sox paid him $18.7 million in 2010, $15.95 million in 2011 and $15.25 each year until 2014, when he will be 35. That sound you hear?  It’s Red Sox fans collectively trying to pull every last hair out of their scalps.  (SIDE NOTE: Jake Westbrook makes 8 million a year… and I’m betting Darvish is equally if not more effective than Jake’s 1.1 WAR).

I apologize for all of you who were hoping to avoid any and all sabermetrics in your reading.  To you, I say this: Go see Moneyball.  Brad Pitt is super handsome and it is an excellent movie overall.  It also makes sabermetrics sexy, so there.  I had my reservations about the amounts of money being thrown around in the pursuit of Yu Darvish.  Cut me some slack- I am a tired and true Red Sox fan, I’ve seen the downside to this before.  But upon a closer inspection, I realized just how reasonable the deal was if I separated the posting fee as a business move and the contract itself as a baseball move.  Baseball is both a competitive and comparative sport (hence the Wins Above Replacement).  Whether or not you closely follow baseball or know about sabermetrics, I hope the money and WAR serve as a decent barometer for what is considered a decent pitcher.  Compared to some of the disaster and absurdity we’ve seen in the last few years in pitcher contracts (Mike Hampton, anyone?), if Yu Darvish can consistently throw the ball over the plate, he can at least have the distinction of being at the bottom of the ‘bust’ list.

-w

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, offseason, pitchers, Posted

Poll: The (BIG) Domino Effect – Miggy to 3rd?

Wow.  Boras is sneaky like a fox.  HUGE deal for Detroit (puns intended) and it also means another burly slugger is moving across the diamond…..

-w

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Filed under Baseball, offseason, Opinion, poll, Posted

Imagine Me & Yu, and Yu & Me…

I crack myself up.

(NOTE: I plan on doing a before/after thing, so expect further discussion when Darvish agrees to a deal)

To truly appreciate sports, you must first appreciate that, now more than ever, sports are a business.  We must color every judgment with this knowledge.  David Beckham did not come over to the states to win an MLS championship (a laughable notion), he came to sell tickets and increase the fame of both he and his wife.  Of course, most athletes are a competitive sort- that is without question.  But we have a most telling example in the most recent baseball offseason.  The Saint Louis Cardinals just won the World Series.  They did so without one of the best starting pitchers in the National League, Adam Wainwright.  There was no “looking for the best opportunity to win” no “loving the situation and people Saint Louis provides,”  no excuse for why Albert Pujols ended up signing with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (the most irritating name in all the MLB).  If you heard anything from the lips of Pujols or his scumbag lord of agents Dan Lozano that didn’t consist of “Money, money, money. Get that dolla’ dolla’ bill,” they were lying.  I am long past letting things like overblown contracts bother me.  I highlight this idea because it is important to set the stage of the baseball/business blurry line when discussing the signing of a big-name Japanese player, in this case Yu Darvish.

Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.  Sports, not just baseball, has been in remedial history class for years.  Stupid contracts are replicated, GM’s stubbornly cling to long-lost notions and it takes teams a long time, relatively, to learn from their mistakes.  But this pessimism is from the view of the fan.  Sports, as I’ve said, are much more than that.  This Yu Darvish deal, or ‘pre-deal’ I suppose, highlights this divide between fandom and finance just as the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal did several years ago.  At its bare bones, decisions such as the signings of Matsuzaka and Darvish make little sense. Why gamble so much (over $50 million!!!) just to talk to players who have never faced the competition or stress of a major league season? Certainly, once one of these players makes it known they wish to play in the MLB, they have little choice but to negotiate a deal with the top-posting team, but 50 million dollars is still a whole lot of dough to cough up just to sit at a negotiating table.  A player like Roy Oswalt, a Texas native, is looking for a one-year deal and has an 11 year history of excellence.  Mark Buehrle signed a 4-year deal for slightly more than Darvish’s posting fee.  So for that price, a team could get a.) a 12-year veteran who has had 11 straight years of 200 innings(!) or… b.) the rights to negotiate with a guy who, while admittedly younger, has never faced a major league batter, in a major league stadium- ever.

I wonder if he'd sign this picture if I saw him. It pretty much sums up my memories of his time in Boston

Here is where the divide between baseball and business is highlighted.  By any baseball metric, Daisuke Matsuzaka’s tenure with the Red Sox has been a failure, a colossal waste of money and time (both the team’s on the field and the fans’ watching at home.  The man was as exciting to watch as a snail derby).  However, it is nearly impossible to accurately measure what the value of having the Red Sox brand expanded so judiciously in Japan and Asian cultures, as despite his mediocrity in the MLB, Dice-K is and was a legend in Japanese baseball and a hero of the World Baseball Classic.  Red Sox (and especially Dice-K starts) games were shown, despite the hour, on thousands of televisions in Japan.  Merchandise for the Japanese player flooded both his native country and the large Asian communities in the Northeast region.  Bringing in Daisuke Matsuzaka engaged a whole new faction of potential fans (or customers, more accurately) just as similar moves with Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki had in previous years.  Regardless of a fan’s passion for baseball, many followed and engaged with the teams and these players due to a fervent national pride.  It didn’t hurt that in all occasions, the teams were good and/or had a large community to pull from (Seattle, New York even all the way back to Hideo Nomo were all good teams in relatively large markets).  Texas appears primed to pull off a similar maneuver, regardless of how Darvish pans out.  Nomo burned out.  Dice-K never fit in, really.  I could be way off base with my skepticism on Yu’s success in the majors.  Darvish is of a very different build (he’s tall and lanky) and temperament (not a whiny diva, by all accounts) than Dice-K, and may very well develop into a top-flight major league starter.  But that’s not the point.  The Texas Rangers, in case you missed it, have made the World Series back-to-back years and are stocked with good young players. They have an ENORMOUS television deal.  They have a beautiful stadium and a solid fan base.  Their brand is on the rise, both due to winning and overall exposure.  The signing of Yu Darvish, while it certainly will be an attempt to cover the loss of C.J. Wilson, will primarily help the Rangers in a much deeper, fiscal sense.  Fans will hope he excels.  Ownership will just hope he sells.

As always, enjoy the Black Keys.  They’re going to release Blakroc 2 soon.  If you don’t know what that is, the Black Keys spent a summer basically just hanging out with really cool rappers and laying down some awesome tracks.  Check it.

-w

P.S. – want proof of how frustrating Dice-K was?  Check out some of these awesome graphs over at fangraphs.com, especially the BB:K rates and the ‘heat zones’ for where pitches ended up

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, pitchers

Baseball Babblings


I love this movie and this scene.  There is an excellent website called movieclips.com where you can find all sorts of your favorite film blurbs and snippets.  It’s a cool idea.
Rirruto?
Lots of wheelings and dealings already in the baseball offseason, so here are some thoughts about what’s going on while I prep the preseason fantasy rankings no one is waiting for…

Reds Acquire Latos for Volquez, Yonder Alonso et al.

  • Guess we’re starting with the most recent.  This deal is chock-full of intriguing story threads, as the MLB offseason has been in general.  I like how Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner and Fangraphs said it best: “The Cincinnati Reds had an abundance of redundant prospects and a big need to upgrade their starting rotation…(link)”  Something about that phrasing ‘abundance of redundant prospects’ tickled me just so for its combination of clever turn of phrase and truth.  The Reds are stubbornly holding on to the notion that they’re going to re-sign Joey Votto and not completely throw their payroll out of whack (note: don’t hold your breath on that one).  The deal made a whole lot of sense.  The Reds legitimately have an overload of offensive talent.  Yonder Alonso is a serious prospect (he MAULED at the end of 2011) but he is blocked by the likes of Joey Bats, and the other good prospect in the deal, Yasmani Grandal, was blocked by Alonso, Votto, and Devin Mesoraco and any other young’n who might slip into the left field/1st base/3rd base equation (I know he’s a catcher but that’s where he’d get at-bats).  The Padres get two really good young bats.  The Padres really need some good young bats.  They also get an excellent contender for the Petco-factor in Edinson Volquez, whose inconsistencies and high fly ball rate should benefit greatly from the measurable difference that park brings.  On second thought, his fly ball is pretty standard- it’s the staggering number of walks that is the real problem (over 5 per 9 the last two years).  Petco seemingly would have no effect on the walks, based on statistical analysis.  However, if you’ve ever watched Volquez pitch, it is abundantly clear that he walks so many because he does not attack hitters with his secondary pitches the same way he does with his fastball.  This is a similar issue his former partner in crime Johnny Cueto had before taking ‘that next step.’  Point being, in spacious Petco Park, perhaps Volquez will be more aggressive in the strike zone as he knows he won’t give up nearly the amount of homers he did in Cincy.  I’m planning on drafting Volquez when I get the chance in fantasy and I’m fairly sure he’s going to see better numbers in sunny San Diego.  Not sure what can be said about Latos, he’s an excellent pitcher, it just seems talent evaluators question his maturity.  A lot.  Dude seems to be lotta tats, little brain.  He’s still a damn fine pitcher and fits in nicely with the other power arms the Reds have.  This appears to be one of those elusive win-win deals, in my book at least.  The Padres, despite the presence of former Red Sox great Anthony Rizzo, need some spice, some pop in that lineup.  Alonso alone provides that.  The fact that the Friars also got a huge potential starter in Volquez and a good hitting catcher in Grandal (not to mention guy who I’ve read several places has ‘closer stuff’ in this Brad Boxberger character) means they both addressed a need and found an immediate, if temporary, stopgap for the talent they just shipped off.  The Reds get a top-of-the-line starter to accompany Cueto and their other promising young arms (including, apparently, Aroldis Chapman), and hung on to Mesoraco and their young arms.  I’ll be watching how these players adjust to their new surroundings to see how things shake down, I advise you do the same (especially once fantasy drafts REALLY start up).

    the Rockies signed Cuddyer to such a big deal because they’re hoping he can be their #5 starter as well

Rox sign Cuddyer to 3-year $31.5 Million deal

  • Keith Law wrote an Insider piece discussing how the Rockies overpaid to get Mike Cuddyer and I tend to agree with him.  But I thought on the deal some more and have reconsidered my stance.  I was, as I usually am, looking through the glass of fantasy baseball as I looked at Cuddyer.  On the surface, and in fantasy, players like Cuddyer are anything but rare.  You can pull a 1B/OF from just about anywhere during the season, from the real waiver wire to the one online.  However Cuddyer brings more to the table.  There is the obvious intangible, but still highly valuable, ‘character guy’ aspect of the former Twinkie, which cannot be denied.  Every account you read and all the reactions of former teammates point to the fact that Mike Cuddyer is a vital and well-respected part of a clubhouse culture.  People like him.  If I’ve learned anything about baseball, it’s that clubhouse culture means a lot more than other sports – 162 games plus spring training is a LOOOOOONG time to be stuck with the same 25(ish) guys.  More important to both your fantasy team and your team-team, though, is Cuddyer’s versatility.  He can hit, and that’s important in Colorado.  But he can also play multiple infield AND outfield positions, giving the Rox lineup flexibility.  I’m all about flexibility.  I’m winking at you right now through the interweb as you read that.
  • Speaking of versatility, the Indians signed Jose Lopez.  This may seem like a non-story, but Lopez could be a sneaky source of power if he gets at bats around the infield.  Nick Punto signed with the Red Sox and will be the balancing not sneaky anti-power.  Even in baseball every action must have an equal and opposite reaction.

    that’s gonna be one hell of a face touch

– Dodgers sign Juan Rivera and Chris Capuano

  • Let’s be honest.  As this month turns, the new year brings on a new baseball season and overall awesomeness.  The months leading up to spring training are delightfully full of movement- to those who are paying attention.  Sure something boisterous will happen, Papelbon signing with the Phillies, the Marlins spending millions, a monkey riding a dog.  But look back over baseball history (more importantly FANTASY baseball history).  Sometimes the tiny actions have the largest reactions.  As a Red Sox fan, it is easy to forget David Ortiz was brought in to split time with… Jeremy Giambi.  Yes, Jeremy Giambi.

As it is with my other love, movies, sometimes the blockbuster loses out to the small indie with a strong cast.  The analogy just got confusing but you get the picture.

The winter meetings have come and gone.  Some big (if not the BIGGEST) names have moved and I’m sure we will be seeing the more traditional big deals soon, with the aforementioned Reds-Pads trade as proof. But there have already been some moves to be aware of.  Small but deadly, like a honeybadger.  Or Oddjob.  Or Jigglypuff.  
Juan Rivera is an interesting case.  A career .277 hitter, he has twice hit 20+ homers and generally hits lefties very well.  He also has a track record for hitting better as the season wears on.  This track record is certainly skewed by the fact that this gentleman seems to have trouble staying healthy for more than 120 games.  I’d imagine that the sometimes punchless Dodger offense could use some help, any help, so Rivera should get ample opportunity.  Playing his games in the NL West should be interesting as Dodger Stadium, Chase Field and, obviously, Coors Field all are good environments for right-handed power hitters (The porch at Dodger Stadium is literally short.  Average in distance and shorter than mini-me). 

Chris Capuano will also benefit from pitching in the NL West, one would think.  No team in that division is particularly known for their offensive consistency.  Granted, they’re not the hapless saps they once were, but again, still inconsistent.  Coming back from injury, Capuano has proven to be a solid back-end starter.  The past 2 seasons have seen strong finishes from Capuano, who has had several very solid months (August of 2011, for example, he had a 1.17 WHIP and 38 K’s in 37.2 innings.).  Though it seems undoubtedly crazy, I am thinking ahead and Capuano is high atop my list of pitchers to pay attention to when I’m looking to stream a start.  Something to consider.

BUNT!

This is a very interesting deal.  The Royals have quietly built up a staff of power arms… and Bruce Chen.  Soria, the newly acquired Broxton, and Tim Collins can get swings and misses in the bullpen.  Sanchez, Danny Duffy, and Felipe Paulino.   And Bruce Chen, who is the baseball equivalent of a ‘game-manager’ in football.  Making fun of Brucey aside, the Royals would appear to be heading in the right direction with a promising young pitching staff and an intriguing mix of young talent (Gordon, Hosmer) and prospects on the way (Lorenzo Cain, Wil Myers).  They could be on the up and up, especially if they got the Jonathan Sanchez of the second halves (go ahead, click that link, he’s had a few very, very good post-All Star performances).  Sanchez will always be a risk to walk 8, but the fact that he’ll play the Twins a bunch will help his stats, as will his move to the American League.  DOUBLE TAKE.  What did I just type?  No you read it right, so hear me out – yes, the AL, with it’s DH’s and better offensive numbers, would seem like a pitcher’s worst nightmare, but the move might actually help a power guy like Sanchez, sort of.  I don’t doubt he’ll walk a bunch, but his stuff is very good and there are also many more swingers and miss-ers in the AL than the NL.  It’s one of those backwards sort of logic theories that makes baseball work.  Or it does in my head. So there.

The Melkman really broke out last year.  He is a talented player and I would bet he continues with numbers more similar to last year than his time with the Braves, though it would be unreasonable to expect him to match all his stats from 2011.  His speed, however, will translate.  He hit 44 doubles and stole 20 bases in 2011 (throw in the 5 triples, too).  These are both reachable numbers for 2012.  In fact, given the spacious parks in the NL West and the difference in style-of-play in the NL, I think Cabrera should be in line for a very good (and fantasy-useful) season full of extra base hits.  44 doubles, 18 homers and 5 triples in 2011?  While those homers will easily drop, is 50 doubles out of the question?  Melky should be a good addition to the top of that lineup and could be in line for scoring close to 100 runs if Posey comes back and some of the pieces the Gents have click.  Both the Melkman and Angel Pagan are good fits for the big AT&T park defensively and offensively.  Both are also great late(ish)-round plays in your fantasy drafts…. which are coming… soon…

  • I WAITED AS LONG AS I COULD.  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES 2ND TRAILER IS OUT.  I REPEAT; THE 2ND TRAILER FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IS OUT.  WATCH IT UNTIL YOU BEGIN WEEPING, AS I DID.  GO.
I am quite literally shaking with excitement.  I have been watching and re-watching this all day.  Holy crap.
It will be good to see what Jed Lowrie can produce given a new situation.  He’s able to play all over the infield and is a good guy, by all accounts.   Here’s to hoping he stays healthy and has a chance to flourish.  Reviews are mixed on Weiland but based on what I’ve seen, he has good enough stuff to be an effective back of the rotation starter, especially in the National League (or, more specifically, pitching ANYWHERE besides the AL East).  What is really interesting about the deal is the dominoes it knocks over.  The acquisition gives the Red Sox confidence to move both Daniel Bard and possibly Alfredo Aceves to the starting corps.  Both are pitchers to watch as either could turn out to be extremely effective in a new role.  These movements also alter the remaining closer landscape.  Where will Madson go now?  How about Cordero?  The Red Sox had been obvious choices for some remaining Closers.  They still could sign one, but the field is more interesting now.  Do the Red Sox bring Jose Iglesias on in some sort of reserve role if Mike Aviles struggles?  He exceeded any and all expectations in his time with the Sox and can play the outfield, so he’d have to play very, very poorly – but still, it could happen.
Not that it has anything to do with this deal, but who else is excited about a Nick Punto-Dustin Pedroia double play?  Awesome sauce.
There you have it, some thoughts on baseball’s movings and shakings.  I’m sure there will be more to come (maybe the Phillies will make a run at Jermaine Dye?), so stay tuned.
-w
oh and WATCH THIS SOME MORE:

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Sleepers, video

The Mercurial Miami Marlins Moving Money Making Moves: Angels Add Additional Assets to Arsenal, Alliterations Abound

go ahead and do a quick google search for "will smith welcome to miami".... waiting.... now tell me he hasn't had that video taken down or altered at every turn. He has this type of pull. I believe it.

UPDATE: Loria throwing money for his club til the players show him love

 

This is why you wait.  More Alliteration!

I planned on writing about the flurry of activity for the Miami Marlins.  They have gone out and obtained an outstanding manager, an excellent closer, a dynamo shortstop and one of the most reliable lefties in the game.  They’ve committed almost 200 million dollars to these folks in the hopes of creating considerable interest as they move into a new ballpark.  This was going to be the story, and an interesting one at that.  You can say one thing for the Marlins in 2012 – things are going to be exciting.  The new-look Miami Marlins are looking to make a splash.  I’m hating myself a bit for that pun, but alas, it had to be done.  It’s great the Marlins are moving into a new house and have lots of shiny new toys (personally, I dig the new logo and hats), perhaps they will be a better team, perhaps not.  If we’ve learned anything the past couple of years in sports, buying a bunch of singularly talented players does not equate in a championship (see the Eagles and Heat of Philly and Miami, respectively).  That excitement I’m anticipating stems not from their success but rather their turmoil, their trials.  Already, Hanley Ramirez has expressed his distaste for being asked to move positions- and Ozzie Guillen backed him up, kind of.  Though he is expected to move to third, Hanley is a crybaby (as I’ve said before, a few times) and Ozzie Guillen is no fan of bullshitters- sounds like a recipe for some fun and soundbites to me… oh, did I mention they’re making Reyes cut his dreadlocks?  Hilarity forthcoming.

But I digress.  Yes, I initially thought I would be writing an article (with an AMAZINGLY CLEVER alliteration for a title).  I was going to go on and on about the Marlins, what they were trying to do, and what they mean for baseball.  I still will, later on in the article, but the Winter Meetings, and baseball in general, have taken a drastic turn.  In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California just signed Albert Pujols for 10 years.  For over a quarter of a billion dollars (if my math is correct).  Clearly, new Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was not going to waste time making an impact.  Despite evidence of budgetary constraints (specific article here) or that the Halos were going to obtain one ‘ big’ name impact player, likely a pitcher, Dipoto has locked up Albert and seems to be close to signing C.J. Wilson to an almost $78 million, 5 year deal.  Once again, some simple math tells us the Angels are locked into over $325 MILLION for two players going forward, and all on the last day of the meetings, no less (oh, they traded for Chris Ianetta, too.  He is a damn good catcher in my opinion.).

This is a very wealthy man. Dare I say a Mexican Jack Donaghy? Look at that mustache. I have invented a new name for him. I hereby dub thee, Arte "F#@% it, let's boogie" Moreno. Now look back at this pic and tell me that name doesn't fit....

There are a handful of issues with the Angels offseason so far.  To clarify, these are ‘issues’ in the sense that they need to be addressed in some way, not issues like the issues Dave has with the ladies.  BAA-ZING.  Nailed it.

For one, the Angels now have three desirable first basemen.  It would be foolish to think in baseball that you could have too much of a good thing.  Life, that’s a different story (too many Skittles?  Bad news.).  Obviously, Pujols will start at first.  I’d bet a quarter of a billion dollars on that one.  Kendry Morales was great before his injury and figures to be good again after rehab.  Though Mark Trumbo lost the AL Rookie of the Year to the very deserving Jeremy Hellickson, Trumbo had a stellar rookie campaign, slugging 29 homers and 87 RBI and was named team MVP.  I understand he would never unseat Lord Albert, however this is an interesting predicament the Angels have, as Trumbo is under team control for several more years and is therefore an additionally useful player.  Normally, the Angels could shift him to a corner outfield spot but the Angels find themselves in a logjam in the outfield as well.  This is a good situation for the team, but it creates an odd dynamic when they look to make more moves.  Other teams know the Halo’s have to trade someone.  There is simply not enough room for all those players on the Angels.  Just sayin’.  How the Angels deal with their seeming surplus is an intriguing storyline to follow up until the season.  The team will also have a good two-headed monster at catcher with promising Hank Conger and Chris Ianetta dueling for at bats and have a slew of young talent, headed by Mike Trout, looking to put a stamp on the big leagues both offensively and in the bullpen in 2012.

I hate disappointing just one person. And I really hate disappointing everyone. But I love Burlington Coat Factory. You go in there with 645 dollars, you are literally a king.

I will argue til I am blue that signing C.J. Wilson to a five year deal was financially imprudent.  Only two years removed from being a set-up man, I think it is unrealistic that he will be the same pitcher 5 years down the road.  This is less a reflection of Wilson’s talent (he is an excellent pitcher, undeniably) and more a statement on the fragility of pitching in general.  Poo-Pooing aside, it took me a moment after reading Wilson had signed with the Angels to fully comprehend the video game-worthy pitching staff the team has assembled.  Not that the order particularly matters, these pitchers are all likely to get hot at any given point in a season, but here’s the basic 1-5 for the Halos: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Ryan Seacrest.  I think I’m kidding.  But my point is this: their fifth starter could be anyone, really.  Jerome Williams showed flashes in 2011.  Brad Mills was recently acquired for Jeff “Mendoza Line” Mathis and shows promise.  They could bring someone else in or a prospect could emerge.  Who knows?  But take a look at that starting 4 again.  Every team not located in Philadelphia would KILL to have Ervin Santana as their number 4 starter!  Hmm… let me think… as a Red Sox fan, would I rather have John Lackey or Ervin Santana?  The Yankees, Freddy Garcia or Ervin Santana?  Lackey is a bad example because I would rather have Pee-Wee Herman start for me than that fat goof at this point, but still.

There are certain variables we cannot know.  We don’t know what the chemistry of either the Marlins or Angels will be like.  Both have strong managers so one would think that is not going to be an issue, but as I said, history tells us that throwing money around at excellent players does not necessarily mean the team will succeed.  We don’t know how positional movement and changes will affect the teams mentally and roster-wise.  What we do know is this: both the Marlins and Angels just became serious, serious players in their respective leagues.  My father and I debated all through the 2011 playoffs about the value of a singularly talented player in the playoffs.  He argued that someone, like Pujols, can completely alter the DNA of a series simply by being that good.  I firmly stuck to my notion of baseball being a team sport and pitching winning championships.  I was wrong.  Pitching determines winning and players like Pujols and Reyes alter pitching.  It’s an equation worthy of the transitive property.  Both teams have good if not great closers.  Both have good managers.  Both have lineups with power and superstars.  Given the new playoff system, I would be extremely wary of meeting either team come September.  Money in both life and baseball does not mean success.  But it undeniably alters landscapes.  The baseball landscape has just changed, folks.  Here’s to hoping Ozzie has lots to talk about.

-w

No Will Smith, but the best I could do:

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Filed under Baseball, BOOMSHAKALAKKA, Cajones, first base, MLB, offseason, Pickups, Posted, shortstop

Winter Meetings Upon Us: Dallas Announces Shortage of Hair Gel and Products

this is what agents look like for the next week or so

The Winter Meetings are here!  With a weird little armadillo mascot and everything!  Jose Reyes is apparently going to take his talents to Miami (for a cool 106 mil) and he’s just the beginning.  Once all this craziness really gets going, expect a flurry of posts explaining the fantasy implications for you heathens.
I’m now humming “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” while searching for the most unflattering pictures of Scott Boras…
 
-w
 
 
P.S. Seriously, an armadillo?

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