Category Archives: offseason

Texas Two-Step

As in, step one: buy a sports team.   step two: PROFIT!

Not Jim Crane. Sadly.

Baseball is shaking things up.  Let me rephrase that.  As much as they can allow themselves to become more exciting, baseball is making some changes.  As I outlined brilliantly in my 3-part “Gritty MLB Reboot” series (or rant, depending on how you take it), baseball is in dire need of some different spices in the pot (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).  Perhaps this purchase and movement of the Astros, and the dominoes their scenario knocks around, is a step in the right direction.

Let us address the sale of the Astros and subsequent move to the AL West.  Effective 2013, the Houston Astros will join their Texas brethren in the AL West.  This instantly creates a legitimate in-state rivalry, unlike the ones MLB and Fox try to force upon us when interleague play arrives (my distaste for interleague is a different story for a different day).  The battle for Texas will provide an interesting tweak on both the division it is entering and the one it is leaving.  Competitively, the NL Central loses  a punching bag, as the Astros have been downright astro-cious the past few years.  Horrible puns aside, the World Champion Cardinals especially benefitted from the Astros, going 10-5 against the 100-loss Houston team.  With the additional wild-card games and an added loser (the Astros, undeniably, will be bad for several years at the very least), the AL West becomes legitimate players.  Do the Athletics take a big step forward?  And does their impending success help persuade the A’s move out of woeful Oakland?  The ramifications of this move could prove to be far reaching competitively, financially, and emotionally – if Nolan Ryan would just say something outlandish to stir the pot (I sincerely hope this happens).  This nugget does not suffice:

“I’ve always thought of the Astros as a National League team,” said Rangers team president Nolan Ryan (who played for Houston from 1980-1988.)  “But when I look at it from our perspective, I like it.”

With a big, big TV deal in place and a mini-dynasty in the making, the Rangers surely like the idea of having a bad team to beat up on.  But the Astros, bad as they might be, will benefit from this too.  Texans are stereotypically a competitive lot, so, somewhat counter-intuitively, two teams in the same state should build up both teams’ TV share and attendance.  Jim Crane paid a pretty penny for a struggling team.  But he may have lucked into the perfect storm of circumstance.  Additional playoffs and a Champion-caliber, in-state rival should put the Astros in a good position financially going forward.  Now if they could only find some players.

Here are some other bits from around the league:

–> Infielder Matt Antonelli will undergo a physical on Monday to finalize his major league deal with the Orioles, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.  Matt’s a good dude.  And he’s from Peabody.  And he’s read our blog before, so he’s wicked smaht.  Good to see Dan Duquette give him a go.  Glad he’s healthy again.

—> Joe Nathan signs a 2 year (3rd year team option) with the Texas Rangers.  This really makes me mad, actually.  I have been saying for several weeks now – louder since Papelbon left for Philadelphia – that the Red Sox should make Daniel Bard a starter and sign Nathan to be their closer.  It was a concept borrowed from these same Rangers, and a damned good one, so they did it with their more-than-a-closer Neftali Feliz.  The worst part of this going forward is now the Red Sox must either overpay for a guy who’s not that good, have open tryouts a-la “Invincible” or… gulp… make Bobby Jenks their closer.

—> Philadelphia Phillies acquire Ty Wiggington for a bag of trail mix.  I’m confused by the Phillies reluctance to sign players or develop players under 30.  Between Jim Thome and Ty Wiggington, the Phillies’ bench seems better equipped for lumberjacking than winning baseball games.

—> The Red Sox are circling around Bobby Valentine for their managerial position.  More details and lots of swearing to come in the following weeks.

—> The MLB is working on a new CBA and it will allegedly address issues such as HGH testing and draft slotting.  More details will begin to emerge and once they announce the official parameters, I will break them down.

 

 

Adios, muchachos, enjoy this phenomenal new Black Keys song and the awesome dancing.  Don’t know how this guy stole my moves.

-w

 

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Filed under Baseball, BOOMSHAKALAKKA, Cajones, Closers, Dance, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts, video

A Gritty MLB Reboot (Part 3 of 3): The Epic Conclusion

 

 

 

 

Here it is, the moment you’ve eagerly anticipated… PART THREE!  Calm your bones, kemosabe.  The conclusion to my epic rant can also be seen here [ECBS], at the Emerson College Sports Business Society Blog.  Tell your friends about this blog!  I’d love to see double digit views…. once…. ever…. though, to be fair, if you are reading this blog, you must be AWFULLY bored.  Enjoy.

 

 

She blinded me with science! Ad by 'she,' I mean my laptop....

The growing trend in baseball and all of sports is a focus on the mathematics and science behind it.  From medicine, to recording, to broadcasting the technological advances of our lifetimes are revolutionizing the way we play and consume sports.  Metrics and measurements are quantifying things as mundane as a receiver’s overall reach (Calvin Johnson allegedly has the reach the same cubic measurement  of a 2-car garage.  It is the ironies of ironies that baseball is currently riding the wave of interest caused by Brad Pitt aka Billy Beane, sabermetrics, and Moneyball.  While baseball has readily welcomed the math and science to study the game, the game has stubbornly refused to accept the incredible technological power before them.  Replay has been integrated beautifully into football and basketball.  Hockey has used advanced cameras for years.  Baseball, if they cooperated, funded and guided science, could have solutions to everything from strike zones to out and safe calls.  I am not calling for a erasing of the human element, just an integration of the relevant technologies to make the game more interesting.  The key to successfully remaking, reimagining or re-branding is acknowledging the past while incorporating the future.

Redesigning the league as I described relates to an overarching, re-branding strategy.  Upon closer inspection, some redesigning could go on in the parks themselves too.  Infusing the competitive landscape with a dash of creativity makes sense for the brand of MLB.  Infusing the individual competitive landscapes (i.e. the stadiums) with some of that same creativity is a logical extension.  That technology I spoke of before?  It’s everywhere.  Including architechture.  Baseball teams used to have weird stadiums catered towards the build of their team.  I want more odd dimensions (Polo Grounds), more hills in centerfield (Houston), and more 37 foot walls in odd places.  Stadiums give the teams themselves personality, not to mention advantages if done right.  Some of the new stadiums do a great job of creating an engaging atmosphere (Baltimore’s Camden Yards comes to mind).  Others waste serious potential (The Nationals’ stadium has a slew of design oversights, not the least of which is it misses an obvious opportunity for an amazing view of our capitol city- same stadium, different orientation means same dimensions with a different view.  Not rocket science.).  Where is all the money going into the new ballparks if not into a little creative, competitive advantage?  Astroturf is one of those technological ‘innovations’ making baseball wary of change.  I’m not suggesting odd field surfaces, but the oddities of the teams’ cities and stadiums used to give the teams character.

Baseball could use more characters.  A rogues gallery.  From the front office to the utility men, some oddballs and amusing characters could spice up the MLB landscape.  Baseball needs to let its creative juices flow.  As the media seems to be telling us at every turn, from fashion to film, sometimes old is new, which is cool.  In the interest of making money and reigniting interest, I suggest baseball gets on board with the rebooting trend.

Thank you to any brave soul who read through all my musings.  I appreciate it.  We here at DotP cherish each and every one of our readers, or some BS Lifetime channel crap.  Tell your friends.  Tell your family.  Tell the people trying to do work int he library.

 

As always, FOLLOW ME! FOLLOW ME TO FREEDOM!

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Baseball, Cajones, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

A Gritty MLB Reboot (part 2 of 3)

This is the second part or my 3-part rant about the current state of the MLB.  It is also up on the Emerson College Sports Business Society website.  My brilliance cannot be held to one mere blog. Enjoy.

 

you look nervous....

One of the key elements of a remake is to venture into totally new territory, while remaining familiar.  In theory, at least, this is the most likely way to proceed. New origin stories, new ways for characters to meet and interact, new interpretations of old ways drive the consumer. We are always curious about ways to repeat ourselves. Part of what makes baseball special is its fascinating history.

Baseball has become bloated with excessive teams and excessive salaries. An expanded playoffs looms.  I’m resigned to the fact that consolidating teams to a more manageable number, allowing more good players on fewer teams, makes entirely too much sense and is a pipe dream for many reasons. I know that something drastic needs to change in our society before player salaries don’t become so ridiculous.  But small changes to the makeup of the league(s) can yield far-reaching results.

The proposed move of the Houston Astros to the American League is a step in the right direction. Jim Crane is a genius if he can get MLB to pay him his requested 50 million dollars for what he has to know is a good idea. If all the MLB teams are going to be hanging around, let’s use that to rile up some pride.  People complain about the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays playing so often.

But what they don’t realize is that this is a good thing. Any good marketer knows that sometimes it makes more sense to appeal to your strengths. I’m willing to bet viewers will like a big Texas Astros-Rangers showdown.  Play up the states and teams that have history. But, for the love of Honus Wagner, please, please, please don’t think for a second that the rich history of baseball needs to be polluted with any more interleague. The magic is gone, and baseball fans are moving on to see other people. Part of what makes what many consider the most ingenious re-imagining in media recently; The Joker in “The Dark Night,” so interesting within the ethos of the Batman world is his evil presence.  Heath Ledger nailed the role and put everyone on edge by representing a deranged, but realistic “other.”

(quite honestly one of the greatest sports clips you will ever see)

The idea of “the other” is a common phenomenon and is studied across the realms of sociology, psychology, marketing, PR, and many facets of the media in general. The concept of “the other,” the “barbarians at the gates,” an unseen opposition is the driving force of suspense throughout literature both new and old, and is fundamental in any horror movie (yes, even the bad ones). It’s a fascinating notion, how humans instinctively react to outsiders and strangers.

Here’s the contradictory dilemma; technology has outpaced baseball (we’ll get to that in a moment). Anyone can see any game with the right platform and a few clicks of the mouse. Not only is the magic gone, but apparently so is the mystery. Everyone needs an “other.” Everyone needs a villain. Or at least a worthy adversary.  MLB will never be the same as the old days, when the World Series came around and people had “holy cow” moments seeing a great player from an opposing league- fantasy sports and television have erased that notion of surprise. Two fully separate leagues with two newly established identities (a gradual, nuanced part of the process too detailed to truly envision now) can help provide an “us vs. them” feeling for both sides.

This brings me to the All-Star game. Sigh. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I honestly do not see the right answer for the league. On the one hand, taking only the flashiest of All-Star concepts and borrowing from the NBA could be fun. Skill competitions and celebrities drives viewers, drives interest, and in this new era of 25/7 (not a typo) news coverage, steady coverage during a break. Making the MLB All-Star game a summer hangout destination could be a money-making phenomena. Concerts, showcases, and festivals take place even in what we might take for the most boring city.

Done right, an MLB All-Star Weekend similar to the NBA could be a brilliant shift for a commissioner (though it is highly unlikely Bud would allow this to happen in his reign). However, running with the current state of baseball, a strategist may have to shift their goals based on the current mess. If the All-Star game is going to count, it should count. MLB should figure it out whether it be with contractual guarantees, a deal with the players union or a Commissioner descending from his office with a new set of unwritten baseball commandments. Baseball needs to assess a way to make its players care about the game like they used to in the sport’s past, when the players’ pride factored heavily into All-Star games.

Perhaps I am naïve to think something as simple as a re-branding of National vs. American League as us vs. them will spark that much more passion. If Bud Selig continues to remind us that “this time it counts,” there is only so much one can do. But in that mindset, of pitting the leagues more prominently as, pardon the ugly phrase, ‘separate but equal,’ will lead to a slightly altered playoff/All-Star Game relationship: With the additional rounds, the All-Star winning league gets home field advantage in the first 3 rounds. The World Series? A coinflip. It must be. An added air of mystery to the battle of the leagues.

 

 

 

stay tuned, part 3 is coming very soon!

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Filed under Baseball, Cajones, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Random Thoughts, video

Great Piece (Amazingly) Not Written By Me…

 

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Here’s a fantastic look into the new-look Marlins for 2012.  New stadium, new logo, new start.  Revision turned the Devil Rays into the Rays and goofballs into contenders.  This is a savvy move by the Marlins, let’s see if Florida eats it up.

pretty cool, if you ask me. click the image for a sweet webcam view.

 

Like I said, great piece from my associate over at ECSBS, outlining the changes.

 

Enjoy.

 

 ARTICLE AGAIN.

-w

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, offseason, Posted, Weekend Hijinks

Breaking NBA News! Nope, Just Kidding.

guys, I'm NOT crying. I'm being supercereal. Stop making fun of me! {runs home crying}

So the NBA rich people are still fighting and seemingly getting nowhere (people who don’t deserve it have too much power and money.  Simple, really.)

But that doesn’t mean this ish can’t be getting reeeeeeeeeeal interesting.

So by now most sport fans have heard the MORONIC comments by Bryant Gumbel about David Stern running the NBA like a plantation.  Maybe he was realizing that fewer and fewer people even knew he still existed?  What’s his show?  Gumbel 2 Gumbel?

click for a clip from the award winning show

My immediate reaction was that the whole spiel was completely out of line but this seals it: Charles Barkley, king of speaking before thinking, has straight-up said that Gumbel’s comments are ‘stupid.‘   If even Barkley can’t see where you’re coming from or at least relate to saying something outlandish, you know you’ve crossed a line.
That’s it, my two cents.  Also, a bunch of superstars plan to barnstorm internationally, which is actually very cool.

 

 

That’s all folks.  Enjoy the Hood Internet (and enjoy the ensuing hours once you get caught on Tumblr).

 

-w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under NBA, offseason, Opinion, Random Thoughts

Dr. Suckitude : Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Realize that Billionaires, Millionaires, and Beat Writers Suck on Nearly Equal Levels

This sucks.  Forget being eloquent, scholarly, or even a half-decent writer.  What happened to the Red Sox in the final month of the season and what ha continued to go on in the following weeks has relegated me to pre-adolescent, instinctual language.  And this f#!@ing sucks.

look at these weinersaurus rexes (that's actually a more clever line than you're giving it credit for, rex=king --> get on my level)

I know, I know.  you’re thinking to yourself – “But Will, you’re a quoted Red Sox expert (here), you seem so calm and composed, where is this coming from?  What is happening!?!?!? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS I THOUGHT YOU WERE THE VOICE OF REASON!!!!”

False.

I repeated it for clarity.

I am mad as hell and I ain’t gonna take it anymore.  And neither is most of this “Red Sox Nation” (whose creation, naming and pink-hattedness is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT rant)

Occupy Fenway, it’s real.  Twitter   a blog.   People are mad.  And they should be.

This whole situation stinks to high hell.  At every turn, management gets greasier and greasier.  John Henry’s contrives “impromtu appearance” on the sportshub 98.5 in Boston is just piling on.  A blatant PR move, Henry may have thought he was helping with damage control, but some of us are smarter than that.  Anyone who was on the fence about where the mysterious “anonymous sources” within the organization have been coming from should wise up.  Henry’s desperate play proves it.  The Red Sox triumvirate thought they were smarter than all of us and thought they could pull all the right strings and we would blindly believe what they were spewing:

-Tito was a pill popping animal.  A syrup sippin n******, so high you couldn’t reach him with a f###ing antenna

-Theo was a petulant brat (ok this might be kinda true)

-Theo pushed the buttons on the Carl Crawford move

Everything the ownership group has been saying has, to a skeptic eye, been a conceited PR spin.  The way they have conducted themselves as businessmen (let alone, human beings) is disgusting.  In any other facet of society, they would be getting sued out the ass – and losing.

The sports world is a bizzaro world.  The fact that, no matter how much excessive drinking he partakes in (honestly, I have my sources, that’s not something I’d make up and throw around) around Boston, no matter how badly he pitches (worst in the majors), no matter how many wives he leaves with cancer (one, one too many), John Lackey sill is GUARANTEED millions and millions of dollars is simply repulsive.  Just ponder this for a moment: if Lackey, god and satan forbid, replicates his pisspoor 2011 season in 2012, the Red Sox may be forced to cut him.  This is understandable.  JOHN LACKEY WILL STILL MAKE 15 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!!!!!!!  WHAT WOULD MOST PEOPLE DO WITH 15 MILLION DOLLARS?! PAY FOR THEIR KIDS, GRANDKIDS, GREAT-GRANDKIDS, GREAT-GREAT GRANDKIDS, AND GREAT-GREAT-GREAT GRANDKIDS COLLEGE EDUCATIONS!!?!?!  The issue of inflated contracts is well beyond being too mad about as a fan, but Lackey’s in particular makes me sick.  I hate J.D. Drew.  I can say that about very few people in the WORLD.  As cynical and angry as I may be sometimes, I rarely use that word with any sincerity.  I hate J.D. Drew because he is supremely talented.  If I had half the talent of Drew, I would work so hard every day to stay in the majors, people would question my sanity.  But say what you will about Drew as a player (lord knows I do), he is by all accounts a good man and a shy soul- probably, when it comes down to it, not suited for Boston.  My distaste can only go so far.  He may be ‘weak’ to many of us, he may drive us crazy looking at pitches, but his game was getting on base and it is easy to see why a player like Drew would interest Theo.

cluck you, lackey

Lackey is a different animal.

John Lackey is a douchebag (pardon my French).

John Lackey sucked in Boston, as J.D. Drew often did, and managed to convey that he cared LESS THAN J.D. DREW!!!  As much as Drew angers me, Lackey, and his lack of accountability, makes Drew look like a goddamn hero.

Go back and look over some Lackey quotes throughout 2011.  Don’t drink while you do it.  You will be furious.  While there is a legitimate beef with the Red Sox training staff, or legitimate questions about the desire of some players (like Drew), Lackey just sucked.  And refused to admit it.  I swear, if he goes 4 innings and gives up 9 runs, gestures at Pedroia on a flare to center and come out after the game and calls out THE DEFENSE one. more. time.  I am going to go bananas and try to crash his car.  John Lackey is the scum of the earth.  The fact that he makes more in a year than hard-working Americans will make in a lifetime should make you blood boil. This tangent is getting out of control, but I hope it makes you realize how disgusting John Lackey is as a human being.  While my anger with management stems more from my understanding of business and my distaste for the talk around Tito’s and Theo’s departures, my full-fledged hatred of Lackey has blossomed over the last months over his aura as a human being.

Moving on,

This whole situation is gross.  In all likelihood, the Red Sox will settle for cash compensation for Theo Epstein.  Yeah, like the guys who have 160 foot yachts need additional funding to bring in more overrated, boozehound scumbags.  The good name of one of the best coaches, personalities and human beings ever to coach in Boston sports is in question.  There is legitimate concern that, despite the likes of Dustin Pedroia and JonathanPapelbon, the clubhouse is in disarray (regardless of what Robot Henry says).  These are not post-champion Red Sox storylines.  This reminds me of how I grew up with the Red Sox, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Waiting for the but wait…. there’s more.  My anger jumps from Management, to Theo, and generally settling on 1)Lackey 2) Beckett and 3) Newspaper reporters.  The reporter, so desperate to sell a dying medium, dragging Tito through the mud.  Beckett, by all accounts never really growing up.  And Lackey, as I said, being the worst kind of person.

Honestly, I started writing this with the intention of skewering the management.  They deserve a healthy serving of the blame pie.  Terry Francona does not.  That’s what no one is talking about.  In sports today, it is naive to think the manager matters any more than being a therapist.  Tito was a wizard.  The fact that his players went off the deep end is not a detriment to Francona, but rather spoke volumes to how abusive and immature millionaires can still be.  Doc Rivers will be facing similar issues whenever the NBA decides to come back – discontent millionaires who don’t want to listen.  In my heart, I know it was someone in the management offices who has and continues to spill information.  There are simply no players it makes sense for and most regular human beings have more sense.

Money corrupts, right down to your common decency. That’s what this mess after the Red Sox collapse is about.  That’s what the Occupy Wall Street/Boston/ America campaign is about – people with money are not inherently the smartest people.  Nor do they deserve to have any ruling power.  Blame trickles down.  Terry Francona did not deserve this, and my heart goes out to him.  Personal and professional should not be mixed unless substantiated, like John Lackey being a scumbag in both his personal and professional life.

I love the Red Sox.  I love baseball.  I love sports.  But this scene around Fenway is casting a foul, foul stench across sports that we tend to gloss over.  Shame on you, Red Sox ownership.  Shame on you ‘anonymous source.’  Shame on you, Bob Hohler.  Shame on you millionaires who couldn’t be coerced to care (especially you, Lackey you piece of trash).  And shame on us.  We kept going.  We keep buying.  The Red Sox will not stop making money.

Maybe next year they’ll earn it.

That’s it, rant over.  I’m sorry for any lack of cohesion or rambling.  I had lots to say and tried to be concise.  I’m very angry and you all should be too.  Red Sox fans, baseball fans, and sports fans, this situation should leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Thanks for sticking it out, all 3 of our loyal readers.

Apologies for any language.

I hate John Lackey.

I hate what happened.

I can only hold on to hope.

The Walking Dead comes back tomorrow, so for at least 2 hours, I will forget about this situation entirely.

Watch it, Ducks, and remember….

Damn the man, don’t let him get you down.

(empire records quote, classic film)

-W

I’ll be down at Fenway on Wednesday.  That’s where the movement starts.

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Filed under Cajones, DID YOU KNOW THAT?, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Random Thoughts

Holy. F@$!ing. Sh!%

Okay,I hate to bring the language, but everyone needs to watch this clip. If you like sports at all, any sport, man, woman or child, watch this. The NBA may be locked out, but Raging Rondo is locked IN!

Wow. And for the nerd in me, here’s the not-as-interesting-but-still-awesome Avengers trailer. RDJ, as usual, is ballin’. Mr. Whedon, stay golden, pony boy

-W

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Adding Credibility to Our Blog, a Tiny Speck in the Internet Babble Universe

Someone’s in a legitimate News publication…….

only a matter of time before I can get iced out like Gucci

 

While it would have been an inappropriate time to plug the site, I expect readership to double with my newfound fame.  So to all 3 of our new readers, welcome.

 

It’s a good article, Mr. Peter May is a fine reporter.  Enjoy.

 

-W

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Filed under About the Blog, Cajones, MLB, offseason, Opinion

Poll: Who Sucks The Most?

What's that smell? Did someone eat a dog who had eaten bad Indian food? Nope, that's just the bullshit coming out of the Red Sox spin machine....

1) Get your mind out of the gutter, you one reader you…

2) I was waiting for things to be official.  Did you REALLY think I was going to let this whole Sox Shebang go down without ANY comment?!  Don’t worry, a rant is building.

side note: I am going to start naming my rants like hurricanes when I know they are building.  Though raging                                              hurricane predicting technology has far surpassed raging rant technology, I am on the cusp of a breakthrough.  Alert                                    Dennis Leary, FEMA, and other angry people.

3) Before you vote, know that this whole mess is really ownership’s fault.  If you think otherwise, you are wrong.  Sorry, you just are.  No manager who won 2 World Series and was by all accounts a pretty awesome guy deserves to be dragged through the mud like this after he was let go AND TOOK EVERY SINGLE BULLET OF BLAME FOR THIS GAWDDAMN AWFUL TEAM.  Phew…. getting closer and closer to rant stages.  I support you, Tito.

So here’s a teaser:

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Filed under GOOSE, MLB, offseason, Opinion, poll, Posted

2011 Favorites: Outfielders

The outfield is a wonderful place.  Playing center most of my <ahem> illustrious career, I have an appreciation to the boredom coupled with rapid excitement that comes from playing in the space past the infield diamond.  But before I start digressing about outfield arms and covering ground, let’s talk fantasy.  No one cares about outfield defense in fantasy, we want power.  Or speed.  Or power AND speed.  The fantasy outfield landscape is vast and varied.  So let’s jump on in…

 

YOUNG STUDS

 

Mike Stanton

Mike Stanton can MASH.  That’s actually the scientific term used by physicists when describing his swing.  He hit a homer every 18 times he stepped up to the plate and had a stellar .248 ISO.  He hit 21 homers in AA then then jumped and hit 22 more in the majors.  The kid’s got serious power.  CAIRO, for some reason, has him down for abbreviated AB and only 21 homers.  This is still a good ratio considering they have him down for only 418 AB.  Slightly more realistically, RotoChamp has him hitting 34 in 562 AB and GUESS WHAT?  The usually stingy Bill James has Stanton hitting a whoppin’ 38 homers in 2011 (and an improved ISO of .288).  Sure, he’s going to strike out a ton but how many young studs are out there?  Actually quite a few, but not many who are very very likely to hit 35+ homers and doubles and knock in near 100 runs.  He’s not going to hit .300 next year, but with 40 bombs and 100 RBI, you better be able to stomach a .270 average.  Stanton is a stud, and is here to stay.  Get him.

very artsy shot here

Desmond Jennings

Jennings is one of the many young players I could have thrown into this space.  However, he distinguishes himself in one of my favorite areas: speed.  While there are questions about his power developing immediately, his speed is the real deal.  Call him Crawford 2.0.  He tore up the bases in the minors, stealing 45, 37 twice and 32 in rookie ball.  No one seems to think that will change in the majors.  CAIRO and RotoChamp seem to fear that he will lose AB’s to Damon and Manny, keeping him under 400 AB, yet both have him stealing 20+ bases.  Now it gets interesting.  Bill James, notorious for conservatism about rookies has him down for FIFTY-FOUR STEALS!  That’s instant stud-dom!  Jennings has always had a pretty good eye, but you gotta figure that, as a rookie, it is unreasonable to expect a .300 average.  Look for .275 and be thrilled when he does better.  As I said, his power is still (allegedly) developing, so don’t expect more than 10 homers.  But 10 homers, 20+ doubles, 5 triples and FIFTY-FOUR STEALS sounds like a pretty good ‘low’ expectation to me.  Jennings has enormous (read: the next Crawford) ceiling, but temper your expectations- he is a rookie, after all.

Domonic Brown

Great name, right?  And we all know that’s the first step towards stardom.  And the general consensus is just that – Browns headed to stardom.  He looks like a player, standing (or towering) at a lanky 6’5” 200, he projects to hit for nice power but is also fleet of foot.  He’s the whole package, basically.  Now in my thinking about his 2011 season, I figured a safe starting bet was numbers similar to Jason Heyward’s 2010 campaign… good, very good even, but really just a teaser for the NEXT season.  Again, I’m no expert, but this seemed reasonable.  So imagine my surprise when I got to Domonic Brown’s Fangraphs page and saw Bill James’ projections.  Apparently he likes the kid – 26 homers, 33 doubles, 4 triples, 94 RBI, 84 runs (breath), a .288 AVG AND 28 steals?!?  Bill James gone wild!  Ew.  Gross.  Seriously, though, is that a projection or what?  Even if he doesn’t reach James’ lofty projections – and I expect he will not – somewhere between the low end (my theory) and the astronomical (James’) is a happy medium.  20+ homers and 20+ steals is ownable right there, throw in some other stats and it’s all gravy, baby.  Tasty, tasty gravy.

 

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT THESE GUYS

Shane Victorino

I should admit that I’ve always been partial to the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  I admire the speed in which he plays the game and the hustle he shows.  That said, he was a major disappointment last year… or was he?  Yes, his average slipped all the way down to .259 but the dude still swiped 34 bags and hit 18 homers!   He is more than capable of producing a 15 homer, 35 steal, 100 run, 10+ triple season, making him at the very least interesting.  But what do I know?  Let’s see what the projectors say… just as I thought.  CAIRO, RotoChamp, and Bill James all have similar numbers: .280 average, 90-100 runs, 15-ish homers, 30-ish steals… and that wonderful threat of the triple.  I’m not saying go out and reach for Victorino in drafts – quite the opposite.  I’m suggesting that when he drops (and he WILL drop), be mindful of letting him by in the later rounds.

Grady Sizemore

How’re you gonna forget a face like that?

Easily, actually.  Sizemore is a serious red-flag injury risk at this point.  But for the bold, all signs seem go.  Bill James seems to think he can play 150+ games but RotoChamp and CAIRO have him at limited (mid 400’s) at bats.  It’s really a matter of how much faith you have in his health.  I happen to think he’ll break down again, others are very optimistic.  James has him for 23 homers, 105 runs, 81 RBI, and 23 steals in roughly a full season, hitting .265.  Given a full year, this seems about right to me.  There comes a time in every draft you take a player you’re scared of, and I’ll say that when you get to it, you might as well take a flier on a healthy Grady Sizemore.  You remember healthy Grady Sizemore… right?  He was a fantasy dreamboat.  Good luck if you snag him, and I hope he does well – he seems like a good dude.

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THE INCEPTION PLAY(s)

Matt Joyce

Do you know Matt Joyce’s ISO off the top of your head?  That’d be incredible, rain man, but let me just tell you – it was .227.  He hit 10 homers and 15 doubles (3 triples too, woot.) in just 261 plate appearances.  That’s good for an extra base hit every 9.32 AB, a delightfully high rate for a guy who just needs a chance to play.  Joyce has real pop – it’s just a matter of whether the Rays will let him use it.  He figures to split time on the corners, so I’d hope for 500 AB and be happy with 400.  Why?  Well, let’s once again go to the projectors:  RotoChamp has him at 21 homers in 444 at bats, an amazing amount and Bill James thinks 18 in 388 AB (with 28 doubles to boot).  Point is, his power projects.  Now if only it would come out on a regular basis… put him on your watch list or stash him while you monitor his playing time.

Travis Snider

So, first off, yes I’m including him because I want him to follow us on twitter (@duckfromthepond).  But more than that, this is the year for Snider, who is only 21 (actually his birthday is coming up so 22), to make a big step in his progression.  With an improved batting eye, Snider could be a late-round power bargain.  He put up two very promising months, May and September, which are hopefully indicators of what might be.  Now the 24:2 K:BB ratio isn’t going to cut it, but that’s easily improved marginally.  What sticks out in those months are his 6 homers in September and .543 SLG.  Bill James doesn’t seem to think he will get regular PT, so I’m ignoring his projections (16 homers in 311 AB).  CAIRO and RotoChamp, however, have him at 19 homers in 466 AB and 23 homers in 521 AB, respectively.  These numbers are a better base if you look back at Snider’s power potential from the minors.  Plus, the dude just looks like he can swing the lumber (link evidence of a BOMB).  Snider is a great guy to take a flier on this year at the end of a draft, as, once again, he’s only 21.  He’s improving every year and could pop off at any time.  He was a major prospect who has since cooled in the majors so grab him before he heats up again.  And see if he’ll follow us on twitter, damnit.

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There we go, the outfielders to keep an eye on this year in drafts.  With the exception of Sizemore, I would readily own them all (and I’d take Grady, just knowing that the injury bug could burn me).  Outfield is a funny position in fantasy, as you can play it fast and loose with guys like Juan Pierre and Raja Davis, you can go for boppers like Snider, or you can play it safe with guys who emerge like Pagan or Torres.  Only the season will tell, and it is fast approaching!  Two weeks til Spring Training starts, so get ready.  DotP is taking off so be prepared – fantasy baseball excellence is at the tip of your finger.

Later, ducks, and happy drafting.

-w

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