Tag Archives: diamondbacks

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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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, Spring Training, third base

Dispatches From Spring Training*

*From someone not anywhere near Spring Training

  • John Lackey claims to be in the ‘best shape of his life,’ but officials are concerned he may have gone TOO far…

lackeybale

  • Fred Wilpon says the Mets’ money troubles are over (ESPN), they will, however, still be very, very bad.
  • Trevor Bauer has asked Indians to give him time on the side to pursue his other love, rapping
rapbauer

95% real picture, 100% really raps

  • The Diamondbacks have internet access at their Spring Training facilities:
  • The Dodgers have unveiled their new Mascot for 2013:

this was not planned.

Stay tuned for more updates!

-v

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Closers – Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Win Without ’em

 

As I’ve talked about, I hate closers. Let us start off with that simple fact. Every time I try to go big with one they end up biting me in the rear. So I punt them, then go to the scrap heap or the last 5 rounds. It’s just my way of coping. So every year I am acutely aware of closer situations on mediocre and bad teams, as they are my favorite place to pick up saves. This year figures to be no different, with uncertainty in the air for some teams and certainty (that they’ll be bad) on other teams.  Bad and mediocre teams inherently play closer games, especially ones with a decent pitcher or two (like, say the team I just wrote up, the Diamondbacks).  Notice it’s closer as in fewer runs, not ‘Closer’ games for the back end of the bullpen, though the play on words is not lost on me.  So without further ado and a distinct lack of jibberjabber, here’s a list of guys and situations to be aware of in the late rounds when you’re scavenging for saves…

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J.J. Putz

It was not long ago that Putz was a bona fide stud closer (2007).  Remember that.  In more recent history, he put up outstanding numbers as a setup guy for the White Sox, in case you weren’t paying attention.  He’s now headed to my favorite place to snag closers, land of the 2-1 game, the NL West.  There’s no reason to think Putz won’t return to full closer form in 2011 as he builds off last year and what better place to do it than a league known for tight games on a staff of mid-level pitchers?  While Bill James doesn’t have him projected for any saves (result of him being a FA), other sources have him coming back in full.  CAIRO has him at 32 saves, as does RotoChamp.  CBS thinks he’ll get all the way back to 40 saves.  I think this is a very reasonable range for Putz in 2011.  Peripherals aside, projections aside, I rest my hat on the fact that he’s done it before.  He’ll be around later than most and will be well worth the investment.

The Pittsburgh Situation:

Evan Meek/Joel Hanrahan

This one’s pretty up in the air.  Meek is the better pitcher, but Hanrahan has the experience.  As someone pointed out (astutely) on Twitter (@MLBreports), the most likely scenario is to have Hanrahan close, build up his value, then trade him and allow Meek to slide into the role.  Meek has the stuff and the makeup, having been groomed as a setup man for the past season and a half.  All this being said, the breakdown could go several ways.  Hanrahan could go on a tear and save 20+ games, as some predict… and so could Meek after he’s gone.  Neither of these players, being in (arm)Pittsburgh, is very sexy.  But I would watch Meek or draft him for the long haul (seasons are won in August in fantasy, too) and pick Hanrahan off the scrap heap to start the year if you need cheap saves.  This could all be wrong, however, if Meek just flat-out outpitches in Spring Training.  I’ll be sure to update you while we’re down in Florida and the spring battles heat up, but as of now, I’m comfortable in saying Hanrahan is going to start out getting the saves.

Drew Storen

What was it I so smartly said about young guys missing bats?  Hmm…. Storen came up and had no trouble missing bats, posting an 8.46 K/9 in about 55 solid major league innings.  He was developed as the closer of the future and for the Nats, the future starts now(ish).  The Nats also figure to be in lots of close games with a shaky staff and improving offense (honest) and the ‘perts seem to agree that he will get the opportunities.  CAIRO and RotoChamp have him for 31 saves and CBS thinks he’ll score an even 30.  This seems about right, though that number really has to do with the Nats (lack of) winning ways.  Storen has great stuff and will definately be available at the end of a draft for you to pluck and enjoy like a tasty peach.  Not sure why I went with the colorful terminology, but the point remains – Storen will pitch well.  Whether he saves 20 games or 30 games will depend on the Nats.  That’s just a risk you’ll have to take when you play Closer roulette.  Heck, if they improve drastically down there in D.C. (unlikely) he could save 35!  What a bargain!  Wishful thinking, maybe, but Storen should be worth owning should you pass on closers for better teams.

Someone on the Blue Jays:

Frank Francisco / Octavio Dotel / Jason Frasor/ Jon Rauch

I listed them in a particular order – the order in which the closer ‘competition’ should turn out.  All of these men will enter… one will emerge the closer… OK, so there’s really not that much drama, Francisco is the clear choice here, but it warrants mentioning that the Jays have collected 4, count ’em FOUR, guys who have had a nice season as a closer.  They all provide value, whether it be from holds or K’s, but my bet is on Francisco to be the man in Toronto with Dotel the backup.  Francisco should save between 25 and 30 games in Canada, with a decent WHIP and a K/9 north of 9.  Solid numbers.  Should the Jays improve, as they very well could, he could see that save total jump 5-7 saves.  Dotel could certainly pick up a handful of saves along the way – things happen- and is ownable in many leagues because of his outstanding K value.  As long as the walks don’t get in the way, he’s a solid own in leagues where you need that extra bump in strikeouts, regardless of WHIP.  Both Rauch and Frasor are similar in that they are established relievers who are wholeheartedly unexciting if not in a closer’s role.  They will provide value as 7th/8th inning hold guys but this is a classic case of a reliever being more valuable in real life than fantasy, that’s just how it works most of the time.  Francisco might go earlier than those Pirates’ guys, but I’d put him around the same level as Putz.  No need to reach, as one of them will be there at the end for you to snatch.


Chris Perez

Classic case of closer for a bad team.  Did you realize he saved 23 games last year (they won 69 games)?  The Indians are a very young team and are bound to improve this year but even if they do not, Perez figures to be right around 30 saves.  But who am I to say?  Let’s see what the expert panel thinks: Bill James?  31 saves.  CBS? 30 saves.  CAIRO? 33 saves.  RotoChamp?  33 saves.  Sounds like I’m not the only one who thinks he’s going to have a solid year.  Actually, forget solid – he’s going to have a very GOOD year.  His K/9 should hover right above a batter an inning and my guess is his ERA will be 4 or below.  If he gets his ground ball percentage up close to 40%, his WHIP could easily be sub-1.20.  Sounds like a very solid Closer to me (just like the Cardinals thought he’d be).  I’d bet he’s getting a look at the end of some drafts and if he’s on the scrap heap to start your season, grab him.  I’m looking forward to a good 2011 from Perez.

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There’s my list.  I know I left some guys out – Venters and Kimbrel in Atlanta are sure to impress – but these are guys on the REAL cheap.  I hate closers so if any of these gentlemen blow up in your face this season… well… s#!& happens.  But if you’re like me and you look for saves on the cheapest of cheap, I think this list is a good place to start (let me know if you think otherwise).

 

-w

 

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Filed under Closers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Sleepers

Raising Arizona

 

GREAT FLICK

The Diamondbacks are in the interesting position of being in ‘rebuilding’ mode while having some very interesting pieces which in case you couldn’t tell, I find very… interesting.  Knew I should’ve bought that thesaurus…

With young talent like Chris B. Young, Justin Upton, and yes, Brandon Allen (Gotcha post right here), not to mention Miguel Montenero, Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew, the offense is looking up and could use its own separate post.  I, however, am not interested in the offense.  They are interesting (hah) for fantasy purposes, suffice to say.  Where there’s more room for intrigue, for depth, for some fantasy detective work is on the pitching staff.  With six good-not-great arms who could surprise and provide fantasy depth, it is time for a closer inspection.  No one appears to be an ‘ace’ in the rotation.  And since I just finished watching 10 Things I Hate About You (arguably the finest High School movie of all time), never wrote for the paper or yearbook, and needed a gimmick to organize the contenders, voila!  Superlatives:

Best Looking

Dan Hudson

Daniel Hudson just sounds like a handsome pilgrim name.  He also happens to be a fine, fine pitcher.  Dave and I were discussing young pitchers and we agreed- K/9 is one of the best indicators for a young pitcher’s future success.  The ability at a young age to miss bats means the pitcher will be able to mature into a better pitcher while always having the K card in his back pocket (my example was Clay Buchholz who has become a better pitcher though his K numbers have declined as he learned the league).  Hudson fits the bill.  With a K/9 of 7.93 last year and a projected (Bill James) K/9 of 8.19 in 2011, the kid knows how to make guys whiff.  He was lucky in some senses with an amazing BABIP (.241) and less than a homer/9 (0.76), but even if those become more regular, as most predictors have him down for, he should still keep the ball in the park and have a mid-3’s ERA.  Bill James has him down for a 1.35 WHIP.  CAIRO has him down for 1.18.  I think it is a safe assumption that his WHIP will fall somewhere in between.  So let’s review: a sub 4 ERA, 1.2-ish WHIP, a K/9 around 8 and a good young offense?  Does that sound like a solid pitcher to you?  It certainly does to me.  Throw on the double digit wins and near 200 innings everyone expects and I say this  man is draftable.  And I’m usually one to shy away from young pitchers.  Unless the Diamondbacks rapidly improve, Hudson won’t win more than 15 games.  But if you need a solid guy at the back of your rotation, I recommend you look at Hudson.

Most Likely to Succeed

Ian Kennedy

Much like Hudson, Kennedy’s peripherals suggest he will be just fine at the major league level.  What he has on Hudson is that he has actually been successful in the Majors for a full season.  Also with a K/9 around 8 and a BABIP below .300 (a very very good .256), Kennedy profiles as a pitcher who guys don’t hit the ball well off of (I think that is proper English).  Did you realize he threw 194 innings last year?  In my opinion, any pitcher who can eat innings (read: get close to 200 in a season), have a good K/9 and an ERA at or below 4 is worth having on your staff.  Those are the numbers that will consistently help you on a week to week basis.  Think of the old Aaron Harang, when even on a bad day he’d go 6 and K 8… ah the good ol’ days.  Kennedy just needs to keep the ball on the ground.  He gave up a large number of homers (26), but this actually makes his other stats more impressive to me.  If he can bring the homers down (no small feat at the BOB), his ERA will plummet and he becomes even more valuable.  Following Dave’s idea of K/9 being a good indicator and my belief that innings eaters are worth owning even on mediocre teams, you arrive at the same conclusion: Ian Kennedy is a guy to have on your team (in most leagues) or top on your list of streamers (in some leagues).  Plus, he’s years removed from that Yankee stink, so he’s smelling rosy for 2011.

Most Likely to go Into Politics

Armando Galarraga

Completely unrelated to this blog (honestly), Chris Cwik over at Fangraphs has an article about Armando joining the DBacks rotation.  I merely wanted to use the title ‘Raising Arizona’ and write about Barry Enright, his article goes into the rotation sucking a bit.  I have little to say about Galarraga, as he is an intensely boring fantasy baseball pitcher.  If he doesn’t keep his walks down (as Cwik mentions), he doesn’t have the stuff like Kennedy or Hudson to make guys miss and pays accordingly.  But I have an immense amount of respect for him for the way he handled the whole ‘near-perfect’ game situation, so he gets a blurb.  Who knows, maybe the move to the NL will be for the best and Galarraga become a useful spot starter in fantasy.  Stranger things have happened, like an ump stealing a perfect game from a young man…

Class Couple

Joe Saunders and Zach Duke

I in no way mean to insinuate that these two are a couple, merely that I was going to write the same thing about both, so I’ll conserve space by coupling them.  Political correctness crisis averted.  Remember how I talked about K/9 being a good indicator of future success?  Yeah, these guys are kind of the opposite.  Both have (miraculously) had good seasons while posting atrocious K/9 rates, Duke in 2009 and Saunders in 2008 ( he had a decent 2009, with 16 wins but poor other numbers).  Neither wows you with stuff, both relying on smarts from the left side of the rubber and the hopes of a ground ball.  Both are capable of going many innings (both have 200 inning campaigns under their belts) when they are on their game.  But they are both the classic case of being a perfectly decent real pitcher yet next to worthless in fantasy.  With the exception of the occasional spot pickup, I’d stay away from both dudes.

Class Clowns

aka WILD CARDS, BITCHES

Barry Enright and Aaron Heilman

With the (smart) signing of J.J. Putz in Arizona to close (SAVE ALERT!  Bad team in the NL West- the best kind of closer!), Heilman will get his shot to start… or go back to his super-long man role he plays to perfection.  I can’t figure Heilman out.  He seems to have a rubber arm (innings, check), has good enough K numbers (check) and generally keeps the ball on the ground/in the ballpark.  He just cannot seem to put it all together as a starter.  As a 2-3 inning man, he was ownable a few years ago, putting up some extremely useful numbers.  With his move to the rotation though, there was something lost in translation.  I’ll watch him this year if he wins a spot because I owned him in 2005 and he helped my team, but my reason for hope is out of loyalty more than anything.

Enright is an interesting case.  Our buddy out in California goes to school with his brother so we had the inside scoop as he ascended to the Majors and surprised a lot of people with his immediate success.  An excellent BABIP helped him to a 1.27 WHIP and allowing a staggering 20 homers (I had to triple check to make sure that was right) in just 99 innings did nothing to help his 3.91 ERA, which is actually impressive if you think that he was giving up 1.82 homers/ 9 innings- that means he wasn’t giving up too many runs other ways, or allowing many homers with men on base.  Like Saunders and Duke, Enright must control his walks and lessen his homer burden.  Unlike those two jamokes, scouts think he has some life to his ball though.  If he can drop the homers and get his GB rate up from around 35% to closer to 50%, he could prove to be a valuable matchup play during the year.  Again, I’m a bit biased in my optimism, but what fun is it to look forward on a fantasy season like a Debbie Downer?

 

 

So there you have it, 1200 words about a relatively crappy rotation.  Hey, when you’re good, you’re good.

Enjoy the prospect show tonight!  If you haven’t seen it recently, go watch 10 Things I Hate About You, it’s a delight.

 

-w

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, Sleepers

2011 Favorites: First Base

get it? first base?

Wanna know how I got this sweet ass piiiiiiic?  Cuz I’m faaaasssst.  No intro this time, just hope you realize this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of First Basemen, one of those deeper positions in fantasy.  No, these are some guys I’m spotlighting because they fit into these categories I have created because I have created this blog.  So there.  Read on party people (all 13 of you) and remember- it’s time for Christmas music on the radio, that means mock drafts are coming soon…

Young Studs

Freddie Freeman

Derek Lee out, Freddie in?  With all the upside and hype this 2007 draft pick… wait no that was the first round pick Mr. Heyward.  Outside of baseball circles, Freeman did not receive the same kind of hype.  The Bravos love him.  Scouts love him.  Yo momma loves him.  Honestly, though, all reports indicate that Freeman has a sweet, smooth stroke and is ready for a shot at the big show.  The Braves are on the cusp (if not already firmly entrenched) of a serious youth movement and though Adrian Gonzalez might be a fit, well, I can’t say it any better than MLBTR : “The Braves are a logical landing spot for Adrian Gonzalez, but they’re also very high on first base prospect Freddie Freeman. The last time they traded for a first baseman with a year-plus left on his contract, they basically rebuilt the Texas Rangers.”

If that’s not reason enough to give Freeman a shot, I don’t know what is.  Freeman projects to have decent power and a good contact swing.  I’d wait to hear how the Braves’ offseason goes before you slot him into your draft board, but given the shot, he could be a 15-20 homer, 85 RBI, .300-ish average guy.  Like I said, he’s got a smooth swing.

Brett Wallace

 

He almost got slid down into the “remember me?” section.  It seems like Brett Wallace has been all over in the last two years, and he kind of has.  Firmly settled in what they’re trying to build in Houston, it is time for Wallace to shine and prove all the scouts, bloggers, and GMs right.  With short porches to both left and right (and that silly-ass mound in center), a good hitter to all fields like Wallace should adjust well to his home park, much like his predecessor Lance ‘Fat Elvis’ Berkman did before he became part of the Dark Side and got old.  Wallace has put up good numbers in THREE organizations’ AAA affiliates and has nothing left to prove on that stage.  His time is now and he is worth taking a shot on.

Brandon Allen

Given some playing time in the outfield, Allen played OK for the D-Backs (and made an all-season great catch).  But with the team not picking up Adam Laroche, Allen could see more time at first as well.  He’s been kicking around for a while but is still only 24 and has always projected to be a monster power threat (the dude is 6’2” 235!) and looks to be getting a shot to showcase some of that pop for the free-swinging Diamondbacks.  Allen will  be on my watch list to start the season, to see how he adjusts.  His K-rate could be a killer but if he settles  into a role for the D-Backs, he could be a valuable power pickup as the season progresses.

 

Don’t-Forget-About-These Guys

Gaby Sanchez

I don’t mean this to be mean or harsh, but did anyone realize how solid a year Gaby Sanchez had?  He trailed off in September as young players are wont to do.  Would anyone in fantasy complain about a first baseman who hit .270 with 15-20 homers and 80+ RBI?  You could do a LOT worse with your CI spot or backup first baseman (I’m looking at you Chris Davis).  Take this past season as a starting block, too.  The guys just a young fella!  Sort of.  But he’ll be 27 this year, and you know what that means… right?  It means he’ll be good, science proves it.  In fact scientists in China are working on a serum to make athletes 27 forever… probably.  I foresee Sanchez improving on his already solid year and putting together a season worth owning.  Plan accordingly in your draft strategy.

Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones did not have a 2010 fantasy season to take home to Mom.  It was more like a season you regret waking up to in your dorm room the next morning – that is, it was ugly, but had a few redeeming points.  For example, Jones still hit 21 homers, proving his breakout campaign’s power was no fluke.  Jones suffered for two reasons I see: a worse walk rate and a worse BABIP.  With a better walk rate, it ensures Jones isn’t striking out as much.  With his breakout year, his BABIP was almost 50 points better than his drunken mistake of a year in 2010.  His AAA numbers continue this story, making me think an improvement in BABIP and more patience at the plate, even slightly, will improve Jones’ year enough for him to be a late round steal for someone- make it you.

 

The Inception Play

Mitch Moreland

To be fair, I was rooting hard for the Rangers in the Playoffs and developed a playoff-crush on Moreland, who had a nifty playoffs, playing his way OUT of a platoon (Jorge Cantu, we hardly knew ye).  He was solid in the minors, has a great swing and has worked hard to be a good, smart hitter.  Moreland figures to have played well enough for the Rangers to not try Chris Davis again, so fantasy owners won’t have to play him either!  Unless Chris Davis has nekked pictures of Nolan Ryan or something.  Moreland will get lots of AB’s and I am very curious as to what he will do with them.  Maybe not draft-worthy, but who knows, stranger things have happened (like the Giants beating up Cliff Lee).

 

That’s all I’m giving you.  I know there are any number of options at first base, but these are the guys I’m thinking of for the upcoming draft season.  If you disagree, do it on the interweb!  I’d love to have a discussion about guys to watch in 2011 and I’m sure many of the 13 of you all have opinions!

 

I’m done, enjoy Vodka & Milk remixes

 

-w

 

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, Sleepers

News: D-Train Headed to Desert, Bill F’n Buckner (not that one) to Detroit

In semi-recent news (with this newfangled ‘web’ thing terms like ‘recent’ and breaking take on new meanings), the De-railed D-Train has been moved to Arizona in exchange for the Billy Buckner 2.0. 

first stop: the pool.

 

This is not, I repeat NOT a call to arms, so to speak.  Neither pitcher is particularly exciting.  Buckner has been a matchup guy at best and I’m sure you’re familiar with Dontrelle if you’re reading this blog (I mean honestly, how would you have come across us if not for your upstanding Fantasy repertoire. Or lack therof, I suppose.  Whatever, just click the link if you want to recall when  he was good.) 

However… 

Dontrelle was pretty freakin’ sweet for a span of a couple years in Florida, don’t forget (seriously, here’s the link again if you didn’t obey earlier).  He is heading to the NL West- notorious for turning “hmm maybe-s” into “yea I could take a flyer-s” (see; Garland, Jon if you don’t believe me- have you seen him pitch?) 

While I don’t look forward to an implosion at Coors Field (I’m thinking that could happen), if Willis gets out of his own head he could be a very interesting guy in the upcoming weeks.  Imagine D-Train against that Giants lineup- If he’s a shell of himself it’s still worth watching.  I say add him to your watchlist now and add him at the first sign of a turnaround (In my book, 3 consecutive solid/promising starts). 

As for Buckner, he’s equally worth the watch list, though with less of a history.  The Tigers are a good team and play in a good park.  That’s a fact.  Buckner is a smart pitcher, getting lots of grounders when he pitches well.  This could be a diamond in the rough for Detroit if they stumble across a groundball-machine 4th or 5th starter, making him at least worth a pickup every once in awhile for ya’ll. 

Again this is all based on a lot of ifs, ands, ors, and buts- however I feel confident in saying that if you add both to your watch list, one will be worth adding at some point this season for some reason.  Two points to me for rhyming as I covered my butt there being vague. 

All aboard the D-train (I’m a fan, I do the leg kick), 

and good luck to him, I know he’s gone though some stuff mentally.  We hope he’ll get some redemption.  America loves a comeback, especially one from someone as fun and kind as Dontrelle (just ask Barry Zito). 

-w 

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and not to mix sports but BEAT LA, BEAT LA, BEAT LA (sorry they’re chanting it at the Fens) 

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM

 
FLOPPY LLAMA. FLOPPING IS FOR WEENIES.

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