Tag Archives: Fantasy

Handicapping the Oscar Races For Baseball Fans

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

...and you're welcome, Amurrrica.

…and you’re welcome, Amurrrica.

The Actors

 Hugh Jackman

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

this is not recommended athletic attire.

Bradley Cooper

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

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

Denzel Washington

Not Jay Pharoah

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

Main difference? Denzel does not have a scent.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Oscar-producing machine.

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

Run-producing machine.

Joaquin Phoenix

crazy, exhibit (a)

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

crazy, exhibit (2)

The Actresses

Jessica Chastain

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

Jennifer Lawrence

I would like to kiss her on the mouth.

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

Yikes.  Still might kiss him on the mouth.

Naomi Watts

 

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

I wish we could provide context for this.

Quvenzhané Wallis 

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

Emmanuelle Riva

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

Keep your opinions to yourself. Just rob homers.

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Filed under Baseball, Dance, Fantasy Baseball, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Opinion, Oscars, Posted, Random Thoughts

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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Winnie the Pujols…Been Poopoo

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First Base Bouncebacks & Breakouts pt. 1

Everyone is already back on the Adam Dunn bandwagon.  Lucas Duda is going 85-28-90 according to all “experts”.  Let’s look at the guys that could easily outperform these 1B given their current ADPs.  Whether it’s coming off a major injury, having years that bring up memories of  Rob Deer, or just being really old, there’s always value to be found in a buy-low veteran.  And let’s not forget about those post-post-hype sleepers.  Alex Gordon has forced attention to all the 2nd and 3rd year disappointments of yesteryear.  So who do you want?

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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

POLL: Trade Deadlines

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Authors Update

First off, we love you guys.  At least the people that get us.  I have conceded most of my role as writer because I don’t want to keep this blog from its full potential….which is Will’s writing.  I am still hard at work sourcing ideas and want this to keep growing as much as anyone.

Our ying/yang partnership is steadily working on our best idea yet.  This blog has basically been a test drive without us even realizing it.   Stay tuned.

Shake & Bake

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It hurts when I….

Do anything.  Peavy is hurt again.  This time it’s not an elbow or even an ankle.  Someone how Jake Peavy has managed to completely detach his right Latisimus Dorsi.  This injury is more common for hardcore bodybuilders than starting pitchers.  In fact, the surgery for this injury is uncharted territory. People are already considering Jake Peavy to be the new Tommy John.

Some pitchers are just fragile.  Whether its because  they were overworked as young guns or they are just genetically more susceptible to injuries, high-maintenance aces seem to drop like flies.  I consider a lot of them to be like pure-bred horses.  Years have been dedicated to finding and grooming these talents to do one thing and to be the best at it.  When injuries are this prevalent, people can’t help but have the nasty “S” word pop up in their minds.  Given the high level of competition in baseball, like horse racing, I really would not be surprised if the majority of players were looking for an edge.  Maybe Peavy and others are just more susceptible to injuries because of maximum-effort deliveries and tireless work ethics….or maybe there’s more.  I’m not making an allegations but only asking people to think.  Peavy is not Jose Canseco, but neither was JC Romero.

Now I’ll leave you with some meatheads talking about how painful an injury a torn Lat can be….and what not to do.

FRAGILE: Handle With Care

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