Monday, March 23, 2009

No roar of the Lyon today, and more at Crooked Pitch

I just saw today that Tiger closer Brandon Lyon gave up four consecutive home runs in a ST game. Consecutive! Four! Wow. Of course Fernando Rodney gave up three runs in one inning of work too so maybe it was just an off day for everyone. Jim Leyland already mentioned last week that he may go with both Lyon and Rodney in save situations to start the year. I think this may move Rodney ahead of Lyon for the first time this spring, though. Draft accordingly.

I blogged about a few other position battles going on this spring over at Go check it out here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pickup of the Day: March 21,2009

Andrew Miller

Premier Edition

What is the Pickup of the Day, you ask?

To clarify, I'll first explain what it is not. It is not going to be me simply naming one of the top 5 or 6 available free agents and telling you why you should go pick him up. It also is not going to be me naming a very obscure player that only very involved baseball fans even know about.
It is a forum that allows me to discuss a particular transaction that has already happened within the last 24 hours or so that I find intriguing for whatever reason. It could be a player that I have picked up. It could be a player that someone in one of my leagues has picked up. I could even pick a transaction from one of your leagues if you like. Just forward your league URL to my email and I will periodically take a look at it.

Today's pickup is Andrew Miller. Andrew Miller has been intriguing to me for a while. He is sort of one of those post-prospect-not-yet-a-bust type of guys, but he is still only 23 years old so the upside is still there. He was supposed to break out last year, but in reality he needed to go spend another year in the minors to work on a changeup. But a funny thing happened on his way to another pitch, he was traded to the Marlins. And since the Marlins prefer to let their prospects mature with the big league club (which has worked out pretty well for them, so I'm not exactly knocking it), he spent last year in Miami, going 6-10 with a 5.81 ERA in 20 starts. His K:BB ratio was less than 2:1 and he fell off of a lot of fantasy players' radars heading into this season.

This spring, Miller has been working on developing that much-needed changeup. He had to alter his delivery a bit to incorporate it into his arsenal, and that will always take time. His first couple of starts showed that he still has some work to do, but his outing yesterday showed some major improvements, especially regarding the off-speed stuff. He described it as "kinda exciting". And he's been going on and on about how he's encouraged about the 2009 season.

I'm not implying that any of this is a sign that he's definitively ready to take the next step. And he shouldn't be picked up in a 10-team mixed league or anything. But in a 12 team NL-only league, where your other option is Livan Hernandez, I'd say absolutely go with Miller.

I actually picked him up in a deep 12-team mixed league after an auction in which I left myself short-handed on starters and in desperate need of upside on my pitching staff as a whole. Maybe it will take Miller all year to fully incorporate his changeup into his reperoire, but with his already huge upside I'm willing to take a gamble that he is ready sooner rather than later.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Is Bill Veeck secretly running the Twins now?

I'm sure most of you caught this story, but for those of you who didn't, The Twins are planning on pricing some of their tickets with how poorly the DJIA is doing. They definitely deserve some props for this and I hope more teams follow suit (Are you listening, Braves?)

Here is the link

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I still don't know if anyone is reading this, but here are a few random videos that I came across recently that are fantastic. The first one I saw posted on Club Trillion, which is one of the best blogs around. And the second one was actually sent to me by Bern. Thanks Bern. Good stuff.

This is Clyde Drexler's lost interview tape for the head of PETA:

Sabo's testimonial at the end of this is just absolutely priceless:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Random auction league thoughts...

So I recently participated in a highly competitive auction league draft. I went in with a strategy, then altered my strategy slightly after the first couple of rounds, and walked away with two things: a pretty good team, and some interesting insight into how players are being valued this year.

The strategy I had was sort of a variation of the stars & scrubs philosophy. Yeah, I was willing to pay top dollar for the best guys available, but not to the complete detriment of every other position on my team. It was also a keeper league and I didn't have any keepers, but the point being that there were a lot of guys already off the board before we even started. My initial thought was to get two of the following three guys no matter what the cost: Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, and Miguel Cabrera. Along with Albert Pujols and Ryan Braun, who were already being kept, these are the guys I see as the safest bets this year. I ended up getting Ramirez and Cabrera for $48 and $47 respectively. At that point I decided to be happy with having two of my top five guys and go conservative the rest of the way.

The problem with switching from aggressive to conservative in the middle of an auction is that you almost have to force yourself NOT to bid on at least the next few guys that come up. David Wright went for $45 right after I got Cabrera and technically I could've probably gotten him for $46 (although you never really know how bad someone wants a player until you push them). I could have probably afforded to spend that and then buy one really good starter and call it a day. But like I said I am happy with my entire team and something like that could have potentially screwed me up down the road.

A couple of very interesting WTF kind of things that happened in this draft:

Corey Hart went for $12, Nate McLouth went for $27. I actually like McLouth and I'm not about to sit here and say that he's definitively worse than Hart, but I think best-case scenario for McLouth is they both put up about the same numbers: 20/20 guys with close to 100 R's, and 75 RBI's, hit about .280 to .290. You would think that Hart must have either gone when everybody had money or when nobody had money, but he actually went about in the middle, when he was the best OF on the board, and McLouth went about 20 picks later.

Aramis Ramirez went for $31, A-Rod went for $30. This auction happened on Sunday, right when it was announced that A-Rod was going to have surgery, so it was really hard to project A-Rod at all. But I have to believe that the Ramirez owner could be more than a little peeved around June 1st when the A-Rod owner passes him in the standings.

Mariano Rivera went for $18, Chad Qualls went for $17. This one is actually pretty funny, but the lesson here is that if you are going to pay for a closer, do it early. Because the last closer available will draw a high price tag. It was as if two or three guys in unison realized that they didn't have any saves and that they really, really needed some.

A list of guys who went for more than market value simply because everyone seemed to really want them this year (other than McLouth, Qualls, and A-Ram):

  1. Brian Roberts: $27
  2. Joey Votto $23
  3. Troy Tulowitzki $23
  4. Rafael Furcal $28
  5. Matt Cain $17
  6. Zack Grienke $17
  7. Johnny Peralta $15

And the opposite, guys who went on the cheap (other than Hart and A-Rod):

  1. Dioner Navarro $2
  2. Jarrod Saltalamachia $1
  3. Mike Lowell $2
  4. Milton Bradley $7
  5. Kosuke Fukudome $2
  6. Carlos Zambrano $11
  7. Chris Ray $2

It's always interesting to see how an auction will go, and this one was no exception. All I can really say is I'm glad that I'm the one who bought Corey Hart for $12. I'll be wearing my sunglasses at night all the way to the championship.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You don't deserve to be a top draft pick!

I was recently watching a segment on a national cable news channel that was titled "You don't deserve to be rich!". Needless to say this was fascinating television for a number of reasons, with so-called experts and television personalities debating the actual monetary value of everyday people like me and you while pretending to be doing a public service. And all the while, the viewer had this feeling of inescapable doom that could only be cured by directing all of their pent-up anxiety and anger toward the everyday joe in question. Somewhere Karl Marx was saying, "I f***ing told you so!".

As this wonderful segment went on, it began to focus on the life of some poor schmuck in Jersey who ran the local SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Now, the first thing that occurred to me was that I had never even heard of local SPCA's, which kind of blew my mind, and the second thing that occurred to me was that the local dog-lover-in-chief makes 300K a year, which totally blew my mind. But, if you think about it, so what? So this guy has put himself in a position to be well-paid at something that he loves doing. Isn't that the American way? Shouldn't we all be so lucky? This guy is just happily going through life, blissfully unaware of how lucky he is to be extraordinarily overpaid. Then one day, the bottom falls out of the markets, we have financial armageddon all around us, and BOOM, he's public enemy #1. Break out the guillotines! Let them eat cake!

Now, I'm fully aware that I was supposed to be shocked by this guy's story, and normally I don't fall for such media hyperbole. But I convinced myself to make an exception in this case because regardless of how poorly they were selling it, they were right: No way this guy deserves that kind of coin. I would argue that he deserves to be paid $300k a year in the same way that Josh Hamilton deserves to be a first round pick in a fantasy draft. Which is to say, not at all. Therefore, I feel like we should translate this newfound public awareness to the world of fantasy. But I discussed Hamilton last week, and I don't think I need to get back into that. So, let's focus on some other players who are going way, way too early in drafts this year:

Evan Longoria
Average Draft Selections:
Yahoo: 17.3
ESPN: 26.2
CBS: 16.5

The expectations on this kid are huge, but the thing to remember is that he's just that, a kid. He has enormous potential, and in a few years will be a no-doubt-about-it first round pick. But by then he will have mastered the art of hitting major league pitching, a process that is still being developed right now. He'll struggle to hit .270 this year with about 27 HR's, 90 RBI's, and 85 runs scored. Potentially he could steal 10 bags, but somewhere around 6 is more likely. But, if he runs into a sophomore slump situation, ala Troy Tulowitzki last year(who is now undervalued), those numbers could be even lower. Why, then, is he being taken over guys like Chase Utley, Alfonso Soriano, and Lance Berkman? Position scarcity is part of the answer, but don't fool yourself, taking Longoria before the 4th round is a reach.

Johan Santana
Average Draft selections:
Yahoo: 14.7
ESPN: 10.5
CBS: 16.9

I may have added Santana to this list anyway because there is plenty of pitching this year, but the primary reason he is on here is because of the news that he is experiencing elbow soreness and may not be ready for opening day. Don't take a pitcher this early if you are even remotely concerned about injury risk. Hurt pitchers generally will kill your stats for two or three starts before they go on the DL. It's like they want to kick you when you are down, and the only reason you are down in the first place is because they already stabbed you in the back.

Carl Crawford
Average Draft Selections:
Yahoo: 32.8
ESPN: 37.4
CBS: 32.6

Carl Crawford is one of my favorite ballplayers. My son's first MLB game was at the Trop, where we witnessed Crawford go yard and make a spectacular catch in a game during his rookie year. He also has legendary work ethic and isn't past his prime yet(28 in August). I still do hold out hope that he can be the same player he was a few years ago when he was swiping 50 bags, scoring 100 runs, knocking in 80, and hitting over .300 with close to 20 bombs. But I don't think it's gonna happen until next year, not with the litany of injuries he endured last season. I think he'll work his way back slowly this year, he'll be a great asset both defensively and with timely hitting types of things. But the overall numbers, especially the steals, probably won't be back yet. And, either way, I'm not about to spend a 3rd round pick expecting it to happen. But that is where he's being drafted right now, leading me to believe that some owners disagree. I hope they are right, though, for their sake and for his.

Carlos Quentin
Average Draft Selections:
Yahoo: 26.9
ESPN: 64.3
CBS: 28.9

Talk about riding the under/over valued roller coaster. This guy has been all over it the last year or so. He went undrafted in mixed leagues last year. Then he became a hot pickup that owners were merely hoping to catch on a hot streak. I doubt they expected that hot streak to last 3 months though. But it did, it lasted until he broke his wrist in September. The key word in that last sentence, of course, is wrist. Judging by the ESPN slide in his draft position, I would suspect that someone on their site has already stated this, but wrist injuries are tricky, even for proven players. For players that went undrafted the year before, let's just say I would stay away.

Jonathan Papelbon
Average Draft Selections:
Yahoo: 41.1
ESPN: 46.5
CBS: 35.7
Don't take a closer before at least the 7th round. It makes no sense when they only provide one category. That's really all I have to say about that.