Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pickup of the Day: April 19, 2009

Today's POTD is all about the new Yankee Stadium. Or as some have referred to it, Coors Field East. The first series played there, Yankees vs Indians, saw a total of 58 runs scored in four games, including 20 home runs (19 if you think, like I do, that Posada's shouldn't have counted). While it is too early too tell if this trend will continue, it is never too early to break down the potential ramifications of this from a fantasy perspective. Here are a few "facts" that fantasy managers are going to take from this series:

-The Yankees now play in a true hitter's park
-Chien-Ming Wang is droppable in most leagues
-All Yankees hitters deserve an upgrade
-All Yankee pitchers deserve a downgrade
-The Indians have a devastating lineup
-CC Sabathia would be the #1 overall pick if "number of pinstripes" was a category

Now, let's deal with these "facts". Is Yankee Stadium a hitter's paradise? It sure seems that way, but it wasn't built with that intention, and it's only one series. We will have to reserve judgment on that for now, meaning that we don't yet know if we should upgrade Yankee hitters or downgrade Yankees pitchers at this point. We also don't yet know if Wang is droppable. What we do know is that he is being dropped. His ownership is down to 53% in Y! leagues. Considering he has a 34.50 ERA, I can certainly see why that would be the case. I just don't know if I agree with it. As far as the Indians lineup, I don't think devastating is really appropriate. After all, how many more grand slams should we expect from Asdrubal Cabrera? If the over/under is zero, I'm still taking the under. I'm a big Shin-Soo Choo fan, though. I say go get him if you can, he will have a monster year. Now, as far as Sabathia's pinstripes, I think the unconfirmed reports have it at 62. So, yeah, the most in the history of the Bombers.

So, who is the POTD?........

Of course it is the aforementioned Chien-Ming Wang

Surprised? Well you shouldn't be. There would be no point in me telling you to go pick up someone like Jorge Posada or Robinson Cano, obviously. If I were going to pick a Yankee slugger, I probably would have went with Nick Swisher because of the Xavier Nady injury. But, a) Swisher has probably already been picked up in your league, and b) I still don't really believe that he will be worth it considering his batting average shortcomings.

Instead, I will propose this theory. Yankee stadium is not going to play as a hitter's park. At least, not as much anyway. It was supposed to be pretty neutral, and I think over the course of the year it will even out. That being said, Wang has looked absolutely awful, hitter's park or no hitter's park. But Yankee manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland are adamant that there is nothing physically wrong with Wang. He could be suffering from Mark Wohlers-itis, or even Rich Hill-itis, in which case there is no hope for him. But, the more likely scenario is that he is just regaining his form from the Lisfranc injury he suffered last year. Because he is a sinkerballer, his delivery is that much more critical to his success. Once he regains that form he will be fine. He still won't give you any strikeouts, but the W's, ERA, and WHIP will all be there.
I say if someone in your league has dropped him, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't take a flyer on Wang. It's like playing with house money. I wouldn't necessarily start him until he shows some progress, but stash him at the end of your bench until his slump is over.
Couple more quick picks:
NL only pickup of the day: Franklin Morales
AL only pickup of the day: Derek Holland
Both are up with the big league club, Morales is already in the rotation, Holland will be soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Looking in on Beckham

I took the time to catch my local minor league baseball team, the Birmingham Barons, take on the Chattanooga Lookouts on Sunday night. I like to catch a game every week or so throughout the summer. This was my first game this year, though. It should be an exciting year in Birmingham. We have the top four prospects in the White Sox organization on the squad to start the season, including star shortstop Gordon Beckham. On Sunday, he did not disappoint. He went 1-3 with a run scored and an RBI. He also walked twice, including an intentional walk in a rain-soaked, emotionally-charged 10th inning that ultimately would be the final inning as the Barons prevailed 7-6. His one hit was a double that barely kicked up some chalk down the left field line and should have scored two if 2B Robbie Hudson hadn't gotten the stop sign at third base. Needless to say, Beckham will be a star for the White Sox very soon, and if your keeper or dynasty rules allow it, you should roster him now.
There are quite a few future major leaguers on this team, but the one who impressed me the most was OF John Shelby, who looked extremely comfortable at the plate and in the field. He got the Barons into the game in a key 7th inning when he hit a double into the gap in left with the bases loaded. He also showed a lot of patience at the plate with two walks.
I'll check in occasionally with updates on Beckham, Shelby, and also SP Aaron Poreda, 1B Brandon Allen, and 3B/DH Dayan Viciedo, as well as anyone else that catches my eye at future games.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pickup of the Day: April 11, 2009

Ok, it's a week into the season. Either you've picked up Emilio Bonifacio or you haven't. Either you've decided to roster Jordan Schafer or you decided he isn't worth it. Personally, I haven't gotten Bonifacio on any of my teams, and I don't really want him. He seems like the typical Chris Shelton of '06 type of guy that will wow for the first month and then fade into oblivion (or as Mike Tyson would say "into Bolivia"). I like Schafer, though. I have him on a few teams and I will go ahead and officially predict that he will win the NL Rookie of the Year.

But neither of these guys are going to be my first in-season POTD. I'm going with...

Adam Lind, OF, TOR

Boring, right? All the suspense, the glamour, the honor of being the first in-seaon pickup, and I'm going with Adam Lind? Really? In a word: Yes. In two words: I know. In three words: He's actually good. Ok, that's three and a half. But who cares? Lind has become the boring odd man out in fantasy discussions. The Jays have Vernon Wells and Alex Rios as must-own fantasy players in their outfield, and Travis Snider is the much-hyped prospect type. But, Wells is aging poorly, Rios is prone to slumps, and Snider is, well, he's good actually. But everyone already like's him, and nobody seems to have any love for Lind. So let me be the first to have some.

A couple years ago, Lind was being hyped almost as much as Snider is this year. He hasn't lived up to the potential yet, but he did hit .282 with 48 RBI and 40 Runs scored in 88 games last year. If he can hold down a full-time job this season, and he is supposed to, those numbers aveage out pretty well over a full season. He didn't show much pop last year, hitting only 9 HR's, but he showed consistent power in the minors, and he already has two dingers in '09. All of that, coupled with the fact that he is only 25 years old, tells me that he is ready for a breakout year this year. If he can stay in Toronto's lineup, he should be in your fantasy lineup as well.

Now, completely changing courses, I'm going to throw in a quick Nick Adenhart mention here. It's an incredibly sad story, and the tragedy is completely beyond the realm of fantasy baseball, so I don't want to take up a separate post. Just a quick story: I was glued to my Yahoo! statracker Wednesday night and out of my seven pitching slots, I already had six of them used up for the night and no earned runs allowed at all. By any of them. I have to be honest, I've rarely seen anyone ever have seven pitchers even go in one night, let alone have NONE of them allow an earned run. So, needless to say, Adenhart was my last pitcher to go, and when he came out of the game at the beginning of the 7th inning without allowing a run, I was beyond ecstatic. I was all set to write about it the next morning when the news broke that he had passed away. All I can say now is that I will always remember Nick Adenhart because of what now seems like a very insignificant feat. But all the same, I will always remember him. RIP Nick Adenhart.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Murphy's Laws of Fantasy Sports

I try, I really do. I try to take the trash out every Monday morning. I try to take the dog for a walk every day. I try to hit the gym regularly. But, more than anything, I try to stay positive. Whether I'm rooting for the Cubs in October, or I'm seeing the ace pitcher on my fantasy team go down with elbow discomfort, I try to put a positive spin on just about everything. Guess what, it doesn't always work. It actually almost never works. I've never seen the Cubs win in October, and my ace pitcher always goes on the DL. Eventually these types of insurmountable patterns emerge which can turn an otherwise positive person into an eternal pessimist. I think that's why some guy named Murphy created a law that basically states that "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." Maybe this Murphy was a fantasy-sports playing Cubs fan too.

Over the years, people have sort of put their own little twist on Murphy's Law so that now most people know it as a collection of laws. And I was reminded of some of them the other day while I was listening to my new favorite podcast, The Adam Carolla Podcast. That day, Adam and Kevin Nealon were relating Murphy's law to getting work in Hollywood, amongst other things. It was a funny bit, and if you haven't listened to the show, you should. It's definitely one of the better podcasts out there. Much better than any of the crappy fantasy baseball podcasts (Sorry, but it's true).

Anyway, Murphy's Law seems to translate absurdly well into the realm of fantasy. If you've been playing as long as I have, I'm sure that you can relate to these examples:

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
We've all had this happen. And by 'all' I mean me. You're cruising along in first place in June on the strength of Chase Utley, when all of a sudden Chase is no longer that Utley anymore. He's got a bum hip, but it's not bad enough to go on the DL, it's merely bad enough to sap all of his power and speed for the second half of the season. And you are left to utter, over and over, "I could replace anyone else, but Utley is irreplaceable. I'm so screwed." Yes, yes you are. And the worst part is watching Chaser suddenly be good again in the playoffs, long after you've finished out of the money.

Enough research will tend to support your theory.
Do you ever wonder why certain players get hyped at the beginning of every baseball season and then never become even remotely fantasy relevant? Last year it was Chase Headley, Phil Hughes, Delmon Young, and Erik Bedard among others. Well, the reason this happens is because anyone can look at historical statistics and try to project a player's value, but realistically, nobody really knows anything. But, if you show enough research to support your theory, people will believe. So, who do I think are this years crop of Headley's? I'll name four guys for no apparent statistical reason: Alexei Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Matt Weiters, and Joey Votto. They are all being overhyped, but nobody can possibly know for sure that they will be even top ten in their postion this year.

If your advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush.
This one is fairly obvious, and yet it happens all of the time. The guy in your league who never, ever ends up winning the league is inevitably in first place at the end of May, and he's loving every minute of it. The message board has basically become his personal whipping post, and nobody is safe from the smack. What this guy is failing to notice, though, is that while he is cruising along with players having awesome first halfs, everyone else is loading up on players who are just starting to get hot. He won't even know what hit him until the end of July, when he is already down to fourth place on his way to another middle of the pack finish.

An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
All I will say about this is that I don't refer to myself as an expert, and I hope I never do. I actually think that the term fantasy sports expert might be the greatest oxymoron ever. What do they know? Baseball? Football? Fantasy scoring systems? Maybe, but aside from the fact that they get to sit in front of a computer doing research all day while the rest of us are working, they don't actually know anything. They don't know any more about sports than any other avid sports fan, and yet these same avid sports fans are constantly asking them for advice. I wouldn't even mind that, but rarely are they even entertaining or interesting. And they all seem to be spewing out the same ideas over and over again. The best fanatsy analysts are funny, don't take themselves too seriously, and appreciate how great their jobs are. When I listen/read/watch a good fantasy expert, I feel like he could be a guy that I may actually be in a league with who is trying to make idiotic predictions, but in a joking way.

All hail Murphy's Law! There are more, many more, and I may throw them in at the end of some of my posts throughout the season. But for now I will leave you with this one as a bit of advice for your upcoming season:

You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
As a fantasy owner, you have to constantly be trying to stay ahead of the train. The train, of course, being the neverending pool of players that you could either pick up or trade for. If you can somehow manage to get players onto your team as they are beginning a hot streak as opposed to when they are just coming off of one, you will always do well. Well enough to win your league? I'd say sure. Why not? You also have to draft well, but by this point with two days left until opening day (woo hoo!), you've more than likely already drafted, and you gotta work with what you got.

By the way, did everyone else see the Cubs/Yanks game at the new Stadium? How awesome is that place?