Fantasy Baseball 2012

November 4, 2012
Fantasy Baseball Points 2012

This is how my team finished the 2012 season. Underachievers.

Its was a solid 2012 season in my Fantasy Fan Cave (formerly known as Pirate-Pack-Heel Nation).  Our commish kindly changed the name of our league as I was an MLB Fan Cave finalist this year.  Before we start looking at the players and their numbers, you can check out my 2011 pitchers here and my 2011 hitters here.

Overall Fantasy Stats 2012

Not a bad season by fantasy baseball standards.

I’m going to go with a little different format this year.  Below are all of the hitters and pitchers who logged stats for my team during the 2012 season. These are the stats that players accumulated when I started them, not their final stats for the season.  Also, don’t mind the squiggly red lines underneath the players’ names.  Apparently my table in Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize any names.

After all of my hitter’s and pitcher’s stats, I’ll delve into some of my hitter and pitcher keeper options for next season.  As always, in this league we have a 30-Man roster and get to keep 21.  It pays to do your homework because if you can jump on an up-and-comer like Jason Kipnis right before he’s called up, you have total control of him for as long as your little heart desires.  There are no salaries or limits on how long you can keep players.

To me, this makes our league a much purer form of fantasy and I love it.

Fantasy Fan Cave Hitters 2012

Not bad hitting.

Now for the pitchers.

Fantasy Fan Cave Pitchers 2012

My bullpen killed me.

One lesson I had to learn the hard way this season: while you can chase saves on the waiver wire, a lot of times you’re going to pay with your ERA when you have shaky bullpen arms in your starting lineup.  Francisco Cordero and Francisco Rodriguez come to mind when I think of relief pitchers who killed my ERA.

Keeper Options for 2013

Hitters

DL Victor Martinez, C-1B [DET] – Acquired via draft, 2008

I held onto Victor all season on my roster because we have three DL slots and I could afford to slot him in one.  I’m excited to return him back into my lineup because his .300 average is something that my roster missed dearly this season.

Yasmani Grandal, C [SD] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 26, 2012

Grandal hit an admirable .310 for me over 84 at bats this season.  I sorely missed Victor Martinez’s average this season (especially since Carlos Santana did me few favors in the average department), but it’s going to be tough rationalizing three keeper catchers, even in a 21-keeper format.

Update: The 50 game suspension for performance enhancing drugs has made this keeper decision a lot easier.

Carlos Santana, C-1B [CLE] – Acquired via draft, 2010

I won’t go as far as saying that Carlos was a disappointment this season.  His final line in games started for me was .260/16/70 with 68 runs and even 3 stolen bases.  Carlos hit a cold stretch during the middle of the season that had my team catcher’s average hovering at the .220 mark.  I benched him for Grandal at one point during the 2012 campaign, which kept his average for me above his season line of .252.

Freddie Freeman, 1B [ATL] – Acquired via trade, March 4, 2012 (Joel Hanrahan for Freddie Freeman)

I could have used a little higher average from Freeman (.258 for my team versus .259 for the season).  Freeman, much like Carlos Santana, had some very cold stretches during the year, which were tough to suffer through.  Ultimately he finished with a .258/20/84/84/2 (AVG/HR/RBI/R/SB) final line in games started for my team, which was more than helpful.  Next season I’m hoping for some production in the area of 25-27 HRs and a .270 average instead of the 23 and .259 average he provided this year.

Mark Teixeira, 1B [NYY] – Acquired via trade, June 10, 2012 (Cliff Lee for Mark Teixeira)

Dogged by injuries in 2012, I need Tex to be a top ten talent at first base for my team next season.

Adam Dunn, 1B-LF [CWS] – Acquired via trade, 2008 (Robinson Cano for Adam Dunn), Reacquired via draft, 2012

I dropped Dunn this offseason after his well documented abysmal 2011 season.  All the while I was hoping to pick him up at a discount, which I thankfully had the opportunity to do in the 5th round (which would be the 26th) in our 2012 draft.  I sat Dunn against a few lefties this year, and of course he mashed a couple of homers, but he still managed to hit 37 of them for me.  Now, if only I could figure out how to get him to hit higher than .203…

Martin Prado, 2B-3B-SS-LF [ATL] – Acquired via draft, 2010, Reacquired via draft 2012

Prado isn’t sexy.  And at the beginning of this season he only had 3B and LF eligibility, which made him expendable.  However, when he was there for me in the first round of our draft (22nd round overall), I immediately jumped on him.  I was rewarded with a .306 average (which my roster desperately needed), 7 homers, and a surprising 16 stolen bases.  By the end of the season, Prado had obtained SS and 2B eligibility, which makes him almost a sure keeper going into 2013.

Jason Kipnis, 2B [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire, July 12, 2011

I fell in love with Kipnis’s swing after watching a video of him mashing in Akron.  He has a sweet, sweet swing that’s made to have a little pop, which makes Kipnis an invaluable fantasy resource.

Alexei Ramirez, SS [CWS] – Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

I still regret trading one of the hottest commodoties in Starlin Castro and Alexei Ramirez hasn’t done a whole lot to alleviate that pain.  You know what you’re going to get with Sexy Alexei and by the end of the season, he put up nearly what I’d expected.  However, those numbers came at a price, which was a middle of the season slump that crushed my overall production at short stop.  This season may have been Alexei’s last on my roster as I now have a few other options with a little more upside (Lowrie) or consistent production (Prado).

Jed Lowrie, SS-3B [HOU] – Acquired via trade, May 30, 2012 (Matt Adams for Jed Lowrie)

Fortunately I didn’t have to give up a lot to acquire Lowrie, which is good because what looked like was going to be his breakout year [finally], ended with a huge stretch on the DL and more underwhelming numbers.  A potential keeper, depending on how my short stop situation shakes out, Lowrie will more than likely end up back in the draft pool.

David Wright, 3B [NYM] – Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)

He’s the old faithful of my roster.  Having consistent production at 3B is a commodity that not a lot of fantasy owners get to experience.  Wright contributes a little in every category and his .304 average is nearly impossible to replace at the hot corner.  He’s an annual mainstay and that’s not looking to change anytime soon.

Chase Headley, 3B [SD] – Acquired via trade, August 5, 2012 (Josh Reddick for Chase Headley)

I’ve liked Chase Headley for a while now and felt that he underperformed last season.  While Headley’s periferals didn’t really change this season (LD %and FB%), he displayed the power that a lot of fantasy owners had been expecting.  The 2012 power coupled with shorter fences at PETCO make Headley a very intriguing 3B option in ’13.  My journey to acquiring Chase started on June 26 of this season when I picked up Ben Revere off of the waiver wire for some extra speed.  I trade Revere to the [eventual] league champion for Josh Reddick, who I was then able to flip for one of, if not the hottest, players in baseball down the stretch.  In two months with my team, Headley played in 52 games, hit .313 with 17 HR, a mind numbing 57 RBI, scored 42 runs, and swiped 5 bags.  A definite lock at keeper, I’m hoping Headley builds off of his success at the end of this season next year.

Starling Marte, LF-CF [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire, July 26, 2012

It would be great to be able to hold onto a talent like Marte because of his speed/power upside, but on my roster, he’s probably going to end up being thrown back into the draft.

DL Carl Crawford, LF [BOS] – Acquired via draft, 2008

Crawford is worth the keeper spot if he can produce at the level that everyone has come to expect from him.

Matt Kemp, CF [LAD] – Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)

Matt Kemp was a solid contributor when he was healthy.  I needed a healthy Kemp all season to make another run at first place however, and that wasn’t in the cards.  I had a variety of center fielders fill in admirably in Kemp’s wake (Revere, Gomez, Parra, Marte), but obviously none of them can do what a potential MVP-caliber Kemp can do.

Carlos Gomez, CF [MIL] – Acquired via waiver wire, July 30, 2012

Another waiver wire darling in the mold of Ben Revere, Gomez provided the speed that my team needed to hang towards the top in stolen bases, but with an added bonus that we hadn’t seen from Gomez until this season: power.  While Revere hit zero home runs this season, Gomez hit a surprising 19.  In 49 games for my team, Gomez managed to hit 8 homers and swipe 15 bags, making him a dark horse candidate for a keeper going into next season.

Jay Bruce, RF [CIN] – Acquired via trade, 2009.  (Pablo Sandoval/Brian Wilson for Brandon Inge/Jay Bruce)

What is there to say about Jay Bruce that hasn’t already been said.  A mainstay on my roster, Bruce continued his consistent reign as one of the league’s premiere power hitters by posting a .252/33/96/87/9 line when he was in my starting lineup (.252/34/99/89/9 overall).

Pitchers

CC Sabathia, SP [NYY] – Acquired via trade July 14, 2012 (Shin-Soo Choo for CC Sabathia)

Sabathia and Haren must have chatted at the dry cleaner about how unhappy they were about being traded to the Meekrats, because after trading for the both of them this season, they under-performed due to injuries in 2012.

Here’s to hoping for a healthy elbow in 2013!

Brandon Morrow, SP [TOR] – Acquired via draft, 2008

The upside is ticklingly ridiculous.  The downside is that when Morrow isn’t looking like he’s about to throw a perfect game, he looks like a player that just learned how to play baseball a couple weeks ago.  I still blame Seattle for jerking him around between relief and starting, but Morrow is so tantalizing that it makes it difficult to part ways with him.

Mat Latos, SP [CIN] – Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

Latos underwhelmed at points throughout the season, and at other points, seemed to shine like the staff ace Cincinnati thought they were trading for.  With too much upside to let go, Latos will be a keeper in 2013, almost for sure.

Gio Gonzalez, SP [WAS] – Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

An ace in every sense of the word, Gonzalez was the centerpiece in my Starlin Castro trade last season.  I’ll continue to look for improvement in his command and control, but he’s a keeper without question.

Jake Peavy, SP [CWS] – Acquired via waiver wire April 17, 2012

One of the best waiver wire pickups for me this season, Peavy showed his lat is definitely still attached and will be a keeper going into 2013.

Dan Haren, SP [LAA] – Acquired via trade, March 7, 2012 (Elvis Andrus for Dan Haren)

My SS woes stem from a desire to build a pitching Dream Team.  I thought Haren would round out my pitching staff nicely which, at the beginning of the season, featured Cliff Lee, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos.  What could go wrong with a guy who’s pitched over 200 innings for the last 8 season and had never visited the DL?

Apparently everything.

Haren had a very pedestrian 4.33 ERA and lingering health problems all season long.  Hopefully an off season of rest will help him get back to his low three ERA and 200 inning career pace.

AJ Burnett, SP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 10, 2012

Hey Yankee fans: How’d that season from Burnett feel?

Jason Motte, RP [STL] – Acquired via trade, May 20, 2012 (Alex Gordon for Jason Motte)

With a crowded outfield, I saw my opportunity to make a move to acquire a closer.  While trading a bat for a closer goes against my general philosophy of never paying for saves, I could see the writing on the wall early on in the year that my team was going to need a top flight closer to rack up some saves.  So Gordon went off to team Chupacabra and Motte joined the Meekrats, logging 35 saves and 68 Ks over 56 innings.

A definite keeper for 2013.

Chris Perez, RP [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 14, 2010

Closers are keepers when you have 21 keeper spots.  Even if they’re crazy.

Tom Wilhelmsen, RP [SEA] – Acquired via waiver wire May 26, 2012

Closers are keepers.

Luke Gregerson, RP [SD] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 10, 2012

A nice little midseason pick up, Gregerson logged 8 saves for my roster and nearly a K an inning.  Sadly, unless something goes haywire in SD, he probably won’t be named the closer and thus, will be thrown to the wolves.

Jason Grilli, RP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire, May 11, 2012

Grilli put up unparalleled numbers in 2012 and could be a sneaky keeper if rumblings of shipping Hanrahan somewhere in the offseason prove true.

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Fantasy Baseball 2011 Part 2: The Arms

November 26, 2011

You can check out my pitchers from last year for comparative purposes here.  All-in-all, I feel great about my arms going into 2012, especially with the additions of Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez.  While it would have been totally unfair to expect my pitchers to run out there and put up numbers similar to my staff from last year, deep down I was kind of hoping that they would.

Cliff Lee, SP [PHI]Acquired via trade, 2009 (Chone Figgins for Cliff Lee)

Yep.  I just enjoy reminding Kyle annually about this one.

Roy Oswalt, SP [PHI] Acquired via draft, 2008

3.69/93/1.33 in 139 innings.  It was a great run, Roy.  I hate goodbyes.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP [CLE]Acquired via draft, 2008

Ubaldo certainly wasn’t the stud he showed he could be back in the early spring of ’10.  I’m going to write this season off because of finger problems and the shift to the AL and hope he can improve on his 4.68/180/1.40 in 188.1 innings in 2012.  I know I’ll be making a few trips to Cleveland to keep an eye on him.  A lot of my success next year is going to be tied to Jimenez’s ability to produce like 2010.

Brandon Morrow, SP [TOR] Acquired via draft, 2008

4.72/203/1.28 in 179.1 innings in 2012.  Morrow shows flashes of brilliance that are so tantalizing, it makes him worth holding onto year after year.  That being said, this may be the year I have to cut ties with Mr. Morrow.  That will leave me full of sorrow.  I’ll think on it tomorrow.

Jamie Garcia, SP [STL]Acquired via draft, 2011

A late round steal in our fantasy redraft, I think that Garcia has solid #2 upside.  In 2011 he posted a 3.56/156/1.32 (ERA/K/WHIP)  line in 194.2 innings.  He also won me 13 games.  I like groundball lefties like Garcia because they match up well with just about every lineup every time time they step on the bump.  There’s something to be said for consistency.

Mat Latos, SP [SD] Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

The time to start reimagining my team was the time I realized that Roy Oswalt is never going to be the same pitcher that I remember him as in my head.  So looking to improve on my rotation, I moved some big, young bats for some young, impact arms.  Will owning a starting pitcher from San Diego ever get old?  Not unless they move the fence in over there.  Because Oswalt will be getting the ol’ heave-ho at the beginning of next season, I needed to figure out how to deepen my starting rotation.  While I think Starlin Castro will end up being the future at shortstop in real and fantasy baseball, I think that Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez will end up being top tier fantasy starters in the next few years.

Over his last eight starts of the season Latos threw 54.2 innings, struck out 55, and posted an ERA of 2.63.  He doesn’t make me forget about Matt Morris, but almost.

Gio Gonzalez, SP [OAK]Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

With the acquisition of Gonzalez and Latos I have locked up (fingers crossed) two of the premiere arms on the West Coast.  Gonzalez pitches in the friendly confines of the Coliseum, which is great.  Coupled with his last nine starts of 2011 in which he threw 60 innings, struck out 55, and posted an ERA of 2.82, I’ve got a great feeling about my pitching staff going into 2012.

Joel Hanrahan, RP [PIT] Acquired via waiver wire, July 28, 2010

Fantasy baseball is about a little risk-reward.  If you went into Pirates’ closer race at the beginning of 2011 with Evan Meek as your bet, you lost.  Big time.  Hanrahan threw 68.2 innings and struck out 61 while only walking 16.  His ERA at the end of the season sat at 1.83 with a 1.04 WHIP.  The only downside to Hanrahan’s season was his lower K rate.  Last season in 69 innings Hanrahan struck out an awe-inspiring 100 batters.  If Hanrahan posts a 1.83 ERA and saves 40 games like he did in ’11, I think I can live with that.

Jordan Walden, RP [LAA]Acquired via draft, 2011

Jordan Walden was the Mr. Irrelevant of our fantasy baseball league.  I used the last pick in this year’s draft on a hunch that the flamethrower would get a crack at the job at some point.  Remember how I said that fantasy baseball success stems from doing your homework, then having the Baseball Gods smile upon you?

Walden recorded his first save on April 5, and though he hit a few bumps in the road, he was never really in danger of giving the job to Scott Downs, Fernando Rodney, or (last years unsung hero) Hisanori Takahashi.

Chris Perez, RP [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 14, 2010

This Miami product is crazy.  Clearly.

His K/9 dipped from 8.7 to 5.9, which is worth noting and keeping an eye on.  However, he’s a consistent source of saves, so I’m on board as long as he’s shutting down games.

Daniel Bard, RP [BOS] Acquired via trade, April 18, 2011 (Andrew Bailey for Brandon Belt and Daniel Bard)

Ah, my muse.  I owned Bard in 2009 when he struck out 63 in 49.1 innings pitched.  I knew he was destined to inherit the closer role from Papelbon when Boston decided that they didn’t want to pay him, but I couldn’t afford to keep him, and thus lost him in the 2010 draft.  When I learned that the manager who owned him this year was looking for saves, I quickly became more giggly than Anderson Cooper talking about poop.

From April 20 until July 31 Bard was everything that I had hoped he would be.  He pitched 44.1 innings with an ERA of 1.02 and 43 K’s.  However, to my dismay, Bard completely fell apart down the stretch.  From August 1 until the end of the season, Bard pitched 22 innings and posted a 6.95 ERA.  I’m hoping Boston figures out what ails Bard so that he can become a consistent source of saves for me.  Looking at him before his August implosion, I would’ve said without question that I would’ve traded Andrew Bailey for him.  However, watching those painful last few innings of the year, now I’m not so sure.

Bobby Parnell, RP [NYM] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 19, 2011

He’ll never be the real deal.

Steve Cishek, RP [FLA]Acquired via waiver wire, September 22, 2011

Cishek was a speculative pick up.  He did nothing.  The end.

2011 Boneheaded Move of the Year

Continuing to play Adam Dunn long after he demonstrated he wasn’t going to produce.

Adam Dunn was so bad in ’11, I feel I had to mention that twice.  In all honesty, I feel like I managed the hell out of my pitching staff.  Maybe trading Andrew Bailey for Brandon Belt and [the guy who I thought would inherit the closers role in Boston] Daniel Bard.  Even though Bard imploded down the stretch, he’s still got a shot at the stopper gig next season, so I look at this move as still a high risk-high reward trade.

2011 Snake in the Grass Award

Drafting Jodan Walden with the very last pick in our 2011 redraft.

Knowing that a kid can throw 100 MPH in an unstable bullpen and is going to break camp with the Big Club clearly paid off crazy dividends in 2011 as Jordan Walden, fantasy baseball’s Mr. Irrelevent, went on to save 32 games in 60.1 innings.  He also put up a solid line of 67/2.98/1.23 (K/ERA/WHIP).  His ERA+ was 128 and he was an All-Star.

Not bad, rook.


Fantasy Baseball 2011 Part 1: The Sticks

October 14, 2011

A lot of fantasy baseball is luck.  Yes, there are countless hours that I spend reading articles, watching games, and listening to podcasts.  In the end, however, success in fantasy baseball comes down to doing your homework and then having the Baseball Gods smile upon your decisions.  Anyone who plays fantasy baseball knows that Adam Dunn has smacked at least 38 homers a year for the past eight seasons.  Sadly, the Baseball Gods frowned upon Adam Dunn (and my homer total) in 2011.

Pirate-Pack-Heel Nation Baseball

Second place is first loser. A friend of mine used to have a 'No Fear' shirt that said that.

So I didn’t finish atop of the league as I did last season.  I was king of the hill for a good chunk of this year, but in the end my pitching couldn’t repeat the stellar numbers that they posted in 2010.  So I’ll settle for a second place finish.  And even though my pitching numbers were a bit down from last year, considering the stellar year I had on the bump in ’10, those numbers would’ve been incredibly difficult to repeat.

Overall Stats Fantasy Baseball 2011

Not terrible numbers, but not my finest work.

Overall Points Fantasy Baseball 2011

I was so close, I could taste it. It tasted like tapioca.

You can check out my 2010 review of my roster here, if you’d like to see how things have evolved since last season.  And again, like last year, I only posted the final roster.  I was thinking about including a few add/drops like Aaron Crow or the ever endearing (and now platooning) Garrett Jones.  However, no one cares about the narrative.  They just want to get to the good part.  So without further delay, here are the bats that carried me to success in 2011.  The arms will be soon to follow.

Victor Martinez, C-1B [DET] – Acquired via draft, 2008

Ol’ Faithful.  Victor produces year in and year out with the most consistent numbers at one of the hardest fantasy and real life baseball positions to fill.  Victor was the top ranked fantasy catcher in baseball for the 2011 season, after hitting .330/12/103 with 76 runs scored.  His first base eligibility also helped fill the void that Adam Dunn and his statistical black hole produced this year.

Carlos Santana, C-1B [CLE] – Acquired via draft, 2010

One thing everyone was sure Carlos Santana would do when he arrived in the Bigs was hit for average.  Well, his .239 average left a lot to be desired at the end of the year.  However, amongst catchers, his 27 home runs finished second behind Mike Napoli, and his 79 RBI finished fourth.  Those numbers made his subpar average a little bit easier to swallow, but I’m still hoping for a lot of growth next season from the 4th ranked fantasy catcher of 2011.

Wilson Ramos, C [WAS]Acquired via waiver wire, April 12, 2011

Ramos quietly hovered around the top 10 realm of fantasy catchers this season, but fell just short at 12.  Still a superb waiver pickup, Ramos only has room to grow.  While I have absolutely no need to roster a third catcher and too many players to keep for next season already, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick him back up at the end of the re-draft next season.

Adam Dunn, 1B [CWS] Acquired via trade, 2008 (Robinson Cano for Adam Dunn)

Hindsight is always 20/20.  There’s no need to talk about Adam Dunn.  Maybe if I don’t talk about it, that will make it disappear.

If he makes it back to the Adam Dunn of old, I will dance in the street.  If he produces next year like he did this year, I may lie down in the street.

Brandon Belt, 1B-OF [SF]Acquired via trade, April 18, 2011 (Andrew Bailey for Brandon Belt and Daniel Bard)

Bruce Bochy, you are one frustrating man.  Belt was probably the third, if not second, best hitter in San Francisco’s lineup and he was jerked around more than a kid in a custody battle.  In a meager 187 at bats this season, Belt managed a .225/9/18 line.  The pop was definitely there and I think, given regular plate appearances, Belt could turn into a solid first base option, à la Mark Trumbo.

Martin Prado, 2B-3B-LF [ATL]Acquired via draft, 2010

His multi-position eligibility was helpful.  His time on the DL wasn’t.  Prado filled in admirably when he was healthy, but glancing at his 2010 numbers (.301/15/66 with 100 runs) and comparing them to his 2011 numbers (.260/13/57 with 66 runs), Prado didn’t take the step forward to top-tier fantasy player I hoped he would make.

Danny Espinosa, 2B [WAS]Acquired via draft, 2011

I don’t want to say I tossed Espinosa to the curb at the end of last season, because I dropped Howie Kendrick so I could pick him up.  However, I was fairly confident I could redraft him if I threw him back, which let me keep some extra pitching I was sure I would need this year.  So re-draft I did and I was rewarded with one of the hottest starts in baseball.  From March 31 to July 10, Espinosa hit .242/16/52 with 12 stolen bases.  That’s a rigorous pace.  Sadly, this pace was quickly followed by one of the coldest stretches in all of baseball after the All-Star Break.  From July 15 – September 28, Espinosa hit .227/5/14 with a .310 OBP and 5 stolen bases and 4 caught stealing.

Yikes.

Fortunately that cold spell was eased a bit when I went to the waiver wire and picked up…

Jason Kipnis, 2B [CLE]Acquired via waiver wire, July 12, 2011

I fell in love with Kipnis’s swing from the moment I saw it.  It was a raw, passionate love that I grabbed by the horns and I haven’t looked back since.  Kipnis has one of the smoothest swings in baseball.  It’s almost, dare I say, Griffey-esque.  If Kipnis’s numbers after his first year are any indication, I’m in for quite the production at second base for the next few years.  Following his call-up on July 22, Kipnis posted a solid .272/7/19 slash line in 136 at bats and managed to steal 5 bases without being caught.

I got so excited by that potential, my nipples just got rock hard.

Elvis Andrus, SS [TEX]Acquired via draft, 2009

You may notice a gaping hole at shortstop if you looked at my roster from last year and compared it to my roster at the end of this year.  Out of necessity, I was forced to trade Starlin Castro for some pitching.  That left me with Elvis Andrus and the good, but not quite spectacular, Alexi Ramirez, to man the middle of my infield.

Elvis did exactly what I needed him to do: stole a career-high 37 bases while hitting .279 and only striking out 74 times.

Alexei Ramirez, SS [CWS]Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

Alexei filled in admirably for Starlin in my infield, hitting .285/3/21 down the stretch after I picked him up.  He won’t make me forget trading Starlin Castro over the next couple of years, but with Alexei you get consistent production year in and year out.  You also get the amazement of watching that beanpole swing like crazy and whack home runs into other area codes.

David Wright, 3B [NYM] Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)

There’s no arguing that when Wright is healthy he’s one of the game’s best at the hot corner.  Keeping him healthy this season, however,  proved a challenge.  After amassing over 500 at bats every season since 2005, Wright hit the shelf this year and finished the season with 389 at bats.  He posted a serviceable .254/14/61 line with 14 stolen bases.  Good, but not what you expect from a first or second round player.  Hopefully Wright shakes that bad joojoo before next season.

But because of David Wright’s midseason injury, I was forced to trade for…

Alex Gordon, 3B-LF [KC] Acquired via trade, June 12, 2011 (Andre Ethier for Alex Gordon)

I was in obvious need of some help at 3B because of Wright’s lack of production/injuries this year.  I’ve had an overabundance of outfielders for the last few seasons, so I figured this was my year to try and make a move.  A combination of feeling leery about Ethier’s situation in LA and watching Alex Gordon produce, led to an Ethier for Gordon swap that helped keep my team in contention throughout the 2011 season.  While Gordon will more than likely lose his 3B eligibility next season, he was a great fit in my lineup this year.

From his date of arrival on June 12, Gordon hit .320/16/53 in 88 games.  His OPS was an overwhelming .931 over that stretch.  While his numbers were somewhat inflated because of a super-friendly .371 BAbip, just watching the kid play, you can tell he’s turned a corner professionally.

Carl Crawford, LF [BOS]Acquired via draft, 2008

Crawford grossly underperformed this season.  That’s been well documented.  His .255/11/56 season ending line with only 18 steals was one of the most disappointing seasons in recent fantasy history after all the hype surrounding his arrival in Boston.  But it did help open the door for playing time on my roster for another left fielder…

Logan Morrison, LF [FLA] Acquired via draft, 2011

… Mr. Logan Morrison.  He isn’t a big-name guy outside of the Twitterverse.  He isn’t a big-name fantasy player.  He’s the anti-sexy fantasy pick.  But Logan Morrison is one thing, if he’s anything: a consistent producer.  Despite a dip in average (.247) and walks (54 in 525 plate appearances versus 41 in 287 PAs last season) and an increase in K’s (99 in 525 PAs versus 51 in 287 PAs last season), LoMo still managed an OPS+ of 116 and popped 23 homers with 72 RBI.  His 23homers were the 12th best among left fielders this past season and I think you’ll see his RBI and runs increase next season as his sabermetric numbers increase closer to what LoMo is capable of producing over the course of a drama-free year.

Matt Kemp, CF [LAD]Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)

MVP!  MVP!  MVP!  Kemp has grown into everything I hoped he would when I traded for him back in my first year in this league.  Kemp posted a sick .324/39/126.  On top of that, he stole 40 bases, scored 115 runs, and a .986 OPS while quietly chasing the Triple Crown.

That’s a complete player stuck smack-dab in the middle of my outfield in one of the hardest offensive positions in our fantasy baseball league to fill productively.  He almost made up for Carl Crawford and his lack of production this year on his own.

Chris Young, CF [ARI]Acquired via trade, August 13, 2011 (Starlin Castro, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Trumbo for Alexei Ramirez, Chris Young, Gio Gonzalez, and Mat Latos)

Young didn’t overly impress from the time I acquired him, hitting .211/3/14 from August 13th on.  However, an average season for Young yields a .240/24/76 with 21 stolen bases.  While his numbers don’t overwhelm you, when he goes through a hot-stretch, he’s a must start.  For a thin crop of center fielders, Young will give you four out of five categories, which is good enough for a spot with the Meekrats.

Jay Bruce, RF [CIN] – Acquired via trade, 2009.  [Pablo Sandoval/Brian Wilson for Brandon Inge/Jay Bruce]

Jay Bruce is slowly turning into a consistent fantasy player after finishing in the top 10 for his position (RF) this season.  Bruce went on his typical hot and cold streaks this season to finish with a final line of .256/32/97.  He added 84 runs and 8 swipes to his solid fantasy season as well.  Bruce managed to hit .240/11/41 against lefties this season, and while that is down from his line last year, consider that in 2009 he hit .210/2/14 against lefties.  At 24 years of age, the sky is the limit for this fantasy stalwart.

DL Shin-Soo Choo, RF [CLE] –Acquired via waiver wire, 2009

Injury.  Lame stats.  Story of my offense.  I’m so over Choo.

Shin-Soo Choo

I still ❤ u, Choo!

I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean that.

2011 Boneheaded Move of the Year

Continuing to play Adam Dunn long after he demonstrated that he wasn’t going to produce at all this season.

Adam Dunn Jackass

Thanks for making me look like a jackass, big donkey.

2011 Snake in the Grass Award

Acquiring Alex Gordon for Andre Ethier right before Gordon took off and Ethier fell off.

Call it baseball intuition, but I had a sneaky suspicion that I had ridden the Andre Ethier Train to the end of the tracks and I was a little trigger-happy to move him.  I was looking for a player with a little upside and third base eligibility when Alex Gordon popped right onto my radar.  After trading for Gordon, he went on to hit .320/16/53 for me while Ethier hit the DL for a while and only managed to hit .260/6/30 with a .720 OPS from June 12th on.


A formal apology to a dear friend.

September 13, 2011
Jesus riding a donkey

You know, religious figures never take the donkeys' feelings into consideration.

The last few days I’ve been harassing my good friend, Mike.  Not just your typical jovial razzing, but like Jesus on a mule, I’ve really been riding his shit.  I couldn’t explain why, but it was like everything that he said just made me want to belittle him.

Sitting on my couch this evening, I figured out why over these past few days I’ve been wanting to shake Mike’s monkey tree so badly.

Fantasy sports.

Let me preface my reasoning with this:  I’m a man.  I’m 28.  I’m a man.  As a man, there’s one thing I hate on this planet more than anything.  That thing is losing.  As a man, I also love football.  Combine my love of football with my hatred for losing, add a dash of fantasy sports, and you’ve concocted the most flammable substance known to modern science.

Now, onto why I’ve hated my friend Mike over these past few days.

Last season my fantasy football team was a little thin at running back.  Sure, I had waiver wire phenom LeGarrette Blount and Eagles’ stud LeSean McCoy.  But past those two I was running Joseph Addai, under-utilized rookie James Starks, and Ridgemont High graduate Ricky Williams out there in my flex every week.

Needless to say that I wasn’t scoring a lot of points from that position.  It was thinner than my receding hairline.

Because of that lack of depth, I went dumpster diving on every roster, looking to move the premiere fantasy football wide receiver for a running back who gets the bulk of the carries for his club.  I finally set my sights on Rashard Mendenhall; Mike’s running back.

Mike wasn’t packing much at receiver last year.  Of course that wasn’t anything new.  We’ve been hearing that from his wife for ages.  He was going with Dez Bryant, Reggie Wayne, and Deion Branch.  Perfect place to emergency drop the top receiver in fantasy football for a horse of a running back.

Or so I thought.

When I offered Mike Andre Johnson for Mendenhall, he disrespected me like a cheap trick.  After spurning my advance, he claimed he could find a better deal elsewhere.  Of course things didn’t stop there, however.  Once he pulled the trigger on a trade, he finally dealt Zach Miller, Dez Bryant, and Rashard Mendenhall for DeAngelo Williams, Greg Jennings, and Reggie Bush.  The fact that a healthy Greg Jennings went on to outperform Andre Johnson and his bum ankle down the stretch is completely irrelevant.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and I thought it bullshit that Mike would trade for a receiver who wasn’t the best receiver in the league.  I still think it’s bullshit.

Now, why my good friend almost had to file a restraining order on me before Week 1 of this football season.

The other day at our 2011 fantasy draft, we had a tantalizing nacho buffet, complemented with an ice cold case of Miller Lite.  Not Coors Lite, because I hate their stupid ‘Cold/Ice Cold’ commercials.  That promo really sucks.  I digress.  So our computers are set up all over the war room downstairs and we’re guarding secrets like Russia during the Cold War. You have to make sure that your computer’s fully charged, just in case the fuse your computer’s plugged into blows.  Your auto-draft is set, just in case there’s a rabid groundhog digging up power lines and sending the entire neighborhood into a blackout.  It’s pretty serious stuff.

The Incredible Hulk

"Mike spilled beer! That makes me angry!"

While the draft was going on, Mike, who was seated next to me, spilled a beer.  Not only did he spill a beer, which is criminal enough on its own merit.  He spilled a beer all over the carpet by my power cord and a little bit on my screen.  And that’s when it happened.  Like the Incredible Hulk, I went into a rage.  While I didn’t consciously think of it, subliminally my hatred was fueled by that rejection from last year.  It turned me into a monster that wanted to shame Mike like an Old Order Amish.  I haven’t forgiven the girl who turned me down to prom in high school.  Certainly I’m not going to forgive that rebuff from 2010.

Well, it’s 2011.  A year later.  I’ve done a lot of soul searching tonight watching Tom Brady chop up the Dolphins secondary and feed them to Rob Gronkowski.  I just want you to know, and I mean this with all of my heart, that when I’m screaming at you like a crazy, homeless Titusville meth addict the rest of this season, it won’t be because of that trade that you wouldn’t make with me last season.  Mike, I just want to let you know that I’m sorry for being unreasonably difficult on you these last few days.

It will be because, and I sincerely mean this, I hate your fantasy team and want them to lose every game.

Fantasy football rose

I hope your team has 13 pairs of torn ACLs this season. ❤


Jesus Montero’s stock just went up.

November 11, 2010

Could this man be the next Edgar Martinez? Let's hope so!

That’s the best news that my fantasy teams has heard since October 4th when we won the championship.  My speculative pickup, Jesus Montero, is going to be given a shot to win the starting catching job in New York next spring.  Montero’s stats, which I discussed here, are completely legit, so it’ll be exciting to see whether or not he can live up to the hype.

According to most baseball pundits, a rise in Montero’s defensive skills coupled with his major league ready bat have forced the Yankees hand.  Cashman took one look at Jorge Posada this off season and realized that he was one foul ball away from death.  Good thing they managed to hold onto this prospect.

Great news for all those keeper leagues out there, and all those incredibly savvy, sexy fantasy general managers who took a flier on him at the end of last season.


On memories, relationships, and fantasy sports

November 10, 2010

It’s funny how memories evolve over time.  My friends and I have told and retold stories so many times that when one of us tells a story, a lot of us have a hard time remembering if we were actually there.  The lines of the memory get blurry because we’ve heard the story so many times and we know each other so well that we feel like we were a part of the story regardless.

Sometimes that happens with real life memories too.  An event happens and from your perspective it doesn’t quite align with how someone else remembers it.  I call this Eric Cartman Syndrome.  Eventually you do enough mental gymnastics that you make yourself remember your story however you want to remember it.

"You saved everybody from the Jewbots, Cartman!"

The other evening I was in the middle of an in-depth anthropological research project on the history of my facebook account.  This incredibly valuable sociological research stemmed from a comment from a few months back that I  needed to find as well as five mixed drinks from Phillip, the bartender at the Riverside Inn. Eventually these precipitating factors resulted in my clicking of older posts all the way back to the beginning of my facebook account.  Along the way I chronicled some very important events in my facebook history by photo capturing them.   As I collected and catologued this very important historical data, I stumbled upon a girl whom I dated for a couple of months back in 2007.

By all accounts, I remember it being a fun relationship.  The girl was totally hot, funny, liked good music, etc.  Unfortunately our relationship didn’t end on the best of terms.  I distinctly remember one day she was nagging me about going to see a movie after I’d just finished restraining a student for two hours.  This student had attempted to eat my tie and spit all over me.  I was not in a mood to go see a movie.  I remember trying to communicate this to her and she hung up on me.  The first night we met I had told her that I couldn’t tolerate people who hung up in the middle of a phone call.  She  knew what buttons she was pushing.

So naturally after rehashing through these memories, I was kind of curious as to what she was up to now-a-days.  So I did what any former gentlemanly beau would do and sent her a message on facebook asking how she was doing and wishing her well.  Apparently she hasn’t quite emotionally healed from that last fight just yet, because this is the response that I received.

Considering how angry she is, I found it considerate that she would wish me well also.

I don’t really remember telling her that fantasy baseball was more important than she was, but ya know, I have to be honest… that does sound like something I may have, at one point in my life, said.

But, I will have to say in my defense, I did win both of my fantasy leagues this season.


Fantasy Baseball 2010 Part 2: The Arms

October 14, 2010

Here is Part II of my daring look at the 2010 Meekrats fantasy baseball team (mostly it’s just a helpful reminder for 2011).  It’s the epic conclusion that people around the world have been waiting for.  So, without further delay, let’s introduce the pitching portion of my roster.

Let’s look at the arms that carried me to the Fantasy Promised Land in 2010.

Cliff Lee, SP [TEX]Acquired via trade, 2009 (Chone Figgins for Cliff Lee)

This could be the savviest move for my fantasy team.  The manager who I traded Figgins to was in need of stolen bases and I was in need of some arms.  Ultimately, the manager I traded to ended up winning the league and finishing 3rd in stolen bases (I still finished first, thank you very much).  However, I picked up the premier arm for the second half of 2009 and a man who has been pitching lights-out for a contract for two seasons now.

If you’re not aware of the dominance of Cliff Lee, allow me to educate you:

After I picked him up during the Break of ’09, Lee went on to go 10-4 with a 2.92 ERA in 104.2 innings.  He struck out 88 and only walked 10 in 104.2 innings pitched.  Pretty good.

Let’s see how he topped that ’10.

His final line for the 2010 season was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA in 212.1 innings.  He struck out a career high 185 batters and walked 18 batters.  18! His WHIP on the year sat at an even 1.00.

Right now I am watching him absolutely own the Rays in the ALDS.  He just struck out his 11th batter in the bottom of the ninth.  It brings a tear to my eye.

Now that’s a pitcher.

Roy Oswalt, SP [PHI] Acquired via draft, 2008

When healthy, Oswalt demonstrates why he’s a top-flight arm.  His bulldog mentality and downright filthy slider, coupled with a mid-90’s fastball make Oswalt a pleasure to watch and own on a fantasy team.  Being traded to Philadelphia invigorated him like his predecessor, Cliff Lee.  This led to Oswalt’s best K/9 (8.51) and ERA (2.76) since his rookie season.  He was aided by a low.261 BAbip, but anyone who watched Oswalt pitch before and then after his trade to Philadelphia could tell that playing the end of his career with a contender is going to help him extend his National League dominance up ’til the end.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP [COL]Acquired via draft, 2008

Before Jimenez lit the world on fire with whispers of a 30 win season, he was a promising pitcher with trending stats who worked in a less than desirable pitching environment.  Jimenez has improved his control as of late (BB/9 – 3.5/3.7, ’09/’10 v. 4.1/4.9, ’07/’08), which has translated to around an extra strikeout per 9 (K/9 – 8.2/8.7, ’09/’10 v. 7.5/7.8, ’07/’08).

He slumped hard during the dog days of June and July this summer, posting an ERA of around 5.21 over that two month span, but settled down and showed that he could keep it together by finishing the year strong.  When I needed it the most, he finished with a 3.30 ERA and 88 K’s over his last 80 innings pitched.

Brandon Morrow, SP-RP [TOR] Acquired via draft, 2008

I have nicknamed Brandon Morrow ‘Perses’, the Greek God of destruction because that’s what he’s capable of when it comes to other teams’ lineups.  If that doesn’t stick, those Grecians need to come up with a name for the Greek God of strikeouts, because Morrow is it.  His stuff has always been electric, however, beginning his career mismanaged by Seattle and them bouncing him from the bullpen to starter and then back to the bullpen again didn’t do his arm any any favors.

Toronto recognized this mismanagement and clearly had a plan in place for Morrow when they traded Brandon League and a player to be named later to Seattle for him last year.  Now pitching the unfavorable AL East, Morrow survived his first year in Toronto with a 4.49 ERA.  However, the number that really jumps out at you in Morrow’s 178 strikeouts over 146.1 innings in ’10, capped by an August 8th 1-hitter against the Rays in which he posted the following  line:

9/1/0/2/17 (IP/H/ER/BB/K)

He is a high-end pitching prospect that has clearly demonstrated his potential.  Now I just need to hope that he can produce consistent results.  And rain destruction down upon opposing lineups.

John Lackey, SP [BOS]Acquired via trade, July 23, 2010 (Jason Bay/Billy Wagner for Garrett Jones/John Lackey)

He may be the same age as Cliff Lee, but that’s about as far as you’ll get with a comparison like that.  John Lackey is an incredibly unsexy pick in both fantasy baseball and real life.

Ladies, you may kick him out of bed for eating crackers.

Over the course of his career, he hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been fantastic either (other than ’07.  That was a pretty solid year).  Lackey is more name at this point in his career than he is stats, but that’s not to say that he can’t prove valuable.  Over the last month of the season, Lackey threw 39 innings, struck out 35, and posted an unseasonably low WHIP of 1.02.

While Lackey only made a handful of starts for me down the stretch, his arm was healthy and 5 out of his 6 last starts were quality starts (unfortunately that only translated into 2 W’s).

Lackey’s one of those guys who, when you have him on your roster, there are moments when you realize why, but pitching in that brutal AL East provided Lackey with fewer of those moments in 2010.

DL Jake Peavy, SP [CWS] – Acquired via trade, 2008 (Brett Myers/Miguel Cabrera/Josh Hamilton for David Wright/Matt Kemp/Jake Peavy)

I don’t want to comment much on Jake Peavy.  I miss him too much.  And by ‘him’ I mean ‘Peavy’s monster fantasy numbers’ that vaporized less than a season after I traded for him.  When he was healthy, he was a top-flight starting candidate (240 K’s in 223.1 IP back in ’07.  Jeez.)  But since his leg problems as well as his latissimus dorsi flapping in the wind like a towel on a clothesline, he hasn’t even been close to approaching what he once was.

Mike Gonzalez, RP [BAL] Acquired via draft, 2008

His arm troubles have haunted him these past few seasons.  He’ll be looking for work in fantasy baseball next season, unless the status quo in Baltimore changes between now and then.

Matt Capps, RP [MIN] Acquired via draft, 2008

5th in the league in saves (42).  His status on my roster could be in jeopardy depending on how things with Joe Nathan and Minnesota go this off season.

Andrew Bailey, RP [OAK] – Acquired via waiver wire, 2009

Example 1 as to why you don’t pay for saves.  Claimed off the wire because of the Oakland closing fiasco at the beginning of ’09, Bailey posted a sub 1.00 WHIP (.959), a 1.47 ERA, and 25 saves (one less than last season) in half the innings (49).

Now let’s look at example 2…

Chris Perez, RP [CLE] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 14, 2010

See below.

Joel Hanrahan, RP [PIT] – Acquired via waiver wire, July 28, 2010

See below.

Hong-Chih Kuo, RP [LAD] – Acquired via waiver wire, June 6, 2010

See below.

Koji Uehara, RP-SP [BAL] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 26, 2010

Keep going.

Hisanori Takahashi, RP-SP [NYM] – Acquired via waiver wire, August 17, 2010

Almost there.

2010 Biggest RegretNot moving on Mat Latos.

Mat Latos was released on May 4th after a tepid start to the season.  Latos was high on everyone’s prospect lists at the beginning of the year, but had yet to show the brilliance oft assigned to him.  But, just like in economics, you need to beat the market.  While you’re thinking, someone is doing.  While I himmed and hawed about whether Latos was worth a flier or not, someone jumped aboard the Latos train.  By the end of ’10, Latos only finished with a final line of 2.92/189/1.08 (ERA/K/WHIP) over 184.2 innings.

2010 Best Billy Beane Moves – Take a deep breath.  Claiming Chris Perez, Joel Hanrahan, Hong-Chih Kuo, Koji Uehara, and Hisanori Takahashi all off of the waiver wire.

Those five players are why you N-E-V-E-R pay for saves. All those players, claimed off the wire, combined for 62 saves this season.

Perez was actually on my roster at the start of the ’10 season because I didn’t think Wood’s arm would hold up, but when it looked like Wood had a solid hold on the job, I made room for another arm, before finally claiming him again off waivers a week or two before Wood was shipped to New York.  That makes Forrest Gump’s story sound simple.

I picked up Kuo because he had downright filthy numbers as a RP across four categories, but he just wasn’t putting up the saves.  And then Jonathan Broxton imploded, leaving Kuo in the driver’s seat for saves down the stretch.  If you haven’t picked up on the theme of this portion of my review, it’s that you don’t have to draft saves.  At some point during the year, the setup guy or a flaming hot reliever (hello, Evan Meek) is going to get a crack at saves somewhere.  I use Eric Karabell’s fantasy list of closers and next in line, and add all of the setup guys to my watch list at the beginning of the year.  Sometimes you’ll miss out and end up with guys like Ryan Perry.  He stands out in my mind as a whiffer in 2010 because I picked him up and was treated to a grandslam in his first outing.  He never recorded a save before I dropped him.  But other times, you’re going to hit.  And that’s where you should really be digging for those saves.

Koji Uehara was my handcuff for Mike Gonzalez.  Without save value, Gonzalez probably won’t repeat with the Meekrats for the 2011 season.

I’m hoping Pittsburgh is happy with Evan Meek in the setup role and will keep Hanrahan and his outrageous strikeout numbers.  Hanrahan finished second on the Buccos as he struck out 100 batters… in 69.1 innings.  That was 1/3 of the innings that team leader in K’s Paul Mahalom (102 K’s) threw in 2010.  Clearly the upside is there.

Takahashi was a speculative pickup that paid tremendous dividends once K-Rod decided to beat the bejeezus out of his father-in-law.

All-in-all, I feel that I managed the hell out of my pitching staff and maximized the waiver wire about as much as I could.