4/24/2006

the a's are losing a lot of games by one run and a ton of sportswrites are up in arms about the resolve of this team (or at least pretending to be so they have a story to write). but i think it is one of the best things to happen to this team aside from getting in a bean ball war or bench clearing brawl. the team is being tested.... they know they can hang with anybody and everybody... but the question that they will be solving early in this season is what happens to these guys when they are forced to confront controversy?? when you lose one-run games it pisses you off more than losing big. and when you lose a bunch of one-run games, your patience is tried. will these guys bond together and collectively push the team over the hump? or will they point fingers, and seperate from each other by placing blame on individuals instead of the team as whole. one thing is for sure... we will know that sooner rather than later.

1/29/2006

Favorites?

So, I'm starting to hear a lot of talk that the A's are the favorite to go to the World Series, and I can't believe it. I guess I just don't understand why they are being considered favorites. This team has WAY too many question marks to be considered the team most likely to win it all. Obviously every team has questions right now becuase the season hasn't started yet, but I think the A's question marks loom larger than other some other contenders.

Don't get me wrong, the A's have fine team. Terrific starting pitching. Maybe the second best closer in all of baseball after Rivera, which is essential in the postseason. Street is the best the A's have had sine the Eck graced us with his presence from 87-95. But that offense only looks dominant with Thomas in the lineup. We've been missing a bat like his since Giambi left. Tejada was good, but even at his peak the A's were still searching for right-handed power bat. And Tejada is right-handed. Eric Chavez should be the #6 hitter in a lineup, but he hits 3rd for the A's. Same goes for Milton. Thomas' bat is going to be very important in October because Chavvy ain't the one who's going to bring the A's to the promise land.

The A's didn't make the postseason last year for a reason. The reason is they weren't good enough. They should definitely be the favorites in the West, and they may even run away with it. But the new additions are not enough to make them go from the 6th best team in the AL to the best team in bigs. We still have to deal with Anahiem first. The Angels embody their manager on the field better than any team in majors. They're scrappy and they fight and claw all season long. That's why the won a title. I don't see that from these A's. The A's are a team that gets into a groove and then they go on runs. That's why they're so good in the regular season. The season is set up in a way that allows and rewards teams like this. But playoff baseball is a different animal. There is no getting into a groove. You better be in your groove when it starts. Cause if you're not, you're gone. If the A's actually won a round they could get in a groove and possibly go on and win the whole thing. But they haven't done that yet, and until they can't be considered the front-runners.

So, again we wait to see if this is the year that A's head into the postseason in their groove, or if they wither against the intensity of playoff baseball again. I know I'm excited to find out. But until we get these questions aswered, they're not World Series favorites.

Second Basemen:

1. Chase Utley, Phi- Utley burst on to the scene last year, putting together such an impressive campaign that it allowed the Phillies to move Placido Polanco to the Tigers early in the year. And Utley didn't disappoint. He hit .291 with 28 jacks, 93 runs, 105 RBI, and added 16 stolen bases to make him one of the more complete players in fantasy. Add to that he's 28 and in the prime of his career, and you're looking at a fantasy stud. He'll probably never put together a 30-30 year, but he could turn out to post home run numbers pretty similar to what Jeff Kent has done throughout his career. Look for .300/35/110/15 from him this year. I'm normally opposed to taking a second baseman really high, but if you grab him, you don't have to think about his position anymore. I've seen him go off the board in mock drafts as high as the 2nd round, but I would rather draft him in the 3rd round. If your set on picking him up, you better get him early because he's at the top of everyone's lists.

2. Alfonso Soriano, Was- Alfonso isn't used to being 2nd on this list. He's been worthy of a fantasy first round pick since '01, and has AVERAGED a 30-30 year every year. He's been slightly downgraded though since the blockbuster trade this offseason between the Rangers and Nationals. Switching leagues can be tough (just ask Jason Kendall and Will Clark) and RFK Stadium isn't exactly Ameriquest Field. Not to mention there's no more Mark Teixeira hitting behind him. And we still haven't begun to talk about his possible move to the outfield. But never the less, expect Soriano to put up similar numbers in the home run column and maybe a few more steals since there is more of a need to manufacture runs in the National League. Expect his runs and RBI to take a dip, but I don't see him hitting .264 again. All these questions may allow him to slip into the 2nd round. If he's available, get him because he's still a guy you don't have to worry about.

3. Jeff Kent, LAD- Old reliable was at it again in '05, hitting .289/100/29/105 and added 6 steals just for good measure. He may not be the most liked teammate, but luckily we don't have to worry about that here in fantasy land. He may not be the sexiest pick of the draft, but you know what you're getting out of him. He'll hit you about 30 jacks, drive in a hundred runs, and porbably score a hundred times to. His numbers from last year were pretty right on what he's been averaging for the last 8 seasons (his average was .0001 off his career average). He'll probably come off the board as high as the 2nd round, but as you know I look for value so try and wait till the 3rd or 4th round. This is a guy who generally slips under the radar and is drafted lower than he probably deserves, so keep that in mind.

4. Chone Figgins, Ana- This may be little high for Chone, but I like him. I really like what he brings to the table and of course his availability at so many different positions. I like a guy who just wants to get in the game so he'll play anywhere. He hit .289, scored 115 times, and stole 62 bases, so the production is there too, and I expect about the same again this season. The production is nice, but his versatility is the most valuable attribute here. He allows you to upgrade your team through the wire at multiple positions. So if your team is shallow at 3rd base and there's a good 2nd baseman on the wire, you can just move Chone over to 3rd and fill in the hole at 2B. That's a very valuable asset that not many players offer, and especially at the shallow positions of 2nd and 3rd. He'll probably be taken anywhere from the 4th to 8th round, so he's a little tough to judge. Ideally I'd take him in the 7th or 8th round, but I wouldn't argue with someone taking him in the 4th.

5. Robinson Cano, NYY- Put up a pretty good line last year, but nothing spectacular. But in that lineup, he's going to get pitches to hit, and chances to drive in runs. Add in that he's only 23, and he'll probably put up better numbers than some I have ahead of him. The thing that impresses me the most about Cano is his slugging average. He ranked 26th in the majors in slugging last year, and that means his overall numbers will improve this season. Robinson's numbers last year will look nothing like his 2006 numbers. Get him in the 8th or 9th round and watch the show.

6. Brian Roberts, Bal- Roberts had a breakout season last year, right on schedule at 27 years old. His breakout year has him slightly overvalued by some, but you gotta show respect for a 2-bagger who puts up .313/92/18/73/27. I expect a little less out of Brian this year, but he's in his prime so I wouldn't be suprised if he improved on those numbers either. One thing of note, a lot of those numbers were from an unbelievable April and May. He cooled off considerably later in the year which worries me. The last thing you want is a guy puts up numbers all year, only to not produce when you're in your fantasy playoffs. He's a ninth or tenth rounder in my eyes.

7. Jorge Cantu, TB- This may be a little low for Jorge, as I am not immune to undervaluing someone either. He put up sensational numbers that skyrocketed past any projections people had for him. Another one of those waiver wire gems. A guy who puts up .286/73/28/117/1 line is nothing to sneeze at. Just to add a little bonus, he probably still qualifies at 3rd base in most leagues too. I expect a slight dip in those numbers, but he seems to have really found his power stroke since 2004. He turns 24 just before spring training, so he's going to get a whole lot better. He has more value in keeper leagues than single season leagues, so adjust your draft board accordingly. If this were solely based on keepers, he might jump up to 3rd on this list. Because of last year's big year, he's everybodys "sleeper" candidate, which actually makes him not a sleeper by definition. He'll probably go anywhere 7th-12th round, but I don't see him dropping any lower than that. It's possible that many didn't notice the damage he was doing down there in the southeast corner of the country, but betting that no one noticed is not a smart bet. If you want him, you're going to have to use a relatively high pick on him.

8. Jose Vidro, Was- Seems strange to have 2 second basemen from the same team on the list, but Vidro, when healthy, is one of the better options at 2B. Last year was out of character for Jose, and I expect him to bounce back. Hitting ahead of Alfonso Soriano can do nothing but good things for your stat line. I still believe he'll come back to post something similar to his years in 2000 and 02. There are some health risks here though, so I would want a backup plan if I get him. His numbers last season will allow him to drop probably to the very end of your draft, or he may go undrafted in some leagues. You may be able to snag him as your backup 2B, and if he comes back full strength, you can trade one of your 2nd basemen and upgrade somewhere else.

9. Mark Ellis, Oak- This is a guy who went almost unnonticed last season, which is a shame because he pieced together a fine year. I don't think anyone noticed he finished 5th in the AL in batting average for players with 400 AB's and led his team in slugging. Not to mention he hit .386 with a .453 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot last year and hit .344 after the All-Star break. Take a look at those numbers again. That's why he got a new deal with the A's this offseason, he was their best player for most of last season. I picked him up in a few leagues last year and he really solidified my infield. This is the definition of a sleeper right here. Will go undrafted in many leagues, so look to add him near the end of your draft when you've already filled many of roles. Will score a lot of runs hit lead-off for a full season, so look for improvements in most categories with a slight drop in batting average.

10. Tadahito Iguchi, ChW- Solid ball player, who will put up solid stats. He's not going to hurt you, but the upside is minimal. The rest of the players on here have the potential to put together a monster season. I don't see that in Tadahito. The reason why he makes this list though is because he's consistent. You can probably snag him in the 15th-20th round. Look for him to put up pretty identical numbers to last season.

Best of the Rest:

Rickie Weeks, Mil- Tons of potential, but former #2 overall pick hit just .239 last season.
Placido Polanco, Det- Led AL in batting average last year after move from the Phils.
Mark Loretta, Bos- Injury plagued '05, but could be posed for a big year hitting ahead of Manny and Big Papi.

Remember, the guys who pick up Utley, Soriano, and Kent early aren't going to be picking up a 2nd baseman again until the very end of the draft, if at all. It's not good practice to get backups for your superstars. It's a waste of a roster spot because you can't ever play the backup. So keep that in mind as well when you're deciding when to draft your 2nd basemen.

1/27/2006

First Basemen:

Over the next couple weeks I will be posting my rankings by position along with a breif explanation of why. So, I figured first base was as good of a place to start as any.


1. Albert Pujols, StL- This is pretty much a no-brainer by now and he may go #1 overall in your draft, definitely if you're in a NL-only league. I expect the reigning National League MVP to continue to put up the same kind of MVP numbers he has since coming into the league. He doesn't miss games, he hits for power, he hits for average. He drives in runs, and he scores runs... and he does them in bunches. The only thing he doesn't do a lot of is steal bases, but he swiped 16 last year! If you get chance to draft this horse, do it and sit back and let the man mash.

2. Mark Teixeira, Tex- He's 25 years old (26 in April) and he's only getting better. Last year, his 3rd in the bigs, Teixeira improved in every single important offensive statistic and has done so every year. Last year he set a major league record for RBI's in a season for a switch hitter with 144, breaking the record previously set in 1896. Look for Tex to continue that trend and lead the American League in home runs. He, like Pujols, is a monster in every offesive category except steals. This guy is top 3 pick material, and he's even more valuable in a keeper league. Don't pass on Teixeira, in that ballpark, with that lineup, he could end up putting up better stats than Pujols.

3. Derrek Lee, ChC- Last year Derrek Lee came out of nowhere to contend for NL MVP, and he might have had a chance if his team wasn't 21 games out of first. Regardless of his team's success (or lack thereof) Derrek had a career year last year. He's only 30 and has been showing improvement since the turn of the millenium, so I don't expect as much of a drop-off as many other "experts" do. His run at the Triple Crown coupled with the horrendous season put forth by Todd Helton, allowed Derrek to make a jump in the first base rankings. If Derrek falls to you in the mid-to-late 3rd round, go ahead and snag him. But buyer beware, his batting average was .054 higher than his previous career high, expect him to finish somewhere in the middle.

4. Paul Konerko, ChW- Another guy playing in America's 2nd city, Paul Konerko is fresh off an amazing postseason along with a lucritive new contract. Paul proved himself to be one of the most-feared right-handed bats in the land with a flair for the dramatic. Add to that, he's now got Jim Thome lurking behind him waiting for pitchers to try to pitch around the slugging first baseman. He has posted back-to-back seasons of 40 home runs and 100 RBI, and he scores a good amount of runs as well. Konerko could be anywhere from the 3rd-6th first baseman selected, depending on how your opposition rates him. But you would be wise to grab him as the 3rd or 4th 1-bagger off the board.

5. Ryan Howard, Phi- This one may suprise some people, but I believe a full seaons hitting at Citizens Bank Park will push his numbers upwards of 35 homeruns and 110 RBI's. With Rollins, Utley, and Abreu hitting ahead of him and Burrell behind, pitchers will have no choice but give him pitches to hit. Don't look for the reigning NL Rookie of the Year to suffer a sophmore slump, he just turned 26 last November and is about to enter the prime of his career. You can probably snag Howard much later than many of the other guys on this list, but if he's there in the 6th round, he'll probably put up better numbers than anyone else you can grab there.

6. Todd Helton, Col- After struggling for much of the season, Helton came on a little bit in the second-half to close on a positive note. Previously one of the most consistent players in fantasy, last years stats left something to be desired. While his down year was a career year for most (.320, 92 R, 20 HR, & 79 RBI), those are not the numbers teams were expecting when they picked him up in the first round. Look for Todd to bounce back this year and probably come off the board somewhere between the 2nd and 5th round. If he falls any farther, whoever gets him gets a steal.

7. Lance Berkman, Hou- After starting '05 on the injured list, Berkman put up very solid number for someone with only 468 At-Bats. Add in his impressive postseason and Lance has Cast aside any doubts we had about the health of his knee. Despite not playing a full season, Berkman came in 12th among Major League 1st baseman in home runs, not to mention he should still qualify in the outfield. He plays in a hitters park and has shown himself fully capable of hitting out of the all-important 3-hole. His season totals are not quite as impressive as some others because of his injury, so you may see him slip into the middle of your draft. Expect Lance to pick up where he left off and finish with numbers comparable to his numbers from 2001-04.

8. Adam Dunn, Cin- Adam Dunn will hit you bombs. He'll drive in runs, and he'll score runs. But it won't be pretty. He won't help out in the average column or steal you bases, and you don't get any bonus points for drafting a giant, but Dunn is a very solid option to have at first. I see a pretty big drop in the number 7 and 8 guys on this list, but that is no slight to Adam. You know what you're getting when you draft him: 40+ bombs, and worlds of potential. One of these years everything may click for this monster of a human, and there's a chance this could be the year he does it. It's tough to guage where he'll come off the board because some people love him and others hate him. I would expect to see him go somewere 5th-7th round. Any higher would be a reach.

9. Carlos Delgado, NYM- Carlos is entering the twilight of his career, but this cat can still hit. He posted very good numbers last year, going for .301, 81 R, 33 HR, 115 RBI, and o SB. I look for a drop-off in those numbers, but not to the point where I wouldn't consider him a fantasy starter. Look for him to come close to .285, 85, 28, and 100. He's got a ton of potential in that lineup hitting behind Reyes and Beltran, so he could be a highly underrated guy. Since '98 he's only had one so-so year, 2004, so we could be looking at a big-time sleeper. I see him coming off the board in the 5th or 6th round on name alone.

10. Richie Sexson, Sea- Little bit of a health risk here, but tons of potential anyway. Similar to Dunn, Sexson has tremendous size and will hit the ball out of the park. He missed practically the entire '04 season due to an injury he triggered swinging a bat. That is the last way you want your power hitter to get hurt. On top of that, he plays in a pitcher's park without much help in the lineup other than Ichiro (I'll get into my thoughts on Beltre during my 3rd Base Edition). But there is reason to draft Richie, he looked like his old self again last year en route to an outstanding season. He fell 1 run and 1 home run shy of 100-40-100 last year, and you can't find that kind of production just anywhere. So, in your standard 5X5 leagues, he's a great pickup and may go ahead of some of the guys ahead of him on the list. But he's a little underrated, so you may be able to snag him in the 6th or 7th round. Keep an eye out.

Best of the Rest:

Jason Giambi, NYY- Lots of potential, finished very strong last season.
Prince Fielder, Mil- With Overbay out of the way, path is open for son of Cecil to play.
Aubrey Huff, TB- May still qualify here,he's 29 and playing for a contract. Nuff said.
Chris Shelton, Det- Another hot-shot prospect, should get plenty of chances to play in Detroit.
Jim Thome, Phi/Justin Morneau, Min- Both are looking for bounce back years after injury-plagued '05.

Remember, always check how points are scored in your leagues. If you are docked for strikeouts, you may want to downgrade players like Dunn and Sexson.

1/26/2006

Fantasy Strategy 101:

With the Baseball season creeping closer and closer, it's time to get our draft strategy in order. My strategy is simple: LowRisk/High Reward. I try to find players that come at low risk to me, and have the potential for huge rewards. And this can be applied to any player you're interested in adding ethier in the draft or on the waiver wire. If you measure the possible rewards against all the risks, you will find yourself to be very successful. This short phrase embodies all the factors I take into account. My methods can generally be applied to any sport, but since we're coming up on baseball, I will be using examples from baseball. Important: Before the draft, make sure you know what catergories are used, along with how many positions you need to fill.

In the first round, I want someone that I KNOW will produce for me. I don't want any question marks with my first round pick. I refuse to draft anyone that I am not absolutely postive that I know, at the end of the year, his stats will be among the elite in all of baseball. Bottom line: Find superstars. This will generally go for the second and third rounds as well, and with these picks your team needs to develop an identity. Do you want your team to hit bombs?? Or are you stockpiling the finest arms in the game to dominate the pitching categories? I like to spread myself out, unless someone falls. So, two position players is generally what I go for with an ace for my staff as well. I want players who will be making significant contributions in multiple categories. Be wary of media hype in this phase of the draft. Just because you read mock drafts that are selecting Derrick Lee in the 1st round, or Rafael Furcal in the 3rd round... doesn't mean this is good practice. Look at the previous numbers. In these rounds, you can't afford to take chances.

After establishing your team's identity, it's time to fill in the remaining starting positions. This is generally 8 position players, (one at each position C-LF) a DH, 3 starting pitchers, 2 relievers, and 3 Utility(Roster size and number of positions will vary based on the league). Look for players who have dropped too far, players who dominate one category, and/or versatile players who will contribute in all or most categories. Rounds 4-8 are where I like to grab a few top-line pitchers, a big bat or two, and a closer.

And with the last portion you should look for sleepers and fill roles. The end of your draft is where you grab you hot-shot rookies, hitters who came to a more potent lineup, guys looking to get increased playing time, or pitchers moving to pitchers' parks. Basically you're looking for upside here, but allowing yourself room to manuver. I usually like to find the hidden gems at a scarce position here, or grab a guy who gets a ton of steals. These are the guys who can really set you apart from the pack. Last year, many experts projected Bartolo Colon and Mark Buerhle in the second half of drafts. Only to find out during the season that they should have gone much, much higher. Or Johnny Peralta and Jorge Cantu, who probably went undrafted in your leagues last year. Make sure you don't handicap yourself by selecting someone you won't feel comfortable dropping if they don't start strong. If that's the case, don't draft them at all in the hopes that they will stay off your opposition's radar and you can pick him up when he starts to heat up.

And my last tip: Work the wire. Every year there are ALWAYS waiver wire pickups that change the season for some managers. It never fails. A couple years ago, I picked up Esteban Loiaza in April off the waiver wire and he went on to win 20 games and finish 2nd in the Cy Young voting. I actually traded him along with Alfonso Soriano for Jeff Kent and Vlad. It won me the league. Bottom line: Players are destined to be over and under valued at the start of the season, no matter how much you prepare. No one went into the season last year thinking Derrick Lee would put up MVP-type numbers.

Happy Drafting!

Jeremy

Welcome to the first edition to Addicted to Fantasy! This blog will have to do with all things having to do with fantasy sports, along with some spillover into the real world of sports. To start off, I'll tell you a little about me... I'm 24 years old, I live in Pleasanton, California which is about 20 minutes outside Oakland and about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco, in the East Bay. I graduated from Chico State University in Spring of 2004 with a BA in Communicaiton Design- Media Arts. I used to really want to go into sports broadcasting, but have since soured on that. I currently have a job doing sales for a company called HomeGain, and moonlight as a utility worker for ESPN... at least when they're in town for baseball.

So, I'm sure you're asking why am I worthy of dishing out fantasy sports advice??? Well.... it's because I'm addicted to playing them. I've been playing various versions of fantasy sports since 1997 and I spend most of my free time online reading about and researching fantasy sports. I'll play pretty much any fantasy sport out there, but my passion is and always will be my first love baseball. I also play football, basketball, hockey, golf, and auto racing, however I only really follow the Big 3. I'm trying to expand into hockey although it's tough when you don't really care about the sport itself. I hear a lot of casual fantasy players out there say they play fantasy sports because it makes the televised games more interesting to watch. If their favorite team isn't playing, there's probably someone on their fantasy team playing. I play them because it's the only way I can satisfy my appetite for information pertaining to the sport. My obsession with all things sports has turned into a constant scramble for new information about anything I determine to be interesting. Makes January a tough time of the year I'll tell you that. Baseball doesn't start till February, the Warriors always suck so basketball isn't all that interesting, and football is over. Not to mention that teams don't play everyday in ANY fantasy game except baseball. It makes me do crazy things like play fantasy hockey, golf, and auto racing!!

That's about it for now. I will be preparing more blogs to be posted shortly... this time actually having to do with some relevent fantasy information. I will leave you with some words of wisdom from the great Pudge Rodriguez: "If you throw at someone's head, it's very dangerous, because in the head is the brain." Gotta love that one...

Jeremy