FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS ON FACEBOOOK

Thursday, March 31, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL LATE GAMES WRAPUP


More games to get to on this opening day.  Lets get to it.

Torii Hunter:  2/5 with 1 HR.  Hunter still has pop in his bat but the steals could be a thing of the past as he continues to age.  Has dropped down to OF 3 status.

Jeff Mathis:  2/4 with 1 HR.  Mathis somehow fell into a home run here.  Enjoy it because this could be the only one he gets all season.

Mark Trumbo:  0/4.  Not a good day for spring training sleeper.  See Morse, Michael.

Mike Aviles:  1/5 with 1 HR.  Aviles was not much of a home run hitter going up through the minors but he has been hot all spring and offers nice skills with steals and average.  If he can continue to hit some dingers than even better.  So far so good on carrying over last season's nice finish.

Alex Gordon:  0/5.  You got to be kidding me bro.  After the spring you had you come out with this garbage?????  I mean enough is enough.  I got on board once again after the 5 HR/5 SB spring and this is how you start off.  You get a week tops to turn it around.

Kila Ka'aihue:  0/3.  Ughh.  One game.  One game. 

Jered Weaver:  6 1/3 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 L W.  I love this guy.  Went hard after him in one of my money league drafts and very thankful I got him.  Last season was legit folks.  I said it all spring. 

Fernando Rodney:  scorless ninth with 1 H and 1 BB with 2 K's for his first save.  Always an adventure with this guy.  Still cant see him holding onto the job past May.

Cameron Maybin:  2/5 with 1 HR.  Tuff Rhodes meet the 2011 version of yourself.

Colby Rasmus:  2/3 in the prized two hole.  Rasmus is primed for a big year hitting in front of Albert Pujols.  20/20 season???  You bet. 

Matt Holliday:  3/4 with 2 RBI and 1 HR.  Usualy it takes Holliday a bit to get going but hitting behind Pujols gives him a big advantage.

Tim Stauffer:  6 IP 9 H 2 ER 1 BB 2 K.  I have seen more than a few places touting Stauffer as a fantasy baseball sleeper by am not buying it.  He doesnt strike out nearly enough to be worth owning.

Heath Bell:  perfect ninth for first save.  As long as he is not dealt than his value remains as a top five closer.

Chris Carpenter:  7 IP 2 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K.  Carpenter got a no-decision despite pitching great.  This is the Carpenter that you will get from now on.  Tough to hit minus the high K's.  Also the injury issue continues to hang over him but for now he seems poised to be one of the better starters.

Ryan Franklin:  first blown save after seving up the Maybin home run.  I have always said its only a matter of time before Franklin's lack of K's do him in.  Jason Motte has to be a handcuff if you foolishly invested here.

FANTASY BASEBALL GAME WRAPUP: OPENING DAY


As always opening day brings with it tons of excitement and overreaction when it comes to fantasy baseball.  Lets take a look at how the first day's action went with a focus on the key fantasy baseball stocks.

Mark Texeira:  1/3 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.  We all know that Tex sucks in April but at least for one game we can bask in some positive results.  Actually its technically March so his suckiness will commence tomorrow. 

Russell Martin:  1/3 with 2 runs and 1 SB.  Nice to see Martin steal a base as his knees looked in worse shape than your grandma sitting over by the window petting her cats.  Martin is a solid option in two catcher formats but nothing more at this point.

Brett Gardner:  0/2 with 2 K's.  Gardner struggled badly in the leadoff spot when he got the chance last season so its key how he does early on here.  If he continues to struggle, than Joe Girardi will likely keep Jeter at leadoff full time.  For Gardner's fantasy baseball value, being at the top of the order is key for maximizing stats so hope he gets hot.

Curtis Granderson:  1/3 with 1 HR.  Granderson hit his dinger off lefty Phil Coke which was nice to see. He looks to be fine from the oblique strain he suffered last week and so all speed ahead.  His swing is perfect for Yankee Stadium so a solid season could be in the offing.  He has to stay solid against lefties though.

Austin Jackson:  1/4 with 3 K's.  He was one of my bigger busts for 2011 so just saying.  His high K rate and lack of walks along with the correction in BABIP that is on the way is likely to plunge his numbers.

Justin Verlander:  6 IP 3 H 3 ER 4 BB 8 K.  It was a mostly solid day for Verlander who really can be argued threw one bad pitch that Texeira deposited over the wall.  The strikeouts were great as usual but the walks are an annoying recurrence once in awhile.  He is a safe fantasy baseball ace who will get better after April which is his worst month easily.

C.C. Sabbathia:  6 IP 6 H 2 ER 2 BB 7K.  Sabbathia is another one who struggles out of the gate but he was very good here.  Another very safe fantasy baseball ace who always turns a profit.

Mariano Rivera:  perfect ninth for first save.  Yeah he is good.

Jason Heyward:  1/2 with 1 HR.  Just like last season, Heyward goes yard in the opener.  Heyward should try to get hypnotized every game day so he can be convinced its opening day everyday.  Now that would be a fantasy baseball season to see.

Brian McCann:  2/4 with 1 RBI.  McCann has actually become the boring vet with upstarts Buster Posey and Carlos Santana newly arriving to steal the spotlight.  He is as safe as they come at a thin position who could easily outproduce those guys.

Michael Morse:  0/4.  Not the start fantasy baseball sleeper sleuths were hoping for.  Give it a few more days until you drop him folks. 

Derek Lowe:  5 2/3 IP 3 H 0 ER 2BB 6 K with the win.  Lowe is very capable of these outings from time to time but unless you are in a deep league, he is not someone you want to own for more than spot starts.

Craig Kimbrel:  perfect ninth innings with 2 K's for the save.  Jonny Venters pitchers the eighth but whats key here is that if this were going to be based on matchups like manager Freddie Gonzalez claimed, than Venters should have been out there in the ninth but Kimbrel got the save.  That tells you all you need to know in that the team wants and will give Kimbrel the chance to win the job outright. 

Sean Burnett:  scoreless inning with 1 hit.  Burnett pitched last out of the Nationals bullpen and I would bet he would have gotten the save chance if one were there.  Drew Storen is the guy the team wants to run with the job but his horrid spring likely has the team looking toward Burnett to settle things for now.

John Axford:  2/3 IP 2 H 4 ER 1 BB 1 K 1 BS.  WHOAH what a spectacularly blown save this was.  Axford should get two blown saves for this one.  He was dreadful and if you remember I noted how awful he was in spring training until stabilizing late.  I brought in the name Derrek Turnbow as a guy who came out of nowhere like Axford did to have a huge season and than just as quickly faded away due to terrible pitching.  Not saying this is how it will turn out here but Axford continues to be a mess in 2011.  Remember there is a guy with a wealth of experience in the eighth inning whose name is Takashi Saito.  Just saying.

Drew Stubbs:  2/5 with 2 runs 1 HR and 1 RBI.  Nice start for Stubbs who needs to prove he can hit leadoff after struggling in that spot last season.  The power seems to be legit now after not showing it in the minors and a 20/40 bonanza is likely in the works if he holds onto the top spot.

Joey Votto:  1/2 with 1 HR and 2 RBI.  Votto picked up right where he left off last season by hitting his first bomb of the season.  This guy will rake all season and threaten the top offensive spot in the game.

Ramon Hernandez:  4/5 with 3 RBI and 1 HR.  That stampede you hear are overeager fantasy baseball owners rushing to the waiver wire to add Hernandez.  Hold on folks.  Take it easy here.  Hernandez is still a lame fantasy baseball catcher in one catcher leagues and serviceable in two catcher formats.  Nice game but don't go overboard.  He is what he is and that's a mediocre offensive backstop. 

Rickie Weeks:  2/5 with 1 HR.  Weeks has turned into a major offensive force at second base.  Just stay healthy dude.  The Milwaukee clubhouse has supposedly been inundated with mom's who are fans of the team mailing Weeks vitamins and hot soup.  Hey whatever works.  Try to run once in awhile also.

Ryan Braun:  2/3 with 1 HR and 3 R.  Braun is off to a nice start in proving why I screamed for all of you to draft him over Carlos Gonzalez.  A possible MVP season could be in store here.

Carlos Gomez:  1/4 with 1 HR.  Gomez hit a few home runs the first week last season also and than turned back into the bum he is.  Don't make the same mistake of adding him again even if he hits a home run every game for the next week.

Yovani Gallardo:  6 IP 7 H 2 ER 3 BB 4 K.  A ragged start by Gallardo who once again couldn't pitch deep due to an inefficient pitch count.  People tout him for stardom every season and although I think he is a very good pitcher, I just cant ever see him getting into the top two classes with his control issues.

Edinson Volquez:  6 IP 7 H 5 ER 2 BB 5 K.  This guy will be mass dropped tonight after this dog of an outing.  Volquez gave up home runs to the first two batters and so there were many fantasy baseball owners who had the dreaded INF next to their team ERA after only a few minutes of the season beginning.  I used to be attracted to the guy due to the K's but his control is a joke. 

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL WEEKLY SCHEDULE

The season is finally upon us and Mark Texeira's three-run bomb was a nice way to begin.  Now that we are underway, here is the weekly scheduele courtesy of yours truly that will cover everything and anything when it comes to fantasy baseball.

Sunday:  Fantasy Baseball Closing Time:  Latest news on closers such as demotions, injuries, and anything to do with saves.

Monday:  Weekly Fantasy Baseball Adds and Drops:  The recommended adds and drops for that particular week in fantasy baseball.

Tuesday:  Fantasy Baseball Balls and Strikes:  Latest on everything and anything to do with starting pitching.  FOR INSIDER SUBSCRIBERS  ONLY!

Wednesday:  Fantasy Baseball Hit and Run:  Latest on everything and anything to do with batters.  FOR INSIDER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY!

Thursday:  Fantasy Baseball DEEP WATCH:  The hot adds and drops for those who play in DEEP leagues.  FOR INSIDER SUBSCRIBERS ONLY!

In  addition to all of this, there will be the usual free Player Analyzer features, up-to-the-minute injury news, fantasy baseball issue articles, and much more.  We also will begin the Fantasy Baseball Reality Or Mirage feature which looks at player's off to hot starts who I will determine whether they are legit or frauds.  Finally the Fantasy Sports Boss Daily Fantasy Baseball Newsletter is always a hot item for INSIDER subscribers so if you  are not an INSIDER yet than use the BUY NOW link above to have access to all of the top info all year long for just $20.00.  Satisfaction guaranteed. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ANGELS PLAN ON HAVING 1B KENDRYS MORALES BACK IN AROUND THREE WEEKS

Anaheim Angels 1B Kendrys Morales is hoping to be back in about three weeks as he has been cleared to start running again.  Manager Mike Scoscia confirmed this plan and said Morales could be ready to play in a minor league game hopefully in around ten days if he responds well to the running.  He has been battling foot and ankle pain this spring as he recovers from last May's broken leg.

Analysis: Morales' stock continues to fall as its not looking like he will get back before end of April.  Even when he does return, its likely Scoscia will rest him often in order to keep him from getting re-injured.  If he is sitting on the wire than pick him up and stash him on the DL.  Either way his 2011 fantasy baseball season will not be up to his usual standards. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL WELCOME TO THE SHOW: BRANDON BELT 1B SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS


By now you all have heard that super hitting prospect Brandon Belt has made the Giants' opening day roster and the mad dash to the waiver wire was likely furious in the last two days.  Now that Belt is firmly established on the fantasy baseball rosters in your league, lets try and pinpoint what kind of impact he will have for 2011. 

First off, Belt is extremely young as he will turn only 23 during the season.  Looking for any hitter to make an immediate impact in the majors is asking a lot and Belt is pretty raw in addition since he has had only 48 at-bats over Double A.  The work he did compile in the minors last season was beyond impressive however as Belt wound up hitting an unreal .352 with 23 homers and 22 steals in 492 combined at-bats.  Very Joey Votto-esque numbers and ultimately that's who many compare Belt to as a pure hitter.  In due time its likely someone with Belt's tremendous plate discipline could vault into that stratosphere but for now expectations have to be muted a bit. 

Looking a bit deeper into the player himself, like I said above Belt has a tremendous approach at the plate where he minimizes strikeouts and has a very high contact and walk rate.  Sound familiar to anyone on the Giants roster?  If you wouldn't know it, you would think I was talking about catcher Buster Posey who as we all know made a big time impact during his 2010 debut.  No doubt Belt has the natural tools to have the same type of impact but Posey had much more Triple A at-bats which had him a bit more prepared.  One thing that Belt does that Posey cant is steal bases and its not often you see a first baseman with that type of speed.  Belt could swipe low double-digits as soon as this season and could easily lead the position in the future.  Either way Belt has the same type of ceiling as Posey which makes him a sure fire waiver add.

All in all, Brandon Belt should be scooped up in all fantasy baseball leagues and there is always a chance for him to make the type of rookie impact that Posey did last season.  Anyone with that type of plate discipline has a chance to succeed immediately so I recommend taking a shot here and see where it goes. 

2011 PROJECTION:  .288 B 55 R 17 HR 71 RBI 10 SB

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GIANTS TO OFFICIALLY START BRANDON BELT AT 1B FOR OPENER


A year after hitting the jackpot with super prospect Buster Posey, the Giants are hoping to go 2/2 this season by starting off the year with Brandon Belt at first base for the opener.  Belt made the Giants opening day roster after a 3 home run/2 stolen base debut and Aubrey Huff shifts to the outfield.  Belt is coming off a huge minor league campaign in 2010 and has brought a ton of excitement to the club.

Analysis:  Great to see the Giants not holding him back to delay his arbitration clock.  Belt has all the tools necessary to be a big time hitter and he stands a good chance of contributing in fantasy baseball this season.  Belt has been compared to Joey Votto as a guy who can hit for a high average with very good power and underrated speed.  Pick him up in all leagues. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BREWERS PLACE OUTFIELDER COREY HART ON DL FOR OBLIQUE


The Milwaukee Brewers did the obvious and placed outfielder Corey Hart on the DL retroactive to March 22 with a strained oblique.  Hart has missed most of spring training with the issue and has only recently taken batting practice.  He is likely to be out until mid-April.

Analysis:  Hart was one of my 2011 Fantasy Baseball Busts and it wasnt even for the reason of being prone to getting hurt.  Either way whether he is hurt or healthy, Hart will have a tough time coming close to replicating his 2010 numbers. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ORIOLES TO SPLIT CLOSING DUTIES BETWEEN KOJO UEHARA AND KEVIN GREGG TO START SEASON


The Baltimore Orioles apparently will split closer duties between Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg to open the 2011 season.  A report from the team's website stated that the recovering from injury Uehara wont be able to pitch on back-to-back days yet which is why the split is needed.  There is little doubt that manager Buck Showalter eventually wants Uehara to own the job outright in due time as he spoke glowingly about him last season and this spring.

Analysis:  This is great news for those who banked on Uehara winning the lion's share of saves.  It was unfathomable to me how the Orioles would go into the season with the terrible Gregg as the closer after his awful spring and league leading blown saves last season.  Uehara is the guy to own long term and rightfully so.  Go get him now. 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: TOP FIVE CLOSERS WHO WILL LOSE THEIR JOBS IN 2011

Yes the closer position is once again causing havoc in fantasy baseball circles with the injuries to Brian Wilson, Frank Francisco, and to a much larger degree Brad Lidge causing much angst already with the season  not even underway yet.  Today I will identify further turmoil to come, specifically speaking the top five closers who will lose their jobs this season due to poor performance.  Be sure to get yourself familiar with who is next in line so that you can snatch up the replacements before the rest of the league gets wind of it. 

1.  Fernando Rodney (Angels):  This one is almost too obvious.  Rodney is not even a decent pitcher but yet the Angels are entrusting him to serve as the team's closer.  This has disaster written all  over it as Rodney has been blasted all spring and there are solid alternatives that could take over and do a nice job here.  Hisanori Takahashi would figure to get first crack since he did well in a short stint as the Mets closer last season.  He has a nice K rate and has been much tougher to hit than he was as a starting pitcher.  Another name to keep an eye on is rookie  Jordan Palmer who  racked up insane strikeouts in a late season call-up with the club last season.  He walks too many guys but he has the classic makeup of a power stopper.
Expected  Demotion:   April

2.  Drew Storen (Nationals):  This might already have started taking place as Storen is coming off a 4 ER, 2/3 IP horror show in Tuesday's spring outing.  Storen has gotten hit all spring and there is a ready made replacement in the form of Sean Burnett who picked up some saves in splitting duties with Storen last season.  Burnett was very impressive in his first full season as a setup man and has been unhittable this spring.  In fact Storen has a chance of not even making the team due to how poorly he has pitched this spring training.
Expected Demotion:  April

3.  Kevin Gregg (Orioles):  Gregg is quite possibly the worst closer in the game and his dreadful spring is more evidence of this.  He will be  facing an uphill battle to keep his  job with Buck Showalter favorite Koji Uehara getting healthy.  Uehara did a nice job as the team's closer the second half of last season but injuries and the gopher ball have held him back from getting the gig full time.  Still Uehara is the much better pitcher and its likely he only has to show he is healthy for Buck to make the change in the lineup.
Expected Demotion:  May

4.  Francisco Cordero:  Cordero has seen a steady drop in almost all of his stats the last three seasons and he  has a certain 105-mph flamethrower waiting behind  him to steal the job for the next decade.  Aroldis Chapman of course is the man in question but he has struggled a bit this spring to think this will happen right away.  Still the Reds didn't pay him all that money to be a setup man and Cordero's rising walk rate and declining strikeout rate could thrust him into the money bullpen spot in short order.
Expected Demotion:  June

5.  Brandon Lyon:  Lyon is the epitome of the visually unimpressive closer.  He doesn't have  the power fastball that most closers have and relies on location to get outs which is always dicey.  Wilson Lopez is a young power arm who profiles as the team's closer of the future and if the Astros are out of it by the trade deadline, Lyon could be easily dealt. 
Expected Demotion:  July

As always you got to keep a close eye on everything that has to do with closer's in fantasy baseball.  It seems like there is a change taking place every week and thus its further evidence you don't need to chase saves in drafts.

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUPS: GIANTS LEANING TOWARD KEEPING 1B BRANDON BELT WITH TEAM

Prospect hounds take note:  the San Francisco Giants are leaning toward keeping prized 1B Brandon Belt with the team for the start of the season and shifting Aubrey Huff to the outfield.  Belt is the best hitting prospect in the Giants' organization and has done nothing to dispute that title this spring with solid power and hitting.  He would be a starter from the get go and have immediate fantasy baseball value.

Analysis:  I think Belt has a tremendous amount of ability but I will withhold judgement until I see how he does at the start.  He is very young but has plate discipline to suceed immediately.  Take a flier in deep league and wait a bit in 12 teams or less setups. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS UPDATE: PHILLIES CLOSER BRAD LIDGE COULD BE OUT UNTIL ALL STAR BREAK NOW


There was some confusion about the timetable regarding Phillies closer Brad Lidge and the time he would spend on the DL with the rotator cuff strain that was confirmed with an MRI Tuesday.  The original timetable of 3-6 weeks which was first reported has now been noted as how long it will take Lidge to begin throwing again.  He will thus need to build up strength in the area from that point in time which could keep him on the shelf possibly until the midway point of the season.  "Best case is between 3-6 weeks to not throw at all," explained Lidge. "Then you’ve got to build up just as much on the other side, however long it takes. I’m thinking in my mind I’ve got to be back for the second half and have a real good second half, make sure I’m stronger than before. Not just where I was, but stronger. It’s a partial tear of the rotator cuff. If it was in the labrum, that’s game over, out for the season. The rotator cuff doesn’t have to be … It’s still a crappy feeling."  That about says it all in regards to this issue and either way Lidge's value takes a huge hit.

Anlaysis:  Wow like it cant get any worse.  Lidge is likely to be out until the break and so his value is in the pits while Jose Contreras takes on even more relevancy.  Hope you made the proactive move and got him before someone else did. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILLIES CLOSER BRAD LIDGE OUT 3-6 WEEKS WITH ROTATOR CUFF STRAIN


The diagnosis is in and the news is not great.  Phillies closer Brad Lidge will be out 3-6 weeks with a rotator cuff strain which was revealed by the MRI he took on Tuesday. Lidge is already on the DL and will stay there until mid-May.  There is even reason to think it could be longer if he is a slow healer.  Jose Contreras will close in his place.

Analysis:  Tough break but you knew what you were getting into after drafting Lidge.  Contreras is an immediate pickup and has nice value closing games for one of the best teams in the league.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: PHILLIES MANAGER CHARLIE MANUAL ENDORSES JOSE CONTRERAS TO CLOSE UNTIL BRAD LIDGE RETURN


Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel lent some clarity to the team's closer situation with Brad Lidge starting the season on the DL.  Asked by reporters today, Manuel said if he has his choice, he would choose Contreras to close instead of Ryan Madson.  Lidge is waiting results of an MRI that will determine how long he will stay sidelined.

Analysis:  No surprise here as Madson has struggled constantly when being put in there to close.  Contreras looked good in Lidge's place last season when the latter was hurt and makes an immediate grab in all fantasy baseball leagues. 

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT FROM MARINERS STARTER MICHAEL PINEDA????


The Seattle Mariners surprisingly have named 22 year old phenom pitcher Michael Pineda as the team's fifth starter to open the season.  The surprise is the fact that the team, going against the trend by most of their counterparts, decided not to delay his arbitration clock by waiting until June 1 to promote him and instead felt the team would be better off having him all season.  There is a great deal of excitement regarding Pineda this season as most young pitchers with his type of blazing fastball do every season.  He is still very young however and not exactly a finished product.  So with that being said, lets try and figure out what Pineda will be able to do from a fantasy baseball perspective.

Like I said earlier, Pineda has an explosive fastball that touches the high 90's which induces a great number of strikeouts.  Pineda's performance this spring confirmed this as he struck out 15 batters in 17 innings, highlighted with his final spring start where he rang up 7 batters in 6 innings while giving up only 3 hits and 2 walks.  Very impressive indeed.  In fact Pineda has a great deal of poise for someone so young and his control has also been very solid as well which is not something you see in most young pitchers.  That's eliminates some of the risk in investing with a starter this raw and so based on this alone, Pineda makes a nice sleeper to pick up early on to see how he can do. 

One red flag with Pineda though is injury as he has had an elbow surgery under his belt already and his mechanics entail him using a great deal of torque on his shoulder as well.  While Pineda has had no injury issues since his elbow procedure, its something to be aware of for sure.  Also Pineda will have an innings limit somewhere in the 160 range since he is so young so he is likely to not be as much of a help in the second half of the season when you may need him the most.  Again something you need to be cognizant of as we head into the season.

All in all, Michael Pineda is a very exciting young pitching prospect who might be able to do some nice things this fantasy baseball season.  We are not talking about anything near a Stephen Starsburg debut but maybe something along the lines of what Jordan Zimmerman did before his TJ surgery a few years back with a lower ERA.  He is worth a pickup to see where this goes for sure and there is always the chance of striking it rich here.

FANTASY BASEBALL STAT OF THE DAY


Detroit Tigers SP Max Scherzer spring numbers:  10.30 ERA 2.02 WHIP 5 HR 10 BB in 17.2 IP.

Not the way you wanted to see Scherzer start off before the season.  Those are downright disgusting numbers which continues to highlight how inconsistent Scherzer is.  This was highlighted by his last outing where he gave up 12 runs (11 ER) in only 2.1 IP.  He was horrendous at the start of last season and was sent to the minors so there is rightful concern about whether the same will occur again. 

As far as my personal feelings, I avoided Scherzer in both my money fantasy baseball leagues.  He is too inconsistent with his release point which doesnt allow him to pitch deep into games and causes him to walk too many guys.  I like the strikeout rate but last season's second half run inflated his price beyond what I am willing to pay here.

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUPS: YANKEES TO BAT BRETT GARDNER LEADOFF FOR OPENER


The New York Yankees have decided to start outfielder Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot for the team's season opener Thursday as manager Joe Girardo decided to see how the speedster will fare at the top of the order.  Derek Jeter moves to the number 2 hole for the time being.  Girardi didnt say whether this would be permanent but its an intriguing move nonetheless due to Gardner's ability to collect steals.

Analysis:   There is a lot of fantasy baseball permutations at work here as Gardner could seriously threaten the 70 steal plateau if he remains healthy.  Also 100 runs is a given.  For Jeter, this would open up some more RBI opportunities for him while also impacting his steals negatively.  It is possible Girardi is experimenting here and Gardner struggled in the leadoff spot before so this is not set in stone for sure.  Att he very least this is a very interesting development to keep track of here.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS OUTFIELDER JASON BAY LIKELY TO DL WITH STRAINED INTERCOSTAL MUSCLE


New York Mets outfielder Jason Bay headed into the 2011 determined to put his concussion-marred 2010 behind him.  He almost made it to the start of the season until being scratched from Tuesday's spring game with a strained intercostal muscle.  It is not known how Bay strained the muscle but these injuries tend to linger and so its likely he begins the season on the DL.

Analysis:  Tough break as I considered Bay a nice bounceback candidate for fantasy baseball this season but now this.  Strained intercostal muscles can take up to a month to heal so its likely Bay will sit for awhile.  Here we go again.

FANTASY BASEBALL OVERRATED/UNDERRATED: BJ UPTON/WILL VENABLE OUTFIELDERS

Been quite awhile since we took at look at some overrated/underrated commodities in fantasy baseball so lets go to the outfield position to find two such examples of similar players stats wise who were drafted incredibly far apart for one reason or another.  That brings me to the Tampa Bay Ray's BJ Upton and the San Diego Padres' Will Venable.  Say what????  How can I possibly talk about the two of these guys in the same sentence?  Despite his frustrating inconsistency, Upton is miles ahead of Venable which is why he is routinely drafted in the first five rounds of both rotisserie and head-to-head fantasy baseball drafts while Venable is mostly not even picked.  Now of course I am not suggesting that I would ever take Upton over Venable in any draft.  That's never the point I try to make here.  What I do try to accomplish however is point out guys who actually have pretty similar numbers despite the fantasy baseball public viewing them in extremely disparate terms.  So before we go any further, lets break them down in regards to the numbers they put up last season:

BJ Upton:  536 AB 89 R 18 HR 62 RBI 42 SB .237 AVG

Will Venable:  392 AB 60 R 13 HR 51 RBI 29 SB .245 AVG

The first thing that should be obvious when looking at numbers here is that Upton received 144 more at-bats which impacts the counting stats without a doubt.  Whats interesting though is that despite the difference, Venable has only five fewer HR's, 11 fewer RBI, and a better average.  Venable's pace would have enabled him to post just as many steals as well while posting more homers, RBI and getting close in runs.  All for a guy who has gone undrafted in most leagues while Upton was an early middle round choice. 

Taking this a step further, Venable has had a big spring with 4 home runs and 5 steals while hitting .267.  This is compared to Upton's 2 homers with 3 steals while hitting .286.  Very similar stats for sure and really when it comes down to it, both players have almost the same type of fantasy baseball profile.  Both have struggles with batting average due to very high K rates.  Both guys have decent pop in the high teens range.  Both guys have above average speed that will net 40 steals for Upton and possibly that amount for Venable.  In fact the Padres have spoken of how they want to run more and believe Venable will reach that 40 swipe mark.  When you take into account the draft spots, its clear to see just how distorted fantasy baseball owners' view of both guys are.  It goes from one extreme to the other.  Really when it comes down to it, they could very well supply the same type of stats for this season so if you are an Upton owner, you might want to take advantage of the name value of the Tampa Bay speedster and try to obtain a more stable player for your club.

What do you think of the comparison between the two?  Is it really that far fetched to say the two are similar fantasy baseball options?  Lets hear it.  Post your responses below.  Please keep it clean.

Monday, March 28, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GIANTS CLOSER BRIAN WILSON WILL LIKELY NOT BE READY TO GO FOR START OF SEASON


San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson is likely to begin the season on the DL as he is running out of time in recovering from his oblique issue.  Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed as much today and so Sergio Romo will fill-in until he is ready which shouldnt be too long after the season begins. 

Analysis:  This is not a big deal as Wilson should miss on week tops.  Romo could net 2-3 saves in that time period so he is worth a look if you need saves out of the gate.  If you are well stocked in that department, dont bother here.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PADRES SP MAT LATOS TO START SEASON ON DL


The San Diego Padres made it official in placing SP Mat Latos on the DL for the start of the season.  General manager Jed Hoyer made the announcement on Monday but Latos will still attempt to throw tomorrow. 

Analysis:  Not a surprise here as Latos was facing an uphill battle to get ready for the start of the season.  The Padres wont need a fifth starter until April 12th so if his shoulder responds well tomorrow, its possible he returns on that day.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PADRES SP MAT LATOS TO ATTEMPT TO THROW TUESDAY


San Diego Padres SP Mat Latos is facing a big test on Tuesdaty as far as his availability for the start of the fantasy baseball season as he will attempt to throw off flat ground and see how his shoulder responds.  Latos came down with soreness in the area last week and has been shut down since.  If all goes well, he stands a decent chance of being ready for the start of the season.

Analysis:  There will be a lot of fantasy baseball owners on the edge of their seats Tuesday to see how Latos respond with his throwing session.  Latos remains a huge risk this season due to the innings jump he went through last season and so he already could be feeling the effects before the season even gets underway.  Stay tuned and check back for up-to-the-minute updates as they come out. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES 2B CHASE UTLEY SAYS "GOAL" IS TO MAKE IT BACK BEFORE ALL STAR BREAK


This is what its come down to apparently now with Phillies 2B Chase Utley as he was probed by reporters today at the team's spring training complex.  There is still no progress as far as Utley's knee is concerned and at one point he was asked if he would be back before the All Star break.  Utley's answer???  "That would be a goal, yes."  Utley will begin the season on the DL.

Analysis:  This is getting to be ridiculous  A part of me is starting to believe the team already know he is done for the season but don't want to make an announcement for fear of demoralizing the team right off the bat.  Either way Utley is already looking like one of the biggest busts in fantasy baseball this season.  By the way not to toot my own horn but check out what I wrote waaayyyy back on February 6 before news of this ailment got out as I discussed "scary" early round picks for this season from a fantasy baseball angle.  The link to the rest of the article is here:  http://www.thefantasysportsboss.com/2011/02/2011-fantasy-baseball-early-round-scary.html

3. Chase Utley: Utley was hands down the top dog at second base for the better part of five years plus but he now has been passed by Robinson Cano off an injury-wracked 2010 season. Before last season, Utley had been a very durable player who put up first round stats but now there is reason to worry some. The first issue is his age as Utley is now 32 years old which is getting up there for a second baseman. The wear and tear of the position is very tough on the body and its likely Utley finally felt its effects in 2010. One only has to look back a at guys such as Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomoar, and others who seemingly lost it from one season to the next as examples of how quickly guys can drop off at the position. Now Utley came back very strong in September for the Phillies which bodes well for 2011 but just keep in mind the threat of more injuries as he turns another year older and a year further from his prime.





Don't mean to say I told you so but I TOLD YOU SO.  Heed my advice on the others as well if you want to avoid risk this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL WEEK 1 ADDS AND DROPS


Well with the season just a few days away, we begin our seasonal Fantasy Baseball Adds and Drops column which will appear every Monday here.  Since the season hasnt actually gotten underway to this point, we will mainly just discuss hot pickups for the week with a heavy emphasis on spring trainings results.  So without further adieu lets get to it.

Week 1 Fantasy Baseball Adds:

Alex Gordon 3B/OF:  Gordon right now is clicking on all cylinders in spring training as he has cracked 5 home runs with 5 stolen bases.  Thats David Wright looking stats and with his average in the mid-.300 range, the hope is that Gordon may finally have discovered what was holding him back to this point.  As the number two overall pick of his draft class, Gordon has the pedigree of someone who could be a star.  Give him one more chance to see if this finally is the year.

Kila Ka'aihue 1B:  Its crazy how many Royals have been on fire this spring.  The Killer has been a monster with 6 home runs and an average over .400.  Ka'aihue has been putting up big time power numbers in the minors for years and so he should easily hit 20-25 homers with the chance to do even more.  Power is quickly vanishing as we move away from the steroids era so getting this type of home run production at a ridiculously cheap price is a win-win situation.

Mike Aviles 2B/SS:  Yet another Royal as Aviles has 2 home runs with 5 steals and a .410 average.  Remember we saw Aviles go off like this last September as he had 6 steals in that month alone so his newfound confidence on the bases is carrying over it looks like at this point.  Since SS is incredibly shallow, Aviles is a nice fallback option if you starter doesnt cut it.

Mitch Moreland 1B:  Anyone hitting in Texas deserves out fantasy baseball attention and Moreland has four home runs this spring on the heels of his breakout the second half of 2010.  Moreland hsa won the starting first base job and ha the chance to put up a nice power and RBI season.

Erik Bedard SP:  Bedard is dragging fantasy baseball owners in again due to his very solid spring training.  After missing all last season with injury, Bedard seems to be feeling no pain in his repaired shoulder and looks to be primed for a useful season.  As long as you keep expectations realistic, Bedard could be a nice source of strikeouts.

Sergio Romo/Jon Rauch RP:  Both guys wil serve as short-term closers for their teams with injuries taking out the incumbents.  Saves are saves so even one week in the role could net 2-3 handshakes. 

Chris Iannetta C:  Iannetta has hit well this spring and will be given the everyday job this season.  Since he plays in the thin air and has shown nice power in the past, Iannetta is someone who makes the perfect number 2 catcher in rotissierre leagues.  He even could get mixed-league value if he continues hitting.

Peter Bourjos OF:  Bourjos has the look of the next Drew Stubbs as someone who will hit for a mediocre average with decent pop and great speed.  If you missed out on Stubbs in your draft, than go for his twin off the free agent wire.

Coco Crisp OF:  Crisp was a man possessed on the basepaths last season and he makes the perfect cheap speed option than I always yell about waiting for.  Hope you listened Jacoby Ellsbury fans.  He has has underrated pop which he showed in spring training and is capable of 10 homers with 35 steals. 

There you have it.  No drops to discuss until the games get underway.  Always stay on top with the latest happenings in the fantasy baseball world with The Fantasy Sports Boss.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED RELIEF PITCHER RANKINGS


Last but not least we have the updated 2011 fantasy baseball relief pitcher rankings.  Closers are always a very volatile commodity and things have gone right as scheduled this spring with injuries, camp battles, and more which has shaken up the rankings.  Lets see how they currently stack up with the season days away.

1. Joakim Soria



2. Heath Bell


3. Mariano Rivera


4. Brian Wilson


5. Neftali Feliz


6. Carlos Marmol


7. Matt Thornton


8. Jonathan Papelbon


9. Francisco Rodriguez


10. JJ Putz


11. Jose Valverde


12. Chris Perez


13. Jonathan Broxton


14. Huston Street


15. Joe Nathan


16. John Axford


17. Brad Lidge


18. Francisco Cordero


19. Joel Hanrahan


20. Craig Kimbrel


21. David Aardsma


22. Brandon Lyon


23. Ryan Franklin


24. Drew Storen


25. Leo Nunez


26. Kevin Gregg


27. Koji Uehara


28. Luke Gregerson


29. Matt Capps


30. Jonny Venters


31. Jon Rauch


32. Sergio Romo

-Really outside of Soria at number 1, a case can be made that the next five guys (Rivera, Wilson, Feliz, Bell, Marmol) are all interchangeable and can be ranked in a million different combinations as far as fantasy baseball is concerned.  All carry a high price due to the volatility at the position so you have to decide if you are willing to pay that freight.  Personally I wont as I suggest you wait on saves but I wont begrudge anyone who does it.
-Matt Thornton is going to be a stud closer this season and it would be a smart idea to try and steal him from an unsuspecting owner who is not sold on his ability since he has been a setup man for years.  He will be money all season.
-The Braves will split closing duties between Kimbrel and Venters which is frustrating as far as fantasy baseball is concerned but hopefully one guy will grab the reigns.  If either one struggles early, that very well could occur.
-Brad Lidge is going for an MRI on Tuesday and that will go a long way in determining his value.  Jose Contreras will likely be the closer in his place until he gets back whenever that is.
-Kevin Gregg is a joke which we all know.  With Koji Uehara getting healthy, look for him to steal the job quickly if Gregg struggles as expected.
-Despite what manager Jim Riggelman says about using Sean Burnett at times to close games, Drew Storen is the guy here and he has a chance to be very good.  He has the high K rate needed for the job and the first round draft pedigree to be the team's closer for years.

That's all folks.  Lets hear who I have ranked too high or too low. 



Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS


Its almost ready to kick off the fantasy baseball reason and rotisserie and head-to-head owners surely have their teams drafted and ready to go.  The rankings below are a guide for gauging value so this is how I think the starting pitchers stack up heading into the season.

1.  Roy Halladay
2.  Felix Hernandez
3.  Tim Linecum
4.  Cliff Lee
5.  Clayton Kershaw
6.  Jon Lester
7.  Josh Johnson
8.  Ubaldo Jimenez
9.  Justin Verlander
10. Cole Hamels
11. Jered Weaver
12. CC Sabbathia
13. Tommy Hanson
14. Zack Greinke
15. Dan Haren
16. Yovani Gallardo
17. Matt Cain
18. David Price
19. Roy Oswalt
20. Mat Latos
21. Francisco Liriano
22. Chris Carpenter
23. Shaun Marcum
24. Ted Lilly
25. Max Scherzer
26. Clay Buchholz
27. Brett Anderson
28. Ryan Dempster
29. Brandon Morrow
30. Chad Billingsly
31. Gio Gonzalez
32. Daniel Hudson
33. Jonathan Sanchez
34. Madison Bumgarner
35. Javier Vasquez
36. Colby Lewis
37. John Danks
38. Jeremy Hellickson
39. Brian Matusz
40. Matt Garza

-Zack Greinke takes a nice tumble down the rankings due to the fact his broken rib will likely keep him out until the end of April.  Greinke just started throwing the other day so we got a ways to go before we see his anticipated NL debut.
-From 20-23 you have the spring injury scares with Carpenter, Liriano, Latos, and Marcum.  All but Latos have recovered but alll remain injury risks you should think about trading if you can before they get hurt again.
-Clayton Kershaw could be number 1 by next season.  Just saying.
-CC Sabbathia is lower on my fantasy baseball rankings than most due to the division and the fact he has seen an increase in hit rate the last three seasons and a decrease in K rate.  Its not overly obvious but its happening nonetheless.  Still Sabbathia remains a stalwart ace in fantasy baseball circles once again.
-I have been sending out warnings all spring training about Clay Buchholz and how he will be big bust this season relative to what he did in 2010.  He was one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball last season with his strand rate and BABIP and since he is not a strikeout guy, the correction that is coming this season will blow up his numbers.  You heard it here.

That's a wrap.  Your respectful opinions are welcome.  Lets hear it. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: BRIAN WILSON AND FRANK FRANCISCO THROW WITHOUT PAIN, JOE NATHAN NAMED CLOSER


Lots of fantasy baseball closer news to get to with the season just a few days away.  Lets get to it.

-San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson had a second game of catch go without incident and he will ramp it up even more on Sunday.  If all goes well there, Wilson will throw a bullpen session.  He is running out of time to get ready for the opener but it looks like he will only miss a few games at most since he apparently is almost back to full strength.  Sergio Romo will close in his absence but it may not be worth the hassle since Wilson is so close to getting back.

-Blue Jays closer Frank Francisco is on his way back as well as he threw from 90 feet Sunday morning and reported no problem with his pectoral.  Same deal as Wilson in that a bullpen session is next and than a slight stay on the DL where Jon Rauch will close in his place.  Look for Francsico to return after only a few missed games.

-BAD NEWS ALERT:  Phillies closer Brad Lidge will have an MRI on Tuesday in order to determine if there is structural damage in his shoulder.  Lidge will start the season on the DL with Jose Contreras being the most likely for saves in his absence.  If structural damage is found, Lidge could be out for months and not weeks and Contreras sees his value go way up as far as fantasy baseball is concerned.  Ryan Madson is also a possibility but all signs point to Contreras, especially after he closed out a game the other day with Madson pitching the eighth.

-Twins manager Ron Gardenhire did the expected and named Joe Nathan his closer to start the season.  Nathan makes a tremendous value in fantasy baseball this season as he was a sure top five option for years before getting hurt last spring.  Matt Capps however should be kept around for a week or so to see if Nathan is up to the rigors of closing again.  I think he will be fine so no worried on my part.

As always the latest up to the minute closer news is reported as it happens so be sure to always check back.

FANTASY BASEBALL SPRNG TRANING STARS: WHO TO KEEP AN EYE ON EARLY IN THE SEASON


The 2011 fantasy baseball season gets underway only four days from now and it couldn't have gotten here faster as far as I'm concerned.  There have been injuries that have scuttled rankings and fantasy baseball owners' plans for their rosters but overall there is a sense of excitement and anticipation as the season gets underway.  To this point we have had a month of spring training games to study and analyze and no doubt there have been some standout performances that deserve our attention from a fantasy baseball angle.  With that being said, lets take a look at who the standouts were and whether or not they are worth out time as the season gets underway.

Alex Gordon:   I did a feature on Gordon last week discussing how hot he has been all spring and nothing has changed during that time.  In fact Gordon has been blistering since and ultimately has become fantasy baseball relevant again for the simple fact not that long ago he was touted as a cant-miss star who can hit for power and run like a track star.  Gordon has shown off all those tools this spring with a .367 average, 4 home runs with 3 steals and an insane 20 RBI.  We all know Gordon's awful batting averages and high K rates since making the majors but someone this talented cant be ignored.  Could be the classic case of a late bloomer and if so Gordon could be a huge value play for fantasy baseball this season.  If this indeed is legit. Gordon could hit 25 home runs with 20 steals at 3B while also retaining OF eligibility.  I already added him in both my money leagues and I suggest you do the same.

Jake Fox:  I didn't realize Babe Ruth got reincarnated in Fox' body.  All kidding aside though, Fox has been a mad man this spring with a league leading 9 home runs with a .318 average.  Fox has the all important catcher eligibility after coming up as a third baseman with the Cubs and so that alone should warrant fantasy baseball attention.  Ultimately though Fox needs a trade out of Baltimore due to the presence of Matt Wieters who will get the lion's share of starts as he should.  If Fox were to somehow find some everyday playing time, than by all means make the add.  Leave him on the wire for now.

Kila Ka'aihue:  The Royals have been tearing the cover off the ball all spring and Alex Gordon is being supported in that cause by the "Killer."  Kila Ka'aihue has always been touted as a major power bat throughout his minor league tenure but for some reason or another, the Royals never seemed to give him a chance.  He got a look toward the end of last season though and hit 8 home runs in that cup of coffee tenure.  He has carried that over to this spring where Ka'aihue has 6 homers and 17 RBI while hitting a robust .431.  Ka'aihue also is drawing a ton of walks so he is even more valuable in OBP leagues.  The power is the calling card though and in a league where home runs are drying up in this post-steroids era, Ka'aihue by all means deserves an add to see what he can do.  A possible 30 home run season could be in the works. 

Michael Morse:  I did a feature on him yesterday which you can find here:  http://www.thefantasysportsboss.com/2011/03/fantasy-baseball-issues-is-nationals.html  We now get word that Nyjer Morgan has been traded to the Brewers so Morse has less competition now for at-bats in the outfield. 

Mitch Moreland:  Morleand has made the most of all the opportunities he has gotten with the Rangers as he hit 9 home run in 145 at-bats last season and was a force in the playoffs and he has carried that over to this spring where he has 4 bombs with a .403 average.  There is tons of competition for at-bats in the Rangers infield as Michael Young is looking for work at first as well as DH like Moreland is.  The team has hinted that Moreland's hot spring however will get him the everyday first base job and if he can improve a bit against lefties, he could throw himself into the mixed league conversation. 

Michael Pineda:  The phenom pitching prospect for Seattle is ready to begin the season with the team as he showed he was ready by throwing six innings of 3-hit ball with 7 K's in his last spring outing.  Pineda has a very high ceiling and many compare him to his teammate Felix Hernandez which is saying a ton.  The issue though is that Pineda really only has a polished fastball and not much else at this point which could get exposed in the majors once he goes through the league.  Still the fastball is tremendous and a high K-rate is in the cards here.  Pick him up as your last starter and see where it goes.  He could be back in the minors by May or he could be on the way to a Rookie Of The Year season.  It could go either way so know that going in here.

There you have it.  All of these names could bust out and become big time fantasy baseball options this season so stay tuned to how they fare at the start of the season.  Its guys like this that can make the difference between winning your league of finishing out of the money.  You have been warned.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: IS NATIONALS OUTFIELDER MIKE MORSE A LEGIT OPTION?


One of the biggest starts of 2011 spring training has been Washington Nationals outfielder Mike Morse who hit his eighth home run of Grapefruit League play which is the second highest total in all of Major League Baseball outside of Baltimore's Jake Fox.  Morse is thus garnering some fantasy baseball consideration from league to league and so now is a good time to figure out what he can supply this season as far as numbers are concerned and whether he can be a help overall to the owner who makes the add.

As far as Mike Morse's history, he made his debut way back in 2005 for Seattle Mariners and put up nondescript seasons up until 2010 when he earned a career-high 266 at-bats.  Morse made the most of the work however as he hit 15 home runs with 41 RBI and a .289 average.  It was a nice season but nothing that lit the fantasy baseball world on fire.  The home run pace was the key however as Morse was on his way to a 32 homer season based on the prorated numbers.  Of course this is an overly simplistic way of analyzing what he could do but it does show you that Morse does have decent pop for a guy who is this under the radar this season. 

Breaking things down a bit more, Morse has been decent against both righties (.279) and lefties (.313) throughout his career and so a solid average in the .280-.300 range is not out of the question.  His one area of weakness however is strikeouts which could impact the average a bit as well.  Either way Morse has made the most of his at-bats in his career to this point and now that he is getting his chance, the intrigue is justified.

One problem with the potential Mike Morse 2011 fantasy baseball breakout is the logjam in the Washington outfield.  Jayson Werth is firmly entrenched in rightfield, while Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, Nyjer Morgan, and Morse will have to split time in center and left.  Manager Jim Riggelman hinted he would play matchups which could result in Morse missing some time.  However the team is also actively shopping Morgan and so if he goes, that makes things a bit less muddied.  Morse has been so good this spring that the Nationals would be crazy not to see where this goes, so its likely he gets the bulk of the starts right out of the gate.  If he can carry over his hot spring into the season, than he figures to continue getting the majority of the work.

All in all, Mike Morse makes a very nice sleeper outfielder for 2011 fantasy baseball.  Anyone who has this type of power has a spot in all fantasy baseball leagues and the value he supplies could be tremendous.

2011 PROJECTION:  .281 BA 62 R 24 HR 83 RBI 1 SB

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED OUTFIELDER RANKINGS


Outfielders are up today as we head into the homestretch of spring training.  Here is how the position stacks up from a fantasy baseball perspective.

1.  Ryan Braun
2.  Carlos Gonzalez
3.  Carl Crawford
4.  Matt Kemp
5.  Josh Hamilton
6.  Matt Holliday
7.  Justin Upton
8.  Shin-Soo Choo
9.  Nelzon Cruz
10. Jason Heyward
11. Jose Bautista
12. Andrew McCutchen
13. Hunter Pence
14. Alex Rios
15. Andre Ethier
16. Jayson Werth
17. Shane Victorino
18. Jacoby Ellsbury
19. Ichiro Suzuki
20. BJ Upton
21. Jay Bruce
22. Chris Young
23. Mike Stanton
24. Drew Stubbs
25. Colby Rasmus
26. Jason Bay
27. Nick Markakis
28. Delmon Young
29. Rajai Davis
30. Grady Sizemore
31. Nick Swisher
32. Austin Jackson
33. Juan Pierre
34. Adam Jones
35. Brett Gardner
36. Aubrey Huff
37. Bobby Abreu
38. Manny Ramirez
39. Torii Hunter
40. Carlos Lee

-You will thank me later for telling you all to draft Ryan Braun over Carlos Gonzalez.  I am not going to go over all the reasons again but trust me you made the right call.  A possible MVP season is on the way.
-Carl Crawford may not be as huge as expected since he will now bat third and has openly talked about not stealing as many bases as in the past.  Of course that's his biggest asset so a drop there would hurt.  Still he will fill up all the categories like usual.
-Josh Hamilton still scares the hell out of me which is why I have him fifth when his production warrants third.  Say a prayer and hope for the best.
-Matt Holliday is as safe a player as there is in fantasy baseball.  Yes he is no longer the monster he was in Colorado but the guy is still more than good.
-I am knocking down Ichiro more than most and that's for personal reasons I have against drafting speed merchants early.  On top of that, he plays in a horrid lineup and didn't even crack 80 runs last season.  Any drop in steals which could come quickly with his age turns him into an ordinary fantasy baseball player. 
-Jacoby Ellsbury's ADP was insane for someone coming off a completely useless fantasy baseball season.  Yes he looked great all spring but again speed merchants high in drafts is never a good idea.  There is tons of speed later.   I mean seriously how much more valuable is Ellsbury than say Juan Pierre who can be had in the last few rounds of a draft and give you just as many steals and runs with a competitive batting average to boot.  He also is the more durable player.  What am I missing here?  Please help.
-Big breakout candidates:  Colby Rasmus, Mike Stanton, and Jay Bruce.
-Don't forget about Alex Rios and Hunter Pence.  Both can do a nice Shin-Soo Choo impression a few rounds cheaper. 
-Nick Markakis is a nice value this season.  Yes his power and speed have vanished but he is a threat for getting 100 RBI and 100 runs with a .300 average.  Any comeback in the power and steals category turns him into a big value this season.

There you have it.  Hope your teams are in good shape.  Don't hesitate to fire off some questions of you have them for me.  Good luck.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TWIINS NAME JOE NATHAN CLOSER


The Minnesota Twins have announced that Joe Nathan will be the team's closer for the start of the season, relegating Matt Capps to setup duty.  Nathan is almost exactly a year removed from elbow surgery and has made rapid progress to get back on the mound this spring.  He has been a bit up and down but manage Ron Gardenhire says its his job to lose.

Analysis:  Not a surprise here.  Nathan has earned the right to start off the season as the closer.  If you are a Nathan owner and havent picked up Matt Capps as insurance, feel free to do so.  If you own Capps and not Nathan, hold onto the former in case the latter has health issues when the season begins.  Considering where he was drafted, Nathan has the chance to be one of the better fantasy baseball values for the 2011 season.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: JOSE CONTRERAS GETS SAVE IN SPRING GAME, RYAN MADSON PITCHES EIGHTH


We may have gotten a look today at the setup for the vacated closer's role in Philadelphia Phillies after stopper Brad Lidge was placed on the DL as Jose Contreras pitched a scoreless ninth for the save with Ryan Madson pitching the eighth.  Contreras looked very impressive by striking out two and it seems like this was a vote of confidence for him being the closer until Lidge returns like he was last season when he was hurt.  GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has also been on record saying he would rather have Madson stay in the eighth inning if anything were to ever happen to Lidge this season. 

Analysis:  Nice to get clarity so quickly.  After today's outing, I would be very surprised to see anyone but Contreras getting the saves for the Philllies when the games count.  If you already added Madson, run to the wire and check to see if Contreras is available.  He was free in both of my money leagues and I made the add.  Contreras has the ability to do a nice job for a bit and certainly has fantasy baseball value.  Pick him up now.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE FANTASY SPORTS BOSS INSIDER ACCESS SEASON PACKAGE FOR ONLY $20.00 FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON

If you havent done so already, be sure you subscribe to the 2011 Fantasy Sports Boss INSIDER ACCESS season package for only $20.00.  Subscribers will receive the following with their paid access:

-Daily weekday e-mail chronicling the previous night's injuries and how to proceed with them, any closer changes from the night before and who is the new stopper, and rehashes from a fantasy baseball perspective of the night's action.  In addition there will be additional Player Analyzer columns and other features.

-Full ACCESS to weekly features such as:

1.  DEEP LOOKS which identifies players to pick up each week for those who play in deeper leagues.

2.  BALLS AND STRIKES: a weekly look at the hot topics in the pitching areas of fantasy baseball such as injuries, hot and cold players, and more.

3.  HIT AND RUN:  a weekly look at the hot topics in the hitting areas of fantasy baseball such as injuries, hot and cold players, and more.

And much, much, more.  USe the BUY NOW tab above to purchase and come aboard.  Looking forward to supplying top notch fantasy baseball info all season long while we win our leagues. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: WHO WILL CLOSE IN PHILLY?

We were greeted this morning with the news that Phillies closer Brad Lidge will start the season on the DL for the third time in four years.  This time its a bum shoulder and Lidge admitted he was worried which is a bad sign.  Since we have been down this road before, its time to handicap who will step into the closing drivers seat and become a possible great value for 2011 fantasy baseball.  We have two candidates to look at, specifically speaking setup men Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras.  Lets break it down and determine who is likely to land the gig.

Ryan Madson:  Madson has turned himself into quite possibly the best setup man in baseball but going from the eighth inning to the ninth inning is a completely different pitching environment.  And Madson may be the poster child for this as he has taken over the closer's role from Lidge on four separate occasions the last few seasons and each time proceeded to struggle, sometimes badly.  Many have thus openly questioned whether Madson has the guts to close and one thing we have learned in fantasy baseball is that the job is not for everyone.  Last season Madson struggled once again in the role after replacing Lidge and so that's the prevailing memory of him from management's standpoint.  He also opened the door to the next guy we will discuss and that's....

Jose Contreras:  Contreras opened a ton of eyes last season by converting to a relief role with outstanding results.  He wound up supplying a 3.34 ERA with 57 K's in 56.2 IP.  He unleashed a fastball that got up to the 95 mph range and his vast experience seemed to allow him to take to the role cleanly.  Despite all the good work, Contreras is a dinosaur at 40 years old and there is no telling if he can hold up the whole season under the stress of the role.  Also its possible the league will adapt to him this time around and his numbers will suffer.  Like Madson he doesn't look like a slam dunk option.

In conclusion, both Contreras and Madson have some major question marks in regards to whether they can handle the ninth inning.  Madson's vast failures in the job though could give the team pause and since Contreras did well in Lidge's spot last season, it just might be enough for him to get the job until he returns.  He is the one I would add if you have only one spot available.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PADRES SP MAT LATOS SCRATCHED WITH SORE SHOULDER


San Diego Padres SP Mat Latos will not make his scheduled Saturday spring training start due to soreness in his pitching shoulder.  Latos has been hit around all spring to the tune of 10 ER in 10 IP and now this.  More on this as it comes out.

Analysis:  Bad news Latos owners.  Latos was the number 1 name on my Riskiest Pitchers Feature that made up a portion of my fantasy baseball draft guide for 2011 and the reason being was the massive innings increase that he saw from 2009 to 2010.  We all know the Verducci Rules and whether you believe them or not, the evidence has been pretty clear the last few years.  Its is entirely possible he is feeling the effects now and so you can only hope its not severe. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED THIRD BASE RANKINGS


Third base is up today as we continue to check back one last time on all of the position rankings for 2011 fantasy baseball.  Here is how the hot corner options stand.

1.  Evan Longoria
2.  David Wright
3.  Alex Rodriguez
4.  Ryan Zimmerman
5.  Kevin Youkilis
6.  Jose Bautista
7.  Adrian Beltre
8.  Aramis Ramirez
9.  Casey McGehee
10. Pablo Sandoval
11. Pedro Alvarez
12. Mark Reynolds
13. Michael Young
14. Martin Prado
15. Chase Headly
16. Ian Stewart

-Some have said this spring that Evan Longoria is overrated when it comes to fantasy baseball based on the fact he was being drafted on average at number 6 overall.  Although his poor power showing last season fueled that fire, I totally believe Longoria sails close to or beyond the 30 home run mark this season with awesome marks everywhere else.  If he fails to crack 25 homers again though, than we might have to re-analyze if he really does deserve being drafted that high.
-I dropped Ryan Zimmerman behind AROD this spring due to the fact Rodriguez came into camp in top shape and has been hitting everything in sight to go along with the fact Zimmerman once again was dealing with nagging injuries which kept him off the field this spring.  Both guys have injury issues but Rodriguez has the better ability to do more with fewer games than does Zim.
-Michael Young continues his freefall down the rankings as his playing time could be volatile all season. Not good.
-Pedro Alvarez looks like the second coming of Mark Reynolds.  He has struck out at a crazy rate this spring and so his average will be poor just like his counterpart.  Some will say I have ranked Reynolds too low which is fine but guys who cant hit .200 have no value in my mind no matter how many homers they hit.
-Aramis Ramirez remains a nice bounceback candidate this season.  A run at 30 homers is possible with good health.
-Jose Bautista has been hitting homers this spring and its only a question of how many this season he gets a hold of.  The power is legit but the average could be iffy.

There you have it.  Lets hear some differing opinions.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILLIES CLOSER BRAD LIDGE TO THE DL WITH SHOULDER ISSUE


Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge will start the regular season on the DL with shoulder discomfort.  Lidge began feeling tighness in the area after his spring training outing on Thursday and it has been ruled to be completely unrelated to the bicep tendinitis he suffered through earlier.  Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras will fill in at closer until Lidge gets back.

Analysis:  Here we go again with the roller coaster ride that is Brad Lidge.  No telling how long Lidge will be out with this but figure on either Madson or Contreras filling in.  Madson has been pretty bad as a Lidge replacement in the past and Contreras did a nice job in his place last season so it could go either way. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: REDS 3B SCOTT ROLEN LEAVES GAME WITH HAND ISSUE


Cincinnati Reds 3B Scott Rolen was forced from Thursday's spring training game after getting dripped in his hand while hitting.  Rolen immediately left the game as he couldnt grip the bat.  The team has not released further details.

Anlaysis:  This cant be good.  Rolen is a notorious DL risk and this could be bad right at the outset.  He did some nice things last season in his first year with Cincy but he faded in the second half.  His age and muddied health make him nothing but a bench option at best this season.

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JERED WEAVER SP ANAHEIM ANGELS


One of the biggest breakouts of the 2010 fantasy baseball seasons was the superb pitching performance by Anaheim Angels SP Jered Weaver.  Weaver, who was originally a first round draft choice of the team back in 2004, had always showed glimpses of his talent and ability but for some reason or another, was never able to put a full season together.  That is until 2010 when Weaver wound up with a 3.01 ERA and 1.07 WHIP to go with a league leading 233 strikeouts.  It was an incredible performance all the way around and so many are wondering whether he can do it again this season.  Lets find out if a repeat is in store.

Looking at Weaver the pitcher, he began to show off his strikeout acumen was back in his rookie season in 2006 when he rang up 105 batters in 123 IP.  That was a nice start but injuries and a tendency to wear down in the second halves undermined his efforts in the subsequent campaigns.  So when 2010 began, many fantasy baseball owners were able to grab him late in their drafts as he was falling into the post-hype bin.  Now that 2010 has established what he can do when everything is clicking on all cylinders, its clear now that Weaver has found a nice balance in his offerings and settled into a routine that is fooling hitters for sure.  What changed though?

Really the answer comes down to Weaver's tendency to throw more breaking balls last season.  Weaver saw a sharp increase in breaking pitches thrown in 2010 and that made his fastball seems faster and thus confuse opposing hitters even more since they had more to think about when they stepped into the box to face his offerings.  So the sharp rise in strikeouts can't be looked at as a fluke and his spring training stats are already bearing that out with more K's than IP. 

Now as far as the minuscule ERA and WHIP and whether they were legitimate in 2010, the answer to that is found in the BABIP's and strand rates which were both league average.  That means he didn't benefit from luck last season and so a repeat is likely based on that aspect which is always a powerful tool to use in evaluating a future performance.  So Weaver's stats for 2011 may very well be just as good as 2010 with the chance to be even better.  The wins were lower than the numbers showed last season but that has more to do with the team and that is out of his control.  The Angels though have some weak competition in their division with the A's and Mariners so a rise there could be in the offing as well.  Things look good all the way around.

All in all, Jered Weaver makes a tremendous starting pitching option for 2011 fantasy baseball which is clear to see.  Whats great is that his draft position this spring was lower than it should have been as he was drafted behind guys like Cole Hamels, Tommy Hanson, and Matt Cain.  He could do better than all of those guys this season and so he again makes a nice draft value.  Go all in here and enjoy the great numbers you will get.

2011 PROJECTION:  15-7 3.22 ERA 1.11 WHIP 215 K

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RANGERS WILL KEEP NEFTALI FELIZ AT CLSOER


The Texas Rangers have finally come out and announced on Thursday that Neftali Feliz will remain the team's closer for the 2011 season.  Feliz was stretched out to be a starter this spring training and pitched very well but ultimately manager Ron Washington was concerned about instability at such an important spot. 

Analysis:  Finally we get some clarity on this.  It was sidely assumed Feliz would remain the closer and it makes sense for both the team and the pitcher.  The move restores Feliz as a top five fantasy baseball closer and another top notch season is a given now.  You can drop Alexei Ogando as a result of this.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES 2B CHASE UTLEY OFFICIALLY TO BEGIN SEASON ON DL (KNEE)


Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley will officially begin the season on the DL with continued discomfort in his knee.  Utley has been on the sidelines all spring with the ailment and has only been able to take batting practice.  He has gone through the gamut of treatments and therapies to no avail.  Wilson Valdez will start in his place.  There is no timetable for when he will get back in the lineup.

Analysis:  What a shock. Seriously though its only a mattter of time before the Phillies do the inevitable and make him go under the knife.  The chances of Utley making a serious impact in fantasy baseball this season are getting smaller by the day. 

2011 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SHORTSTOP RANKINGS


Continuing with the updated 2011 fantasy baseball position rankings, we take a look at the shortstop field today.  This is the shallowest position on the diamond so the pickings are very slim here.  Lets see how they stack up.

1.  Hanley Ramirez
2.  Troy Tulowitzki
3.  Jose Reyes
4.  Jimmy Rollins
5.  Derek Jeter
6.  Alexei Ramirez
7.  Elvis Andrus
8.  Rafael Furcal
9.  Starlin Castro
10. Stephen Drew
11. Ian Desmond
12. Mike Aviles
13. Alicides Escobar
14. Jason Bartlett
15. Yunel Escobar
16. Juan Uribe
17. Cliff Pennington
18. Jhonny Peralta
19. Reid Brignac

-Nothing changes at the top.  I still think Hanley Ramirez is the safer choice among he and Tulo.  He is more durable and has the ability to steal 30 bases with 25-30 home run power which Tulo cant do.  Still it is in the realm of possibility that a huge season from Tulo where he doesn't get hurt could launch him past HanRam.
-After Jose Reyes, there is a distinct dropoff and this position is in dire need of youth with graybeards Jeter, Rollins, and Furcal holding on despite injuries and dropping stats.  SS is so shallow that these three are being drafted higher than they should.  Same goes for boring vet Stephen Drew who would go undrafted if he played a different position on the diamond.
-Wow has Starlin Castro been awesome this spring.  He has four home runs and this is power we didn't see last season as a 20 year old rookie.  There are some who compare him eventually to Hanley Ramirez so it tells you how high the ceiling is here.  Don't expect the world this season but major growth is already starting to show here.  A huge value campaign is possible.
-Ian Desmond and Mike Aviles are guys who also can provide nice value relative to where they were drafted.  Both can go 15/15 with Aviles also having a good average.  At the very least they make great insurance in case one of the graybeards gets hurt again.

That's how I see it.  Lets hear what you have to say on this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FANTASY BASEBALL LINEUPS FALLOUT: RED SOX TO BAT CARL CRAWFORD THIRD


The Boston Red Sox announced a tentative batting order for the start of the 2011 baseball season and it the top six look like this:

1.  Jacoby Ellsbury
2.  Dustin Pedroia
3.  Carl Crawford
4.  Adrian Gonzalez
5.  Kevin Youkilis
6.  David Ortiz

Looking at the lineup, you can see just how imposing the Red Sox offense is going to be this season and consider yourself lucky if you own any of the top five guys here.  The main issue to discuss however is the fact that free agent signee Crawford will bat in the third hole, right in front of fellow arrival Adrian Gonzalez.  Crawford of course was a staple in the leadoff or number 2 hole for his entire career prior while with the Tampa Bay Rays which allowed him to take full advantage of his speed to rack up crazy stolen base totals.  Now that he is being dropped to the third hole, it obvious to wonder just how much of a negative impact this will have on his steals for this season.  Lets dig into this a bit here.

The easiest argument to make is that since Crawford is no longer in the table setting spots in the order, he will thus not have as many opportunities to run and also not have as many at-bats as he would as a leadoff or number 2 man which impacts his overall counting stats.  There is no argument there as its been proven that a player will lose stolen bases the further down a batting order he goes.  That's just part of the intricacies of the game.  And in regards to being in the third spot, it is now Crawford's job to stay on base so that big bopper Gonzalez can have the chance to knock him in.  You don't want to get thrown out attempting to steal with your best power hitter coming up to the plate, thus destroying a potential rally.  So Crawford will likely get the stop sign more often as a result of batting third in the lineup.  That's simple batting strategy.

Besides all of the batting order issues that are in play here, the other big side of this is the fact Crawford claims that he wants to cut down on his stealing some in order to minimize the injury risk and be more of a run producer now that he scored such a massive contract.  Crawford is taking his new spot in the order seriously and as he gets older, its only natural for any base stealer to see a decrease in his steals totals due to a loss of burst.  As Crawford heads into his age 30 season, it wouldn't be a shock at all if he started undergoing this process.

All in all, I think its a good idea for those who own Crawford in fantasy baseball this season to look at his previous steals totals as a thing of the past.  All of the evidence above is a clear indication that he will be hard pressed to approach his previous levels.  Now he wont fall off the map completely as he still uses steals as a major part of his game but Crawford is likely to settle in the 30-plus range instead of the 40-plus.  Its not a major dropoff but it is a dropoff nonetheless and for a player who was known primarily for his steals, this has a negative impact on his value.  Crawford will still fill up all the categories and may even hit more homers in friendly Fenway Park but there is a transformation going on in his game that will only get more magnified as he gets older.

2011 STEALS PROJECTION:  35 SB

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CURTIS GRANDERSON (OBLIQUE) STARTING SEASON ON TIME


New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke with reporters today and said he is optimistic that starting outfielder Curtis Granderson will start the season on time despite suffering an oblique strain on Tuesday.  Granderson injured the oblique while warming up for the game and immediately removed himself from the lineup.  He claimed that if this were the regular season, he would have started.

Analysis:  Nice news here as it looks like Granderson should be good to go.  We all know oblique injuries are tricky but for now dont downgrade him or cut him loose. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES SP ROY OSWALT DIAGNOSED WITH BRUISED NECK AFTER GETTING HIT WITH COMEBACKER

Philadelphia Phillies SP Roy Oswalt had a scary incident during his spring training start Thursday when he was hit in the neck by a comebacker and immedialy fell to the ground in pain.  Oswalt was removed from the game and has been diagnosed with a bruised neck.  He is day-to-day with the expectation of him making his last spring start.

Analysis:  This was a scary thing to see but it looks like Oswalt escaped without any major physical issues.  Whether or not he has any psychological scars will remain to be seen but a big bullet seemed to be dodged here.