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Saturday, March 31, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES SP MICHAEL PINEDA TO DL WITH SHOULDER TENDINITIS

New York Yankees SP Michael Pineda has been place on the DL due to shoulder tendinitis.  Pineda had complained after his last start of shoudler soreness and a subsequent MRI revealed the tendinitis.  Freddy Garcia will now get the fifth spot in the rotation and Pineda is expected to be out for most of April as the team rests his shoulder to get him ready for a contribution starting in May.

Analysis:  There you have it.  Pineda made good on me calling him a potential bust back in January and that was before the velocity issues.  Blame it on the weight or the Verducci Rules violation but either way Pineda is going to be on the DL for a few weeks at least and thus be way behind the eight-ball in trying to earn back his value.

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: PINEDA, MORSE, CARPENTER, CRAWFORD

We got a lot to touch upon in our latest Fantasy Baseball Injury Fallout so let's not waste any time and get right to it:

-Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Morse will start the season on the DL due to the issue with his strained lat muscle which he suffered almost a month ago.  Morse was cleared for full baseball activities early this past week but he admitted he was not nearly in baseball shape to be ready to start the season which is why he will hit the DL.  Morse should be ready to go when his 15 days are up however and he still should get to 25 home runs with a decent average thrown in as well. 

-Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford is likely to miss the entire month of April as he recovers from wrist surgery and the complications that followed.  I suggested staying far away from the guy this season even before the surgery due to the fact he will hit 6th in the lineup (ruining his runs and steals chances) along with the fact he is a clear liability against lefties at this stage, and for the fact he will remain in the crosshairs of Red Sox fans who already want him out of there.  Not good at all and even though Crawford came cheaper than ever this season, that discount still is not enough to get me encouraged. 

-What a mess this whole Michael Pineda thing is.  He came into camp overweight after the Yankees traded prized hitting catcher Jesus Montero for him and his velocity was nowhere to be found.  Now he reports that his shoulder is sore and an MRI visit is on tap.  As a Verducci Rules violator (throwing more than 30 innings more than his prior season under the age of 25), Pineda was already a risk based on that trend alone and now the shoulder ailment.  Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes are almost guaranteed the last two spots in the rotation and Pineda will head to the DL (most likely) or the minors.  No doubt this was about the polar opposite of what his fantasy baseball owners expected but if you are a loyal reader than you know I told you about this months ago.

-The St. Louis Cardinals hierarchy claim that SP Chris Carpenter will be back in May after resting up his neck which has a bulging disk in it.  Carpenter has not done much of anything this spring due to the issue but either way the team feels he should return by than.  I am here to tell you that I think that is a complete fat chance as Carpenter faces a long road ahead.  Guys his age don't heal well and the fact Carpenter threw an insane amount of innings last year made him one to avoid.  But you knew that already.

-Finally Tampa Bay Rays outfielder BJ Upton will start the season on the DL as well, with his issue being a sore back due to the outfield collision with teammate Desmond Jennings.  Upton has not done much of anything since the incident but he will have two weeks to get himself in shape which should do the trick.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES SP MICHAEL PINEDA HEADED FOR MRI AFTER EXPERIENCING SHOULDER SORENESS

After pitching all spring with a clear loss in velocity, New York Yankees SP Michael Pineda complained after his Friday start that his shoulder was sore and he will now head for an MRI.  This likely clinches the fact that Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes have won the last two spots in the starting rotation and that Pineda will being 2012 either on the DL or in the minors. 

Analysis:  Wow I certainly am off to a good start with my 2012 fantasy baseball busts with Chris Carpenter and now Michael Pineda.  Pineda is another statistic added to the Verducci Rules list as a guy who pitched more than 30 innings last season than the year before and the link surely can be made to that along with the fact he came into camp out of shape.  What a joke this whole situation is and if you bought into the Pineda hype, my condolences. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MIKE MORSE (LAT) TO BEING YEAR ON THE DL

Washington Nationals outfielder Mike Morse will begin the 2012 season on the DL due to the lat injury he suffered almost a month ago.  Even though Morse was fully cleared for baseball activities early in the week, he is simply going to run out of time to be ready for the season.

Analysis:  That's too bad as it looked like Morse had turned a cornber with this but unfortunately it just took too long to heal.  Two weeks without Morse is not disastrous but it could take 2 homers or so from his total for the 2012 campaign.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TWINS SP SCOTT BAKER (ELBOW) TO BEGIN YEAR ON DL

Minnesota Twins SP Scott Baker will begin the 2012 season on the DL as he is not in shape yet to make a regular season start after being delayed in spring training with a sore elbow.  Baker says the elbow is "fine" but that he needs to build up his pitch count to get himself ready to go.

Analysis:  I have always liked Scott Baker as a cheap ERA and WHIP help who also is a sneaky good strikeout pitcher.  He does spend a lot of time on the DL but he has made it to the point where you can keep cutting him and adding him without much competition from the league.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ANGELS SEND MIKE TROUT TO MINORS

The Los Angeles Angels demoted top hitting prospect Mike Trout to the minor leagues on Friday in preparation to get their roster set before the opener.  The Angels will go with Vernon Wells, Peter Bourjos, and Torii Hunter in the outfield and the DH spot is crowded as well with Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo.

Analysis:  Not a surprise here as Trout had no place to play and there was no way the Angels were going to stunt their growth by having him in a bench role.  There is no doubt however that Trout will make his way up at some point and he will be a must add whne it does take place.

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: FREDDIE FREEMAN'S POWER SURGE AND ERIC HOSMER'S RBI TALLY

Spring training is finally winding down and even though stats compiled in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues don't count, some sure signs can be studied based on what takes place.  In most cases, its the young players whose performances carry the most weight as they continue to develop their craft.  With that in mind, let's take a closer look at two such players in the form of Atlanta Braves 1B Freddie Freeman and Kansas City Royals 1B Eric Hosmer who are lighting things up for different reasons.

Freddie Freeman:  Its been a huge spring for the 23-year-old Atlanta Braves first baseman who is tied for the exhibition lead with six home runs.  Freeman was one of my prime value plays for the upcoming season due to the fact that he is still somewhat looked over due to the fact he plays the very deep first base position.  Still Freeman was very impressive as a rookie last season and the power growth could already be on the way as evidenced by what he has done this spring.  Freeman's ceiling is as a .300 hitting/30-HR first baseman and even though he won't reach that in 2012, he could very well go .290 with 25 home runs which at his draft price is a tremendous steal.  Be sure to add Freeman if he slipped to the waiver wire in your league as the ceiling he could tap into surely would make him a huge value play.

Eric Hosmer:  For Hosmer, it has been the RBI and not the home runs this spring as he paces the exhibition slate with 23.  While there is still a good debate about how much power Hosmer will have since he hits a lot of balls on the ground, there is no doubt the kid can already hit with the best of them and that means a .300-plus average with a boatload of RBI.  I do think he will hit 20 home runs this season and whatever more will be gravy on top of the double-digit steals he will supply at a position you just don't see have that kind of statistical contribution.  I own Hosmer on one of my money league teams and am looking forward to the rise of this potential superstar batter.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Another Seattle Mariners-Oakland A's game to discuss.  Let's do just that.

Justin Smoak:  1/4 with his first HR.  I mentioned Smoak as the classic post hype sleeper a la Alex Gordon, Matt Wieters, etc. and he very well could make good on all his potential and put it together in 2012.  Hitters with his type of power and talent don't just lose it and Smoak had to deal with the death of his father last season which we all can understand with regards to the distraction that could cause.  I have Smoak sitting on my bench as a good power source when I need it and so should you.  Those who have a CI spot should stick him right there.

Yoenis Cespedes:  1/3 with his first HR.  No doubt the excitement level just ratcheted up some after Cespedes went deep for first time in his career.  I have said all spring to temper to expectations as Cespedes has a lot to learn about plate discipline.  His average may not be much higher than .265 this season which is a negative and all rookie hitters go through massive slumps during the season.  His power and speed is impressive though so I won't rule out a 20/20 camaign but the hype is getting out of control which is never a winning situation.

Josh Reddick:  2/3 with his first HR.  Reddick on the other hand is an interesting fantasy baseball sleeper as he only costs a late round draft pick or could be sitting on the waivers right now.  He earned plaudits for his hitting in the Boston system and so far so good with his major league cups of coffee.  I like him.

Bartolo Colon:  8 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K.  We saw this story play out last season in the first half with the Yankees before Colon's arm fell off and I can endorse him until the end of May.  You are clearly on borrowed time when it comes to Colon but pitching in the AL West is enticing for a few months if you are desperate.

Grant Balfour:  perfect inning for first save.  Balfour in my mind is one of the worst closers in the game entering the season and its more in his head than his stuff.  He has had some big seasons before in a setup role but always struggled when he was chosen to save a game.  Maybe pitching in the relaxed West could change all that but so far so good.

There you have it.  Your thoughts? 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKESS CONSIDERING SENDING MICHAEL PINEDA TO MINORS

In a shocking bit of news, reports out of New York indicate that the New York Yankees are discussing sending SP Michael Pineda to the minor leagues to start the season.  With manager Joe Girardi holding an open competition for the last three spots in the rotation after C.C. Sabbathia and Hiroki Kuroda, the four remaining candidates of Phil Hughes, Pineda, Freddy Garcia, and Ivan Nova was going to end up with one pitcher on the ousdie looking in.  With Andy Pettitte coming out of retirement and thus guaranteed a spot, that left two spots for four pichers eventually.  Word is that Hughes has already been told he has earned a spot due to his great spring and that Pineda is in the doghouse due to the fact he showed up to camp 20 pounds overweight and has seen his velocity dip as a result.  GM Brian Cashman has visibly been upset with Pineda and the talk is "serious" about sending him to the minors.

Analysis:  Unreal.  Those who went to the well on Pineda (against my advice) for this season are now cursing their luck on this matter.  While there is still time for Cashman to change his mind, the fact he is even being considered for the demotion is telling how much he is in trouble.  While this would clearly fall under the learning a lesson bit, it certainly was not what his fantasy baseball owners anticipated.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATONALS OUTFIELDER MIKE MORSE (LAT) FULLY CLEARED TO PLAY

Washington Nationals outfielder Mike Morse has been fully cleared to play now that his lat injury has healed.  Morse has missed three weeks of games due to the lat injury put a shot in the muscle has done the trick of getting him to improve. 

Analysis:  Great news as Morse is ready to put up an encore performance to his breakout 2011 campaign.  His power is very good and another 30 homers could be in the cards this season. 

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM REPORTS: MILWAUKEE BREWERS

We head on over to the Milwaukee Brewers as we continue our fantasy baseball team reports with the season just a few days away.  Let's dive right in and take a look at the main issues surrounding the club.

1.  The best place to begin is the elephant in the room that is Ryan Braun and the whole steroids issue.  Now that the 50-game ban has been overturned, is he still the number 1 fantasy baseball player in the game?  Before the news broke that Braun had indeed failed a steroids test, I was completely ready to name him the top dog in the game.  Even though he got off on a technicality, Braun is guilty in the court of public opinion and that includes yours truly.  He is facing a very rough year on the road as he will be heckled everywhere he goes which no doubt will test his focus and resolve.  There is also the issue of how Braun will perform as he seemingly would be off the "juice" and one only has to look at the sharp dropoffs of Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez as guys whose numbers fell off after being outed.  Obviously the guy has a world of talent and he can fill all the fantasy baseball categories but Matt Kemp, Miguel Cabrera, and even Troy Tulowitzki have passed him in the overall hierarchy.

2.  Aramis Ramirez has some big shoes to fill batting behind Braun which used to be the domain of one Prince Fielder.  While Ramirez doesn't have anywhere near the power that Fielder has, he is no slouch and is one of the most consistent third baseman in the game.  A typical Ramirez season has him batting about .300 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI and that sounds about right for 2012 with a few missed games thrown in for injury.  Sounds good to me and Ramirez has always been one of my favorite players in fantasy baseball as he never hurts you.

3.  Rickie Weeks let us down yet again in 2012 by missing a large chunk of the season with injury off a spectacular 2010 campaign.  Is he worth the risk or not?  That really comes down to each fantasy baseball owner how much risk they are willing to take.  There is no doubt that Weeks is a phenomenal player when on the field and outside of Dan Uggla, there may not be a better power hitter at thje position.  While Weeks doesn't run anymore and his average can be shaky, the power is extremely good which is the main drawing card when it comes to the guy.  In my view, Weeks is a perennially annoying player to own due to the fact he always goes on the DL and his stints are usually long ones as he is slow healer.  Yes the power is nice but like I already said before, his average can be rough, his steals are fading, and he can't provide a full season.  Let him be someone else's problem.

4.  Corey Hart sure is underrated huh?  No doubt about it.  I have always been a big Hart fan spanning his 20/20 days when he first came up, to his power hitting 2010 and 2011 seasons where he hit 31 and 26 home runs.  Hart won't hit for more than .280 due high strikeouts totals and his steals are a thing of the past but anyone who can hit 30 home runs, especially someone being drafted as cheaply as he is, surely is an attractive stock.  You can't do much better than Hart as your OF 3.

5.  Yovani Gallardo was ridiculous down the stretch of 2011 with extremely high K outings.  Is this the year he wins the Cy Young?  It very well could be.  Gallardo was a guy I was very hard on in the past and stayed away from due to the fact his control was bad which caused his WHIP to rise above the 1.30 mark and he was a poor second half pitcher which meant you couldn't depend on him when you needed to win your league down the stretch.  He put those concerns to rest however in 2011 as Gallardo tremendous the second half of he season and thus he is set up to be a blockbuster pitcher for his fantasy baseball owners.  I am fully on board and I expect big time performances by the ace.

6.  Speaking of Brewers SP's that you love, let's talk about Zack Greinke.  You all know by now that I love Greinke and have for awhile.  I own him on both of my Fantasy Sports Boss Experts leagues and for good reason.  The guy was a top five pitcher in all of fantasy baseball last season when you look under the hood at his 2011 stats.  What's incredibly impressive is how Greinke struck out 200 batters despite missing the entire month of April and his K rate was the highest in the game.  His ERA should also have been in the 2.00-range due to the fact he has poor luck with his BABIP and so Greinke was purely dominant last season.  Look past the totality of his 2011 numbers and draft him with confidence.

There you have it.  As always let's hear what you think.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: ROYALS TO NAME JONATHAN BROXTON CLOSER

The Kansas City Royals are set to name Jonathan Broxton as the team's closer to begin the 2012 season due to his past experience in the role over setup man Greg Holland.  Despite the endorsement, those in the know suggest that Broxton will be on a short leash and that Holland would go right in if he continues to struggle like he did with the Dodgers last season.

Analysis:  Not a surprise as Broxton is making $4 million a season and has the experience in the gig.  While he was one the top closer in the game for a short while, injuries and overuse by Joe Torre have derailed his career.  Keep Holland close by in case this doesn't start out well for Broxton this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

We only have one game to talk about but at least it is something.  Let's get to it:

Dustin Ackley:  2/5 with his first HR and a stolen base. Ackley gets the quick lead as the "IT" player based on how he did in his first game.  We see it every season in fantasy baseball where itchy-trigger fantasy baseball owners are ready to add any player who gets out of the game strong.  Some classic names that fell into this group were Jordan Schafer, Chris Shelton, and Gabe Kapler over the years.  What do all these guys have in common?  They turned into pumpkins before the season hit May.  Now Ackley has a decent amount of talent but playing in Seattle and the fact his power and speed are not off the charts mean he should top out around 15/15 or so.  Good but not great. 

Jesus Montero:  0/4.  Boy this guy stinks.  Don't you hate it when the big sleeper you own on both your money league teams starts out like this???  All right back to reality.  Another big issue is that impatient fantasy baseball owners make too big a deal out of an early season slump and sell guys for pennies on the dollar.  I am just using Montero as an example here as he should be very good in his first full season in the majors and so don't let any early issues sway that thinking.

Ichiro Suzuki:  4/5 with an RBI.  Just to show you how pathetic the Seattle lineup is, Ichiro gets all of one RBI with those four hits.  He is batting in the third spot now which will hurt his steals total and he really is going to be an empty average at this stage of his career.  The classic fading veteran who should be avoided.

Felix Herandez:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 1.12.  Surprised to see Hernandez pitch eight innings in his first start but he didn't face much opposition in the start.  Of course he didn't get the win which is the biggest issue with the guy but the rest of the package is tremendous.

Jemile Weeks:  1/5 with his first stolen base.  I think Weeks could steal 40 bases this season and turn the opinions that his family gets hurt by bending over to drink out of the water fountain.

Brandon League:  scoreless ninth for his first save.  I think League is a very underrated fantasy baseball closer but the Mariners aren't going anywhere and he likely will be traded at the deadline since he is in the last year of his contract.  You might want to sell high here around June and especially in July.

There you have it.  More to come when the games get started.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL EXPERTS LEAGUE DRAFT RESULTS MONEY LEAGUE # 2

A month ago I posted to all of you the round by round picks which made up my roster for my first Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Experts League money league draft.  Here is the link to my first roster which in this league I have won two of the last three championships.  For the league that I just drafted Sunday night, I am the THREE-TIME defending champion so I am going hard after a four-peat against the rest of the staff.  We all come in with four keepers which is where I have a major advantage over the others.  My four keepers going in were Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler.  No doubt four studs to get things started but my plan is go hard after pitching the first few picks since I have none which is always a strategy of mine.  I never pick my first starter until at least the fifth round and this draft would be no different.  So with that said let's check out all my picks in this draft and the round they were selected in.

OVERVIEW:  All right so the key starting pitchers available that I am looking at are old favorites Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Yovano Gallardo, and Jon Lester.  In a perfect world I get Hamels and Greinke but let's see how it breaks down.  Picking last in the first round (10th) I am not holding my breath about Weaver and even Hamels.  Once I get two starters than I can start looking to fill the rest of my spots.

KEEPERS GOING IN
1B/3B:  Miguel Cabrera
OF:  Matt Kemp
OF:  Jacoby Ellsbury
2B:  Ian Kinsler

1.  Dan Haren (SP):  Weaver went with the second pick and Hamels went with the eighth so I decided on Haren as a safe investment.  The durable innings-eater has lost a few K's going back to the AL but his ERA and WHIP are still as good as there is in the game. As safe a pick as I could make there.

2.  Zack Greinke (SP):  Since I get to pick back-to-back every round, I wanted another starter and I got an annual favorite in Greinke.  Few realize how awesome Greinke was last season as he struck out 200-plus guys in 5 months and his solid ERA should have been lower due to a poor BABIP.  He very well could the Cy Young winner in the NL this season.  So with two stud starters I am good.  I debated taking Gallardo but I will wait to see if he falls.

3.  Shin-Soo Choo (OF):  Like with Greinke, Choo is on both of my money league teams as I see big value with the guy.  Sure his 2011 season went bust but Choo was back to hitting at his old rate stats the middle of the year when he broke his thumb and went on IR.  In 2009 and 2010 Choo was ultra-consistent with 20/20 years each season and he should get back to that level at a nice price.  With an outfield of Choo, Kemp, and Ellsbury, I have three guys who all can hit for power and swipe bases.

4.  Madisom Bumgarner (SP):  Gallardo got picked right before I took Choo which ticked me off to no end.  I take Bumgarner to be my third starter and the sky if the limit for the kid.  Love his potential and can see him in the Cy Young discussion as well if all breaks right.  With three good starters I should be good here but Matt Moore, Brandon Beachy, Josh Johnson, Daniel Hudson, and Tommy Hanson are all guys I love so I could very well go back there again since I have such tremendous hitting.

5.  Matt Moore (SP):  I got my guy.  I am loaded with high K starters now who will supply low ERA's and WHIP's.  I still want one more but not before I get a third baseman or shortstop. 

6.  Pablo Sandoval (3B):  I think the guy is a head case which didn't make me excited that much to get him this late.  Still my team average is going to be nice with Sandoval joining Ellsbury, Kemp, and Cabrera so there is that.  Now I just need a shortstop, catcher, and UTIL guy. Eric Hosmer was picked already so Billy Butler or Kendrys Morales is going to be my fallback option.

7.  Jesus Montero (C):  I realize I have a ton of youth with Bumgarner, Moore, and Montero so far but the ceilings are ridiculously high with these guys.  Montero will earn catcher eligibility soon so he will fit just fine there.

8.  Brandon Beachy (SP):  I just couldn't resist.  I had no idea that none other than Bill James thinks Beachy will be the second best starter in the National League this season behind Clayton Kershaw.  Sounds good to me.  I know have five starters who can strike out between 190 and 220 batters.

9.  Huston Street (RP):  The closers ridiculously went faster in this draft than usual so I felt I needed to get two in this portion of the draft.  This is really the 13th round of the draft since we all went in with four keepers so this is about right for me to pick my first one.  Street is injury-prone but effective when he is on the hill.

10. Rafael Betancourt (RP):  Betancourt had a monster season in 2012 and did well when he got the closer job when Street got hurt in Colorado.  I think he will do just fine and be a nice value.

11. Billy Butler (1B):  Butler is boring as hell but he will give me nice average and RBI help to go alone with decent enough pop.  Perfect for my UTIL spot. 

12. Sean Marshall (RP):  No matter what Dusty Baker said, I think Marshall is the clear closer in Cincy and will do a nice job as his high K stuff will be perfect for what the gig entails.

13. Jim Johnson (RP):  I know I got some closers on bad teams but saves are on stat so as long as their names aren't Frank Francisco, Matt Capps, and Grant Balfour, they will do.

14. Jonathan Broxton (RP):  Again this goes to show you how you can wait on closers and still get a bunch.  I got five closers right now and am feeling good about the situation.  Broxton or Greg Holland shoukld get the job for Kansas City.

15. Cameron Maybin (OF):  I was shocked to see him still there and I like to pick up a stolen base guy late to use as a fill-in guy if I fall behind in the category.  The fact I got a decent guy like Maybin this late was a bonus as he has some pop.

16. Matt Thornton (RP):  Again its all about snatching up saves late as this is the next-to-last round.  I still don't have a shortstop and won't take one since my targets Dee Gordon and JJ Hardy were both picked.  I will have to swing a deal for one and getting all these closers will help in that matter.

17. Greg Holland (RP):  I made Holland the Mr. Irrelevant of the draft as a means to ensure I get the KC closer.  Whoever loses the job gets cut for a shortstop. 

There you have it.  As always let me know what you think.  I like the team but the hole in shortstop is annoying and there could be too much youth on the roster.  We shall see.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: GIANTS CLOSER BRIAN WILSON SCRATCHED FROM WED. OUTING

Here we go again.  San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson was scratched from his scheduled outing on Wednesday with no details released yet on the cause.  Wilson has had a history of elbow trouble the last season-plus and has not been the same pitcher since the team won the World Series.

Analysis:  First Joakim Soria, than Ryan Madson, than Drew Storen, and now Wilson.  This is getting ridiculous and yet again is further proof of why you should wait until the late middle rounds of your draft to pick a closer.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RAYS OUTFIELDER BJ UPTON (BACK) MIGHT NOT BE READY FOR OPENING DAY

Add BJ Upton to the growing list of prime fantasy baseball players who may not be on the field when the 2012 season begins in earnest.  Upton is questionable to be in the Rays' Opening Day lineup due to ongoing back pain caused from the outfield collision with Desmond Jennings.  Upton has not gone into a game since the injury and thus could be on the bench when the games start to count.

Analysis:  Upton has been a very nice fantasy baseball value based on his draft position this spring and that was even before the injury.  While back issues are tricky, Upton should be good to go shortly and won't miss too many games.  Despite a poor batting average, Upton is a contributor in all the other categories and is a decent outfielder 2. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: NATIONALS CLOSER DREW STOREN (ELBOW) TO BEGIN YEAR ON DL, END OF APRIL COULD BE RETURN

Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen is the latest big name ninth inning man to get injured as he will begin the season on the DL with elbow soreness.  Storen played catch on Tuesday, which was his first work since undergoing an MRI on the elbow last week which showed only inflammation.  Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez are expected to split the role until Storen gets back.  The intitial plan is for Storen to return around the middle of April but some in the know think it could be toward the end of the month.

Analysis: This is turning out a bit worse than originally thought as it was believed Storen could return after a week or so when the season begins.  End of April would certainly hurt his overall fantasy baseball value but the fact there is nothing structurally wrong is key.  As far as Lidge and Rodriguez are concerned, you got to have guts to pick them up as neither guy is a clock down pitcher. 

2012 FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON PREDICTIONS

The season is fast approaching and so its time for our annual Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Season Predictions.  Let's get right to it. 

NL Fantasy Baseball MVP:  Matt Kemp
AL Fantasy Baseball MVP:  Miguel Cabrera
NL Fantasy Baseball CY Young:  Cole Hamels
AL Fantasy Baseball Cy Young:  Justin Verlander
NL Fantasy Baseball Rookie of Year: 
AL Fantasy Baseball Rookie of Year:  Matt Moore
NL Stolen Base Leader:  Dee Gordon
AL Stolen Base Leader:  Brett Gardner
NL Hone Run Leader:  Giancarlo Stanton
AL Home Run Leader:  Jose Bautista
NL Strikeout Leader:  Clayton Kershaw
AL Strikeout Leader:  Justin Verlander
NL RBI Leader:  Joey Votto

All Bust Team Hitters

C-Joe Mauer
1B-Lance Berkman/Ryan Howard
2B-Chase Utley
SS-Jimmy Rollins
3B-Kevin Youkilis
OF-Ichiro Suzuki
OF-Carl Crawford
OF-Carlos Beltran

All Bust Team Pitchers

SP-Tommy Hanson
SP-Josh Johnson
SP-Chric Carpenter
SP-Mat Latos
SP-Johnny Cueto

RP-Carlos Marmol
RP-Frank Francisco
RP-Matt Capps
RP-Grant Balfour


All Value Team

C-Jesus Montero
1B-Kendrys Morales
2B-Michael Cuddyer
SS-Dee Gordon
3B-Pablo Sandoval
OF-Jayson Werth
OF-Alex Rios
OF-Logan Morrison

SP-Brandon Beachy
SP-Gio Gonzalez
SP-Jordan Zimmerman
SP-Johan Santana
SP-Daniel Hudson

RP-Jason Motte
RP-Sergio Santos
RP-Rafael Betancourt
RP-Jim Johnson

"My Guys" Fantasy Sports Boss Team

C-Jesus Montero
1B-Miguel Cabrera
2B-Dustin Pedroia
SS-Dee Gordon
3B-Aramis Ramirez
OF-Matt Kemp
OF-Matt Holliday
OF-Andrew McCutchen
UTIL-Eric Hosmer

SP-Cole Hamels
SP-Zack Greinke
SP-Yovani Gallardo
SP-Madison Bumgarner
SP-Brandon Beachy

RP-Sergio Santos
RP-Jason Motte
RP-Rafael Betancourt
RP-Jim Johnson





There you have it.  Would love to hear some opinions on all this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RANGERS SS ELVIS ANDRUS EXITS WITH STRAINED HIP FLEXOR

Texas Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was forced to exit from Tuesday's spring game with a strained hip flexor and will be reevaluated.  Andrus exited after he grounded out in his only at-bat and immediately left the game. 

Analysis:  No word yet on the severity but this is obviously something you don't want to be dealing with as an Andrus fantasy baseball owner this close to the season.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: REDS ACE SP MAT LATOS DAY-TO-DAY WITH CALF STRAIN

Cincinnati Reds ace SP Mat Latos has been diagnosed with a calf strain and is listed as day-to-day.  Latos exited his start on Tuesday due to the strain but afterwards reported he was fine and that he will make his next start.

Analysis:  Major sigh of relief for his fantasy baseball owners who are expecting big things out of the guy.  While Latos has talent, going from San Diego to Cincy is a major downgrade in a ballpark to pitch in and his ERA and WHIP should rise as a result.  On top of that, Latos' rough delievry could cause injuries this season.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED FIRST BASEMAN RANKINGS

Time to once again check out the updated 2012 fantasy baseball first baseman rankings with the season just a few days away.

1. Miguel Cabrera

2. Albert Pujols

3. Adrian Gonzalez

4. Joey Votto

5. Prince Fielder

6. Mark Texeira

7. Eric Hosmer

8. Paul Konerko

9. Mike Morse

10. Billy Butler

11. Ike Davis

12. Ryan Howard

13. Freddie Freeman

14. Gaby Sanchez (+1)

15. Mitch Moreland (+1)

16. Kendrys Morales (+4)

17. Justin Morneau (-3)

18. Brandon Belt

19. Mark Trumbo

20. Adam Dunn


-The big mover this week is Kendrys Morales who is playing in games finally and showing great signs that he will be fully ready to go when the season begins.  With both 1B and OF eligibility (at least in Yahoo leagues), Morales could supply come crazy good value if he stays healthy.
-Justin Morneau continues to plunge as there are rumors that the Twins are considering releasing him outright if he can't get off to a good start.  No doubt he is a major shell of his former self and it is looking like a very sad ending to what was once a big time career. 
-Eric Hosmer is a guy I have drooled over all season but let it be known that I don't see a 30-HR season happening in 2012.  I projected him for 25 and that sounds about right.  His fly ball rate is not high enough to generate 30-HR optimism and he could do a fair Billy Butler impression with some more steals thrown in this season.

There you have it.  As always let me know what you think.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: REDS COULD GO WITH COMMITTEE AT CLOSER

The dreaded committee could be in play for the Cincinnati Reds this season according to manager Dusty Baker who is not too keen on potentially using Sean Marshall three days in a row.  After Ryan Madson was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery, it was assumed elite setup man Marshall would move right into the ninth inning.  While Baker indicated Marshall will get his chances, he also doesn't want to overwork him as he mentioned Aroldis Chapman, Bill Bray, and Nick Masset.

Analysis:  Ughh!  Nothing gives fantasy baseball owners an instant headache than the word "committee" whether its a closer in baseball or a running back in football.  While I think Marshall leads the team in saves this season, I can't help but notice Chapman's giant shadow sitting there with that big contract begging for a big role on the club. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: SAINTS ASKING BILL PARCELLS TO COACH?

With head coach Sean Payton suspended for the entire 2012 football season, the rumor mill is swirling that the team has made contact with retired superstar coach Bill Parcells.  Parcells confirmed to Newday's David Lennon in Jupiter, Florida on Monday that he was in fact in contact with Payton and the Saints but at this point everything is "speculative." 

Analysis:  Very interesting.  This situation just begs for a big name coach like Parcells, Joe Gibbs, or Bill Cowher to jump into a ready-made situation to try and grab a Super Bowl ring with Payton on the sidelines.  No doubt a Parcells signing would get Drew Brees to sign his franchise tender and make the team a clear Super Bowl favorite.  Stay tuned.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM REPORT: HOUSTON ASTROS

We got to pick up the pace to get to the remaining teams as we go through all of the Major League Baseball clubs and look at them all from a fantasy baseball perspective.  Today we look at the rebuilding Houston Astros who have the look of one of the worst teams in the game. 

1.  The rotation is fronted by two decent to high K guys in Wandy Rodriguez and Bud Norris respectively.  Decent values or is pitching for the Astros not worth the hit to the wins column?  There is no denying the fact that both Rodriguez and Norris have been very solid fantasy baseball starters the last two seasons.  While Rodriguez has been a mid-3.00 ERA guy, Norris got to that level for the first time in 2011 (3.77) and is the much better strikeout pitchers as he averages a K/IP.  Yes wins will be scarce when it comes to any Astros pitcher but I am more intrigued with Norris than Rodriguez.  As far as Norris concerned, he is a guy who reminds me of Gio Gonzalez as a pitcher who walks too many batters but who is very tough to hit and who racks up the K's.  His draft price will be dirt cheap and so there is nice value to be had.

2.  Boy this lineup is ugly now that Hunter Pence has been traded.  Is there anything here to speak of in fantasy baseball terms?  Not much that's for sure.  Carlos Lee is back for another year as a more rotund slugger.  He actually drove in a very impressive 94 runs last season considering the lineup and added 18 home runs.  Lee was once one of my favorite fantasy baseball bats to own back in his 30-plus HR, 20 steal heyday but those days are long gone.  He could repeat his 2011 line but Lee is a clear shell of his former self.  Jose Altuve is a speed demon at the topo of the lineup but he has zero power and will be as one-dimensional as you can get.  Jed Lowrie is a shortstop who has been intriguing for a few seasons due to his nice hitting ability but he can't ever stay healthy enough to depend on.  Jason Bourgeios is another speed guy who can rack up steals like crazy but again we are talking a guy who won't help you anywhere else.

3.  That's all there is to talk about?  I guess we can mention that Brett Myers is the closer but there won't be many saves to earn and he could be dealt at the trade deadline.  Chris Snyder can hit the occasional home run at catcher.  There is that to talk about.  Yeah that's about it.  Not good.

There you have it.  That was easy.  Let us know what you think.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS 3B DAVID WRIGHT (ABDOMINAL) TO RETURN TO ACTION MONDAY

New York Mets 3B David Wright will make his spring training debut on Monday after missing every game leading up to it with a torn abdominal muscle.  Wright has taken batting practice the last few days without incident and pronoucned himself ready to go.  He will have about 8 days to get himself ready to the season opener.

Analysis:  Great news to see Wright back in action but we are not out of the woods yet.  Wright has to come out of the game without further injury but if he does than he should get in enough work to be out there when the games start to count. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: PHILS FEAR 2B CHASE UTLEY'S CAREER COULD BE IN JEOPARDY

Things have gone from bad to worse for Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley, as some in the organization are fearing that his bad knees could prevent huim from ever returning to the field.  Utley has not played in a single spring training game due to soreness in both of his knees and is now in the process of seeing specialists to determine the next course of action.  He will begin the season on the DL and there is no timetable for when he could return.

Breaking things down a bit further, the knee woes are just the latest in a string of ailments to take down the former first round fantasy baseball draft pick but this time around the severity is at its highest levels according to those in the know.  Things are so bad that the Phillies are now engaging the Detroit Tigers in trade talks for Brandon Inge who could play 3B while Placido Polanco shifts back to second.  Clearly the Phillies don't see Utley coming back anytime soon and the fact his knee issues are now considered chronic make it unlikely he will ever be even a decent force again.  If you already drafted and snagged Utley as your 2B, than you are obviously in a world of hurt right now.  If you are a habitual reader and still drafted Utley after we have panned him as a guy to avoid at all costs, than I pity you.  This is not going to end well and Utley will go by the wayside as a guy whose career took a dramatic fall off a cliff due to the wear and tear from playing second base.

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED RELIEF PITCHER RANKINGS

We have devoted a ton of time to the relief pitchers the last few days as first Joakim Soria and than Ryan Madson hit the shelf for the entire 2012 season due to Tommy John surgery.  So let's take a look at how the rankings currently look with the seaosn fast approaching.

1. Mariano Rivera

2. Craig Kimbrel

3. Jonathan Papelbon

4. John Axford

5. Heath Bell

6. Jose Valverde

7. Joel Hanrahan

8. Andrew Bailey

9. Brian Wilson

10. JJ Putz

11. Jason Motte (+1)

12. Sergio Santos (+1)

13. Drew Storen (-1)

14. Jordan Walden

15. Carlos Marmol

16. Huston Street


17. Rafael Betancourt (+2)

18. Brandon League

21. Joe Nathan (+1) 

22. Chris Perez (-3)


23. Sean Marshall

24. Kyle Farnsworth

25. Jonathan Broxton/Greg Holland

26. Frank Francisco

27. Javy Guerra

28. Brett Myers

29. Jim Johnson

30. Matt Thornton

31. Matt Capps

32. Grant Balfour

-With Ryan Madson out for the season, Sean Marshall makes the list.  Aroldis Chapman is also one to watch long-term as he could be the future there.
-Drew Storen slides a bit as he too could begin the season on the DL with elbow inflammation.  There was no structural damage found in the elbow so he could be back within a week or two once the season begins.
-Chris Perez is facing hitters again but he slides a bit as well due to the fact he is not all the way back from his oblique strain.  He stands a chance of starting the season on time however so don't donwgrade him too much.

There you have it.  Let's hear your thoughts on all this.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: RYAN MADSON

Its been beyond a rough spring if you are a fantasy baseball closer as Saturday brought the news that Cincinnati Reds closer Ruan Madson will miss the entire 2012 season due to having to get Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow.  This just a few days after Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria found out he would need the same procedure.  On top of all the carnage, Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen could start the season on the DL with elbow inflammation.  Yeah things are not so good for those who pitch in the ninth inning and I really feel the need to remind you all that this is just one of many reasons why you should never draft a closer early.  Both Soria and Madson were drafted on average in the first 10-12 rounds of drafts this past spring and so those picks are now complete busts to say the least.  I continue to preach how you need to wait until the late-to-middle rounds of your draft in order to go this route but since the season begins in less than two weeks, those who didn't listen will have to wait until next season.  Anyways getting back to Madson, lets' dig in a bit and find out what the fallout is with his injury.

Really there is no reason to discuss Madson much at all since he is now a complete non-factor for the 2012 season so let's see who steps up in his absence.  Sean Marshall is the obvious choice as he has been a big time setup man with a very high K rate the last two seasons.  Its stats like that which make Marshall a closer candidate and he should be the guy to own despite the fact that Dusty Baker has not commented publicly on this.  However lurking behind Marshall is Aroldis Chapman who with his 104 mph fastball also seems well-suited for the gig.  However Chapman is still not a finished product due to his high walk rate but its not out of the question that he could get a look before long due to all of the money invested in him and for the fact that Madson is on a one-year deal.  With Chapman being the future for the pitching staff, it would behoove the Reds to see if he could be the close for the club.  Obviously you probably don't have room for both guys so Marshall is the one to add but Chapman needs to be watched closely in case they choose to go his route. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: REDS CLOSER RYAN MADSON TO UNDERGO TOMMY JOHN SURGERY

Another day and another closer will be undergoing Tommy John surgery.  This time around its Cincinnati Reds closer Ryan Madson who will go under the knife which follows in the footsteps of Kansas City Royals counterpart Joakim Soria.  Madson, who has been dealing with elbow soreness all spring, was found to have his ligament torn right off the bone when he went to see a specialist back home.  Surgery will be performed this week and he will miss the entire 2012 campaign.  Sean Marshall will now serve as the closer.

Analysis:  Unbelievable.  First Soria and now Madson.  As if you didn't need any more evidence from me about why you should never draft a closer until the mid-to-late portions of your draft, this is it.  Marshall is a must add and he impressive work in setup the last two seasons should have him in line for a quietly good closing stint. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: REDS CLOSER RYAN MADSON (ELBOW) SENT HOME FOR TESTS

The Cincinnati Reds are concerned enough about closer Ryan Madson's continued elbow soreness that they have sent him home to have further testing done on the area.  Madson has not pitched in any spring games as a result of the elbow issues and he had a flareup on Wed. right before he was finally going to take the mound.  Sean Marshall would be the closer in his place if he starts the season on the DL.

Analysis:  Not good.  I don't like the sound of this at all and Joakim Soria's quick 2012 fantasy baseball death is still fresh in our minds.  I was a big booster of Madson coming into the season before the elbow issues but now if you are an owner, let's hope you picked up Marshall already because he almost certainly will start the season on the DL.  Marshall has very good stuff and the mentality to close so he could be a nice stopgap. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: NATIONALS CLOSER DREW STOREN (ELBOW) 50/50 SO START SEASON ON DL

Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen is 50/50 to begin the 2012 season on the DL due to discomfort in his elbow/biceps area.  Storen had an MRI done on the elbow which showed no structural damage but he is not slated to throw the next few days which means he is running out of time to be ready for Opening Day.  Manager Davey Johnson said that Brad Lidge and not Tyler Clippard would close in his Storen's place if this were to happen.

Analysis:  The biggest surprise in all of this is the fact that Johnson said Brad Lidge would close and not Tyler Clippard if Storen starts the season on the DL.  That eliminates the enticement for me to get some cheap saves in Storen's place.  Either way Storen would be back within a week or two if he hit the DL as his elbow is intact but just sore.  All in all he should be a top ten closer when its all said and done this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: TWINS COULD CUT JUSTIN MORNEAU, MOVE JOE MAUER TO 1B

The Minnesota Twins are nearing a tough decision when it comes to former MVP 1B Justin Morneau and that is whether or not to cut him before the season starts according to various reports.  Morneau is barely hitting over .140 this spring and has shown zero power whatsoever, including during batting practice.  He is trying to come back from a series of injuries, including a devastating concussion that ruined his last two seasons but its obvious to those in the know that he is now a clear shell of his former self.  Things are so bad that the team is thinking of cutting ties with Morneau outright before Opening Day and than moving fellow injury-prone Joe Mauer out from behind the plate and into the 1B spot.  Ryan Doumit would than be the everyday catcher.  Twins officials wouldn't comment on the issue when it was brought up on Friday but a decision could come soon.

As far as how this impacts fantasy baseball, this is the final nail in the Justin Morneau coffin.  He shouldn't be owned in any league, no matter how cheap he comes as he will be nothing but dead wood on your roster.  As far as Mauer is concerned, the move to 1B would be very good to his value since it would lessen the threat of injury and keep his bat fresh.  His stock would improve immediately due to this switch.  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 23, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES SP JOBA CHAMBERLAIN OUT FOR SEASON WITH DISLOCATED KNEE

New York Yankees RP Joba Chamberlain is out for the entire 2012 season after suffering a dislocated knee jumping on a trampoline on Thursday.  Chamberlain was attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery and was aiming for a June return but those plans are now out the window.  Chamberlain's loss might necessitate the Yankees moving Phil Hughes back to the bullpen in order to compensate for his absence.

Analysis:  Unreal.  Why Chamberlain was jumping on a trampoline is the million dollar question.  Harsh lesson learned no doubt.  The injury only affects those in fantasy baseball leagues with holds but even there Chamberlain was a risky investment in coming back from the Tommy John surgery. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: THE LATEST ON DREW STOREN, RYAN MADSON, ETC.

It is Friday and that means it's time for our first Fantasy Baseball Closing Time feature of the season where we look at everything and anything to do with those who pitch during the ninth inning.  There is lots to get to from an injury standpoint so let's get right to it.

-Troubling news out of Cincy on Thursday as Ryan Madson was scratched from his scheduled outing with soreness in his pitching elbow.  Madson has been dealing with elbow issues all spring and has spent most of that time on the sidelines working his way back.  Tests will be performed today to find out what exactly is up and with the season less than two weeks away, it is starting to look like he will begin the year on the DL.  Next in line is the very effective Sean Marshall who has the stuff to be very good in the role.  Pick him up right now as any bad news with Madson will have Marshall in the role anywhere from a few weeks to maybe more.

-Refuting an earlier report, Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria has not decided yet to have Tommy John surgery, even though those in the know believe he will eventually have to do it.  Still no word yet on whether Jonathan Broxton or Greg Holland will be the closer but both should be picked up in case either is named.  As far as Soria is concerned, stick a fork in him for 2012.

-Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen once again complained of stiffness in his bicep area on Thursday but testing showed no structural issues.  His UCL was perfectly fine which was the big worry but there was some inflammation around the elbow.  Storen is likely to sit for a week before attempting to throw again which means he is dangerously close to starting the year on the DL.  Tyler Clippard is the add and like with Sean Marshall, he is a very good replacement.  Unlike with Soria, this is looking like a short-term thing so don't go too crazy picking up Clippard.

-The Oakland A's named Grant Balfour the closer for what it's worth.  Balfour is right there with Matt Capps as one of the worst closers in the game so be prepared for some rocky moments along the way and keep an eye on Brian Fuentes if he gets off to a poor start.

There you have it.  As always lots to talk about here and we will continue to update things as we go along.  You can also check out the latest closer news on our CLOSER REPORT page. 

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: RYAN ZIMMERMAN 3B WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman can really hit the baseball.  Washington Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman can't ever seem to stay healthy.  That about sums it up when discussing the fantasy baseball outlook on Zimmerman as we head into the 2012 season as the guy has one of the best bats at the always volatile third base position but unfortunately he is also one of the most frustrating players to own since he can't ever stay on the field for an entire season.  In the interest of being thorough, I will go a bit deeper into handicapping his outlook for the season but at the very least, if you do decide to go this route in your draft, than you also must be sure to pair him with a solid backup like a David Freese when he gets hurt.  So let's jump right in and see what would be in store for Zimmerman's owners with the season a few weeks away.

At only 28 years old, Zimmerman is now flat in his power hitting prime and so he could be set for his best campaign yet if he can stay in one piece.  His 2011 season was destroyed due to an abdominal tear that needed surgery (be aware David Wright owners) and so his overall line of .289 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI failed to tell the whole story of the kind of player he is.  In fact one has to go back to 2009 when Zimmerman hit 33 home runs with 110 runs/106 RBI and hit .292.  This was one of the only seasons where Zimmerman stayed on the field throughout as he got 610 at-bats and it just shows you how good he can be.  If it sounds like this entire post is one big broken record, that's because its really that cut and dry when it comes to Zimmerman.  If he stays healthy, than the above 2009 numbers are fully capable of being produced.  If he hits the DL again for a lengthy period of time, than repeat the 2011 line.  Zimmerman is the rare slugger who can hit .300 with those 30 home runs, while also driving in 100 RBI and scoring 100 runs.  Yes he is not a stolen base threat but Zimmerman can do everything else with great efficiency.

All in all, I would give Ryan Zimmerman another chance in 2012 fantasy baseball.  He is still young and he can really put up some nice numbers when he is healthy.  There I repeated myself again.  You know what to do with this guy.

2012 PROJECTION:  .291 27 HR 104 RBI 108 R 4 SB

Thursday, March 22, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: MIKE MORSE, CHRIS CARPENTER

Let's jump right in and get to the fallouts from the latest big name fantasy baseball injuries.

-Mike Morse will now officially begin the 2012 season on the DL as he continues to deal with soreness in his lat muscle.  Morse originally hurt the lat over three weeks ago and manager Davey Johnson said he received an injection in the area recently to help the healing.  Either way Morse is clearly not ready to start the season and so the DL stint is necessary.  No doubt this is a big loss for his fantasy baseball owners as Morse is one of the most underrated hitters in the game as a guy who can club close to 30 home runs with near a .300 average.  Those are better numbers that what a Matt Holliday can supply these days and the Cardinals outfielder is going about two rounds earlier.  Be that as it may, this is not a disastrous thing with Morse as he should be back within two weeks once the season begins and thus will be able to have his customary season if all breaks right.

-In more pressing injury news, Cards SP Chris Carpenter has had a major setback with his neck injury and is now almost certain to begin the year on the DL.  After earlier testing revealed no structural issues, its now looking like Carpenter might have aggravated things and as a result could have some nerve issues going on there.  Little has been said from the Cardinals about how long he could be out but this one could be awhile.  Hope you listened to me when I told you to avoid him like your in-laws.

-Nationals closer Drew Storen is headed into the worry column with continued discomfort in his biceps area.  This is the third time Storen has reported discomfort there and even though Johnson said its not a big concern yet, this is something to watch closely.  Any absence for Storen will mean Tyler Clippard moved up to the hot seat to start the season.

There you have it.  Check back for more injury news as it happens.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NATIONALS OUTFIELDER MIKE MORSE (LAT) TO START YEAR ON DL

Washington Nationals outfielder Mike Morse will officially start the 2012 season on the DL with the strained lat muscle he hurt over three weeks ago.  Other than in playing in one spring game at DH since the injury, Morse has been on the shelf as a result.  Manager Davey Johnson revealed on Thursday that Morse received an injection in the area and he has not been cleared for baseball activities yet.

Analysis:  Morse insists that he is fine but clearly something is amiss there.  This is tough news to swallow if you are a Morse owner this close to the season but it shouldn't be something that keeps him out for long.  He still should get close to the 30 HR mark if he gets back within the first two weeks of the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: NATIONALS CLOSER DREW STOREN FEELS SORENESS PLAYING CATCH

Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen reported feeling discomfort in his biceps area while playing catch on Thursday, which was the third time this spring he has claimed such an issue.  Manager Davey Johnson downplayed the issue while talking to reporters on Thursday and no tests have been ordered yet. 

Analysis:  This is troubling to hear so close to the season and what's even more mysterious is the fact Storen hasn't headed for an MRI.  Clearly something is not right there and the Nationals would be wise to take a look at this.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: CUBS CLOSER CARLOS MARMOL TO REURN MONDAY AFTER HAND CRAMP

Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is in the clear as an MRI performed on his neck and hand revealed no issues and as a result he will get back into a game on Monday. 

Analysis:  Marmol is fully set to go for the opener barring any setbacks and is a middle tier closer due to his high walk rate.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS 3B DAVID WRIGHT (ABDOMINAL) TAKES BP WITH NO ISSUES

New York Mets 3B David Wright, who has missed the entire spring training slate of games with a slight abdominal tear, took batting practice on Thursday and reported no issues afterwards.  Manager Terry Collins said afterwards that Wright will need a few more days of BP before he can get into a game for the first time this spring.  Wright still hopes to be ready in time for Opening Day.

Analysis:  Wright is finally starting to make some progress from that troubled abominal.  He actually still has some time to get himself in shape for the opener but any other setback will undoubtedly have him on the DL as a result.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: INDIANS CLOSER CHRIS PEREZ THROWS LIVE BP WED. AND COULD BE READY FOR OPENER

Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez threw live batting practice on Wednesday and reported no issues as he tries to make it back before Opening Day from his injured oblique.  Perez was able to throw his fastball and slider and is aiming to get in the bullpen when the games start to count.

Analysis:  Its looking more like Perez will be ready to go either on or shortly after Opening Day which neutures the fantasy baseball value of Vinny Pestano who was going to close in his place. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: TIM TEBOW TO NEW YORK JETS OFFICIAL

The Tim Tebow trade to the New York Jets has officially been completed as the Broncos and Jets split right down the middle the $5 million bonus that was due to him upon being dealt.  Tebow will be introduced to the New York media on Friday which is sure to be a circus.

Analysis:  Tebow has zero fantasy football value now that he is going to be playing behind Mark Sanchez.  This also negatively impacts Sanchez who will have Tebow breathing down his neck all season which could have him playing jumpy which is likely to lead to turnovers.  An ugly situation all the way around with this deal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RANGERS SP NEFTALIZ FELIZ REPORTS IMPROVEMENT IN STIFF SHOULDER, NO MRI PLANNED

Texas Rangers SP Neftali Feliz reportedly felt good on Wednesday after coming out of his Tuesday start with shoulder stiffness and no MRI is being planed.  Feliz is converting to starting pitcher after serving as the team's closer for the past three seasons and he figures to rest for a few days before getting on a mound again.

Analysis:  I am surprised the Rangers won't do an MRI just to be sure with such a young asset.  Be that as it may, Feliz is still not a good fantasy baseball option in my book for the upcoming season due to all the reasons I have spoken about countless times on the site.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ROYALS CLOSER JOAKIM SORIA TO HAVE TOMMY JOHN SURGERY, WILL MISS THE ENTIRE 2012 SEASON

Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria is headed for Tommy John surgery after an MRI on Tuesday revealed damage to the UCL in his pitching elbow.  Soria will miss the entire 2012 season and likely some of 2013 as well due to the procedure.

Analysis:  Terrible news for Soria and his fantasy baseball owners as he is a completely wasted pick if you drafted already.  There has been no mention on who will take over as closer but the Royals are paying Jonathan Broxton $4 million bucks so he would get the nod in my book. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: JETS-BRONCOS TIM TEBOW DEAL HITS SNAG

Updating an earlier report, the Denver Broncos and New York Jets trade involving QB Tim Tebow has been put on hold.  The Jets apparently didn't notice the fact that Tebow was due a $5 million dollar bonus if he got traded for which they would be on the hook for and are balking at paying.  Thas has now re-opened talks between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Broncos over Tebow's services.

Analysis:  The Jets just look dumber and dumber.  Apparently in their haste to get some publicity, they failed to read over the entire Tebow contract before they announced the deal.  Same old same old. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: JETS ACQUIRE QB TIM TEBOW FOR TWO DRAFT PICKS

The Denver Broncos wasted no time in exhiling QB Tim Tebow after signing Peyton Manning as they traded him to the New York Jets on Wednesday for a fourth and seventh round draft pick in the 2012 draft.  Offensive coordinator Tony Sprano is the ultimate Wildcat user and now doubt the move was made with that idea in mind instead of placing pressure on QB Mark Sanchez.  Drew Stanton is slated to remain the backup, with Tebow working in the Wildcat formations.

Analysis:  What a stupid move by the Jets.  The Jets are desperate for attention after seeing the Giants win yet another Super Bowl after all their needless bluster the last three seasons.  Tebow has zero fantasy football value now that he is not starting and he surely can't be happy about thi development.  The Jets remain a circus organization at best.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: SAINTS HEAD COACH SEAN PAYTON SUSPENSED ONE YEAR

In a blockbuster announcement on Wednesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspensed New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012-13 season due to the bounty scandal that has engulfed the organization.  In addition, the Saints will give up a second round pick in both the 2012 and 2013 drafts and are being fined $500,000.  GM Mickey Loomis was also suspended for eight games and fined $500,000.  Finally, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinately as the chief culprit in the scandal. 

Analysis:  WOW!  I mean.....WOW!  What else is there to say.  Goodell absolutely opened up a can on the Saints organization and good for him.  The whole bounty thing was disgusting and Payton should have known better.  He will now have plenty of time to think about all of this on the sidelines for an entire season.  Williams is likely never to be allowed back into the league altogether and you have to wonder what the thoughts are of QB Drew Brees who is steamed at the club for placing the franchise tag on him.  Surely the Saints got hammered by this.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM REPORTS: PITTSBURGH PIRATES

We head on over to the NL Central as we close in on the 2012 fantasy baseball season and take a closer look at the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates.  Here are some of the main storylines from their camp that you need to be aware of.

1.  Andrew McCutchen was one of the best players in the game the first half of 2011 and one of the worst during the second half?  Who is he exactly?  Don't be worrying about McCutchen who in my opinion is truly one of the best players around.  The guy is fantasy baseball gold in that he can contribute in all five ROTO categories and so that alone makes him an early round draft candidate.  A couple of things to take note of though:  McCutchen is likely to hit third this season which could cut into his stolen bases some and he also hits lefties better than righties which could make it tough for him to hit anything better than .300 at best.  However his power continues to be on the rise and he will score plenty of runs with increasing RBI in the third spot.  The sky is the limit for the kid and he is a must own if you can get him this season.

2.  Is Pedro Alvarez even worth talking about or is he simply an overhyped bust?  Its way too early to call the kid a bust as we should have learned our lesson by now not to be so judgemental that quick with young hitters.  Just take a look at Alex Gordon and Matt Wieters as two clear examples of young hitters who struggled immensely when they came up but than turned into top level players once they got acclimated to the game.  Now I am not saying Alvarez will follow their path but the power is something that makes him intriguing.  However Alvarez has a ton of work to do on his hitting approach, namely his extremely high K rate which makes his average a joke.  His draft price is dirt cheap this season which makes him a value for the first time in his career so I wouldn't be opposed to making him a late round flier but he is far from a finished product who shouldn't be counted on as anything more than a bench guy.

3.  I know you liked Erik Bedard as a sleeper starter when he was with Seattle last season.  Is his stock that much better now that he is in the NL with Pittsburgh?  Bedard is once again a solid late round fantasy baseball starting pitching option as he will pitching in the much easier NL and his average of 1K per 1 IP is very enticing.  Unfortunately he can't ever stay healthy for more than 160 innings and he tends to not be able to pitch deep into games but for a late round pick that's not a big deal.  Use him until he hits the DL and than cast him to the wire.

4.  Joel Hanrahan was really something as a closer in 2011.  He should be judged as a top 10 guy now right?  Absolutely as Hanrahan was dominant all season and there was nothing out of whack with his advanced stats.  The problem now is that Hanrahan has priced himself out of my range as I never spent on top end closers and prefer to look toward undervalued guys who could excel such as Jason Motte or Sergio Santos.  That's what I did with Hanrahan last season and I made out like a bandit.  I don't need to rehash how its a terrible idea to pick a closer early.  You should know better. 

5.  Not much else to speak of here huh?  Yeah the picking are slim.  Neil Walker is an "OK" option for third or second base but he leaves you wanting since he doesn't contribute anything crazy in any of the stats.  Jose Tabata will run all day and even has a bit of pop so he makes for a very solid steals grab late in your draft.  Finally Rod Barajas will pop some home runs and supply a horrible average.  That's about it. 

There you have it.  As always let us know your thoughts.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: CARDS SP CHRIS CARPENTER SHUT DOWN WITH MORE NECK PAIN

St. Louis Cardinals SP Chris Carpenter has been shut down again due to renewed discomfort in his neck region and almost certainly will begin the season on the DL.  Carpenter was originally found to have a bulging disk in his neck but had had gotten back to throwing the last few days until this setback.  More tests will be ordered as a result of this.

Analysis:  I called Carpenter as 2012 bust way back in January before spring training even began and he didn't waste long making me look good.  Carpenter is headed to the DL and at 36-years-old and coming off an insane workload in 2011, he could be looking at a rough season.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED RELIEF PITCHER RANKINGS

Time to delve into the updated 2012 fantasy baseball relief pitcher rankings as this always volatile position sees more than its fair share of changes.

1. Mariano Rivera

2. Craig Kimbrel

3. Jonathan Papelbon

4. John Axford

5. Heath Bell

6. Jose Valverde

7. Joel Hanrahan

8. Andrew Bailey (+1)

9.  Brian Wilson (-1)

10. Ryan Madson

11. JJ Putz

12. Drew Storen

13. Jason Motte

14. Sergio Santos

15. Jordan Walden

16. Carlos Marmol (+1)

17. Huston Street (+1)

18. Chris Perez (+1)

19. Brandon League (+1)

20. Rafael Betancourt (+1)

21. Joe Nathan (+1)

22. Kyle Farnsworth (+1)

23. Jonathan Broxton/Greg Holland (-7)

24. Frank Francisco

25. Javy Guerra

26. Brett Myers

27. Jim Johnson

28. Matt Thornton

29. Matt Capps

30. Grant Balfour

-The obvious drop is Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria who is out with a damaged UCL that very well could need to undergo Tommy John surgery.  Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland will battle to get the gig with each having his own pluses.  When it comes to Broxton, he has the much more extensive experience in the role and is being paid $4 million this season.  Holland on the other hand was absolutely dominant in 2011 and rocked a K/9 IP of over 11.00 which is closer material.  Honestly this could go either way so pick up both if you can.
-There is much more clarity now in Chicago and Oakland as Matt Thornton and Grant Balfour have been named closers.  Both men however have struggled mightily when called on to close games in the past so be prepared for some rocky rides, especially when it comes to Balfour. 
-Chris Perez should be back within a few weeks once the season starts and will get his ninth inning role back from Vinny Pestano.  Just know however that Perez will be on a short leash as Pestano has the makeup and stuff to be a dominant closer.  The team won't wait long for Perez to sort through his issues if he begins the year in shaky fashion.

There you have it.  As always share your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: NEFTALI FELIZ AND CARLOS MARMOL

Another day in fantasy baseball means another day to talk about injuries.  Let's get to it.

Neftali Feliz:  Feliz exited his spring outing on Tuesday with stiffness in his shoulder which obviously is a big worry for a guy who has had a history of shoulder trouble.  Feliz of course is transitioning to a starter after serving as the Rangers closer for three seasons which alone makes him a shaky fantasy baseball pitching option.  Before spring training even began, manager Ron Washington reported that Feliz would be capped at around 160 innings which falls way short of a full-time starter workload.  Thus we will be looking at a string of five and six inning outings which is likely to cost him wins.  There is also widespread concern that Feliz doesn't have a third pitch which could drastically impact his overall value in a negative manner.  Finally we have the shoulder issue which could have Feliz starting the year on the DL.  Combined all together and you can see why I wouldn't touch Feliz with a ten-foot pole this season even if he came cheaper than he should.  The injury is just confirmation of all this.

Carlos Marmol:  Marmol is going to have an MRI on his hand which came down with cramps during his outing on Tuesday.  Marmol, who went back to his shaky ways at closer for the Cubs last season, says its nothing major but this just reminds you that he is far from the dominating stud he was back in 2010 which is now an outlier campaign.  Marmol drives me nuts with all the walks and he almost lost the job last season after a string of poor outings.  While I think he will be fine for Opening Day, the injury should force you as an owner to sell high if he puts up a few scoreless outings to start the season.

As always we will continue to report on all of the injury issues around the league as they take place.  Be sure to check back for more information as we go along.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RANGERS SP NEFTALI FELIZ EXITS WITH SHOULDER STIFFNESS

Texas Rangers SP Neftali Feliz exited his Tuesday start with shoulder stiffness after three innings.  Feliz will head for an MRI as he continues to transition into being a starter after serving as the closer for three seasons.

Analysis:  Feliz is a fantasy baseball commodity I told you all to not bother with due to the rocky history of relivers turning into starters.  Feliz was going to be capped at only 160 innings this season which means he won't be around to help in the second half and his lack of a third pitch has called into question how good he could be.  This shoulder problem is obviously a big concern which could mean he starts the year on the DL.  Stay tuned as we will update as soon as the news comes out.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: CUBS STOPPER CARLOS MARMOL HEADED FOR MRI ON HAND

A day after Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria went down with a bum elbow, Chicago Cubs stopper Carlos Marmol joined him on the sidelines as he exited Tuesday's outing with pain in his hand.  Marmol will head for an MRI on the hand after feeling cramps in the area.  Despite the need for the MRI, both Marmol and management insist its only for precautionary reasons.

Analysis:  Marmol is a volatile fantasy baseball closer due to his very high walk rate so he is middle of the pack based on that aspect on that alone.  Injuries could lessen his value even more so check back for updates on this.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SECOND BASEMAN RANKINGS

Chase Utley takes the plunge as he will begin the season on the DL.  Let's see how far and some other changes in our updated second baseman rankings.

1. Robinson Cano
2. Dustin Pedroia
3. Ian Kinsler
4. Dan Uggla
5. Rickie Weeks
6. Brandon Phillips
7. Ben Zobrist (+1)
8. Chase Utley (-1)
9. Michael Young
10. Howie Kendrick
11. Jason Kipnis
12. Martin Prado
13. Jermile Weeks
14. Aaron Hill
15. Danny Espinosa (+2)
16. Ryan Roberts
17. Kelly Johnson (-2)
18. Dustin Ackley
19. Neil Walker
20. Placido Polanco

-I thought of putting Utley even below Michael Young but I will hold off for now with the option of changing it later.  I discussed the Utley injury fallout more in depth yesterday so scroll down and check it out.  The fact of the matter is that the fading fast Utley is a shell of his former first round self and continued injuries will further compact the problem.
-I haven't discussed Danny Espinosa much but there is a mixed bag at work with his fantasy baseball outlook.  His average is a non-starter for me but the power/speed combination is very good.  Espinosa needs to work on his high K rate in order to improve on that average and even if he can do so just a little bit, than he could shoot up the list.
-Old reliable Brandon Phillips is back again but keep in mind his steals are fading fast.  No longer is he the 20/20 dynamo he used to be so don't judge him on his past.  However he is still a decent starting option who should be a solid asset this season.

That's how we see things.  As always post below your thoughts.

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: BRONCOS GIVE PEYTON MANNING FIVE YEARS AND $96 MILLION

The Denver Broncos paid a high price for free agent QB Peyton Manning as they gave him a five-year deal for $96 million dollars.  Manning picked the Broncos over fellow finalists Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers and claims he is almost all the way back to form from offseason neck woes.

Analysis:  Manning is quite possibly the biggest fantasy football wild card for the 2012 season who could be picked anywhere from the second round to the 7th.  Training camp will be the telling sign of whether he is back or not so hold off on drafts until than if you are interested in bringing him onto your roster.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS 1B MIGUEL CABRERA HAS SMALL FRACTURE UNDER EYE, VOWS TO BE READY FOR OPENER

Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera has a small fracture under his eye as a result of being hit with a one-hopper during Monday's spring training outing.  Cabrera also received stitches under the eye and will miss a week of spring games.  Both manager Jim Leyland and Cabrera said he will be ready for the opener.

Analysis:  Good news overall here as Cabrera should be at first base when the games start to count.  With third base eligibility in the cards for 2012, Cabrera is the 1A to Matt Kemp's 1B as the top fantasy baseball hitter of the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GRANT BALFOUR OFFICIALLY NAMES A'S CLOSER

The Oakland A's have officially names Grant Balfour as the team's closer to start the 2012 season.  Balfour beat out fellow veteran Brian Fuentes for the gig but his history in the role has been shaky at best.

Analysis:  Balfour is quite possibly the worst closer to start the 2012 season along with Matt Capps.  I don't see him lasting more than a few months in the role, let alone the season as he has been awful when given the chance to close in the past.  Only pick him up if you are desperate.

Monday, March 19, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: CHASE UTLEY AND JOAKIM SORIA

It was not a good day as far as fantasy baseball and health was concerned as both Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley and Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria combined to make it a very noteworthy afternoon in that respect. Utley is headed away from the team to get a second opinion on his ailing knee, while Soria's MRI on his sore elbow revealed a damaned ulnar collateral ligament.  Both guys are looking to be on the sidelines once the season begins and so let's take a closer look at the fallout from their injuries.

Chase Utley:  For the second spring in a row, Utley is missing Grapefruit League games and is going to start the year on the DL with knee issues.  The pain in Utley's knee has not improved and so he is now headed for a second opinion outside of team headquarters.  The 33-year-old had half his 2011 season ruined because of injuries and GM Reuben Amaro Jr. told reporters on Monday that he expects him to begin the year on the DL.  Its now abundantly clear that Utley is a medical mess and infielders have a long history of steep declines due to the wear and tear on the position.  Some other notable names who went this route were Roberto Alomar, Juan Samuel, and Carlos Baerga and Utley seems poised to join this group.  Those fantasy baseball owners who foolishly got back in bed with Utley for 2012 are suffering from his absence again and its not like we didn't see this coming.  More knee injuries mean less steals and less power being generated into his swing.  All around Utley is looking like a potential disaster.

Joakim Soria:  Its all bad news when it comes to Soria as his damaged UCL in his pitching elbow could keep him out for months and maybe even the entire season.  There are also rumors that Tommy John surgery is on the table which is obviously the worst bit of news you could ever hear when it comes to pitchers.  Surgery is likely, whether it is Tommy John or something less invasive and that means Soria could miss a huge chunk of the season.  Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland are waiting in the wings and either guy could assume the ninth inning gig going forward.  Broxton has much more experience and figures to be the better option but his awful 2011 season could give the front office pause.  Either way Soria is looking himself like a major bust candidate.

As always we will be posting Injury Fallout columns all season long as more injuries take their toll on our players.  Stay tuned.

THE 2012 FANTASY BASEBALL SEASON IS ALMOST UPON US

The 2012 Fantasy Baseball Season is almost here and as always we are ready to rock and roll when the games begin.  As a refresher for the Fantasy Sports Boss veterans and an introduction to the newbies for this season, here is what we have in store as far as features are conerned all year long.

-Every Monday is the Closer Report where we delve into the world of the ninth inning in fantasy baseball.  The latest on injuries, demotions, trades, and everything else you need. 

-Continuous early season Trend or Mirage features where we look at hot starters and look at who is legit and who needs to be sold high on.

-Every Friday is Advanced Statistics Corner where we look at some key players from around the diamond who are benefitting or being hurt by BABIP.  Who needs to be traded for and who needs to be dealt in order to maximize your profit.

-Every day we will continue to update you on the latest injuries from around the game.

-Every morning Monday-Friday we will bring you the Fantasy Baseball Wrapup which is a rehash of all the noteworthy performances from the day before.

All of this and much, much more.  If you have any feature ideas you would like us to run, by all means share them by e-mailing us at rangerfan28@yahoo.com.  Also be sure to follow us on Twitter at ROTOBOSS.  We look forward to serving all of your needs for the 2012 season.

Also for those who can't get enough of fantasy football, we are already working on our first 2012 Fantasy Football Draft Guide which will be released at the end of April. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: ROYALS CLOSER JOAKIM SORIA HAS DAMAGED UCL IN ELBOW

The verdict is on on Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria and its not good as an MRI revealed on Monday that he has damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.  Whereas no reports of the extent of damage have been released, injuries like this often lead to Tommy John surgery.  Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland would close in his place.

Analysis:  Stick a fork in Soria as he goes down as one of the first significant injuries of the 2012 fantasy baseball season.  Tommy John surgery is a realistic possibility and even if he avoids it, we are looking at a months long stint on the DL.  It will be interesting to see who gets promoted to closer between Broxton and Holland but my money is on the former Dodgers stopper since he has more experience.  Adjust accordingly.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS 1B MIGUEL CABRERA HIT IN FACE WITH ONE-HOPPER, HEADED FOR X-RAYS

Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera is headed for X-rays on his face after being struck by a one-hopper in Monday's game.  Cabrera immediately hit the field and had blood pouring out of the wound which needed stitches in the clubhouse. 

Analysis:  Talk about a freak injury.  Now we just got to wait and see if there are any facial fractures which could sideline Cabrera which would be inthinkable for his fantasy baseball owners.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSER NEWS: ROYALS CLOSER JOAKIM SORIA EXITS SUNDAY'S GAME WITH ELBOW SORENESS

Uh-oh.  Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria was forced from his Sunday outing due to discomfort in his pitching elbow.  Soria will be re-evaluated and his spring as a whole has been awful as he has been torched routinely.  Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland could get closing duties in his absence.

Analysis:  Big potential problem here.  Its bad enough he has been disgusting this spring but now this.  Stay tuned and get ready to pick up Broxton or Holland, with the former being the more likely scenario.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: PHILLIES 2B CHASE UTLEY (KNEE) UNLIKELY TO BE READY FOR OPENING DAY

For the second year in a row, Philadelphia Phillies 2B Chase Utley will begin the season on the DL with injuries.  Utley has not played in any spring games as he deals with discomfort in his knee and GM Reuben Amaro Jr. went on record Monday that he is doubtful to be ready to go when the games start to count.  Utley is headed for a second opinion on the knee in order to find out what is going on.

Analysis:  Here we go again with Utley.  I said last spring that Utley is fading fast and not one to even flirt with due to his age and injury issues.  Utley is the classsic example of the rapid decline of an infielder due to the wear and tear of playing the position.  Not worth your attention. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: THE PEYTON MANNING FALLOUT

By now you have all heard that Peyton Manning has officially let it be known he will sign with the Denver Broncos, which was exclusively reported here five days ago.  The fallout from this affects more than a few fellow passers around the league and in the interest of fantasy football, let's see how it all shook out.

Peyton Manning:  Manning by name alone is a guy who is a very attractive fantasy football commodity, even more so this season since he will come dirt cheap off the neck surgery.  However I can't endorse Manning as a top ten guy at this point but I will leave space to boost him up if he shows good mechanics in training camp.  He is clearly a wild card until proven otherwise but I can totally see a scenario where you choose to wait in drafting a QB this summer and instead take Manning a bit later on as you stock up on RB's and WR's.  Sure there is risk involved but the payoff could be great.

Alex Smith:  Smith has the 49ers over a barrel right now since they lost out on Manning and he has expressed annoyance at the organization for going after him in the first place since he already took them to the playoffs in 2011-12.  The Dolphins are also involved with Smith but they may just stick with Matt Moore.  Both Moore and Smith are backup fantasy football options. 

Matt Flynn:  Flynn got a three-year deal from the Seattle Seahawks after making only two starts in his career, albeit with both being excellent outings.  There is no telling where Flynn will go from here but with Marshawn Lynch running the ball, he won't be asked to carry the offense.  Flynn is a backup to start the season with ceiling to possibly take advantage of.

Tim Tebow:  Tebow is now on the trading block after Manning signs on and the Jacksonville Jaguars you have to figure will be front and center here since he played college football not that far away at the University of Florida.  Tebow did some nice things when it came to fantasy football last season with his running bearing the most of his value but overall you really don't want him as your every week starter due to the up and down nature of his outings.

There you have it.  Surely its been a rocky offseason that has a lot of people taking notice of the league as spring shows up.  Let us know what you think.

FANTASY FOOTBALL NEWS: PEYTON MANNING TO SIGN WITH BRONCOS

Five days after reporting right here that Peyton Manning was going to sign with the Denver Broncos, the former Indiandapolis Colts QB made it known he would do just that on Monday.  Manning has told the Denver front office that he will in fact sign with the team and plans to play another four seasons.  Tim Tebow thus will be put up for trade as a result of this.

Analysis:  We had good information almost a week ago that Manning was signing with the Broncos, despite the fact he worked out for the Titans and met with the 49ers since than.  Manning is a risky fantasy football starting QB option but one who could supply big time value if he comes back all the way.  As far as Tebow is concerned, it makes too much sense for the Jacksonville Jaguars to not be front and center when it comes to brining him aboard due to the proximity to Florida university where he became a hero. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: FRANCISCO LIRIANO STOCK ON THE UPSWING

Here we go again.  Minnesota Twins SP Francisco Liriano has taken his fantasy baseball owners through the years on a major roller coaster ride to say the least.  From coming up as a 98-mph dynamo to undergoing Tommy John surgery, to coming back with two disastrous seasons, to putting up a big 2010, Liriano surely has covered all the bases.  His 2011 season however was a major downer from the year before and so those same owners who were rewarded by taking a shot with him the year before, were now running away in droves as he continued to be one of the most volatile stocks in the game.  As we enter the 2012 campaign, Liriano has been picked toward the very end of drafts due to all of this unpredictability but if one were to judge him on his spring stats so far, that sentiment would surely change.  The fact of the matter is that Liriano has been dynamic in his spring training starts, with 3 out of the 4 of them being gems.  The latest was five no-hit innings on Sunday where he surrendered only 1 walk.  So really we are once again faced with the decision of whether or not to go in on Liriano and there remains doubt about what direction he will truly take when the season gets underway.  So in our latest Fantasy Baseball Current Events, let's delve a bit deeper into this story as a means to get a better understanding of what is going on with this situation.

Obviously Liriano still has it in him to spin unhittable stuff in any given start.  He is also racking up the K's again as he did in 2010 as he hit the 200 punchout mark.  So those are two big pluses right there.  However Liriano's 2011 was a mess and carried with it some recurring issues that have undermined his overall value.  The first is that Liriano got injured yet again and that has been the biggest problem in his career.  Many scouts have spoken repeatedly about how Liriano's violent delivery caused his TJ surgery in the first place and will continue to make him a prime injury risk.  Thus the chances of him pitching a complete season are slim.  Also Liriano has been dogged with a label of not being a hard worker which can clearly show up where his health is concerned.  Also Liriano has shown some poor control over the years which impacts his WHIP and puts runners on base which ups his pitch count.  This costs him wins as he is forced to exit his starts early because of the poor pitch efficiency.

On the other side of the ledger, Liriano obviously has the stuff to generate swings and misses and 200 strikeouts is his ceiling if all breaks right.  Also despite all his struggles in 2011, Liriano still threw a no-hitter which tells you that greatness can occur in any given start.  The fact that he is dirt cheap this spring makes him especially intriguing in that you are not paying much at all with a possible big payoff.  Guys who have his stuff are always good late round picks and even though Liriano has burned many throughout the years, the fact he has fallen so far makes him a good investment if you can wrap your head around that statement. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ANGLES 1B KENDRYS MORALES TO MAKE CACTUS LEAGUE DEBUT TUESDAY

Los Angeles Angels 1B Kendrys Morales will make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday in the DH slot which would be his firts major league action in a year and a half.  Morales has been hitting in minor league games the last few days and has had no problems with his leg or ankle area.  He is slated to begin the season on time at this point.

Analysis:  Great news as Morales continues to hold onto his nice sleeper value.  He carries both 1B and OF eligibility in some leagues which carries even more enticing appeal.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: NATIONALS OUTFIELDER MIKE MORSE (LAT) WONT PLAY IN GAMES THIS WEEK

Washington Nationals outfielder Mike Morse won't play in spring games this week as he continues to deal with discomfort in his lat muscle region.  Morse hurt his lat almost three weeks ago and returned to action in the DH slot last weekend until feeling more pain.  He underwent an MRI Saturday which was clean so there is no worry that he has anything major going on.

Analysis:  Morse is starting to annoy his fantasy baseball owners a bit but he should still be good to go for Opening Day since the MRI was good.  He should challenge the 30 home run mark if there are no further problems.

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: KENDRYS MORALES LOOKING LIKE A NICE INVESTMENT

The saga of Los Angeles Angels 1B Kendrys Morales has been one of the more fascinating stories to his fantasy baseball in quite some time.  Ever since Morales made it to the major leagues from Cuba, the guy has run the emotional gamut from big time success to the depths of depression over what no doubt was one of the most freakishly serious injuries a player in any sport could suffer.  By now you all know the gist of the story:  Morales makes good on all the hitting potential scouts talked about when he first signed with the Angels as he became a fearsome .300-hitting/30-home run slugging first baseman who was the clear future at the position.  Than in May 2010 Morales hit a raucous walk off home run and proceeded to shatter his leg jumping into home plate into the most pit of his welcoming teammates.  After the original diagnosis had Morales out the rest of that season, he unbelievably missed the entire 2011 campaign as well due to complications from the surgery and his recovery from it.  Fast forward to spring 2012 and Morales is still waiting to get back on the field a year and a half later.  Unlike 2011 however, this time around Morales is looking like he is ready to go as he is now fully playing in spring training games and hitting the ball with surprising authority considering how long he has been out.  Couple with the fact that Morales has been drafted as a late round lottery pick, and the optimism surrounding him is starting to become palpable.  So what really is going on with this situation and can Morales in fact make it all the way back to finding his big time bat once again?  Let's take a closer look at this situation from a realistic point of view.

First of all let's take a look at Morales' last full season which was in 2009.  It was there where he hit a stupendous 34 home runs with 108 RBI while hitting .306.  That is second round production and made Morales and instant star.  What was great about his game was the fact Morales was the rare power hitter who combined a good average with great power and it was this reason he was so sought after in 2011.  So a year and a half later can he get back to that level?  The answer is yes and no.  There is no doubt that Morales is facing a readjustment period to major league pitching after missing so much time.  This could show up in his batting average for sure and Morales anyway was more of a .290 guy that .306 as he had some BABIP luck in 2009.  However his power is still there and he is still only going to be 29 when the season gets underway which means he is flat in his prime.  When Morales hits the ball, it goes a long way and the fact the Angels quickly re-signed him this offseason despite the year that Mark Trumbo had was telling in that they fully expect him to be that top notch player again.  With Albert Pujols in the fold, Morales will have some big time protection hitting in front of him and there will be plenty of RBI opportunities as well.  The best part in all of this is the fact that Morales' draft price is dirt cheap and so there value could be tremendous.  Overall I am a huge fan of Morales and have been for awhile  I really have reservations about trading for him if you didn't get him in the draft as it looks liek all signs are a go for this season.  Get him now while the price is nice.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL CURRENT EVENTS: DAVID WRIGHT'S ONGOING RIB CAGE ISSUES

Yesterday we began a new feature called "Fantasy Baseball Current Events" where we take a look at some of the central storylines going on in the game.  Yesterday we examined the complicated drama surrounding New York Yankees SP Michael Pineda and the fact he came to camp overweight and lacking velocity which could get him ticketed to the minors if he is not careful.  Today we stay in New York and take a closer look at the ongoing injury woes of Mets third baseman David Wright.  By now of course you all know that Wright has not played in a single spring training game due to the fact he has a slight tear in an abdominal muscle.  After saying that it was just a minor thing, Wright was forced to fly back to the New York to get a cortisone shot into the area in order to speed up the healing.  Now that he is back at camp, the status quo is still in play and the latest came from mabager Terry Collins who said Wright wont be back for another week.  That would leave Wright only a week to get ready for the season and so there is now a realistic chance that he wont bea ready for the start of the year.  With Wright being looked at as a solid bounce back candidate at 30 years old off a season ruined by a back injury, things are now looking very murky.  So what does this all mean for Wright and his fantasy baseball owners?  Let's take a closer look and find out.

First of all in the interest of full disclosure, I drafted David Wright in the Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Experts League so I am fully vested in what happens here.  I was banking on the fact that the Mets lowered the outfield walls in Wright's power alleys, the fact he is still in his prime at 30, and the fact that he is the rare third baseman who can hit for power and steal bases.  However I can't deny the fact that Wright has now earned the label of being injury prone what with a concussion ending a nice 2010 season, the back injury that curtailed his 2011 campaign, and now this.  Its starting to look like the wear and tear of playing third base is taking hold of Wright as he hits 30 and look no further than just about any other top fantasy baseball third baseman for evidence that he is not alone.  In fact Wright's childhood friend Ryan Zimmerman had a similar injury last season that he was forced to have surgery on and it wound up costing almost two months.  That is the ultimate fear here when it comes to Wright and even though there is no mention of it right now, the chance of him being forced to go the surgery route is in play which would instantly take a huge chunk out of him counting stats.  You also have to wonder whether Wright is going to steal many bases anymore what with last season's back injury complicating things.  Obviously there are questiosn everywhere when it comes to the guy.  I wish I could say that everything will work out but so far things are not looking so good.  If Wright can get back on the field in a week, than he should be fine as far as stats are concerned but there is risk all the way around.  Ultimately the next two weeks will determine the course of action Wright's season will take and at this point it is cloudy at best.