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Sunday, June 30, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED STARTING PITCHING RANKINGS: HARVEY NEAR THE TOP

1.  Clayton Kershaw:  Standard excellence from the lefty who has made the whole spring debate between he and Justin Verlander moot.
2.  Matt Harvey:  Believe it.  Look past the fact Harvey has not even thrown 30 starts and concentrate on the pure dominance of his numbers.  Has been in the running for three possible no-hitters already.
3.  Felix Hernandez
4.  Cliff Lee:  Should be traded by the deadline, with the American League contenders being heavily involved.  Was still a Cy Young guy in Texas, Cleveland,  and Seattle so no worries.
5.  Max Scherzer:  Now 12-0 and has carried over terrific second half of 2012.  I said he could be better than Verlander this season back in March.  Yup.
6.  Chris Sale:  So far so good as Sale's arm is holding up under the Verducci Rules 2012 violation. 
7.  Adam Wainwright:  Further proof that the second year back from TJ surgery sees a major bump in production.
8.  Jordan Zimmerman:  Fighting it out with Wainwright and Harvey for NL Cy Young.
9.  Madison Bumgarner
10. Yu Darvish:  Strikeouts have been ridiculous and walks not hurting him as much this season.
11. Stephen Strasburg
12. Hisashi Iwakuma:  Has had only one poor start all season.
13. James Shields:  Not winning but not his fault.
14. Justin Verlander:  Falling fast as arm looks tired.  Has not had dominant start in almost a month.
15. Shelby Miller:  Has gotten hit his last two starts which only shows him to be human.
16. Gio Gonzalez:
17. Lance Lynn:  Can't wait to see if he holds his numbers the second half.  If he does than look out.
18. Matt Cain:  Back on track after awful April and early May.
19. Mat Latos:  Upped his K rate to nearly 1 per inning pitched.
20. Jeff Samardzjia:  Slowed down slightly after awesome April but May and June is the height of what he really is.
21. Alex Cobb:  Needs to get back on the field from his concussion to build off eye opening first two months of the season.
22. Hyun-Jin Ryu
23. Patrick Corbin:  Lacks strikeouts but clearly getting it done as shown by great ratios.
24. Mike Minor:  Called this breakout.
25. Kris Medlen:  Has come on strong in May and June after shoddy April.  WHIP a bit high though.
26. Hiroki Kuroda:  Can't argue with the ratios but Kuroda tends to tire and still doesn't collect K's.
27. Homer Bailey
28. Cole Hamels
29. Julio Teheran
30. C.C. Sabbathia:  Reality is now that Sabbathia is a number 2 and not an ace.
31. Clay Buchholz:  Injuries once again a major issue.
32. Anibal Sanchez:  Racked up the K's before his own DL stint.
33. Bartolo Colon
34. Francisco Liriano:  Like with A.J. Burnett, liking the NL Central much better than AL.
35. A.J. Burnett
36. Travis Wood
37. Jose Fernandez:  Will be an ace as soon as next season once the training wheels are removed.
38. Ervin Santana:  Once again continuing his habit of one good year followed by a bad.
39. Jeff Locke
40. Jacob Turner
41. Justin Masterson:  Will never trust the guy but having a very nice season.
42. Derek Holland:  Ditto Holland.
43. Doug Fister
44. David Price:  Will move up quick once he gets back and puts his awful start to the season behind him.
45. Zack Greinke:  Can't explain what is happening here since he is in a great ballpark.  Maybe not healthy.
46. Matt Moore:  Floor completely fell out from under him with the walks spiking.
47. Jon Lester:  See above.
48. Yovani Gallardo
49. Kyle Kendrick
50.  Gerrit Cole


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS TO LIMIT MATT HARVEY TO 215 INNINGS

                                                                               

Apparently the only thing that can stop New York Mets fireballing SP Matt Harvey is an inning limitation which manager Terry Collins confirmed is in play the remainder of the season.  Collins indicated that Harvey would be under some sort of an innings limit going forward, with the rumor being 215 innings the maximum he will be allowed to throw.  Harvey is already up to 117 innings on the season.

Analysis:  Not a surprise and it makes total sense since there is no reason to overwork such a terrific young pitcher when the Mets are not even close to contending.  Harvey has far exceeded even the most optimistic expectations this season and is already in the running for a Cy Young award less than 30 starts into his career.

FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: JASON WITTEN/TONY GONZALEZ

With drafts now underway in full force, it is time once again to take a look at yet another 2013 Draft Debate.  Today we delve into the tight end fraternity which now has one less big time weapon with Aaron Hernandez being arrested for murder.  Once Jimmy Graham is off the board, the debate than begins on who should go next.  The two names that come up the most in this endeavor are the Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez and the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten who are both Hall of Fame players who have been among the best in the game at their position for over a decade.  With that said let's compare the two in their relevant fantasy football categories in order to fully determine who should be selected ahead of the other one.

RECEPTIONS:  Jason Witten is one of the greatest pass catchers of all time and is as good as PPR weapons as you can get.  Gonzalez is no slouch as well as he is an almost automatic when it comes to grabbing at least 80 passes and likely more.  However Witten wins this one due to the fact he comes off a 110 catch season to Gonzalez' 93 and the Cowboys tight end has less competition than his Falcons counterpart. 
ADVANTAGE:  Jason Witten

TOUCHDOWNS:  Despite having two Pro Bowl standout receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, the number one red zone target by far for QB Matt Ryan on the Falcons passing attack is Gonzalez.  Since arriving in Atlanta before the 20110 season, Gonzalez has caught 21 touchdowns passes as proof positive of this.  Meanwhile for all the massive amount of receptions Witten grabs, he has frustratingly has come up short in the touchdown department year after year, with only 3 among his 110 receptions last season.  For some strange reason QB Tony Romo looks more to his receivers than Witten near the red zone which solidifies Gonzalez' winning this statistic.
ADVANTAGE:  Tony Gonzalez

RECEIVING YARDAGE:  The tiebreaker between Witten and Gonzalez is the receiving yardage as Witten has accumulated 942 and 1,039 yards the last two seasons.  Gonzalez meanwhile has put up 875 and 930 marks.  Again Witten's raw receptions advantage over Gonzalez puts him in better position to come out on top when it comes to the receiving yardage.
ADVANTAGE:  Jason Witten

WINNER:  Jason Witten

Witten slightly comes out on top here and that is especially true in PPR formats.  While we are past the point of ever doubting Gonzalez due to his age, the fact Witten will be slightly more involved in the passing games moves the needle in his direction.


Friday, June 28, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Jason Kipnis:  3/4 with 4 runs scores while hitting .295 and 18th SB in Game 1.  Kipnis is now nearly hitting .300 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases.  That is nearly first round territory folks. 

Adam Dunn:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .199.  Dunn is the ultimate internal argument guy when it comes to possibly picking him up.  Do I screw my team batting average by making the add?  Do I get lucky and get the 7 home run week the guy is famous for when I pick him up? 

Trevor Bauer:  5 ER in .2IP with an ERA of 5.29.  What was the big deal about this guy? 

Andrew McCutchen:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .293.  We haven't talked about McCutchen much but that's not because he is not doing what he should be doing.  On the contrary McCutchen has been right on target with his numbers, right on down to the April slow start and the batting average regression.

Gerrit Cole:  6 IP 8 H 3 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.70.  Cole is now 3-0 but honestly I am not totally blown away yet.  The K rate has been shockingly poor for someone who throws the ball as hard as he does.  Getting mucho run support has propped up the record for sure and yes I might be nitpicking some with this blurb but I type what I see.  Cole doesn't scream out "Matt Harvey II."

Nate McLouth:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .288.  McLouth must have stopped over for a visit to St. Louis on his way to Baltimore during this offseason as there is no other explanation for him having a major comeback season after seemingly being close to out of the majors.

Ian Desmond:  2/4 with his 14th home run while hitting .276.  Major props for Desmond for sending one over the fence off Harvey.  Looking like he has some more power room as he now settles into his prime.

Matt Harvey:  7 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 11 K with an ERA of 2.00.  So when I do the next installment of the starting pitching rankings, I am tempted to put Harvey number 1.  Really other than Clayton Kershaw there is no debating that point.  And to think he is not even 30 starts into his career.

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/3 with his 23rd HR while hitting .271.  The power has not ebbed at all for Encarnacion this season as he continues to solidify his status as one of the premier home run hitters in the majors.

Miguel Cabrera:  4/4 with 2 home runs (24 for season) while hitting .377.  Call this the Cabrera Special.  Sometimes you get the feeling he could go 8/8 if he has the opportunity to do so in a given game.  Chris Davis here he comes.

Prince Fielder:  2/3 with his 13th HR while hitting .281.  Fielder has really gone cold with the longball lately and he did take a step back there during his first season in Detroit.  Those 50 home run season is clearly an outlier at this point and 40 is out of reach for 2013 as well.

Ben Zobrist:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .271.  Zobrist is one of those guys who seems to suck more than a few stretches of the season but when the end of the year arrives he has his customary numbers.  Don't overthink things here.  Just leave him be and everything will even out.

Wil Myers:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .289.  Liking what we have seen out of Myers so far who seems like a clone of Jay Bruce in the making.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.10.  Now a spectacular 12-0 before the All Star Break.  Touted him more than any other pitcher not named Matt Harvey and Adam Wainwright this past winter.  Yeah I pretty much nailed the pitchers this season huh? 

Julio Teheran:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.12.  Sometimes a little maturity goes a long way.  Teheran has been pitching lights out once he finally began to trust his stuff and now the Braves have a clear power pitching possible ace at their disposal.

Martin Perez:  6.2 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.37.  In the tradition of Chris Tillman, now 1-0 since I told you to pick him up last Sunday.

Eric Hosmer:  3/4 with 2 home runs (6 for season) while hitting .274.  It used to take Hosmer two months to get two home runs.  If this is a sign that he is finally figuring out how to elevate the baseball than I am once again intrigued.  Need to see more though.

Billy Butler:  3/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .280.  Butler has a lot of work to do to even approach the 29 bombs he hit last season.  This is a crucial thing to watch because those 2012 home runs could go into the outlier bin if he fails to come close.

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .211.  I don't know what the Royals served for dinner tonight but damn send the same dish back out there tomorrow.

Buster Posey:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .321.  Damn this guy is good.  Still can't wrap my head around how three catchers (Posey, Molina, Mauer) can all contend for a batting title.

Wilin Rosario:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .274.  Rosario is looking like he could be getting into a home run groove again.  Now if only Carlos Santana can fall in line likewise. 

Michael Cuddyer:  1/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .347.  You know what I am going to say so let's leave it at that. 

Shelby Miller:  5 ER in 1.2 IP with an ERA of 2.79.  One of your last picks on who would deliver the first butt kicking.

Bartolo Colon:  8 IP 6 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.79.  You know what's funny? When it comes to fantasy baseball we don't care if our hitters or pitchers are juiced but in real life we think they are scum.  I present to you Bartolo Colon.

Hisashi Iwakuma:  8 IP 6 H 4 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.42.  Even when he gives up some runs, the WHIP is still terrific.  Was sold awhile ago on the latest Japanese pitching maestro on the heels of Yu Darvish and Hiroki Kuroda.  Daisuke Matsuzaka you still are horrible.

Addison Reed:  blown save with 4 ER in ninth with an ERA of 4.00.  After Reed threw a crazy three innings two weeks ago I told you I would be worried about his health and his numbers going forward.  Yup.



2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: LAMAR MILLER RB MIAMI DOLPHINS

I have said in more than a few occasions that opportunity is everything when it comes to fantasy football and the outlook of certain players.  Moving into a starting job whether one sat the bench for awhile or whether they come in as a high draft pick, the chance to gain a big infusion of playing time can oftentimes  result in a major spike in numbers and thus fantasy football relevancy.  Such is the case of Miami Dolphins second year running back Lamar Miller heads into 2013 as the clear cut starting running back who has earned a ton of positive attention from teammates and the media during and after minicamps.  With Reggie Bush now in Detroit, the job is Miller's to lose as only the awful Daniel Thomas serves as competition.  So with that said let's take a look at why Miller qualifies as a decent sleeper candidate.

Again the fact that Miller is looking at a promotion to the starter's role is the biggest key in all of this.  With the Dolphins having little in the running back department behind Miller, the opportunity is there for the kid to serve as the team's workhorse runner which would maximize his potential statistical output.  As far as what he could bring to the table, Miller was did a bit of everything during his stay with the Miami Hurricanes.  His final season in 2011 saw Miller rush for 1,271 yards and 9 touchdowns while also catching 17 passes.  That speaks well to Miller being an asset both in standard and PPR setups.  Versatile guys like Miller has the ability to be are always more interesting in fantasy football purposes and the clear path to massive playing time elevates him to potential RB 2 status.  However just keep in mind that Thomas could steal some goal-line carries and touchdowns.  Miller was not a huge name coming out of college despite being so productive and his lack of playing time his rookie 2012 season has kept him off the radar which will help in keeping his draft price from getting out of hand.  It is easy to see why Miller makes for a solid sleeper grab however and even though we won't truly know what we are getting until a few weeks into the season, the ability is there which combined with the opportunity makes him a prime draft target.

2013 PROJECTION:  1,097 yards 5 TD 35 catches 189 yards 



Thursday, June 27, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Jurickson Profar:  1/2 with his third HR while hitting .268.  Profar has not exactly been lighting things up since his promotion but no worries on whether he will be a star.  Give it two years tops.

Derek Holland:  9 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.14.  Yes this is not a vintage Yankees team but a 2-hitter is impressive against anyone and Holland has clearly taken the next step in his development as the numbers check out.  While I am always leery of starting Texas pitchers, Holland has had buzz for awhile for a reason.

Jered Weaver:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.15.  Better.  Forget the 2009 Weaver as he is never coming back.  The shellings will come more frequently and Weaver profiles as a SP 2 and no longer an ace. 

Matt Garza:  7 IP 8 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.83.  Garza has 47 K's in 49.1 innings and other than the 9 earned run bomb a week and a half ago, has been exactly what I thought he would be which is a sneaky good SP 3 play.

Aaron Hill:  1/5 with his third HR while hitting .292.  Hill has been terrific since being traded to Arizona and I expect more of the same as far as what he did in 2012.  Comfort in new home = success.  Just ask Hunter Pence.

Ian Desmond:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .272.  As long as you never expect him to bat .300, Desmond will make you very happy with his steals and pop.

Marlon Byrd:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .260.  Byrd is strictly for NL-only leagues or deep five outfielder formats.  He still plays for the Mets despite the better than expected power this season.

Lonnie Chisenhall:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .235.  Chisenhall better get some consistency soon as you will than carry the dreaded Quad-A player label.

Miguel Gonzalez:  6.2 IP 9 H 3 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 3.77.  Gonzalez is just the latest in a long list of surprise starters in 2013 such as Travis Wood, Patrick Corbin etc.  The 9 K's were an anomaly as the punchouts are not part of his game usually but again the ratios are working well in AL-only leagues and as a SP 4 or 5 in standards with no inning limits.

Dustin Pedroia:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .318.  Pedroia is having a big time season that has him in the MVP discussion.  While he was light on the power, the home runs are starting to now arrive which further enhances his already terrific 2013 campaign.

Jon Lester:  7 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 4.61.  Suffered a hip injury in this one which is obviously not good for a pitcher who needs to push off over 100 times a game.  Lester was not great again in this one as he has taken the Matt Moore path to crapola the last month and a half.  Starting to get cut in more than a few leagues and I can't argue.  Has just lost his stuff again.

Salvador Perez:  2/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .303.  Took a lot of flak for his slow start with the power but now the balls are starting to go over the fence which jives nice with the .300 average.  Remember a catcher who can hit .300 is like .330 for any other position.

Chase Utley:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .277.  I own Utley in both Experts Leagues which is surprising for me to even type.  However the value was finally worth looking into the guy and so far so good outside of the annual DL trip.  Still some thunder in his bat.

Domonic Brown:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .276.  Ultimately I think Brown will be a .265 guy who can hit 30 home runs and maybe more.  Just needs to find some patience and than the results could be scary.

2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JAMAAL CHARLES RB KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Sometimes it is just too obvious to ignore.  That opening sentence perfectly describes the potentially monstrous fantasy football outlook for Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles heading into the 2013 season.  The epitome of what we call the "explosive running back", Charles is one of the few players in the game today who is a threat to score the football any single time he gets his hands on it due to his 4.2 speed and top notch elusive skills.  After proving that he had no ill aftereffects from his 2011 torn ACL in rushing for 1,509 yards and 5 touchdowns while averaging an insane 5.2 yards per carry.  Charles also proved to be a solid receiver out of the backfield, catching 35 passes for another 236 yards and another touchdown.  Put it all together and there is nothing that Charles can't do on the football field and we get the nagging suspicion we haven't seen his best yet and could be sitting on a blockbuster season under new head coach Andy Reid.

Looking at Charles a bit deeper heading into 2013 drafts, based on ability alone he is a sure top five pick overall.  While Adrian Peterson is the clear cut top running back on the board followed by Arian Foster, Charles is absolutely in the debate between Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, and Doug Martin for the third spot at he position.  Again on potential alone, Charles has the ability to outproduce everyone on the board including Peterson.  That is how high we value him going forward.  The reason being is that Reid is ready to unleash Charles to play the role that made LeSean McCoy a running/receiver star in Philadelphia, with no hint of the frustrating committee that stunted his overall value the first few years of his career with Thomas Jones and Peyton Hillis stealing touches and goal-line chances.  Both guys are gone and Reid has stated publicly that Charles will be his primary ballcarrier in all situations.  That means Charles should get close to or even sail by the double-digit touchdown mark, to go with all of those rushing yards.  With Reid feeding him heavy doses of carries, it is not out of the question Charles puts up 1,700 rushing yards and possibly even more.  On top of the running game, Charles will also be used heavily in the passing attack and is capable of catching up to 50 passes.  This adds even more value to Charles, especially in PPR formats where he could go number 3 overall behind Peterson and Foster.  The numbers could be staggering.

All in all Jamaal Charles is a guy we will target very heavily early on in drafts if we are in position to add him to our roster.  It all checks out as far as Charles being placed in optimal position to succeed.  He has talent that is extremely good and is capable of putting up monstrous numbers altogether when combining the passing and running game.  Yes the ACL injury is a small worry for his overall ability to stay healthy but Charles has been durable outside of that freak incident.  This could be the start of something truly terrific this season.

2013 PROJECTION:  1,693 yards 10 TD 52 catches 498 yards 2 TD


FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JUSTIN UPTON OUTFIELDER ATLANTA BRAVES

Time flies when your having fun.  You would get a collective nod of the head from the fraternity of Justin Upton fantasy baseball owners as we sit here getting ready to hit the halfway mark of the season.  After opening up the year as flat out the most dominant power hitter in the game in April and appearing to finally fulfill all of the outlandish expectations attached to his name, Upton proceeded to turn ice cold almost overnight and carry his struggles through two full months of games.  Put it all together and what you have is a classic case of a guy who has taken his owners on an extreme roller coaster ride of production from one side of the ledger to the other.  So with that said let's take a closer look at Upton and where he currently stands as July beckons.

First let us go back to that glorious month of April when Upton began the season on fire and carried it through the next four weeks in spectacularly great fashion with his home run swing.  Altogether Upton would bat .298 with 12 big home runs and 19 RBI when the calendar flipped to May and it certainly looked like he was ready to make the leap to stardom that he hinted at during his stay with Arizona.  Well Upton didn't go along with the script as May became a complete about face in production, with opposing pitchers no longer feeding him the fastballs that he was routinely sending over the fence the prior month.  The always aggressive Upton than began piling up the strikeouts which had been a decent-sized issue in the past and his numbers began to tumble.  May would see Upton hit a woeful .211 with only 2 home runs and 10 RBI.  June got even worse as Upton continued to whiff at an alarming rate and as we head into Thursday night's games, was hitting only .210 with one single home run for the month.  Put it all together and Upton currently stands at a collective batting line of .241 with 15 home runs and 6 stolen bases which are numbers you would expect out of his brother B.J.  Clearly Justin's owners are beyond frustrated at how things have turned out but the player himself is clearly to blame here.  Continuing to swing at everything and anything thrown his way, Upton's strikeout ways are killing his batting average and reinforcing pitchers to stop throwing him fastballs.  Until Upton starts to make inroads there, his struggles will continue.  While some suggested selling high back in April, Upton's trade value has sunk so low that you would be getting pennies on the dollar if you did swing a deal.  The holes in Upton's swing are just too great right now to think he will automatically turn back into the hitting monster he was back in April.  While the power is terrific and the potential great, Upton continues his pattern of letting his owners down going back to 2010.  His brother has made a career out of doing such a thing and so that makes it all the more concerning.

All in all I still like the ability of Upton to be a big time fantasy baseball outfielder but his star is fading the longer his struggles go on.  At this point he has to be graded as nothing more than an outfielder 2 which is a letdown from what we all envisioned he could be when he career got startted.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Edwin Encarnacion:  1/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .271.  Status quo for Encarnacion who continues to pummel the baseball like almost every other Toronto hitter.

Adam Lind:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .322.  First we have Chris Davis hitting .337 and now Lind swatting .322.  Next thing we know J.P. Arencibia will hit .500 the rest of the way and take the batting title.

R.A. Dickey:  9 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.72.  Despite all his massive struggles in 2013, Dickey's knuckler is still capable of complete dominance once in awhile.  Still wouldn't go near him even if he was on the wire.

Josh Donaldson:  1/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .308.  Sure we have to see him do it again but Donaldson's swing is so free an easy that .300 with 22-25 home runs seems like a nice bet as is baseline profile.

Raul Ibanez: 1/3 with his 18th HR while hitting .243.  On and on it goes for this still powerful graybeard.  Starting to remind me of Lance Berkman in 2010 when we all thought he was washed up and than seemed to turn 25 all over again.

Michael Cuddyer:  2/4 with 2 home runs (13 for season) while hitting .344.  The most underrated hitter in baseball gives us yet another reminder of how foolish we all were for ignoring him this season after dropping second base eligibility.

John Lackey:  7 IP 8 H 2 ER 0 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.99.  I hate talking aboutthe guy since he is such a shmuck but the results have been shockinly good and remind us of his early Angels days with his punchouts.  Another case of legitimacy being added the longer this goes.

Nelson Cruz:  1/5 with his 20th HR while hitting .267.  Cruz batted third in the order tonight which was a nice development since he historically has been stuck in the sixth slot.  Power has been much more consistent this season as opposed to the usual hot and cold spells of the past.

Ichiro Suzuki:  3/4 with his 5th HR and 12th SB while hitting .278.  Suzuki is red hot right now and so those in AL formats or deeper leagues could let this run its course.

Jason Kipnis:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .288.  Damn I wished I owned this guy.  2012's second half fade we argued was just a blip on a developing player's radar.

Jordan Zimmerman:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 2.28.  Up to 11 wins as Zimmerman is now the main competition agianst our prediction of Adam Wainwright winning the Cy Young.

Mike Trout:  2/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .308.  The home run rate is down some this season but that was to be expected.  Still Trout has only gotten pushed from Carlos Gonzalez as the top dog outfielder.

Eric Aybar:  2/4 with his 3rd HR and 4th SB while hitting .282.  Aybar has hit well since returning from the DL but is still annoyingly batting towards the bottom of the order. 

Miguel Cabrera:  2/4 with his 22nd HR while hitting .370.  Cabrera realizes that Chris Davis is getting too far ahead in the home run race so he reacted accodingly.

Alexei Ramirez:  2/4 with his 18th SB while hitting .280.  Ramirez has really reinvented himself as a major base stealer in the middle of his career.  While I panned him in the spring, it was for the old lack of juice version of Ramirez not this new steals model.

Aramis Ramirez:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .273.  The second half tear is imminent.  As sure as Mark Texeira getting injured as Ramirez becoming a monster from June on.

Allen Craig:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .320.  Wrote yesterday about how guys with such a sweet swing as Craig can go on extended home runs tears out of the blue.  2 days and couting.

Yadier Molina:  2/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .357.  Someone did a poll asking who you would start your real life baseball team with.  Top five finishers were Trout, Miggy, Clayton Kershaw, Buster Posey, and Molina.  Best defensive catcher in the game and now possibly batting champ.  Makes sense.

Justin Upton:  1/4 while hitting .241.  Amazing what has happened here.  After having no peer in a ridiculously powerful April, Upton's strikeout tendencies have reared their ugly head in horrible fashion.  84 K's in 266 at-bats is crazy and he has only 3 home runs in May and June.  B.J. is now getting some company in the Upton bust file.

Buster Posey:  3/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .314.  Posey is looking like he will be going on a major tear as his MVP bat is roaring.  As good a hitter as there is in the game as his April issues were just a slow start.

Clayton Kershaw:  8 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.08.  Has gotten no competition from Justin Verlander in the battle for number 1 starter in the game.  Instead Matt Harvey looks to be his biggest rival for that honor.



FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: DUST OFF JAKE BALLARD FOR 2013 DRAFTS

Clearly the blockbuster news of the day Wednesday was the arrest of FORMER (cut earlier in the day) New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on a charge of murdering one of his former friends.  There is no debating how much of a lowlife Hernandez is and really there is no reason to even discuss the guy anymore as he hopefully will get what deserves.  The fallout from this however in fantasy football terms brings us to Jake Ballard who on paper was the third-string tight end for the Patriots behind Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.  However with Gronkowski undergoing back surgery and in jeopardy of missing the start of the new season, Ballard will now be thrust into a much more prominent role in the offense.  The Patriots passing attack emphasizes throwing the football to the tight end more than any other unit the in NFL and so Ballard instantly carries immediate intrigue as a last round sleeper bomb.  In his last healthy season in 2011 (Ballard sat out 2012 after ACL surgery), he caught 38 passes for 604 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Ballard also was a big weapon during the New York Giants' Super Bowl playoff march which shows that he can handle the pass catching duties.  While he is nowhere in the same league of both Gronkowski and Hernandez, Ballard can hold his own in the receptions game.  So right before you snag your kicker in drafts the next few weeks, be sure to leave a spot open for Ballard as the upside could be sizable.


FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: PATS RELEASE TIGHT END AARON HERNANDEZ

                                                                         

Not wasting any time, the New England Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez on Wednesday as the official warrant for his arrest in connection with last week's murder of an acquaintance was handed down.  "A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do" was the official statement from the team.  No word on what the actual charges are on the warrant but either way Hernandez will no longer play for New England.

Analysis:  Hernandez is the epitome of the stupid athlete.  Here is a guy who has all the money in the world and still gets caught up with garbage such as this.  It is likely Hernandez is in for a long fight to clear his name but either way the only thing that matters is that someone was murdered and if guilty, the guy needs to have the book tossed at him. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Jason Kipnis:  2/2 with his 10th HR while hitting .288.  Since the start of May, Kipnis has performed like a top five OVERALL fantasy baseball hitter.  If Robinson Cano wasn't do consistently dominant, Kipnis would be considered the top second baseman in the game right now over the aging Ian Kinsler and pop-challened Dustin Pedroia.

Chris Davis:  2/4 with his 28th HR while hitting .333.  If you took out the name "Davis" and put in the name "Cabrera" you wouldn't know the difference based on the numbers. 

Chris Tillman:  7 IP 4 H 3 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.72.  You know what's coming.  Now 9-2 or 7-0 since I told you to pick him up.

Adam LaRoche:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .259.  The weather it heating up so you know what that means.  Adam LaRoche turns into Roger Maris.

Leonys Martin:  2/3 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .289.  Nice game for a catcher but no you don't need to pick him up.

Brett Gardner:  1/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .285.  Gardner has already tied his career high in home runs and no he was not mentioned in Biogenesis.  What is really annoying about guys like this is that once they start tapping into some power (Austin Jackson looking at you too), they forget to steal the bases that made them known in the first place.

Miguel Cabrera:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .368.  Amazing when you think that Chris Davis has 7 more home runs than this monster.

Wilin Rosario:  3/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .267.  Standard stuff from Rosario now that he has settled his average where it should be.  Same deal happening to Carlos Santana.

Matt Moore:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 6 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.95.  Ugh the Trevor Bauer Special.  Moore remains hideous with the walks which was not a problem back in his stupendous April.  Clearly he has fallen back into old habits there and the results have been frightening since the middle of May.  This game despite the K's gives little reason to believe he has broken through there.  Proceed with major caution.

Nate Schierholtz:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .300.  Schierholtz is in the midst of a nice career season and the average has gone nicely with the pop which makes him more stable to use despite the doubts he is for real.  Guys who finally get an extended look on bad clubs like the Cubs are have produced some dirt cheap useful seasons like we are seeing here so use this as you may.

Rickie Weeks:  3/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .230.  No one has ever doubted Weeks' ability to hit home runs.  It basically is his nonability to do anything else.

Jason Heyward:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .218.  This just can't go on for much longer.  It just can't.  Than again I have uttered that exact like next to Heyward's name since April.

Eric Hosmer:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .275.  Someone asked me the other day whether Hosmer of Konerko would be a better bet the rest of the way.  I went Konerko since Hosmer can only elevate the baseball once every solstice.

Zack Wheeler:  5.1 IP 4 H 4 ER 3 BB 1 K with an ERA of 3.18.  Wheeler continues to do his best Yovani Gallardo impression when it comes to the walks and poor pitch efficiency.  A few things since I witnessed this game.  One is that with any young pitcher not named Matt Harvey, you have to expect these growing pains, especially on the road.  My rule with all first year starters is to use only at home unless they prove otherwise.  Also Wheeler's secondary pitchers are not great yet which means opposing hitters can wait off the blazing fastball.  Hence only 1 K against one of the worst hitting teams in the game.  That will be the book on Wheeler, especially after this one, so my notion to trade him after the Atlanta start looks great right now.

Chris Sale:  8 IP 4 H 3 ER 2 BB 13 K with an ERA of 2.75.  Sale continues to hold up well while striking everybody out.  The Matt Harvey of the AL.

Carlos Beltran:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .307.  Beltran is aging great and without the steroid questions that the David Ortiz' of the world face.  I know I said to deal him at the All Star Break which I still stand by but don't give him away either since funny things happen in St. Louis.

Allen Craig:  4/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .324.  Among the best pure hitters in baseball, Craig's home run ceiling is about 20-25 which is good but not great.  He has work to do to get there this season but a guy with his type of great swing is a good bet to go on a run to bring himself close.

Josh Donaldson:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .308.  My new favorite hitter continues to hold on tight to his breakout numbers.  You go dude.

Starling Marte:  3/5 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .283.  So I had a decision to make between Marte and Anthony Rizzo for my UTIL spot last night.  Guess who I went with?  Not this guy.  Commence shoving pencil up my nose.

Russell Martin:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .256.  Martin hitting anything above .250 with is power is a nice season in the making.

Kyle Seager:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .282.  It seems like Seager is another guy who always hits around .280.  We will take it.

Justin Smoak:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .244.  Trade for Cliff Lee.  Repeat that in order to let the absurdity sink in.

Buster Posey:  1/3 with his 9th HR while hitting .308.  Back to being the top catcher in fantasy baseball.  As if there were any doubt.

Hanley Ramirez:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .361.  You had to wait like ten years for him to return to the lineup but Ramirez has been a monster thus far.  Brings back good memories.

Domonic Brown:  1/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .274.  Average is sinking as it should without the walks but the power is tremendous. 


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ANDREW BAILEY WE HARDLY KNEW YA

Once again the world of the closer gets a closer inspection on Tuesday so without delay let's tackle all the latest news and notes from the ninth inning.

-By now it really is old news that the Boston Red Sox finally were forced to pull the plug on what was looking at once like a nice comeback story for closer Andrew Bailey.  After coming over in the 2011 offseason in a swap for outfielder Josh Reddick and the Oakland A's, Bailey hardly pitched in 2012 due to yet more injuries which were the main issue holding back what at one time was looking like a stellar career in the making.  In fact  no one could argue about Bailey's impact on the rare times he was healthy as he quickly proved himself to be a very dependable closer in a job full of chaos.  Thus when Joel Hanrahan hit the skids early in 2013 and than ultimately went out for the year with Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox were happy to put Bailey back in the ninth inning in order to start getting some return on the Reddick deal.  And just like in the past, Bailey performed well on the mound, posting a stellar 1.46 April ERA which was followed by a nice 3.00 mark in May.  However June brought a whole host of problems as Bailey almost overnight became hittable to the tune of a gross 9.82 ERA with a string of blown saves thrown in.  After delaying as long as they could in order to not have to make yet another change in the ninth inning, manager John Farrell eventually was forced to make the move to veteran Koji Uehara in order to see if he could lend some assistance there.  While the initial assumption was that the younger and promising Junichi Tazawa would get the nod, Farrell seemed to trust Uehara more and no one could argue with his terrific 2013 stats to that point with a tiny 2.10 ERA and crazy good 42 K's in only 30 innings.  This on the heels of another great 2012 season when Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA and 43 K's in 36 innings.  Clearly the veteran knows how to miss bats which is the main requirement for the role of closer and his steady hand no doubt should make him a good to possibly very good stopper the rest of the way.  Those who nabbed Uehara will likely get a nice return on their waiver wire pickup, while those who owned Bailey just have to suck it up and cut him loose.  That's the business of the closer these days.

-So the whole Jose Valverde reclamation project lasted all of one month as he typically melted down to the point of being useless.  Valverde was designated for assignment last week as he clearly has lost his stuff after a nice start that lent some optimism that he could be solid in the ninth inning again.  Thus manager Jim Leyland turned back to Joaquin Benoit who never should have lost the closer role in the first place after Valverde was signed.  Benoit has pitched to a terrific 2.01 ERA with 37 K's in 31.1 innings as he no doubt has been the best pitcher from the Tiger bullpen all season.  All is right with the closer world in Detroit however now that Benoit is back where he should be. 

-Kudos to Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney who successfully got their seasons backs on track after looking like they would lose their closer roles in spectacular fashion due to a string of blown saves late in May.  The two veterans figured things out and are once again back in the good graces of their owners.  Another example of how guys with track records such as these two will no doubt get a longer leash than most.  And sometimes it does work out.

That's all for now.  As always let us hear what you think.


2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL KICKER RANKINGS: A FIRST LOOK

Kickers are up next as we continue our first look around the league when it comes to the 2013 fantasy football rankings.  Kickers are a dime a dozen commodity that shouldn't be touched until the very last round of your draft (how did reaching early for Mason Crosby turn out last season????) as you stock up on the skill positions first.  With that said here is how the kickers shake out when you look here before getting up from your draft table.

1.  Stephen Gostowski
2.  Blair Walsh
3.  Justin Tucker
4.  Matt Prater
5.  Josh Brown
6.  Matt Bryant
7.  Dan Bailey
8.  Randy Bullock
9. Sebastian Janikowski
10. Greg Zuerlein
11. David Akers
12. Phil Dawson
13. Mike Nugent
14. Connor Barth
15. Garrett Hartley
16. Steven Hauschka
17. Robbie Gould
18. Adam Vinatieri
19. Mason Crosby
20. Shaun Suisham
21. Alex Henery
22. Rob Bironas
23. Graham Gano
24. Jay Feely
25. Kai Forbath
26. Shayne Graham
27. Nick Novak
28. Ryan Succop
29. Josh Scobee
30. Nick Folk
31. Rian Lindell
32. Dan Carpenter


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: D-BACKS ACTIVATE 2B AARON HILL (BROKEN HAND) FROM DL TUES.

                                                                         

The Arizona Diamondbacks activated second baseman Aaron Hill from the DL Tuesday after he missed two months with a fractured hand.  Hill hit .375 over his six rehab games and looks to build on the initial success he has had since joining Arizona.

Analysis:  Hill is a guy I have liked a lot over the years and that is especially true since finding comfort in Chase Field.  He has discovered how to steal bases in the middle of his career which goes nicely with his home run skills.  Get him back in there or pick him up from the wire if available.




FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: JOSE REYES (ANKLE) TO BE ACTIVATED WED.

                                                                      

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes will be activated from the DL and immediately be inserted into that day's lineup.  Reyes has been out since the second week of April with a severe ankle sprain but has made it through rehab games with no issues.

Analysis:  Reyes coming back is like making a major trade where you give up nothing when it comes to your fantasy baseball roster if you are his owner.  Yours truly picked up Jean Segura a week in when Reyes first got hurt which many other owners apparently did as well.  That sets up a juicy trade scenario where either guy could bring back a haul.  As far as Reyes is concerned, he was off to a terrific start before the injury but that is the name of the game when it comes to owning the oft-injured shortstop.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Michael Brantley:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .278.  Brantley is a classic blah guy who we once thought could be a prime stolen base threat.  Didn't happen and the occasional home runs he swats are not enough for ownership.

Nick Markakis:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .292.  Markakis deserves props for salvaging his career and he has sneaky value as an outfielder 3 given that he hits for average and has always had a knack for scoring runs.

James Loney:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .304.  I like to call the Rays the Cardinals of the AL.  In other words washed up players go there and instantly turn back into good to great hitters or pitchers.  I present to you annual bust Loney whose empty batting averages over the years let to nowhere but the wire.  The pop is clearly surprising since he plays his home games in Tampa but we have learned not to argue with anything that goes on there.

Wil Myers:  2/4 with his second HR while hitting .294.  Myers is already showing the power that had him as the top hitting prospect in baseball this side of Oscar Taveras.  He even attempted a steal which was nice to see.  The average will take a hit soon however as his high K rate will come to the forefront.  Also in redraft leagues his value may never be higher so selling high is always a good idea since other owners tend to overpay for guys like this.

Jeremy Hellickson:  7 IP 1 H 0 ER 4 BB 4 K with an ERA of 5.11.  On the seventh day, the BABIP gods rested.

Yasiel Puig:  3/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .442.  It is cases like Mike Trout last season and Puig this season that will continue forcing us overly enthusiastic owners to pay through the nose for top prospects during the draft.  Damn this kid is ridiculous.  Right now NO ONE has any clue how good he could be but so far this is scary.

Chase Utley:  2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .267.  Utley has hit when in the lineup this season so his skills are still there.  The DL stint reminds us how fragile he is though.

Eric Stults:  7 IP 7 H 2 ER 0 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.20.  Stults is gaining our attention since he also carries a 1.09 WHIP.  Love the ballpark and even though he is not a K guy, those in non-innings capped leagues can surely use those ratios.



Monday, June 24, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JASON GRILLI RP PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Sometimes it is that obvious to me.  In the case of Pittsburgh Pirates closer extraordinaire, the planets aligned perfectly in the winter of 2012 when word got out that incumbent Joel Hanrahan had been sent packing to get injured for the Boston Red Sox.  The fallout was that super setup man Grilli (2.48 ERA in 2011, 2.91 ERA in 2012) would get the long-awaited bump to the ninth inning at the ripe old age of 37.  Thus the chain of events were put into play where yours truly tripped all over himself telling you all to run out and draft Grilli as the classic Fantasy Sports Boss "pass on drafting top tier closers and instead look for high K value plays" option.  Despite having to wait until the age when many players are already sitting at home on their recliners in retirement, Grilli looked like a classic instant success guy due to his very high K rate (an insane 90 in only 58.1 innings in 2012) and good control.  Hence why he was one of my most touted fantasy baseball sleeper candidates.

Fast forward to last Tuesday night where Grilli finished up his latest dominant outing by striking out the side against the Cincinatti Reds.  That scoreless outing lowered Grilli's ERA to a ridiculous 0.85 with a 0.76 WHIP.  The K rate has been nothing short of awesome as Grilli has punched out 54 guys in only 31.1 innings.  Add in a perfect 25/25 in saves and Grilli stakes the claim to being the best closer in fantasy baseball.  The numbers don't lie.  He has more than made good on all the favorable optimism I had on him entering 2013 with his ERA and K's.  The fact the Pirates always play close games yielded a major flow of saves as well.  Put it all together and Grilli was one sleeper made very good.  Hope you took my advice and remember this when I tell you again in 8 months to wait on drafting closers.


2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: DENNIS PITTA TIGHT END BALTIMORE RAVENS

A good strategy to nailing your annual fantasy football draft each season is to take a good long look at some of the key NFL offensive transactions that took place across the league in order to determine where some opportunities exist for certain players to step up into more prominent roles.  Whereas a certain player might have been a complementary offensive piece previously, the new season could bring more responsibility given the defection of a key player who was counted on for a good chunk of production.  With that said, we present to you the case of Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta who is shaping up to be one of the better fantasy football sleeper candidates for the 2013 fantasy football season.  With big play receiver and Joe Flacco favorite Anquan Boldin flying the coop to San Francisco and speedy Torrey Smith serving as more of a downfield speedster, there is a crying need in the increasingly vertical Ravens offense for an intermediate go-to-guy of which Pitta is fully capable of filling.  The former BYU standout took a nice step forward with his production in a semi-breakout 2012 by catching 61 passes for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns.  As the season went along, Flacco became more and more comfortable looking the sure-handed Pitta's way, especially in the red zone.  The result was consistent production across the board that played well in both standard and PPR formats, while whetting the appetite for more.  Echoing that last thought, reports out of Baltimore was that Flacco and Pitta were almost playing catch during offseason workouts and minicamp and a team source claimed that the tight end could catch up to "90 passes" if all breaks right.  While I can't see any Ravens receiver catching 90 passes, I can surely see Pitta hauling in around 80 with close to 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Those my friends are tight end 1 numbers when it comes to fantasy football and the fact you can probably get Pitta in the middle rounds could make him one of the best value guys in the entire draft.  Value and maximizing your draft picks are the name of the game for success and Pitta is no doubt one of the guys who surely qualifies under that subject line.

2013 PROJECTION:  81 catches 983 yards 9 TD



FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Drew Stubbs:  1/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .239.  I remember when we all just had to have Stubbs on our team.  Now he is just another guy.  Funny how that works.

Ryan Flaherty:  2/4 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .191.  Who?  Exactly.  Let's move on.

Edwin Encarnacion:  3/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .274.  We all know the rapid rise Paul Goldschmidt has taken going forward but how about debating between Encarnaion and Prince Fielder?  Yes it is valid.

Colby Rasmus:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .243.  As soon as the Toronto front office told Rasmus to picture the baseball as Tony LaRussa' head, the results have spoken for themselves.

Justin Verlander:  5 IP 7 H 4 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of  3.90.  Instead of getting better, Verlander is adding fuel to the notion something is physically wrong with him.  I mean he used to get four strikeouts after the first four batters.  As I have always said, there are only so many bullets to throw in a pitcher's arm and they could breakdown at a moment's notice.  Which.....(here it comes)....is why you should NEVER draft pitchers early.

David Wright:  4/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .309.  Have always been a big Wright fan and apologist through his injury-marred and out of whack K rate years.  Wright is clearly letting Citi Field and its new dimensions work for him and the stability of a long term deal has also cleared his head.  Sometimes it is that simple.

Matt Harvey:  6 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.05.  Only rain can stop Harvey as he came out after a 20 minute rain delay.  Yup no one is capable of beating Mother Nature but you get the sense if anyone could it would be Harvey.

Nolan Arenado:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .257.  Arenado is back on track after an extended slump.  Really this is what you see often with young hitters.  They come up, get off to a nice start and than the league adapts.  What happens from that point on ultimately determines how much long term success said hitter has.  So far so good for Arenado.

Michael Cuddyer:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .339.  While Cuddyer will not win any All Star berths, he does win the title from yours truly as the most underrated hitter in fantasy baseball.

Brian McCann:  3/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .246.  Yeah the average has dropped into a sinkhole given McCann's increasing K rate and uselessness against lefties.  Power is still terrific for a catcher though and that is really all you own him for at this point.

Jonathan Lucroy:  2/3 with his 8th HR while hitting .279.  It amazes me how many waiver wires this guy is on.  Hello people we have a catcher capable of hitting .280 with 15 home runs.  Pay attention.  At this point I would take Lucroy over McCann easy.

Adam Dunn:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .193.  I think we got to rename the Mendoza Line the Adam Dunn Line.

Jarrod Dyson:  2/3 with his 2nd HR and 8th SB while hitting .295.  If you need some quick speed with a home run thrown in once every month, here is your guy.

Anthony Rizzo:  3/3 with his 12th HR while hitting .253.  Rizzo has run hot and cold all season so this game could be a sign of a monster week ahead.

Pedro Alvarez:  2/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .237.  There is no one hotter in all of baseball right now.  The problem with Alvarez is that after seeing him hit all these home runs, the instant you pick him up he will go on his classic 0-for-20 run.  You just know it.

Justin Ruggiano:  2/5 with 2 home runs (11 for season) while hitting .229.  Yeah Ruggiano I guess is a bit more than a Quad-A player due to the pop and decent speed but Chris Young comparisons don't get me running to the wire.

Hunter Pence:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .285.  You know I have always liked Pence and enjoyed the discount he always provided but after his no-show in Philly I got gun shy.  Now that he is back to his old underrated self, I will now have a tougher time getting him next season as more will be thinking the way I am right now.  (sigh)

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .274.  Choo should be able to get close to 25 home runs if he stays in one piece.  Now if he can just up the steals a bit all is well.

Brandon Phillips:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .265.  The .265 average brings back memories to when Phillips was a 20/20 guy.

Mat Latos:  7.2 IP 6 H 1 ER 2 BB 13 K with an ERA of 3.05.  Latos has taken a step towards more consistency this season and is starting to put a whole year together which was his one big negative.  I will sign off completely on what we are seeing.

Adrian Gonzalez:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .301.  I will be completely happy if Gonzalez can crack 25 home runs.  He has some work to do.

Hanley Ramirez:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .358.  Ramirez is hitting everything in sight right now which makes you wonder how great his season could have been if he didn't get hurt 20 times.

Raul Ibanez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .240.  Damn.  Can't believe what I am seeing out of this graybeard.  Ibanez has made a career out of proving doubters wrong though so go with it.

Matt Carpenter:  2/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .322.  Carpenter is great to own because he qualifies for every position including bat boy.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS OUTFIELDER CARLOS GOMEZ SUFFERS SHOULDER INJURY

                                                                          

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez suffered an apparent shoulder injury Sunday after crashing into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball.  Gomez immediately was removed from the game in very noticeable pain.  An update was expected later on Sunday.

Analysis:  This is hold your breath time if you are a Gomez owner like yours truly.  Shoulder injuries can be about the worst kind of injury you can have which includes pitchers so this may not end well here.  Gomez has build on his breakout 2012 season but putting up big time power/speed numbers so far in 2013 with a surprisingly good average as well.  Stay tuned. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: BERNARD PIERCE TO "BALANCE" OUT CARRIES MORE WITH RAY RICE IN 2013

According to a Ravens official closely associated with the offense, second-year running back Bernard Pierce will likely "balance" out the 2013 distribution of carries between he and starter Ray Rice.  It was no secret that Pierce opened up the eyes of the Ravens coaching staff down the stretch last season when got more than a few carries in place of Rice even into the playoffs.  With both Pierce and Rice having different running styles, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is expected to give both guys a decent amount of work.

Analysis:  This is not the news you want to hear if you already are a Rice owner or plan to be.  Pierce no doubt did some nice things last season and it is no secret that the Ravens want to lessen the load on the small but stout Rice.  What this does is knock Rice down a few pegs in the fantasy football rankings out of the running back spot, with Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch all passing him by if this issue comes to fruition this season.


FANTASY BASEBALL WEEKLY ADDS/DROPS

Once again it is time to check in on the latest fantasy baseball adds and drops for the next seven days.

ADDS

Koji Uehara:  It was Uehara and not Junichi Tazawa who got the nod to replace struggling Andrew Bailey as the Red Sox closer.  Uehara has been a strikeout machine since coming to the United States and he clearly has the power arsenal to succeed as closer.

Yoervis Medina:  Medina is looking more and more like a possible closer solution for the Seattle Mariners given how much Tom Wilhelmsen has struggled.  Yes his control is erratic but Medina's high K rate and power stuff plays well in the gig.

Martin Perez:  Considered one of the best pitching prospect in the Rangers orgainization, Perez was terrific in his second start Satruday.  Yes pitchers in Texas are scary but Perez has very good potential.

Zoilo Almonte:  The sweet swinger is being given a chance to play everday what with the continued injury woes for the Yankees.  He notched a home run in his first start and kept hitting in his second.  Love the ballpark.

Victor Martinez:  Martinez has been back to driving the ball with authority the last month as he worked off the rust that accumulated after missing all of 2012.  Check your wire to see if someone cut him as he was dropped in more than a few leagues.

Corey Kluber:  Averaging almost a K/IP which is where you want your starter to be at.  His Saturday start taken out of the equation, Kluber has been more than decent the last month or so.


DROPS

Mike Morse:  It pains me to say this as a Morse fan but he is once again injured and has not hit much since April.  You can't wait around forever.

Mark Texeira:  Cut him.  Back on the DL with more wrist issues which could lead to surgery.  Even if he does return, Texeira is limited with the power in his wrist.  He is not worth the aggravation anymore.

Angel Pagan:  A nice player the last few seasons, Pagan has really offered little to his owners this season as he currently sits injured on the DL.  A classic guy to drop when he hits the skids as the competition is never fierce of his services to begin with.



Saturday, June 22, 2013

FANTASY FOOTBALL ISSUES: DOWNGRADE FOR TOM BRADY?

It certainly has not been a good offseason for the offense of the New England Patriots, led of course by All World QB Tom Brady.  First Brady's go-to-guy extraoridnaire Wes Welker flies the coop in signing a free agent deal with the Denver Broncos.  Than word came down that the best tight end in football, Rob Gronkowski would need back surgery in addition the earlier surgery he had for a broken forearm.  The prognosis is a 12-week recovery which could have Gronkowski on the PUP list when the season begins.  Finally, fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez made things even more absurd by getting caught up in a murder investigation that has now a warrant out for his arrest on obstruction charges which could get upgraded depending on what the investigation shows.  Add it all up and Brady must be wondering who he will be throwing the football to this season.

In breaking things down from the angle of fantasy football, one can't help but wonder if this hurts Brady's overall value doing into the draft.  While I would never downgrade Brady too much, our original placement of Brady third in our 2013 QB rankings no doubt has tp be adjusted given what has happened to his weapons.  Given what we have learned, Brady should be dropped down below Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan.  While this is not a knock on Brady the player, it can't be ignored how his numbers could slip some given the loss of his receivers.

On the flip side, a boost should be given to both Danny Amendola and rookie receiver Aaron Dobson who no doubt will be getting much more work from Brady going into the season.  Brady has to throw the pigskins to someone and so Amendola and Dobson could be in line for a spike in numbers.  Dobson in particular could carry significant sleeper value given that he is well off the fantasy football radar. 

All in all this situation bears watching going forward as far as what happens with Gronkowski and Hernandez.  If Gronk comes back for Week 1 and/or Hernandez dodges a legal bullet than the story changes for the better for Brady.  Stay tuned.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: ARREST WARRANT ISSUED FOR PATS TIGHT END AARON HERNANDEZ

                                                                           

An arrest warrant has officially been issued for New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez under an "obstruction of justice" title.  With Hernandez not cooperating with investigators looking into the murder of an acquaintance, the local police department is using the obstruction charge to try and get him to open up about what happened that night.  No official comment has been released by the Patriots.

Analysis:  Here we go.  An obstruction charge carries a 7-year prison term and Hernandez could still be accused of more charges, including murder.  There is still a ton of unknowns when it comes to what really happened and what Hernandez' involvement is but either way it is not good.  Drop him completely off your fantasy football cheat sheets. 

2013 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: ANDRE JOHNSON WR HOUSTON TEXANS

We begin our 2013 Fantasy Football Player Analyzer features by taking a closer look at an annual favorite of yours truly, Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson.  For those who are long time readers of the site, it is not groundbreaking news that myself and Johnson have had a long and prosperous relationship together to the point that even I admitted it was ridiculous.  All in all I have owned Johnson in eight of the last nine years of the Experts League and during that time the All Pro receiver and his PPR monster ways helped me win three titles.  Universally considered the top wideout in all of fantasy football for a good numbers of those years, Johnson goes into the 2013 season still rated as a clear WR 1 option but whose star has faded just slightly with some new names moving in on his perch.  With all that said, let's once again take a closer look at Johnson in order to determine where we are headed for his 11th NFL season.

It certainly looked like Johnson and his standing as the most dominant receiver in the NFL was a clear thing of the past during his 2011 campaign as two separate hamstring injuries prevented him from playing in nine games, with the fallout being a career-low 33 catches for only 492 yards and 2 touchdowns.  At 30-years-old, it seemed like Johnson has reached his peak and was now headed on the downslope of his career.  His 2012 draft price fell sharply and with Calvin Johnson, and to a lesser extent A.J. Green emerging with big time breakouts seasons, Johnson was quickly finding himself grouped on a lower tier of receivers for the first time ever.  The only problem was that Johnson just didn't want to go along with that assessment as he would prove in a major comeback 2012 performance.  Once again showcasing his extreme PPR talent, along with big yardage numbers, Johnson would go on to catch an insane 112 passes for 1,598 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Other than Megatron Dez Bryant, and Brandon Marshall, no one graded out better than Johnson.  It was the fourth time Johnson caught over 100 passes and as the 2013 season nears, he once again is back in the good graces of potential fantasy football owners everywhere.

Of course we can never live in the past when it comes to evaluating players for an upcoming season and that is true with Johnson as well.  At 32-years-old, we still have to worry about Johnson age and its impact on his overall health.  No stranger to leg injuries, this is a big time worry, especially since asking him to start 16 games for the second season in a row is asking a ton.  Sure the draft price is cheaper, with Johnson now going in the late second to third round territory as opposed to the first but still that is early enough to have legitimate worries about injuries ruining the pick.

Than there is production as a whole looking past any injury issues.  Expecting Johnson to duplicate those 112 catches is asking a ton, especially with hot shot rookie DeAndre Hopkins figuring to earn a great deal of attention on the other side of the field.  Also for all his PPR brilliance, Johnson has been frustrating to own at times, especially in standard formats, due to his lack of touchdowns.  For someone so talented and who gets his hands on as many balls as he does, Johnson has unbelievably never hit double-digits in touchdowns.  His career high is only 9 which he did once in 2008.  Only grabbing four last season just exacerbated the issue.  So in standard formats Johnson is not as good an option as his numbers might seem upon quick glance.

All in all, Andre Johnson is the classic WR 1 in PPR formats for at least another season, while he is a bit less than that in standard formats due to the lack of touchdowns.  The ability is still there as evidenced by what Johnson put up in 2012 but he is closing in on the age where his numbers will dip and never return.  You get the feeling this is a stock you want to sell high on now in order to not get burned when things head south.  Hearing this from one of the biggest Johnson fans in the world should give you additional reason to doubt the guy.

2013 PROJECTION:  93 catches 1,298 yards 7 TD




Friday, June 21, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: KOJI UEHARA NAMED RED SOX CLOSER

                                                                         

In a bit of surprising news, Koji Uehara and not Junichi Tazawa was named closer for the Boston Red Sox by manager John Farrell on Friday.  It was widely assumed Tazawa would get the nod to replace Andrew Bailey but the veteran experience of Uehara likely won out.

Analysis:  Quick audible here as many grabbed Tazawa in assuming he would get the promotion.  Run to the wire and pick up Uehara who has posted fantastic 2013 numbers with a very high K rate which is conducive to success pitching in the ninth inning. 


FANTASY SPORTS BOSS FANTASY FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS

With the new fantasy football season less than 3 months away, yours truly will go way out on a limb with training camps not even open in making my annual predictions.  Below are various categories and my choices.  Your comments are welcome below.

FANTASY MVP: 

1.  Calvin Johnson
2.  Aaron Rodgers
3.  Drew Brees

BREAKOUT STUD:

1.  LeVeon Bell
2.  Dennis Pitta
3.  Lamar Miller

COMEBACK PLAYER:

1.  LeSean McCoy
2.  Matthew Stafford
3.  Larry Fitzgerald

DON'T BUY THE 2012 BREAKOUT:

1.  Stevan Ridley
2.  Cecil Shorts
3.  James Jones

OVERRATED:

1.  Ben Roethlisberger
2.  Hakeem Nicks
3.  Vernon Davis

UNDERRATED:

1.  Tony Romo
2.  Matt Forte
3.  Marques Colston

LOOK PAST THE RISK:

1.  Percy Harvin
2.  Rob Gronkowski
3.  Michael Vick

AVOID AT ALL COSTS:

1.  Darren McFadden
2.  Robert Griffin III
3.  Ryan Matthews

LOTTERY TICKET:

1.  Darryl Richardson
2.  Ryan Broyles
3.  Johnathan Franklin

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

1.  LeVeon Bell
2.  Tavon Austin
3.  Tyler Eifert

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Pedro Alvarez:  3/4 with his 16th HR while hitting .223.  Always nice when you get an additional hit when Alvarez homers.  Enjoy it because it doesn't come around often.

Jay Bruce:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .277.  Bruce is locked in and launching balls all over outfield walls.  Few do it better than Bruce when he is seeing the ball as well as he currently is.

Homer Bailey:  6 IP 6 H 2 ER 0 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.75.  Now has 95 K's in 96 innings pitched.  Terrific ratios.  What we are seeing now is the Bailey finished product, 3.75 ERA and all.  In other words he will still throw in a massive clunker but overall he is Zack Greinke prior to his Dodgers stay.

Paul Konerko:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .252.  Nice signs from Konerko lately so now would be a good time to take a look to see if he is sitting there on the waiver wire.  Yes he is older than dirt but Konerko can still be helpful in smaller doses.

Brian Dozier:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .234.  Now up to six home runs and 6 stolen bases.  All while manning second base.  Yes the average stinks but the juice is enticing nonetheless.

Jean Segura:  2/5 with 2 steals (22 for season) while hitting .322.  Now hitting leadoff which means more and more steals.  Yum. 

Yovani Gallardo:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.09.  Gallardo has been better the last few times out but honestly he couldn't have been any worse.  The velocity is still down tough which has taken the K rate along for the ride.  In other words the underlying concerns are still there.

Jim Henderson:  1 ER while pitching in the eighth inning.  John Axford threw a scoreless ninth on a related note.  Please no!!!!  This can't possibly be happening can it?

Ian Desmond:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .280.  With Jose Reyes and Troy Tulowitzki out injured and Jimmy Rollins sucking it, you can actually argue that Desmond and Jean Segura have been as good as any shortstop in fantasy baseball.

Jordan Zimmerman:  8 IP 6 H 0 ER 1 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.26.  Zimmerman is awesome which we all have learned in spades this season but he goes up an extra awesome level when the K's are as great as they can be like in this outing.

Evan Longoria:  2/3 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .307.  The Tampa Bay clubhouse guys have blocked Longoria from accessing anything with the name "Tulowitzki" and "injuries" from any laptop in the stadium so as not to get reminded of his own checked past.

Matt Moore:  6.1 IP 4 H 3 ER 3 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.13.  Moore won but truth be told he was not great by any means with more shaky control.  As messed up as any pitcher going right now which is a real shame considering how terrific he was throwing back in April.

David Ortiz:  2/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .310.  I wonder if Ortiz is sweating this whole Biogenesis thing since there are apparently some yet to be unveiled names?  Just saying.

David Wright:  3/4 with 2 home runs (11 for seasons) while hitting .304.  Wright has been murdering the baseball from Day 1 this season with no extended slumps or injuries to speak of.  The 30 year old still has some big time years left in the tank.

Matt Holliday:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .278.  Holliday needed this home run badly as he has not looked good at the dish lately at all.  Father Time gets us all but at least Holliday is fighting it some.

Lance Lynn:  6 H 3 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.42.  Lynn now has 10 wins as he once again is in the thick of the Cy Young race for his respective league.  The clock starts on him at the end of the month and you know why.

Mike Trout:  4/4 with his 16th SB while hitting .317.  I don't even remember April happened.

Peter Bourjos:  3/4 with his third HR and 4th SB while hitting .345.  Bourjos was always a tad intriguing given he can challenge Brett Gardner in a footrace but he has fumbled away just about every prime chance he had to breakthrough.  Sorry I am done waiting.

Yasiel Puig:  1/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .452.  This is why that whole Super 2 arbitration crap sucks so much.  I could have been up to around 30 home runs by now for Puig if he had started with the club in April. 

Pedro Ciriaco:  2/4 with his first HR and 2nd SB while hitting .412.  Yeah somehow ended up on the West Coast when no one was even thinking about the guy.  I am still no thinking about him until I see so much more of this.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: METS' JON NIESE HEADED TO DL WITH SHOULDER INJURY

New York Mets SP Jon Niese is likely to be placed on the 15-day DL Friday after being forced out of his start Thursday night with a shoulder injury.  No update was given by the Mets officially after the game but a team source indicated Niese will go the DL route.

Analysis:  Niese truly has not been great in 2013 so this doesn't impact many.  Cut him loose if does have to go on the DL and don't look back.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: ANDREW BAILEY OUT AS RED SOX CLOSER

Bosotn Red Sox manager John Farell has seen enough of the struggles of closer Andrew Bailey, with his latest meltdown Thursday night costing him the job outright.  Bailey gave up a walk-off home run to Jhonny Peralta in the ninth, which was the just his latest shaky outing.  While Farrell didn't mention a replacement, Junichi Tazawa is expecting to get the promotion.

Analysis:  Unreal.  Bailey was pitching so well early on but something seems amiss which is no shock considering his long injury history.  Grab Tazawa immediately nad keep an eye on Koji Uehara as well.

FANTASY FOOTBALL BREAKING NEWS: SOURCE CLAIMS PATS TIGHT END AARON HERNANDEZ "DIRECTLY TIED" TO HOMICIDE

                                                                          

According to a source close to the investigation, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is "directly tied" to the homicide of Odin Lloyd in Attleboro, Mass.  Clarifying reports from the other day, Hernandez has now been tied to leaving a club with Odin and two other men and was behind the wheel of the vehicle.  Odin was the only one not to make it home, discovered dead at the side of the road.  Local police have continually investigated Hernandez since the discovery and charges could be on their way soon.

Analysis:  Good heavens.  This is not looking good for Hernandez by any means as he could be charged with murder any moment now.  Completely scratch him off your fantasy football tight end rankings which really is not an important issue given the fact someone was murdered.  Just another example of how stupid some professional athletes are when it comes to the company they keep.

FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT DEBATE: DREW BREES/AARON RODGERS

As crazy as it is to say, 2013 fantasy football drafts are already underway.  While I continue to believe the best bet is to hold your draft as close to the season as possible, those who just can't wait need to do work through some close debates among key players at their respective positions.  With that said we go right to the top of the quarterback rankings for the annual Aaron Rodgers-Drew Brees debate.  Both guys have broken many a scoreboard over the last four seasons and during that time each has staked their claim to be the best fantasy football QB in the game.  So without further delay let's once again compare the two in the fantasy football relevant categories in order to determine who takes the top slot this season.

PASSING YARDS:  As awesome as Rodgers is, he doesn't come close to Brees in the passing yardage department as the New Orleans gunslinger has gone for over 5,000 each of the last two seasons while his Green Bay counterpart came in at 4,643 and 4,295 yards.  Brees will once again lead the NFL in pass attempts, especially with Sean Payton back calling the plays.
ADVANTAGE:  Drew Brees

TOUCHDOWNS:  Once again Brees comes out on top here as he has thrown for 46 and 43 scores the last two seasons while Rodgers checks in at 45 and 39.  This category is much closer than the passing yardage listed above but again we have to go on the numbers here.  With Brees once again likely to lead the NFL in pass attempts, he should have the better shot to come out on top in this area.
ADVANTAGE:  Drew Brees

INTERCEPTIONS:  This one is all Rodgers because as great as Brees is, he has been interception prone due to the sheer volume of throws he makes each season.  Altogether Brees has thrown 22, 14, and 19 picks the last three seasons while Rodgers has proven himself to be one of the best at limiting turnovers with 11, 6, and 8 interceptions during that same span.
ADVANTAGE:  Aaron Rodgers

RUSHING YARDS:  This is a minimal stats for most fantasy football quarterbacks but it still needs to be weight as part of the bottom line value of each player.  Rodgers wins this one going away as he has generally been a 250-300 rushing yard guy who has 9 scores by that manner the last three seasons combined.  Brees meanwhile is as lead footed as you get with only 91 rushing yards total during the same span of Rodgers listed above.  No contest in this one.
ADVANTAGE:  Aaron Rodgers

INTANGIBLES:  Brees is a full five years older than Rodgers (34-29) and age is always a good manner to break virtual ties in value.  It is a fact that player start to lose their skills as they reach their mid-30's so we have some bit of risk there when it comes to the Saints QB.  Meanwhile Rodgers is flat out in his early prime years and has at least five more big seasons in his future.  Thus Rodgers is the safer bet when age is taken into consideration.
ADVANTAGE:  Aaron Rodgers

WINNER:  Aaron Rodgers

As always this one came in very close by Rodgers' ability to contribute on the ground, limit turnovers, and be a bit less risky when it comes to his age make him the slight favorite when weighing a pick between the two this season.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Ichiro Suzuki:  3/4 with his third HR while hitting .274.  Fading very fast, Suzuki's nice second half of 2012 seems like one last bust of top notch play before age finished its job on his game.  Still capable of picking up some hits, Suzuki is not a good play even in deeper leagues since he doesn't even play every day.

Hanley Ramirez:  4/4 with his second HR while hitting .343.  Huge game for Hanley which reminds us of how truly talented the guy is.  Immaturity and injuries have faded that memory but for now he is healthy and the skills are taking over the show.  Still young enough to be a superstar, Ramirez has much more work to do to reclaim his name.

Yasiel Puig:  2/4 with his 5th HR and 2nd SB while hitting .474.  Some are already saying he is better than Yoenis Cespedes but either way Cuban imports are all the rage.  After missing out on Mike Trout last season, yours truly is starting to understand how awesome a daily feeling it was to own the Angels instant superstar last season. 

Chris Davis:  3/5 with 2 home runs (26 for the season) while hitting .337.  Boy the Rangers front office have got to be throwing up every time they see this guy's boxscore.  Flat out the best hitter in fantasy baseball this side of Carlos Gonzalez this season.

Chris Tillman:  3 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.71.  Tillman is now up to eight wins which is five wins since I told you to pick him up.

Jose Fernandez:  7.1 IP 3 H 2 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.05.  Fernandez' WHIP as a 20-year-old rookie is 1.05.  Future ace alert!  Going to already tell you that I am doing to be doubling down on this gem next season.

Will Venable:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .228.  Geez Will Venable has ten home runs.  No one cares.

Madison Bumgarner:  7 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.25.  I mean every single one of you should be owning Bumgarner after I bowed at his altar all winter.  The best starter on the San Francisco Giants easy and close to top five in all of baseball.

Ian Desmond:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .268.  I keep saying all along that the Desmond question I had in 2013 was not his power/speed game but his average.  At .268 with a high K rate, Desmond is right where he should be.

Gio Gonzalez:  7 IP 2 H 2 ER 2 BB 11 K with an ERA of 3.34.  Gonzalez has been a monster for a month now as he might finally be throwing with a clear head after dealing with the Biogenesis crap. 

Carlos Gonzalez:  2/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .312.  If Gonzalez keeps this up, he will firmly be in the discussion for the top overall pick in 2014.

Adam Lind:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .340.  So I am now invested in this Lind reclamation story and so far I likey.  While the average should be around .275 before too long, Lind has the natural pop to be consistently and quietly excellent there.

Kris Medlen:  7 IP 6 H 1 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.96.  This was Medlen telling Brandon Beachy to shove it.  Honestly I don't know how the Braves can bullpen a guy who has a 2.96 ERA in 2013 and who has one of the more remarkable second halves seen in awhile last season.

Jay Bruce:  1/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .277.  Bruce has been locked in with the power the last month and that should continue for one of the naturally strongest hitters in baseball. 

Desmond Jennings:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .252.  The average is inching up but the steals are still AWOL.  It is like this guy has to always piss us off with something.

Aramis Ramirez:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .272.  We are in dangerous territory with ARAM this season as he is off to a poor/injury-marred start at 35-years-old.  We all know he is as good a second half hitter as anyone in baseball so all is not lost just yet.  Stay patient.

Rickie Weeks:  2/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .217.  I don't even know who this guy is anymore he is so irrelevant.

Alejandro De Aza:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .262.  De Aza is a nice value play once again this season as he has added some more power to his leadoff game.  He still doesn't get his due however which is a tad strange since 9 home runs and 7 stolen bases plays well anywhere.

Justin Morneau:  2/5 with his third HR while hitting .289.  It is funny what is going on here as Morneau is actually hitting well with 40 RBI and a .289 average but the power has vanished. 

Yadier Molina:  1/4 with his fifth HR while hitting .365.  Who does Molina think he is Joe Mauer with his batting average?  Aging as well as anyone in baseball while manning the grueling catcher spot.

C.J. Wilson:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.61.  You still don't want to own him as anymore than your SP 5.



FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ZACK WHEELER SP NEW YORK METS

It was certainly a big day for the New York Mets organization on Wednesday as the team embarked on a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves that clearly showcased their pitching future with 2013 second-year monster Matt Harvey going in Game 1, followed by the much-hyped debut of fireballing top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler in Game 2.  Not to be outdone by his fellow young hurler, Harvey struck out an incredible 13 Braves in Game 1 to continue his truly dominant season that instantly has him as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  Thus it was hard to believe Wheeler could top that kind of excellence no matter how much promise he held in Game 2.  Well even though Wheeler didn't finish in the ballpark of what Harvey did in Game 1, the rookie opened many eyes with his effort in Game two by tossing six scoreless innings while giving up only 4 hits and whiffing 7 batters in a victorious debut.  Jiving with the scouting report going in, Wheeler showcased an explosive fastball that quickly racked up the strikeouts and points to him being a 200-K starter in the near future like Harvey already is.  Wheeler also showed tremendous stuff that yielded only 4 hits against a tough Braves lineup.  Finally Wheeler went along for the script when it came to his shaky control which was the one concern that yours truly had for him going forward and what has also plagued him during his early months in the minors this season.  Altogether Wheeler walked a very poor 5 batters in his six innings as some visions of Trevor Bauer floated around in my head.  However first game jitters no doubt were in play as Wheeler was pitching in front of dozens of family and friends near his Georgia hometown.  While his control will continue to be a source of worry, the upside is tremendous and makes Wheeler a guy who needs to be started going forward unless he really hits the skids.  All in all it was a very nice debut for what could be one of the better starters in baseball in a few short seasons.


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PADRES' EVERTH CABRERA HEADED TO DL WITH STRAINED HAMSTRING

                                                                             

San Diego Padres SS Everth Cabrera is headed to the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring.  Cabrera first hurt the hamstring during last Sunday's game and has felt little improvement since. 

Analysis:  Tough luck here as Cabrera has been terrific this season as the best stolen base weapon in the game.  Hamstring injuries are flat out the worst kind of ailment for speedsters but two weeks off hopefully should get him better.  While his track record is not long, Cabrera is doing more than enough to validate his standing as a middle tier shortstop option.


FANTASY FOOTBALL 2013 ROUND 1 ANALYSIS

The 2013 Fantasy Football season is already underway in some league as drafts are unbelievably being held this early.  While I am firm in my belief not to hold your draft until August at the earliest, we are still here to help you all sort out the dilemmas and decisions you have to make along the way.  It all starts in Round 1 of course as your first pick in fantasy football is tremendously crucial to help set you up for success.  If you miss here than you could actually be done before you even starter.  With that said let's see how the first round would look in one experts humble opinion in a PPR format.

1.  Calvin Johnson:  In a PPR format there is no other pick to make at the top of the draft.  Even in standard leagues you can absolutely pick Johnson first since he is a monster in both receptions and touchdowns.  Flat in his prime and proven himself to be durable, 100-catches, 1,500 yards, and 12 touchdowns is a CONSERVATIVE estimate.

2.  Adrian Peterson:  While I hate drafting guys who you know their numbers are guaranteed to sink, Peterson is so dominant that he deserves to be picked in this slot.  Even if he loses 300 yards rushing Peterson will still net 1,700 yards with around 40 catches and 10-12 scores.

3.  Aaron Rodgers:  These three are the top guys in any format no questions asked.  Rodgers has paced the QB scale for three seasons now and another 40 touchdowns is a lock given how explosive his surrounding cast is.

4.  Doug Martin:  I give Martin the nod over Arian Foster for two reasons.  One is that he is younger and the second is that Foster has a history of hamstring injuries (flareups each of the last two seasons).  Once compared to Ray Rice in coming into his rookie year, Martin may actually post better numbers in 2013.

5.  Arian Foster:  Feels weird placing Foster fifth after he was the consensus number 1 pick the last two seasons but this is no disrespect to the Houston stud running back.  While he has a ton of carries the last three seasons, Foster is still young enough to post another dominant year or two.  The threat of Ben Tate proved to be a non-story in 2012 as well so there are less issues to worry about going forward.

6.  Ray Rice:  Sure Rice's numbers slid across the board in 2012 but they were still first round statistics any way you cut it.  Bernard Pierce looks like a player so he could continue to chop at his numbers some but Rice will still post some of the best rushing.receiving totals in the game.

7.  Jamaal Charles:  I can't tell you how much I love Jamaal Charles this season.  In fact I will go so far as to say that he could end up being the number 1 player in the game in 2013 if he can stay healthy.  Showing no loss of speed after his 2111 ACL tear, the arrival of Andy Reid is huge for his bottom line as one only has to look at what the coach has done for LeSean McCoy's career to know why.  Love him.

8.  LeSean McCoy:  The Bryce Brown thing is not a big deal in my opinion as McCoy could use a bit lessening of the workload after having an injury-marred 2012.  The bigger story is the arrival of offensive guru Chip Kelly from Oregon who oversaw some of the most ridiculous passing/running attacks in NCAA history.  McCoy is a good bet to reclaim a great deal of his All Pro 2011 numbers.

9.  Drew Brees:  Now that the top running backs are off the board, time to go back to the QB ranks as Brees and his wondrous New Orleans Saints passing numbers continue to not put up crazy numbers every season.  While the interceptions are up, that is only because of the sheer volume of throws Brees makes.  Still as good as it gets.

10. Brandon Marshall:  Back with Jay Cutler, Marshall is a 100-catch robot again.  Nothing less is to be expected on 2013 either.

11. Trent Richardson:  Danger alert!  Richardson shapes up in my opinion as the biggest potential bust who could go in Round 1 given his vast injury history.  On top of that, Richardson reportedly has already complained of some knee soreness in the same one that was surgically repaired last training camp.  Not good at all.  Outside of the health worries, Richardson is looking at a major rushing/receiving breakthrough to stardom but we just can't get past the concerns he could go bust.

12. Tom Brady:  The 12th pick is tough as you could go Cam Newton, C.J. Spiller, or A.J. Green here.  Won't argue either way.

There you have it.  As always let us hear your thoughts.  Also check back for the standard league round 1 analysis.