Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Miranda Warnings: Fantasy Baseball Weekly Dose (FBWD)

Hello fantasy baseball fans! This is my debut fantasy baseball article for I want to thank founder/creator Marc Edelman for this opportunity.

“Fantasy Baseball Weekly Dose” will be posted every Wednesday on FBWD will highlight the latest significant (and sometimes not so significant) developments from the fantasy baseball world that could effect your fantasy baseball decision making.

Let’s get it on…

American League Update:

Trouble in Baltimore: You have to wonder how much longer Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada will tolerate Baltimore’s losing ways. Both are studs, in a difficult situation. While Roberts has remained quiet about the direction the O’s are going in, the same can’t be said about Tejada. In 2006, Tejada demanded a trade, but then had a change of heart after discussions with family, friends and Baltimore management. Maybe he’ll demand a trade again? The O’s “upgraded” their bullpen this past winter, but it has blown numerous leads throughout 2007. The O’s closer, Chris Ray, won’t return until 2009 after Tommy John surgery. A few years ago, Daniel Cabrera (9-15, 5.11) was thought to be the future ace, but has shown no progress under pitching coach Leo Mazzone. Two pitching bright spots, Eric Bedard and Jeremy Guthrie, have been shut down for 2007 due to oblique injuries. The O’s are currently in a horrific slide that has seen them lose 17 of 20. After getting smoked 10-5 by the Angels on Tuesday, the O’s team ERA in the last 20 games stands near a ghastly 9!

Vlad's Return: Don’t worry about the inflamed triceps that forced Vlad Guerrero to miss a few games. He returned Tuesday night to the tune of two homers and four ribbies. By the way, the following stat should silence any/all doubt about Vlad being Hall of Fame material. The two homers versus the O’s give Vlad 24 in 2007. Vlad is well on the way to a 10th consecutive season of hitting at least 25 homers and batting .300 or higher. The only other player to accomplish that feat in more consecutive seasons (11), Lou Gehrig!

"Flash" Forward: Don’t you dare give up on KC third baseman Alex Gordon. While other 2007 rookie hitters (Ryan Braun, Hunter Pence, Troy Tulowitzki, etc.) have all had more success than Gordon, it’s Gordon who will soon be just as good, if not better than the 2007 rookie crop. Gordon’s low batting average (.258) and low RBI total (57) would lead you to believe that he’s having a disappointing 2007, but look beyond those numbers and you’ll see that he has very quietly put together a decent first season of double-digit homers and steals (14 -14), unheard of for third basemen not named David Wright. Also of note, Gordon has put together the double-digit homers and steals in a lineup that provides him with zero protection. Last, but not least, Gordon never played Triple AAA ball, going straight from Double AA Wichita to KC. Going from Double AA ball straight to the Major Leagues is an immense transition, let alone hitting in a woeful KC lineup. In redraft leagues, Gordon is a Top 10 third basemen. In keeper-leagues, his value is immense. View Gordon’s “disappointing” 2007 season as an adjustment year and look for a bounce-back 2008. You could see a 25-25 season from Gordon as early as 2009.

The Mets Loss is the Royals Gain: Speaking of KC, SP Brian Bannister (12-8, 3.46), who the Royals stole from the Mets in exchange for two minor league arms, has had a solid 2007. Keep him on your radar for 2008. As young hitters like Gordon step-up, Bannister's win totals should continue to rise.

Move Over Clemens and Mussina: A series of young arms in the Bronx should light up boxscores for fantasy GM's in 2008. Those who thought that Chien-Ming Wang’s 2006 season (19-6, 3.63) was a fluke, need to reassess his value. With a solid effort against KC this past Sunday, Wang is now 18-6, has won five straight decisions, is on pace for 20 wins and is the undeniable anchor of a Yankee pitching staff that has had a roller-coaster 2007. Wang gives up lots of hits and strikes out very few batters, but consecutive Cy Young type seasons can not be overlooked. Yankee GM Brian Cashman has deservedly received lots of criticism in recent years for acquiring the likes of Jaret Wright, Carl Pavano, Randy Johnson, etc. However, Cashman’s intentions were well-founded. Cashman acquired those pitchers so that the Yankees could remain competitive, while the Yankee pitching staff of the future developed in the minor leagues. Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain have all shown their potential in 2007 and, along with Wang, could form a dynamite 1-4 pitching staff for years to come, giving Yankee fans (and fantasy GM’s) lots to look forward to for the foreseeable future.

Deep in the Cellar in Texas: The “window of opportunity” is closing for Texas’ Nelson Cruz and Jason Botts to establish themselves as major-league ready. Both have received long looks the last two seasons, but have disappointed. Despite being big-time prospects as recently as 2006, both seem to be no more than bench players. However, they are still both young enough to show improvement.

The Young and the Injured: Jeremy Bonderman (elbow) has been shut down for 2007… Francisco Liriano (Tommy John surgery) is scheduled to throw off a mound on November 1st. It’ll be the first time Liriano steps on a mound in over a year.

National League Update:

The "Wright" Stuff: Those chants of “MVP!, MVP!” that you hear coming from Shea Stadium are for third basemen David Wright. Wright should win the NL MVP. With a stat line of .316-28-95-98-31, he is well-deserving of NL MVP and nothing short of a fantasy stud!... Speaking of the Mets, shortstop Jose Reyes will also receive lots of NL MVP votes. Reyes is the first infielder ever to steal 60+ bases in three consecutive seasons!

Always Underrated: It seems that every year most sportswriters predict Travor Hoffman's decline, and every year they are wrong. Despite turning 40 soon, Hoffman is approaching his ninth 40 save season. As long as Hoffman continues to pitch in the friendly confines of Petco Park, he is worth a flier in '08.

Prince Becoming a King: Prince Fielder smacked his 44th homer Tuesday and is on pace for 50. The 44 homers are impressive in and of itself. But, Fielder’s power is more impressive when you consider the significant power outage throughout baseball (i.e. Travis Hafner, Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, Derrek Lee, etc.).

Here Comes Votto: The Reds are finally giving first baseman Joey Votto a look. He’s been ready since June, but only recently got called up to the Reds. He’s much better than those he’s competing with for AB’s (Scott Hatteberg and Jorge Cantu). He will be the Reds starting first baseman in 2008, he hits in a lethal lineup and he hits in the bandbox called Great American Ball Park. He’s a rare combination of power/speed at first base. Don’t forget about Votto down the stretch in 2007 and/or in 2008.

St. Louis "Blues": It was recently announced that Cardinals third basemen Scott Rolen (shoulder) is done for 2007. He should be fully recovered by spring training. With the tragedy (Josh Hancock’s death), injuries (Chris Carpenter, Juan Encarnacion, Rolen, etc.) and controversy (Rick Ankiel purchasing HGH) that have beset the Cards, skipper Tony LaRussa deserves lots of credit for not only keeping this ship afloat, but in playoff contention. Even though the Cardinals are not likely to win the NL Central, kudos to LaRussa for a job well done, and look for St. Louis to right the ship next season.

Closing Statement:

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of FBWD. I will be back next week with the second edition.

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