Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"Miranda Warnings" Return for 2008!

Welcome to Season #2 of "Miranda Warnings", your weekly guide to what's happening in the fantasy baseball world. For the next six (yes, six!) months, "Miranda Warnings" will appear on SportsJudge.com late Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. My name is Michael Miranda and I'm your host!

Most (if not all) fantasy baseball drafts have been completed. Now, it's time to "play ball"!

American League East: Despite off-season trade rumors that carried over into spring training, veteran 2B Brian Roberts remains an Oriole, but for how much longer? Baltimore is in rebuilding mode, so look for Roberts to be traded sooner, rather than later... Boston split their two games versus Oakland (in Japan) last week. However, the biggest news for the defending world champs was not on the field, but off it. Josh Beckett's back began to bark midway through spring training and he was placed on the DL. He might come off the DL on Sunday versus Toronto, after allowing one run over five innings in a minor league intrasquad game on Tuesday... Speaking of back injuries, JD Drew is injured (again!). Drew has a strained back and his status is uncertain. If Drew can't play, Coco Crisp will start in center and Jacoby Ellsbury in right... Robinson Cano hit sixth for the Yankees versus the Blue Jays, on the final Opening Day at the current Yankee Stadium. Cano hit near the bottom of the batting order for most of 2007, so
this development is awesome news for Cano's fantasy owners. Batting higher in the fearsome Yankee lineup will give Cano more RBI opportunities... Hopefully, fantasy baseball GM's didn't invest too much in Tampa Bay SP Scott Kazmir. Kazmir has had a strained elbow since early in spring training and begins 2008 on the DL. On Sunday, Kazmir pitched a successful bullpen session off a mound at Tampa's minor league complex in St. Petersburg. Kazmir threw 37 pitches, all fastballs. If he doesn't suffer any setbacks, he might return by mid-to-late April... On Tuesday, the Rays announced they picked up Carl Crawford's option and declined Rocco Baldelli's option for the 2009 season... Suzyn Waldman, Yankees color commentator, said during the Yankees-Blue Jays Opening Day pregame show that Jays RF Alex Rios' contract extension "is all but done". The deal is expected to be worth around $65 million over six seasons, with a team option for a seventh year potentially pushing the deal to $80 million. Rios' best years lie ahead. He's a five-tool player worth building your fantasy team around... Check out this stat. On Tuesday night, Blue Jays 3B Marco Scutaro stole two bases versus the Yankees. Scutaro stole a total of two bases during the entire 2007 season!

American League Central: The White Sox opened the season with Cuban rookie Alexei Ramirez starting in center field. He went hitless in four AB's versus Cleveland, but hit .358 with two home runs during spring training, which allowed him to make the team. According to Manager Ozzie Guillen, Ramirez will patrol center field until Jerry Owens can return from a groin tear. Ramirez played 2B for the Cuban National team, and can help the White Sox there too, so he has plenty of value in deep fantasy leagues... Kansas City is a much improved team and they proved it on Opening Day, beating Detroit in the Tiger's home opener, 5-4. For the second consecutive Opening Day, Gil Meche was solid. Underrated closer Joakim Soria got the save. When the 2008 season is all said and done, KC won't be one of the better teams. However, Manager Trey Hillman is known as a players' manager, which is perfect for the development of soon-to-be-studs Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. KC is about a year, or two, away from contending. In the meantime, they are no longer an easy-to-beat team... Detroit has received lots of press, and rightfully so, about their ferocious lineup. But, last time I checked, pitching and defense win championships. After SP Justin Verlander, Detroit's starting rotation is average. And, more importantly, the Tigers bullpen is, in one word, ugh! Joel Zumaya is on the DL. Fernando Rodney is also on the DL. Closer Todd Jones will have Tiger fans on the edge of their seats throughout the season, as usual. If this star-studded team falters, the bullpen will be its downfall... Minnesota's main ingredient in the Johan Santana trade was Carlos Gomez and he didn't disappoint on Opening Day, going 2-for-3, with two steals and two runs scored... Cleveland's stud catcher Victor Martinez (.300 AVG., 25 HR, 114 RBI in 2007) injured his left hamstring on Opening Day against the White Sox. Kelly Shoppach will start at catcher until Martinez returns. If Martinez misses a significant amount of time, expect the Indians to promote Yamid Haad or Wyatt Toregas from Triple-A Buffalo to back up Shoppach.

American League West: Oakland SP Rich Harden was lights-out against Boston last week in Japan (6 IP, 3H, 9K). If you own Harden and you're a wise GM, you'll sell high ASAP! Harden is always, always injured. Sell!, sell!, sell!... Many questioned why the LA Angels, a team with a surplus of starting pitching, acquired SP Jon Garland (for SS Orlando Cabrera) during the off-season. Fast-forward to March 2008, the Angels would be in dire straits without him! SP John Lackey is out indefinitely (strained triceps) and SP Kelvim Escobar's career could be over (shoulder tear). Hence, the baseball cliche, you can never have enough pitching!... Were you seriously concerned about Ichiro's awful spring? He went 3 for his first 6, with 2 runs scored... For what seems like the tenth year in a row, Texas has awful, awful pitching. As usual, the Rangers have several strong offensive forces (Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, etc.), but their weak pitching will do them in, for sure!

National League East: Don't raise the 2008 NL Championship flag just yet Met fans! SP Pedro Martinez limped badly off the mound in Florida Tuesday. ESPN's Buster Olney says Mets brass has diagnosed the injury as a badly strained groin or hamstring. Pedro will leave the team Wednesday to fly to NY for an MRI. Mets Manager Willie Randolph said that Pedro told him he heard a "pop". So much for the Mets having starting pitching depth. Expect a very lengthy DL stay for Pedro... Florida has young, inexperienced pitching that will make it very difficult for them to compete in the foreseeable future. But, their lineup has the potential to score plenty of runs (Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham, a healthy Jeremy Hermida, etc.). If Florida's young pitching develops as expected, the Marlins could be a contender as early as 2009, 2010... While the Mets and Phils get all of the attention in the East, the Atlanta Braves are very underrated. Good starting pitching (Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine, currently DL'd John Smoltz, young stud Jair Jurrjens), plus a solid lineup (Chipper Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira, etc.) and decent bullpen (Pete Moylan, Rafael Soriano, etc.) should equal a strong 2008 for the Bravos... Washington Nationals closer Chad Cordero felt a sharp pain behind his right shoulder while warming up in the bullpen during the Nats home opener. This is an ominous sign! He was given a cortisone shot and, as of press time, the Nats are taking a wait and see attitude. For the next several days, setup man Jon Rauch is the closer... The Phillies are counting the days until closer Brad Lidge returns from the DL. Phil-in closer (get it, Phil-in?) Tom Gordon was bombed in his Opening Day appearance to the tune of 4H and 5 ER in 1/3 of an inning! His ERA stands at 135.00!

National League Central: Milwaukee closer Eric Gagne and Chicago Cubs closer Kerry Wood both imploded, in the same game! Gagne and Wood both gave up three earned runs on Opening Day! Ouch! Not numbers you want from your closer(s). Fantasy GM's should monitor both these situations closely... Milwaukee's CF Mike Cameron is suspended for the first 25 games of the 2008 season because he tested positive for a banned stimulant a second time. During Cameron's absence, Tony Gwynn Jr. will get most of the playing time. He's a decent source of SB's until Cameron returns... Reds Manager Dusty Baker has chosen Corey Patterson (shocker!) over phenom Jay Bruce in the battle for CF. Baker is notorious for choosing veterans over youngsters and he's doing it again. For now, Bruce is in Triple AAA. But, when (not if) Patterson falls flat on his face (like he did with the Cubs), the Jay Bruce era will begin in Cincinnati, whether Dusty likes it or not! Jay Bruce can flat-out rake! When (not if) Bruce destroys Triple AAA pitching, he'll join the Reds, at some point, in the next few months. Keep him on your radar!... SP Adam Wainwright is a solid ace-in-waiting, but the rest of the St.Louis Cardinal starting rotation? Ugh!... After two games, Houston CF Michael Bourn already has 3 SB's!

National League West: In LA, the only sure-thing in the outfield is CF Andruw Jones. After announcing that Andre Ethier would be the starting left fielder (beating out incumbent Juan Pierre), Manager Joe Torre started both Ethier (in RF) and Pierre (in LF) Tuesday night, benching potential fantasy stud Matt Kemp!... Arizona's SP Brandon Webb didn't have his best stuff (4 BB's) on Opening Day versus the Reds, but he still managed to make a quality start (6IP, 3H, 2ER, 6K) and get the win... Colorado's Jayson Nix beat out Marcus Giles for the starting 2B job. Giles refused a minor league assignment and was released... San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman looked good on Tuesday night, while picking up his first save since having bone chips removed from his right elbow in the off-season... I've followed/covered baseball for about twenty years and have never seen a worse lineup than the 2008 San Francisco Giants. Only a select few of these guys (Aaron Rowand, Dave Roberts, Ray Durham and Bengie Molina) should reside on fantasy baseball rosters, and they should only reside on these rosters in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Young phenom SP's Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum will be solid choices for your fantasy team. They will provide a solid ERA, K's, and WHIP. But, with the Giants anemic offense, they will both be very lucky to reach 10 wins.

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ganzd1 said...
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ganzd1 said...


I thoroughly enjoyed your extensive fantasy report this week- it was well documented and lucid.

I am facing a few fantasy dilemmas, and I would like to have your perspective:

Dan Haren: buy or sell? Pre-All Star 2007, Haren unleashed his filthy arsenal of pitches against the helpless American League opposition. In fact, he was 10-3 with a 2.30 ERA AND a .205 BAA! However, towards the end of the season, Haren pandered out with a mediocre 4.15 ERA and a bloated .298 BAA.

Was this a fluke or will Haren finally live up to his potential? Nevertheless, the Diamondbacks rotation will need Haren to step up in the early months, to assert and anchor their rotation as a respectable number two starter.
The second half fade has been a reoccurring theme for Haren.

Buy or Sell: Hunter Pence
Is this phenom the real deal? Two years ago, MLB fantasy owners watched Luke Scott tear up National League in an abbreviated time. In 2007, Scott proved to be a one hit wonder.

Enter Hunter Pence. Similar stats in an erratic lineup. Should owners believe the hype?

Ryan Braun. It is remarkable how much damage he has done in such abbreviated time. However, is the 44 homerun and 123 RBI projection, a lofty expectation? What about the imfamous sophomore slump? Will NL pitchers adjust?

Here's a disparaging stat: Braun struck out 112 times in 451 at bats while accumulating 29 BBs. He will most like NOT duplicate that hefty average.

Tula Who?:
Troy Tulowitzki. He had tremendous poise during Colorado's epic 20 out of 21 sprint into the 07' playoffs. However, on ESPN, he has received little recognition. Put it this way: This twenty three year old is not even close to living up to his endless potential. He will emerge into one of the most well rounded shortstops in the game. I am expecting a 25+ homerun, 10 SB, and 100+ RBIs. Astounding numbers for a shortstop however there is Reyes, Ramirez, Rollins, and Tejada. Someone needs to give this guy some love.

Finally- your point about the Royals is well taken. I received the privilege to watch Alex Gordan play. His homerun off of Justin Verlander was impressive. I believe that Gordan will post a 20-25 HR season with 80+ RBI's and (most shockingly) 15 stolen bases. The average on the otherhand... may take time.

Carlos Pena: I believe he will amass the 30 homerun mark again. However, will he emerge as an elite and proven homerun hitter, or will he pander out? The Rays are for real. Lets see what this guy can due during division contention.

I'm looking forward to next week, I am an avid fan.

Dave from Westfield