This may just be taking fantasy sports just a little too far:
The ultimate fantasy reward is now a reality starting with the Signet ring at just $99. Custom built with the year, winner’s name, team name and league initials. Handcrafted by Jostens, the world’s legendary Super Bowl ring maker.
I think I have played a fantasy season twice in my life. Once in college where I drafted my baseball team and never looked at it till the end of the season and finished last. The other was football where despite having I put slightly more effort and managed a 3rd place finish via the playoffs (8th by regular season record). Beyond that I have had no desire to play, especially with all the leagues that charge you to play and the “opportunity” to buy a championship ring strikes me as just stupid. I donâ€™t know what is worse, Jostens offering these rings or the fact that someone will actually buy them.
Itâ€™s Fantasy Baseball season! Thatâ€™s right. Football is over, Spring Training is here, and weâ€™re 30 days away from Opening Day. That officially puts us in Fantasy Baseball Season.
Everyone knows that Albert Pujols should go number one, although I have seen Johan Santana and Alfonso Soriano go first overall. We all know that Paul Bako isnâ€™t going to go in any draft of any type. There are some certainties and there are some question marks.
This blog is about those players who tend to fly under the radar in drafts, players who I believe will break out and will get good value, and players who are going to bust and will not provide proper value at a certain draft spot. Iâ€™ll sort it out by position and by league. Here we go with the American League, the National League will be ready in a day or two.
Catcher â€“ Mike Piazza: Piazza seems to be going really late in drafts. Iâ€™ve seen Jason Varitek, David Ross, and even Jason Kendall. Piazza is hitting in the American League West this year, as a DH! He should get 500+ at-bats and be able to put up better numbers than last season. Donâ€™t expect Frank Thomas numbers though, youâ€™ll get burned. Iâ€™d put him just behind the big guns in the AL.
First Base â€“ Dan Johnson, Lyle Overbay: These are two guys that are having a hard time even getting drafted. Iâ€™ve already been in three drafts and Johnson didnâ€™t go in any and Overbay went in the final 3 rounds of two drafts and didnâ€™t go in the third draft. Johnson is a wait and see player. He may need to prove himself in Spring Training but heâ€™s at his prime age and could provide a .285-25-100 season if playing time allows. Overbay has more upside. He has the likes of Vernon Wells, Troy Glaus, Frank Thomas, and Alex Rios in his lineup and he will be slotted nicely in the middle. He had career numbers last year (.312-22-92) and he could turn some of those 46 doubles into more homers. Look for him to out up a .300-25-100 season or better.
Second Base â€“ Jorge Cantu, Julio Lugo: Second base is a shallow position, especially after Brian Roberts in the American League. Jorge Cantu reported to camp in excellent shape and worked his rear-end off this offseason, determined to put up better numbers than he did when he went ..286-28-117 in 2005. Heâ€™s healthy and is swinging well this spring. Lugo could put up better numbers than Roberts. Lugo has an incredible lineup behind him. He could easily spray balls off the Monster in right all season long. Iâ€™d bank on a .285-12-60-25-100 season and get him a couple rounds after Roberts. Cantu can be had in the final 5 rounds.
Shortstop â€“ Jhonny Peralta, Bobby Crosby: Peralta was a huge disappointment last season. Last year he hit just over half the homers, his average was 35 points lower and his RBI were 10 less. Heâ€™s finally filled out his frame and should be done growing. He will be flying well below the radar in all casual leagues and even some competitive leagues. He could return to his 2005 form but buy low, donâ€™t jump early on him. Everybody knows whatâ€™s wrong with Crosby. Health. He claims to be fully healthy and ready to prove he can be a middle of the order hitter. Crosby was listed by many, including the great Peter Gammons, as pre-season MVP last year. Not exactly fair to him. Heâ€™ll go late and provide good number, top 10 shortstop numbers in mixed leagues.
Third Base â€“ B.J. Upton, Alex Gordon: Youâ€™re probably thinking to yourself right now â€œthis guy is crazy. B.J. Upton!â€ Thatâ€™s right! Mr. Upton is getting a ton of work at third, short, second, and outfield (heâ€™s actually playing RF today in a seven inning intrasquad game). He could be Chone Figgins 12 rounds later. Be careful though, he still could be a bust but I would bet 80/20 he puts up good numbers. Draft him late as a bench player and monitor his progression. Alex Gordon is a beast! If he makes the team out of Spring Training he could win Rookie of the Year. Watch him closely, heâ€™s definitely worth a late round selection on your bench, if he makes the team he belongs as your 3B or UTIL.
Outfield â€“ Rocco Baldelli, Kenny Lofton, Curtis Granderson, Nick Markakis: If you want the number player that could give you first or second round numbers in eighth round then Rocco Baldelli is your man. Iâ€™m not giving this a second thought. I believe Baldelli will put up numbers no worse than .300-25-80-20-100 and he could be a right handed version of Grady Sizemore. Kenny Lofton is going undrafted in a lot of leagues. This old man can still hit, especially now that he is in Arlington and has Young, Teixeira, Blalock, and Kinsler hitting behind him. Lofton could go .300-8-50-30-100 in the last 3 rounds. Curtis Granderson is a talented young hitter. He is determined to cut his strikeouts down this season. If he does that and runs a little more, has the speed to steal 25, he could be in line for .280-25-75-10-95. Markakis has incredible strike zone judgment. He put up good numbers last as a rookie and Iâ€™ll bet he puts up better numbers this year. Heâ€™ll be hitting 3rd in front of Tejada and Huff and behind Roberts and Mora.
Starting Pitchers â€“ Dan Haren, A.J. Burnett, Matt Garza: Haren is a gamer. With Zito gone and Hardenâ€™s health uncertain Danny Haren knows that his team needs him to be huge and he is the type of competitor to rise to the challenge. Look for him to be competing for the AL Cy Young Award. Burnett, when healthy, has some of the best stuff in the game. He has an opt out clause in his contract after the â€˜08 season and could be pitching like heâ€™s ready to use it. Look for 14+ wins and 200 K. Matt Garza is a phenomenal young pitcher. He put up numbers consistent to Matt Cain in the minors and projects as a future #2 guy in the rotation. Heâ€™s a great option for keeper leagues and a good option in all other leagues. Get him in the final 3 rounds.
Relief Pitchers â€“ Joe Borowski, Seth McClung: If youâ€™re looking for some sleeper saves look no further. Although Borowski hasnâ€™t been named the closer he is most likely to get save opportunities for the Cleveland Indians, the team that I believe will win the AL Central this year. You have to look past Seth McClungâ€™s numbers last year as a starter and look at his relief stats (4-2, 4.43 ERA, 21 K, 21 BB, 22.1 IP, 6 sv in 7 chances) and AAA stats (1-0, 2.20 ERA, 5 sv, 26 K, 2 BB, in 16.1 IP). The Rays are a better team than last year and he should be able to give you plenty of saves as a very late draft choice.
The Florida Marlins are back, baby. And baby is the operative word. Weak, but bear with me. Heading into Spring Training the Marlins have the one of the youngest potential starting rotations in baseball. How young? Born January 12, 1982 Dontrelle Willis celebrates his 25th birthday today. Celebrating with D-Train today is Scott Olson, who turns 23 and may be the second oldest starter in the Marlins regular season rotation.
Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez are all but guaranteed spots. Johnson, 12-7 133 stikeouts 3.10 era in 2006, will not turn 23 until Jan 31. A product of the Marlins system, he was drafted by the Marlins in the 4th round of the 2002 draft. After three seasons in the minors he made his debut in September 2005. Johnson made 24 starts and pitched 157 innings in 2006 and was considered a Rookie of the Year candidate for most of the season.
Anibal Sanchez, who’s undeniable highlight of the season was his No Hitter Sept 6th vs. Arizona, started 17 games in 2006. He pitched 114.1 innings, striking out 72 and posting 2.83 era/1.19 WHIp. While the No-No was the highlight – his July 14th start at home to Houston was the start that set the tone for the season. After surrendering 11 earned runs in his two previous starts (vs. Bos and Was), Sanchez rattled off 21 solid innings against the Astros (7 IP 2 hits), Nationals (7 IP 1 hit) and Braves (7 IP 7 hits 1 run) earning 3 straight wins. Anibal turns 23 on February 27th.
The final spot in the rotation is anyone’s for the taking, but it will likely belong to Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco started 22 games for the Marlins in 2006 earning plaudits for solid work and an ability to transition to the starting role from the bullpen. In 140 innings he struck out 99 and walked 41, posting an 11-11 record and a 4.82 era. He may not have had a season like some, and in the Year of the Rookie Pitcher Ricky Nolasco managed to slip under most people’s radar. He just turned 24 in December.
Young hurler Yumeiro Petit is competing for work coming out of the bullpen. Appearing in 15 games last season for the Marlins he struggled. Pitching only 26.1 innings, Petit gave up 46 hits and 28 earned runs. While he did strike out 20, the fantastic potential he showed in the Mets farm system prior to the trade last offseason has not been evident in his short stint in the Majors.
While the Marlins did not make much noise at the end of the season, their record was far better than most expected. With a young core of pitchers already on the 40 man roster, and a solid talent base in the minor leagues, this staff looks to be set for next season and building towards an impressive future. Petit is the youngest of the current bunch. He will not turn 23 until after the 2007 World Series and has many hoping he lives up to early hype and becomes solid starter in 2008.
On the horizon:
Harvey Garcia (22) recorded 21 saves last season for Jupiter; he struckout 83 in 64.2 innings.
Thanks to thebaseballcube.com
Hanley Ramirez has strained his left shoulder during a botched slide in a Winter League game. Ramirez, playing for Licey Tigers in the Dominican Republic, is expected to return from this minor injury in time for spring training when the Marlins open camp. According to a variety of reports he has also contacted the Marlins front office about finishing the winter season in the Dominican. As the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, Marlins fans hope he can once again challange divisional rival Jose Reyes as the top SS in the National League.
In his first year with the Marlins organization Ramirez quickly captured the starting spot alongside Miguel Cabrera on the left of the Florida infield. He played 154 games at SS in 2006 and contributed with both his glove and his bat. Acquired with Anibal Sanchez and in the trade that saw Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell head to the Boston Red Sox, Hanley was easily the second most valuable player at his position last year in the National League. While Jose Reyes posted a line of .300/.354/.487 with 64 stolen bases and 19 HR, Hanley was nearly as impressive finishing the year with a line of .292/.353/.480, 17 HR and 51 stolen bases.
At only 23 years old Ramirez has a bright future ahead of him with the Marlins and fans can only hope that a variety of injuries do not lead to a decline in productivity. As reported by Joe Frisaro on mlb.com:
“Ramirez tweaked the same shoulder in mid May , when he swung through a changeup in Atlanta. He sat for a couple days but never went on the diabled list.”
Alhough he missed little time in 2006, and appears to be healthy enough to continue for Licey, the Marlins front office will have to be concerned and hope that the niggling injuries do not evolve into something more dire.
In other news, now-journeyman infielder Aaron Boone has been signed to a one year deal in the vicinity of $1M by Fish GM Larry Beinfest. Where the 9 year vet will play is anyone’s guess, as he has played primarily at 3B for his career, a positon occupied by Miguel Cabrera. Perhaps most famous for hitting a game-winning homerun off of Tim Wakefield to clinch the 2003 ALCS for the Yankees, Boone also made NY headlines for injuring himself playing pick-up basketball shortly after the Marlins clinched their second World Series. As a result of the injuy Boone’s contract was voided, and he signed a new deal with the Indians.
Boone’s best option may be coming off the bench, pinch hitting and providing a righthanded bat. For his career Boone, turning 34 in March, has batted .264/.325/.429. He has hit 115 HR and stolen 105 bases, the bulk of which was done in his six plus seasons in Cincinatti. He has never played the outfield and is unlikely to beat out Cabrera (3B), Ramirez (SS) or Uggla (2B) for a starting role at any of the positions he has played in MLB.
Thanks, as always, to www.baseball-reference.com for fast and easy stats.
Heard about this on Jay Leno. A boy who thought he got Madden 2007 game, got something else.
The video game “Madden NFL 2007″ promises a lot of hot action. But not the sort a Utah boy found when he opened a game for his XBox 360 game system.
Instead of digital football, 14-year-old Kolton Mahoney discovered porn.
This is the championship week for most Fantasy Football leagues. I have made it to the championship of 2 of my 4 leagues and am feeling quite strong about both of my teams.
My question to you the readers is How many leagues per season do you do? I average about 4 a season and 3 of the 4 are personal leagues with friends.
The strong play of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison brought me through on one game last night while allowing my opponent in another league to nearly come back on me. The trialls and tribulations of this season have nearly brought my PC to its knees. Peyton has played good and then bad, while Tom Brady has cost me an entire league. One high point of the season is the great play of Brian Westbrook. To me, he is by far the MVP for my four Fantasy Football Leagues (as I have him in all four leagues).
Who is your Fantasy Football MVP?
CHICAGO (Reuters) – A federal judge has handed the billion-dollar fantasy sports industry a shutout victory, ruling that the names and game statistics of Major League Baseball players are as public as the telephone book.
The league’s licensing arm and players association said it would appeal Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Medler in St. Louis.
Participants in fantasy leagues pick teams of players whose performances on the real-life field dictate who wins and who loses in the fantasy league.
The loser in court was Major League Baseball Advanced Media L.P., which had argued along with the players’ association that the fantasy leagues were stealing players’ publicity rights.
“We continue to believe that the use of the players, without their consent, to create this type of commercial venture is improper,” MLB Advanced Media and the MLB players’ association said in a statement.
But Medler disagreed, granting summary judgment without a trial to fantasy sports provider C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing Inc. of St. Louis.
“Clearly, the names and playing records of Major League Baseball players as used by CBC in its fantasy baseball games are akin to the names, towns and telephone numbers in a phone book, to census data, and to news of the day,” Medler wrote in her 49-page ruling.
As many as 18 million people play fantasy sports ranging from car racing to football — with much of the activity conducted online. Spending on the industry totals $1 billion, according to a trade group.
Stealing their publicity rights? MLB allows the MSM to cover the sport. Newspapers every day print boxscores, why not sue them? For they are obviously stealing MLB’s publicity rights.
I’m not legally trained but unless a sport wants to play in a vacuum with no media or fans present, you would think what they do can be made public. We can chalk this up as a victory for fantasy and Strat-O-Matic Baseball enthusiasts.
On a side note- I used to play competitive SOM from 1996-2001 and won multiple touirnaments during that time.