Monthly Archives: April 2010

Fantasy Baseball 2010 – Week 3

It was a given that my squad would eventually struggle after starting 21-1-2, but it was still tough regardless to push through a week. Surprisingly, it was my pitching that did me in this week, as I lost five of the six pitching categories. Despite getting six quality starts from my starters, I recorded only two wins, and while my 3.79 ERA and 1.28 WHIP were certainly respectable, they were outdone by some outlier performances from the likes of Colby Lewis and Brad Penny.

My hitting on the other hand, had a strong week and I won five of the six offensive categories. Or more accurately, my opponent had a very poor offensive week, hitting a measly .228/.280 with one home run and nine RBI. Adrian Gonzalez carried my offense, going deep four times and driving in nine runs. Scott Rolen and Jose Guillen both homered twice and Guillen drove in seven while Rolen scored eight runs.

I made only one move this week, dropping the struggling 2B/SS Clint Barmes for Tampa Bay’s young 2B/SS Reid Brignac.

Up next during Week 4 is Pedroia’s Grit, a team I look forward to hopefully beating handily. After an impressive 7-3-3 opening week win, Pedroia’s Grit dropped the next two weeks and comes into Week 4 with a 14-17-5 record, sitting in 13th place overall. I go into Week 4 in second place at 27-7-2.

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Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Methods: Understanding Draft Day Nonsense

As I sat and watched the NFL draft, I was reminded why the whole production has become so intolerable. I love the drama of which player goes where, who’s going to drop and which teams are going to trade up or down. But the so-called analysis part of the coverage is absolute garbage. The featured five-man broadcast team that ESPN decided to employ for the 2010 draft consisted of Mel Kiper Jr, Jon Gruden, Steve Young, Tom Jackson and Chris Berman.

Let’s quickly review the qualifications of each man.

Jon Gruden – He landed his first head coaching job at the age of 35 with the Raiders and went 40-28 over four seasons with them and went to the playoffs three times. He moved on to Tampa Bay and became the youngest coach at the time to win a Super Bowl. He went on to lead the Bucs to a 57-55 record over seven seasons with three playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl title.

Steve Young – A two-time NFL MVP, Steve Young also was named the Super Bowl MVP in 1994. He is a highly decorated football legend that spent the majority of his career with the 49ers. But while he was a great player, he has no experience in a football front office, which means he’s not overly learned in the art of assembling a winning football team.

Tom Jackson – He enjoyed a 14-year career with the Denver Broncos and was a three-time Pro-Bowl selection and a two-time All-Pro selection. Like Young however, Jackson has no front office experience, and although he makes for a passable game commentator, he’s prone to babbling and rarely adds any insight on draft day.

Chris Berman – He is nothing but a self-indulged broadcaster. Some people find him charming and amusing, but in reality, he’s nothing but a nonsensical parrot. You quickly tire of his phonetic anecdotes and he masks his lack of football knowledge with a lot of literary fluff.

Mel Kiper Jr – Since 1984, Kiper has been covering the NFL draft and the prospects that are involved. You’d think because of his profession and the longevity he’s enjoyed that he’d be good at it. He most certainly is not. Kiper has been widely criticized by front office football officials due to his lack of football experience at any level, professional or amateur. He’s little more than a hairsprayed blowhard who absolutely loves hearing himself speak.

One out of five commentators is qualified to analyze what’s going on during the draft. One of the five have ever been involved in the process of selecting amateur players for a professional football team.

In light of this, I thought it would be fun to go back and check out some of the ESPN chats that Mel Kiper Jr hosted leading up to the drafts and see if I could identify all four of the Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Methods that have enabled him to make a living based off one weekend a year.

Mark (Indy): Mel, any clue as to where the Colts go in Round 1? Any chance of Jerry Hughes there?
Mel: I think right now, maybe not. For my final projection, I think I’ll have him off the board. Odrick might be there. Price. I could see them going DT. A sleeper could be Linval Joseph from East Carolina.

Here, we see Kiper employ Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #1 – The List. He loves to use these methods to cover his many shortcomings when it comes to reporting. Pay attention because we’ll cover them all before we’re done.

In this case, when he has no idea what he’s talking about, his solution is simply to name names. He don’t even have to use them in a complete sentence, and if he forgets the first name, he’ll just throw the guy’s last name in the middle somewhere.

And with the 31st pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Colts selected Jerry Hughes, Texas Christian.

Bill (Buffalo): If Clausen drops, do you see any team trading up from the second round into the mid-late first round to draft him?
Mel: He’s not dropping. I thought maybe after the Redskins traded for McNabb, that would hurt him. But the question is, do the Redskins still look at a QB? That’s the big question. Do they still have interest at number four? McNabb won’t have them drafting number four. He’ll have them at worst 8-8. This might be their best chance in a while to get an elite QB.

First off, let me draw your attention to the use of Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #2 – The Talk-Around. Not once in his response does he even come close to addressing the question.

Question: If Clausen slips does anyone trade up from the second round to the late first to get him?
Answer: The Redskins are at worst an 8-8 team with McNabb, so do they want two high-priced quarterbacks?

What the heck?

Secondly, Jimmy Clausen has done nothing to warrant anyone tabbing him as an “elite” quarterback. And the Redskins just jumped at the chance not more than a month ago to get an elite quarterback when they traded for Donovan McNabb. McNabb is an elite quarterback and still has several good years left in him. There’s no reason for Washington to even look Clausen’s way, and they didn’t, choosing instead to select an offensive lineman to protect McNabb.

Donnie (Oklahoma): You mentioned you didn’t think Bradford would be a Ram, who do you think will end up with him?
Kiper: You have to think about teams that look at him as the guy. Seattle, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Washington. Any one of those teams.

St. Louis.

Seriously, the Rams had passed an half a dozen franchise quarterbacks in the past few years and have just seen themselves get worse and worse. To be a good team in the NFL you need a guy behind center who can control a game. Marc Bulger wasn’t that guy and Kyle Boller certainly isn’t.

In a draft where everyone was looking to trade down, did Kiper really expect any of the teams he listed to put together the ridiculous package it would have taken to move up to one? Bradford has exceptional NFL tools and was far and away the best quarterback prospect in the draft. And a team with a serious need at that position was picking first.

Please note the use of Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #1 again. No explanation or insight, just a list of names.

Brian (Baton Rouge): Do you think the Saints will take a linebacker in the first round and if so, who?
Mel: If they want a LB in the first round they’ll probably look Sean Weatherspoon. If they don’t go there, then they could go for a DE.

Maybe he didn’t realize that the Saints won the Super Bowl and therefore held the 32nd overall pick. Sean Weatherspoon was never falling that far, there were too many teams that needed linebacker help that were picking in the mid-to-late first round. But I think Kiper may have had all of those teams selecting Jimmy Clausen. The Saints ended up not going with a linebacker in the first round. They also failed to take Mel’s advice about a DE and went with a cornerback.

Brad (Colorado): Were you higher on McFadden a few years ago than you are on Spiller now?
Mel: They’re about the same. McFadden was versatile, but Spiller is a dynamic pass receiving option and dynamic return man, punts and kicks. Spiller’s the best all-purpose back to come out since Reggie Bush. Bush has a Super Bowl ring. One of the reasons they did win was because of his versatility. I said all along that even when he wasn’t making plays, teams were focusing in on him. That’s what Spiller will do.

Please notice the italicized sentence. It’s Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #3 – the Random Fact Drop. He drops in this beauty about Bush having a Super Bowl ring, which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand, and regardless, isn’t an accurate reflection of Reggie Bush’s NFL performance. The Saints championship wasn’t won by Reggie Bush’s versatile abilities. But by telling you this, he’s diverted your attention from the fact that he doesn’t have any idea what he’s talking about.

Benjamin (The Colony, TX):I’m seeing Trent Williams projected #6 overall. That would make three OU picks in the top-6! (assuming Bradford and McCoy go 1 and 3 as planned) When was the last time you can remember three picks from one school going so high in the draft? (at least top-10).
Mel: Two of the players from OU didn’t play at all – Gresham and Bradford. OU didn’t get what they thought they would this season. It’s amazing that they have all of these prospects. Williams, at 313 pounds ran a 4.81 at the combine. That’s amazing speed. You’re thinking about guys like TEs running in the 4.8s. 34.5 vertical. He needs to work harder in the weight room in the offseason. A number of the OTs did 30+ reps and he didn’t. You definitely want 25 or more and Williams only did 23. Anthony Davis did only 21.

Here’s a perfect example of the Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #4 – The Complete 180. He takes the question, completely ignores it and answers something different. In this case, the reader asks about the last time one school so dominated the top of the first round. The normal fan’s mind expects to hear about the recent classes to come out of schools like Miami and Florida State ten or fifteen years ago, or to a more recent extent, USC.

But Kiper mentions none of these. He just lists off combine numbers that ultimately aren’t all that important and that any interested fan probably already knows.

Those are the Four Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Methods that you should always be on the lookout for when the NFL draft starts hijacking all of the ESPN networks. Keep them tucked away in your mind, and you’ll eventually be able to sift through Kiper’s nonsensical babbling and realize that the only way to truly understand the draft, is to watch it unfold.

Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #1 – The List
Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #2 – The Talk Around
Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #3 – Random Fact Drop
Mel Kiper Topic Avoidance Method #4 – The Complete 180°

NCIS Tabbed As Most Overrated Show

TV.com had an article about some of the most overrated television shows and a personal favorite, NCIS made the cut.

Each show was critiqued by an anonymous contributor. Which basically means the list is worth next to nothing since the anonymous contributor could be an eight year old boy. Some of the shows on the list probably deserve to be there, and the criticism is fair.

American Idol is on the list, and I’d agree that Ryan Seacrest and Co. are probably the single most overrated show on television. Kelly Clarkson from Season 1 was the one true star that show has produced. You’d think a show who’s main purpose is to find the best singer would spit out more than one star in about a decade. The fact that the show sometimes takes up three nights a week makes it all the more overrated.

The Office is also on the list and as much of a fan as I am, I have to tend to agree. The writing’s gotten stale and the jokes just aren’t funny anymore. Not every show can be the Simpsons. The once-likeable characters seem to get grumpier with each passing episode.

Glee is also on the list and again, even as a fan, I agree. I love most of the arrangement the glee club does, but as a television show, it’s not very interesting. I never end up on the edge of my seat at the end of an episode wondering which way the writers will take the story. The kids are going to have their problems, one’s gay, one’s black, people will fall in love out of love and they’ll win sectionals. And they’ll do it while singing contemporary arrangements of hit songs. The high school storylines are grossly exaggerated (what high school kid could possibly fall for the “I got pregnant in a hot tub” line?) and the adult ones are more often ridiculous than believable. Jane Lynch makes the show a tad more watchable.

The only one that I have a real beef with is NCIS. Here’s what the critic had to say about Donald Bellisario’s masterpiece:

NCIS is quite possibly the most overrated show on this list. It receives the highest ratings of any drama out there and boasts an insanely devoted fan base, yet it seems that no one is able to explain exactly why. Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly aren’t that hot. They and the rest of the NCIS team can’t wield guns or kick ass any more effectively than any other crime-solving white knights. All of the characters are plagued by weak, unoriginal senses of humor. And don’t get me started on that annoying chick Abby Sciuto; someone should tell her that her Hot Topic wardrobe went out of style five years ago.

The allure of NCIS isn’t tied to the attractiveness of the actors or actresses – although Sasha Alexander, Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly aren’t exactly Ugly Bettys. The team’s ability to kick ass also isn’t a main draw for the typical fan. And anyone that finds Abbs “annoying” obviously has not bothered to watch the show for any length of time. I’ll admit, Abby was the one character that didn’t sit as well with me as all the others when I first started, but by Season 7, I can’t imagine the show without her. Pauley Perrette is the perfect actress for the perfect character. Additionally, her character isn’t supposed to be representative of the material tween demographic. She’s a quirky, honest character who’s forensic aptitude is unmatched.

NCIS receives the highest ratings because of one inarguable fact. The writing for the show is tremendous. No show develops characters and incorporates story lines as well as NCIS does. Everything that is included in an episode is there for a reason and the foresight that the NCIS writers have is unmatched in their field. And while the actors may not be the most attractive cast on television, the rapport that they have and the understanding of their characters is unbelievable.

Each actor and actress does a fantastic job at portraying their character and the timing between them is perfect. I hated when Sasha Alexander decided to pursue other interests (how has that worked out by the way?) but Cote de Pablo was quickly introduced seamlessly into the show and hasn’t looked back since.

Anyone who doesn’t enjoy NCIS obviously appreciates television for something other than fantastic writing and remarkable content. And that’s fine and up to them, but to include NCIS in a list of TV’s most overrated shows based on a review that reads as if a thirteen year old girl wrote it, is baseless and ridiculous.

Fantasy Baseball 2010 – Week 2

Coming off a week which saw me go 11-0-1, the match-up in the second week would prove to be more of a challenge, as I was pitted against the Albany Diamond Dogs. The Dogs had a first week that was nearly as impressive as mine. They went 10-1-1 and the two of us squared off as the top two teams in the league.

Once again, my pitching carried the week. Of the eleven starts that my pitchers made, ten of them ended up as quality starts. Tim Hudson’s outing in San Diego was the only non-quality start, and he came within one out of making my pitchers a perfect 11-for-11. Regardless, I managed nine wins with a fantastic 2.06 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. For a twenty team league, even those numbers are mind-boggling. And while my starters tore it up, my relievers, David Aardsma and Ryan Franklin combined to save five games, and I swept all six pitching categories. Adam Wainwright’s sixth strikeout on Sunday Night Baseball won me that category.

From Monday until Wednesday, my offense held its’ own, but my team started slumping and hit .148 on Thursday, .192 on Friday and .182 on Saturday with zero home runs and one RBI. This three-day team slump dropped me behind in five of six offensive categories, but not by an insurmountable margin.

On Sunday, I made some good moves, sitting Scott Rolen in favor of Alberto Callaspo and sliding Ivan Rodriguez into the lineup as well. Callaspo responded with two home runs and six RBI and Pudge collected three hits, drove in a run and scored twice. Jose Guillen went 3-for-5 and even swiped a base Sunday to knot up stolen bases. For offense, I ended up winning four of the six categories (R, RBI, AVG, OBP), tying one (SB) and losing one (HR).

On deck for Week 3 is Channel 4 News Team, who is coming off of a 6-4-2 victory and stands at 9-11-4 on the young season. I’ll go into the week remaining in the top spot in the league, with a record of 21-1-2.

Today’s Idiot: Matthew Clemmens

This story happened a few days ago, but I missed it. Still, it’s only April and we may have already found our Scumbag of the Year in 21-year old Matthew Clemmens.

A few nights back, a father took his 11-year old and 16-year old daughters out to Citizen’s Bank Park for an evening Philadelphia Phillies game. What should have been a rather enjoyable evening for father and daughters turned unpleasant when the seats behind them turned out to belong to a group of unruly punks.

The group behind him and his daughters proceeded to be loud and obnoxious from the outset of the game and were eventually confronted by security and told to leave. As they were about to be escorted out, Clemmens stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited on the man and his 11-year old daughter.

If that had been my daughter, the headline would have read more along the lines of:

Philly fan thrown to his death at game, Alpharetta man held

But instead, the father along with the help from several nearby fans restrain the offender until the authorities can subdue and remove him from the park.

A ballgame should be an experience that is one hundred percent family friendly. There’s a game to watch, things to see and an evening to enjoy yourself. While their is alcohol available at these games, punks like Clemmens should just hit up the local TKE house if they want to get smashed and act like untrained animals.

Hopefully, his black eye came courtesy of the father, or better yet one of the daughters.

2010 NFL Mock Draft (First Round)

Here’s my shot at mock drafting the first round of the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft. I’d love to be able to throw up one of those first three round mock drafts, but I don’t have enough knowledge of all 32 NFL teams or the pool of draft eligible players to do that. I’ll leave that to the talking heads at ESPN who probably won’t do all that much better than me at this.

1. Rams – QB Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
The release of Marc Bulger most likely solidifies this pick for St. Louis. They’ve passed on a couple of franchise quarterbacks in recent drafts and it’s about time they get that taken care of. Bradford’s been more than impressive enough in all facets of the pre-draft experience for St. Louis to feel perfectly comfortable taking Bradford.

2. Lions – DT Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
Detroit could go offensive line here to help protect Matthew Stafford, but Suh is arguably the best player in the draft, making it hard for the Lions to justify picking anyone other than Suh. Suh slides in immediately and becomes a force in the motor city.

3. Buccaneers – DT Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma
There’s been some chatter about Tampa Bay trading down to avoid having to pay Top 3 money, but I don’t see any teams being willing or forced to trade this far up to get a player they want.

4. Redskins – T Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
The McNabb deal eliminates Notre Dame signal caller Jimmy Clausen from being taken by Washington. I still believe McNabb has a lot left, but in order to get all that out of him, Mike Shanahan is going to have to protect their new toy. Okung is easily the best tackle in the draft, making him the pick for the Redskins.

5. Chiefs – S Eric Berry, Tennessee
KC has a lot of needs, and will therefore have a lot of options with this pick. I think ultimately they take Eric Berry, the impact safety out of Knoxville. He’ll give them a playmaker in the secondary, something they definitely could use.

6. Seahawks – T Bryan Buluga, Iowa
With two of the top fifteen selections, the Seahawks are in good position to deal one of them, or hold on to them and simply try and improve their team through the deep draft this year. The Charlie Whitehurst and Matt Hasselbeck competition isn’t going to be all that impressive, but it’ll be even less so without Buluga to help keep them upright.

7. Browns – CB Joe Haden, Florida
Cleveland would love to have Berry fall to them, but Haden is more than an adequate consolation prize. He’ll help out a secondary that struggled to shut down opponents passing games in 2009.

8. Raiders – T Bruce Campbell, Maryland
Al Davis loves him some players that have impressive physical tools. JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey all fit that description and so does Campbell. He’s big and strong but is certainly a top 10 talent. And it’s about time Oakland started building a team from the foundation.

9. Bills – QB Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame
If Buffalo doesn’t take Clausen here, he could be in for an epic freefall. But I think they’ll end up taking him. He’s a very good prospect and Trent Edwards isn’t the answer for Buffalo. Neither is Ryan Fitzpatrick. Or Brian Brohm. They’ll take Clausen.

10. Giants (TRADED FROM JAGUARS) – LB Rolando McClain
Here’s the draft’s first major move. The Giants desperately need inside linebacker help and McClain won’t be there for them if they sit pat at fifteen. And while there are other ILBs available, none of them are up there with McClain. They’ll trade their first and third round picks for Jacksonville’s one.

11. Broncos (from CHI) – WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
With Brandon Marshall signing his tender this may seem like a pointless selection, but I’m guessing he’ll be traded to Dallas for their first rounder, so they’ll need a replacement. Bryant has questions unlike most other prospects, but I think they’re a bit overstated and not enough for that many teams passing on him.

12. Dolphins – DT Dan Williams, Tennessee
The Dolphins could look at Bryant if Denver keeps it’s pick and goes defense, but he’s gone in this mock draft so they take Williams to plug up the middle of their 3-4 defense that at times, was quite porous last year.

13. 49ers – T Trent Williams, Oklahoma
With two of the first seventeen picks, San Francisco will have plenty of options available. I think they go safe and smart with the first one and take Williams, a very good tackle.

14. Seahawks (from DEN) – RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson
Seattle makes Spiller the first back off the board and fills a hole. They need some playmakers on offense and Spiller is a home run threat who is also a valuable asset in the return game.

15. Jaguars (TRADED FROM GIANTS) – S Earl Thomas, Texas
I think the Jaguars are targeting Thomas and he’ll be just as available at fifteen as he would at ten, so they’ll trade down and grab an extra third rounder in the process.

16. Titans – DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech
The Titans need an edge rusher and Morgan is one of the best. He needs a little coaching to translate his game to the NFL level, but there’s not many better choices to do that than Jeff Fisher.

17. 49ers (from CAR) – LB Sergio Kindle, Texas
With their second pick, San Francisco should go defense and add a guy that can play alongside Patrick Willis. Kindle is strong against the run and even better at getting after the quarterback, two things that San Francisco would benefit from.

18. Steelers – G Mike Iupati, Idaho
With an aging offensive line, some young blood couldn’t hurt. The Santonio Holmes trade could turn Pittsburgh’s attention to a wideout and with Big Ben’s legal shenanigans, they could target a potential replacement. But with no value QB picks here, they’ll grab Iupati and look to fill other need areas later in the draft.

19. Falcons – DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida
A linebacker like Sean Weatherspoon could be an attractive option for the Dirty Birds here, but with Pierre-Paul available and considering the potential impact he can have on a game, the Falcons will probably look his way.

20. Texans – CB Kyle Wilson, Boise State
Wilson has shot up everybody’s draft board with good pre-draft showings and the Texans are in need of a shut down corner, making them a great match for Wilson.

21. Bengals – S Taylor Mays, USC
The Bengals defense faded a little bit by the end of the season last year and part of it was the lack of a true impact playmaker in the secondary. Mays’ stock has been slipping on some draft boards, but he’ll fit in nicely with Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme.

22. Patriots – TE Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
The Patriots absolutely need a tight end. They’ve got none on their roster and Gresham is a very good tight end that can block, catch and run. The Jets have seen some success with Dustin Keller and the Pats can get a better version of him in Gresham.

23. Packers – LB Brandon Graham, Michigan
Graham can play as an OLB for Green Bay or put the hand down and play as an edge rusher. Either way, he’s a steal for the Packers and a huge addition to a defense that was great during the season but was then absolutely shredded by Kurt Warner and the Cardinals in the playoffs.

24. Eagles – LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
With extra picks following the McNabb deal, Philly will have ample opportunity to improve their defense, starting with Weatherspoon. He could play inside or outside for the Iggles, but will be an impact leader either way.

25. Ravens – C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
With Anquan Boldin aboard for Joe Flacco to throw to, they’ll need someone to anchor the line that protects them. Pouncey has an impressive resume, shredding some of the nations top collegiate defenses for several years.

26. Cardinals – T Anthony Davis, Rutgers
The defense could use some help too, but Davis can step in and offer more immediate help on the offensive line. He’s a big strong mauler who can open running lanes for the improving ground game and retooled passing game.

27. Broncos (TRADED FROM COWBOYS) – DE Jerry Hughes, TCU
Here’s the pick from Dallas that Denver gets in my proposed Brandon Marshall deal. After replacing Marshall with their initial first rounder, they’ll address the other side of the ball with Hughes, another player capable of lining up at linebacker or defensive end. Hughes had a strong senior season and impressed in the Fiesta Bowl.

28. Chargers – RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State
Darren Sproles is not an every down back and he’s more of a receiving threat when he’s in the game anyways. Mathews gives the Bolts an actual feature back and allows them to use Sproles more in the return game.

29. Jets – DT Jared Odrick, Penn State
The Jets have been the most active team this offseason so far, eliminating cornerback, wide receiver and running back as team needs through trades. That leaves them with the opportunity to focus on retooling an aging defensive line with Odrick, a guy that can plug the middle of their 3-4 defense.

30. Vikings – CB Kareem Jackson, Alabama
I’m banking on the fact that Brett Farve will be back just in time to take the opening snap in their first game and Brad Childress probably is too. Jackson will give the Vikings an excellent cover corner who can turn and run.

31. Colts – T Charles Brown, USC
Super Bowl teams typically don’t have many areas of need and Indy’s no different. Their defense is still really good and the offense is elite. Therefore they’re able to fortify the offensive line with a young project.

32. Saints – LB Daryl Washington, TCU
The Saints are in the same position as the Colts. There isn’t much wrong with Drew Brees and his offense, but the defense could use some touch ups, and Washington is a great fir for Sean Payton’s Super Bowl champs.

Fantasy Baseball 2010

I turned a new page in fantasy baseball for this year. In addition to a league with friends, I decided to join a 20-team league of competitive players from one of the Yankee blogs that I frequently visit.

Before this year, I’ve never participated in a league with more than twelve teams, so this is a new experience for me. The scoring system was set up with six offensive categories and six defensive categories. Runs, homers, RBIs, stolen bases, average and on-base percentage for the offense and wins, saves, strikeouts, ERA, WHIP and quality starts for pitchers.

The draft took place the week before the season started and lasted a grueling three hours. Out of twenty teams, I held the twentieth pick. The draft snaked, so by having the last pick in the first round, I also had the first pick of the second round. Meaning I picked twice in a row and then waited close to twenty minutes before I did it all over again.

I named my team “Morales in Wonderland” working off the player Kendry Morales and the recent blockbuster remake of “Alice in Wonderland” and went into the draft without a set strategy. Having never partook in such a deep league, I didn’t really know how everything was going to unfold. When my first picks came up, most of the best players were obviously gone. So I took what I thought was the best hitter available (Adrián González) and the best pitcher available (Félix Hernández).

By the time my second pair of picks came around, most of the true impact hitters were gone, but there were still plenty of Top 15 pitchers left on the board. And so that’s where my draft strategy formed. I decided then, with the 60th and 61st picks in the draft to stockpile great pitching and trust to my ability to find some quality hitters lower in the draft. My reasoning was that there are more average hitters than their are average pitchers. So my third pick went to Adam Wainwright and my fourth to Josh Johnson.

With Jorge Posada still available my next time around, I made him my catcher with the 100th, figuring if he stayed healthy, I’d get above-average offense out of the catcher’s spot. But pitching was to be my forte so with pick number 101, I grabbed Matt Garza. Garza has never really been all that spectacular, but I liked his peripheral stats and in a stat-geek type league like this one, I think he’ll end up being a steal.

In the seventh and eighth rounds, I started putting together my outfield, grabbing some speed (Nyjer Morgan) and some power (Nick Swisher) with the 140th and 141st picks. I grabbed Chris Davis to fill my empty 3B slot in the ninth round and then moved back to pitching in the tenth, selecting Tim Hudson and expecting a solid bounceback year having successfully underwent Tommy John surgery.

My eleventh and twelfth round picks were both closers. Normally I don’t place too high of a value on closers, but in a 20-team league, I assumed with two reliable closers, I could expect to win saves each week. While guys like Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Broxton and Jonathan Papelbon were taken in round four, I managed to grab Ryan Franklin and David Aardsma with the 220th and 221st overall picks. I expect the difference in value to be marginal at best between my two guys and the top-line starters. Plus, I had two of them.

To this point I had completely ignored my middle infield situation and addressed it here, taking Alberto Callaspo and Clint Barmes in rounds thirteen and fourteen respectively. Troy Glaus and Scott Rolen came to me in rounds fifteen and sixteen to provide some corner infield depth. Atlanta’s lefty-masher Matt Diaz became my seventeenth round pick to help fill out my shallow outfield.

I believe I got tremendous value with the 341st overall pick, Barry Zito. Zito finished the 2009 season with a very strong second half and at a place in the draft when most managers were drafting middle relievers of platoon players, I managed to get a team’s third starter who should remain very durable and provide my team with great value or decent trade bait.

I finished off my draft taking Lyle Overbay, Jesus Montero, Gaby Sanchez and Robinson Tejada.

*******************************

Since the draft, I have shuffled my team up a little. While the pitching remains one of the best in the league, my hitting needed addressing. I am currently shopping around one of my top three starters for a slugger to compliment Adrián González. Haven’t found a deal to my liking yet, but it’s very early. I think I can withstand my somewhat-shabby offense until a team becomes desperate for some pitching help and comes crawling back to me with an offer I like.

Gone from my original team are Chris Davis (9th round), Troy Glaus (15th) Matt Diaz (17th), Lyle Overbay (19th), Jesus Montero (20th) and Robinson Tejada (22nd). I found that my team was overly populated with first basemen and I had only two regular outfielders.

So in came SS Edgar Renteria who somehow went completely undrafted and outfielders Ryan Sweeney (Oakland) and Scott Hairston (SD). I also picked up Washington catcher Ivan Rodgriguez to give me some numbers on the days that Jorge Posada got off. I also picked up outfielder Coco Crisp and stashed him on the DL, hoping to eventually get some stolen base value out of him when he returned.

The last two adds for me were starting pitchers that I was impressed with during the spring. Florida’s Chris Volstad
and St. Louis’ Jamie Garcia.

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So the first week of games came and went almost exactly how I would have scripted it. My pitching dominated, sweeping all six categories, but my weak afterthought offense held its’ own against a lineup that featured six 20-home run guys from last year, against my three. It held up so well in fact, that I won five of the six hitting categories and scraped a tie in stolen bases, to finish the week an impressive 11-0-1.

Week 1 Matchup against Brandon's Bombers

Adrián González and Jorge Posada, my two highest picked hitters each hit me two home runs, and I got surprising contributions from Edgar Renteria (undrafted, .583 average, 5 RBI) and Gaby Sanchez (1 HR, 4RBI). My speed guy, Nyjer Morgan stole two bases, which was just enough for me to tie my opponent in that category.

Most impressive to me was the fact that of the nine starts my starters made, seven of them qualified as Quality Starts. I doubt that I’ll sustain that 78% rate, but if I can stay around 60%, that will keep me well above the 2009 league average of 49%.

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Up next for me is team Albany Diamond Dogs (10-1-1, 1st place in Division 1). It will be an early season matchup of the two top-ranked teams.

League Standings following Week 1