Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fantasy Baseball: The Outfield

You know the hardest thing about fantasy baseball, well besides the daily grind of changing lineups and scouring the waiver wire at any second of any day to get that one guy that may or may not put you over the hump, is draft day. Draft day can make or break you if you draft too early or don’t do your research. I’ve seen people draft guys who got injured a day later or the day before and had to miss the entire season and I’ve seen guys just simply pass on great talents, not even sleeper picks, because they didn’t know or see. This can especially be tough in the outfield because you need three starting outfielders and at least one guy on the bench, usually two or more, but have no fear for I am here to help. I hope to anyway.

If you don’t get one of Mike Trout or Mookie Betts then you may be in a predicament this season and chances are that you will get neither. Following those two, in no real particular order because each player brings something different to the table so it depends on your needs, are Bryce Harper of the Nationals, Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies, Trea Turner of the Nationals (who is also eligible in the infield), Starling Marte of the Pirates, A.J. Pollock of the Diamondbacks, George Springer of the Astros, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers, J.D. Martinez of the Tigers, Gregory Polanco of the Pirates, Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets, Billy Hamilton of the Reds and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.

It is also worth keeping in mind that Ian Desmond is eligible at multiple positions including the outfield but will miss the beginning of the season with a broken hand. If your team is pretty well stacked and you feel you can wait a month or so on him and Desmond is there towards the end of the draft I don’t see why you shouldn’t pick him. You can always place him on the waiver wire later if a better fit arose. Take a chance. Chances can win you a league but it can also lose you a league but the eternal optimist in me always leans towards my genius plan unfolding where I win the league… so let’s go with that.

My sleeper pick is going to be David Peralta of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Peralta missed much of the 2016 season after a wrist injury limited him to just 48 games but his 2015 season was strong, especially against a right-handed pitcher. If you can afford a platoon and can afford to take a chance on a player coming back from an injury then Peralta will likely be a strong candidate for your team. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo seems against the idea of platooning Peralta so he should get the at-bats to put up decent numbers, especially for a guy who can be taken anywhere from the 15th round or later. 

So there you have it, a few suggestions for your fantasy baseball draft when it comes to outfielders. I hope this information helps in some way. Enjoy, bookmark and tell your friends. 

Is It Time for Me to Eat Crow on Tyler Wade?

If you guys and girls have been reading me long enough you know that I am not all that high on Yankees infield prospect Tyler Wade. To be completely honest I have never been that high on Wade as I feel like, at the time anyway, he was just another run-of-the-mill defensive-minded shortstop with little in the way of power and hitting in general. In terms of the future and blue chip prospects I still feel this way about Wade but the New York Yankees organization may have found a way to make him useful again, even in my skeptical eyes, and that may be the reason that the team is now so suddenly willing to part with Robert Refsnyder. The Yankees ultimate plan may have been to make Wade the super utility player that Refsnyder simply failed to be defensively.  

So is it time for me to eat crow on Wade and my thoughts of him as a top Yankees prospect? I mean, maybe, but that doesn’t mean I am going to. I’m stubborn like that and I still don’t see the “need” for a guy who can’t hit but can defend at multiple positions. The Yankees have that in Refsnyder already and they also have Ronald Torreyes on the roster making three types of “no-bat but plus-defense” players redundant in my opinion hence the Refsnyder trade rumors. To be completely honest though I am not sure I am ready to eat crow on Wade just yet, not because the Yankees think highly of him. I would eat crow when I think highly of him, and I still don’t. 

At the time of this writing the Yankees had played in 18 spring training games as a part of their Grapefruit League schedule and Wade has been in 13 of them collecting a .429/.478/.524 triple slash. That’s great, don’t get me wrong, but when a veteran on a minor league deal does this the media is the first to temper expectations and remind us that spring training stats don’t matter and yada, yada, yada. Why isn’t that the case with Wade? Because those same media outlets and journalist want you to click their articles that tease the Refsnyder trade rumors and the idea of the “next big thing” prospect in New York, that’s why. Wade isn’t even ready for the Major League level after spending the entire 2016 season at Double-A with the Trenton Thunder so I don’t get the direct correlation between him and Refsnyder, yet, but hey… what do I know? I’m just a guy with a blog that’s watched baseball since I was two-years old and who has watched religiously since 1994. 

I get the idea and mindset behind Wade, I truly do. He is a skilled shortstop who has played third base and all three of the outfield positions but the fact remains that I could probably get out from behind my computer and hit the ball better than Wade does over the course of a 162-game season. That’s not me bragging that’s just me exaggerating heavily to show my point that Wade just isn’t projected to be and hasn’t been a huge hitter at the minor league or major league level. Period. Refsnyder has struggled since his first season in the majors but he was at least a near .300 hitter in the minor leagues before coming up to the show. Wade cannot say that and likely never will. 

This isn’t the National League people, the Yankees need offense. Even late in games and even off the bench. That’s not Wade. That’s not Refsnyder right now either to be fair but at least Refsnyder projects to show some offensive prowess in his career and has at least shown an ability to handle MLB caliber pitching. Wade hasn’t and until he does I will not admit defeat on Refsnyder nor will I admit I was wrong on Wade, because I wasn’t. 

The WBC: Previewing the Second Round

The 2017 World Baseball Classic is shifting to San Diego’s Petco Park where four teams will vie for just two spots in the semifinals of the tournament. This is  a double-elimination round robin type round and it will showcase Team Dominican Republic, Team USA, Team Puerto Rico and Team Venezuela fighting for the final two spots from their pool let’s recap how they got their and preview the second round of the WBC.

Team Dominican Republic is the defending World Baseball Classic champions and will head into the second round after posting a 3-0 record in Pool C. The offense has been as stellar as advertised and Juerys Familia has been absolutely dominant in the closer role. Having Dellin Betances and Alex Colome in front of him turns every game Team Dominican Republic is in into a seven inning game, sometimes earlier. Ervin Santana will enter the team’s starting rotation for the second round which can only help them although their offense will have to start scoring before the later innings against presumably tougher competition in Round 2 if they want to defend their title.

The team that the Dominican Republic beat in the finals of the last World Baseball Classic, and three times total in the 2013 WBC, is Team Puerto Rico and these two teams look destined for another matchup or three this time around as well. Puerto Rico also went 3-0 in their Pool and they didn’t just win, they obliterated any pitcher put in front of them. From the Carlos Correa bat flip to the outstanding hitting from the likes of Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez you have to think the Puerto Ricans have at least the advantage offensively. It will come down to the pitching for Team Puerto Rico but if Seth Lugo and Jorge Lopez can pitch in Round 2 like they did in the first round the team should be just fine.

Team USA was in Pool C with Team Dominican Republic and head into the second round with a 2-1 record, that one loss to the defending WBC champions. Team USA actually led for much of that contest before the Dominican Republic offense finally woke up later in the game to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat. Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman and Danny Duffy were fantastic for Team USA combining for exactly zero runs allowed in 12.2 innings pitched but while the team pitched well the offense was sluggish in two of the three games. A narrow victory over Team Columbia, the tough loss to Team Dominican Republic and the rout of Team Canada equates to a team that needs to pick up the pace if they want to advance to the semifinals. You have to expect Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton and Nolan Arenado to hit above the Stephen Drew Line (trademark pending for hitting .150) and you have to expect Andrew Miller and that bullpen to be better, and they will be, so color me “not worried.”

The final team in the pool is Team Venezuela who had to head to a tiebreaker game with Team Italy to reach the 2-2 mark and to advance in the tournament. Team Venezuela beat Team Italy 4-3 over the weekend to advance after an embarrassing 11-0 loss to Puerto Rico. Team Venezuela bounced back with nail biting victory over Italy 11-10 before a tough loss to Mexico 11-9. The pitching has struggled, due in large part to the team losing Salvador Perez to a knee injury, and the offense has been inconsistent at best aside from Martin Prado. Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve and Carlos Gonzalez should be better but if I was Team Venezuela I would worry if it was too late before they woke up. This pool is stacked with talented teams and I’m not sure the Venezuelans can afford to wait very long for their sluggers and pitching to wake up. 

The Key to Success?...

For me, the key to the 2017 season is Michael Pineda.

I remember when he first came up to the Bigs and was viewed as a potential solid #2 starter behind Felix Hernandez in Seattle.  He had some great starts in 2011, finishing 9-10 for the Mariners, with 3.74 ERA in 171 innings.  Or at least he helped my fantasy baseball team that year.  It should have been a spring board to bigger and better things, but it has never come to fruition due to injuries and inconsistency.

I can't really compare Pineda to CC Sabathia as they were two completely different pitchers in their 27th years but I will anyway.  By age 27, Sabathia had 117 wins, whereas Pineda  has only 32.  It's disappointing because Pineda has every bit the talent Sabathia had at that age.  Pineda might not have the ceiling of a clear cut #1 pitcher like Sabathia did at the time but he's not too far behind in overall talent.  Application of that talent has been a vastly different story.

At age 28, Sabathia, in his first year with the Yankees, went 19-8 with 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 230 innings.  It's hard to predict that kind of success for the 28-year-old Pineda considering he's never come close to Sabathia's numbers.  From the time he joined the Cleveland Indians at age 21 to age 27, CC never won less than 11 games (averaging over 14 wins per season).  For Big Mike, the 12 wins in 2015 represents his only double-digit win total.  If he could win 13-15 games for the Yankees this year, it would have a huge impact.  

The Yankees carry so many questions in their rotation this year.  But for Bryan Van Dusen's benefit, I will forego any requests for Jose Quintana.  

Masahiro Tanaka has been outstanding, if not spectacular, this spring and is showing signs this will be a dominant year for him.  But we live in fear of hearing the words, "You know that slight tear in the UCL...".  I am cautiously optimistic that this will be a career year for him and  that he'll be mentioned among the candidates for Cy Young at the end of the season.  He may not win it but he should at least be in the conversation.

CC will be CC…the age 36 version.  Last year, he averaged nearly 6 innings per start.  He'll need to do it again.  The days of 19 or 20 wins are over, but if he can just pitch to keep the team in games, life should be good.  We'll let the bats of Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird do the rest.

For the final two spots, I am still forecasting Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell.  I think it's a certainty that Severino starts but the fifth spot could be easily taken by Chad Green or Luis Cessa.  I like Mitchell and he's gotten the most looks this spring over the other back-end rotation competitors as Joe Girardi makes his evaluations.  But regardless of who wins those final two spots, there will surely be a few bumps and bruises along the way.

With so many questions looming throughout the rotation, Big Mike needs to man up, put on his big boy pants and pitch like we know he can.  He needs to have Tanaka's back and make sure that teams fear the 1-2 punch.  

No pressure, Michael.  As actor Rob Schneider says, "You CAN do it!"...

Daniel Burch has been preaching pitcher Jordan Montgomery all spring and now the 6'6" lefty is starting to get the love from other blog sites.  Although Montgomery won't break camp with the Yankees, I predict that he'll make his first start on Sunday, June 4th in Toronto against the Blue Jays.    Whether it is caused by injuries or if the back-end of the rotation is failing, I think we'll see Montgomery sooner rather than later.  

My thoughts about Pete Rose saying that Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria should be playing for the Yankees or the Cubs?  I honestly  do not care what Pete Rose thinks (although admittedly Longoria wouldn't look too shabby in pinstripes).  At 31, Longoria doesn’t fit the youth movement in the Bronx.  As for displacing Kris Bryant in Chicago?  Yeah, right.  Daniel Burch, take this as a sign that you are now too old to play for the Yankees.

In yesterday’s Grapefruit League action, the Yankees started off the second half of the Spring schedule on the wrong foot, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays, 10-6.  Despite giving up a wind-assisted home run, Luis Severino pitched well and looks to be in control of the drive for the #4 slot in the rotation.  The new Core were represented by Gary Sanchez's solo homer and a 2-for-3 performance by Greg Bird.  However, the man of the hour (as he is most days) was Gleyber Torres.  He doubled and homered, driving in 3 RBI’s.  Like Bird, he was also 2-for-3.  He's making this game look way too easy.

With the loss, the Yankees fell to 13-5.  Today, the Yankees face (again) Clay Buchholz and the Philadelphia Phillies at Steinbrenner Field.  It’s another opportunity to pin a loss on the former Red Sock.  The aforementioned Michael Pineda will be on the mound for the home team.  As long as Gleyber Torres is in the lineup, I’m good!

Have a great Wednesday!

So it Seems the Timing Was All Wrong… Or Right

Twenty minutes?!?!?!?! Argh! Ugh. Omg L

In all seriousness though it’s crazy how twenty minutes can make all the difference in a day and in your life. Twenty minutes can be the difference between life and death, harm and health, fun and even more fun than you ever imagined it could be, etc. etc. etc. Not all change is bad and not everything that deviates from the original plan is cause for concern. Sometimes the change is made for a reason. Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes you just need a little push to be able to see that. Playing it over again in my head I wouldn’t change a thing. Not for twenty minutes earlier or twenty minutes later. It’s for forever and a day regardless. Right?

Have a great day everyone and remember that everything, whatever may seem good or whatever may be bad, happens for a reason. You may not agree with the reason or see the decision making in the whole process but I know this to be true…. So trust me J

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/15: Yankees Honor Mo Rivera in Panama

On this day in 2014 the New York Yankees and the Miami Marlins began a two game spring training series at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama to honor the legacy of the great Mariano Rivera. Rivera was born in a fishing village in Puerto Caimito and was honored by the Yankees show of respect. These two games were the first to be played in Panama since the Yankees and the Dodgers played in an exhibition game in 1947.

Also on this day in 1999 the Yankees named Don Zimmer the team's interim manager while then manager Joe Torre received treatments for prostate cancer. Zimmer was the Yankees bench coach at thew time and recorded a 885-858 (.508) record during his time as a manager in San Diego, Boston, Texas, and Chicago.

Finally on this day in 1960 the Southern Association announced that the New Orleans Pelicans, for the first time since 1901, will not be part of any AA affiliates inside Major League Baseball. The Pelicans were an affiliate of the New York Yankees in 1958 and were essentially replaces by the Little Rock Travelers.