Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bedard with White Sox

We know that the Chicago White Sox are looking for a starting pitcher.

We know that Jake Peavy exercised his no-trade clause with regard to the ChiSox.

Now there's word that Roy Oswalt will likewise do the same.

That leaves Erik Bedard in the mix. And we can be sure that he's on the block. Two good pitching prospects were offered up for Peavy: Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard. Two lefties. Something the M's don't have in their bullpen (the one that gave up 4 runs in an 8-9 loss to the Angels today). Interesting... Any chance of stocking the farm teams with bats while we're at it?

Bedard doesn't have a no-trade clause... right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bait the Fish

The Mariners have given up on 2009.

The season started well enough. The games of April had that electricity that makes one want to watch baseball. Now at the end of May, the M's have fallen back toward initial expectations for the year - which were not high. At this point, the Mariners are lucky to have a pair of starting pitchers to dangle as trade bait.

What can we expect in exchange for Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard? Bats, please!

I'd trade them both for Hanley Ramirez. I'd even toss Yuniesky Betancourt into that deal. Any truth to the Matt Cain for Dan Uggla deal? Are the Marlins looking for starting pitching? Any way to pry away their prized shortstop?

Just a thought.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Four Keys to Winning Your Fantasy Baseball League

Few diversions appeal to the twin demons of obsession and competitiveness like fantasy baseball. After a solid yet fascinating smack-down in my first year of play I've managed to crack the code of schooling one's friends and enemies around the league. Here are the four keys to bragging rights:

1. Draft wisely

Pick the best available player. Every time. Every round. Don't worry about filling empty positions. You can always trade for a catcher if you're sitting on five top-shelf first basemen. How you draft will be the difference between working the waiver wire to defend your lead versus working the waiver wire for a miracle.

2. Pitchers are fragile things

Last year, my second round pick was Chris Carpenter. The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner had just one start that went 6 innings with a 7.50 ERA and hasn't pitched a game since while he recovers from Tommy John elbow surgery. Very few starting pitchers (or relievers) merit a high draft pick. Judging from the number of quality pitchers still on the waiver wire it's tempting to not draft pitchers at all. Johan Santana, Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb are the elite few worthy of a draft pick. And you do need to draft a closer or two to avoid getting frozen out of the saves category. But it's also possible to pick up great pitching all through the year if one pays attention to the unexpected success stories that shape up every season. Chances are you will have a pitcher sitting in your DL slot more often than not given the way injuries plague hurlers.

Last year I drafted Brett Myers and was initially horrified as the opening day starter was converted into the team's closer. But he had value in that role and it looks as though history may repeat itself with John Smoltz - who I drafted in a late round this year - as he looks to return as the Braves' closer for the second time in his illustrious career.

3. Let the rest of the league load up on "home town" favorites

There's always at least one of these guys in every league. It's not enough to be a part of Red Sox Nation - they also want half of the roster on their fantasy team. Or they'll load up on Yankee pitching (a dubious call this season), Cubs batting or make a trade to complete their collection of Dodgers. While these are great teams, they compete in the real world against 29 other teams loaded with talent. In fantasy, you want to build a team with the best available from all 30 teams as that will beat any real world team every time. The guys who load up on their "favorites" tend to lose to players with better strategy. This is particularly true when it comes to grabbing elite, but almost "unknown" talent from small-market teams. Carl Crawford and James Shields would be super stars if they weren't Tampa Bay Rays. Kansas City starter Brian Bannister was my early sleeper pick this year. Who knew that Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds would get off to such an explosive start this year?

4. Nothing makes your team slump faster than talking trash

My head-to-head team, The Therimaniacs, is undefeated so far. They rule. They're the greatest team ever. The other guys in my league aren't even a challenge. Having said all that, I can fully expect the bats to grow cold and the pitching staff to blow a gazillion save opportunities while posting an ERA just one run over infinity.

Therimaniacs (40-19-6) after the draft:
C - Ronny Paulino (PIT)
1B - Albert Pujols (STL)
2B - Placido Polanco (DET)
3B - Garrett Atkins (COL)
SS - Carlos Guillen (DET)
OF - Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
OF - Carlos Lee (HOU)
OF - Brad Hawpe (COL)
Util - Derrek Lee (CHC)
BN - Michael Young (SS, TEX)
BN - Nick Swisher (1B, OF, CHW)
BN - Todd Helton (1B, COL)
BN - Edgar Renteria (SS, DET)
BN - Raul Ibanez (OF, SEA)
BN - Mike Napoli (C, LAA)

SP - John Smoltz (ATL)
SP - Rich Hill (CHC)
SP - Dontrelle Willis (DET)
RP - Rafael Soriano (ATL)
RP - Todd Jones (DET)
RP - Rafael Betancourt (CLE)

Therimaniacs (40-19-6) as of today:
C - Mike Napoli (LAA)
1B - Albert Pujols (STL)
2B - Placido Polanco (DET)
3B - Garrett Atkins (COL)
SS - Erick Aybar (LAA)
OF - Ichiro Suzuki (SEA)
OF - Carlos Lee (HOU)
OF - Raul Ibanez (SEA)
Util - Derrek Lee (CHC)
BN - Carlos Guillen (1B, 3B, SS, DET)
BN - Jose Lopez (2B, SEA)
BN - Michael Young (SS, TEX)
BN - Evan Longoria (3B, TB)

SP - Cliff Lee (CLE)
SP - Micah Owings (ARI)
SP - Scott Olsen (FLA)
RP - C.J. Wilson (TEX)
RP - Brandon Lyon (ARI)
RP - Kerry Wood (CHC)
RP - Todd Jones (DET)
BN - Joba Chamberlain (RP, NYY)
DL - John Smoltz (SP, ATL)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Zach is Back

(Win Probability Graphing by Fangraphs)

Baseball is about overcoming adversity. In Kansas City tonight Zach Greinke returned to the form that the Royals had hoped to build a team around a couple of seasons ago and shut out the Yankees. Aside from beating the Bronx Bombers - an endearing trait in my book - he has battled back from a social anxiety disorder that nearly derailed his career. So far in this young season, the Royals have been the best team in the American League. Nobody saw that coming. Welcome back, Zach.

Doug Davis and Adversity

(Win Probability Graphing by Fangraphs)

Baseball may be a game about dealing with adversity. Then there's the story behind Doug Davis' gutsy start against the Dodgers this past Tuesday just two days before undergoing surgery for thyroid cancer. Impressive outing, even more impressive character. Get well Doug Davis. Get healthy. We all look forward to your recovery.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Seattle Mariners @ Baltimore Orioles - April 6, 2008

(Win Probability Graphing by Fangraphs)

The Seattle Mariners snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as their puzzling inability to take advantage of shaky starting pitching from Jeremy Guthrie (his command was all over the place) combined with a JJ Putz-less bullpen wasted an impressive 8-innings of shutout baseball by King Felix.
April 6, 2008 - Mariners at Orioles 038
Felix Hernandez: 8.0 IP, 5H, 0 R, 0ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 0HR 0.00ERA - No Decision. King Felix mixed in a lot of off speed pitches in the early frames before featuring his wicked fastball more prominently later on. He was particularly good at pitching his way out of trouble and the defense working behind him turned some outstanding double-plays.

April 6, 2008 - Mariners at Orioles 057
The win practically fell into the lap of Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0HR 0.00ERA. He was featuring a fastball in the high-90s with exceptional location.

April 6, 2008 - Mariners at Orioles 050
Temperature at game time: 52 degrees with drizzle. Paid attendance: 19,215.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

M's Concerns: the Back End of the Rotation and the Lineup

(Win Probability Graphing by Fangraphs)

Miguel Batista is a number 5 starter, and probably an above average number 5 in the big leagues. He certainly looked much sharper than the Orioles' Adam Loewen. Up until he lost his command in the fifth inning and started issuing walks. Nine base on balls issued by the Seattle pitching staff versus just three free passes from Loewen (who clearly didn't have his best stuff today) made all the difference in this game. Not to mention the 4! errors committed by the Mariners in this one. As far as "back of the rotation" starters go, Batista is the great unknown. We've seen the effective sinker ball from Carlos Silva and we cringe when Washburn gets a road start. I hope we see a more consistent Batista as the season wears on.

Why is Richie Sexson batting cleanup? He did not look comfortable in the batter's box in this one as he took some ugly hacks at pitches way out of the strike zone. His .205 batting average with just 63 RBI's last season looks more like a decline than an off-year at this point. The M's need more production than that from the number four slot.

On the other hand, Mike Morse has an impressive canon. His ability to gun down Brian Roberts at the plate on the heels of Shawn Green's errant pickoff throw into center field was most impressive. I hope we see a lot more of him (and a lot less of Willie Bloomquist).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Opening Day for the Mariners - So Far So Good

(Win Probability graphing by fangraphs)

A no decision by Erik Bedard, but he certainly kept the M's in the game. Having Jose Lopez bat second looks like a good idea from this vantage point. I hope RA Dickey gets the call sooner rather than later.