Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mo Blows the Show

Call me a disgruntled Yankee fan, if you will, but I have had enough with Mariano Rivera. I don't know what the rest of the world sees, perhaps they are still clinging on to the 1996-2000 versions of Rivera as opposed to the present day version, but this guy just doesn't cut it anymore.

He is one of a few players who can single handedly send a team into a funk. The Yankees lost 6-3 yesterday afternoon, completely on the ineffectiveness of Rivera. After a dramatic bottom of the ninth, two-out three run jack by Kevin Mass...errr...Shane Spencer...umm, I mean Shelley Duncan, Rivera proceeded to get pounded by the O's.

That was a must win game for the Yanks after such a dramatic homerun. I'm not one to ever hit the panic button. I was actually pulling for my Yanks to NOT make the playoffs this season so that we could rebuild with youth next year. So, this is not a button pushing idea in my head -- it is simply a "what is best for the team" move. Send Rivera to the setup role, a la 1996, and throw Chamberlain into the closer's role.

The reason why this would be far more effective than the other way around is that when Chamberlain (or Edwar Ramirez for that matter) come in with their electric stuff, Rivera only looks average in comparison. The hitters are so concentrating on the youngsters' 100 mph stuff that when Rivera comes in throwing 92 mph, it looks like a beachball on a tee! It comes down to being sensitized.

As far as keeper leagues go, do yourselves a favor and dump Rivera where you can get 90%+ of his value. There is no guarantee he is back with the Yankees next season, thus no guarantee of a particular number of save opportunities.

Sigh of Keeper League Relief!

With just mere seconds before the MLB draft signing deadline struck, a flurry of signings came across the desk. Most notably of which were Moustakes signing with the Royals, Vitters with the Cubs and Wieters with the Orioles.

Both Moustakes and Wieters looked like long shots in getting done; however, both opted to go pro. Vitters was assumed to have a verbal agreement, but was simply waiting until Moustakes had decided to go public with it.

As far as fantasy impact goes, Wieters and Price are the biggest "near-term" contributors. Price has #1 SP stuff and needs to be grabbed in all keeper leagues, while Wieters is a powerful switch hitting catcher. Both should rise through the minors quickly, more than likely making their debuts in mid-2008 with their respective clubs.

Coming out of high school, Moustakes and Vitters are more long-term projects, as is Porcello (Tigers). All three have enormously high ceilings, but as with any high school draft pick, the bust rate is ridiculously high, so buyer beware! It is still worth taking a shot on them simply due to the amazing upside.

On a down note, any Matt Harvey owners have to be a little bummed today as he failed to even negotiate with the Angels, let alone sign with them. He will be attending UNC in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Priest to LJ: I'll take your money!

Priest Holmes is certainly talking a big game for someone who has been out of the league for almost two years now and had suffered what most all thought to believe a career ending injury. Well, the fantasy star of the early 2000's is bag and talking more than ever!

Seeing an opening on the Chiefs, Holmes has come out of nowhere to suit up and talk trash to LJ. My belief is that the Chiefs are more or less putting him up to this to gain leverage against LJ. While LJ doesn't need the practice, I definitely don't want to see him going into week 1 without any conditioning or contact drills...guys get injured, bad, by doing that.

Continue to draft LJ at the #3-#5 spots in the first round, behind LT and Steven Jackson. But do be cautious while doing so. It might be a good position to trade down from in order to not have to make that decision.

Regardless of Holmes' talking massive amount of crap publicly, he will not be the starting RB and probably not even the backup. If LJ doesn't show, Michael Bennett will get the carries, so if you do in fact draft LJ, handcuff him ASAP with Bennett.

Parker Out of Saturday's Game

In a continuing injury to note, Steelers RB Willie Parker will be held out of Saturday's preseason game due to his knee soreness / swelling. He hopes to be back by exhibition game #3 next week.

I have said it before and will continue to say it; Parker is just too fragile and small to be an every down back. I am not saying he is not talented, but simply buyer beware. If someone wants to reach for him on your draft board, by all means, let him. Parker needs to operate in a dual-back system as he did with Jerome Bettis. I don't think Najeh Davenport is exactly "that guy", but he will have to do.

Expect to see Parker's carries decreased this season; if not due to the team trying to keep him healthy then simply due to the fact that he is not healthy!

Prima Donna Hits Camp

Prima Donna Brady Quinn finally signed a contract and will be in Browns' camp. Charlie Frye is listed as the starting QB on the depth charts; however, Quinn got in with enough time in order to take the snaps away from Frye come week 6 or so.

Quinn has a solid offense around him, and as long as he can keep his ego in check, he will be fine. I am just still trying to figure out how big the Browns locker room is...

...can it really fit the egos of Jamal Lewis, Brady Quinn AND Kellen Winslow? Wow!

Bonds Hits #756!

While this is a day late (sorry, I was busy yesterday), I want to send my congratulations to Barry Bonds on breaking Hank Aaron's career homerun record.

While I am certainly in the minority, I truly believe that Bonds' record is legit, regardless of whether or not we find out he in fact took steroids, HGH, or anything else.

We as baseball fans would be beyond hypocritical to ridicule and punish Bonds for doing what he did. Especially as fantasy baseball fans, we cherish statistics and that is exactly what makes baseball great. There are statistics piled upon statistics, and what Bonds did was simply give us another one, no matter in what form it came to us.

For anyone who thinks that Cal Ripken Jr. did not take amphetamines and greenies to keep his streak going, you are kidding yourself.

Or how about Hank Aaron? Do you mean to tell me he NEVER took a Greenie? I highly doubt that. Steroids and HGH were no more illegal while Bonds was taking them as Greenies were, in regards to MLB policy. As far as MLB's drug policy went, these players did nothing wrong and were completely within the rules. I am not saying that the law governs all -- to me, the "Law" is the least common denominator of how one should behave him/herself. There is no question that what Bonds did was ethically and morally wrong, but c'mon...half of the entire Hall of Fame holds guys that did ethically and morally wrong things during their lives. Why are we going to fault Bonds?

He was a Hall of Fame player prior to steroids and HGH -- those two things don't change that fact in my opinion.

Kudos to Bonds. The new homerun king.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Have Your Pie and Eat It Too? Well, Not Quite...

The Chicago Cubs are in the thick of the playoff race...

They reeled in the flounder Brewers and have every opportunity to start throwing daggers at the hearts of the loyal Brew Crew...

Their star hitter Alfonso Soriano, one of the best hitters in the Majors, goes down with a torn quadriceps...

So, what would you do if you were the Chicago Cubs to replace Soriano? Bring up stud prospect Felix Pie of course, right?


In an amazingly surprising move, the Cubs brought up all-around talent Eric Patterson to replace Soriano. Patterson leaps Matt Murton and Cliff Floyd on the depth charts and will receive at least 1/2 of the at bats over the next month in left field. The fact that Patterson's bat and speed are in the majors right now is not the surprising part. The surprise is that Patterson doesn't even play the outfield! He is a SS by trade, with the ability to play 2B as well. But, passing over a player in Felix Pie, whom many scouts believes is one of the top-5 OF prospects in the Minors for Patterson seems like an odd move.

I think Patterson is an enormous talent that many people don't know about. So much so that I would make a friendly bet with anyone that Patterson easily surpasses Pie in regards to statistics in the Majors.

It is going to be interesting watching Patterson out there in left, a foreign position to him. I think the Cubs know what they are doing here. It is just a matter of whether everyone else recognizes that.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Season Long Hard Luck Loser

Before you look to see who this player is, I want you to take a second and look at the key statistics of this player. Have a look over these numbers and attempt to estimate just what this players record should be.


Couple these numbers with a respectable WHIP of 1.369 and a .241 opponents' batting average.

22 games started into the season, I'd say that these numbers should be good for about 11-wins or so. If this pitchers were on a stud offensive team, maybe 13+ wins so far.

Well, these numbers are Matt Cain's stats, and his San Francisco Giants have done jack-squat to contribute to his record. In fact, they have been so bad that he has been held to a 3 - 12 record!
You have to feel a little bad for the guy, don't you?

Cain remains a must start in all leagues. You have to assume that at some point the law of averages will kick in and he will go on a big win streak.

Question of the Day: Pick a WR...Any WR!

So, I'm sitting here watching "Around the Horn," getting bored to death about more Bud Selig talk and whether his prehistoric face and hands in his pockets upon Bonds' jacking #755 was appropriate...

...I love baseball more than just about anyone, but c'mon. Give it up already.

Anyway, it brought me to this intriguing question; Based on what we know right now, which of the post-Calvin WR's would you want on your keeper league fantasy team?

Ted Ginn, Jr.
Dwayne Bowe
Robert Meachem
Craig Davis

I think it is a damn good question, as each have their pluses and minuses.

Ted Ginn, Jr.: Perhaps the most questionable pick in the draft last April, Ginn has been injured the entire offseason so far. While he may be a phenomenal kick returner during his career, his pass catching abilities still come with major question marks. Ginn is slightly more intriguing now than he was upon being drafted as he has rock solid QB Trent Green running the show now. He does have two phenomenal receivers in front of him in Chris Chambers and Marty Booker, however, thus limiting his potential during his first season.

Dwayne Bowe: Now that he has signed a fresh 6-year deal, Coach Herm Edwards stated that Bowe can come in and take the starting job away from Sammie Parker and start opposite Eddie Kennison. The problem is that he doesn't have a proven QB to get him the ball and LJ is looking more and more like he might be a holdout with each day that passes. Bowe has some major physical talents, second only to Calvin, making him a tremendous keeper prospect.

Robert Meachem: This rookie is a part of the most dynamic offense in the NFL and had a clear shot at securing the #2 WR slot; however, Devery Henderson has risen up the charts to start opposite Marques Colston. Now, Meachem is entrenched in a battle just to stay ahead of Terrance Copper for the #3 spot. The fact is, Meachem is far too big to act as a #3 WR, a position that is typically used as a speedy slot receiver. Henderson is best suited for that role, thus Meachem will at some point win out as the starter. What keeper league owners really need to watch out for is that Meachem doesn't turn into Mike Williams and become a 260+ pounder. Meachem has been known to hit the buffet table almost as hard as he got hit in the Hall of Fame Game yesterday (if you missed that hit, Meachem was flat out obliterated).

Craig Davis: Craig who? Yeah, that is what his mother said too! Davis was almost an afterthought come the completion of the first round in April's draft. But, enter Davis into a very dynamic offense filled with a tremendous amount of young players anchored by perhaps the best RB in NFL history. The Chargers cleared the way for Vincent Jackson to be their #1 WR this season, leaving the #2 spot wide open to be battled between Davis and Eric Parker. Parker recently went down with an injury, leaving a gaping opening for Davis, which he will gladly fill.

So, how do they rank? We will look at both Annual Leagues and Keeper Leagues in regards to ranking them -- a simple 1-4 based on the reasons above;

Annual League:

1) Craig Davis
2) Dwayne Bowe
3) Robert Meachem
4) Ted Ginn, Jr.

Keeper League:

1) Dwayne Bowe
2) Robert Meachem
3) Craig Davis
4) Ted Ginn, Jr.

Sorry, Ted. I just don't think you are very good!

Dwayne Bowe Signs; May Still Start

Chiefs' rookie WR Dwayne Bowe signed with enough time left in training camp to where Head Coach Herm Edwards has publicly stated that Bowe still has the opportunity to win a starting role opposite Eddie Kennison.

This is great news for keeper leaguers; however, be wary of Herm Edwards. The New York Jets organization told Edwards for two years following the drafting of WR Jerricho Cotchery that Cotchery was perhaps the most talented WR on the roster, but Herm chose not to listen.

He has stated that not playing Cotchery in his first two seasons is one of his biggest coaching regrets; therefore, there is a chance that he has learned from his mistakes. Regardless, the Chiefs have so many offensive question marks (will LJ hold out? Who is their QB?) that Bowe is an extremely risky, yet talented, draft pick. You are better off ignoring him in annual leagues and opting for Eddie Kennison, as Kennison is the only WR guaranteed a year-long starting job.

T.O.'s MRI Comes Back Negative

On a positive note, TO's MRI on his aching back showed no damage of any kind. TO may participate in practice as early as this afternoon.

Feel free to keep TO where he is on your draft boards. While he is beginning to age, shown last year by leading the league in drops, he is still productive enough to be a #1 WR on your roster. He is obviously less of an intriguing pick in keeper leagues given that most WR's see significant dropoffs during the ages that TO is approaching.

JaMarcus Russell Holdout Continues

Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Oakland Raiders and #1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell are no closer today than they were at any point since negotiations began, and Russell has every intention of sitting out should he not get the deal he wants.

Raiders owner Al Davis, Russell and his agents all have pointed fingers in different directions as to why no progress is being made. In the end, as we all know, it simply comes down to cold hard $. The sticking point appears to be that Russell wants $29 million in a full "skill" guarantee, while the Raiders are not willing to offer anything remotely close to that.

Cole writes, "there have been 15 players drafted No. 1 overall since 1993. According to an NFL Players Association source, none of them has received a contract that did not include the skill and injury guarantees."

While I have no doubts Russell is probably going a little over the top in regards to money, Calvin Johnson DID just sign a contract with $64 million, $27 of which falls under a "skill" guarantee. So, what Russell is asking for is not without precedent. Especially considering Russell was indeed the #1 overall pick, thus he should be more valuable to his franchise.

The question here is not whether Russell and the Raiders eventually agree to terms...they will. But bigger question is just how will this effect Russell's playing time. At this point, I view it the same way as I do the Prima Donna Quinn situation over in Cleveland -- if either one of these two QB's are not in camp by the 2nd pre-season game, you might as well write them off for the entire season, as they will not know the plays nor have any connection with the players.

Russell is still a fairly safe bet in keeper leagues; however, I do worry about his weight situation. He has the "opportunity" (for lack of a better word) to blow up -- either in statistics or in pant size. The former would be a lot more beneficial to us fantasy owners out there. If the latter comes, you might want to invest in whoever the Oakland Raiders catering service is.

Yankees Surging

The once "left-for-dead" New York Yankees are right back in the thick of things...well, even more than "in" the thick of things. They enter today's game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays only 0.5 games back of the Wild-Card leading Detroit Tigers, having pulled up into a tie with the Seattle Mariners. While the Red Sox continue to win, the Yanks are still only 7-games back in the East.

This team has been ridiculous this year. Their offense is now showing what we expected it to do all year long. In the month of July, the Yankees led the Majors with 201 runs scored. The #2 run producing team in July? The Philadelphia Phillies with 160 runs scored...a full 41 run differential! That means that the Yankees scored 20% more runs than even the next closest team in the entire Majors. That is just downright frightening.

With big-game pitcher Andy Pettitte on the mound this afternoon, look for the Yankees to continue their push for the playoffs, perhaps taking the lead outright tonight. Truly an amazing story.

Big Ben Looking Solid

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger lead an impressive first drive downfield during the annual Hall of Fame Game, looking as good if not better than he did at any point during his forgettable 2006 campaign.

Feel free to move Big Ben up your draft boards. Despite what everyone perceived as a poor year in 2006, Roethlisberger still found a way to throw for over 3,500 yards. While his Interception total was too high, much of that was due to missing the pre-season after his motorcycle accident. I would not be the least bit surprised to see Roethlisberger surpass 3,800 yards passing and 25 TD's thrown...numbers worthy of a Top-10 QB.

Glavine Finally Gets #300!

We heard it all week long, but it won't really sink in for quite some time. Tom Glavine won career victory number 300 last night against the Chicago Cubs, pitching 6 1/3 strong innings. Glavine very well may be the last pitcher to win 300 games over the course of his career, at least for the near future. Randy Johnson is 16 wins shy; however, given his recent back surgery and age, those 16 wins seems quite out of reach.

Glavine is still a serviceable starting pitcher in all fantasy leagues, although he isn't ever going to dominate a game like he used to be able to do. During a post-game interview with ESPN, Glavine further hinted at what many of us speculate; that this may be his final year in baseball. If it is, he has been a wonderful talent to watch. I don't think any pitcher ever got quite so much production out of his natural talents, or lack thereof.