Archive for August, 2009

Perfectly Clear

I wrote a post Monday stating that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and are poised to finally land their 27th World Series title. I didn’t get into a lot of the details on why I felt this way, because I thought I was pretty much stating the obvious.

After reading some comments that disagreed with the post, I figured the thing to do was to plug all the players, stats, and information into thefoulline.com’s supercomputer and find out for sure which team is the best. So, I’ve ranked the positions of the three teams that are the cream of the crop in the AL East: New York, Boston and Tampa Bay.

If I were a General Manager, these are the guys I would want.

First Base

  1. Mark Teixeira
  2. Kevin Youkilis
  3. Carlos Pena

This position was pretty close. All three guys are Gold Glove-caliber players with some pop in their bats. Teixeira has more power than Youkilis, Youkilis has a better batting average than both guys, and Pena grew up in the next town over from me. Each guy brings a lot to his respective team, but if I were starting a team and could pick a prototypical first baseman, it would be Teixeira.

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia
  2. Ben Zobrist
  3. Robinson Cano

Pedroia is the reigning MVP and has emerged as a team leader for the Red Sox. All-Star, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year – this guy has already had a great career and he’s only been around for three seasons. Zobrist has emerged this year as the all-purpose All-Star for the Rays who delivers big hits in the clutch. Although he doesn’t have much of a track record, he’s reliable at any position; I’m still waiting for this guy to play catcher. Cano has had an up-and-down last couple of seasons, but this enigmatic Yankee can hit for average with above-average power. What knocks Cano to third is his inconsistent defense and mental lapses on the basepaths.

Shortstop

  1. Derek Jeter
  2. Jason Bartlett
  3. (Distant 3rd) Whichever has-been SS Boston has thrown out there this year

Derek Jeter wears his pants too tight, but the Yankee captain always delivers in tight situations. Just when I thought Jeter was on the decline, he puts up a monster year and is the AL MVP. Speaking of MVPs, Jason Bartlett was the St. Petersburg Devil Rays Most Valuable Player in 2008. He provides the Rays with solid defense and is among the league leaders in batting average, and he’ll be a top 5 shortstop in 2010. As for Boston: Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Alex Gonzalex, Nick Green… enough said.

Third Base

  1. Evan Longoria
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Mike Lowell

As much as I love Mikey Lowell, this is obviously a two-horse race. Longoria is going to be a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best third baseman of all time. Meanwhile, A-Rod is a steroid-using, Madonna-dating douche bag that can also play some ball. Not to mention, A-Rod is still owed a billion dollars on his contract and is playing with one hip.

Outfield

  1. Bay/Ellsbury/Drew
  2. Crawford/Upton/Gross
  3. Damon/Cabrera/Swisher

Carl Crawford is the best all-around outfielder out of all these players, and Upton is the best defender, but BJ is still living off his amazing ’08 postseason and has done absolutely nothing all year. The fact that Gabe Gross has a Major League job blows my mind. Boston’s triumvirate is superior as a whole; all three Red Sox outfielders are all-around solid players with base stealing ability. J.D. Drew drives me nuts and is overpaid, but he has the tendency to come up big when it counts. I love to watch the Yankee outfielders play. Johnny Damon makes every routine pop-up an adventure, I’m certain that I have a better throwing arm than Nick Swisher, and who the hell names their kid Melky? New York will upgrade this position in the offseason with either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.

Catcher

  1. Victor Martinez
  2. Jorge Posada
  3. Dioner Navarro

Martinez is a great hitter but a defensive liability behind the plate. Posada can still hit, but he’s getting old and dinged up. Navarro is hitting .221 and has fallen off considerably in 2009. This is the weakest of all the positions. I’ll take V-Mart.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Josh Beckett/Jon Lester/Tim Wakefield
  2. James Shields/Matt Garza/Jeff Niemann
  3. CC Sabathia/A.J. Burnett/Andy Petitte

This was the toughest choice for me. I ranked this one on who I thought I would want to pitch in a five-game series. I’m obviously unsure who would be in each team’s rotation, but I’m guessing that this is pretty close. Boston has the best big game pitcher in baseball in Josh Beckett, the best left-hander in the the AL in Jon Lester, and an oft-injured 50-year-old knuckleballer in Wakefield. I would have felt better if Dice-K had been better this year, but I like this threesome. As for the Rays, Shields has the “big-game” moniker but has taken a step backwards this season. Garza was lights out last year in the playoffs but has become average. Jeff Niemann is a rookie, but he shows the poise of a veteran and has been Tampa’s best pitcher. If Garza takes his psychiatric medication and Shields regains his form, these guys could be tough. New York has the most money committed to their pitchers, but with the exception of Andy Petitte, no one has had post season success. Until CC and A.J. can prove themselves in the playoffs, they’ll bring up the rear.

These three teams are going to beat each other up for a long time. But with the playoffs right around the corner, I think Tampa will be odd man out. It’s close, but here’s how I rank them:

  1. Yankees
  2. Red Sox
  3. Rays

Wicked Game, Week 21

With only four short weeks before the playoffs, it is officially crunch time, and if our second thefoulline.com fantasy baseball league has shown us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Did anyone really believe that we would have a McLaughlin-free post season? Or that Nevershortonstops could truly be playoff spoiler? Also, has anyone heard from the Boston Not-So-Badboys lately? Just when we think we have it all figured out, cellar-dweller Dirty Water Dogs comes within 2 points of taking out league-standout Rays Those Cowbells.

The smell of the playoffs is in the air. So what better way to ready ourselves than with a thefoulline.com Power Ranking?

1. Yankeehaters

Best record, most points, team finally hitting its stride. But I’m just stating the obvious. I plan on being in the final four.

2. Rays Those Cowbells

Good teams find a way to win. Even though it wasn’t pretty, RTC still added another one in the win column. These guys are simply too talented for another performance like this. RTC and LBC meet this week, and I’m giving the edge to Rays Those Cowbells.

3. Love Boat Captains

Ho hum, another win against a McLaughlin. The LBCs have stumbled over the past month and have a really tough match-up this week. The East Division and a definite playoff spot are on the line.

4. Sarasota Red Rays

These guys have been lights out against the far superior West Division this year, going 7-3 against them. Unfortunately for him, he is 5-5 against the (L)East division. With games left against LTZ, Yankeehaters, RTC, and LBCs, Sarasota Red Rays has his work cut out for him, but I still like his chances for the postseason.

5. Less than Zero

Really? You lost to NeverShortonStops? I’m still not sure how that happened. The playoff picture is getting a little fuzzy for our Canadian friend, but one thing for sure is that you can never count him oot.

6. Bostonbadboys

Even in the midst of a five-game losing streak, BBB is still in the playoff hunt. He really needs his pitching on track and a lot of luck to advance to the next round.

7. The Tek’s Message

Joe Mauer and Hanley Ramirez have carried this team team all year, and the reemergence of Cliff Lee has helped a lot. But even with a solid lineup and big-name pitchers, it’s too little, too late for The Tek’s Message.

8. Boston Braves

Hey, have you heard? The Boston Braves won the Fantasy title last year… zzzzzz… That’s old news. I was really hoping Dave Mc would challenge for another title, but when you throw out six crappy pitchers, all the starts in the world aren’t going to help. This tactic is played out. I have two more questions, Dave Mc. Who the hell is Bud Norris? And why in the world would you start him? Thanks for finally allowing me to beat you.

9. NeverShortonStops

After Dylan took out LTZ last week, I am officially nervous about facing him. Is there any chance that Dylan forgets to set a legal lineup? Or is playoff spoiler his new motivation? This is going to be a far more interesting week than I had hoped.

10. Dirty Water Dogs

Matt Mc’s team came way too close to knocking off RTC this week, which may have led to RTC having a nervous breakdown. Thanks for taking it easy on him, Matt. I hope you are a contender next year. The league is more fun with you talking smack and making trades.

Good luck to everyone this week… even you, Dave Mc.

Change of Ideas

I’m the biggest Sox fan I know. The Red Sox can do no wrong in my eyes, and the Yankees are the most evil team in the universe.

Who doesn’t prefer the quaintness of Fenway Park over the sterility of the new Yankee Stadium? Who doesn’t prefer hanging Sox over pinstripes? Or Pedroia over A-Rod?

That’s what makes writing this post so difficult. The Yankees are without a doubt better than Boston, and are arguably the best baseball team I’ve seen in the past several years.

I used to argue that New York bought championships, that they couldn’t develop any of their talent and relied on throwing buckets of money at any and all high-profile free agents. Take Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, just to name the 2009 off-season. They committed over $200 million to three guys? I thought that this was a bad thing, and horrible for baseball.

But the more I think about it, I can’t help but think that they’ve got the right idea, and maybe Boston should get off their pocketbook and throw some cash around. Can you imagine if Theo Epstein had given in to Teixeira’s demands and given him an additional ten million? They would be running away with the division. Instead, they get to face him 19 times each of the next eight years, and we’ve already seen how that’s worked out.

Epstein thought it would be better to sign low-cost, potentially high-reward players in John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito, all of whom have equated to bust, bust, bust. To make matters even worse, Boston is now trying to add 38-year-old Billy Wagner. Wagner is fresh off Tommy John surgery and is due to be paid $8 million this year. That’s a lot of money to pay four aging ex-all-stars, all past their prime. What’s next, is Theo Epstein going to make a run at Sandy Koufax?

The last high-profile free agents that Boston signed have been Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I just threw up in my mouth.

If Boston’s free agent scouting was half as good as their farm development, they could avoid these money-pit signings and land some real talent. Is it time to start looking at a new General Manager in Bean town?

I hate that the Yankees are better than Boston. I hate that this may be the norm for the next several years, unless the Red Sox change their off-season approach. I hate that the Yankees are arrogant douche bags that are far too clean shaven for my liking.

But what I hate most, is that New York is primed to win their 27th World Series title this year.

Back in the Game

Ex-Indianapolis Colts Coach Jim Mora may not have wanted to talk about the playoffs years ago, but here at thefoulline.com headquarters it’s all about the making the postseason.

After 19 weeks of fantasy baseball at its finest, it’s still up in the air which teams will advance to the final four. I’ve spent the last several weeks scouring lineups, analyzing upcoming schedules, and evaluating free agents, all in anticipation of writing which teams are Playoff Pretenders and which are Playoff Contenders.

Pretenders

Dirty Water Dogs
Was it only last season that Matt McLaughlin was making deals and putting together a unprecedented nine-game winning streak on his way to making it to the playoffs? This year, Team DWD got off to a slow start and has not been able to recover. These Dogs definitely don’t cut the mustard.

NeverShortonStops
The good news is that Dylan has set his lineup. The better news is that he has a chance of taking down Less than Zero this week and playing playoff spoiler. The bad news is that NSOS will be watching the fantasy playoffs from the comfort of his new house.

Boston Braves
The defending champs will not make the playoffs. I repeat, the defending champs WILL NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS! If I say this enough times it may actually come true. I believe that Dave Mc’s two-start pitcher strategy has run its course, and he will not have enough in the tank to overtake LBCs or Rays Those Cowbells. You put up a good fight this season, Dave. Now it’s time to crown a new champion.

Boston Badboys
These guys took the league by storm at the beginning of the year, riding the coattails of Albert Pujols. But suspect starting pitching and a revolving door of mediocre shortstops have led to his demise. There isn’t enough tapioca pudding in the retirement home to ease the dissatisfaction of this missed opportunity.

The Tek’s Message
I swear that this is not an anti-McLaughlin post. It’s just that when I look at their respective teams and upcoming schedule, it’s easy to deduce that we will have a McLaughlin-free playoffs. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that we could combine the rosters of all three Mc-teams into one “Super Team,” and they still would not make it to the postseason. Of course, I also anticipate that the McLaughlin household will bust their butts in the offseason to ensure that they don’t miss the playoffs in 2010.

Contenders

Love Boat Captains
Am I the only one who is sick and tired of the LBCs running all over the league? Am I the only one that was happy to see her drop two big games in a row? Am I the only one who noticed that she has righted the ship and is back to form? Am I the only one worried about facing her in the playoffs?

SarasotaRedRays
These guys have been flying under the radar for most of the season, even with AL MVP Mark Texiera and the dynamic duo of Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander on his roster. SRR has four really tough games to finish the season. If he splits those games, I predict he makes it to the final four.

Rays Those Cowbells
If you ever want to have “roster-envy” go check out Dan the #1 Rays Fan’s lineup. He has a “Who’s Who” of starting pitchers in Lincecum, Haren, Peavy, Oswalt, and Lackey, mixed with a murderer’s row of hitters led by Carl Crawford, Ian Kinsler, and Carlos Quentin. The problem with this team is getting them all on the field at the same time and having them perform to their capabilities. If this team stays healthy, watch out. This fantasy baseball rookie is the real deal.

Less Than Zero
Although LTZ has been considerably more quiet this season than last, there is still no one in the league that ever looks forward to playing this high-scoring machine of a team. LTZ has led the league in weekly scoring five times this season and is always a threat to crush his opponent.

Yankeehaters
For someone that dislikes the Yankees as much as I do, I sure have a lot of Yankees on my team. Believe me, I’m not proud of it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. After spending the majority of the fantasy season in my division’s basement, I’m back where I belong, in first place with the most points in the league. Team YH is finally playing to its potential and peaking at the right time. My only regret is that I won’t have the chance to avenge my loss in the finals last year to the Boston Braves.

If the playoffs started today, these would be the match-ups:
#1 Yankeehaters vs. #4 Rays Those Cowbells
#2 Love Boat Captains vs. #3 Less Than Zero

Of course there are four very tough weeks of fantasy baseball left, and it is still anyone’s game. Good luck to all… except the Boston Braves of course.