Archive for the ‘Spring Training’ Category

Is It Over Yet?

Well, that was certainly an experience.

Draft day got started down in Port Charlotte, with the crew from St Petersburg heading down to meet up with Dave for a Rays/Yankees game and discuss LeBron James legacy and how he compares to Michael Jordan.

Well that’s not the reason we really went, but that did seem to be the main topic of conversation that prevailed throughout the day. Other topics brought up were draft picks, the Rays ineptitude, career choices, and whether or not the delicious cheesesteaks of Charlotte Sports Park can begin to compare to the out of body experience of the Dan Philly.  In the meantime, a hardly noticed baseball game was being played, with the Rays hitting 843 home runs against Yankees scrubs and slaughtering them 11-1. It was a fun time, and with the game flying by, before we knew it it was already time to leave.

What did not fly by was the draft itself. Dear god.

That was one of the biggest grinds I’ve ever been a part of and without question our longest draft. I was tired of drafting by round ten. I was on fumes by round fifteen. By round twenty I was nearly in tears.

I feel like it’s only fitting, for the longest draft in league history, we have the longest post in league history. Welcome to the draft recap of the 11th season of thefoulline.com fantasy baseball league!

The Rise Of Altuve

Allan once again passes on the best player in the world with the #1 pick and takes AL MVP and stud Jose Altuve. It’s kind of amazing that a 5’6 grinder can be considered one of the best players in fantasy baseball. Sometimes I think we take Altuve for granted.

Mike Trout makes his triumphant return to Rays Those Cowbells! They’ve moved the fences in at Angels stadium, he’s struck out once in Spring Training and the Angels improved the lineup around him. Trout at #2 was the steal of the draft.

The pre draft rumors were heavily focused on the wild card of the first round being the RedRays. What was he going to do? Sale? Kershaw? Harper? He ends up boring everybody and taking the best player available, Nolan Arenado. Amazing pick.

Ginger believes Trea Turner will stay healthy and makes him the choice at #4. But if he doesn’t steal 70 bases, isn’t this a bad pick? There were a lot of good players available here who are much safer.

Speaking of safety, Mike chooses production over upside and makes Paul Goldschmidt the anchor of team sportsmanMike. The concerns about the humidor are overblown.

The first pitcher comes off the board as Max Scherzer makes his way onto Dennis’ team.

Fresh with a new team name, Benni and The Betts selects Chris Sale, and Mike silently weeps in the corner.

Team Stogies seems to be having computer issues, as I heard after the draft he wanted to take Harper with this selection. It’s unfortunate, but at least Corey Kluber is a great pick and can anchor your team.

First time champion Willis grabs Clayton Kershaw at #9, and just like that all four of the top aces are gone.

Dave jumps all over Bryce Harper at #10, and I have some fun numbers for him. 393, 1, 93, 50. Those are the places in fantasy points Harper has finished over the last four seasons. But sure, pass on elite stud Mookie Betts and keep chasing the 2015 Harper dream. By all means.

Round Two

Dave quickly recovers and redeems himself by taking Manny Machado at #11. The first half last year was a fluke, he’ll be a top five player this season.

Willis steals Giancarlo Stanton right out from under the Valentino brothers noses at #12.

Computer issues remain for Dave V, but again, Charlie Blackmon is not a bad consolation prize.

Dylan won’t repeat Dave’s mistake and jumps all over Mookie Betts at #14. He should’ve been taken eight picks ago.

I breathe a sigh of relief as Dennis reaches for Aaron Judge at pick #15. I can see the light to my player!

Mike grabs World Series Champion and mortal enemy of Rays Those Cowbells, George Springer.

Ginger stuns the draft room and takes Joey Votto 17th overall. Who in the world saw this pick coming??

I’m one pick away now, and I’m sweating, trying to keep my cool. My concerns are unfounded as the RedRays grab first base stud and lineup anchor, Anthony Rizzo.

I take nine seconds to select Luis Severino at 19th overall. Only Dave knew this pick was coming. I’ve researched all the advanced metrics on him, and not only is he going to win the AL CY Young this year, he’s going to challenge for the title of best pitcher in baseball.

Allan wraps up the second round by absolutely stealing Freddie Freeman.

Is it just me, or was this easily the best two rounds we’ve ever had, in terms of player talent? I feel like there was at least 25 slam dunk elite players this year.

Round Three

I know Allan really really well, and I knew that either Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor were being selected here. Allan prefers Correa, and I’m not exactly sure he’s wrong. 2018 AL MVP?

I want Jacob DeGrom with this pick. I really really want Jacob DeGrom with this pick. I swerve and take Francisco Lindor with this pick. So much for the best laid plans?

The RedRays take Stephen Strasburg at 23rd overall. I wouldn’t have taken this bum at 123rd overall.

Kris Bryant at 24th overall? See what I was talking about, how stacked the early rounds are? Ginger gets a mega steal here.

Mikes takes mega star Jose Ramirez at 25th overall, and chatter throughout the St Pete war room is about what an amazing pick this is.

Dennis gets another Yankee as the pick is Gary Sanchez, and the first catcher is off the board.

Dylan jumps on Andrew Benintendi at #27, and I’m curious, is his team name Beni and The Betts because he was planning on drafting them? Or was he planning on drafting them because his team name is Beni and The Betts?

Dave V grabs one of my man crush’s and takes Noah Syndergaard. He could win the CY Young. Or he could only make eight starts. This is the ultimate boom or bust pick.

Willis takes new Red Sox JD Martinez, and his OF might combine for 100 home runs this season.

Dave finishes off round three by taking young Dodgers stud Cody Bellinger, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Dave stick him into his OF and take full advantage of his position flexibility.

Round Four

Dave roasted Mike to no end all of last year, and yesterday at the ballpark, for trading for Justin Verlander. Dave then takes Justin Verlander.

Somehow every year, one way or another, Willis ends up with Carlos Carrasco. This year is no different and “Cookie” is the pick at #32.

There’s probably a lot to like about Brian Dozier, I just can never seem to get behind him. Team Stogies doesn’t have that issue and chooses him as his second base anchor.

Dylan takes Josh Donaldson at #34 overall, and it’s a great pick. I gotta admit, I completely forgot about him.

Dennis takes the Cubs new shiny toy, Yu Darvish, and now has a Scherzer and Darvish combo to lead his rotation.

Mike doesn’t hesitate and takes Corey Seager to be his SS. Warm fuzzy feelings and thoughts of a dramatic grand slam start rushing back to my head.

It’s hard to doubt Ginger, but Christian Yelich at #37 overall was easily the worst pick of the first four rounds. In my opinion.

Kenley Jansen goes to the RedRays, and I may have to go into thefoulline.com archives for this one, but I’m pretty sure he takes the first closer every single season.

I’m literally laughing out loud as Jacob DeGrom makes it all the way back to me. Having Severino and DeGrom, and Lindor as well, was a scenario I never imagined was even possible.

Allan loves his young players. This year is no different and Phillies young stud Rhys Hoskins joins team Believe The Hype.

This was the best first four rounds we’ve ever had. The players were elite, and the owners seemed locked in and there was very few silly choices made.

Round Five

Allan loves him some Marcell Ozuna. I knew one way or another he’d end up with him. It’s a good pick.

My Aaron Nola love might be the worst kept secret in the league, and it’s enough for me to take him more than 30 picks before his ADP.

The RedRays hop all over Alex Bregman in a mere seven seconds, and it’s a home run pick. I think everyone in the league wanted this guy.

The humidor at Chase Field can work the opposite effect as well, and Ginger think Robbie Ray will be even better than the year before.

Mike finally takes Dallas Keuchel and grabs his first pitcher. All five of Mike’s picks were from playoff teams the year before. Mike wants winners.

Dennis selects Jose Abreu, and has now gone two straight rounds without selecting a Yankee. Surprise!

One of these years Carlos Martinez is going to completely put it all together and win the NL CY Young. Dylan thinks it might be this year and grabs a second pitcher to team with Chris Sale.

Team Stogies chooses Buster Posey, and am I crazy for thinking that this is the 13th year in a row that Posey is selected in the first five rounds? He’s had an unbelievable career.

Willis grabs Edwin Encarnacion, and fun fact, he’s the only player in MLB to have 30 home runs for six consecutive seasons. Consistency matters.

Dave wants Anthony Rendon to be his third baseman, even though he already drafted one in the second round. Oops.

Rounds 6-10: Where Championships Are Won

Believe The Hype: Jake Lamb, Ronald Acuna, Lucas Giolito, Jose Berrios, Yoenis Cespedes

I’m glad Allan ended this run with Cespedes, because I was convinced that he was purely selecting players who aren’t old enough to drink. Was there any doubt at all who was going to be the one to select Acuna? I had him targeted, but knew there was no way I’d ever be able to steal him away from Allan. Obviously, whether or not Allan has a successful season, and whether or not these run of picks are good, all depends on how many of these young players pan out. Nobody has better stuff than Berrios and Giolito, but they’re young arms and young arms are always a big gamble. I’m not a big Jake Lamb fan, he doesn’t hit lefties well and could sit against some of them, but Allan seemed pretty confident with that pick and made it quickly. There’s a lot of potential here, and a lot of risk. This is a typical Allan run of picks.

Rays Those Cowbells: Willson Contreras, James Paxton, Miguel Cabrera, Justin Turner, Madison Bumgarner

Wow. Money, Money, Money, Money and more money. Five All Stars, all in the middle rounds. Contreras is going to breakout and become the best catcher in baseball, and hits cleanup for an elite team. James Paxton is a huge injury risk, but when he’s on the mound he’s elite and one of the six or seven best arms in baseball, and since he’s my fourth starter I don’t have to count on him to carry my staff. Miggy is hitting over .350 this spring and says he feels good. For some of the season, he’s going to give me elite production at first base. Justin Turner and Madison Bumgarner are both hurt and will need to be stashed for awhile, but fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. When they return, I have two of the top five players at their positions. This run of picks was like something out of a dream, and might’ve won me the championship.

RedRays: Alex Wood, Justin Upton, Starling Marte, Kyle Hendricks, Cole Hamels

Solid. This is a solid run of veteran players. Alex Wood is one of my favorite players in baseball and I tried to trade for him multiple times from Dave last year. Justin Upton now gets to hit behind Mike Trout, and in a full season Starling Marte should make a run at 40 stolen bases. Hendricks and Hamels are solid pitchers who gobble up quality innings and help carry a pitching staff. These are the type of runs that aren’t special or flashy, but put teams in the playoffs every year. The RedRays had a down season last year, and this is a good start to returning to form.

Love Boat Captains: Chris Archer, Zack Godley, Whit Merrfield, Andrew McCutchen, Johnny Cueto

If anyone in the league was going to take Whit Merrfield, I knew it was going to be Ginger. He’s a great player who is being overlooked, the perfect kind of player that the LBCs pounce all over. Zack Godley is going to ball out this year. He’s one of my favorite pitchers and was a heavy RTC target. I can’t say the same about Chris Archer, I think he absolutely sucks. But he will strike out 225 guys and that has value in H2H leagues. I’m not big fans of McCutchen and Cueto anymore, but both are good bounce back candidates and are good value in round nine and ten. Ginger knows what she’s doing.

sportsmanMike: Zack Greinke, Rick Porcello, AJ Pollock, Miguel Sano, Dylan Bundy

Nobody seemed to want Zack Greinke. I’m not a big fan, at all, but he fell a little too far this year and was good value in round six. But then unfortunately, it happened. Mike barfs all over his keyboard and takes Rick Porcello in round seven. This was easily the worst pick of the draft. He absolutely sucks, and Mike could’ve probably gotten him in round thirteen. I have absolutely no idea what he was thinking here. He recovers a bit and finishes this run of picks with AJ Pollock, Miguel Sano and Dylan Bundy, three solid players who can help this team win some games. In fact, I may try and trade for AJ Pollock before this post even goes up. Stand by.

The October Boys: Sonny Gray, Rafael Devers, Didi Gregorius, Dee Gordon, Eddie Rosario

More Yankees! Dennis takes Sonny Gray and Didi Gregorius in this run of picks, and took four Yankees in his first seven picks. His love of all things Yankees are becoming some of the most predictable stuff on draft day. In his non Yankee news, Rafael Devers can be one of the most fun picks of the draft. He’s got crazy potential and could emerge as a top five third baseman as soon as this year. Dee Gordon bores me to tears, but he’s got a new change of scenery and should still steal some bases at the minimum. Eddie Rosario was another big target of mine and is going to be a top 15 OF this year. He’s got a lot of potential. This is a good run of picks, and Dennis mixed youth and veterans well.

Beni and the Betts: Tommy Pham, Gio Gonzalez, Xander Bogaerts, Trevor Bauer, Khris Davis

I’m so upset with Dylan. Tommy Pham should’ve been on my team! He’s one of my absolute favorites this year, and I think he may even be a sleeper NL MVP candidate. The rest of this run of picks are a nice mix of production and upside. Gio Gonzalez and Khris Davis are solid veterans where you know what you’re going to get, and Trevor Bauer and Xander Bogaerts are good young players who could take that next step forward at any time and breakout into true superstars. This was a really great run of picks and Dylan has almost reached his goal of drafting every single relevant Red Sox player.

Stogies: Jean Segura, Craig Kimbrel, Travis Shaw, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Braun

I know team Stogies had a good run here based on the reactions of my fellow war room drafters. When Craig Kimbrel was picked, Mike uttered a rather awful obscenity under his breath, and when Travis Shaw came off the board, Allan loudly exclaimed “he took Travis Shaw?!”. Even I myself would’ve been pretty upset with his Aaron Sanchez selection if I wasn’t so naturally calm and composed. Like Tommy Pham, Sanchez was a heavy RTC target and somebody I wanted for myself. Add in solid contributions from Braun and Segura, and clearly you have a run of picks that made the other league members bitter and upset. Great job.

WillisBeTheYear: Elvin Andrus, David Price, Daniel Murphy, Aroldis Chapman, Jon Lester

Whoa! Does the champion want to go back to back or what? This is a really great run of picks. I’m not huge fans of Andrus or Price, but that’s more a personal bias then any real baseball reason. If healthy, they’re two good players who will add a lot of this team. Daniel Murphy is money in the bank when he gets over his minor injury, and Aroldis Chapman is going to rack up a ton of saves playing for an elite team. Watching Jon Lester tumble down the boards was one of the most fascinating developments of the entire draft. He went about 30 picks too late. This was a really really good run of picks for Willis and probably puts him back into the playoffs, ready to defend his championship.

Yankeehaters: Jose Quintana, Jonathan Schoop, Masahiro Tanaka, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers

Dave is gonna be amused with this, but I’m not a fan of this run of picks. At all. I think Quintana is as solid as it gets and moves over to a good team, but he’s boring and what you see is what you get. There was a lot of players with a lot more upside available at that spot. All of the advanced metrics point to a regression from Schoop, and Tanaka and Cole are two of my least favorite pitchers in all of MLB and weren’t even on my board. I do like some Lance McCullers, but he’s injury prone like crazy and is going to be hard to count on when the other pitchers Dave drafted start to stink it up. Dave will make adjustments, and probably trade his way into the final four, but I really wasn’t too impressed with his draft. A real surprise.

Picks I Really Love, Rounds 11-21

Round 11: Matt Carpenter by RTC. Health permitting, he’s going to finish as a top 20 overall player. Book it. Jake Arrieta by Willis. Did everyone forget about him like the free agency market did? He’s still a good player.

Round 12: Luis Castillo by LBC. She does it once every year. Steals a player I was going to take with my very next pick. Chase Anderson by RedRays. He’s boarderline elite. Seriously, check the metrics. Michael Fulmer by BTH. Elite stuff. He’ll take a step forward.

Round 13: Luke Weaver by RTC. Elite young arm. He’s going to breakout this season. Rich Hill by Stogies. Yes, he’s gonna get hurt. But he’s gonna be a boarderline ace in the innings he actually pitches.

Round 14: Garrett Richards by YH. I was gonna take him this round. I absolutely love me some Garrett Richards, just stay healthy! Felipe Rivero by LBC. I feel shame. I completely forgot about him. He can be a top three closer.

Round 15: Ender Inciarte by Willis. Underrated player. Does nothing but hit, the perfect 3rd OF type.

Round 16: Steven Matz by Stogies. Just stay healthy….. Just stay healthy…. Just stay healthy…..

Round 17: This round kinda sucked. I don’t think anyone did well.

Round 18: Kyle Schwarber by BTH. Lost a bunch of weight and still has crazy talent. He can’t be as bad as last year.

Round 19: Michael Conforto by SM. One of my favorite players in MLB. I’ll probably try and trade for him when he gets healthy.

Round 20: Yoan Moncada by BTH. Why exactly was he still on the board?

Round 21: I think everybody was asleep at this point.

Picks I Really Hate, Rounds 11-21

Round 11: Yasiel Puig by TOB. At what point do we just give up on this guy?

Round 12: Luis Castillo by LBC. Again, love the player. I just hate the fact that she picked him! Shohei Ohtani by Willis. This guy absolutely sucks. At least for now.

Round 13: Everyone picked a good player here. Good job!

Round 14: Danny Salazar by SM. Give it up already Mike, Salazar isn’t gonna happen like we thought it would.

Round 15: Joc Pederson by TOB. Isn’t he a part time player?

Round 16: Felix Hernandez by SM. It’s not 2012 anymore. Felix in finished. I learned the hard way last year.

Round 17: Adam Jones by RTC. He bores me, but I didn’t have a whole lot of choices in my OF.

Round 18: Kevin Gausman by YH. This guy really sucks and for some reason people always think he doesn’t.

Round 19: A solid round. Everyone is hanging in there.

Round 20: Ozzie Albies by BATB. Only because Dylan as five reserve hitters on his bench and no pitchers.

Round 21: Adrian Beltre by YH. Apparently, Dave is going for a new strategy this year where he drafts six people to play third base.

If anyone is still reading at this point, I want to go on record, as I do every year, asking people to please not get too offended if I made some disparaging remarks on some of your draft picks. This entire recap is just one mans opinion, and I’m sure most of you think my draft went horribly and I’m destined for the basement. It’s just how these things go. But if you do still care, it’s time for my final four!

The Final Four

Rays Those Cowbells

WillisBeTheYear

Love Boat Captains

Believe The Hype

 

Thanks for reading and commenting everyone! I want to conclude by saying this is the best fantasy baseball league in the world, and I look forward to making a lot of new memories with everyone this year. Memories like these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draft Eve

Twas the night before drafting, and all through the house, Dan’s brain was stirring, trying to figure it out”.

Draft day is tomorrow! It’s easily my favorite day of the year.

Sadly, it’s preceded by my least favorite day of the year, the dreaded draft day eve. Allow me to explain.

I have a ritual every year. I get my draft position, and spend the next two weeks formulating the absolute perfect strategy. I choose my first round target, I select the 2nd or 3rd rounder that I “must have” no matter what, and I identify all my sleepers and breakouts. I create a plan, I practice and work on it, and I spend all of early to mid-march relaxing and enjoying the spring.

Then, every single year without fail, about 24 to 36 hours before the draft, I start completely blowing up my perfect foolproof plan and starting from scratch.

Suddenly my “must have” doesn’t feel so essential anymore. My first rounder doesn’t look as good as somebody else I could have at that spot. My favorite sleeper has a 7.76 spring ERA and my breakout is hitting .198 with 27 strikeouts.

With my foolproof plan out the window, I proceed to scramble, start from the beginning and try to pull things together at the last minute. Then I realize how stupid that is and try to go back to my original plan. What ends up happening is a mixed up combination of my original strategy and my new nonsense, leaving my team in shambles and my draft a sloppy mess, looking like something that an 11 year old who’s had too much red bull and candy would put together.

Don’t allow yourself to be sucked in every year like I do. Trust yourself, stick to your original strategy and don’t fall for the last minute tinkering temptations of “draft eve”.

 

Dan’s Spring Quick Hits

-I just watched Chris Sale leave the game in the first inning after taking a line drive off the knee, eerily similar to watching Madison Bumgarner leave the game last night. I’m not dealing with this pitching crap again this year, I’m taking arms with my first five picks.

-I’m really excited to be heading down to Charlotte Sports Park for the first time in three seasons tomorrow.  I hope to see a lot of you foulliners out there.

-I still don’t believe Allan isn’t taking Mike Trout.

-And I still don’t believe Dave is considering a pitcher with his first two picks at all.

-This is going to be the most wild and crazy draft we’ve ever had. I legit think 15 players are worth first round consideration.

-The Rays “four man rotation” nonsense is going to be a disaster. They might lose 100 games.

-I have honest to god concerns about my new kittens jumping on my laptop and making me autodraft Zack Greinke.

-The two best records in the grapefruit league are Boston and Houston. Stop saying spring training doesn’t matter.

-Please remember to get with Ginger and get the league fee over to her. She does a great job setting up our league every single year.

 

Good luck tomorrow night, and I hope to see a lot of you tomorrow afternoon!

Everything Has A Return

It’s that time of year again.

Spring training games have kicked off, the draft order has been set, and the prep work has begun. Which also means that it’s officially “writing season” on thefoulline.com.

2018 marks the ten year anniversary of thefoulline.com, and the once great website has fallen on hard times. Gone are the steady stream of posts, the constant comments and visitors, and the regularly flowing trash talk and baseball commentary of our former regulars. For many months out of the year the site remains dark, no comments, no posts, only a list of old fantasy posts, an archive of former great memories long since forgotten.

Nobody is to blame for this. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. I myself recently have been given the keys to manage and run my own pizza shop. It’s a taxing position, and working 60 hour weeks quickly puts your priorities in order and forces you to focus on what’s truly important in your life. Sometimes, baseball just doesn’t take center stage.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it, or even accept it.

I miss writing. I miss the jabs and trash talk we take at other, and I miss playing fantasy baseball. I miss trading and picking up free agents, and I miss the daily battle of wits that only the best fantasy baseball league in the world can offer. But most of all, I miss baseball. The real game of baseball.

This year, there’s going to be some changes here on the website. Over the last several seasons, it’s been nothing but fantasy baseball posts, and only fantasy baseball posts. While they’re a blast to write, they’re really only relevant to the ten members of our fantasy baseball league. In the glory days of this website, there was a constant flow of not just fantasy baseball posts, but real, hard hitting, well thought out baseball content. That’s my plan. In 2018, real life baseball returns to thefoulline.com.

I have big plans upcoming in the near and distant future, and I’ve already begun to calculate what some of them are.

-The draft day diary will be written.

-The weekly fantasy review returns.

-Monthly power rankings of MLB teams.

-A trade deadline special, multiple posts and thoughts on July 31st.

-Posts written from Tropicana Field during live baseball games.

 

There’s going to be a whole lot more content coming, the ideas are rushing to me so quickly it’s a little overwhelming right now to be honest with you. I’ll be writing a post every single Monday, rain or shine, and I’ll be squeezing in quick, short hitter posts throughout the week about the happenings in baseball and fantasy alike.

Things are moving forward on this website in 2018, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to convince the creator and father of thefoulline.com, Dave himself, to assist me going forward. I understand managing a full time career and children leaves blog writing a bit on the back burner, but I know Dave misses writing and his love of baseball is unmatched. I’d take a guess that we’ll see some posts from Mrfoulline going forward. Also invited to the party is Allan, our 2017 runner up and one of the most knowledgeable sports fans I’ve ever met. His guest post last year was brilliantly written and well informed, and I’d love to involve him going forward in what I’m trying to do here. Which also includes “marketing”, using the Yaysports Facebook page to involve countless members of our Yaysports group who love the game of baseball and would add great points and counter points to our established regulars.

Good luck to everyone in their draft prep, and I know I’ll here from you guys soon. Baseball is back, and so is thefoulline.com.

Everything has a return.

 

Spring Fever, Week One

As the Grapefruit and Cactus League schedules get underway, there are a few questions that keep running through my head. Who will be the Rays shortstop? Who will be the odd men out in the Red Sox outfield? Will Kris Bryant start the season in the majors? Could Alex Rodriguez implode under the weight of his own ego? Will thefoulline.com crew finally settle on a suitable date for a Port Charlotte game?

So many unanswered questions, but I know one thing for sure. The games have started, and baseball is back! Take a day off from work, grab a beer and a hot dog and head out to some spring training games. I promise you won’t regret it. The baseball season is a six month grind, but spring training is only one month out of the year. That makes it special in its own way.

The season will be here soon enough. Enjoy the spring fever while it lasts.

Start of Spring Quick Hits

  • SportsCenter has begun giving us live play-by-play coverage of every Alex Rodriguez spring training plate appearance. I will now be abstaining from all things SportsCenter until opening day.
  • Yu Darvish needs Tommy John, Cliff Lee has already had elbow soreness, and Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow seems to be held together by paper clips. All the round 3-5 pitchers seem to be giving out already. Grabbing an ace early may be more important than ever this year.
  • Team Yankeehaters swears they aren’t taking a pitcher in the first two rounds. Surprisingly, I believe him.
  • Pedro Alvarez hit the first home run of the spring. Potential bounce back? 35 home runs can’t be ignored in an age where power is dying.
  • Which round will Ginger gamble on the Joey Votto bounceback? Round 4? Perhaps round 5?
  • Allan and I made an observation when watching a spring game that Anthony Rendon looked 20 pounds overweight. Let’s hope his uniform was just baggy that day. He’s an exciting young star.
  • Speaking of Allan, it’s only a week in, and Bryce Harper has already gotten on his nerves.
  • I still wanna go to jetBlue Park one day. It’s the best stadium in the Grapefruit League.

13 days!

Everybody Talks

Apparently I went to a baseball game yesterday. I say apparently, because I found my ticket stub on the kitchen counter this morning, and a cooler with a couple of beers in it in my car. But oddly enough, I don’t recall watching a minute of baseball.

This could only mean one of two things. I’ve either had a stroke, or the gang from thefoulline.com got together for the second year in a row to “watch” a game.

It was another spring training game, where we found our spot by the left field berm and commenced with three hours of baseball talk. The usual subjects were covered: the upcoming draft, our spots, who are the October Boys taking #1,  why are the Yankees and Rays so unlikable, and is it possible for Allan to drink all the beer at Charlotte Sports Park?

It was a great time, with knowledgeable baseball fanatics. Thanks to Dan “The #1 Rays Fan” for setting it up, and to Willis, Mike, Allan, & Dennis for coming out. It’s nice that we can still be friends, before the competition starts in a few weeks.

I still have no idea who won the game.

The First Days of Spring

Another Spring Training is upon us! The sun is shining. The grass is freshly cut. The birds are singing. Baseball is back!

And I still despise the Tampa Bay Rays.

I feel the need to clarify this, because today I spent yet another morning at the Rays Spring Training facility in the beautiful, historic town of Port Charlotte. My motivation to go see the Rays practice is always the same. I get to spend a few hours in the beautiful weather watching baseball, and if I can trip a few Rays players while I’m there, even better!

Here are my short and sweet observations from Rays camp today:

  • I watched every catcher in the Rays system practice throwing to the bases. Newcomer Ryan Hanigan has the worst arm out of all of them.
  • Grant Balfour was already in mid-season form with his potty mouth. He dropped more F-bombs during practice than the first hour of Pulp Fiction. But he curses in Australian, so it wasn’t that bad.
  • Chris Archer looked great today, and it wasn’t hard to notice that everyone in the Rays organization likes this kid. Brains and talent!
  • It was easy to see that David Price and Evan Longoria have taken a leadership-by-example approach this season. Both guys were the first ones in the drill lines, and would run to the next field during their 15-minute rotations.
  • Jose Molina is still really fat.
  • Not to beat a dead horse, but how does Dave Martinez not have a manager job yet? Even worse, you don’t even hear him being in the discussion anymore.
  • The Rays will win the AL East and play in the World Series this year.

I’m going to go watch practice again later this week. I’ll be sure to bring a few Rays voodoo dolls with me.

Blowin’ In the Wind

My good friend Dylan – original thefoulline.com fantasy league member and Foul Line contributor – and I have a tradition where we go to at least one spring training game a year. This has been going on for several years, and it’s always a great time. The thing about going to a game with Dylan is that something crazy/fun/outlandish happens every time. That, and I’m pretty certain that we’ve never witnessed a Red Sox victory. During the years of going to games with Dylan, some of the highlights have been seeing the two Red Sox World Series trophies and getting great pictures with them, getting interviewed by MLB.tv, the Jed Lowrie foul ball game, meeting Nick from the Penalty Box bar in Rhode Island, the Great Ellsbury Birthplace Debate, and meeting Dewayne Staats. But today’s game may have been the craziest. Today’s game will be known as “the one where we almost watched someone die.”

The best thing about going to a game with Dylan is the constant banter. All the topics are covered: baseball, personal lives, politics, travel, The Foul Line. It’s always witty, and I’m constantly laughing. It makes for a great baseball viewing experience. A few weeks back, Dylan texted me and asked if I wanted to go see the Sox and Cardinals play on February 26th at jetBlue Park in Fort Myers. He was going to get standing-room-only Green Monster tickets. Of course I was in.

I picked him up at his house for the five-minute drive to the park. Upon getting to the stadium an hour and a half early, we noticed a strong 30-mph wind blowing straight out to center field. It was going to be a bad day to be a pitcher. Dylan grabbed a sausage & pepper sandwich with a Sam Adams. I opted for the Fenway Frank and a 312 wheat beer, and we made our way to the top of the Green Monster. The thing about jetBlue Park is that that everyone working there is a prick. I didn’t see one person smile the entire day. They’re working at a beautiful stadium, watching the most beloved team in all of sports, and they treat everyone like they’re wearing an “I love George Steinbrenner” shirt. It’s bizarre.

Anyhow, Dylan and I grabbed a spot on the wall and started watching the Cardinals take batting practice. Balls just started launching out of the park. Texas-Leaguers were carrying in the monsoon-like winds. At this point, more and more people were making their way to the top of the Monster with hopes of catching a BP ball.

It was the typical crowd: the 45-year-old dude who brought his mitt and was chasing down every ball with Jim Edmonds-like enthusiasm; the dad with his kids trying to score two souvenirs for his baseball-loving boys; the middle-aged woman who flinches and ducks at any ball that hints at hitting the wall; and Dylan and me, eating our food, sipping our beer, and watching ball after ball fly over our heads.

As the Cardinals were wrapping up their batting practice, some unknown player started crushing balls over the wall, one after another. The souvenir-baseball feeding frenzy was in full effect. People were chasing down balls like they were the Wonka Bar golden tickets. Dylan and I continued to watch and take it all in.

As Mr. Unknown was winding down his impressive power display, he launched one more ball high over the wall. As the ball carried, it appeared to be hit so well that it was going to leave the entire stadium. At the last minute, an overaggressive ball-hound jumped up for the ball and began to tumble over the rail to a 25-foot fall. When he was half way over the wall and on his way down to certain peril, the 45-year-old, with his mitt still on, dove and grabbed the guy’s legs, saving him from having a really bad day. It was the best and most important catch of the day.

This led to me saying to Dylan, “Damn, that guy almost died!”

To which he replied, “And that’s why I don’t chase after BP balls.”

And here are your Dylan-centric Quick Hits

  • Due to predicted lousy weather, both teams put all their scrubs in the starting lineups. When Daniel Nava is the big name, you might be in for a snoozer.
  • The experience of watching a game from the vantage point of the top of the Green Monster is unparalleled to any seat at any sporting event I have ever had. I highly recommend it.
  • Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster was on the mound today. With the scrubs backing him up in the field, Dylan commented that he hoped Dempster had his Eh game. You know, because he’s Canadian. It’s funny, eh?
  • There are fewer things I enjoy more than a Fenway frank, a cold beer, and watching baseball.
  • Dylan was able to turn two standing-room-only tickets into two prime seats on the monster, just by being in the right place at the right time.
  • (For the confused Rays fans, “Standing Room Only” seats are when your team sells all the seats at your park, and your only option is to stand.)
  • 312 beer is poured using an old telephone receiver tap. I’m not sure why, but it was awesome.
  • We’re still waiting for the final three spots to get filled on thefoulline.com fantasy league. Clock’s ticking.
  • I’m returning to the Yankeehaters team name. It was fun being the Boston badboys for a season, but the Yankeehaters just feels right.

Thanks to all for reading! The baseball draft is ONLY 4 weeks away! Start prepping now.

Follow @thefoulline on Twitter.

You Complete Me

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a guy that enjoys talking about baseball and sharing my opinions with a group of educated baseball fans. During the baseball season, I read every article I can get my hands on, and I follow a bunch of baseball writers on Twitter. Of all the writers I follow, there are a handful that are a must-read every day. Pete Abraham & Nick Cafardo with the Boston Globe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian with ESPN. But my favorite of all is Buster Olney.

Buster Olney is everywhere… Baseball Tonight, Twitter, Podcasts, SportsCenter, and ESPN’s baseball telecasts. He also writes a daily article on ESPN.com in which he links all the baseball news for all the MLB teams. It’s always a good read. He really is the hardest working guy in baseball.

I had planned on going to the Rays practice today with my buddy Trent (RedRays) and a couple of friends from work. While making our plans, I noticed on Twitter that ESPN and Buster Olney were going to be in Port Charlotte. I relayed this to Trent, who replied, “We gotta get a pic with him for thefoulline.com!” This became our mission.

We arrived at the stadium at 9:30 to a capacity crowd of twenty other fans. The gates opened and we made our way to the closest field to watch the Rays stretch, run 20-yard dashes, and play catch. We were able to score a prime fence-line position in front of the immortal Shelley Duncan (who promptly shouted “Nobody likes you!” to an annoyingly obnoxious fan that has some sort of personal vendetta against Jose Molina) and the enigmatic Yunel Escobar, who for some odd reason got along great with the loud obnoxious jackass. He even tossed the loudmouth a ball. That sounds about right.

We worked our way around the park checking out the different fields. No sign of Buster.

We watched Matt Moore throw batting practice. I know it’s early, but he was all over the place. I only saw him throw a handful of strikes the entire session. We witnessed James Loney making a SportsCenter top-10 catch during fielding drills, and a bewildered Jeff Niemann having trouble keeping the ball down in PFP.

Practice was winding down, and still no Buster. I was receiving texts from thefoulline.com headquarters inquiring on the status of the Buster meet & greet. I had nothing to report.

But as the clock struck 11 am, who do I see walking down the center sidewalk, notepad in hand? It’s Buster Olney!

I walked up to him and told him I was a big fan and enjoyed his writing. He seemed taken aback by this and maybe a little embarrassed. Maybe he doesn’t have many lunatic blog writers bum-rush him at spring training practices? I asked for a quick picture with him. Redrays was Johnny-on-the-spot and snapped a keeper. I thanked Buster for his time and said it was nice to meet him. He replied, “Any idea which field Wil Myers is on?” I just happened to know exactly where he was. “Sure, I’ll show you.” As we walked to the field, we had a quick Q&A:

Buster: so are you a Rays fan?
Me: Nope… I like the Red Sox. This park is just so convenient to watch practice.
Buster: How do you think they’re going to do this year?
Me: They have to be better than last season, right?
Buster: It’s hard to say… They all really hated each other last year. The guys they brought in may make a difference.
Me: They were hard to watch. Hopefully their mojo is better at least.
Buster: Well, gotta go… Good luck with your Sox this year!
Me: You complete me!
Ok, that last part didn’t happen, but this encounter with Buster Olney confirmed my thoughts about him. He’s engaging, friendly, and professional. It was worth the trip to Charlotte County Stadium.

Rays-centric Quick Hits:

  • How does Dave Martinez not have a managing job? When he was asked this today by a fan, he replied, “I want to win one in Tampa before going anywhere else.” He’s a class act.
  • Luke Scott is crazy. He hung the boar’s head that he killed with a spear in the Rays clubhouse. He talks to everyone – players, coaches, fans, security guards. Is he the new Jonny Gomes in Tampa?
  • I watched Chris Archer throw some serious cheese. He has an easy, effortless delivery that pops the catcher’s mitt on every throw.
  • Speaking of impressive performances… Juan Sandoval had quite a crowd around him during his pitching session. He looked good, throwing strike after strike. What made this even more impressive? He’s blind in his right eye.
  • I saw Super-GM Andrew Friedman walk into a port-a-potty while chatting on his cellphone, then walk out while still talking. I’m guessing he didn’t wash his hands.
  • Watched super prospect Wil Myers take BP today. He didn’t rake like I had hoped, but RedRays and I both noticed he doesn’t wear batting gloves. This led to RedRays asking, “Do you think he pees on his hands like Moises Alou?”
  • It blows my mind that the Rays don’t have more fans. They have a quality organization, great spring training facility, and legitimate superstars in Price and Longoria, and they compete every year. They deserve better.

We finished the day at The October Boys’s restaurant, Bocca Lupo in Port Charlotte. It’s the best pizza around. It was a perfect ending to a fun day. Check it out when you’re down here for spring training!

Spring Love

The Major League Baseball season is a 162-game grind. Thirty teams come in with a clean slate and a fresh start, and excitement for making the coveted playoffs is high. Well, maybe not in Houston, Minnesota, or San Diego, but you catch my drift. Everyone is going to predict the Tigers, Nationals, Braves, and Giants as potential World Series contenders. And they should – those teams are loaded. Tension will build. Expectations will be high. Questions will be asked. Who’s going to be this year’s surprise team? Who are this year’s Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles?

Right now, who cares? It’s Spring Training!

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian sums up Spring Training up perfectly: “It is a time for optimism, a fresh start and hope.”

So for now, let’s enjoy six weeks of good weather. Let’s watch the bright-eyed prospects fight for a spot on a Major League roster, and the aging veterans trying to delay the inevitable. Let’s watch teams that we typically don’t get a chance to see. Let’s enjoy the cheaper ticket prices and the intimate stadiums.

It’s spring. It’s baseball. Everyone is 0-0. It’s anyone’s ballgame!

Not Ready to Make Nice

After a disastrous 2012 season, the Red Sox owners added some character guys on the tail end of their careers. In an effort to make the team more likable, Sox owners signed Ryan Dempster – great Harry Caray impersonator, got shelled in Texas last year; Shane Victorino and his .255 batting average; Mike Napoli and his two necrotic hips.

But the the most egregious signing of all was Johnny freakin’ Gomes! What the hell was that all about? How can Gomes ever get cheered at Fenway after his sucker punching and hair pulling of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the “fight” pile? I can understand defending your teammates, but what I can’t comprehend is having this orangutan patrol left field in Fenway Park. I’ve disliked a lot of players in my time, but it’d be hard to find anyone I dislike more than Gomes. But what the hell… It’s only $10 million, and he’s all ours for two seasons.

Quick hits:

  • Speaking of that fight… Does anyone wonder if Coco and James Shields have ever thrown a punch in their collective lives? Whiff… whiff!
  • I still hate the Rays, but I’m interested to see Wil Myers play.
  • I’m making a return to the Rays Opening Day game. Last year’s Rays vs. Yanks game was one of the best I have ever seen live.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that the Cleveland Indians do well this season. I’m still a huge Francona fan.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that Bobby Valentine contracts syphilis. I still can’t stand that guy.
  • Am I the only one that feels sorry for Houston Astro Carlos Pena? They are by far the worst team in MLB. Moving to the American League is not going to help.
  • It’s my tradition to buy a new Red Sox hat before the start of every season. I might skip it this year. I’m really starting to dislike the Sox ownership.
  • The word around Red Sox camp is that John Lackey is in great shape. They’re also reporting that he’s still a mouth breather.
  • I made the decision a few weeks ago that I was going to cut back on Spring Training games this year. Next thing I know, Dylan hooks us up with Sox vs. Cardinals. Followed by my brother scoring Sox vs. Rays. Then the October Boy asks me to go to the Rays vs. Phillies. Followed by my buddy Nate getting Tigers vs. Mets tix. Suddenly, my spring is looking up!
  • I really, really hope Ryan Braun isn’t a juicer. But I think he is.
  • AL East final 2013 standings: 1. Blue Jays, 2. Rays, 3. Yankees, 4. Red Sox, 5. Orioles
  • What are your thoughts on a 12-team league? Does that interest anyone?

Well, that’s two posts in two days… Is it baseball season yet?