MLB Offseason Review

Hey everyone, Dan here.

Ever since the San Francisco Giants recorded the final out against the Kansas City Royals in the World Series last year, this date has just been flashing in my head…. April 5th… April 5th….

Despite the winter seeming to drag on forever, the Super Bowl is now over. And that means we are officially on the fast track to baseball’s opening day. But that’s not to say that the winter didn’t produce some real highlights. This was perhaps the most crazy, active, and wild offseason in baseball in the last 20 years. But who put themselves in the best position? Who gutted their team? It’s time for thefoulline.com’s official offseason review!

The Nationals Don’t Need Any More Pitching

So what do you do if you lead Major League Baseball in ERA and get knocked out of the postseason because you scored 9 runs in 4 games? You make upgrading your offense the goal of your offseason, right? Nah, you go out and give Max Scherzer $210 million. The Nationals go with the “you strengthen your strength” approach and it gives them the strongest MLB rotation since the 1995 Atlanta Braves. If they can get anything close to what Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman are capable of, Washington has to be considered the World Series favorite.

The Padres Want to Be Relevant Again

Finish last in the majors in runs? No problem. Add Matt Kemp? Check. Add Justin Upton? Check. Add Wil Myers? Check. The Padres GM gets a gold star for his offseason, taking big steps to rebuild this team and energize a franchise that hasn’t been interesting in a long time. The real kicker here is that they managed to completely rebuild their offense without giving up a single one of their top three prospects. New Padres GM AJ Preller looks to be a rising superstar in the GM ranks.

Cole Hamels Is Still a Phillie… For Now

I expect this to change. The Phillies have nothing to gain from keeping Hamels. They’re easily the worst team in that division, and it would serve them well to get Hamels’s contract off the books and bring in some young talent to fully start their rebuilding process. Add Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon to the list of Phillies players that need new homes in 2015. I still think the Hamels deal gets done. The Phillies will lower their price as the season approaches. Prediction? Hamels is pitching in Fenway Park in 2015.

Billy Beane Has Either Lost His Marbles, or He’s Five Steps Ahead of Everyone

So is Oakland trying to contend, or trying to rebuild? I’m lost here. They trade their best player, Josh Donaldson, for prospects, then turn around and flip their #1 prospect to Tampa Bay for Ben Zobrist. They sign Billy Butler for $30 million, but then flip away Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and Derrick Norris. I know Billy Beane has entered into the Bill Belichick territory of “trust him no matter what,” but even I can’t figure out what he’s doing. I think I’m gonna go watch Moneyball again.

The Red Sox Retool; the Rays Restock

The two best teams in the AL East in 2013 both tanked to the bottom of the division in 2014. The Red Sox rebuilt their entire rotation and the left side of their infield. I’m not a huge fan of Pablo Sandoval, but leaving AT&T Park can only be good for him. I think Hanley Ramirez loses a lot of his value moving away from shortstop, but there’s no debate, if he’s healthy, his bat will tear up Fenway Park. I don’t think the Red Sox are done. In a division that’s really up for grabs in 2015, a Cole Hamels trade could make the Red Sox favorites to take back the AL East crown.

The Rays dealt away several fan favorites, lost Joe Maddon and Andrew Freidman, and hired the youngest manager in the Major Leagues. But this was necessary. Tampa Bay went all out trying to win a World Championship in 2014, and it failed miserably. Now it’s time to get younger, rebuild the farm, and take a new approach to contending. This will be a down year for the Rays, but they’re not quite in full rebuilding mode yet.

What did your team do this offseason? Are they contenders or pretenders? Let us know what you think of how your team’s winter went. Spring training is right around the corner, and I think 2015 is going to be the best year at thefoulline.com in a long time.

Pitchers and Catchers report in 12 days!

First Among Equals

Holy cow, that was a long first week of fantasy baseball! I think we can all agree that a seven-day game week is preferable to the 11-day marathon. Congrats to the teams that won. Good luck this week!

Quick Hits

  • Trades in fantasy baseball are a crazy thing. Sometimes there are obvious winners and losers. Other times times one team gets absolutely crushed. An example of this would be yours truly trading Alex Rodriguez and C.J. Wilson for Cole Hamels and Justin Upton. I drafted A-Rod in the 4th round of our draft, and I was happy with the pick. I think he’s going to have a monster season. But every time I saw him up to bat, I was wishing that he would take a fastball in his earhole. I think it’s important to have a fantasy team made up of players that are not only good but also fun to watch. I think Hamels and J. Upton  are two of those guys. A-Rod never will be.
  • The Yankeehaters were getting crushed this week. I traded A-Rod and my team’s performance turned around the next day. Karma? Perhaps. Either way — good riddance.
  • The 8th inning experiment with star closer Rafael Soriano is not going well. Some guys are just meant to pitch in the 9th inning. Oh well, it’s only $35 million.
  • B.J. Upton’s real name is Melvin.
  • There’s an appendicitis epidemic sweeping through baseball. I’m going to have mine prematurely removed so it doesn’t potentially affect my playoff run in fantasy baseball.
  • Manny Ramirez is a total scumbag. Joe Maddon and the Rays players supported him 100%. Manny repays this support by lying to them and then getting busted using steroids for the second time. Good riddance.
  • Sam Fuld makes a great defensive play every game.
  • The LBCs have been snakebit in the first week of our season. Don’t write her off quite yet. She’ll still make the playoffs.
  • Thanks Chefdick for dropping Edwin Jackson. He’s looking great so far.
  • The once-proud Cleveland Indians fan base was totally absent in the series against the Red Sox.  There was an average attendance of about 5000 fans per game. Didn’t they used to own the consecutive sellout streak?
  • Scoring the second most points in the league and losing is one of the frustrations of playing in a head-to-head league. Sorry, Chefdick.
  • Jered Weaver: 3 games, 3 wins, 9 hits allowed, 85.5 points. Wow!

The Foul Line Fantasy Baseball Power Rankings

  1. Yankeehaters: 541 points! I think that might be a world record
  2. chefdicks11: Some tough injuries down the stretch hurt. Playing the Yankeehaters hurt even more.
  3. RedRays: Put up a ton of points and crushed the two-time defending champ.
  4. bostobadboys: If Josh Beckett continues his great pitching, the BBB will be tough all year long.
  5. Rays Those Cowbells: Dan made some great trades this week. I anticipate RTC climbing up the rankings this week.
  6. Sam’s Baseball Train: Solid from top to bottom. Sam is going to win more than he loses this year.
  7. Love Boat Captains: This week was a fluke. Her team is better than their week-1 performance.
  8. WILLIS Be The Year: Pitching is pretty awful. If he addresses that, he could bounce back. He’s still 1-0.
  9. ToPpIn Da ChArTz: Losing Longoria was a big reason he lost this week. I look forward to A-Rod getting injured on your team this year.
  10. UNsportsmanMike: 295.5 points in an 11-day week? Really?

Go Sox!

You’re My Favorite

After spending a great day at the ballpark with my family, surrounded by really nice people, great weather and ballplayers busting their butts, I’m reminded of what a great game baseball is to watch.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called The Best of What’s Around. The post listed a team of players that I really enjoyed watching. Guys that played hard, weren’t jerks, and had a little personality. After today’s game, I’m inspired to write another one.

Once again, these guys aren’t the best players, but they’re all guys that I enjoy watching play the great game of baseball.

  • Catcher: Victor Martinez
    I like that he hits .300 and that he’s good for 20+ home runs a year. I love that he individualizes a different handshake for all 25 members of his team.
  • First Base: Prince Fielder
    Fat guys are jolly. And he’s the only 300-pound vegetarian in the world.
  • Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
    This is a no-brainer. He plays hard, he’s a smart-ass, and he’s my favorite player. Man-crush? That’s none of your damn business!
  • Third Base: Kevin Youkilis
    Sure, he looks like Yukon Cornelius, perspires like someone dumped a bucket of water on him, and has the weirdest batting stance in the league. I like that he gets super pissed
    like it’s game 7 of the World Series every time he makes an out. He’s a gamer.
  • Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
    I’m really not crazy about any of the shortstops in the league. Tulo rakes, but he has the tendency to get hurt every season. I figured I’d include him to show my support for my Polish readers. Plus, he grew a mullet for charity last season, which is awesome.
  • Outfield: Nick Swisher
    Ok, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I know he’s a Yankee. But Swisher seems like a really good dude. He has his own charity called Swish’s Wishes that helps out sick kids, and another that supports our U.S troops overseas. He’s a damn Yankee, but he’s ok in my book.
  • Outfield: Curtis Granderson
    Yup, another Yankee. This guy is fun to watch. My wife nicknamed him “Crazy Legs,” because when he sprints around the bases his legs are flailing around like a newborn giraffe learning how to run. Plus. this guy always has a smile on his face. If I played for the heartless, soul-sucking New York Yankees, I’d be pissed. But to each his own, I guess.
  • Outfield: Ryan Braun
    The Hebrew Hammer is the best outfielder on the planet and just too good to pass over on my team.
  • Pitcher: Ryan Dempster
    Solid pitcher. Does a great impersonation of Harry Caray. Provides the comic relief on my team.
  • Pitcher: David Price
    Signs more autographs at the Rays spring training practices than any other player. Plus, a friend of mine ran into him at a crappy Port Charlotte eatery and confirmed that he’s a good guy.
  • Pitcher: Ted Lilly
    His middle name is Roosevelt! Theodore Roosevelt Lilly. It’s the greatest name in baseball. Little guy, huge name.
  • Pitcher: Jon Lester
    The silent assassin. I like that this guy doesn’t say five words during the entire season. He just goes out and wins. I really like that he’s going to win the Cy Young award this year.
  • Pitcher: Cole Hamels
    There’s nothing that he does in particular that I love, except crushing the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. And that’s enough.
  • Closer: Brian Wilson
    Without a doubt,  this New Hampshirite is the craziest guy in all of baseball. I fear the beard… big time!
  • Manager: Earl Weaver
    This guy was Bobby Cox before Bobby Cox was. Weaver was once thrown out of a game while exchanging lineup cards at home plate. This team needs a fiery leader, and this guy is downright nuclear. And I went to a Baltimore Orioles game today, so he’s in.

This is the team of favorites I came up with. Good all-around guys. Of course, no team is complete without a few good bench players. Who should we add to the team?

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.