The Problem Is Choice

As we fast approach the 8th annual thefoulline.com fantasy baseball draft, I’ve come across some difficult decisions in my prep work. A lot of players are frighteningly similar in average draft position, skill sets, and production. It’s on you to make the choice of who you want to be on your team. Sounds easy, right?

In a perfect world, all the players you’re considering drafting would have career seasons. The hitters would all hit .300 with 30 HRs and 115 RBI, and the pitchers would all win 15+ games. But of course that’s not the case. As we all have found out the hard way, one of the players you’re considering will have an MVP-type season. The other will spend 10 weeks on the DL. You have to navigate the minefield and make choices that won’t sink your season before the first pitch is thrown.

Three years ago, Dave wrote a post called Weapon Of Choice where he went into detail on this very problem. It’s time for a follow-up. Here are some of the choices that I’ve found myself facing.

Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw?

Who’s number one? That’s the decision facing Dennis and his October Boys as he secures the first overall pick for the 47th consecutive season. This choice boils down to your base philosophy in building a fantasy baseball team. Do you go with the best pitcher in the world, or the young phenom who finally secured his elusive first AL MVP last year? A year ago, this was a no-brainer. But Kershaw has put himself so far ahead of every other pitcher that you have to stop and consider the advantage he gives you over the field. Add in the fact that Trout seems to be regressing, as his OPS, OBP, batting average, and SBs have all plummeted, and you have a real decision to make. But at the end of the day, there are far fewer elite hitters than elite pitchers, and that makes Trout the pick here. But I can’t fault anyone for going the other way.

Felix Hernandez, David Price, or Chris Sale?

We all know what Clayton Kershaw brings to the table, but who’s the second pitcher off the board? All these guys are strong candidates, and all have things that set them apart. Felix Hernandez piles up the innings and strikeouts but has had trouble securing wins on a mediocre Mariners team. David Price is probably the best workhorse in MLB at this point, throwing an absurd 250 innings last year, while leading the majors in strikeouts and having an amazing walk rate. But he’s a little too hittable and seems to have trouble keeping his ERA down. Chris Sale is probably the most dominant of the three, but he can never seem to have a fully healthy season and has trouble piling up the innings needed to be an elite fantasy ace. If you’re willing to take a chance that Chris Sale could finally exceed 225+ innings, you could have the AL answer to Clayton Kershaw, but Felix Hernandez is the guy here. Safe, dependable, and more wins coming with an improved Mariners offense.

Andrew McCutchen or Giancarlo Stanton?

Again with a who’s number 2? This time it’s in the outfield. Nobody broke out in a bigger way than Stanton last year, cranking 37 jacks, 105 RBI, with a .290 batting average and a career-high 94 walks. Still just 25 years old, on an improving Marlins team, the sky is the limit, right? Maybe. He still has an issue staying healthy, only playing 150 games one time in his career. McCutchen, meanwhile, is an absolute rock, finishing in the top 5 in H2H points leagues for three straight years. Personal experience, last year I took Ryan Braun instead of McCutchen because I wanted Braun’s 40 HR, 30 SB, .315 BA upside. You know all the rest. McCutchen dominated, while Braun was a shell of his former self and was off my team by mid-May. Stanton has the upside to be the best hitter in fantasy baseball, but if you’re picking in the top 5, safety has value. McCutchen is who you want here.

Corey Kluber or Johnny Cueto?

Both these guys broke out in a big way last year and will be drafted in the mid 2nd round. But who can you trust? Can you trust either? The answer is yes… It’s Corey Kluber. This may be a bit of an upset, but Kluber is someone I’m targeting in all my mocks. He’s a 1st-round type arm with a 2nd-round price tag because people just can’t get behind “one-year wonders.” (See RA Dickey, 2012.) Kluber is no fluke. All his advanced numbers are legit. He’s a strikeout pitcher with supreme control who piles up innings. Maybe I’m biased here, but I just can’t get behind Johnny Cueto. He’s burned me before, multiple times, and I just keep waiting for that strained dreadlock or whatever stupid injury he misses six weeks with. Kluber and Cueto have nearly identical average draft position, and most people will lean Cueto. But trust me, you’re gonna regret it…

What decisions do you find yourself stuck with in your mock drafts? Let us know! Try not to pick the wrong guy on draft day (a talent I seem to have mastered), because it will leave you scrambling and making decisions that hurt your team in the long run to make up for short-term losses.

Like Neo said throughout the Matrix trilogy, “The Problem is Choice.”

The Safety Dance

I was playing some disc golf with my buddy Kyle the other day, and we stumbled upon a collegiate baseball tournament that was being played on the adjacent fields. I came to find out that there are 25 baseball teams playing in a month-long tournament in Port Charlotte (Snowbird Baseball Classic on Florida’s Suncoast). After dominating Kyle in golf, we caught a few innings of Montclair State University vs. Carthage College. If you put a gun to my head I couldn’t tell you where these school are located, but I can tell you it was really enjoyable to watch. This just further proves what I always say… Any baseball is good baseball.

Enjoy thefoulline.com’s Quick Hits:

  • Manny Ramirez has 3 sons, all named Manny.
  • How is it possible that the frickin’ New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys conglomeration of suckiness is having a concert at Fenway Park this summer and Pearl Jam is not?
  • If I had the chance to spend a day talking baseball with any two people in the world, Don Zimmerman and Yogi Berra would definitely top the list.
  • If I had the chance to spend a day talking fantasy baseball with any two people in the world, Ginger and the Bostonbadboy would definitely top the list.
  • Big, bad, burly Dan Johnson’s walk up music is Men Without Hats, “The Safety Dance.” Odd choice.
  • I’m really looking forward to a season of ESPN baseball broadcasts without Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Joe Morgan is a pompous ass.
  • I just read that Chipper Jones is having a great spring and is swinging the bat better than he did in 2008. I expect to be reading in two weeks that Chipper Jones is on the DL with a hang nail.
  • I think the Baltimore Orioles have a chance to go 81-81. Their pitching isn’t quite there, but the lineup with Vlad, Markakis, Mark Reynolds, Luke Scott, Brian Roberts, and Matt Wieters should be fun to watch.
  • Quick! Not counting Fausto Carmona, Grady Sizemore, and Carlos Santana, name three players on the Cleveland Indians. (Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner were all I could come up with.) I think the Royals may have some competition for worst team in baseball.
  • I’m not sold that Josh Beckett is going to have the great resurgence that a lot of fantasy experts are projecting.
  • I’m predicting that Jonathan Papelbon will be the Baltimore Orioles closer in 2011.
  • Dear Seattle Mariner ownership: Please do not trade King Felix to the Yankees regardless of who they offer you. He’s your franchise guy. Build around him!
  • Has anyone seen Unsportsman Mike? I don’t want to hear any more lame excuses about an auto-drafted team this year. He had a three-week notice.
  • I’m hoping for the 4th-6th pick in this years draft. Not a fan of the bookend position.

12 days.

The Best of What’s Around

With Opening Day of the 2008 Major League Baseball season a few short hours away, the staff at thefoulline.com has come up with the inaugural Thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness. This is a team of players, handpicked by Dylan and me, who represent what this site stands for. These players may not necessarily be the best at their respective positions, some may not even be good at baseball at all, but they have the attributes to make them worthy of this prestigious honor.

To be eligible for this team, players have to meet certain requirements:

  • No Yankees allowed
  • Must be able to play hurt, and not spend more time on the DL then on the active roster. (This means Rocco Baldelli is out.)
  • Must keep their name on the sports page, not on the police blotter.
  • Not on the Mitchell Report. Sorry, Roger.
  • Most importantly, these are players that Dylan and I like. It was hard to not make it all Red Sox, but we did our best.
  • No Yankees allowed

Here is the 2008 Thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness

Catcher: Jason Varitek
Varitek is not only the captain of the Boston Red Sox, but we are making him the captain here as well. Although he’s getting on in years, he still prepares his pitchers well and calls a great game.

First Base: Mark Texiera
Tex flies under the radar as far as elite first basemen go. He’s solid every year he plays.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
The baddest man in Boston provides the scrappy trash-talking factor for the team. If this guy was 6 feet tall, he would be a household name.

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera
I still can’t get over the Sox not signing him in favor of Edgar Renteria. The O.C. was great for Boston during their 2004 run.

Third Base: Alex R…..NOT! David Wright
This guy has every chick in New York City wanting him, and he still goes out and hits .324 with 30 HRs. Plus I like the fact that Derek Jeter gets this guy’s leftovers. Best 3rd baseman in NYC.

Right Field: Vladimir Guerrero
Vlad swings for the fences with every swing of the bat and has a laser-rocket arm. What’s not to like? He once went yard in the on-deck circle.

Center Field: Grady Sizemore
Sizemore plays the game like a new and improved Jim Edmonds. Not to mention, Grady is a pretty cool first name.

Left Field: Carl Crawford
Poor Carl, playing in relative obscurity in Tampa, still manages to put up great numbers. And he has to play his spring training games next to road-rager Jon Weber.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz
This one was obvious. He’s one of the most likable people in all of sports as well as the greatest postseason clutch hitter on the planet. Plus, I can’t really think of another DH worth a damn.

Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett
He makes the team due to his remarkable playoff record and the fact that he never smiles during a game. This guy epitomizes intensity.

Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir
This future Red Sox led the league in strikeouts last year. Also Dylan has a man-crush on him, and vice-versa.

Starting Pitcher: Jake Peavy
He’s great at nothing but really good at everything.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez
His nickname is King, and he one-hit the Red Sox last year. That’s good enough for me.

Starting Pitcher: Tom Glavine
Token old-timer of the staff and 300-game winner. Also Dylan saw him play high school hockey in Billerica, Mass.

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Great stuff. Decent dancer. Crazy as hell.

Bench: Carlos Pena
The pride of Haverhill, Mass.

Bench: Troy Tulowitzki
Pretty good ballplayer, even if he does play for the Rockies.

Bench: Joe Mauer
Close personal friend of Matt McLaughlin, so he makes the team.

Bench: Kevin Millar
This guy will never make it out on the field for this team, but he’s a fun guy to keep around.

Manager: Sparky Anderson
My dad’s favorite manager when I was growing up.

League Commissioner: Bill Lee

Here’s our team. I think that they would fare pretty well in the league. Who makes your Team of Awesomeness?