Let’s Get It Started

My favorite time of the year is finally here.

As much as I love the real sport of baseball, there’s something about playing in a fantasy baseball league that really gets my juices flowing. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, as ten team owners vie for the league title. Maybe it’s following every team in baseball, keeping track of “your” players, instead of just the ones on your favorite team. Or maybe it’s the six months of constant trash talking, or working out blockbuster deals with your family members over dinner. Perhaps it’s the chance for regular people to play General Manager, making trades, scouring the waiver wire, looking for the next hot player. For me, it’s all of those things.

So let’s get it started. These are a few questions I have going into the 2009 fantasy season.

  • Is A-Rod still worthy of a top-5 pick, or will the Un-Natural wilt under the extreme pressure of the steroid scandal?
  • Which round do you start looking at Manny Ramirez? If he had been signed a month ago, I would say 2nd or 3rd, but the longer these negotiations drag on, the more uninspired Manny will get. We all know how Manny reacts to being “disrespected.”
  • Will Big Papi rebound from his disappointing 2008 season?
  • Who will be the first pitcher drafted? Johan? Lincecum? CC?
  • Is Dan the #1 Rays Fan too scared to join our league?
  • Will Matt McLaughlin attempt to draft a team entirely of Red Sox and Twins players?
  • Can we finally put to rest the “I could’ve won if I hadn’t lost my password” excuse? (That means you, Boston badboys.)
  • Will anyone trade with Team Yankeehater?
  • Will Dylan attempt to draft Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount to add to his stable of shortstops?
  • Can the Love Boat Captains continue her impressive run, or has that ship sailed?
  • Will Dave McLaughlin finally acknowledge that he got lucky in the 2008 finals?
  • Is Dan Mc a closet Yankee fan? With a team name like Fran-comas, I’m starting to wonder.

So it begins, boys and girl. I don’t care which team you play for. I don’t care if you sucker-punched Coco Crisp last year or if you’re dating Madonna. This year I’m pulling out all the stops to grab the title of TheFoulLine.com Fantasy Baseball Champion.

Only three spots in the league remain. Sign up now!!!!

Everything in Its Right Place

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • For the record, I wrote a few months ago that the Red Sox should make every attempt to trade for Johan Santana. This included dealing Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, pretty much anyone. Obviously the Sox front office is smarter than I am.
  • In case you missed it, Jon Lester threw a no-hitter against the K.C. Royals the other night. I’ve always figured that Lester would be a solid contributor for the Sox. He’s a guy that I thought could go out and win 12-15 games a year and be a solid #3 guy in the rotation. After Monday’s performance, I think I’ve underestimated his ability.
  • Watching the Sox as a kid, they were always a slow, prodding team that relied on the long ball. They rarely manufactured runs, and stolen bases were nonexistent. The 2008 team with Ellsbury, Coco, Pedroia, Youk and Lugo stealing bases and playing small ball is a lot more fun to watch.
  • Speaking of Lugo, his tenure in Boston may be coming to an end. What kind of message is Terry Francona sending when Lugo gets a defensive replacement four games in a row? Paging Jed Lowrie…
  • Jacoby Ellsbury stole 25 bases in a row to start his career, two short of the record set by Tim Raines. Ellsbury was thrown out on a pitch-out and a perfect strike from the catcher to second base, and he still was barely out. This kid is scary fast.
  • Manny Ramirez stated that he has stopped hitting home-runs on purpose. He said that fans aren’t excited enough about it, and he is going to wait to hit them on the upcoming west coast trip. The reason fans aren’t excited, Man-Ram, is that you’re hitting .178 with 11 strikeouts over the last 12 games. And you’re an idiot.
  • The Sox have had solid contributions this year from their young players: Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, and Brandon Moss.
  • The Yankees “top” young players have done the following: Phillip Hughes 0-4, 9.00 ERA; Ian Kennedy 0-3, 8.48 ERA; Jeff Karstens 1-4, 11.05 ERA; Melky Cabrera, .252 batting average; Joba Chamberlain, 10 holds, 2.66 ERA, 700 cheeseburgers eaten. Advantage: Boston.
  • Bartolo Colon is wicked fat, but he pitched pretty well last night. He may make his Fantasy debut for the Yankeehaters next week.
  • Joba Chamberlain is joining the New York Yankees starting rotation. This is going to be just the boost the Yanks need to leapfrog the Blue Jays and seize fourth place in the division.
  • Ex-Sox and current freak show Eric Gagne is being sidelined with a shoulder “injury.” Have you seen this guy lately? Not only is he stinking it up in Milwaukee, but he may be the ugliest human on the planet. 7.45 ERA, multiple blown saves, $10 million… money well spent.

Hey Man Nice Shot

Good teams find ways to win.

Sometimes it’s a pitcher throwing a complete game to give a tired bullpen the night off, or a great defensive play to keep your team in the lead. In the case of the Red Sox, it’s been back-to-back games with a game-winning home run in the 9th inning.

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • It already sucks to be a Cleveland Indians fan. It must suck even more when the Red Sox come to town and you know that your team is going to find a way to lose. The Indians have a ton of talent and should be running away with the division, but with a 5-9 record they are one game out of the Central Division cellar. Maybe they need some Lake Erie Midges swarming around their heads to get them back in the groove.
  • Did you see the lineup Terry Francona put out last night? Coco, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Lugo, and Cash. I thought they were mailing it in before another Yankees series. I guess even the Sox reserves can beat most teams.
  • It was great to see yet another Red Sox prospect live up to the hype. Two years ago it was Jonathan Papelbon. Last year it was Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, and Manny Delcarmen. After last night’s 3 RBI performance in his first Major League game, it may be time to add Jed Lowrie to the list of legitimate prospects.
  • Which reminds me, how are the over-hyped Yankees Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy working out for New York? Last time I checked, Hughes was was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, and Kennedy was 0-1 with an impressive 8.74 ERA. Do you think the Yankees are regretting not dealing these guys for Johan Santana?
  • Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano will make a combined $22,071,029 this season.
  • Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon will make a combined $4,775,000 this season.
  • To further reinforce how crazy the Steinbrenners are, these idiots actually dug up the “cursed” Ortiz jersey buried in Yankee stadium. News Flash, Hank! The shirt is not the reason your team stinks. It’s the lousy pitching pitching staff, over-hyped prospects, and $28 million cancer playing third base.
  • The Red Sox are in first place. Woo-hoo!

The Winner Takes It All, Week 1

Well boys and girl, we have the first week of the inaugural thefoulline.com fantasy baseball league in the books. The competition is fierce so far with several teams putting up some solid numbers. Since this is an off day for the Red Sox, here is a brief synopsis of what I saw from each of the fantasy teams this week. In no particular order:

  • My Best Efforts: This is a pretty well-rounded team from top to bottom. They had the best individual performance from any pitcher so far with Jake Peavy and his whopping 63.5 points. If they add a catcher that is actually in the major leagues, they could be a force this year.
  • Lessthanzero: An up-and-down week from our neighbor to the north. He had a big week from Derek Lee, Alex Gordon, and Corey “I wear my sunglasses at night” Hart. LTZ is going to need first-round fantasy pick Erik Bedard to rebound from his minor hip injury, and for Jose Reyes to play to his potential for this team to make a serious run.
  • SarasotaRedRays: Featuring Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, and Kenji Johjima, team SRR has probably the most out of shape team in the league. He was able to get good fantasy numbers from Carlos Zambrano and Bobby Jenks. Even with J.J. Putz missing time this week and a bench in need of some work, SarasotaRedRays still performed well enough to earn 316.83 points and a third place finish.
  • Bostonbad boys: This team may have the best pitching staff in the league featuring Johan Santana, Brandon Webb, and Dice K. Unfortunately, this team may stay unchanged all season because my dad forgot how to log in to the site. It’s tough getting old.
  • Boston Braves: This team had a mediocre week from its big three, Ryan Howard, Russell Martin, and Aramis Ramirez. This team’s saving grace was a good week from its closers. I expect a big week for these guys next week after a blockbuster trade with the YankeeHaters (pending league approval).
  • The Showstoppers: Theo Epstein’s prodigy Matt McLaughlin’s team is the league leader in points for the first week, with good numbers from every position. If he can upgrade his catcher, I don’t see anyone beating him any time soon.
  • Rogers Syringe: This team is in trouble. Although it may look good on paper to have seven shortstops, pitching is also important. Dylan threw caution to the wind this week, fielding only 13 out of a possible 16 positions. He’s either the most confidant G.M., or the craziest. This team needs to be blown up and reassembled. Does anyone need a shortstop?
  • Chickenheads: This team had the second most points this week and will be a serious contender if he keeps his team intact. With A-Rod and Pujols in the lineup, and an above-average pitching staff, this team won’t be laying any eggs anytime soon.
  • Yankeehaters: I like the look of my team. After a blockbuster trade with the Chickenheads, the additions of Fausto Carmona and Josh Hamilton paid immediate dividends. My impatience with my players and the desire to make at least one mega-deal a week may be my downfall. I may regret dealing Manny Ramirez.
  • Love Boat Captains: After a strong draft from our only woman in the league, Team LBC had an up-and-down week. Placido Polanco was a huge disappointment, going from 2007 All-Star to a two-point benchwarmer for week 2. It took a few games for stars Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter to regain their stroke from last year. A solid 35.5 points from Pirate Ian Snell (who??) made this a respectable week for LBC. This is a good team that will play better in weeks to come.

What do you think of the season so far?

A blessing in disguise

Yesterday when I read that Curt Schilling had an injured shoulder and was going to miss the first half of the season, I was pretty worried. I was hoping that Schill was going to have a solid final season in the major leagues and make a push for making the Hall of Fame someday. I was concerned that the Red Sox would miss his leadership. I wondered how the Red Sox rotation would fare with two young guns assuming a very important role. I was wondering if Theo Epstein blew it by not making a serious run at Johan Santana.

But then I came to my senses.

The Red Sox had the best rotation in baseball last year in spite of the elementary performance of Schilling. Schill came into spring training looking like a poor man’s Joba Chamberlain, and it showed with his injury. The once dominant fast-baller had morphed into a finesse pitcher with a weight problem. Hitters were no longer intimidated by him, which was evident by his 9-8 record. He couldn’t blow the pitches past the hitters and resorted to nibbling the corners. I was on the edge of my seat every time Schilling pitched last year, because he was always one pitch away from serving up a three run home-run. I had big hopes for Schilling this year. He seemed motivated to come to camp this year in better shape and erase the memories of his disappointing 2007 season.

With Schilling missing at least the first half of the season, this is the opportunity Clay Buchholz needs to prove why he is Boston’s top pitching prospect. Buchholz was dominant during his short stint with the Sox last year, but being that he is only 24 years old and still developing, the Sox will want to limit his innings this season. So maybe he can assume the #5 spot in the rotation until Schilling comes back, then go to a six-man rotation for the playoff run. This will give everyone a little rest and get them ready for the playoffs.

I still really like Boston’s rotation this year. Beckett will be Beckett and should chalk up another 20 wins. Dice K, with a season of experience under his belt, should take his game up a notch. Wakefield is always good for at least 12 wins. Then we have the always improving Jon Lester, and the wild card Clay Buchholz. If any of these guys falter, Boston will have some options. Kyle Snyder and Julian Tavarez are always available to start. There some kids in the minors worthy of a call-up. And if all else fails, Theo will make the deal to shore up the rotation.

We all know pitching wins games. We’ll soon see if the Sox have enough to defend their title.

Checking in from thefoulline.com

Sorry about the lack of post the last few weeks, but it has been quiet in the world of baseball. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers that writes something everyday, just for the sake of writing. I want to keep this a baseball blog, so please be patient and keep tuning in. Things will hopefully heat up soon. With that being said, here are some thefoulline.com news and notes:

  • How about Hank Steinbrenner doing his best George Steinbrenner impersonation. First, giving the Twins a deadline on the Johan Santana deal. How’d that one work out for you Hank? Secondly, New York has just signed Latroy Hawkins to a one year deal. So let me do the math for the 2008 Yankees: One weak bullpen – Joba + Hawkins + re-signing the aging Mariano Rivera = another lousy season for New York.
  • Only in MLB would a team give Eric Gagne a one year, ten million dollar contract. Maybe the G.M. of the Brewers should have watched some American League baseball last year. Gagne was horrible. He blew every opportunity he had last year in Boston. I wouldn’t have given him a nickel. Although with my luck, Gagne will probably win another Cy Young now that he’s back playing in the Junior Varsity. (N.L.)
  • I’m glad to see the Red Sox haven’t re-signed Doug Mirabelli. I know that he catches the knuckleball well. But there are other guys that can catch it also, and hit higher than .202.
  • How about this week for Red Sox Nation’s favorite player Jacoby Ellsbury. First signing with the anti-christ Scott Boras. Then charging $125 for his autograph. What is he thinking? I would never pay more then five bucks for an autograph from someone with 30 games of major league experience. Now that I think about it, there are maybe five athletes/celebrities that I would pay for an autograph. Here they are in no particular order:
    1. Bill Russell
    2. Ted Williams
    3. Larry Bird
    4. Eddie Vedder
    5. Dylan Hamilton

    Maybe it’s time for Jacoby to stop reading about how great he is, and remember that he is still a rookie.

  • The Red Sox Spring training games are going on sale next week. Have you seen the prices for decent seats? Standing room $10, box seats $26-$46. Why would someone pay $46 bucks for a spring training game? The chances are pretty good that you’ll be watching the 2008 Portland Sea Dogs take the field. I would rather take the $46 dollars and buy season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays. At least this way I’m guaranteed to see major league players… and the Rays.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned….

Anybody but Ellsbury

The Boston Red Sox have seized the momentum in the great Yankees/Red Sox feud with another World Series victory. Let’s hope that they don’t let up. They have a great opportunity to upgrade their already potent pitching staff and drive a stake into the heart of the Evil Empire by finally beating out the Yankees for the best player available. I don’t care if they knock New York off the top of the high-salary mountain; everyone knows that Boston is loaded with cash after their second World Series victory in four years. If I were Theo Epstein, I’d have the Minnesota Twins on speed dial and start giving up players until they agree to give up Johan Santana.

With the exception of course of Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ellsbury has already proven that he belongs in the Majors. He plays the game like a seasoned veteran and should be a lock for the American League Rookie of the Year in 2008. We had the opportunity to see all aspects of Jacoby Ellsbury’s game last season: his speed, great defense, surprisingly potent bat, and most importantly his heart.

In professional baseball, it’s obvious when someone can play. This evaluation is a lot easier with a position player than it is with a pitching prospect, which is more like playing the stock market, where no one is guaranteed to perform. There have been countless “can’t miss” pitchers picked in the first round of the draft that have flamed out faster than you can say “Todd Van Poppel.” Does anyone know which Baskin Robbins former #1 pick Brien Taylor is working at these days? With young pitchers it is never a sure thing.

With that being said, I would give up Lester, Buchholz, Lowrie, Crisp and whichever Minor League pitcher they want. I would make them an offer they can’t refuse. With Josh Beckett, Johan Santana, and Dice K locked into the starting rotation for the next several years, Boston has the opportunity to become a legitimate dynasty and have time to restock their farm system.

The funny thing is, I would prefer it if the Red Sox made a deal for the Oakland A’s Dan Haren instead. I think he is just a notch below Santana in talent but would still fit in well in the Boston rotation. Haren wouldn’t cost as much in terms of salary and prospects as Johan but would still be considered another legitimate staff ace.

But knowing how bad the Yankees want and need Santana makes me want the Sox to push even harder for him, because no matter how many times I see the Yankees lose, it never gets old. Even if it’s just a player they’re playing for.