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by Moonlight Graham

There was a huge shift in the universe last week as the boys from the Hausier’s Krowedum Fantasy Baseball League sat down at the Manor Restaurant for their annual draft.  The three time defending champion Master Batters, huge proponents of spending early picks on outfielders, turned their attention instead to the new position of power in Fantasy Baseball;  the Corner Infield; especially First Base.

That Evan Longoria was the object of the Batters’ affection in the first round of their Fantasy Baseball Draft was indication of a huge change at the top of Fantasy Baseball rankings as well as the direction in which many Fantasy Baseball owners are headed this season in assembling their teams.  To be sure, studs still reside at the top of the Outfield list but not in the abundance with which we’ve become accustomed over recent years.

“You have to adjust on the fly, both before and during a Fantasy Draft”, said Batters’ owner, Bobby Carr.  “We’ve made our living by loading up on Outfielders before people realized waiting was foolish.  But, this year, that theory just didn’t hold up.  We’d have been much weaker had we waited on the Corner Infielders than the outfield.  We just thought we’d be much stronger with Longoria and Justin Upton than with Matt Kemp and Aramis Ramirez.”

Now, who is Moonlight to question a squad that has won six of its league’s last eight titles?  Let’s take a look at the Outfielders available in 2010. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

In the Hausier’s Krowedum Fantasy Baseball League, as well as many Dynasty, or Keeper, leagues across the country, Minor Leaguers can play an important role.  Drafting and holding on to prospects that are close to making contributions on the Major League level is a great way to supplement your Fantasy Baseball roster and increase your chances for a championship. If you don’t draft Minor Leaguers, it’s still worth a look, as some are good enough to warrant selection in a regular Fantasy Baseball Draft. What follows is a list of Moonlight’s Top Ten prospects for 2010; players who have yet to play in the majors ranked as much for their chances to see significant time in the big leagues this year as for their talent.  Good luck. Just twenty one days ’til pitchers and catchers! Continue reading »

With the season wrapped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the business of the post season.  We’ll get back to our off fieldwithballmoonseason Fantasy baseball advice in a week or two but, for now, we’ll preview the Major League Baseball playoffs and how we see ‘em.
First, it’s important to point out that, while there’s still alot of baseball to be played, Moonlight’s pre-season prediction of a Twins-Phillies World Series is still alive.  I’m about to pick against it but, I wanted to point that out.  On to the picks.

National League Playoffs

Phillies vs. Rockies-  The Rockies have been the NL’s best team since Jim Tracy took over and almost came all the way back to take the NL West.  There are problems in the rotation, however, as Jason Marquis has been relegated to the bull pen off of his poor second half performance and Jorge de la Rosa is iffy after leaving his last start.  No such problems exist in Philly, as their rotation goes five deep.  It’s the bullpen where the defending champs are uncertain, with Brad Lidge sporting a 7+ ERA and Ryan Madson failing to take hold of the job.  Does Charlie Manuel have the stuff to go with Brett Myers in a playoff series?  Stay tuned.  Phillies in 5.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals- The trading deadline acquisition of Matt Holliday solidified the St. Louis lineup and allowed them to coast in the NL Central.  They have the best pitching in the game behind Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter while the Dodgers rotation has been inconsistent through much of the second half; especially Chad Billingsley.  Look for the Cards’ hurlers to stifle Manny’s bat.  Cards in 4.

American League Playoffs

Yankees vs. Twins- It was a long, uphill climb for the Twinkies as they made up seven games in four weeks without former MVP Justin Morneau.  That climb may have taken too much out of them, however, to mount any kind of challenge vs. MLB’s best team.  The Bombers will feast on the Twins’ young hurlers and dominate Minnesota in the playoffs the same way they did while going 7-0 during the regular season.  Yankees in 4.

Angels vs. Red Sox-  Yes, I’m well aware that the Red Sox seem to have the Angels’ number over the last few years; back to 1986 to be more precise, actually.  But I love the way the Angels play, love their resiliency and determination and think Vladimir Guerrero is going to have a big October.  For the Sawx, Beckett has struggled for over a month and Jon Lester’s health is a question.  Angels in 3.

The Marlins’ decision to send Ricky Nolasco to the minors earlier in the year is fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhpaying tremendous dividends right now as Nolasco is leading Florida’s charge to the top of the NL East. Sunday, Nolasco continued his hot streak with 12 K over 8 shutout IP… I’ve been asked more than a few times if Tigers’ 3B Brandon Inge is a Sell High candidate. At the hot corner, he might be, but his eligibility behind the plate makes him a keeper…Chicago’s Jermaine Dye, already with 20 HR and 51 RBI, is not only one of the more consistent performers in the game, he’s also one of the most underrated in most fantasy baseball rankings… While the Rockies try to convince themselves and others that Garrett Atkins will turn things around in the second half, the fact that the third baseman’s numbers have not improved a bit while Colorado has become the NL’s hottest team is enough to make me stay away… Mike MacDougal, 5 for 5 in S opportunities since becoming Washington’s closer, is this week’s example of why you should never reach for closers in your fantasy baseball draft… Baltimore’s Matt Wieters 3 H, 1 HR performance on Sunday raised his BA to .277 during a hot streak that started on Father’s Day when I got my Wieters t-shirt from my kids… Derrek Lee and David Ortiz have spent the month of June proving that players with hand or wrist injuries need warm weather more than anything in order to return to form… Seattle’s Brandon Morrow has strung together three solid performances as he readjusts to the starting rotation… Be careful if you have Alex Rios on your fantasy baseball team. You might be inclined to try and time Rios’ hot streaks, especially now that he’s been dropped to seventh in Toronto’s order. Don’t… In St. Louis, Colby Rasmus has 10 HR and 32 RBI in limited playing time. Keep an eye on him, though, as he’s still struggling to gain Tony LaRussa’s confidence and may lose AB when Mark DeRosa returns to the lineup… Tigers’ rookie hurler Rick Porcello, after a sensational start, may be hitting a wall, as indicated by two straight tough outings. Don’t give up on him… Vladimir Guerrero returned to the Angels’ outfield this weekend after serving exclusively as the team’s DH to this point… Dan Haren has issued just 15 BB in 17 starts… In his last 43 plate appearances, Lance Berkman has reached base 25 times… Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 134 RBI to this point and the anemic Brewers have needed every one of them… Only Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Ralph Kiner, and Harmon Killebrew hit 300 HR in less AB than Adam Dunn, who reached the plateau this weekend…

Buy Low- With his A’s in the basement and the trade deadline approaching, look for Billy Beane to move Matt Holliday soon. A move out of Oakland’s spacious ballpark could be just what he needs… Might be your last chance for David Ortiz, as his 8 HR in June indicate his hand is all the way back…

Sell High- Now that the Padres have traded Scott Hairston, no one is left to protect Adrian Gonzalez, who had 21 BB while Hairston was on the DL… 3B Aramis Ramirez is expected to return to the Cubs’ lineup today, signaling the likely end of regular playing time for Jake Fox… Alfonso Soriano is on this list instead of the Drop Zone only because he has a recognizable name. He’s carrying a .226 BA and has been dropped to sixth in the Cubs’ order…

Grab Bag- Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has been performing capably in the leadoff spot with a .304 BA… Ben Francisco, after posting a .141 June BA, hit .409 over the Indians’ nine game homestand… Tony Gwynn is the Padres’ only true CF and should remain in the leadoff spot for awhile… Pittsburgh’s Virgil Vasquez has turned in a quality start in each of his two starts since being called up from AAA…

Drop Zone- Just because the Yankees are obsessed with force feeding Joba Chamberlain into their starting rotation doesn’t mean you should. He can’t get out of the fifth inning… Josh Fields is out of a job as the White Sox have given Gordon Beckham the 3B spot…

Sick Bay- Kansas City’s Mike Aviles is through for the season after Tommy John surgery…Randy Johnson left his last start with a left shoulder strain…

Farm Fresh- Milwaukee’s Manny Parra, who struggled mightily early in the season, is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in four AAA starts since being sent down.

It may have been a sad year for Mets fans but it wasn’t necessarily so for fantasy owners of the team’s two stars, 3B David Wright and OF Carlos Beltran, each of whom turned in terrific season for their Fantasy owners.  Those late season collapses that the Amazin’s seem to have perfected don’t seem to leave as many scars in the Roto world, especially when your guys are still producing.  Here then, is a list of NL stars who kept Fantasy players smiling throughout the season.

Catcher-Brian McCann noses out Geovany Soto for the nod as top backstop in the NL.   Despite an Atlanta lineup that had difficulty staying healthy and then lost Mark Teixeira, McCann stayed consistent all year.  His .301 BA, 23 HR and 87 RBI solidified his spot on top of the fantasy rankings headed into the 2009.

First Base-While Ryan Howard’s 46 HR and 148 RBI carried the Phils into the post season, it was Albert Pujols’ overall excellence that garners him the nod here. Albert posted an amazing .357 BA while smashing his usual 37 HR and 116 RBI.  That he did it all with an elbow that needed surgery is even more amazing.

Second Base-Philly’s Chase Utley seemed to lock up this honor by Memorial Day.  However, his slump during the middle months brought him back to the pack before his late season surge put him on top for good.  Look to grab his .292 BA, 33 HR and 104 RBI in the first round of next year’s draft.

Shortstop-Hanley Ramirez may have been the most productive Fantasy player across the board in the Major Leagues.  If only the Marlins would drop him from the leadoff spot and let him get 100 RBI.  As it was,  his .301 BA, 33 HR 125 R and 35 SB warrant the first pick of 2009.

Third Base-Wright.  The Mets’ third sacker has established a model of consistency that has almost become boring.  Even though his SB were down somewhat this year, he is still a top five pick in any league.

Outfield-Fresh off his being robbed of last year’s MVP award, the Rockies’ Matt Holliday set about raising his game.  While his 25 HR and 88 RBI were lower than expected because of a month lost to injury, his 28 SB and .321 BA made him one of the elite.  The subject of off season trade rumors, he’s a keeper no matter where he plays next season.  Carlos Beltran quietly provided another 25 HR 25 SB season while also knocking in 112 RBI and scoring 116 R.  Houston’s Lance Berkman split his time between 1B and OF and gains recognition here for his overall excellence.  On top of his .312 BA, 29 HR and 106 RBI he also posted 18 SB.

Starting Pitcher-If you were fortunate enough to draft Tim Lincecum, hang on to the youngster for as long as you can.  He had 18 W for a team that won only 70 and led the league in K by a wide margin; ringing up 265 batters.  Can’t wait to see his W totals as the Giants improve.

Relief Pitcher-Brad Lidge is an easy choice with 41 S in 41 chances while posting 92 K out of the bullpen.

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