As the Steroid Era has evolved in Major League Baseball, many have tried to find a common thread among the cheats fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhin order to identify those that have yet to be revealed.  This little hobby has picked up momentum this season as The New York Times continues to disclose the names of those that tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs during MLB’s testing in 2003.  What seems to be the most widely accepted red flag, significant statistical improvement by players in the later years of their career, may not actually be the only tie that binds these cheaters.  Instead, according to a list published by DominicanosHoy.com which the newspaper believes to be the actual roll call of those that tested positive in 2003, it is more likely that the Disabled List of each Major League squad holds the answers.

A common opinion among baseball fans is that players who have a hard time staying on the field because of injury woes are probably not using performance enhancing drugs.  “How could they?” goes the theory, “they’re always hurt.”  Yankees hurler Andy Pettitte was among a few players who gave credibility to the idea when he claimed that he used the drugs only to hasten his recovery from various injuries.  As it turns out, however, the PED’s may have been the cause of his physical problems and not the solution.

Over the course of the last few seasons, strained obliques and torn labrums; injuries that didn’t seem all that common during my lifetime of following baseball, have become all the rage, sending players to the DL for up to a month at a time.  Is that to say that every problem with an oblique or labrum is a confirmation of steroid use?  Absolutely not.  Chase Utley had a labrum repaired in his hip last winter and is not listed.  However, there are a number of men on the list who have suffered these maladies, Carlos Delgado and Alex Rodriguez among them.  Maybe we should start categorizing certain physical problems as “Steroid Injuries”.

In perusing the list, it is impossible not to immediately notice how many have been unable to stay in the lineup.  If these are actually the players that tested positive, and that has yet to be confirmed, the injuries suffered range from chronic to requiring surgery and continue all the way up to career threatening.  A microcosm of these is located at numbers seventy-four through seventy-seven, where the starting rotation of the 2003 Chicago Cubs is found. Carlos Zambrano has made numerous trips to the DL, Kerry Wood’s physical woes sent him to the bullpen while both Mark Prior and Matt Clement were forced out of baseball by their injuries.  Players like Moises Alou, Eric Chavez and Richie Sexson spent most of their final seasons injured before deciding to retire while others, like Mike Hampton, Freddy Garcia, Troy Glaus and Jason Schmidt have lost multiple seasons to the Disabled List.

One other little nugget to be gleaned from the list is, if accurate, it blows up the credibility of the Mitchell Report.  Its author, John Mitchell, was criticized at the time of its release because, while a part-owner of the Red Sox, he found no evidence of steroid use among Boston players. The first eight names on the list, as well as last year’s arrest of two Sox clubhouse attendants that were distributing steroids, make Mitchell’s claims laughable and bring us back to the most incredible fact of this whole era.  Through all of the denials, cover-ups and outright lies, there has been but one truthful voice; that of Jose Canseco.  How about that?

The Alleged List of 103 As Published in Dominicanoshoy.com :

1.Nomar Garciaparra
2.Manny Ramirez
3.Johnny Damon
4.Trot Nixon
5.David Ortiz
6.Shea Hillenbrand
7.Derek Lowe
8.Pedro Martinez
9.Brian Roberts
10.Jay Gibbons
11.Melvin Mora
12.Jerry Hairston
13.Jason Giambi
14.Alfonso Soriano
15.Raul Mondesi
16. Aaron Boone
17.Andy Pettitte
18.Jose Contreras
19.Roger Clemens
20.Carlos Delgado
21.Vernon Wells
22.Frank Catalanotto
23.Kenny Rogers
24.Magglio Ordonez
25.Sandy Alomar
26.Bartolo Colon
27.Brent Abernathy
28.Jose Lima
29.Milton Bradley
30.Casey Blake
31.Danys Baez
32.Craig Monroe
33.Dmitri Young
34.Alex Sanchez
35.Eric Chavez
36.Miguel Tejada
37.Eric Byrnes
38.Jose Guillen
39.Keith Foulke
40.Ricardo Rincon
41.Bret Boone
42.Mike Cameron
43.Randy Winn
44.Ryan Franklin
45.Freddy Garcia
46.Rafael Soriano
47.Scott Spiezio
48.Troy Glaus
49.Francisco Rodriguez
50.Ben Weber
51.Alex Rodriguez
52.Juan Gonzalez
53.Rafael Palmeiro
54.Carl Everett
55.Javy Lopez
56.Gary Sheffield
57.Mike Hampton
58.Ivan Rodriguez
59.Derrek Lee
60.Bobby Abreu
61.Terry Adams
62.Fernando Tatis
63.Livan Hernandez
64.Hector Almonte
65.Tony Armas
66.Dan Smith
67.Roberto Alomar
68.Cliff Floyd
69.Roger Cedeno
70.Jeromy Burnitz
71.Moises Alou
72.Sammy Sosa
73.Corey Patterson
74.Carlos Zambrano
75.Mark Prior
76.Kerry Wood
77.Matt Clement
78.Antonio Alfonseca
79.Juan Cruz
80.Aramis Ramirez
81.Craig Wilson
82.Kris Benson
83.Richie Sexson
84.Geoff Jenkins
85.Valerio de los Santos
86.Benito Santiago
87.Rich Aurilia
88.Barry Bonds
89.Andres Galarraga
90.Jason Schmidt
91.Felix Rodriguez
92.Jason Christiansen
93.Matt Herges
94.Paul Lo Duca
95.Shawn Green
96.Oliver Perez
97.Adrian Beltre
98.Eric Gagne
99.Guillermo Mota
100.Luis Gonzalez
101.Todd Helton
102.Ryan Klesko
103.Gary Matthews

They’re the forgotten men; the filler picks at the end of any Fantasy Football Draft.  Tight Ends, Kickers and Defenses Horsefeathers4make up most of the final rounds with few exceptions.  The three or four elite TE on your draft list warrant mid round selections but, for the most part, its hard to pass on a productive WR or RB just to fill a required roster spot.  Defense/Special Teams is next in the pecking order with Kickers bringing up the rear.  Too many intangible factors determine the success or failure of these units to even consider taking any in the middle of the draft.  Don’t think so?  Ask anyone that drafted the highly rated Chargers last year before Shawn Merriman went down for the season.

Funny thing, though, championships are invariably won by the Fantasy Football Owner that pulls the winning ticket out of the hat: the kicker that becomes automatic from beyond fifty yards for an entire season, the tight end who suddenly finds himself with an aging QB coming out of retirement or the defense with the cornerback that starts returning every INT for six.  So, in order to put you in the best position to grab some of that good luck, take a look at the Wagstaff rankings.

Fantasy Draft Preview: Tight End

Studs

Tony Gonzalez was the Falcons’ biggest off season acquisiton and could be the last piece of the offensive puzzle in Atlanta.  He may not match the 96 REC and 10 TD he posted last year but the presence of Michael Turner and Roddy White should open things up enough for Gonzalez to remain at the top of the list… With the departure of Terrell Owens, Jason Witten becomes Tony Romo’s primary option in Dallas.

Stars

Dallas Clark sits on top of a lot of TE lists but not this one.  He’s too much of a possession receiver to bust into the upper echelon and doesn’t catch enough TD.  However, Peyton Manning makes him a valuable pick… Antonio Gates may be the best athlete at the position but is coming off an unproductive season due to injury.  The return of his own health as well as a productive La Dainian Tomlinson, should boost his stats back to their previous levels.

Sleepers

The Jets’ Dustin Keller had a stretch last year as Brett Favre’s favorite target before disappearing over the last month.  That probably won’t happen this year, as the Jets scale down their offense to accomodate rookie QB Mark Sanchez… Chase Coffman won’t even appear in some Fantasy Football rankings.  However, the Bengals’ rookie left Missouri as the all time receptions leader for TE.  If he wins the starting job in Cincy, expect a strong season.

Slippers

Denver’s Tony Scheffler registered just 3 TD last season with Jay Cutler under center.  Doesn’t seem like stardom is in the offing with Kyle Orton aboard… An uncertain QB situation in Oakland in addition to the Raiders’ home run passing philosophy make it difficult to foresee Zach Miller getting many touches

FANTASY FOOTBALL PICKS

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Tight Ends

  1. Tony Gonzalez
  2. Jason Witten
  3. Dustin Keller
  4. Dallas Clark
  5. Antonio Gates
  6. Chris Cooley
  7. Kellen Winslow
  8. Visante Shiancoe
  9. Owen Daniels
  10. John Carlson
  11. Heath Miller
  12. Chase Coffman

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Kickers

  1. Stephen Gostkowski
  2. Rob Bironas
  3. Neil Rackers
  4. Adam Vinatieri
  5. Mason Crosby
  6. Jason Elam
  7. Ryan Longwell
  8. Robbie Gould
  9. David Akers
  10. Nate Keading
  11. Matt Bryant
  12. Kris Brown

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 12 Fantasy Defense/Special Teams

  1. Vikings
  2. Giants
  3. Steelers
  4. Titans
  5. Jets
  6. Chargers
  7. Ravens
  8. Cowboys
  9. Eagles
  10. Patriots
  11. Dolphins
  12. Colts

by Moonlight Graham

Pitchers and Hitters

Despite the fact that the Red Sox took a beating last week in the Bronx, Josh fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhBeckett, Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester all turned in solid performances on the hill…   Baltimore’s Aubrey Huff has cleared waivers and can now be dealt… Despite posting stellar numbers in Seattle, Jarrod Washburn has been brutal in two starts since being traded to Detroit.  Some guys seem to thrive on mediocre teams… Angels’ OF Vlad Guerrero is 10 for 28 with 4 HR since returning from the DL… Since the All Star break, Twins’ starters have an ERA of 5.97, severely limiting Joe Nathan’s save opportunities… Ichiro Suzuki is 30 hits shy of becoming the first Major Leaguer with 200 hits in 9 consecutive seasons… Milwaukee’s Manny Parra is 4-0, 1.10 since returning from the minors… The Phillies have moved Jamie Moyer into the bullpen to clear a spot in the rotation for Pedro Martinez.  Hard to imagine Moyer will have any Fantasy Baseball value as a reliever… San Diego rookie Mat Latos has 4 wins in his first 5 starts… Nyjer Morgan is hitting .362 since coming to Washington from Pittsburgh… Troy Tulowitzki, fresh off a 7 RBI game that featured a cycle, is now batting cleanup for the Rockies… Is there any MLB player that gets less respect than Adam Dunn?  On his way to his fifth straight 40 HR season, Dunn almost had to beg for a contract last winter before signing with the Nationals… Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera are all nursing minor injuries.  Don’t be surprised if Yankee manager Joe Girardi takes advantage of their six game lead and gives each an occasional day off… The Brewers’ sent the struggling J.J. Hardy to the minors and presented Fantasy Baseball owners with an opportunity for some quick, cheap SB by handing the SS job to rookie Alcides Escobar, who had 42 SB when called up… Boston’s Kevin Youkilis will not appeal the five game suspension for his ridiculous overreaction to being plunked Monday night by Rick Porcello… Porcello was also handed a 5 game ban but will only miss one turn in the Tigers’ rotation… 30 of Rays’ 1B Carlos Pena’s 85 H have been HR.

Buy Low

In Detroit, Magglio Ordonez has turned in three straight solid performances vs. RHP and may be on the verge of getting his full time job back.  He’s not the Magglio we all know and love but, he could help you down the stretch… Seattle’s Franklin Gutierrez has been moved up to the second spot in the order and should see a bump in R…

Sell High

Kenji Johjima is losing playing time to Rob Johnson and hasn’t made consecutive starts in a month… Not only did Tampa Bay drop B.J. Upton to ninth in the batting order, he’s pissing and moaning about it; not a good sign… Roy Oswalt was cuffed around in his first start off the DL and may be more valuable to you in a trade…

Grab Bag

Kyle Davies makes his second consecutive appearance in the Grab Bag after a strong outing vs. Minnesota.  He’s worth a shot, especially in AL only leagues… Royals’ 1B Billy Butler has 36 doubles and is a FA in most mixed leagues.  Don’t forget his September power surge last year… Denard Span was 9-14 vs. Detroit last weekend and seems to have jumped ahead of Delmon Young and Carlos Gomez in the crowded Minnesota outfield… If you’re looking for W in your AL only league, Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith might be a nice pickup based on his two solid outings since coming off the DL… Trent Oeltjen has started his MLB career with a .500 BA over his first 6 games and will be a regular in the D’Backs’ OF with Chris Young gone… Don’t look now but Barry Zito is 3-0 2.19 over his last 4 starts…

Drop Zone

Can’t believe there will be much playing time left for Scott Podsednik in Chicago now that Alex Rios is on board.  There may only be pinch running and an occasional start… Jose Contreras is 0-4 6.75 over his last five and doesn’t even warrant a spot on a deep, AL only roster. Dump him before Ozzie Guillen does… Tampa plans to use a platoon behind the plate, giving Gregg Zaun most of the AB and rendering Dioner Navarro worthless… Patience has finally run out in Arizona for OF Chris Young who was dispatched to the minors this week…

Sick Bay

Carlos Delgado has experienced a setback in his rehab and will probably not return this season… Justin Duchscherrer returns to Oakland’s rotation this weekend after being out all year with elbow and back issues… Cubs’ 3B Aramis Ramirez is experiencing soreness in the shoulder he dislocated in May… Chad Billingsley missed a start for the Dodgers with a strained hamstring but should avoid the DL…

by Professor Wagstaff

It was a slippery slope in 2008 for owners who decided to grab a signal caller with the first pick of their Fantasy Horsefeathers4Football Draft.  Tom Brady didn’t make it out of the first quarter of the first game and Peyton Manning struggled early before settling into a productive yet un-Peyton like campaign.  Tony Romo, rated third on most boards, also failed to deliver equal value while Carson Palmer was terrible before going down for the season.  Drew Brees, an early second rounder, was the leagues most productive QB  while late draftees like Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub were super sleepers.  And who among us could’ve seen Matt Cassel coming down the road.  So, what did all of these surprises teach us?

Well, if nothing else, it’s probably not as good idea to grab a QB in the Top five of the first round.  Consider only the most elite options with your first pick and, if none fall to you, be patient enough to wait into the middle rounds.  Your squad is will be significantly better with a stud RB and a second tier QB than the other way around.  The trick is to separate the studs from the stiffs and then, as always, trust your judgment.  How to accomplish this tricky little feat?  Read on, my Fantasy Football brethren, as Waggie’s here to help.

Fantasy Football Draft Picks for QB

Studs

Will the Saints’ Drew Brees reach the 5,000 YDS mark in passing again?  Probably not.  But, 4,500 is likely, as is his 2 to 1 TD to INT ratio.  And, if Reggie Bush and Marques Colston can suit up for all 16 games, he’ll have a stronger arsenal… Sometimes, we Fantasy Football players get so caught up with our analysis that we can’t see the forest for the trees.  Such was the case last year, when Peyton Manning missed most of Indy’s  training camp.  We should have seen his sub par September coming but were blinded by the reputation.  Well, Peyton’s been in camp since Day 1 this year and his stats will reflect that.  Bank on a return to 4, 200 YDS and 35 TD… Remember how happy you were last year when New England’s Tom Brady fell to you in the first round?  That euphoria lasted about ten minutes into the season, as Brady went down with a knee.  Expect elite numbers from him this year as he and Randy Moss reunite but don’t buy into the “ahead of schedule” reports coming out of camp.  Keep in mind he had not one procedure but two; the second because his recovery from the first was going too slowly.

Stars

Have to love that San Diego’s Philip Rivers will spend almost half a season facing terrible defenses in the AFC West.  He’ll also have LaDainian Tomlinson at full strength from the get go.  4,000 YDS and 30 TD look like a lock… In Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers showed the league why the Pack let Brett Favre walk.  It had been four years since he’d done anything but hold a clipboard and he still posted 4,000 YDS and 28 TD while running for four more TD.  He’ll be even more comfortable this year, which will allow him to boost all of these numbers… Turns out, it didn’t take the Falcons all that long to recover from the Michael Vick debacle.  One draft was all it took, as Matt Ryan settled in as the Falcons’ starter and led them to the playoffs.  He had some help, of course, in Michael Turner and Roddy White and will get more for ’09 in TE Tony Gonzalez.  His 3,440 YDS and 16 TD will probably serve as career lows for this rising star.

Sleepers

Houston’s Matt Schaub burst on to the scene in a big way last year, throwing for 3,000YDS and 15 TD in just 11 games.  A full season with Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter could easily add 1,200 YDS to that total and bump the TD up to 25…  In Cincy, Carson Palmer is coming back from an injury riddled season while dealing with the loss of T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Laveranues Coles may fill that gap, leaving it to Palmer to reestablish the former Chad Johnson as a threat.  The bet here is that he does…    Miami’s Chad Pennington may not have the best fastball in the game but he’s a proven winner and one of the game’s most accurate passes.   Given that he’ll go in the last few rounds, if at all, a repeat of last year’s 19 TD and 3,600 YDS make him a steal.

Slippers

That I don’t believe Arizona’s Kurt Warner can sustain last year’s success is not the issue.  That he’ll be taken in a position that will likely require improvement over last year’s stats to justify the price is what should concern you…  Now we’ll find out just how much Terrell Owens had to do with  Tony Romo’s success in Dallas.  Even in a disapointing ’08 he had 3,400 YDS and 26 TD.  Romo is still a viable option at QB but don’t reach…  The move to Chicago’s Soldier Field, the lack of a proven receiver on the Bears’ roster will negatively impact  Jay Cutler, a QB who’ll go higher than he should based on reputation.

Stiffs

Even in a season that saw great team success, Tennessee’s Kerry Collins posted very pedestrian Fantasy numbers.  Don’t like his age or the fact that the Titans rely so heavily on the run…  With the Raiders’ organization in such disarray, we mwy never know if  JaMarcus Russell could have been a great QB.  The athleticism he showed at LSU says yes.  The talent surrounding him in Oakland says no…  Buffalo’s  Trent Edwards already had enough pressure on him coming off a sub par season in a tough division.  Then the Bills brought in Terrell Owens.  If Edwards has two bad games in a row, a good bet, Owens will be all over him and the wheels will come off.

Fantasy Football Picks

Professor Wagstaff’s Top 20 Quarterbacks

  1. Drew Brees
  2. Peyton Manning
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Philip Rivers
  5. Aaron Rodgers
  6. Matt Ryan
  7. Matt Schaub
  8. Tony Romo
  9. Donovan McNabb
  10. Kurt Warner
  11. Carson Palmer
  12. Jay Cutler
  13. Eli Manning
  14. Ben Roethlisberger
  15. Jake Delhomme
  16. Chad Pennington
  17. Jason Campbell
  18. Matt Hasselbeck
  19. Joe Flacco
  20. Shaun Hill

 

As if being a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates wasn’t tough enough, there was this gemfieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyh to deal with from Bucs’ GM Neal Huntington after the latest rounds of trades stripped the franchise of most of its remaining Major League talent.  “We don’t feel like we’ve broken up the ’27 Yankees.”  Maybe not, but they’re certainly on there way to assembling the ’62 Mets.  While it is the bane of the small market team that it must eventually dump promising players that become too expensive, most still manage to be cyclically competitive.  Not the Pirates, though. They resemble the guy in your Fantasy Baseball League that buys his preview magazines on his way to the draft. During Pittsburgh’s current streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons, the Twins, A’s, Marlins, Brewers, Reds, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Rays have all managed at least one playoff appearance.  What have they done differently than the Pirates?  They’ve actually developed the prospects they’ve received in exchange for their stars.  But, in Pittsburgh, there exists a revolving door through which even young and relatively inexpensive talent is dispatched.  It is not uncommon for a struggling franchise to request the patience of its fans as it rebuilds.  Hell, watching young, exciting players earn their stripes is a lot of fun.  The Pirates, however, have stripped their fans of even that bit of enjoyment by trading away the very players they said they were building upon just last winter.  As for Huntington’s crack about the ’27 Yankees, he has a point.  However, while he may not have had this era’s equivalent of Murderer’s Row, a lineup featuring Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Doumit, Aramis Ramirez and Nyjer Morgan would absolutely be a contender in the NL Central… The White Sox acquisition of Jake Peavy smells of desperation, especially since the former Cy Young winner won’t be available for another month… Alex Gordon is back in the Royals lineup but is admittedly not at full strength, as evidenced by his sub-Mendoza BA… Ben Zobrist is now the Rays’ cleanup hitter…  With the departure of Nick Johnson to the Marlins, Washington recalled OF Elijah Dukes, who will likely see regular playing time… NL Rookie of the Month, Greg Jones of Pittsburgh, had 10 HR and just 17 RBI… Love Felipe Lopez, playing for a contract, at the top of the Brewers’ lineup… Cleveland will use the newly acquired Justin Masterson as a starter… Brandon Inge has yet to hit a dinger since the All Star break.  As predicted here, he’s tailing off but still a prime player if you can use him as a catcher… Andre Ethier, the Dodgers’ leading RBI man is now their #2 hitter…

 

BUY LOW- John Danks has raised his record to 9-7 in giving the White Sox 3 solid starts since the break… Love Orlando Cabrera’s potential for R, BA and even a few HR hitting in front of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in Minny… The Tigers skipped rookie Rick Porcello’s turn once before the break and then slotted him into the back end of the rotation afterward, essentially giving him more than two weeks off.  The rest has done him wonders, as he’s been dominant in his last two outings… Jarrod Washburn should see his W total get a nice bump now that he’s in Detroit… D’Backs OF Gerardo Parra leads all NL rookies in RBI… Adam LaRoche spent a week in Boston before returning to Atlanta, where he can resume his annual assault on the season’s second half…

 

SELL HIGH- Were it not for his HR prowess, Tampa’s Carlos Pena would be listed in the Drop Zone instead.  As it is, unless you’re desperate for power, dump his .216 BA… All Star closer, Andrew Bailey, leads AL rookies with 14 S but may not see a lot of opportunities the rest of the way if the A’s rotation continues to struggle.  Their ERA for July was 6.34…

 

GRAB BAG- With manager Dave Trembley souring on Melvin Mora, Ty Wigginton will likely get regular playing time at 3B… The Royals recalled Kyle Davies, who struggled early in the season but went 4-2, 2.14 in AAA Omaha… Sean O’Sullivan, fresh off a AAA no-hitter, may be an option to supplant Joe Saunders in the Angels’ rotation. He’s 3-0, 3.72 for Los Angeles this year…  Rangers’ rookie Neftali Feliz, he of the 100 MPH fastball, will be used out of the pen and could get a look in the ninth inning if Frank Francisco continues to deal with health issues… Jason Frasor is Toronto’s first choice as closer with Scott Downs on the DL… Love Nick Johnson in the middle of the Marlins’ order.  He’s a great OBP option…

 

DROP ZONE- Milwaukee’s Braden Looper has become a BP pitcher since the break, going winless while watching his ERA balloon to 5.16… Pull the plug on Detroit’s Armando Gallaraga before Jim Leyland does and chalk up last season’s numbers as a fluke… Minnesota’s Glen Perkins gave the Twinkies one solid start after coming off the DL and then reverted back to his struggling form in his next outing.  Can’t wait on a guy with a 5.42 ERA that’s on the rise… Melvin Mora has lost his starting job in Baltimore and has started whining about a lack of respect from the manager…

 

SICK BAY- Kansas City’s Gil Meche may return from a back problem this weekend.  Remember, though, back is a four letter word… Blue Jays’ stopper Scott Downs is on the 15 day DL with a foot injury… Carlos Zambrano left his last start with a bad back, something that will likely continue until he addresses his large front… Astros’ OF Willy Taveras missed four starts with a bad wrist…  Milwaukee place OF Corey Hart on the DL after an appendectomy…

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