by Moonlight Graham

No position has undergone more change over the last decade than the Middle Infield. Long a collection of slap hitting, base stealers and the occasional power guy, it saw drastic change with the emergence of big guns like Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Jeff Kent and Barry Larkin.  Even marginal, late round options like Jose Valentin were good for better than 20 HR.

However, retirement, injury and position change have all been factors in depleting the ranks of the Middle Infielders that’ll give you a boost in the power department.  While some do remain, (Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley will cost you a first rounder), for the most part, many Fantasy Baseball owners will settle for the mid-round options that produce low, double-digit HR’s, a solid BA and a decent number of SB.  The trick is, to find that one player who could break the mold and give you a top tier performance for a second tier price.

Fantasy Stars

-  Unless you’ve got one of the first two picks, you can forget Hanley Ramirez.  After that, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes top the Shortstop list but neither is a sure thing. Tulo comes off a terrific season but Fantasy Baseball owners still bear the burn marks from his disastrous ’08 season.  New York Mets’ star, Reyes, is not only coming off of a campaign lost to injury but was just cleared to play after a thyroid condition sidelined him for most of camp.  Don’t reach for either.  On the other side of the bag, Utley and Ian KInsler are the cream of the crop but Cincinnati Reds’ second sacker, Brandon Phillips, may be the best value.  He’s a guaranteed 20-20 from a position where that’s rare and he bats cleanup.  Going with that theory, we’d also have to add Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, as he’s been moved to the five hole of that very potent lineup. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

If you’re a succesful Fantasy Baseball player, you know that it’s nearly impossible to finish near the top of the standings without having power at the corners. Unless you’ve secured significant pop at both First Base and Third Base, it’s a good bet you’ll be one of the first in your league looking to make a trade.

A quick glance at the top of your 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft sheets should reveal quite an imbalance between the two slots. You’ll probably have as many as twelve first tier options and a number of second and third tier guys capable of giving you 20+ HR and 90+ RBI. At third base, however, the pickins’ grow slim. There are but five top tier selections to be made; six if you’re confident that David Wright can bounce back in CitiField. As the talent at the Hot Corner begins to thin, you’ll find yourself scrambling to find adequate options. Good luck. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

Got a call the other day from Jack Sullivan, proprietor of The Big Steins in the Hausier’s Krowedum Rotisserie League fieldwithballmoonand proud owner of the second and sixth picks in the upcoming HKRL Fantasy Baseball Draft.  Jack had just started his draft prep by going over a few mock drafts and Top 100 lists.  He was surprised to find Joe Mauer listed no higher than 12th on any of the material he was studying and had a question for me. “Now, with the second pick, Hanley Ramirez is a no-brainer. But, with the sixth pick, I want Joe Mauer.”  “The list I’m looking at has him listed 12th but I’m not sure he even lasts until number 6.  Am I crazy?”

Continue reading »

I’m wondering if Alex Rodriguez is now considered a “true Yankee” by the Bombers’ Jeter-worshiping fan base whose fieldwithballmoonjudgment seems to be based solely on post-season success.  My question to them, using the same barometer: Given his lack of playoff participation, is Don Mattingly a true Yankee?… Joe Torre may have four World Series titles and fourteen straight playoff appearances but his decision to start Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3 of the NLCS is the single, biggest reason the Dodgers are playing golf this weekend…Wanted to give credit to umpire Jerry Davis for refusing to give Angels’ shortstop, Erick Aybar, the old “neighborhood call when he failed to touch second base while turning a double play in Game 2.  Wanted to point out that the logic of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver that he should have called him out was ridiculous, if only because Davis would have been skewered when replay showed the miss.  Wanted to, that is, until Tim McClelland blew up at third base in Game 4.  Ironically, McClelland is thought by many, including old Moonlight, to be the best in the game.  His positioning on both blown calls, however, would have gotten him a scolding at a High School umpires clinic.  Unfortunately, the blown calls throughout these playoffs has refueled the ridiculous notion that replay should be used in baseball.  Here’s a better solution.  Let’s have actual umpires handle the training, evaluation and assigning of MLB’s men in blue and make sure that current umps submit for retraining each off season… I don’t care how cold it gets, those hats with the ear flaps have got to go… Throw out all of the stats.  The most glaring evidence of the Yankees’ dominance to this point is that both the Twins and the Angels, two of baseball’s most fundamentally sound teams in the game, suddenly started making mistakes you wouldn’t expect from Little Leaguers once the pinstripes showed up in the other dugout…Have to give credit to Phils’ GM Ruben Amaro.  Even though his team was desperate for starting pitching at the trade deadline, he refused to overpay for Toronto’s Roy Halladay, turning instead to Cleveland and Cliff Lee.  Is there anyone in baseball who’d trade Lee for Halladay straight-up right now?… Say what you will about Joe Girardi’s overmanaging in Game 3 but you can’t deny he followed the same, safe, course most managers choose in today’s game.  It seems that many would rather have a reason for failure than risk trusting their instincts. While it’s true that Alfredo Alceves may have been the better matchup on paper, Girardi’s eyes just saw Dave Robertson mow down two Angels without breaking a sweat.  How about managing to your own players’ strengths rather than the other guys?…Get used to these young Dodgers; Loney, Ethier and Kemp.  They’ll be the core of a perennial contender for a long time… I know that TBS must be very proud of its expensive toys but I really don’t need a silly box to tell me that the low, inside pitch I just saw was, in fact, low and inside.  Same goes for FOX and the graphic that tells me “NYY lead 3-2″.  Even in the unlikely scenario that I didn’t know that before tuning in, I’d remember after someone mentioned it… No surprise that Mariano Rivera is one of just two closers that haven’t blown a save this post season but who’d have guessed Brad Lidge would be the other?… Gotta love C.C. Sabathia taking the mound on three days rest in Game 4.  His “I’m the ace, gimme the ball”, mentality is a refreshing change.  Somewhere, Sandy Koufax was smiling…  Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel, who had current Dodger Jim Thome in both Cleveland and Philadelphia, signaled to his former player that, “This is the guy we want”, just before Jimmy Rollins doubled to win Game 4.  Nice call, skip… Most relieved man in the world Thursday was Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia.  After pulling John Lackey despite Lackey’s strong objections and watching his bullpen throw batting practice, Scioscia was spared a very uncomfortable press conference by the Angel bats… Was anyone really surprised that Manny Ramirez was in the shower when the Phils came back to beat the Dodgers in Game 4?

Championship Series Preview

Well, much to the chagrin of longtime Sawx booster and Brooklyn Eagle columnist, Tom Kane, we called the fieldwithballmoonAngels-Red Sox series perfectly.  We had the Yanks in 4 and the Phils in 5, one game off on each.  We couldn’t have been more wrong about the Cardinals-Dodgers, though, as we were reminded by Moonlight reader, Ken Jankowsky.  That the Dodgers were not only able to overcome the Cards’ starting rotation was impressive enough but to do it in three straight was something not many saw coming.  It bodes well for Joe Torre’s boys going forward, especially with a potential Game & scheduled for Chavez Ravine.  Let’s take a look at the two matchups that’ll give us our 2009 World Series, disregarding for a minute the drooling Fox executives offering up their souls for a Yankees-Dodgers Fall Classic.

Angels vs. Yankees-  Have to love the Yankees deciding to ride their big horse, C. C. Sabathia, in three games if the series goes seven.  Unfortunately for the Bombers, Mother Nature doesn’t look like she’s planning to cooperate.  Sabathia likely won’t get the chance for that third start, however, as the Angels should wrap things up beforehand.  While Alex Rodriguez finally busted out of a career long postseason slump, he did it against a pitching staff far inferior to that of the Angels.  Mike Scioscia’s boys play the game as fundamentally sound as anyone and won’t make the same silly mistakes that did in the Twins.  Expect Derek Jeter to continue to shine while ARod and Teixeira will struggle.  Vlad Guerrero walks off with the MVP award as Los Angeles takes the title in five games.

Phillies vs. Dodgers
Tough break for the Phillies as Cliff Lee won’t go until Game 3.  Philly manager Charlie Manuel keeps his fingers crossed that Cole Hamels can dig himself out of his season long funk and give his club a decent start in the opener.  Can’t see it happening.  As for the Dodgers, their starter, Clayton Kershaw, had the lowest BA against in the NL.  Their bats have awakened at just the right time and Manny Ramirez is always lurking.  Get to know these young Dodgers; Ethier, Kemp and Loney, as they will be the elite of the National league for a long time.  The Phils should enjoy a little success in their home park but not enough to win.  The pick here is the Dodgers in 6.

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