by Moonlight Graham

Just Three Weeks Left in the Fantasy Baseball Season

With just three weeks left in the season, things are getting pretty tight in the Hausier’s Krowedum Rotisserie Leaguefieldwithballmoon where Chris Aucone’s R Farters remain atop the standings. The Farters have led the pack since early June and have only recently been challenged by Bobby Carr’s Master Batters and Lou Carducci’s Mean Street Posse. However, neither has been able to get within three points of the leader and may not be able to as they battle each other in several categories. Mindful of how last season’s title was, literally, decided on the season’s final pitch, all three have been active on the transaction wire; hoping to grab that one rookie with a hot bat or a flamethrower with one three hit shutout up his sleeve. Rest assured, they’ll be perusing the following lists looking for any help they can get. You should too.

Streaking

We’ve loved Nick Swisher all year and there’s no reason to get off the Yankee OF’s bandwagon now. He’s been on fire in September and, despite hitting in the lower part of the order, will always have RBI opportunities in that lineup… Despite mediocre Won-Loss records, Javier Vasquez and Jair Jurrjens have been Fantasy Baseball studs in Atlanta. Don’t let the poor offensive support and bad bullpens of the Braves force them out of your lineup… Jake Fox will likely get most of the AB vacated by Alfonso Soriano when the slumping Cub’s OF finally decides to have surgery. Fox has become the Cubs’ best power bat of late… Funny how the Cubs continue to struggle while having so many on this list. Carlos Marmol, after finally getting the closer’s job, has 10 S… Ted Lilly, despite a month on the DL, is the Cubs’ leading winner and has turned in four straight gems since he returned… Rockies’ OF Seth Smith has 4 HR and 10 RBI in September…

Stalling

ChiSox C A.J. Pierzinski will start to lose AB to prospect Tyler Flowers as soon as Chicago decides it’s out of the divisional picture. Memo to Ozzie Guillen: That time is now… The White Sox have also started to sit OF Alex Rios, who’s been a major disappointment since coming over from Toronto… Detroit’s Fernando Rodney will serve a three game suspension for throwing a ball into the stands… At some point, Alfonso Soriano will get his balky knee scoped. Don’t allow him to think about it on your roster… Don’t go crazy over Mat Gamel’s return to Milwaukee as he won’t just be handed the 3B job. Casey McGehee has been hitting the ball well and manager Ken Macha plans to stay with him… Brewers’ starter Yovani Gallardo will have his next turn skipped as the Brew Crew tries to limit his IP. Yeesh… Ever hear of a closer with an ERA over 7.00? Hard to believe Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel won’t start looking somewhere other than Brad Lidge as the playoffs draw near. He’s been abysmal… And what Stalling list would be complete without a nod to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who this week set a North American professional sports record with their 17th consecutive losing season.

Sick Bay

Rockies’ SS Troy Tulowitzki was pulled from the lineup earlier this week with back spasms… Corey Hart returned to the Brewers’ lineup after missing a month because of an appendectomy… Tim Lincecum was scratched from his last start with spasms on his lower left side.

by Moonlight Graham

The Final Fantasy Baseball Forecast of the 2008 Regular Season

“This is it. Don’t get scared now.”

You probably started back in February when you first sat down and started poring over 2007 stats. You picked up momentum in late March as spring training wrapped up and you headed into your draft. You got rolling as your squad started the season well and, after a few key free agent pickups and solid trades, you find yourself heading into the season’s last series with a chance to win it all. Just three games standing between you and a title. So, after all of that work, can you afford to sit still? Not likely.

If your league is anything like the HK Fantasy league, the race will come down to one or two categories. Spots where things are so close, a single run batted in or earned run could decide the championship. Currently, Lou Carducci’s Mean Street Posse is trying to hold off late season charges from the Skippy Shakes and Ricciardi Brothers Inc. After leading for most of the season, the Posse has seen most of its lead slip away, resulting in a slim two point lead at the beginning of the final week. What will probably decide things is the WHIP category, where Carducci and Bobby Carr’s Shakes are hundredths of a point apart. As that total fluctuates, so do the standings. RBI has seen its pitching vault to the top of the ERA standings and bring him within three of the lead. His focus remains on his team’s win total.

So, here we are. One weekend for all of the marbles. In this final regular season forecast, we’ll talk about those players whose talents are category specific, are probably free agents and could be the one guy to put you over the top. Good luck.

Home Runs

Royals’ 1B Ryan Shealy has been a long time fantasy prospect who is finally starting to pay dividends. He’s got 6 HR in a month and has been given the starting job.

RBI

Shin Soo Choo has settled into the third spot in the Indians’ lineup while posting a .310 BA for a surging squad. His position between Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez should allow for him to see a lot of good pitches.

Batting Average

Edgar Renteria has quietly put together a solid 2nd half in Detroit yet remains a free agent in many leagues. He’s had a number of multiple hit games in the last few weeks.

R/SB

Michael Bourn’s terrible BA for the Astros have landed him on more than a few free agent lists. He is however, still leading off when he plays. In Atlanta, speedster Josh Anderson seems to be getting a long audition for the 2009 CF job. He has 8 SB to this point. Finally, Rajai Davis remains unclaimed in many leagues despite 29 SB in 243 AB. He’s not a regular, though, so make sure he’s in the lineup.

K

Tampa will likely give its top prospect, David Price, a start this weekend. His minor league K ratio was outstanding. Brandon Morrow is another free agent who averages better than a K per IP.

W

No particular pitcher comes to mind. Look to acquire young pitchers getting an audition and pitchers facing weak teams.

WHIP

Here’s my advice. Instead of picking guys up, pull your starters and leave your WHIP where it is. Look for your opponent to churn his staff and drop below you.

by Moonlight Graham

Down To The Wire

Ten days to go and it’s nail biting time for Fantasy Baseball contenders. Micro managing is in season as a one point move in any category could be the difference between a title and disappointment. Be careful, however, as an attempt to improve in one fantasy category could result in severe pain in another.

Such was the case last week in the HK Fantasy league as Skippy Shakes owner Bob Carr found himself looking to pick up a few saves in order to win the category. He picked up Luis Ayala of the Mets and activated a clearly not ready for prime time George Sherrill of the Orioles. After both got finished throwing batting practice later that day, the Shakes found themselves not only trailing in S but down two points each in ERA and WHIP. Adding insult to injury, Carr had placed Cubs P Ted Lilly on his reserve roster in order to get Brandon Morrow’s start vs. the Royals on Tuesday. As if he had something to prove, Lilly went out and threw a gem vs. the Astros on Monday. “It’s like they know” said Carr, who long ago made the same switch with Hideo Nomo only to watch Nomo toss a no-no at the Rockies that evening. “I woke up Sunday morning in first place and went to sleep 5 points out.”

The beneficiary of Carr’s gaffes was Mean Street Posse owner Lou Carducci, who suddenly found himself in second place after leading by a wide margin for most of the campaign. His glee was short lived, however, as he watched Carlos Zambrano throw a no-hitter on Sunday night while on the Posse’s reserve fantasy roster. “That doesn’t even come close to what Carr did”, said Carducci, “he specifically farmed Nomo in Coor’s Field to protect his ERA. He couldn’t have been more wrong. In my case, Zambrano had been out for awhile and no one knew for sure when he’d start due to Hurricane Ike. His is still the bonehead move of all time.” Looks like the last ten days are going to be a lot of fun.

* * * * * *

Rising

Look for the Rays to give LHP David Price a start or two before the season is done. He’s the prize of their farm system and was just called up. Josh Johnson has compiled a 5-1 record after missing most of the season due to injury.

Falling

-Pedro Martinez has been giving the Mets fits as he continues to struggle with arm strength and command. The Mets’ staff has been depleted by injury so, they have no choice but to run Pedro out to the hill at least three more times this year. You don’t have to. Be careful. Robinson Cano, in a year long slump, was benched by Yankee manager Joe Girardi for a lack of hustle.

SICK BAY

– J.D. Drew returns to the Sox this week after missing time with a bad back. Carlos Guillen may be out for the year with a pinched nerve in his back. Royals’ 3B Alex Gordon returned from the DL after missing time with a torn hip flexor.

FARM FRESH

-Nine year old Luke Ricciardi recently became one of the youngest players to take a ball out of the park at Manalapan LL in New Jersey. You can probably get him late in any Minor League draft but he’ll be worth the wait.

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