by Eddie Mayrose

St. John’s Basketball Hires (Settles For?) Steve Lavin

Don’t know if there’s a better indication of how far the St. John’s basketball program has fallen than the difficulty the powers that be had in signing a new head coach.  ESPN analyst and former UCLA head man, Steve Lavin, accepted the job after the Johnnies were rebuffed by Florida’s Billy Donovan and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech.  In addition, Fran McCaffrey, who led Siena to the top of the MAAC during his tenure, and Boston College head man Al Skinner were brought in for interviews and may or may not have been offered the job.  That Lavin is, at best, the Red Storm’s third choice, and might actually be the fifth, speaks volumes to the current irrelevance of what was once a national power.  While Lavin has his work cut out for him, he does have a significant resource of talent in his own backyard.  Armed with four returning senior starters and eight scholarships, he may actually be able to effect a significant turnaround in very short order if he can tap into the prep talent in New York City; something at which his two predecessors failed miserably.  It’s been too long since the Johnnies were at the top of the Big East and a viable threat in the NCAA tournament.  Lavin has an opportunity to be a hero to all of the Johnnie faithful longing to, once again, be a part of March Madness.  Here’s hoping he delivers. Continue reading »

By Eddie Mayrose

St. John’s Basketball May Be Out of the Norm

If this is where it ends for St. John’s Head Coach Norm Roberts, if yesterday’s loss to Marquette; his 100th, is the one from which he is not permitted to return, he need only to look in his own backyard as the reason he was unable to return St. John’s to the upper echelon of college basketball.

Charged with cleaning up the scandal ridden mess left by his predecessor, Mike Jarvis, Roberts has been every bit the classy, gentlemanly face Red Storm administrators had hoped when he was hired.  Despite their lack of success, his teams have been the kind of hard working, blue collar squads appreciated by coaches everywhere.  What they lacked, however, was that star player to put them over the top. The player that bails you out on a bad day.  The player that brings your school recognition with a successful NBA career.  The player that draws the media to practice and the fans to Madison Square Garden.  The player that, sadly, toils in High School gyms throughout the Metropolitan area but hasn’t decided to bring his game to Queens.  Having gone his entire tenure without recruiting a player that went on the the NBA, Roberts may have had his fate sealed last month, when just 3,500 showed up at the Garden on the night the Johnnies honored the 1985 Final Four squad led by Chris Mullin; the most recognizable player in their history. Continue reading »

While Major League Baseball marks its trade deadline tomorrow afternoon at 4 fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhPM, many Fantasy Baseball owners have a little more time to digest the MLB moves and act accordingly.  In the Hausier’s Krowedum Fantasy Baseball League, owners have until August 5th before trades are no longer an option for improvement.  The deals started last week as players like Roy Halladay, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard turned up on the rosters of the teams at the top, acquired from those out of the running.   With many fantasy leagues facing deadlines over the next few weeks, it seems like a good time to discuss trade strategy and protocol from both sides of the transaction.

Contenders should always target statistical categories when making a trade and factor potential monetary gains into a player’s valuation.  For instance, if you find that there is potential for a bump of three points in a tightly bunched ERA category and the prize for winning your league is $500, you should give up significantly more for Joel Pineiro or Jarrod Washburn than you would have back in April or May.  They may not be players worthy of a high draft pick or stud keeper under normal circumstances but they are when you can win.  Don’t underbid.

Be alert for peripheral deals that can help you by hurting your opposition.  Earlier this week in the HK League, Bobby Carr found his Skippy Shakes looking up at the Shady Gradys.   Carr saw that he had a big lead in HR and was locked into 6th place in SB; 20 behind and 20 ahead of his closest rivals.  The Gradys however had a slim 2 SB lead over the Four Horsemen.  As Carr is just 6 points behind the second place Gradys in the overall standings, he sent Alex Rios to the Horsemen, hoping the addition would vault the Horsemen to the top of the category and take a valuable point away from a rival.  A deal like this can be more valuable to you than an acquisition.

If you’re back in the pack and find yourself selling instead of buying, act quickly, as the contenders will be willing to give up only so much and you could be left holding the bag.  Such is the case for Ken Jankowski of GMoney, who came out of the HK Fantasy Baseball draft with a team full of studs that would soon end up on the DL.  Disappointed, Kenny set out to improve draft position for next year.  The problem was, the four contenders had already made a number of deals for high draft picks and there wasn’t a lot left.  He moved Alex Rodriguez for a 2nd rounder and as of this writing was still holding Mark Teixeira without a deal in sight.

Finally, if you are a seller, don’t just turn your attention to your Fantasy Football Draft as soon as the deadline passes.  Keep an eye on your team as it is your responsibility to help maintain the integrity of the standings.  You don’t have to grab free agents every day, especially if it’ll cost you money, but you owe it to the rest of the league to replace injured player

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Buy Low- Don’t let Cliff Lee’s record fool you.  After a rough April, he’s spent the last three months throwing every bit as well as he did in winning the Cy Young last year.  Now that he’s in Philly, look for the W to pile up… Despite a seven game win streak, Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook remains a free agent in some mixed leagues.  Even if he’s not, see if his owner’s been paying attention… Cole Hamels has put three strong starts together since the break and might be a nice deadline pickup for your squad… Might be your last chance to

Sell High- The Orioles are actively looking to move George Sherrill with the Dodgers as one of the destinations.  With Jonathan Broxton entrenched in the closer’s role, Sherrill would no longer be a source for S… Tampa’s James Shields is winless in his last 7 starts… Rangers’ 2B Ian Kinsler has struggled for two months while his BA has dropped to .242.  If you’re NOT in a keeper league, he’d bring a boat load of draft picks… Clint Barmes’ slump has gotten so bad that Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy recently dropped him from 2nd to 8th in the batting order…

Grab Bag- Cubs’ C Koyie Hill has started every game since Geovany Soto went down with an injury. OF/3B is his only backup… Bronson Arroyo has put together quite a few solid starts over the last two months and could see his value leap if he’s traded to a contender… This might be your last chance to pick up the red hot Josh Willingham. Hope you read Moonlight two weeks ago…

Drop Zone- No room at the inn for Ben Francisco, who moves from the Indians’ OF to the Phillies’ bench… Magglio Ordonez needs just 130 plate appearances for a 2010 option for $18 million kicks in.  The way he’s hitting, can’t see the Tigers allowing that to happen… Royals’ reliever, Juan Cruz, is 0-2 with two blown saves since the All Star break… Despite the Angels’ success, Joe Saunders continues to struggle with a 6.58 ERA over his last 11 starts… Chad Tracy is no longer an option in even the deepest of NL only leagues as the D’Backs look to the future…

Sick Bay- Carlos Beltran estimates he is 2-3 weeks away from a return to the Mets lineup after sitting out with a bone bruise in his knee… Yanks’ hurler Chien Ming Wang will undergo season ending surgery, as will Twins’ starter Kevin Slowey… Seattle 3B Adrian Beltre is expected back from a shoulder injury in two weeks… Houston’s Lance Berkman is on the 15 day DL with a strained calf…

I blame Joe Torre. Ever since he took five American League shortstops to the 2002 All Star game in order to accommodate his own, Derek Jeter, managers fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhon both sides have deemed it their right to favor their players over the rest of the league. This year, however, Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel took it to a new level. Maddon managed to squeeze his entire infield on to the AL team, naming 1B Carlos Pena as a replacement for 2B Dustin Pedroia and ignoring Ian Kinsler. Manuel not only nominated an undeserving Shane Victorino for the fan voting that would determine the NL’s last player but then named him as the starting CF when Carlos Beltran bowed out. The problem with this baseball nepotism is that, now, the All Star game determines home field advantage in the playoffs. By allowing the league managers to act like Little League fathers, MLB is compromising the integrity of the process while potentially putting one of the League Champions at a disadvantage heading into the Fall Classic… With Geovany Soto on the DL, Jake Fox becomes the Cubs’ backup catcher … The Marlins will continue to alternate Leo Nunez and Dan Meyer to close games while Matt Lindstrom is on the DL… Milwaukee skipper Ken Macha was thrilled with Manny Parra’s first outing since returning from the minors, especially his confidence… While David Ortiz has been heating up, he has only managed 1 HR on the road… ChiSox starter Clayton Richard has a 10.80 ERA over list last 5 starts and will be given one post-break chance to stay in the rotation… The Royals will welcome 3B Alex Gordon and SS Yuniesky Betancourt back from rehab assignments as early as Friday… The Mariners unexpectedly shipped Brandon Morrow to the minors and may bring him back the next time they need a fifth starter on July 25th.

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As Fantasy owners prepare for the second half, let’s take a look at some of the players who’ll contribute to that championship run and some others who’ll serve as roadblocks.

CATCHER- Colorado’s Chris Iannetta has struggled through an injury plagued first half, as have many who participated in the WBC. However, his power numbers are all ahead of last year’s breakout pace. Roll the dice that he’ll stay healthy. Houston’s Pudge Rodriguez has reverted to the disastrous form that got him waived in Detroit. Swinging at everything, he has just 11 BB in 245 AB while his BA has dipped to .245. It’ll get worse the rest of the way.

FIRST BASE- Adam LaRoche of the Pirates is simply and inexplicably a late season stat machine. He’s averaged 24 HR and 88 RBI over the last three seasons with the bulk of those numbers coming after the break. That’s 12 HR and 50 RBI probably sitting on your waiver wire. After a hot start, Adrian Gonzalez has faded as pitchers refuse to throw him anything in the strike zone. Now he’s pressing, as evidenced by his .250 BA. If the Padres can’t protect him, he’s worth moving in your Fantasy League.

SECOND BASE- Inserted into the third spot in Seattle’s order, look for a big second half from this 25 year old Jose Lopez who’s on pace for career highs in HR and RBI. Don’t expect the Angels to be too patient with Howie Kendrick. With no pop, his BA was his only asset and that’s now hovering around the .240 level.

THIRD BASE- For the same reason telling you to stay away from Adrian Gonzalez, you should take a look at Kevin Kouzmanoff. The Padres’ third sacker has benefited from batting ahead of Gonzalez and fashioned a hot streak that has raised his RBI total to 47. While San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval has had a wonderful season to this point, he’s likely to hit a wall around the 400 AB mark in his first full season; especially with that body. He’d bring a lot in a trade right now. (Disregard these remarks if he’s eligible @ C in your league.)

SHORTSTOP- J.J. Hardy has one great half for the Brewers every year. After his putrid performance to this point, the bet here is that he finishes strong. He’s had three multi hit games in his last seven. Does anyone really think that the Astros’ Miguel Tejada, at his unconfirmed, advanced age, can continue at this clip for the rest of the year? I don’t. Move him now.

OUTFIELD- B.J. Upton spent most of the first two months working his way back from wrist surgery. He hit .324 in June and will probably top 60 SB. Don’t forget his power surge in last year’s post season, either. In Washington, the Nats have finally sorted their OF situation and Josh Willingham has taken full advantage. He’s on a tear right now and has a .419 OBP. Michael Cuddyer is healthy again in Minnesota and looks very much like the guy with 109 RBI in 2006. The Indians’ Grady Sizemore will need elbow surgery in the off season. With his BA sagging and the Tribe in the AL Central cellar, it’s possible they’ll pull the plug on his season at some point. Adam Jones is another young sensation who’s a good bet to hit the wall at some point in the second half. He’s been terrific so far for the Orioles and would bring a boatload of help in a trade. Chris Young teased the D’Backs a few years ago with his 32 HR 27 SB debut season. They’re almost completely out of patience with his .196 BA, however, and you should be, too.

STARTING PITCHER- Look for John Lackey to reclaim his dominant style after the break as he’s been slowly but surely rounding into form over his last few starts for the Angels A few weeks ago we warned that Aaron Harang could be in trouble after Dusty baker brought him back following a one hour rain delay. A similar gaffe by the Reds’ manager last year sent Harang spiraling downward. Since that column, Harang has posted a 7.00 ERA.

RELIEF PITCHER- One of the top relievers in the game last year, Joakim Soria is still relatively unknown outside of Kansas City. He’s fresh off the DL and fling under the radar. Grab him. Kevin Gregg lost the closer’s job twice while he was with the Marlins and hasn’t exactly lit things on ire for the Cubs. Don’t get caught with him on your roster when the meltdown comes.

Sick Bay- Geovany Soto could miss up to a month with a strained oblique… Jonathan Broxton pulled out of the All Star game because of an injured toe and could be out through the weekend… Matt Cain, another no show in St. Louis because of a bruised forearm, should be able to make his first start after the break… Royals’ starter Gil Meche has been bothered by back problems all year and was removed from his last start in the 4th inning… Kevin Slowey may not be ready to return from a sprained wrist when he’s eligible to come off the DL… If Justin Duchscherrer does return to the A’s this season, it’ll be as a reliever.

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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