MLB Clubs Undermine Own Chances at Title

by Moonlight Graham

In 2003, in an attempt to regenerate fan interest just a year after a lack of available pitchers forced MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to declare the All Star Game a tie, Baseball’s hierarchy decreed that the Mid-Summer Classic would now determine home field advantage in the World Series. It wasn’t already bad enough that the rosters were watered down by the requirement that each team, no matter how bad, must be represented; now, a player from a second division club could have a hand in deciding the outcome of the sport’s premier event months in advance.

While the move was and is opposed by many, I never really had a problem with it.  Not because I agree with the concept; it’s completely ridiculous to think I’m staying up that late to watch Garrett Jones of the Pittsburgh Pirates face Kansas City Royals’ closer Joakim Soria because I’d like the Mets to have home field if they get that far.  However, because the old system of alternating the privilege was also completely without merit, I figured, “Who cares?”  Until I realized that the new policy actually gives mindless fans the opportunity to hurt their team’s shot at a championship; often at the prompting of it’s own front office. We’ve all been to the ballpark in the early part of the season and heard the huge pitch to vote for the hometown boys.  Actually, you don’t even have to attend a game anymore, as on-line balloting has given everyone a voice.  “Send Joe Blow to Los Angeles for the All Star Game”, blare the ads.  “Forget the stats, vote for our guys!”  On the surface, a nice marketing strategy, but one that could prove fatal to a championship run.  Continue reading »

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 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 »

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.

by Moonlight Graham

The Case for Albert Pujols

In New York, Carlos Delgado has become the feel good story of the fantasy baseball season, riding a hot streak through the second half and leading the Mets to the top of the NL east. His 33 HR and 100 RBI are numbers that were not only deemed unreachable at the beginning of the season but seemed just as impossible not two months ago. His resurrection has prompted many conversations about the possibility of the big first baseman taking home MVP honors at the end of the year. While there are some reasons for Delgado to warrant consideration, it is not entirely clear that he is even the Mets’ MVP let alone the league’s. Many will point to Jose Reyes or David Wright as the best the Mets have to offer. Regardless, any conversation regarding the NL MVP should begin and end with Albert Pujols.

The St. Louis first sacker came into the season having already acknowledged that he would have to undergo elbow surgery. Not wanting to miss any time, he vowed to play for as long as he could stand the pain. This revelation caused him to drop out of the first round of many Fantasy drafts. The Moonlight Fantasy preview advised against using a top ten pick on him. Many also wondered why he would postpone surgery during what was to be a down year for the Cards. Albert has made fools of us all.

Heading into this week, Pujols had a .360 BA and an impossible .466 OBP. His 32 HR and 95 RBI are very impressive but not as eye popping as his DiMaggio-like K total of just 48. On top of everything else, despite losing three of their top 5 starters and their closer, the Cardinals have been able to stay in playoff contention throughout the year.

Anything can happen, as evidenced by last year’s travesty that saw Jimmy Rollins get the award over the more deserving Matt Holliday, but if Delgado beats Pujols, the voting system should be changed.

RISING

Adam Dunn has been gotten some starts at 1B for the D’Backs and may qualify there in your fantasy league. He has been hot of late with a terrific OBP. Bronson Arroyo was recently named NL Player of the Week and is a free agent in many leagues.

FALLING

Brandon Webb has failed in three straight attempts to gain his 20th win. The Arizona ace may be feeling the effects of a long season.

GRAB BAG

3B Dallas McPherson was called up to the Marlins after belting 42 HR at AAA Albequerque and could provide a late power boost.

DROP ZONE

Jeff Kent underwent knee arthroscopic knee surgery last week and could return to the Dodgers just before the playoffs; too late to help Fantasy owners.

SICK BAY

Cubs’ starters Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano have been shut down due to shoulder ailments. Cleveland DH Travis Hafner returns this week, more so the Indians can evaluate his progress than to contribute. His shoulder is still not 100% so, don’t expect any power. Billy Wagner’s season appears over as elbow problems persist.

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