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.

Off Season Prep and the next Fantasy Baseball Season

So, Moonlight, what can I do over the winter to prepare for next season?  It’s a question that’s found its way into my mailbag more than a few times over the last few weeks.  Now, I don’t expect that many of you follow the box scores from the Arizona Fall League or the Hawaii Fall League but, aside from those, there are a few easy steps to lay the groundwork for next season.

For the moderately serious fantasy player, a weekly check of sites like CBSSportsline or ESPN will provide you with Hot Stove updates regarding transactions, injury rehabs, contract status, etc.  Keeping yourself informed about these types of situations could potentially add a little more flavor to the player evaluations you’ll start during Spring training.

Serious players subscribe to the numerous websites available.  Two of my favorites have been Rotowire.com and Ron Shandler’s BaseballHQ.  As many know, Shandler is the founder of Tout Wars, a league of Roto experts chronicled by Sam Walker in his highly entertaining book, Fantasyland.  It was Shandler who first bridged the gap between the worlds of Fantasy and Major League baseball when he was hired as a consultant by the St. Louis Cardinals.  His annual tome, The Baseball Forecaster comes out in December and is full of all kinds of trends and analyses that I use to support or debunk some of my own opinions.

Also in December, the website MockDraftCentral.com begins hosting mock drafts for baseball.  They can be an invaluable tool in slotting players in your upcoming draft as well as getting a feel for how long you might be able to wait on your favorite fantasy sleeper picks.

*    *    *    *    *

It was an eventful year for the members of the HK Fantasy league.  The league title wasn’t determined until the final batter of the final game when Seattle’s J.J. Putz recorded a save that gave Bobby Carr the half point he needed to break a three way tie with Lou Carducci and Luke, Bob and Lou Ricciardi. More importantly, as has always been the case in the HKRBL, friends who remain in touch with each other because of Fantasy Baseball were able to share in each other’s accomplishments and milestones.  Jack Sullivan’s son, Andrew, exploded on to the college recruiting scene with his 90 MPH fastball that has even drawn interest from the Chicago White Sox.  Unfortunately, Andy’s rights are currently held by the Shady Gradys and have been deemed untouchable.
Eddie Mayrose proudly watched his son, Terrence, complete his college football career on his way to a Sport Management degree in May 2009.  Luke Ricciardi, at the tender age of 9, became the youngest fantasy owner in league history as well as the youngest player to go yard in his Little League.  Jamie Farley survived his first year in the league while both Tim Alfano and Chris Aucone got to face the television during the draft.  Most importantly, Ken Jankowski is expecting any day and will join Patrick Grady as a brand new father.

While on the subject of the Shady Gradys, they easily take the award for milestones this year.  Not only did Patrick welcome his two baby girls into the world but Dylan Grady, nephew of Pat and Brendan brought a little class to the operation as a new owner.  Uncle Brendan will be the league MVP next week as he and his beautiful fiancée, Kelly Dolan, tie the knot.  All in all, it’s been a great year. Despite all of the economic worries and fears about job security our spirits were buoyed by each other and our mutual friend; Baseball.

*    *    *    *    *

Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have had that chance. Just once. To stare down a big league pitcher. To stare him down, and just as he goes into his windup, wink. Make him think you know something he doesn’t. That’s what I wish for. Chance to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in your arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases – stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third, wrap your arms around the bag. That’s my wish, Ray Kinsella. That’s my wish. And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?  Archibald “Moonlight” Graham

Enjoy the Holidays.  Ninety four days till pitchers and catchers.

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.

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.

fantasy baseball season, fantasy league, fantasy drafts, Fantasy owners, Fantasy preview

© 2015 Fantasy Sports Dirt Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha