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 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 »

With the season wrapped up, it’s time to turn our attention to the business of the post season.  We’ll get back to our off fieldwithballmoonseason Fantasy baseball advice in a week or two but, for now, we’ll preview the Major League Baseball playoffs and how we see ‘em.
First, it’s important to point out that, while there’s still alot of baseball to be played, Moonlight’s pre-season prediction of a Twins-Phillies World Series is still alive.  I’m about to pick against it but, I wanted to point that out.  On to the picks.

National League Playoffs

Phillies vs. Rockies-  The Rockies have been the NL’s best team since Jim Tracy took over and almost came all the way back to take the NL West.  There are problems in the rotation, however, as Jason Marquis has been relegated to the bull pen off of his poor second half performance and Jorge de la Rosa is iffy after leaving his last start.  No such problems exist in Philly, as their rotation goes five deep.  It’s the bullpen where the defending champs are uncertain, with Brad Lidge sporting a 7+ ERA and Ryan Madson failing to take hold of the job.  Does Charlie Manuel have the stuff to go with Brett Myers in a playoff series?  Stay tuned.  Phillies in 5.

Dodgers vs. Cardinals- The trading deadline acquisition of Matt Holliday solidified the St. Louis lineup and allowed them to coast in the NL Central.  They have the best pitching in the game behind Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter while the Dodgers rotation has been inconsistent through much of the second half; especially Chad Billingsley.  Look for the Cards’ hurlers to stifle Manny’s bat.  Cards in 4.

American League Playoffs

Yankees vs. Twins- It was a long, uphill climb for the Twinkies as they made up seven games in four weeks without former MVP Justin Morneau.  That climb may have taken too much out of them, however, to mount any kind of challenge vs. MLB’s best team.  The Bombers will feast on the Twins’ young hurlers and dominate Minnesota in the playoffs the same way they did while going 7-0 during the regular season.  Yankees in 4.

Angels vs. Red Sox-  Yes, I’m well aware that the Red Sox seem to have the Angels’ number over the last few years; back to 1986 to be more precise, actually.  But I love the way the Angels play, love their resiliency and determination and think Vladimir Guerrero is going to have a big October.  For the Sawx, Beckett has struggled for over a month and Jon Lester’s health is a question.  Angels in 3.

With but ten days remaining in the season, the race in the Hausier’s Krowedum Rotisserie League has boiled down tofieldwithballmoon three teams; all of whom have been moving up and down within a range of ten points while alternating positions on a daily basis.  “It’s tough when the categories are this close”, said Bobby Carr of the Master Batters.  “At this time of year you’d like to focus on a category or two where you can either move up or protect a lead.  But a number of categories are close enough to demand attention and it’s spreading the attack pretty thin.”  In explaining further, Carr said, “I woke up the other day with a four point lead overall.  But I was just percentage points ahead of two teams in WHIP and just 2 RBI ahead of another two.  The next day, each of those four had passed me and I was two points behind.”  “I’ve decided to leave my team the way it is and hope for the best.  About the only moves I’ll make is to fill slots when players have an off day.” Carr’s problem is not uncommon among owners still in the race.  Trying to decide which players give you the best chance at gaining a point or two without costing you somewhere else is a dicey game.  Fortunately for Carr, it’s one he’s used to as he pushes for his third consecutive title.  As we said last week, keep an eye on the pennant race in the AL Central as the Twins and the Tigers will not sit their regulars and give up on your guys who may be losing playing time to auditioning rookies.  You’ve got ten days left.  Good luck.

Streaking-Switch hitting Matt Wieters is playing every day for the Orioles and has 3 three hit games in his last 4… The Twins keep closing on the Tigers and Michael Cuddyer is a big reason. Since it was announced that Justin Morneau is out for the year, Cuddyer has taken over at 1B and hit 4 HR in 6 games… Jason Kubel has settled into the Twins’ cleanup spot and seems to be driving in a run every night… Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba has been on fire, with four multi hit games in the last nine… Cubs’ hurler Tom Gorzelanny has been throwing very well and could give you a W or two… Royals’ 1B  Billy Butler, a huge Moonlight favorite, is closing in on 50 doubles. Mark it down now; Butler will have a huge 2010.

Stalling- The White Sox may look to limit the innings of starters John Danks and Mark Buerhle over the last week… Milton Bradley is done for the year after the Cubs suspended him for criticizing the team in the press. What a surprise… White Sox OF Jermaine Dye is crawling toward the finish line and has seen his BA drop to .238.

Sick Bay- Jays’ SS Marco Scutaro is out for the year with a back injury… OF Denard Span was out of the Twins’ lineup on Tuesday after being beaned on Monday. He’s day to day… San Francisco 2B Freddy Sanchez could miss a few days with a bad knee.

While the Rays and Phils get down to the business of the World Series, we’ll stop to take a look back at those players that helped their Fantasy owners more than any others during the year.  As is often the case, not many of our honorees appeared during the post season in the world where the only numbers that count are on the scoreboard.  Disagree with some of the choices? Then, let’s hear it.  My email address is listed below.

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Catcher-Though his owners would love to see more power, Joe Mauer walked away with his second career batting title while leading AL catchers in RBI.  While it’s true that the absence of Victor Martinez and Jorge Posada made this a thin position, Mauer was still great.

First Base-Though it’s unlikely he’ll get enough votes to garner his second AL MVP award in three years, Justin Morneau was still better than anyone else at 1B this year.  Always asked to carry the offensively challenged Twinkies, he never disappoints.  A .300+ BA along with 30 HR and 100+ RBI have become the norm for this emerging superstar.

Second Base-Red Sox fans miffed at Kevin Youkilis being passed over at 1B are not going to be pleased with this selection either.  While Dustin Pedroia is being trumpeted for MVP consideration, the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler was head and shoulders above his peers.  Before going down in early September, Kinsler was in the top ten of most categories and was leading the league in total bases.  The fact of the matter is that Kinsler and whoever you replaced him with had better stats than Pedroia.

Shortstop- Michael Young makes it an all Texas keystone combo as his usual BA and R were enough to place him on top of a weak Fantasy group.

Third Base- Lost in the disaster that was the Tigers’ season was the huge production of Miguel Cabrera, who will go into 2009 with eligibility at 1B as well.  His .292 BA 37 HR and 127 RBI were enough to nose out Alex Rodriguez.

Outfield-One of two players to appear on our fantasy sleeper and all star lists is ChiSox OF Carlos Quentin.  Despite missing the last month, he still managed to cop the league HR crown.  Josh Hamilton gives the Rangers its third representative despite his late season fade.  Based on his Home Run Derby performance alone, he merits a nod.  His .302 BA 32 HR and 130 RBI simply sealed the deal.  Bobby Abreu takes the last OF spot based on a 20-20 season that also featured a .300 BA, 100 R and 100 RBI.

Starting Pitcher-Hard to ignore a 23-2 record, which is why Cliff Lee gets the nod at this spot.  Would have loved more strikeouts and looked st Roy Halladay but Lee takes a close race.

Relief Pitcher- Easiest call we’ve made all year.  Francisco Rodriguez set the Major league record for saves at 60.  Case closed.

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