by Moonlight Graham

We’ve all heard the opinion espoused by Fantasy Baseball Owners everywhere: No championships are won on Draft Day. However, whether you agree with that or not, most titles ARE won in April. Too many of us put in a ton of work preparing for the Fantasy Baseball Draft only to make the fatal mistake of ignoring our squads during the season’s first few weeks. Don’t be one of those guys.

Every year, even in the deepest of leagues, there are Major League Baseball players on the verge of a Fantasy Breakout season that go undrafted. Last season, alone, Miguel Montero and David Aardsma were just two who were integral parts of many Fantasy League championships despite being left unselected on draft day. The key for you, as an owner, is to identify those hidden gems as early as possible and incorporate them into your daily lineup.

That’s only half the battle, however, as t is just as critical to cut ties with drafted players not performing up to expectations. Daily perusal of the box scores and injury reports is the first step in this process; followed by the much more difficult one that forces you to admit you may have been wrong about a player. Once the draft is over, forget preferences and simply evaluate performance. Continue reading »

by Moonlight Graham

No position has undergone more change over the last decade than the Middle Infield. Long a collection of slap hitting, base stealers and the occasional power guy, it saw drastic change with the emergence of big guns like Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Tejada, Jeff Kent and Barry Larkin.  Even marginal, late round options like Jose Valentin were good for better than 20 HR.

However, retirement, injury and position change have all been factors in depleting the ranks of the Middle Infielders that’ll give you a boost in the power department.  While some do remain, (Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley will cost you a first rounder), for the most part, many Fantasy Baseball owners will settle for the mid-round options that produce low, double-digit HR’s, a solid BA and a decent number of SB.  The trick is, to find that one player who could break the mold and give you a top tier performance for a second tier price.

Fantasy Stars

-  Unless you’ve got one of the first two picks, you can forget Hanley Ramirez.  After that, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes top the Shortstop list but neither is a sure thing. Tulo comes off a terrific season but Fantasy Baseball owners still bear the burn marks from his disastrous ’08 season.  New York Mets’ star, Reyes, is not only coming off of a campaign lost to injury but was just cleared to play after a thyroid condition sidelined him for most of camp.  Don’t reach for either.  On the other side of the bag, Utley and Ian KInsler are the cream of the crop but Cincinnati Reds’ second sacker, Brandon Phillips, may be the best value.  He’s a guaranteed 20-20 from a position where that’s rare and he bats cleanup.  Going with that theory, we’d also have to add Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees, as he’s been moved to the five hole of that very potent lineup. Continue reading »

By Moonlight Graham

It’s been a disappointing Major League season for those fans that enjoy September pennant races fieldwithballmoonas each division seems to be locked up and only the NL Wild Card spot is still being contested.  We might see one more divisional race if the Twins can sweep the Tigers this weekend but, with their pitching, it’s not likely.  For baseball purists, the final month has been a letdown.

The absence of close races will have a bearing on Fantasy Baseball owners also, as they’ll be forced to keep an eye on star players that are vital to their Fantasy Baseball teams being rested as their MLB team preps for the post season.  So, if you’re looking to pick up an important point or two in the W or ERA categories, be aware that C.C. Sabathia or Chris Carpenter might be passed over in order to get a little more rest before the playoffs.  Likewise, dependable veterans on teams out of the mix; guys like Paul Konerko and Miguel Tejada, to name two, may find a seat on the bench as their teams audition younger players.  The bottom line is, if you’re lucky enough to still be in the running for your league title, it is more important to keep an eye on the box scores now than at any other point in the season.

Streaking

Arizona’s Juan Gutierrez is making a case to be the D’Backs’ 2010 closer with 4 S and 1 W in September… Tommy Hanson has a 0.45 ERA over three September starts for Atlanta… Kansas City’s Robinson Tejeda is 2-0 over three starts with 18 K.  When did you ever think he’d be a piece of your puzzle?… Seattle’s Ryan Rowland-Smith has gone 7 IP in each of his last four starts while posting a 2.61 ERA…

Stalling

Houston’s Miguel Tejada will see his playing time decrease as the Astros audition Tommy Manzelli at SS… Chad Billingsley’s most recent turn in the rotation was skipped as he has struggled over the last month… Despite extended rest, Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo was ripped in his last start and could be shut down for the rest of the year… Even though his last outing was a strong one, Chris Tillman may be shut down by the Orioles as they try to limit his IP… Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona is 1-5, 5.48 in his last nine starts… Jorge Posada will miss the weekend after being suspended for his ridiculous display during the Yankees- Blue Jays game on Wednesday… A.J. Burnett continues to struggle, going 1-4, 6.75 over his last six starts.  It’s been awhile since any of his teammates hit him with a pie… Take the 5-0 record given you by Pedro Martinez and run.  In his last start, the fragile Martinez threw 130 pitches, the most he’s thrown since 2002.  That followed a 119 pitch game in his previous outing.  You can’t expect him to hold up under the strain…

Sick Bay

Washington C Jesus Flores is done for the year after shoulder surgery… Justin Morneau will be out for the year with a stress fracture in his back… Kevin Youkilis has missed three straight with back spasms and could be out through the weekend… Detroit’s Jarrod Washburn is out with a bad knee… Yankees’ starter Andy Pettitte will miss a turn due to shoulder fatigue… Texas OF Josh Hamilton may miss the rest of the year with back issues…

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