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

It happens every spring.  MLB clubs head into the new season filled with all of the promise and excitement that a new year brings.  Injured players are healthy, dissapointing performance are forgotten and optimism rules the day. Unfortunately, many also begin the new campaign focused more on finances than the standings and thus, head into battle without a full arsenal of weaponry.

Without going into all of the legal issues surrounding the MLB arbitration process, suffice to say that the most important element is service time; specifically, days on a Major League roster.  If a rookie that would normally be eligible for arbitration after two years is held back until the end of May, he cannot be credited with the service time required for a full season.  Therefore, the big payday usually gained through arbitration is delayed by a full calendar year. Continue reading »

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.

by Moonlight Graham

2008 NL All Fantasy Sleeper Team

No matter how much preparation goes into a Fantasy season, no matter how many numbers are crunched and analyzed, no matter how much money is spent on gathering information, no one ever wins a championship without one or two players falling into his lap through no other means than dumb luck. The rookie pitcher selected with the last pick who suddenly becomes his team’s closer, the veteran coming back from injury that lands a spot with a new team or a player who suddenly realizes his potential are every bit as important to a Roto team’s chances as the players selected in the first few rounds. Simply put, you can’t win without them. Here is the 2008 Moonlight Graham All NL Sleeper team. All of them sure to have gone late or not at all in any draft. Hope you had a few of them on your squad.

Catcher

Ryan Doumit’s time as the Pirates’ backstop in waiting seemed to have come and gone. He’d shown flashes of his potential but had been moved to other positions to make room for Ronnie Paulino. When Paulino got hurt, Doumit took over and never looked back, posting a .318 BA, 15 HR, 69 RBI season.

First Base

Don’t even try to say that you saw this year coming out of Carlos Delgado. However, if you used a throwaway farm pick on him, you and the Mets laughed all the way to the bank on the heels of his 38 HR and 115 RBI. He even scored 96 R.

Second Base

Not only did Mark DeRosa reward fantasy owners with a career year but his multi position eligibility allowed them to move the versatile Cub and his 21 HR, 87 RBI, 103 R all over the field.

Third Base

It’s only been three years since Jorge Cantu posted 117 RBI for the Rays but it seems much longer. Last year was a complete bust as he only played in 52 G. Florida took a shot on him in ’08 and ended up with a three hole hitter that rang up 29 HR and 95 RBI.

Shortstop

After having lost all of ’06 to injury and playing a mere 46 G in ‘07, Cristian Guzman came into spring training battling for the Nats’ SS job. He prevailed and had his owners smiling all year with a .316 BA and 183 H.

Outfield

Prognosticators who had the Cards at the bottom of the Central division could not have foreseen the breakout season of Ryan Ludwick who more than doubled his previous career highs; logging a .299 BA with 37 HR and 113 RBI. In Pittsburgh, Nate McLouth used his strong ’07 finish as a springboard to a career year. That his 26 HR and 94 RBI came mostly from the leadoff spot was even more remarkable. Not many players achieve the vaunted 20 HR 20 SB Daily Double. Especially not from the waiver wire, where Jayson Werth of the Phillies was likely plucked by most of his owners.

Starting Pitcher

There was a lot of buzz in Reds’ camp last spring about a rookie pitching phenom. However, while Johnny Cueto was getting all of the attention it was another rook, Edinson Volquez, who emerged as the Cincy ace with 17 W and 206 K.

Relief Pitcher

Some preseason forecasts set the Giants’ win total only slightly higher than the 41 S recorded by stopper Brian Wilson. While his 4.62 ERA was nothing to write home about, he did post 67 K in 62 IP.

Next Week: 2008 AL All Sleeper Team

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.

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