March 29, 2013

2013 MLB Predictions


Standings
 
AL East

1.      Toronto Blue Jays

2.      Boston Red Sox

3.      Tampa Bay Rays

4.      New York Yankees

5.      Baltimore Orioles

I think any team in this division could win it and any team could finish last.  Toronto may struggle at the beginning of the season as they learn to play with one another, but baseball is more about individual talent than any other sport and I think that’ll shine through (baring injuries).  I think the Red Sox rotation will help them win a lot of games and I think their offense is under-rated.  There’s a lot of star power here and some big markets, should be a fun year to follow the AL East.
 
AL Central

1.      Detroit Tigers

2.      Cleveland Indians

3.      Kansas City Royals

4.      Chicago White Sox

5.      Minnesota Twins

Here I’m pretty confident in the first and last place teams in the division, but the middle three could shake out in any way.  The Twins are clearly rebuilding and are a lesson to the smaller markets why you don’t pay two players $100M+ if you can’t afford to surround them with any other talent. The Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball and the best hitter.  They have 2 sure fire Hall of Famers and potentially another in Fielder (though he has a long way to go, his numbers to date match up well with some in the Hall).  I love what the Indians have done this offseason; they have a much improved lineup and also back that up with a great bullpen and defense.  If their rotation can consistently give them six good innings they could really make a splash. 

AL West

1.      Los Angeles Angles

2.      Seattle Mariners

3.      Texas Rangers

4.      Oakland Athletics

5.      Houston Astros

Its possible Trout, Pujols and Hamilton all have worse 2013 seasons then they did in 2012.  However, that doesn’t mean they won’t still be great players surrounded by a bunch of other really good players.  I think there are actually some questions in the rotation as well.  They have enough talent to hang around and I think they’ll make some moves to fill holes down the stretch.  I think the Mariners could surprise some people and it’ll be interesting to see what the new ballpark dimension do to both their offensive and defensive numbers. 
 

NL East

1.      Atlanta Braves

2.      Washington Nationals

3.      Philadelphia Phillies

4.      New York Mets

5.      Miami Marlins

Can a division be both top and bottom heavy?  The Phillies should still be able to make some noise, but I think the Braves and Nationals are two of the best teams in baseball.  They were both good last year and both made moves this offseason to improve.  The battle for the division should prepare them well for the Postseason and I think either of them (maybe both) could make a deep run.  On the other end the Mets and Marlins will both have a number of players in their everyday lineup that nobody’s heard of.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as they look to rebuild and I think they’re both on the right path...just not for 2013.


NL Central

1.      Cincinnati Reds

2.      Milwaukee Brewers

3.      Pittsburgh Pirates

4.      St. Louis Cardinals

5.      Chicago Cubs

The Reds are the clear favorites here in my opinion.  Each of the other teams could surprise, but on paper they can’t match Cincinnati’s lineup or pitching (not even close).  The Cardinals have some great young pieces/reinforcements coming up from their farm and I don’t think they’ll be down for long, I just think they have too many injuries and aging veterans to compete in 2013.  If the Pirates can stay in the race like they have the past couple years, we could see Gerritt Cole and/or Jamison Tallion get the call and have a real impact on their push toward the playoffs...errr, I mean winning season. 


NL West

1.      San Francisco Giants

2.      Los Angeles Dodgers

3.      Arizona Diamondbacks

4.      Colorado Rockies

5.      San Diego Padres

Teams that win the offseason don’t always win the regular season.  The Dodgers made some big moves at last year’s trade deadline and this offseason and they are finally relevant again which is great for baseball.  They are right behind the Tigers in terms of having the best pitcher and best hitter in baseball (and might in the National League); however, injuries are a major concern.  Hanley Ramirez is already out for a couple months, Kershaw has dealt with a hip issue this spring and Kemp hasn’t proven to be the most durable of players.  The Giants will keep plugging along and have another great year and championship run.  Their rotation is one of the best in baseball.  The Diamondbacks were trending up, but they decided to trade away their best player and best prospect in the same offseason.

 
American League Playoffs

Wild Card

Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians

Division Series

Detroit Tigers over Boston Red Sox

Los Angeles Angels over Toronto Blue Jays

Championship Series

Detroit Tigers over Los Angeles Angels
 

National League Playoffs

Wild Card

Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals

Division Series

Los Angeles Dodgers over Cincinnati Reds

Atlanta Braves over San Francisco Giants

Championship Series

Atlanta Braves over Los Angeles Dodgers
 

World Series (after how many WBC early exits will we be required to stop calling it that?)

Detroit Tigers over Atlanta Braves

  

American League Awards

MVP – Miguel Cabrera (runner up, Robinson Cano)

Cy Young – Felix Hernandez (runner up, Justin Verlander)

ROY – Wil Myers (runner up, Jackie Bradley Jr.)

Comeback Player – Victor Martinez (runner up, Dan Haren)
 

National League Awards

MVP - Joey Votto (runner up, Matt Kemp)

Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw (runner up, Cliff Lee)

ROY – Julio Teheran (runner up, Nolan Arenado)

Comeback Player – Chase Utley (runner up Ryan Howard)

February 18, 2013

Why I’m Not Going to Win Any of My Fantasy Baseball Leagues


I love fantasy baseball, but I love “real” baseball even more. I religiously try and watch my Detroit Tigers as much as possible. I say try because with a wife of 3 years, and a 1 year old there’s very little time to carve out 3 hours for a game. The few times I finally do get a chance to set aside that time and dedicate it solely to my Tiggs I go all out. I go 100%! Beer, munchies, pillows galore (For various positions. God knows I can’t stay in the same position all day), cellphone (texting my friends about Tigers game nonsense) and of course, silence from the family.  This is a great time, a summer ritual, but this is also the reason I won’t win my fantasy baseball leagues.

Whether it’s my inability to process so much data, my lack of picking a favorite, or I just plain suck, I fall victim to my “all out nature”. I’ve vaulted fantasy baseball from a pastime to an obsession. Case in point, I love fantasy baseball so much, that to create a reason to talk about it in the offseason. I created this website (with my close friend who, lucky for me, is just as obsessed).  Just like my ritual for watching Tigers’ games, I can’t just have it on in the background; it has to be the focal point. In my mind, what’s the point if I can’t analyze and be a part of every moment that happens?  This leads me down a dark, confusing, very enjoyable ride in preparation for my fantasy drafts. 

Matthew Berry, Tristan Cockroft, Eric Karabell, Grey Albright, Scott White, and plenty more. These are the playwrights of my early spring literature. These are the kings that dictate my readings. I embrace them 24/7 for months on end, listening, reading their every word. It’s what I do, and because of this I never win! Damn all their opinions! I personally find that they are too good at their job. One lyricist will tell me to pick up R.A. Dickey while the other poet tells me not to. The worst part is they’ll each make a very compelling case.  So I sit. I don’t make a move. If I do make a move I scrutinize it to no end. Oh yes, I could use what they say and form my own opinion, yeah like that’s easy. I still hear their words playing in the background just before I’m about to accept a trade, “don’t do it, his BABIP is unsustainable. “ Do it, I love his fly ball to groundball ratio.” AAHH!!! And to top it all off (Admittedly this is the best part about being in a fantasy league with my friend.) every move I make will be mocked by the members of my league (I do this all the time regardless of how fair/unfair the deal is).

What’s a fantasy manager to do? Cut down on the intake of fantasy advice? Ppff…that’s about as easy as dedicating the time spent on fantasy baseball to actual work. Pick one fantasy writer and go with what he says? Ha! Ok, let’s not shop around for a car and buy the first house we see, or not get multiple quotes for a contracting job…1 fantasy writer? Good one!  Create a website of my own, do all the research and analysis myself, and use that data to construct the reasoning’s I’ll use throughout the season? Yeah, like that’ll…wait a minute! That’s a phenomenal idea! But that’s just too time consuming in areas I’d rather dedicate to reading, watching, and listening to baseball.  Maybe there is no solution to my losing ways. Maybe I’m just doomed to thoroughly enjoy the hobby that takes up my free time from March to October. It looks like I’ll just continue to over indulge on what I find very interesting and be the lovable, knowledgeable loser.  Oh well, I guess it could be worse; I guess I could be a “real fantasy expert”.

Here are a few late rounder guys I like:
Michael Brantley – no power, but will contribute nicely to SBs
A.J. Griffin – I think 2012 was a year to build on. I think he’ll improve greatly and be a very serviceable #4 SP
Andrew Cashner – for deep NL only leagues, there’s a reason he was the focal point of the Adrian Gonzalez deal. I think this year he shows why. Plus he pitches in Petco, come on!
Lonnie Chisenhall – The job is his. He’s got power. Big upside this late in the draft.

February 12, 2013

Cleveland Indians Preview

    
So, I took part in an offseason project for C70 At the Bat (www.cardinal70.com) where I was asked to field some questions about the Cleveland Indians heading into the 2013 season.  It's still a little early, but it's a fun exercise.  Look for the full analysis of all 30 teams at the C70 site, but here is my Indians take.


     1)   How would you grade the offseason? 
I guess I can better answer that question now that they’ve gone ahead and signed Michael Bourne to a 4 year, $48M deal.  I’ve thought all along that they could be in the mix for his services, though I’ll admit after they obtained Drew Stubbs in the trade with Arizona I figured that ship had sailed.  Anyway, overall I think the Indians offseason has to be graded as one of the best, if not the best in all of baseball (I also like what the Blue Jays and Braves have done).  In signing Nick Swisher, Brett Myers, Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourne and trading for Drew Stubbs a pair of good relief pitchers and one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball in Trevor Bauer they filled most of their holes.  They still have some questions in their rotation, but it’s possible Kazmir or Dice K is able to make the rotation out of spring training.  The payroll increases some (remember they had Hafner, Sizemore and D Lowe come off the books), but the fans are excited.


2) Is there much hope of Ubaldo Jimenez finding the form he had in Colorado? 
The form he had in Colorado was Cy Young candidate stuff.  I don’t think it’s realistic to think he’ll return to that level, but an improvement over his 2012 numbers is possible, if not probable.  He still has a good fastball and movement on his breaking pitches, he just has to trust it more and cut down on the walks.  I think there is also a chance that if he stuggles he could be moved to the bullpen in the hope that he’ll be able to work things out.

3) What are the expectations of Carlos Santana this year? 
Depending on who you ask, you could get a wide spectrum of answers to this question.  I know some of the analysts believe he’ll never be much more than what he has been, a below average defensive catcher with some pop that can’t be depended on in the middle of a major league lineup.  However, I believe there is still a lot of room for growth and think he can still improve as a catcher and be one of the best offensive options in the game at that position (power, OBP and AVG). 

4) What rookie will make the biggest impact in 2013? 
The Indians have called up a number of their top prospects (Kipnis, Chisenhall, McCallister, Hagadone, etc.) in recent years and their next big wave of impact players is likely a year or two away.  That said, the trade of Shin-Soo Choo (plus others) for Trevor Bauer (and others) brings them one of the most highly touted rookie pitchers.  If he breaks camp with the team or gets an early call I think he has the potential to make a big impact in 2013.  There has been a lot of talk about his mechanics and how he wants to do things his way.  You’d like to see him take some coaching, but at the end of the day – his way has worked pretty well for him so far. 

5) What will be the final record of the team and where will they finish in the division?
This is tough.  They’ve looked pretty strong in the first half of the season the past couple years only to falter down the stretch (this is exactly opposite of what often happened with Eric Wedge at the helm).  Last year they were near the bottom of the pack in both runs allowed and runs scored.  I think their offseason additions and continued development of their young players will solve the offensive woes.  How the season goes will depend on the pitching.  I see them with 85 or so wins, good for second in the division and in contention for a Wild Card spot. 

6) What one thing from your team are you most looking forward to watching? 
I want to see how Carlos Carrasco looks in 2013.  He was a major part of the deal that sent Cliff Lee to the Phillies and is really the last hope to salvage some success out of that trade.  He started showing improvement in 2011 before the injury bug caught up with him and he had surgery.  He came back at the tail end of last year and looked really good with the Double A Akron Aeros.  His velocity was back to where it was which is a big key.  He could be a piece that helps solve the rotation puzzle, or he could fall off the map. We'll see.    

February 5, 2013

Who To Target And Why


Like a real baseball team, fantasy teams have guys that aren’t sexy, don’t put up the big numbers, but they just flat out help. They contribute a little in all 5 main categories, absolutely kill it in 1 category, are an utter steal at the draft, a little of all 3. Here’s a small list, based on current ADP, of guys I’ll be looking to get:

Madison Bumgarner – he’s an ace. I will be saying this till he’s thrown up 3 consecutive 5+ERA seasons, he’s on a street corner begging for change, and is sleeping in a refrigerator box. One of these years (maybe this year?) he’ll throw together a Cy Young caliber season. This year you can get him for half the cost of a Price or Cain.

Yoenis Cespedes – This is a guy on the cusp of greatness. He steals and hits for power. He might be a poor man’s version of Vlad Guerrero, or another BJ Upton. Regardless, he’ll throw up some nice power/speed stats at a discounted rate. Remember, The A's (Billy Beane) spend a boatload of money (something they never, ever, ever, ever do) to get this guy. This may be the Brad Pitt/Moneyball love talking, but that makes me believe. 

Jimmy Rollins – Remember him? No? Well last year he had over 100 runs scored, 30 stolen bases, and chucked in 23 home runs. And that was on a team that completely bombed! Remember him now? Do not be scared off by his age. The Phillies should be healthier, thus better this year. Shortstop is already a weak position, so don’t reach on a huge question mark like Tulo. Just sit back and wait for this ol Jimmy.

Doug Fister – This guy…The Fist...is a must have. Again, he does a little of everything, and if his 2012 season wasn’t derailed by fluky injuries he’d be going a lot high than the 10th round.

Alcides Escobar – Let me ask you a question…Of the current preseason top 15 shortstops, who was 2nd is stolen bases and 3rd in average? If you guessed anyone other than Alcides Escobar just stop reading and find help and direction in life. Yes Escobar is a 2 category guy, but those are 2 categories that are generally an afterthought. People always want the power guys, thus, generally, tanking their average and speed. Escobar is great to plug into a middle infielder spot and forget about.

Jeff Samardzija – Grab him now people. He will not be available in the 15th round after this year.

Adam Dunn – There were 6 players that hit over 40 home runs last year. Of those 6, 2 are first rounders, 2 are 2nd rounders, 1 is a 3rd rounder and 1 is a 18th rounder?! Why no love? Yes he’ll completely destroy your average, whatever! Draft accordingly! 40 home runs are 40 home runs. 

January 28, 2013

2013 Mock Draft #1 - Results

Over the weekend I took part in my first Mock Draft of the 2013 Fantasy Baseball Season.  I used my updated rankings and projections which can be found at ClubhouseGM Rankings & Projections.  The draft was put on by the guys over at MLBDirt who did a great job pulling this together.  The format was Roto with the standard 5x5 categories (r, hr, rbi, sb and avg for hitters and w, s, k, era and whip for pitchers).  There were 12 teams and we drafted the following positions; C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, MI, CI, OF, OF, OF, OF, UT, UT, SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P and three Bench spots.  I ended up with the #2 pick, which usually I'm not a big fan of having in a snake draft, but it works out well this year as you get one of the big three (Miggy, Braun or Trout).  Here are the players I drafted and my thoughts about each pick. 


PosPlayerRndOvPlayer picked after that I should have considered
3BCabrera, Miguel - DET12I have him number 1 overall (consistency and position) so I was happy to see him fall to me at #2. 
OFHeyward, Jason - ATL223I like Longoria in the late 2nd, but I already had Miggy
SSCastro, Starlin - CHC326Beltre & Wright are good picks in the 3rd, but I already had Miggy.  I think Hanley is comparable to Castro, but I like the AVG boost more than a slight boost in counting stats.  Latter in the draft its tough to get HR & SB with a good AVG
1BGonzalez, Adrian - LAD447I was hoping a good 1B fell to me with this pick and I had my pick from A Gon, Goldschmidt and Rizzo.  I like the pick, but had I know I could've gotten Rizzo in round 9 I may have used this pick on an OF like Choo, Cespedes or BJ Upton
SPGreinke, Zack - LAD5504th/5th/6th round is when I like to grab my first SP and I was estatic that Greinke was still on the board
OFGordon, Alex - KC671I probably should have grabbed another SP with one of these picks and I may have reached a bit for Gordon/Jennings, but they are still young with room to grow.
OFJennings, Desmond - TB774I have Jennings down for 100+ runs, 15-20 HRs, 70+ rbi, 40+ SB and a .270 average.  Basically Jose Reyes (2nd rounder) but in the OF and slightly less AVG.
PChapman, Aroldis - CIN895This pick got a lot of negative comments, but in the 8th round I get a guy that could produce top 10 pitcher numbers.  Theres certainly risk, but wherever he ends up (rotation/bullpen) I love high K guys and he is one of the best
OFPence, Hunter - SF998I timed out here and computer picked the top guy in queue.  Not a terrible pick, but I was about to grab Medlen.  As often happened throughout my guy was taken right before my pick (even though only one guy and two picks seperated them.  I wanted Chapman and Gallardo, should've went the other way and grabbed Gallardo first.
SPKuroda, Hiroki - NYY10119I think there is another clear drop off in tallent level after the 8th/9th round.  Kuroda isn't a sexy pick, but his consistency offsets Chapmans question marks.
2BWeeks, Rickie - MIL11122Some better players (Cruz, Swisher, Samardzija) came off the board after this pick, but there wasn't much left at 2B after Weeks and I do like his power/speed combo. 
CMontero, Jesus - SEA12143I like him more than most and although I don't like to reach for a catcher, I also don’t mind having a player whose floor is likely 20 HRs and a .270 average with potential for much more
SPMinor, Mike - ATL13146Not drafting a pitcher until round 5 I know I'm going to need to find some good bargains late.  Minor has high K's and was a bit unlucky last year, he could be a good steal here. 
CIMoustakas, Mike - KC141673B is shallow.  Moustakas isn't the talent some thought he would be and that probably makes some disregard him, but he's a decent 3B option and a good CI in my opinion.
SPPeavy, Jake - CHW15170At this point I'm starting to worry about my pitching.  Some guys I hoped would fall here (A Sanchez, Lester, Wilson) are gone and I thought Peavy was an ok risk/reward here.  Brett Anderson was taken with the next pick and I would have rather had him. 
UTMyers, Wil - TB16191I was debating guys like Kubel, Revere and Soriano.  When I get to that point I start looking at the sleepers/rookies.  Myers could start in the minors, but he could also be a ROY candidate and greatly outperform this draft spot.  (Profar, Machaco, D'Arnaud and Bundy are others to start considering when the pickin's get slim). 
RPRivera, Mariano - NYY17194He seems to be healthy and if he was he'd be drafted 10 rounds higher.  At this point I'm ok with taking a closer, especially the best of all time. 
RPMiller, Shelby (R) - STL18215Back to my rookie comment, only difference is that he's done it in the bigs (if only for a couple games).  A good chuck of the guys drafted from here on out will end up on waivers at some point - depending on roster and transaction limits I'd prefer to grab the guys with higher upside.  Other picks I could have had here (Mallon, A Reed and R Madson - again high risk/reward).
MIRamirez, Alexei - CHW19218Not crazy about this pick, but I needed to fill my MI spot and there wasn't much left.  At least he can provide counting stats and won't hurt in any category. 
SPMarcum, Shaun - NYM20239Coming out of the draft my pitching isn't going to wow anyone, but getting Marcum this late was a big boost to my rotation IMO. 
UTDunn, Adam - CHW21242If you draft Dunn you can pretty much gaurauntee you wont finish tops in the league with average (or likely very close to it).  That said, we have deep rosters, I have some pretty solid AVG guys and 80+ runs, 40 HRs and 90+ RBIs is pretty aweseom in the 21st round.
RPCishek, Steve - MIA22263Was really hoping Houston Street or Rick Bauer (ha!) would fall to me here, but I did want to add another potential closer.  I don't like to pay for saves, but I don't think punting that category is wise either
SPJackson, Edwin - CHC23266A lot of pitchers I'd rather have went off the board after this pick (Bundy, Bauer, Beachy, Fiers, etc.).  I grabbed E Jax because of his consistency - problem is he's consistenty average
UTCarpenter, Matt - STL24287If he's able to push Descalso off of 2B (see no reason why he can't) they he could provide decent numbers across the board and be a versitle bench player to fill in for injuries, etc.


At the end of the day my lineup will look like this;

Starting Lineup
CJesus Montero
1BAdrian Gonzalez
2BRickie Weeks
3BMiguel Cabrera
SSStarlin Castro
MIAlexi Ramirez
CIMike Moustakas
OFJason Heyward
OFDesmond Jennings
OFAlex Gordon
OFHunter Pence
UTAdam Dunn
UTWil Myers
SPZack Greinke
SPAroldis Chapman
SPHiroki Kuroda
RPMariano Rivera
RPSteve Cishek
PMike Minor
PJake Peavy
PShaun Marcum
BShelby Miller
BEdwin Jackson
BMatt Carpenter


I'm very happy with this team overall.  Pitching is obviously my weakness, but I think I found pretty good value later in the draft and can supplement with some crafty waiver wire pickups or trades.  I like my offense a lot, especially for such a deep roster.  Many of my hitters have 4-5 tool capability.  If anything I might be a little light on Power (unusual for me), but if I can roster Adam Dunns terrible average (and Rickie Weeks for that matter) I should be ok there. 

Let me know what you think.  Who did I draft too early? what are my team weaknesses?