Posted on: March 6, 2012 5:30 pm

Baseball 2012

What a year 2011 was!  The seasons of both the Braves and the Red Sox ended about an hour apart on the last day of the regular season.  Then one of the teams that stole a wild card berth, St. Louis Cardinals, went on to win the World Series against a team that made it to back to back World Series, Texas Rangers.

Let's play a game, let's Fast Forward to the end of the 2012 season when the Angels of someplace in SoCal defeat the mighty Miami Marlins and their gender and sexual orientation neutral logo in game 6 of the world series on November 2nd, 2012.  I'm not Nostradamus, because if I was, then the prediction would actually look like this.  The Angels of Angels beat Fearless Fish, or something strange like that.  Am I the last one to notice that The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is extremely redundant?  I must be, because up until 2 sentences ago, I hand't noticed it, but now that I have, there's nothing more for me to say at this point.

How did they get there?  Well The Marlins swiftly beat the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS in a four game sweep, while the Angels had a hard time dispatching wild card entrant the Texas Rangers. 

How did they get to there?  Okay, so the Marlins took all 5 games to defeat the Philadelphia Phillies, while the Giants took down the Milwaukee Brewers in 4 games.  The Angels defeated the New York Yankees in 4 games, while the Rangers defeated the Detroit Tigers in 4 games to advance.

And the new wild cards?  The Marlins were the wild card entrant for the NL, and they beat the Arizona Diamondbacks for the rights to remain in the quest for a World Series in their beautiful rainbow filled park.  They won by the score of 4-3, with Ricky Nolasco being the winning pitcher against Josh Collmenter (or something like that).  The Rangers went toe to toe against the Tampa Bay Rays for a chance to remain in the playoffs and won 7-2 on the strength of 2 homeruns by captain clutch himself...  Ian Kinsler.

Here are the projected standings for 2012:  These are my projections and as we all know a projection is a really cool way of saying that it's my theory and of course a theory is an educated guess, and well, I'll let you determine the educatediveness (new word) of these projections (square one):

AL East:
New York Yankees 96-66
Tampa Bay Rays 93-69
Boston Red Sox 88-74
Toronto Blue Jays 77-85
Baltimore Orioles 64-98

Al Central:
Detroit Tigers 95-67
Kanas City Royals 82-80
Cleveland Indians 75-87
Chicago White Sox 71-91
Minnesota Twins 70-92

Al West:
Anaheim Angels 98-64
Texas Rangers 92-70
Seattle Mariners 74-88
Oakland Atheletics 65-97

NL East:
Miami Marlins 95-67
Philadelphia Phillies 94-68
Washington Capitals 86-76
Atlanta Braves 81-81
New York Mets 63-99

NL Central:
Milwaukee Brewers 88-74
St. Louis Cardinals 82-80
Cincinnati Reds 80-82
Pittsubrgh Pirates 77-85
Chicago Cubs 73-89
Houston Astros 59-103

NL West:
San Francisco Giants 95-67
Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
Los Angeles Dodgers 84-78
Colorado Rockies 82-80
San Diego Padres 63-99

AL MVP = Miguel Cabrera
AL Cy Young = Dan Haren
AL Rookie of the Year = Jesus Montero

NL MVP = Justin Upton
NL Cy Young = Daniel Hudson
NL Rookie of the Year = Zack Cozart
Category: MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:39 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: Cleveland Indians

I'm not really sure if the Indians are rebuilding, or continue to destroy what they have. After trading away back to back Cy Young award winners and with key parts of the team being significantly injured or deteriorating. The bright spot was Shin-Soo Choo and I guess Fausto Carmona. This team has two players that should go pretty high in any fantasy draft, and only a handful of others that will be drafted at all.

Projected Starting Lineup:
CF Grady Sizemore/Trevor Crowe - Sizemore, who was at one time an all world outfielder, and potentially one of the top 10 players in baseball went 33 games without a homerun last year and was injured for most of the season. Trevor Crowe has decent speed, occassional power and really doesn't belong at the top of any line-up, but in the absence of Sizemore, this is where he'd be. I have Sizemore and Crowe ranked outside the top 75 outfielders.
2B Orlando Cabrera - Who knows what Manny Acta is going to do here, but what should be done is probably bat Cabrera, he's got a good contact ratio and he's spent most of his career hitting out of the 2 hole. He is aging (36), and well past his prime, but he seems to find his way into the playoffs, double digit steals and 60-70 runs scored. I have him ranked between 21st and 25th for shortstops and/or second base.
RF Shin-Soo Choo - His power speed numbers are definitely something to drool over, back to back seasons of 20/20. For the 2nd consecutive season he also hit exactly .300, had 78 or more walks, knocked in 86 or more runs, and scored 81 or more times. In fact, everything was great about Shin-Soo Choo and one thing was better, he improved his strikeouts by 33 and that's a huge thing. I have Choo as a top 10 outfielder.
CA Carlos Santana - Last year he hit 3rd for most of the year, and that might be the case again, but you have to assume that Choo will bat third and Santana will bat either 4th or 5th, but again with the Indians, who knows? I'm just guessing. With Santana you get something very rare. A young hitter who walks more than he strikesout and he's a catcher to boot. The only other catcher that does that has an MVP under his belt. He has decent power (20+ homeruns can be expected over a full season) and some speed (10+ steals is a realistic expectation), but he'll also make some errors (10+ is realistic) and he's a potential stud in the making, like Joe Mauer was. I have Santana projected to be a top 5 catcher.
1B Matt LaPorta - He was terrible in 2010, with a .221 average and only 12 dingers in 110 games. Not the kind of power you'd want in a corner infield spot. I'd avoid him like the plague. I have LaPorta ranked between 26th and 30th.
DH Travis Hafner - To start the season last year, I think everyone had the same thought, that the old Hafner was back, that his dead shoulder had resurrected like Moses parting the Red Sea, or something like that, kind of. In actuallity it was all for not as he ended up with 13 homeruns in 396 at bats, for a nice clean HR/AB of 1/30. Not good, not the power he used to have. I'm not saying that he was a roider, but he had 42 dingers in 2006, where'd that guy go? I have Hafner ranked between 21st and 25th for fulltime DHs, he does not qualify anywhere else.
LF Michael Brantley - There is some talk that he might take on the leadoff responsibilities, but it doesn't really matter, when it comes to fantasy, he has very little value. His only redeeming quality is that his BB/SO ratio is decent at 22/38 in 297 at bats. I have Brantley ranked between 76th and 100th for outfielders.
3B Jayson Nix - If you thought LaPorta was useless as a 1st baseman, well meet his twin at third base. If you draft this clown, I might kick you in the nuts, just to remind you which feels better (trust me, it's the kick in the nuts). He did hit 14 homeruns last year, but in 56 games at 3rd base he made 10 errors (fulll season translation = 29), he also struck out 4 more times than he walked (20/87), umm that's not good. Heck he even got caught stealing more than he successfully stole. He's pretty useless. I do not have Nix ranked in the top 30 for 3rd basemen.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera - He led off a lot last year, and in fact hit in several line-up spots throughout the season and of course his value improves if he stays at the top of the line-up. He suffered a major forearm injury and had 12 errors in 95 games, while only producing 3 homeruns and 6 SBs (with 4 CS). If shortstop wasn't so thin, I'd tell you to stay away from this guy, but it's so thin that I have him ranked between 16th and 20th.

Starting Rotation:
#1. Fausto Carmona - I hate Carmona, not personally (that'd be awkward), but from a fantasy baseball perspective. He's decent in a Chien-Ming Want To Strike People Out But Can't, kind of way. He had a 0.59 K's per IPs last season, and that was worse than any team average (excpept the Indians). You just don't want that in an ace. It's a good thing that other teams have #1s that are just as bad. I have Carmona projected to score between 325 - 350 fantasy points.
#2. Justin Masterson - Yep, he's the #2 in Cleveland, I wonder if fans will actually show up to Jacobs field to watch games this season. I bet tickets are cheap at this point. Oh sorry, back to the analysis. 6-13 4.70 ERA and 73 walks in 180 innings, his only redeeming statistic is that he struck out 140 batters and was 4th in ERA on his team (out of 5 at least). I have Masterson projected below 300 points.
#3. Carlos Carasco - Okay Indians fans, think upside, because if you are thinking about anything else it gets rather depressing, trust me I know (Mariners fan). Carasco is the future of the Indians and projects to be a front of the rotation pitcher. He's a strikeout pitcher with four above average pitches and excellent control. His combined stats last year (between AAA and the Indians) was 12-8, 192 IPs, 3.71 ERA, 171 K's, 60 walks. His numbers stayed consistently good when he pitched at the MLB level. I have Carasco cautiously projected between 300-325 points.
#4. Josh Tomlin - Who? I have no idea, well I do, that's why I'm writing these up. Tomlin had a decent year in 2010. At the Major League level he put up a 6-4 record and had 12 starts and averaged just over 6 innings per start. Combined with AAA, he was 14-8 with a 3.45 ERA (4.56 with the big club), and 123 Ks and 52 walks. We'll see how the sophomore campaign goes, I do not have Tomlin projected over 300 points.
#5. Mitch Talbott - 10-13, 4.41 ERA, 88 K's in 159 Innings, and 69 walks. I'm pretty sure that I don't need to go on, so I wont. Don't draft this clown, he's useless, unless you are desperate.

Closer - Chris Perez - If the Indians weren't so terrible, then I'd suggest snagging this guy up, he's a solid strikeout guy, and he puts up really good numbers (23 saves in 25 opportunities). The problem is the opportunities just aren't there. I have Perez ranked between 21st and 25th for closers.

Prospects - In two, maybe 3 but probably 4 seasons, the Indians can once again have a shot at rising to prominance. But not likely, on the farm, they are weak, and unless Lonnie Chisenhall wins 3rd base out of spring training, they will have limited impact.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:37 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: Ciincinnati Reds

The Reds are coming off of winning the NL Central in 2010. When you look at how this team is built and how young it is, you have to assume that at worst they will remain unchanged. Which means 90+ wins, 6+ players at or above 20 homeruns, and 4 pitchers in double digits for wins. I like the Reds this year in the world of fantasy baseball as well, I think they should have at least 7 of their 8 position players drafted and potentially all five of their starters drafted, with two relievers potentially being drafted as well.

Projected Starting Line-up:

CF Drew Stubbs - There are two things that knock Stubbs being a lead-off guy, one is that he has really good power, and two is that he doesn't get on base enough. I think that this permanent move to the leadoff spot should be a good move for Stubbs from a fantasy stand-point. He is an excellent source of positives in his power and steals and could be a 30/30 guy as early as this year. But he is also extremely inconsistent and streaky and strikes out just under once every 5 at bats. I have him ranked between 30th and 40th.
2B Brandon Phillips - What is not to like about Brandon Philips? He will hit nearly 20 homeruns, drive in 80 runs, and steal close to 20 bases. He only strikes out once every 7.27 at bats, and made an error at a clip of one every 50 games (3 total, but has been under 10 for four consecutive seasons). He's as solid as they come and I have him ranked between 6th and 10th for 2nd basemen.
1B Joey Votto - The defending NL MVP is coming off of a monster season where he hit .324 with 37 HRs, and 113 RBIs. He's got a great eye as well, which offset his 125 strikeouts with 91 walks. He also demonstrates a good deal of speed for a 1st baseman, with 16 steals in 2010. While he should be well past, whatever held him out of the first month of the season in '09, and he's 27 years old, I think that he could top 40 homeruns this season, cleaer 125 RBIs and hit for a .330 average. This could be the start of his prime years and I have him ranked as a top 5 1st baseman.
3B Scott Rolen - 133 games last season, was the most that this aging veteran had played since 2006. Rolen ran off 8 consecutive seasons where he had 25+ homeruns that ended in 2004, since then he's been one of the more injured players in the league, especially at 3rd base. He's very consistent when he's playing and you hope that he plays 4 out of every 5 games. Although he's well past his prime, at a thin position he is still serviceable and I have him ranked between 11th and 15th for 3rd basemen.
RF Jay Bruce - Bruce was a hot prospect, but like most hot prospects with power, he's also a strikeout machine. As much as you may like him for his strikeouts, 18 of his homeruns get cancelled out each year because of his strikeout/bb ratio. That means he hit only 7 homeruns that netted him a positive result. Not good news for the home team, or for the consistency that you need from an outfielder. I have him ranked between 30th and 40th for outfielders.
LF Johnny Gomes - So you take Jay Bruce, you add 7 years and subtract 7 homeruns and you've got Johnny Gomes. He's serviceable and a threat to hit 20+ homeruns every year, but with Fred Lewis platooning with him, his fantasy value probably drops even more. I have him ranked between 50th and 75th for outfielders.
CA Ryan Hannigan - This is the year that he should surpass Ramon Hernandez in at bats and time, which is good. He's a young catcher, with good offensive skills. He hit .300, but had an OBP of over .400. In addition, he walks more than he strikes out, and average 1 k every 10 at bats. If he can steal even more of the playing time from Hernandez, I like Hannigan to be a top 10 catcher this season. I have him ranked between 15th and 20th, due to projected at bats.
SS Paul Janish - Janish has nothing to offer, but neither does Edgar Renteria at this point in his career. I fully expect there to be a platoon here and with Janish being the better defender, and not really a difference in their bats, I expect him to get a bulk of the playing time. But I'm definitely not Dusty Baker. I have Janish projected between 25th and 30th for shortstops.

Starting Rotation:
#1. Bronson Arroyo - Hard to believe that this cast off from Boston won 17 games for the rejuvinated Red Machine. He doesn't strike people out a particularly high clip, and he doesn't walk people at a particularly high clip either (less than 2 per start). He gets the job done though, and like most of the Reds pitchers, he's not an ace, he's more like a 2/3 at this point. I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#2. Edinson Volquez - He is a hard throwing potential ace of this staff. However, his wildness prevents two things from happening, getting deep into ballgames and a high ERA, which of course leads to losses. His upside his huge, his downside is also huge. He does strikeout batters at a clip of one per inning, however, he walks batters a clip of 1 every other inning. I have him projected between 375-400 points, but his upside could put up in the mid 400s, his risk could put him around 300 points.
#3. Johnny Cueto - Cueto is coming off a strong year, he has yet to break 200 innings, but he has increased his workload for three consecutive seasons and has reduced his ERA for three consecutive seasons. He's can be a strikeout pitcher at times, and at times he's a ground ball pitcher. It's confusing, I know. I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#4. Travis Wood - He is a strikeout pitcher that doesn't walk anyone with a decent ERA, so if he can get to 180 innings pitched, then I have him projected between 350-375 points.
#5. Homer Bailey/Mike Leake - Which ever one gets the #5 here, should do pretty good. I actually think that the Reds have a problem with too much pitching. Whichever one gets the job will be worth taking a flyer on.

Closer - Francisco Cordero - He's serviceable and either a stop gap until Chapman takes over, or until Massett takes over. Either way this is probably his last year with the Reds as they have better pitching on the way. I have him projected between 11th and 15th for closers.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:36 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: Chicago WhiteSox

The southsiders, despite the fact that they have won a world series more recently than the Cubs, despite the recent run of winning seasons, the ChiSox are still trying to remove themselves from the shadow of the older, more tenured Cubbies. Well from the fantasy world, this team has a plethera of talent. Already one of the more powerful teams in the Junior Circuit, they went out and added Adam Dunn, the most consistent power hitter this side of the Mississippi River (technically St. Louis is on that side, FYI), to add to the power of Konerko and Quentin. Here are the ChiSox:

Projected Line-Up:

LF Juan Pierre - There is so much to like about this speedster. His consistency on the basepaths (68 steals last year), his good not great average (.275 last year, career .291 hitter), and that he's at the top of a very powerful line-up. Like I said, a lot to like about him. I have him ranked in the top 30 for outfielders.
CF Alex Rios - The combo of power and speed is exactly why Rios was such a highly sought draft pick in 2002, now that he's in his prime, he's showing why he belongs at the top of the line-up. Have we seen the most of what Rios has to offer? Probably not. I have him ranked in the top 30 for Outfielders.
SS Alexei Ramirez - He has power and some speed, although not the speed that Rios has. He could easily bat 2nd and Rios third, but at this point, this is how I see it going down for now. Ramirez is a source of high strikeouts with low walks, but at the ultra thin shortstop position, his value is really strong. I have Ramirez ranked between 11th and 15th overall for shortstops.
DH Adam Dunn - Last year he hit 35 homeruns at the homer neutral Washington Nationals home park, I fully expect him to return to the 40 to 45 dingers that he was known for when he played for the Reds. Plus hitting in front of at least one power hitter is going to be huge for him, while in Washington he had little protection. While this wont cure him of his strikeouts, and he does walk a lot to offset nearly 60% of those Ks, I have him ranked between 15th and 20th for 1st baseman.
1B Paul Konerko - What a fantastic rebound year, after he had a fantastic rebound year in 2009, he continues to get better. The real question for Konerko is, will he plateau? or will he fall? Because surely he can't get any better than 39 dingers and 111 RBIs and a .312 batting average. He showed emmense power last season, and once again will headline the middle of the line-up. I have Konerko ranked between 10th and 15th.
RF Carlos Quentin - In 2009 he hit over 30 homeruns and lost the last month of the season. Last year, he lost about the same amount of time and had a massively down year with a .245 batting average, 26 dingers and 87 RBIs. Now in 2011, if he can put it all together, play 150 games, what will happen? I expect 32 homeruns, 100+ RBIs, but .275 average at best. The translation puts him in the top 30 for outfielders with the other two he shares the outfield with. Of the three though, he could be the one that busts out.
CA AJ Pierzynski - There are three things that you can count on happening no matter what for the ChiSox, 1) Pierre will steal 50+ bases, 2) Buehrle will pitch in one of the 5 fastest games, 2) Pierzynski will play 120+ games, hit 10 dingers, drive in 60 runs, and will remain unheralded in his efforts. He is one of the most consistent catchers, and while he's on the downside of his career, he's still something that can be counted on, no matter what. I have Pierzynski ranked between 10-15 for CA.
2B Gordon Beckham - Unfortunately for baseball fans everywhere, we were all fooled by the coming of this Beckham. There were three major story lines entering spring training, 1) Jason Heyward's 500 foot blasts, 2) Roy Halladay's adjusting to the National League, and 3) Gordon Beckham and his transition in the infield. He was terrible in the first half, and slightly serviceable in the 2nd half. He finished the year at .252 with 9 dingers, 4 steals, and 49 RBIs in 131 games, a far cry from the 20/20 expectations with 80 RBIs and someone who was going to challenge for batting titles. Well we aren't fooled this year. I have Beckham ranked between 20th and 25th for 2nd baseman and that's saying a lot at the super thin position.
3B Mark Teahan - This is probably the only offensive White Sox player that will go without being drafted, too many people will take a flyer on Beckham, but no one should be fooled by the guy that's probably going to lose his job either out of spring training or shortly after. He can't field, he strikes out too much, and he has no power. I do not have Teahan ranked in the top 30 for 3rd basemen.

Starting Rotation:
#1. Mark Buehrle - Buehrle has become an every other year type pitcher as he ages. You can count on low pitch counts, which should lead to plenty of quality starts, which means that he'll have decisions (wins/losses) in most of his starts. He's highly competitive, and he's good for a web gem or two. He is probably the only #1 starter that has 3 starters better than him, following him. I have Buehrle projected between 325-350 points.
#2. John Danks - 15-11 last year, sub 4 ERA, and 162 K's vs. only 70 walks in 210 innings. Nothing spectacular, nothing crazy here, just very solid. He does it again... I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#3. Gavin Floyd - 10-13 last season in only 187 innings pitched. He is a very streaky pitcher, and oddly enough he's really good against the teams that are playoff contenders. He has let down games against the Royals (6.33 ERA) and the Mariners (5.77 ERA), but put him up against the Red Sox, Yankees, or Rangers (combined 2.96 ERA) and he's a cy young contender. Now it might be a fluke that he posted those numbers last year. He should still put up decent numbers, especially with a 3-1 K's to BBs ratio. I have him projected between 375-400 points.
#4. Edwin Jackson - 151 pitches in a complete game no-hitter, that looked more like an exhibition of wildness. The deal is, that he's not as wild as he seems 78 walks in 210 innings, and he's not as bad as can be at times, sub 3.00 ERA for both July and August. If, and that's a big if, he can post those kinds of numbers consistently throughout the year, then Edwin Jackson can be a solid pitcher. Until then, I can only project him out at 350-375 points.
#5. Jake Peavy - He could be phenomenal, or he could get injured, that's pretty much the depth of what could happen to Mr. Peavy. When he was healthy he was ordinary, but coming back from a shoulder injury is always a tough bag to handle. He could be in-line for a strong year, but spring training injuries might bog my rather optimistic view on him. I have him projected to score 275-300 points.

Closers - Matt Thornton is a strikeout pitcher with control, and that's a great start. Couple that with the ChiSox projected to win 80-85 games, and you are looking at 35-40 saves easily. I have Thornton ranked between 16th and 20th.
Posted on: March 3, 2011 8:34 pm

Team By Team Fantasy Analysis: Chi Cubs

Wow, the Northsiders are a tough lot to figure out. They have figured out that they missed their opportunity to win a World Series, the only thing they haven't figured out is how to rebuild and instead continue to rent pieces to stay competitive to annoy the National League Central. They lack any elite players, at every position, but they have serviceable pieces at nearly every position.

Projected Line-up:
SS Sterlin Castro - The smart move would be to move speed to the top of the line-up and Castro kind of represents that. He hit .300 last year and had 10 stolen bases. I have him projected between 11-15th for shortstops.
CF Marlon Byrd - For four months, Byrd was on fire, and then August and September slowed him down to .293 to end the season. He's good for double digit homeruns, and he has a good BB/SO ratio, which typically translates into good fantasy production. You'd like him to have more steals. I have Byrd ranked between 30th-40th for outfielders.
3B Aramis Ramirez - A return to form is required for Ramirez to be relevant in the world of fantasy baseball. Last year he still missed 20% of the season due to injury and has a ton of power and good upside. The problem is that with the risk, comes the potential for a lot of lost points, his defense is suspect and his BB/SO ratio has slipped in the last two seasons. I still have him ranked between 16th and 20th for 3rd baseman.
1B Carlos Pena - Emmense power, and moving from a hitters park, to a hitters park with wind at his back. I'm pretty sure that he'll put up some pretty strong power numbers, the problem is that he strikes out so much, and last year's .196 average, which hopefully is the conclusion of his downward trend in average. The Cubs have a ton of power potential, but just like Pena are probably going to come close to leading the league in strikeouts. I have Pena ranked 21st-25th for 1st basemen.
RF Tyler Colvin - Another power guy, and last year he was Pinella's go to pinch hitter. He hit 20 dingers and that has a shot to clear 30 homeruns over a full season. He hit only .254 last season, but moving up in the line-up and in front of Soto and Soriano should improve the pitches he'll see. I have Colvin ranked as a top 50 outfielder.
CA Geovany Soto - Soto returned to form last year, but there are questions about his durability as he only played 66% of the Cubs games last season. He hit .280 with 17 roundtrippers, and could easily clear 20 of them by adding 15 or so games to his season. I have Soto ranked between 6th and 10th for catchers.
LF Alfonso Soriano - It seems like so long ago that Soriano had a 40-40 season, and yet he is just on the north side of his prime. Last year his steals and homeruns per at bats fell for a third consecutive season, while his BB/strikeout ratio remained terrible. I do not have Soriano ranked in the top 75 for outfielders.
2B Blake Dewitt - He's pretty much worthless as a starting 2nd baseman on any fantasy team, but he might be worth being a back-up for 2nd base and/or 3rd base. Otherwise he's junk, he'll hit around .250 with 5 or less homeruns, and 5 or less steals. I have Dewitt ranked between 21st and 25th for 2nd basemen.

Starting Rotation:
#1. Ryan Dempster - As far as #1 pitchers go, he's okay, average at best, I don't like his chances against most #1s in the league, and only slightly against most #2s. I do think Dempster is a serviceable pitcher and have him projected between 400-425 fantasy points.
#2. Matt Garza - Garza was pretty good last year at times, and should be able to put up better numbers in the senior circuit. However, he'll be pitching in a hitters park and he's a fly ball pitcher, despite his nasty sinking fastball. I have him projected between 375-400 fantasy points.
#3. Carlos Zambrano - Zambrano is a wild card, when he's on and in the right mind, he's dangerous, an excellent source for strikeouts and for a solid K/BB ratio/K/IP ratio. He's a power pitcher that is probably the highest risk, but could net the highest return on that risk. I have him projected between 375-400.
#4. Randy Wells - Wells is also a solid source strikeouts, he's got an okay National League ERA and should net a few more wins this season than last year. He also has control issues which is why I have him projected between 300-325 points.
#5. James Russell - Russell is quite an intriguing pitching option for the Cubbies. He has a fantastic K/BB and K/IP ratio, but he gives up a ton of fly balls which at Wrigley turns those fly balls into dingers. I have Russell projected between 200-225 points, but he could clear that easily.

Closer - Carlos Marmol - Dude can throw hard, and he can throw wild, 138 k's in 77 innings pitched, but he also walked 52 batters in those 77 innings. He has the potential to be elite, and although he plays for the Cubs, he'll get plenty of chances. I have him projected to be between 11th and 15th for closers.

The Cubs are hard-up for prospects at this time.

Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:52 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: Boston Red Sox

Like the Atlanta Braves, the Sox are loaded from top to bottom with fantasy players and every skill position should be drafted throughout the draft. The biggest difference is that the Sox will probably have every position, except their 5th starter drafted in the first 5-6 rounds of any draft. Potential Line-up:

CF - Jacoby Ellsbury - This speedy outfielder only played 18 games last season due to a rib injury that plagued him for nearly the entire season. If you look at Ellsbury track record though, he has the potential to steal 50+ bases and score well over 100 runs with this line-up. He is an injury risk, but I have Ellsbury projected to be in the top 30 for outfielders.
2B - Dustin Pedroia - In keeping with the theme from last year, DP was out of commission for half of the season. He did pace for 20+ dingers and 20 stolen bases. He's already one of the top players in the game, but the injury risk as to be a bit of a concern. I have him as one of the top 5 2nd basemen in baseball.
LF - Carl Crawford - I'm not sure when this happened, but Crawford went from having the potential label slapped on him, to being considered a stud without changing his statistics. His numbers are pretty fantastic as they are, but in a line-up with the protection he's going to have should boost this 29 year old to new all-time highs. I have him ranked as a top 10 outfielder.
1B - Adrian Gonzalez - A-Gon as he's called could have the type of season that only Albert Pujols owners could dream of. The change from PetCo to Fenway should benefit Gonzalez greatly (i wanted to make some kind of Whiffle ball reference, but nothing came to mind) and he should post career numbers. I have him ranked as a top 5 1st baseman and top 5 overall.
3B - Kevin Youkilis - He only played 2/3rds of a season and was pacing for his first 30+ dinger season. Here's what you can expect from Youk; .305+ average, .390 OBP, .500 SLG, 100 RBIs, at 3rd base he's got to be one of the best. I have him ranked between 6th and 10th.
DH - David Ortiz - Big Papi will be terrible for the month of April, the last two April's have been horrible for him. If he can have a decent April, then he could reach 40 dingers again. Otherwise, he's going to struggle out of the gates, everyone is going to talk about it, and Tito isn't going to bench him and he's going to pull out of it, to slug 25-30 dingers and get near 100 RBI's and clear 140 K's. I do have him as a top 5 DH, but ranked between 16th and 20th for 1st basemen (if he gets qualified this year).
RF - JD Drew - The words you hate most to here is that an aging veteran might working through a nagging injury to start the season, only because you know they will never be fully healthy throughout the season. The days of Drew being considered a top outfielder are long gone, and you can expect that even healthy, he would only play 4 or 5 games a week, resulting in 130-140 games, still I do have him ranked in the top 75 for outfielders, because of his power, and his consistency when he is in.
C - Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Quick trivia question, which player has the most letters in their last name? If you answered this guy, then you are the winner. It's hard to believe that "Salty" is only 25 years old. In the Minors he's shown a ton of potential and even at the major league level, he's shown flashes of offensive prowess. Defensively, he's terrible, he averages an error every 6 games over his big league career, that's really bad. Still the catcher position is really thin, and having the Red Sox catcher should be seen as a positive addition. I have him ranked between 15th and 20th.
SS - Marco Scutaro - For one more year, Scutaro will be the anchor as in last guy on the tug-a-war rope, at the shortstop position. I will say this, if the Sox had a most valuable offensive player, it would have to be Scutaro. He's the only one that played in 90% of the team's games. The sad thing is that he'd be a front of the line-up player anywhere else and was for the Blue Jays. With shortstop being such a thin position, you still have to understand that Scutaro has a lot of value. I have him ranked in the top 10 for shortstops.

Starting Pitching:
1. Jon Lester - 19-9, 225 k's in 208 IP, 3.25 ERA, no reason to think he can't duplicate those numbers, especially since he's 27 years old and has had stellar numbers for the last three years including a 50-23 record. The only problem is that he gets off to such a slow start (4.64 ERA in April). I think that Lester could contend for 500+ points.
2. Clay Buchholz - It's hard to believe that Buchholz is only 6 months younger than Lester. Until last year, it was all about potential with this guy and then last year happened. 17-7, 2.33 ERA, all fantastic numbers. There are reasons for concern though, he's not durable, and he walks more than his fair share of batters in comparison to his IPs. So there is a bit of a risk with him, but when he's on, he's on. I have him projected at 400-425 points.
3. John Lackey - If his last three starts of last year are any indication of what could be in 2011, then it's going to be a good year. 2-0, 3 QS, 20.7 IP, 2.17 ERA and 19 K's - 4 Walks. If he can pull off numbers like that over the course of a full season, rather than the 4 before it (0-4, 24.7 IP, 5.47 ERA and 23 K's - 7 walks.) I do think that Lackey bounces back from a pretty dismal year to post 15-17 wins and an ERA just south of 4.00, which should net him between 400-425 points.
4. Josh Beckett - When you look at Beckett you have to know that he's got some major talent wrapped up in that big ole' frame of his. He posted some terrible numbers, especially down the stretch. He was 3-3 (7 starts) 45.3 IPs which produced a 1.53 WHIP, most alarming was his 17 walks in only 45 IPs, carry that over the course of the season and it's close to 90.and that's high even by Beckett's standards. He definitely suffered from Papelbonism, where his fastball and breaking pitches all flattened out and when that happens, you give up 20 HRs in a season where you only threw 127 innings. I have Beckett projected between 325-350.
5. Daisuke Matsuzaka - Injuries have shortened the last two seasons. He has a lifetime 46-27 record and is only 30 years old. There is still some promise. The problem is that Dice-K walks too many hitters, he's too nibbly around the plate and should just let the big leaguers hit his pitches. Afterall, they don't often fall for hits (137 hits in 153.7 IPs last season). He's so worried about the strikeout that he often throws himself out of an at bat. One write said that if you didn't swing at any of his pitches you would probably walk more than you struckout. I have him projected at just over 300 points.

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon - For all the talk about how terrible Papelbon is because he blew 8 saves, his statistical line wasn't that terrible. 3.90 ERA, 76 k's in 67 IPs, 57 hits, etc. The problem for the Red Sox is that they now have three closers. Bard, Jenks, and Paps. Any other manager would have hook'd the Papelness by now in favor of Bard and his hard throwing, hard biting pitches. Because he's on the Red Sox, I have him ranked between 11th and 15th.

Prospects: Jose Iglesias' survived the A-Gon trade, and is really the last bastian of prospective prospects left, that hasn't been pilleged. I will say that the Red Sox probably have the most major league ready team, that is likely to be formed at Pawtucket this year. Iglesias could be called up this year, especially if something happens to Scutaro or Lowrie.

Next up: Chiicago Cubs

Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:50 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: B'More Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles have become the old folks home of the American League at this point, especially with Vladimir Guerrero, Brian Roberts, and Derrek Lee. Still you could do worse and have Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez on your team, I suppose.

Projected Line-up:
2B - Brian Roberts - B-Rob as his friends call him, and since we are friends, I'll call him that, is coming off of an injury plagued year that saw him miss basically the first half of the season. When he did get in there, he wasn't that relevant, hitting under .280 for the first time in his career and only netting 12 steals in 59 games, which translates into less than 30 over a full season. 2nd base is a thin position and included in B-Robs potential is the high risk of injury (especially since the most recent one is based on headaches). I have him projected between 11-15 for 2nd basemen, he'll get on someone's team.
RF - Nick Markakis - The opposite of Roberts in durability, Markakis is about as consistent as they come. This means that when he has a down year, it's not really that down in the fantasy realm, and when he has a great year, it's really not that great, it's just really good. I have him projected to be a top 30 outfielder at this point, but right now, he's just a poor man's Shin-Shoo Choo.
DH - Vladimir Guererro - Vlady is coming off a resurrection of sorts while playing in the Texas heat. Those that followed his statistical prowess know that he had a great 1st half and saw a significant drop off in the second half. The question then becomes can he put it together for a full season? If he can again, then he becomes really relevant, if he can't then it most likely be because of the nagging injuries that seem to plague him at this stage year in and year out. I have ranked between 30-40 for outfielders.
1B - Derrek Lee - Lee saw his production dip significantly in all power categories and with his batting average as well. Traditionally a very disciplined hitter, his glaucoma must have gotten the best of him (he doesn't really have glaucome, just an old reference). The change of scenery and the comfortable confines of Camden Yards, will likely give a slight boost to his productivity, but nothing that warrants a starting 1st base gig on your fantasy team. I have ranked between 21st and 25th for 1st baseman.
CF- Adam Jones - The one fantasy knock on Jones is that he still strikes out too much for the below average power and speed that he produces. Jones has a ton of potential, even with the Albert Belle hip issue (which most people probably forgot about), and with the additions of professional hitters Lee and Guererro, they might be able to mentor his talent better than Markakis and Roberts have. I have ranked outside of the top 50 for outfielders. Someone will take him, just hopefully not as a starter.
3B - Mark Reynolds - The worst fantasy player in the history of fantasy sports. So many reasons to hate this player, the biggest is how many times he'll strikeout. Don't get me wrong, for 1 or 2 weeks a year, he'll streak through to 40 fantasy points in a week, but for the rest of the weeks, he cancels out his power with his whiffs. Reynolds shouldn't be drafted, in the event that he is, it should only be as a back-up. I have him ranked between 26th and 30th.
C - Matt Wieters - He was a tweener, in between the wave of catchers that brought about the likes of Mauer and McCann, and a year or two ahead of the Poseys and Santanas. In Oriole lore, they say that at one time he was being compared to Mauer as the next great catcher. So much so that three years ago, everyone clammered for him when he was called up. While he's been okay, he hasn't been great. Catcher is a thin position, so he'll have a spot on a team somewhere, I have him ranked right around 10th.
SS - JJ Hardy - Where did his power go? They say that it left with a wrist injury that plagued him all season, to the point where he only played 101 games last season. Not sure if I believe that more than I believe that the Brewers saw this coming and were glad to cast off dead weight. Hardy could warrant a starting gig on someone's team, I have him ranked between 16th and 20th.
LF - Felix Pie - Pie has a ton of talent, but a poor attitude, at least according to the Sports Xchange could limit his outfield time and this slot might go to Luke Scott. Either way, Pie shouldn't be on your radar as a starting outfielder as I have him ranked outside of 75th at this point, and he could drop even further if Luke Scott earns more playing time.

Starting Pitching:
1 - Jeremy Guthrie - I hope that I'm not the only one that feels bad for Guthrie. He's been such a trooper, sticking it out all these years with the the O-Birds. The bad news is that he's the #1, the good news is that he anchors an increasingly talented staff. If he comes close the 11 wins, sub 4 ERA, and 120 K's he had last year in over 200 IPs, achieving 325-350 FPTS is a no-brainer.
2 - Brian Matusz - Matusz is a front-of-the-line starter in the making and he made a name for himself, especially with how young he is. He exhibits decent control and has penchant for strikeouts. You have to like him a lot for those two categories. I think he'll be the highest scoring Orioles starting pitcher and could push for 400, but I think he'll fall to the 350-375 range.
3 - Brad Bergeron - In the world of fantasy a pitch-to-contact pitcher for the Orioles isn't going to win you too many titles. Especially one that has a 3.0 BBs per 9 IP average. While he might mature into a solid #3 option, right now he should be at the back of a rotation, not the middle. I have him projected right around 300 points.
4 - Chris Tillman - He has the talent to join Matusz at the top of this rotation some day. His minor league numbers are pretty phenomenal. If those numbers can translate into Major League success, then this soon-to-be 23 year old will have a long and fruitfull career on fantasy rosters everywhere. I have him projected right around 250, but a 300+ season is entirely possible.
5 - Jake Arrieta - The options for the Orioles at this point would be to go with Arrieta who has elbow issues or Justin Duscherer who is always injured and hasn't pitched more than 140 innings in his career. It doesnt matter either way, if you draft Arrieta or Duscherer you should probably have your head examined. Neither have any fantasy relevance at this point in the season.

Closer: Koji Uehara - Uehara will close to start, but with Kevin Gregg and Mike Gonzalez on stand-bye, drafting any Oriole closer would be doing an injustice to your team. Chances are that Showalter will opt for a closer by committee until one of them shows that they are the real deal. Stay away from Uehara, Gregg and Gonzalez on draft day.

Prospects: With so many pitching prospects coming to the majors over the last year and half, the farm has been mostly depleted. For 2011, they do have a couple of prospects waiting in the wings and with another unproductive season by Hardy, Manny Machado may make it the show, Zach Britton could challenge for a starting gig out of spring training, it is more likely that he'll join the big club at some point over the summer after Arrietta and/or Duscherer go down.

Next Team: Boston Red Sox
Posted on: February 17, 2011 4:49 pm

Team by Team Fantasy Analysis: Atlanta Braves

The Braves are the grown up version of the D-Backs. They don't have a solid lead-off options, although Martin Prado will do more than justice to the lead-off than most teams have. What he lacks for in speed, is made up by the power of this team. The addition of Uggla will be huge from a power standpoint and a healthy Chipper Jones is always better for any team. The pitching rotation is nasty, from top to bottom, they might have the most underrated pitching staff in the league with Kimbrel possibly ready to shoulder the burden. The Braves could be one of a handful of teams to have 8 position players and all 6 of their premium pitchers drafted.

The Line-up:

LF - Martin Prado - He doesn't have much power, but he has enough to make up some value as an outfielder. His true value is being an outfielder with 2nd/3rd base eligibility. I have him ranked in the top 5 for 2nd basemen, and in the top 10 for 3rd baseman. Prado is a contact guy, who doesn't make any errors.
C - Brian McCann - McCann will probably hold the two spot until Chipper gets injured. McCann is a fantastic offensive catcher who's now in his fantasy prime. He's as consistant as they come in terms of fantasy value and I have him ranked in a group of three just behind Mauer and V-Mart in the top 5.
3B - Chipper Jones - He's not the baseball guy he used to be, and as far as players that bat 3rd in their line-ups, he's probably amongst the bottom 3rd. Still, he is a 3rd baseman and someoen will take a chance on him at some point in this draft as 3rd basemen are very thin this season. The future HOFer, has seen injuries consume his abilities to man the hot corner and he's two years removed from being the offensive force of the Braves, I have him ranked between 15th and 20th for 3rd baseman.
2B - Dan Uggla - It isn't for sure that he'll man the 4th spot in this line-up, but when you look at who's batting in front of him, and who's batting behind him, you have to like Uggla regardless of his defensive definciencies or strikeouts. You can count on Uggla hitting 30+ dingers and surpassing 100 RBIs on the season and at the 2nd base spot, other than Cano and Utley, you can't find that kind of power production from the 2nd base position (maybe Hill, if he rebounds). I have Uggla as a top 10 2nd baseman.
RF - Jason Heyward - JaHey as they call him, had his first almost full season as a big leaguer and he suffered through a miriad of injuries throughout the season. He was the pre-season lock for rookie of the year and fell a bit short. He has some serious potential though. Last year at this time, they were talking about how far he could hit dingers and that his power may surpass the best sluggers in the game today. While 2011 will probably showcase some of that, and 2010 was a good stepping stone, I have him projected between #20 and #29 for outfielders.
1B - Freddie Freeman - The next up and coming Braves prospect should arrive this spring as a permanent fixture in the Braves line-up. His AAA numbers are really good .319/.378/.521, he hit 18 dingers and had 87 RBIs in 461 at bats. I have him listed as Atlanta's top offensive prospect and have him ranked between 25th and 30th for 1st baseman.
SS - Alex Gonzalez - The Braves are one of a handful of teams that could have a player at every position on the field hit 15 or more homeruns. Gonzalez is definitely someone who will clear 15 and probably 20 again. He has really good power, he has shown decent defensive skills in the past, just not last year (19 errors). His SO/BB proficiency is pretty terrible (118 Ks vs. 31 walks). His power puts him in between 10th and 15th though in my projections of shortstops.
CF - Nate McLouth - What a terrible year for McLouth. Don't get me wrong, he'd be the perfect leadoff hitter if he truly has righted the ship. Otherwise he'll be competing with Jordan Schafer, who also had a bad year last year and at one time was the future of Atlanta in Centerfield. Taking a flyer on McLouth isn't a terrible idea, drafting him to be a starting outfielder is a terrible idea.

Starting Rotation:
#1. Tim Hudson - While he's not the most amazing #1 on any team, he is probably one of the most consistently good. Here's what you get with Timmy - 15-17 wins, 225+ innings, sub 3.00 ERA and a decent number of strikeouts between 130-150. I have him projected between 400-415.
#2. Tommy Hanson - He has tremendous upside and with that he should see a massive improvement in his statistics. He had only 10 wins last year, despite a 3.33 ERA, and ended the season with 173 k's in 200 IPs. Those are good numbers, that and he only walked 54. His upside is huge and he could be in for a huge season. I have him projected between 400-415.
#3. Derek Lowe - He is a very consistent starting pitcher and despite the occassional blister, he is very healthy as well. Last year he won 16 games, which is pretty strong considering his 4.00 ERA, he'll get you a fair amount of strikeouts as well and with his sinker he can rescue himself out of innings with limited damage. There are two things working against Lowe, 1) walks, 2) age. His 1.17 ERA in September should be a sign of good things to come. I've projected Lowe between 350-375 FPTS.
#4. Jair Jurrjens - Jair had an injury riddled existance last season and went from rising star to potential flop. He's dropped some weight and hopes that it will improve his flexibility and health. When he is on, there are few better pitchings in the NL East (outside of Philadelphia of course). He's an above average strikeout pitcher, but he's also above average in the walks department. Hopefully a slimmer, healthier Jair will net better results, I have him projected between 350-375 FPTS.
#5. Mike Minor - In just his second minor league season, he went from AA to AAA to Majors and amassed this stat-line 9-8 155.3 IP 3.96 ERA 183 k's 55 BBs. That's pretty impressive. Throw in that he's only 23 years old and you have the recipe that continues to make Atlanta pitching one of the best in the Majors, year in and year out. I have him projected over 300 points this year, if he earns a spot out of spring training and can hold it down, he could push to 400 points.

Craig Kimbell - The only downside to Kimbell is that Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might split the duties between him and Ventor. Basically Kimbell is Carlos Marmol, just for the Braves. In 20.3 IP last season he struck out 40 batters, while walking 16, he has a ton of upside and is very nasty. His minor league career he has 149 IP and 242 K's, 95 BBs and only 74 hits. Nasty is probably putting it mild.

Prospects: Freddie Freeman, Mike Minor, and Craig Kimbell are the big prospects and they appear to be locks for starting jobs this season.

Up next: Baltimore Orioles
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or