Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hurler about to get a fancy makeover

At the beginning of this month, I started posting again, intending to get back in the groove of updating Fantasy Hurler on a regular basis as we approach the 2009 season. As you may have noticed, that didn't happen, and this site hasn't been updated in almost two weeks.

Fear not: There's a damn good reason this time. In just a few short weeks, Fantasy Hurler will be moving off Blogger to become part of the Bloguin network. As part of the move, the site will be getting a complete makeover, which I've quietly been working on behind the scenes. That's why there has been no posting. (Also, I want all of our 2009 stuff to be at the new site, so we're going to take a short break from writing until the all new version of Fantasy Hurler goes live.)

The new site is going to be a huge improvement over the old one. Along with the fancier, more attractive design, we'll be adding new features, including a forum where we can hold public bitch sessions about why David Price isn't living up the the hype, as well as converse about what rules and regs make for the best fantasy baseball experience.

The plan is to be up and running by mid-January, so while things will be pretty quiet until then, expect an explosion of content once the new site is up. I hope to bring onboard a couple more writers for the '09 season and still plan to hold the first annual Fantasy Hurler Baseball League -- a six-month battle between Hurler bloggers and Hurler readers for fantasy supremacy and bragging rights.

So, that's where we're at on our end. I know it's not yet Christmas, but with the winter meetings now ended and fantasy football season coming to a close, I'm starting to get psyched for '09 baseball. See y'all real soon at the all new Hurler.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

iPhone app review: Fanball.com Fantasy News

So I took my fantasy winnings from last season and bought something I've been wanting for a while now: a shiny, 16-gig Apple iPod Touch. And like all Touch and iPhone owners, I find myself needing to fill the thing up with as many cool apps as possible. Being a fantasy junkie, the first one I downloaded was the Fanball.com Fantasy News app, which allows you to remotely get up-to-the-minute scoops on fantasy baseball, football, basketball and hockey without having to navigate fantasy sites using the built-in Safari web browser, which can be extremely frustrating. (The touch screen normally works great ... until you find yourself trying to click around a busy website with it.)

But with Fantasy News, the interface is clean, simple and easy to use. A majority of the screen features a scrolling list of players who have updates available, each accompanied by the date and time the update was posted. Clicking on the player's name will expand his box to include both the bit of news as well as an "Our View" portion which features a fantasy recommendation from Fanball. Click the box again to close it up and continue scrolling. Everybody is sorted by sport, and along the bottom of the screen are quick links to NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA news. (Easy enough, though the app does always feature NFL news upon opening.)

When I first purchased Fanball.com Fantasy News, I had a fair amount of connection issues, but a recent update seems to have stabilized the app. For the last week or so, as long as I had a local Wi-Fi signal, everything's worked smoothly. Until something more impressive comes along, this is a must-have app for fantasy-baseball aficionados with an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bits o' Hurl: Hot Stove Edition

Typing that headline just made me nauseous, as for some reason I hate the term "hot stove," but every baseball-related show, column, blog, podcast, etc. currently has a Hot Stove edition, so why not us? (This includes Baseball Tonight, which -- yep -- looks like it's still going to suck this year. Boy, I hope I get the MLB Network in my area, and, boy, do I hope it's good. Or at least better than Kruk and company.) Now, some Bits ...

-- Maybe now CC Sabathia can afford to buy new periods to replace the two he lost. The Yankees are giving him an absurd $161 million over seven years. Here's how I see this playing out from a fantasy perspective: CC will post an April ERA somewhere around the 7.76 mark he put up during that month last year. However, this time his owners won't panic, as they'll recall how he turned it around last May and blossomed into some kind of unhittable Jedi pitching deity. No one will sell low; everyone will hold onto him ... until May 11 when his arm will blow out as a result of the 253 freakin' innings he threw last year. Yankees fans will cry. CC owners will weep. I will casually check my watch and say, "Yep, right on schedule." (And, yes, I realize my "arm will blow out" prediction is a little vague as far as diagnosis-uh-es go, but it's all you'll be able to spit out once you see your #1 pitcher slumps off the mound in terrible pain -- i.e. "Oh, shit, CC just blew his fucking arm out!!!")

-- Apparently, if you believe the baseball media, spending $161 million on CC was just a warm-up and the Yankees will also make a play for Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe and Jake Peavy. If they can afford all of that, why not also hire 100 of the world's best scientists and lock them in a room until they suss out a way to reanimate Ted Williams' head and stick it on Robinson Cano's body?

-- K-Rod is heading to the Mets; Kerry Wood to the Indians. I think those many past injuries will continue to scare some off of Wood (and mayhap rightfully so) ... but I took a chance on him in one league in '08 (which I won) and I'd draft him again this year. He still looked sharp at the end of last season. Rodriguez ... eh. All those saves last year will drive his price too high. The closer position is so precarious. Billy Wagner is already a footnote. (Although he will earn $10.5 million in '09 for rehabbing his arm while he watches daytime soaps.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Who will close in Chicago: Marmol or Gregg?

This post started as a reply to this lonely yet welcome dead-of-winter comment, but I figured, why not expand? We need some December content. Anyway, with Kerry Wood off to parts unknown, the closer position is up for grabs in Chicago. Carlos Marmol would appear to be the heir apparent. In 2008, he notched seven saves, which were accompanied by these other sick stats: a 2.68 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and a .185 BAA. Sounds plenty closer-worthy to me.

Ahh, but a new challenger approaches. The Cubs traded for Marlins closer Kevin Gregg in November to strengthen their oft-suspect bullpen. Gregg recorded 29 saves last year and 32 the year before, so he also seems up to the job (though his numbers lag behind Marmol in most statistical categories).

In this late-November interview posted at Pantagraph.com, Cubs manager Lou Piniella seems to indicate it could go either way. Piniella says: "The best way to handle that is to let them go to spring training and compete. I’m comfortable with Marmol. He’s pitched very well here the last two years. And the other kid saved 29 games this year for the Marlins, so not bad.”

Reading it again, however, the quote kind of hints at Marmol being the preferred candidate in Piniella's mind. I know I'd rather my skip be "comfortable" with me than think I'm "not bad." So my gut's now telling me Marmol will be the guy. (I concede to you, anonymous dead-of-winter poster!) Still, it's a situation to watch closely this spring, and both Marmol and Gregg will be eminently draftable in good-sized daily lineup leagues.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mike Mussina passes on one last payday

Supreme kudos to Mike Mussina for not being greedy. The journeyman righty was a huge fantasy surprise last season, winning 20 games and posting a 3.37 ERA, his lowest since 2001 (his first year with the Yankees). Even better for him, those numbers came in his walk year, ensuring that the soon-to-be-40-year-old could cash in on one last lucrative, though likely short-term, contract. Instead, Mussina has decided to call it a career.

It's a classy way to retire ... and kind of rare these days. Most pitchers don't leave on a high note; they fizzle out. Look at Matt Morris, whose career ended early last season when the Pirates had to cut him because he was no longer capable of getting anyone out. Yet Morris still earned a cool $10 million last summer for watching baseball games from his couch, all thanks to one last fat contract that sprung from his earlier, more impressive mound work.

Mussina could have had that contract -- the one guaranteeing he gets paid whether he pitches another improbably effective season or reverts to posting the numbers we'd expect from an aging hurler who couldn't keep his ERA below 5.00 in 2007. (In fact, if not for the retirement, I'd soon be warning you against drafting Mussina for your fantasy team in '09.) But, instead, Mike decided to go out like he came in -- as a really good pitcher -- and get on with the rest of his life. It's a refreshing decision, one that demands respect.

And, hey, now you don't have to worry about reluctantly drafting him next year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

See ya, Kerry

Does it crack anyone else up that the Cubs stuck by Kerry Wood year after year, injury after injury, only to cut ties with him immediately after he finally made himself a useful member of the ball club? And, yeah, I know that with the way contracts and payroll work these days, it's maybe not all that surprising. Still makes me chuckle, though.

Oh, and it looks like Kevin Gregg will be closing for the Cubs next year.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Top 10 Pitchers of 2008

With offseason awards about to be annouced, I wanted to get to the top 10 pitchers list.

Again, I had the pleasure of competitively participating in 10 fantasy baseball leagues (eight Yahoo, two ESPN) of varying types (rotisserie, head-to-head rotisserie, points, head-to-head points) and each format produced a slightly different Top 10. Let's take a look at the results from five different formats:

ESPN Player Rater
1. Lincecum; 2. Cl. Lee; 3. Sabathia; 4. Halladay; 5. J. Santana; 6. Harden; 7. Rivera; 8. Webb; 9. Haren; 10. E. Santana

Yahoo Rotisserie
1. Halladay; 2. Sabathia; 3. Rivera; 4. Cl. Lee; 5. Lincecum; 6. J. Santana; 7. Harden; 8. Hamels; 9. Soria; 10. Nathan

ESPN Head-to-Head Points
1. Sabathia; 2. Lincecum; 3. Cl. Lee; 4. Halladay; 5. J. Santana; 6. Webb; 7. F. Rodriguez; 8. Rivera; 9. E. Santana; 10. Haren

Yahoo Points
1. Lincecum; 2. Sabathia; 3. Halladay; 4. Cl. Lee; 5. J. Santana; 6. Webb; 7. Haren; 8. E. Santana; 9. Burnett; 10. Billingsley

ESPN Head-to-Head Rotisserie
1. Halladay; 2. Sabathia; 3. Lincecum; 4. Cl. Lee; 5. Rivera; 6. J. Santana; 7. F. Rodriguez; 8. Hamels; 9. Webb; 10. E. Santana

Unlike the hitters, there isn't a clear "best" pitcher. Lincecum and Halladay each lead a list two times, while Sabathia took the lead in the fifth.

Some other interesting notes, Mariano Rivera ranked higher than Frankie Rodriguez (and his 69 saves) in three of the four lists, while Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan ranked higher than KROD in one format, as well.

A case could be argued that Sabathia had the best overall numbers but will not qualify for EITHER Cy Young award. Is it CC's fault that he got traded to the NL at midseason and therefore not eligible for an individual award?

So I will go ahead and use this information to predict the top three finishers in the AL and NL Cy Young Awards.

AL Cy Young Award Winner: Cliff Lee
2nd Place: Roy Halladay
3rd Place:  Frankie Rodriguez

I chose Cliff Lee because I feel the voters (writers) are in love with the "story of Cliff Lee's success" in 2008.

NL Cy Young Award Winner: Tim Lincecum
2nd Place: Brandon Webb
3rd Place: Johan Santana

I think Lincecum is the best pitcher in the NL and will be for some time to come (depending on where CC lands).

How do you rank the top three AL and NL Cy Young Award standings?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Post-season bumps

Now that the book on the '08 season has officially closed, let's talk about some guys who may get a bump in average draft position next year thanks to their postseason play.

David Price was already going to be drafted too high next season. It's probably going to get ridiculous now thanks to his memorable showing in the ALCS. But how 'bout we don't go staking our entire 2009 season on 2.1 innings pitched, okay? Yes, the hype is incredible on this kid, and, yes, the brief glimpses of him we got in the playoffs and late in the season seem to indicate that Price is the goods. (In September, he notched 12 strikeouts and only four walks in 14 innings.) Still, in non-keeper leagues, he'll be drafted earlier than he should be. Almost every rookie pitcher hits speed bumps when they first face major-league pitching; you just can't count on them to anchor your fantasy rotation and carry you to the promise land. Yet people will be counting on Price to do just that. Don't be one of them. (Be the guy who doesn't draft him but then trades for him when he struggles a bit in May.) Obviously, he's more attractive in keeper leagues.

Matt Garza followed his breakout season with a postseason where batters hit only .216 against him. I like him better than Kazmir and Shields next year. (And he'll be drafted behind both of them.)

B.J. Upton blasted seven home runs during the playoffs after hitting only nine during the entire regular season. Stats like this are why Jesus invented the letters WTF? Just make sure you remember that he can't play second base next year.

Evan Longoria hit only .194 in the playoffs, but he did smack six home runs and drive in 13. I can't officially talk about it yet, but next year I'll be playing in a for-now-super-secret startup dynasty league, where real-world salaries count against fantasy team salary caps. Longoria's got to be a top five pick under those conditions, right? Top three?!

Ryan Howard hit three home runs in the World Series. The Phillies championship makes him a little more attractive to the casual players in your league who want a name-brand superstar in the first round. Dude might go third overall in some leagues.

Same thing could happen with Cole Hamels. Fantasy experts always knew he was a beast. But now that guy you let in your league just to get up to 12 players might take him two draft picks before you planned to. Don't get too upset. You don't need to be drafting starting pitchers in the third round, anyway.

Brad Lidge has officially exercised the demons of Albert Pujols.

Jayson Werth had a nice postseason: .309 AVG, 9 runs, 4 SB. He's a free agent now, as is Pat Burrell. It'll be interesting to see what the Phillies do. Werth will be starting (and worth owning) somewhere.

Jason Bay hit .341 and drove in nine runs in 11 playoff games. I love him in Boston next year. (But I always loved him in Pittsburgh, too, so I'm kind of biased.)

Jon Lester struggled in the ALCS but was lights-out in the divisional series -- 14 IP, zero earned runs. For the entire playoffs, he struck out 26 in 26.2 innings. I'd rather have him than Dice-K next year.

Manny was Manny: .520 postseason AVG; 1.747 SLG. That's just retarded.

My only real post-World Series thought

Cole Hamels' mullet and his new Camaro will go together nicely.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Top 10 Hitters of 2008

With the regular season behind us and the playoffs rolling along, I figured I'd take some time to look back at the 2008 season and discuss the top ten hitters and pitchers, statistically speaking. First up ... the hitters.

I had the pleasure of competitively participating in 10 fantasy baseball leagues (eight Yahoo, two ESPN) of varying types (rotisserie, head-to-head rotisserie, points, head-to-head points) and each format produced a slightly different Top 10. Let's take a look at the results from five different formats:

ESPN Player Rater
1. Pujols; 2. Reyes; 3. H. Ramirez; 4. Holliday; 5. Wright; 6. M. Ramirez; 7. Berkman; 8. Pedroia; 9. A. Rodriguez; 10. Sizemore

Yahoo Rotisserie
1. Pujols; 2. Wright; 3. M. Ramirez; 4. H. Ramirez; 5. Berkman; 6. Holliday; 7. Reyes; 8. Hamilton; 9. Beltran; 10. A. Rodriguez

ESPN Head-to-Head Points
1. Pujols; 2. Wright; 3. Beltran; 4. Utley; 5. Pedroia; 6. Teixeira; 7. Berkman; 8. Reyes; 9. Sizemore; 10. McLouth

Yahoo Points
1. Pujols; 2. Reyes; 3. Beltran; 4. Wright; 5. Sizemore; 6. Berkman; 7. Pedroia; 8. H. Ramirez; 9. Teixeira; 10. Utley

ESPN Head-to-Head Rotisserie
1. Pujols; 2. Berkman; 3. H. Ramirez; 4. Holliday; 5. Wright; 6. Sizemore; 7. Reyes; 8. M. Ramirez; 9. Beltran; 10. Utley

Clearly, Albert Pujols was the best offensive player of the year and more impressively, he did it all with one elbow tied behind his back. What I found most interesting though was how many National League players we listed in each format before the first American League player showed up. And even more surprisingly, that first AL player tended to be a Mr. Dustin Pedroia.

So I am going to use this information to select the top three in the AL and NL MVP Awards.

AL MVP Winner: Dustin Pedroia
2nd Place: Grady Sizemore
3rd Place: Josh Hamilton

NL MVP Winner: Albert Pujols
2nd Place: David Wright
3rd Place: Hanley Ramirez

Who are your top three AL and NL MVP Award standings?

Next up ... the pitchers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Similarities

Okay, let's see if we got this right...

-- They struggled and scuffled for years because of something they did that was wrong.

-- Then, overcoming decades of absolute squalor, coming close to but never quite managing to get ahead, they finally achieve the ultimate success...

-- And immediately thereafter, turn completely evil.

-- And now, the story line is all about how they have to redeem themselves ... again.

-- And, they just won't die.

Are we sure that the Red Sox aren't this guy?



Of course, that'd make Theo Epstein this guy, which would just be too funny.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pujols goes under the knife

Albert Pujols had surgery done on his troublous right elbow today, although it wasn't the Tommy John surgery he actually needs but refuses to get because he can post MVP numbers even with an elbow that doesn't quite work properly. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, doctors instead decompressed and relocated the ulnar nerve in his right elbow. Where it was relocated to wasn't specified, but I'm gonna guess Troy Glaus' neck. That fits nicely with my pet theory that the reason guys like Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel come from nowhere to smash tons of home runs is because St. Louis team doctors have been taking parts of Albert Pujols for years and transplanting them to other Cardinal players. (It also explains why Phat Albert has to play in pain every season.) Look for more of this on an upcoming Fringe/SportsCenter crossover event.

Meanwhile, I will continue not drafting Albert Pujols. This medical house of cards will collapse at some point.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You wanna talk playoffs?

Okay, let's talk playoffs.

I noticed a little bit of playoff chatter in Daniel's "What Next?" post, so I figure ... why not get a dedicated thread going for the postseason? Then I punched a wall Carlos Quentin-style for not thinking of it sooner. Damn, that hurts.

Anyway, people accuse us of having all kinds of biases at this site, and you know what? They're right. For example ... fuck the Cubs and their woe-is-me fan base. It sure was fun watching them go down in flames last week. While I'm at it, fuck the Yankees and their fans, too. It's the playoffs, they didn't get in, so I don't want to hear about them until Christmas decorations go up. (You hear me, Daniel? Oh, you're so lucky we invited you to write for this site before we knew you were a Yankees fan. **shudder**)

As for me, I'll be rooting for whichever AL team emerges victorious from the ALCS in the World Series. I'll root for Tampa Bay because they built their team the impressive way (through in-house player development as opposed to passing out checks with bunches of zeroes on them). Or I'll root for Boston because, as a beleaguered Pirates fan, it's nice to see Jason Bay playing for a winner. (Beleaguered Canadians can also get away with this.) I was oh so jazzed to see him score the series-winning run during that ninth-inning play-at-the-plate the other day.

Who comes out of the NL, I care not. Although I will admit to thinking that a Red Sox-Dodgers series could be fun just for the Manny hoopla. I think everyone here agrees Manny's a douchebag, but that doesn't mean watching him face off against his old team wouldn't make for a good show.

Want to keep chatting about the playoffs? That's what the comment section under this post is for. Let's go.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What next?

It's nice to finally sit back and watch baseball as a fan rather than some human StatTracker®. I'll go on record as saying I am a Yankee fan rooting for the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers to make it to the World Series. I don't know what it is that makes watching Manny's antics more enjoyable now than when he was with the Red Sox. I guess the fact that he will be a Yankee next season has something to do with it, ha.

A quick "shout out" to Joe Torre for knocking the Cubs out of the playoffs. Note to Cubbies fans: Better luck next century. Being ousted from the playoffs couldn't have happened to a nicer guy than Carlos Zambrano. I guess all of that chest pounding, Heaven pointing and God thanking wasn't enough. Pay close attention Francisco Rodriguez.

But I digress. Back to my original question of "What Next?" I think Rogers Hornsby said it best:
"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
What types of articles would you like to see during these "down" months? Articles will be so much easier to write in February and March but what to do, what to do in the meantime?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who'd Ya Rather? (Results Edition)

How 'bout we compare some final stat lines for guys we debated, contrasted and ultimately fought about here at the Hurler this year?

Alex Rios vs. Alfonso Soriano

Alex Rios: .291-91-15-79-32, Yahoo rank -- #52
Alfonso Soriano: .280-76-29-75-19, Yahoo rank -- #75

This one was batted back and forth a couple times this season, and I even suggested in April that Rios was the more valuable player, especially in keeper leagues. In the end, both were disappointing. Rios underperformed his projections while Soriano, as he does, lost significant time to injury. Still, Alex bested Alfonso in four of five fantasy categories. Soriano's games played and at-bats have dropped significantly each of the last two years. I'm still taking Rios ahead of him in 2009.

Brandon Phillips vs. B.J. Upton

Brandon Phillips: .261-80-21-78-23, Yahoo rank -- #107
B.J. Upton: .273-85-9-67-44, Yahoo rank -- #82

Mike and I fought about this and fought about this and fought about this. And, ultimately, it didn't much matter which of these guys you had this season. Phillips did end up giving you significantly more home runs, while Upton swiped almost twice as many bags. I'm the one who backed Phillips all year but will now admit that this is the best you're going to get with him. Upton has way more upside (assuming he can grow the fuck up and stop getting benched for being a selfish, lazy player) ... but then again he can't play second base for you anymore. So why am I still jabbering on about these two? Let's move on.

Johan Santana vs. Jake Peavy

Johan Santana: 234.1 IP-16 wins-206 K-2.53-1.15, Yahoo rank -- #21
Jake Peavy: 173.2 IP-10 wins-166 K-2.85-1.18, Yahoo rank -- #77

Yeah, I'm the idiot for thinking Peavy would have the better season. But I'm also the genius who bet a friend that Santana wouldn't win NL Cy Young this year (and laid him 2-to-1 odds)! At least, I better look like a genius. It's gotta be Lincecum or Webb, right? Right?!

Jason Bay vs. Andruw Jones

Jason Bay: .286-111-31-101-10, Yahoo rank -- #25
Andruw Jones: .158-21-3-14-0, Yahoo rank -- #1379

Both of these dudes' names were dirt coming into this season, and there was a lot of discussion about whether either could rebound. One of them did. The other one, uh ... not so much. Bay could be a beast with Boston next year. Meanwhile, the Dodgers will keep paying Andruw Jones big money to guard to clubhouse PlayStation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two Tims split the Bloggers League title

Congrats to RotoRob's Tim McLeod and Roto Authority's Tim Dierkes, who tied for co-champions of the 12-team Bloggers League I represented Fantasy Hurler in this summer.

McLeod was a co-winner despite drafting Victor Martinez in the third round. (Proof that in fantasy baseball, one really bad early draft pick can be overcome.) He struck gold with Ian Kinsler in the 6th, Adrian Beltre in the 8th, Roy Halladay in the 9th and Carlos Delgado in the 13th. Dierkes's notable draft picks included taking both Martin and Mauer early to shore up that position in a two-catcher league, along with Matt Kemp in the eighth, Nate McLouth in the 18th, Kerry Wood in the 23rd and Rick Ankiel in the 26th and final round. Dierkes also jumped first on Cliff Lee, and tallied 17 of his 22 wins. Dierkes himself wraps up his Bloggers League season in this post. McLeod also mentions it briefly here. These guys put on a fantasy management clinic this summer. Check out their sites, if you haven't already.

My team ended up in sixth place, not too bad considering the massive hole I dug myself in April and May, but still slightly disappointing considering I was as high as third in mid-August. The Semptember drop came because (a) my hitters shit the bed and (b) I hit the innings-pitched max two weeks before the season ended and was eventually passed in a couple of categories by a few people. I honestly never realized I was that close to the 1,500 IP limit. I suppose I could argue that that number was set a bit low for a daily league that starts nine pitchers, but, hey, I knew what the limit was when I signed up. So I'm the idiot so not checking. And I'm the fucking idiot who didn't get the stats from CC Sabathia's last several starts because I was too busy starting Armando Galarraga mid-summer. Ugh.

Still, top half in a league full of experts isn't too bad. If I get invited back next year -- umm, maybe a big if -- hopefully I can improve. But for '08, these were the final standings:

1. RotoRob 95
1. Roto Authority 95
3. MVN (1) 80
4. Fantasy Baseball Mafia 79.5
5. Fantasy Gameday 75
6. Fantasy Hurler 65
7. Fake Teams 60
8. Razzball 57.5
9. Brock for Broglio 51
10. Rotonomics 45.5
11. Crooked Pitch 44.5
12. MVN (2) 32

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Line of the Day: CC Sabathia

Oh, what a season CC had. It started with that horrific April in Cleveland that had owners dumping him left and right, and ended in September in Milwaukee, with the poor guy seemingly throwing 120-pitch shutouts every fourth day. I will not be drafting Sabathia next year. I hear his pitching arm is now attached to his body thanks only to paper clips and duct tape.

CC Sabathia: 9 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K for the W

Let me quickly say thanks to those who stuck with us the entire season. Hope you fared well in your leagues. (I played in three leagues and finished 1st of 16, 2nd of 14 and 6th of 12, so I had an incredibly successful season.) We'll still be posting here at the Hurler this fall and winter. Far, far less often, of course, but I do have a couple of things planned for this offseason. A wrap-up of my bloggers league is coming today or tomorrow. Plus, there's the matter of getting a group together for the inaugural Hurler Fantasy League, which I am still planning for '09. Stay tuned.

2008 Hurlie Awards (Daniel's Picks)

I, too, feel that "value" should factor in when handing out fantasy baseball awards. That being said, here are my award winners:

FANTASY MVP
  1. Albert Pujols - What this guy does with one good arm is amazing. I won't be passing over him next season.
  2. Dustin Pedroia - His ADP was 165. He currently leads the majors with 211 hits.
  3. Josh Hamilton - Another ADP of 165. What didn't he do right this year?
  4. Grady Sizemore/Hanley Ramirez - 33 HR/38 SB and 33 HR/35 SB respectively.
  5. Carlos Quentin - 36 HR/100 RBI from the virtually undrafted.
FANTASY CY YOUNG
  1. Cliff Lee - He was so good this season, I wouldn't be surprised to see him win the AL MVP and Cy Young awards.
  2. Frankie Rodriguez - As unimportant as the save has become in real baseball, it is still fantasy baseball gold. Receiving 62 from one player is priceless.
  3. Mike Mussina - Possibly another 20 game winner who was largely undrafted.
  4. Tim Lincecum - Dominant!
FANTASY ROOKIE
  1. Geovany Soto - Ranked the #3 catcher on ESPN and # 5 on Yahoo. Rarely does a rookie live up to the hype, let alone a rookie catcher. That's right Salty, I'm talking to you!
  2. Jacoby Ellsbury - .280/98/9/46/50 - I'll take that line from a rookie OFer any day.
  3. Evan Longoria - 27 homers in 120 games. Is 35 out of the question for 2009?
FANTASY SLEEPERS - Look carefully at this list of players. There is tons of value available in the late rounds of drafts  as well as on the waiver wire. Use the early rounds of your draft to go after proven talent.
  1. Cliff Lee/Carlos Quentin/Mike Mussina - Already mentioned.
  2. Aubrey Huff - Leads the majors with 82 extra-base hits. ADP of 348.
  3. Nate McLouth - He had 13 HR and 22 SB in 329 AB in 2007 but did anyone notice? I drafted him in six leagues. ADP of 298.
  4. Brad Lidge - 40 for 40 in save opportunities this season. A number one closer with an ADP of 145.
  5. Milton Bradley - 3rd in the AL in BA (.324); 3rd in the ML in OPS (1.006); ADP of 359.
FANTASY DISAPPOINTMENTS
  1. Carl Crawford - If only he lived up to the hype...JUST ONCE!
  2. Victor Martinez - Top-ranked catcher finishes with 2 HR in 261 AB. BUST!
  3. Carlos Guillen - His HR and RBI numbers were cut in half (21/102 to 10/54).
  4. Eric Byrnes - Words can't express how disappointed I am that he turned into a bust this year.
  5. Erik Bedard - On average, he was selected ahead of CC Sabathia. Tell me those owners aren't kicking themselves.
  6. JJ Putz - Selected, on average, ahead of KROD. His 14 of 22 save opps prove how risky paying for saves can be in the early rounds.
I know all three of us that have posted our awards have put a lot of effort into it and would really appreciate it if the regular readers of this site would take some time to drop a comment to agree, disagree or nominate your own award winners. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Line of the Day: Johan Santana

Bringing it when the Mets needed him the most ...

Johan Santana: 9 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K for the W

A Steady Stream

If you're in a head-to-head league and need to stream some pitchers, now is the time to throw everything and the kitchen sink at your opponent. Let's evaluate every matchup for Sunday, September 28th:
  • CC Sabathia (100%) @ home vs. Angel Guzman (0%): With the Brewers needing a win to keep their playoffs hopes alive and CC pitching to prove he's a big game pitcher deserving of big game pitcher money next season, it's almost a given that he's going to throw a complete game even if it takes 150 pitches.
  • Tim Lincecum (100%) @ home vs. Hiroki Kuroda (38.6%): Lincecum will probably go all out in his final start to prove he is worthy of the NL Cy Young.
  • Kyle Kendrick (2.1%) @ home vs. Odalis Perez (3.1%): Kendrick has been horrible. Odalis has been bad. Bad beats horrible. Good Luck!
  • James Shields (97.0%) @ Zach Miner (4.5%): It's being reported that Shields will only pitch one inning in preperation for his playoff start. Why bother? Miner seems like a decent stream option.
  • Mike Mussina (94.2%) @ Daisuke Matsuzaka (98.5%): Mussina goes for win number 20 while Matsuzaka tunes up for his playoff start. Neither are streaming options. Sit back and enjoy this rivalry's last game of 2008.
  • Bryan Bullington (0.3%) @ Mark Buehrle (63.6%): Cleveland decided to sit an injured Cliff Lee. Buehrle is pitching on three days rest and if he is available, your league gave up long ago on being competitive.
  • Kevin Millwood (9.8%) @ Joe Saunders (88.2%): Saunders, returning from kidney stones, is simply pitching to get some work in before the playoffs. Millwood is searching for his only win in September and is probably streamworthy. He may be pitching versus a roster full of nobodies.
  • Randy Johnson (74.0%) @ home vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (39.3%): Johnson is 45 years old. Jimenez is 24 years old. Just thought I'd point that out. Stream Jimenez, if necessary.
  • Kyle Lohse (72.9%) @ home vs. Adam Pettyjohn (0.1%): Lohse was a fantasy gem (15-6, 3.78 ERA, 20 QS). Pettyjohn is stepping in for Edinson Volquez.
  • Scott Olsen (27.1%) @ Oliver Perez (67.1%): Personally, I'd love to see Olsen shut the Mets down so the Brewers can make it into the playoffs. You never know which Perez will show up for the game. Mets haters, stream Olsen.
  • Scott Baker (56.9%) @ home vs. Brandon Duckworth (0.4%): If Baker can't win this game against the Royals then the Twins don't deserve to be in the playoffs. Stream him if he's available.
  • Jesse Litsch (31.5%) @ Jeremy Guthrie (23.8%): Litsch has been dominant since being recalled from AAA (2.00 ERA, 41 H in 54 IP). Guthrie hasn't pitched since August 29th due to shoulder fatigue. Stream Litsch!
  • Mike Hampton (1.5%) @ Wandy Rodriguez (29.7%): Wandy is iffy for his last start and Hampton could fall to pieces at any moment.
  • Sidney Ponson (3.1%) @ Tim Wakefield (15.5%): Wakefield at home is a better streaming option than Ponson pitching anywhere. This one has slugfest written all over it.
  • Russ Ohlendorf (0.4%) @ Cha Seung Baek (6.9%): Never stream Pirates' pitchers. Baek at home out of desperation.
  • Josh Outman (1.4%) @ R.A. Dickey (0.4%): Let's just combine them into a separate unknown and call them "Dickey Outman". Flip a coin. Maybe one of these guys will get the win.
Good luck streaming on the final day of the season. Anything can and will happen as most teams have nothing to lose.

2008 Hurlie Awards (Ben's picks)

FANTASY MVP

For me, the Fantasy MVP is all about value. Fantasy seasons aren't won in the first round (though they can certainly be lost there). They're won in the late rounds, when the guy you took a flyer on busts out in a huge way, carrying you to the title. With that in mind, my top three fantasy MVP candidates are:

1. Ryan Ludwick -- A lot of teams got a lot of value out of a guy who probably went undrafted and snagged in the FA pool.

2. Carlos Quentin -- Ditto. Hard for me to put him after Ludwick (being a White Sox fan), but Ludwick did a little more for your AVG and rate stats, in a few more AB.

3. Ian Kinsler -- Possibly should be higher, given that he plays a position that's such a death trap offensively this year. But no one counted on a 18 HR/26 SB/.319 year out of him.

FANTASY CY YOUNG

1. Cliff Lee -- Remember my thing about it being about value? Um, yeah. Lots of people expected a 22-win, 2.41 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 160+ K season out of this guy. You drafted him in the last round, because you were running out of SPs you could actually name. And he ... delivered.

2. Ervin Santana -- If I'd told you you were getting 15 wins, 200 K, a 3.33 ERA, and a 1.11 WHIP, you'd've been a little disappointed out of drafting Santana, because Johan did really well in Minnesota, and now pitching in the NL, you'd think he'd do bett... wait, ERVIN put up that line???

3. Chad Billingsley -- Edges out Edinson Volquez because (a) his Wins, ERA & WHIP were a little better (as of this writing), and (b) unlike Volquez, he's decided how to spell his first name.

FANTASY ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

1. Jacoby Ellsbury -- He only really helped you in one category. But 49 steals is probably enough to put you in the money in that category by himself, and he didn't hurt you with a Juan Pierre/Michael Bourn-esque slaughtering of your AVG.

2. Alexei Ramirez -- Yes, I'm a White Sox fan, but that's not the point here. A 20 HR/12 SB/.294 season out of a guy who can cover 2B, SS, or OF is fantasy gold. (He falls to 3rd if your league uses OBP instead of AVG.)

3. Evan Longoria -- Of course, a 25 HR/7 SB/.277 season out of a guy who (in some leagues) is SS-eligible is nothing to be laughed at, either.

FANTASY SLEEPER OF THE YEAR

For this, I'm defining the contenders as "the guys you thought *might* be worth a mid- to late-round flyer on." In other words, sleepers. That's why I'm leaving out the out-of-nowhere guys in this category.

1. Rich Harden -- Injury-plagued season ... career ... but if you guessed he was going to be (more or less) healthy all year and give you some solid numbers, you made out. If you guessed it late in the draft, you *really* made out.

2. Nate McLouth -- Those of you who saw a 26 HR/21 SB full-time CF were rewarded. The rest of us ... weren't.

3. Shane Victorino -- I saw Victorino on a couple of sleeper lists, but I didn't buy it. Guess I was thinking of the soccer player. He duplicated a very good fantasy season and proved his naysayers (namely, me) wrong.

FANTASY DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

In order to disappoint, you have to be good enough to have expectations. So, guys like Austin Kearns and Andruw Jones (1 fewer HR, and .200 lower AVG than Carlos Zambrano) are exempt. (Anybody besides me halfway expect Jim Bowden to trade Elijah Dukes for Jones?)

1. Troy Tulowitzki -- What happened? To go from a 3-category stud (4 if you use runs) shortstop to Adam Kennedy is mind-blowing.

2. Kosuke Fukudome -- No one really knew what to expect, but ... yeesh. Who knew that "Kosuke Fukudome" was Japanese for "Shannon Stewart"?

3. Tony Pena Jr. -- In spite of what I said above ... No one expected him to hit. But I think it could have reasonably been expected that he'd have an OPS+ of over 5. Didn't happen.

Dishonorable Mentions: Victor Martinez (leave me alone in my shame) and Paul Konerko (the slowest professional athlete in the world -- I once saw him lose a footrace to a sumo wrestler).

2008 Hurlie Awards (Bob's Picks)

FANTASY MVP

1. Albert Pujols -- As of this morning, he's #1 in the Yahoo fantasy game once more, and yet everyone who drafted him got him at a discount 'cause of the injury concerns. Unreal.

2. Hanley Ramirez -- Because I'm hard-headed, I'll always prefer Reyes, but it's hard to argue with 33 HR + 35 SB.

3. Josh Hamilton -- Slipped behind guys like Manny and Holliday late in the season, but gets the nod here thanks to draft value.

FANTASY CY YOUNG

1. Cliff Lee -- One of the great, out-of-nowhere seasons in fantasy history.

2. Tim Lincecum -- Deserves the NL Cy Young over Webb.

3. Francisco Rodriguez -- The 62 saves are ridiculous.

FANTASY ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

1. Geovany Soto -- Was a beast at a thin position.

2. Evan Longoria -- Probably would have been ranked first if he didn't miss the time to injury.

3. Joey Votto -- Sagged in the season's middle, but strong at the beginning and end.

FANTASY SLEEPER OF THE YEAR

1. Carlos Quentin -- Punching that bat (or wall ... or locker ... or whatever you believe) likely cost him AL MVP. Yet it still doesn't seem as dumb as the Diamondbacks letting this guy go.

2. Nate McLouth -- First-half numbers were MVP-worthy and he turned it on again late.

3. Jorge Cantu -- How many of you won leagues because our own Mike Bock insisted you pick this guy up back in April?

FANTASY DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR

1. Victor Martinez -- Normally, I would say time missed to injury shouldn't be a factor here. But, come on ... dude wound up with two home runs. Two!!!

2. Justin Verlander -- Could never get it going. An ERA approaching 5 ... really?

3. Carl Crawford -- Time to stop picking him in the first round ... or the second ... or the third ...

So when's the last day of the season? (Part II)

All right, Houston's out, so you can forget all of this. Now it's a White Sox-Tigers game that may need to be made up on Monday, if the AL Central race isn't decided by then. So that's one theoretical AL regular season game that could be played, in addition to possible White Sox-Twins and Mets-Brewers play-in games. (Actually, if the Phillies lose today and Sunday, things could get more complicated. But, for the moment, let's assume the Phillies win the NL East outright.) So what does all this mean for fantasy leagues?

Again, last year, Yahoo didn't count stats from the Rockies-Padres play-in game, so it's highly unlikely they'd reverse course this season. A regular-season make-up game might be a different story, though not according to one forum member at Fantasy Baseball Cafe, who yesterday posted that Yahoo answered his inquiry by stating that "the game ends on September 28th, the season will not be extended for rain outs." I haven't personally verified this.

ESPN and CBS Sportsline, on the other hand, did count the play-in game last season, at least for their standard roto leagues. (Not sure about head-to-head.) So right now I'd say it's likely that any games played on Monday or later will count for managers with leagues set up there.

Bottom line: If you're thinking about picking up players for Monday and beyond just to be safe -- and, really, why wouldn't you? -- guys in Tigers and White Sox uniforms are your best bet (ESPN currently has Garcia and Floyd as the starters), followed by Twins, Brewers and Mets.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Line of the Day: Ryan Garko

Ryan Garko: 3-for-4, 2 runs, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Man, I was high on Garko coming into this year and drafted him in two of three leagues. So it's not a happy thing that he hit 14 percent of his '08 home runs on September 26.

Position eligibilty changes for 2009

As the 2008 season winds down, now would be a good time to start looking at position eligibility changes, especially if you are in a keeper league. Here are some of the more important changes to be aware of going into your 2009 drafts depending on your league's position eligibility requirements (Yahoo! and ESPN):
  • B.J. Upton (OF) no longer qualifies at 2B.
  • Ryan Braun (OF) no longer qualifies at 3B.
  • Miguel Cabrera should qualify at 1B and 3B (14 GP) in most formats.
  • David Ortiz played zero games at 1B and should only qualify as a DH.
  • Chone Figgins no longer qualifies in the OF (0 GP) and may not qualify at 2B (9 GP). Is his value diminished as a 3B only?
  • Ty Wigginton loses 1B (0 GP) and 2B (0 GP) eligibility. His value is marginal as a 3B/OF.
  • Garrett Atkins, Hank Blalock, Jorge Cantu, Chris Davis, Aubrey Huff, Kevin Youklis, and Casey Blake should all qualify at 1B/3B. Blake no longer qualifies at OF (0 GP).
  • Carlos Guillen loses his SS eligibility but but gained 1B/3B status this season.
  • Russell Martin (C/3B), Pablo Sandoval (C/1B/3B) and Brandon Inge (C/3B/OF) can be valuable players to own in leagues with shallow benches but larger rosters.
  • Blake DeWitt (2B/3B) has filled in quite nicely for the injured Jeff Kent and may be an inexpensive solution for 2009 considering Kent will be a free agent.
  • Clint Barmes (2B/3B/SS), Jeff Baker (1B/2B/3B), and Ian Stewart (2B/3B) will battle it out this spring to join Helton, Tulo and Atkins in the Rockies infield.
  • Lance Berkman no longer qualifies as an outfielder (0 GP).
  • Willy Aybar and Ronnie Belliard each should qualify at 1B/2B/3B and could be valuable at the MI position.
  • Adam Dunn, Conor Jackson, Nick Swisher, and Chris Duncan should all be 1B/OF eligible.
  • Joey Votto (1B), Billy Butler (1B), and Bill Hall (3B) will each lose their outfield eligibilties.
  • Mark DeRosa (2B/3B/OF) and Alexei Ramirez (2B/SS/OF) each have hit 20 HRs and should continue to be a strong play at 2B.
  • Will Felipe Lopez (2B/3B/SS/OF), Alfredo Amezaga (2B/3B/SS/OF), Willie Harris (2B/3B/OF) or Omar Infante (2B/3B/SS/OF) have any fantasy value next season?
I hope I covered most of the important eligibilities to be aware of going into 2009. Be sure to check your provider's requirements for games played prior to your draft(s). Lastly, don't forget about those relief pitchers that qualify as starting pitchers, especially if your league has statistics like holds or a ratios like K/9. They are valuable commodities to own.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Line of the Day: Albert Pujols

Phat Albert ... still raking in September despite all those doom-and-gloom predictions in March. Dude is a medical miracle.

Albert Pujols: 3-for-3, 2 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Line of the Day: Clint Barmes

This LotD is coming almost a full day late because I was out to the theater (kindly imagine me saying that in a ridiculously hoity-toity voice -- it's better that way) and then had to get up early to play in a poker tournament. But better late than never, especially in this case. One of the best single-game lines I've seen this season.

Clint Barmes: 4-for-5, 4 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB

So when's the last day of the season?

Technically, it's Sunday. And if you scroll through the remaining days using your Yahoo fantasy roster, you'll find that you currently can't scroll past Sunday. However, at the moment, the Cubs and Astros are scheduled to play the last of the Hurricane Ike makeup games on Monday, if that game should be necessary ... which it won't be unless the Astros can make up four games on the Mets and three on the Brewers before Monday. Well, that seems incredibly unlikely, but if a Houston miracle does happen, and if you're in a super-tight race for points in one or more offensive category, be ready to pick up as many available Cubs and Astros players as possible on Sunday.

UPDATE: One of my Yahoo leagues is a weekly league with lineup changes due Sunday night. Even though the Yahoo schedule does not yet acknowledge the possible Monday game, the system still lets you add and drop players for a proverbial next week. So I just cut two bench players for Michael Bourn and Kosuke Fukudome, as I'm in a ridiculous tight race for stolen-base points. Again, this Monday game is likely not going to happen, but better safe than sorry, right?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Line of the Day: Jason Kubel

Does anyone anywhere actually have Jason Kubel on their roster? The fact that I have to ask usually disqualifies a player from LotD consideration, but there just wasn't a lot happening fantasy-wise yesterday.

Jason Kubel: 3-for-4, 3 runs, 2 HR, 3 RBI