Tag:Lunch
Posted on: March 31, 2008 7:58 am
Edited on: April 1, 2008 5:43 pm
  •  
 

The REAL Opening Day! (Part I)

Crap. I accidentally bolded in the source code and there ain't no way I'm going back and unbolding each little thing. So, I'm unbolding everything. I'm starting a whole new blog.

3:06 p.m.
Here's our PR guy Alex Riethmiller's take on the upcoming season for the hated POOR-ioles (they're playing my Rays!): "After trading away Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard, it's unlikely Orioles fans had any doubts the club was serious about rebuilding. If there were any skeptics left, they were likely converted yesterday when the team cut Jay Gibbons eating $11.9 million in salary in the process. And surely the tinkering is not over as one would have to think Brian Roberts will be next to go assuming Orioles brass can get what they feel is a fair return for the second baseman. It's certainly going to be a long year for the boys in orange and black -- maybe a long couple years -- and the basement of the AL East is all but inevitable at this point. However, the upside is that a restocked farm system and young superstars like Nick Markakis give the team a solid base to build on." 2008 record: 62-100

3:01 p.m.
Emack is fond of saying (in a whiny voice), "Catchers hit like pitchers." And that appears to be the case in Milwaukee, as for the first time in Brewers history, Jason Kendall will hit behind Ben Sheets in the ninth spot. Manager Ned Yost wants more batters to get a chance to get on base in front of Braun and Fielder.

2:58 p.m.
You excited yet? It's only seven minutes away from first pitch at Camden Yards against the Rays!!! Here's the lineups:

Baltimore
  1. Brian Roberts - 2B
  2. Melvin Mora - 3B
  3. Nick Markakis - RF
  4. Kevin Millar - 1B
  5. Aubrey Huff - DH
  6. Ramon Hernandez - C
  7. Luke Scott - LF
  8. Adam Jones - CF
  9. Luis Hernandez - SS

Tampa Bay
  1. Akinori Iwamura - 2B
  2. Carl Crawford - LF
  3. Carlos Pena - 1B
  4. B.J. Upton - CF
  5. Cliff Floyd - DH
  6. Willy Aybar - 3B
  7. Eric Hinske - RF
  8. Dioner Navarro - C
  9. Jason Bartlett - SS
2:52 p.m.
Alex Gordon got rung up in the first inning with the bat on his shoulder -- not this time. The former top prospect homered on a 3-1 90 mph fastball at the belt into the right field stands -- and the fans throw the ball back on the field. (By the way, let's not get crazy about giving Cubs fans credit for that -- that's a White Sox deal from way back.) Looking back to last season, when Gordon struggled mightily through the first few months, he didn't hit his first homer until the seventh game -- which was also just his second basehit of the season. He hit just .173 with two homers and five RBI in April last year, so this is nice to see -- especially against a pitcher the caliber of Verlander.

2:39 p.m.
Miguel Cabrera -- Welcome to the pitching in the AL Central. Super-slim Miggy pounced on 2-1 hanging curve and deposited it into the left-center field stands for his first homer in Detroit. He was my pick for AL MVP heading into the season and he's off to a great start. The Royals, White Sox and Twins should offer up plenty of homer-able pitches. All three of those teams ranked among the bottom-14 in homers allowed last season.

2:27 p.m.
Our great big Opening Day extravaganza is in danger of becoming a soggy, wet turd in a punchbowl if these rain delays start becoming rainouts. I'll not have it!

2:37 p.m.
The Yankees have postponed their Opening Day officially. That stinks. They'll play this game against the Blue Jays Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m.

In keeping with the Yankees as a theme, my former co-worker, Brian Flood, tells us what he thinks his Yankees will do this season: "The Yankees will respond very well to Joe Girardi's aggressive style and he gets a lot out of the younger players. Robinson Cano is in the batting-title hunt until the final week of the season, Phil Hughes wins 16-plus games and the Yankees finish first in the AL East with 96 wins. New York defeats Philly in six games to win its 27th World Series ... I would also like to go on record that Cincinnati makes the playoffs.
Flood now works with the NFL as the Assistant to the Director of Officiating, although he likes to introduce himself like Dwight Schrute, losing the "to the" part of the title.

2:25 p.m.
The Brewers and Cubs are also in a rain delay, but they are expecting to get going around 3:00 p.m. EST according to ESPN.

DeJesus sprained his ankle, that's why Gathright came in to play center field for the Royals, by the way.

2:03 p.m.
Carlos Guillen hit a single into right field, but Jose Guillen came up gunning and the new Royals right fielder gets Magglio Ordonez who unwisely tried to score from second base. Still 1-0 Detroit, thanks to the perfect throw from Jose Guillen.

By the way, that's the answer to the Aaron Harang trivia question earlier -- Jose Guillen came to Oakland in exchange for Harang in 2003. He has played on nine different teams in the past 10 seasons!

1:59 p.m.
Joey Gathright took over in center field for David DeJesus in the third inning. I'll keep you posted as to what the injury -- if there was one -- might be. On Guillen's drive over his head, DeJesus did seem to run back slow to the ball.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Brewers will bat Prince Fielder third and Ryan Braun fourth in the lineup -- the reverse of what they did for much of last season. "Braunie has done a nice job of making it work," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "If Braunie can take the same steps that Prince took in his second year, in terms of plate discipline, that's a big key to our offense. He's one of those special hitters, he's very smart and has great hitting instincts. I don't think he'll have any trouble with the adjustment. They're going to pitch around Prince at times and when they do, I want Braunie to make them come right after him. If they don't throw him strikes, he's going to have to take his walks and let Billy Hall and Corey Hart back him up."

Here are Fielder's numbers hitting third and fourth in the Brewers' lineup:
  • Hitting 3rd in 104 games -- .242 BA, 22 HR, 23 doubles, 64 RBI, 57 runs scored
  • Hitting 4th in 116 games -- .302 BA, 40 HR, 25 doubles, 85 RBI, 85 runs scored
Then again, Fielder did most of that work in cleanup with Braun in front of him. There shouldn't be much of a drop with Braun behind him.
1:43 p.m.
Renteria picks up his first RBI in a Tigers' uniform, as he pokes a shot up the middle to score Guillen. Looking at the time difference between my last post and this one reminds me of a pet peeve. I love sports movies -- and I hate sports movies. For instance, The Fan, with Robert De Niro playing a psycho fan of Giants' hitter Wesley Bonds (I mean Snipes). And De Niro is supposed to go pick up his kid or something important, yadayada, but he wants to wait through Snipes' at-bat. So of course, he keeps looking at his watch after every pitch, and apparently Snipes is the Nomar of the Silver Screen because several minutes would go by between every pitch. And of course, it's like a 10-pitch at-bat that takes 20 minutes according to Hollywood. Crap like that drives me nuts.

Although I did love "White Chicks."

1:34 p.m.
Carlos Guillen laced a drive well over DeJesus' head in right-center field, and he held up at second base following one of baseball's golden rules -- never make the first or third out at third base. He even broke his bat on that shot, so it's a wonder it had that much power to reach that deep.

1:31 p.m.
Miguel Cabrera hit a pop fly to center field that sounded good off the bat, but landed about 35 feet from the warning track. The announcers, crowd and myself were initially fooled. Emack would have made fun of me for going, "Uh oh!" -- then I would have asked him if he recently ate a dirty diaper.

Here's the Denver Post's breakdown of today's lineup between the Rockies and Cardinals, along with last season's statistics.

COLORADO ROCKIES
  1. CF Willy Taveras .320 2 24 .367
  2. SS Troy Tulowitzki .291 24 99 .359
  3. 1B Todd Helton .320 17 91 .434
  4. LF Matt Holliday .340 36 137 .405
  5. 3B Garrett Atkins .301 25 111 .367
  6. RF Brad Hawpe .291 29 116 .387
  7. C Yorvit Torrealba .255 8 47 .323
  8. 2B Jayson Nix* .292 11 58 .342
  9. LHP Jeff Francis W-L: 17-9, 4.22 ERA

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

  1. LF Skip Schumaker .333 2 19 .358
  2. RF Ryan Ludwick .267 14 52 .339
  3. 1B Albert Pujols .327 32 103 .429
  4. 3B Troy Glaus .262 20 62 .366
  5. CF Rick Ankiel .285 11 39 .328
  6. C Yadier Molina .275 6 40 .340
  7. SS Cesar Izturis .258 0 16 .302
  8. RHP Adam Wainwright W-L: 14-12, 3.70 ERA
  9. 2B Aaron Miles .290 2 32 .328 -- You gotta love being the guy that hits BEHIND the pitcher.

*Nix's statistics are from Triple-A Colorado Springs

1:20 p.m.
Guerrera notes that Gil Meche is now on pace for 1,400 Ks after taking out Edgar Renteria. Come on, let's not get crazy -- it's Gil Meche! ... He'll get 950 Ks max.

1:15 p.m.

It's raining in Cincinnati, but it's supposed to clear up, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. So their game has been pushed back to 2:10 in Cincinnati, which means 3:10 for us East Coasters.

David DeJesus grounds out to start the Royals/Tigers game. This is a guy that really hasn't developed the all-around game many had hoped. Considering the guy he replaced in center field at Kauffman Stadium, Carlos Beltran, said DeJesus reminded him a lot of himself -- he's not quite there.

You can check out this game in our live GameCenter here.

Mark Grudzielanek hit a slow chopper to Miguel Cabrera, and Carlos Guillen played the throw from third horribly. With his right foot on the bag and his left foot on the first base line, Grudzielanek had to jump over Guillen -- who dropped the ball anyway. That could have been a BIG collision at first, as Guillen played first base like a shortstop. Somehow, Cabrera gets tagged with the throwing error, but I'd blame Guillen for that play more than anything. (Grudz then went on to steal second base, NICE! The five percent of CBSSports.com leagues are happy about that one! Although only two percent are starting him.)

Verlander gets Alex Gordon looking on an outside circle-change. The ball really was outside, but Ivan Rodriguez framed it well and Verlander has his first strikeout of the season! ... And so does Gordon!

1:02 p.m.
Time to turn the channel to Fox Sports-Detroit to catch the Royals game at Comerica Park. Is today the first game in Justin Verlander's march toward his first Cy Young award? Emack and I both predicted he'd take that hardware home. Against the Royals in eight starts in his career, Verlander is 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA and 42 strikeouts in over 52 innings. Sounds like a good starting place to begin a Cy Young hunt.

12:54 p.m.
According to Newsday, it's still raining at Yankee Stadium, so teams were unable to take batting practice and the start of the game has been delayed -- not cancelled.

I am reporting that Ross Devonport, my British co-worker, has reported that CBSNews reports that this game will start at 2 p.m.

12:47 p.m.
OK, I've had my first hot dog of Opening Day officially. At Publix, our local grocery store, I saw Jake, Bisbee, Madden and one of the guys from customer service. It appears EVERYONE at CBSSports.com is gearing up for a big day! Btw, I finally went with a loaf of five-grain Italian Bread, some deli Chicken Salad, Cape Cod Potato chips (regular) and a rail of small Snickers bars.

It's absolutely gorgeous outside also (sorry snowbirds that already went back up north!)

12:09 p.m.
Sounds like the Blue Jays/Yankees game is in jeopardy because of weather also, according to Baseball Tonight. And here's the Opening Fay lineup for these two squads, according to the N.Y. Daily News.

Blue Jays

  1. David Eckstein, SS
  2. Shannon Stewart, LF
  3. Alex Rios, RF
  4. Vernon Wells, CF
  5. Frank Thomas, DH
  6. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  7. Aaron Hill, 2B
  8. Marco Scutaro, 3B
  9. Gregg Zaun, C

Yankees

  1. Johnny Damon, LF
  2. Derek Jeter, SS
  3. Bobby Abreu, RF
  4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  5. Jason Giambi, 1B
  6. Robinson Cano, 2B
  7. Jorge Posada, C
  8. Hideki Matsui, DH
  9. Melky Cabrera, CF
11:56 a.m.
Just got out of video finally. Emack's breath was in rare form. I think he gargled with vomit this morning. I got into the studio before he did, which meant I was smart enough to grab the good chair (which is tricky because the good chair looks like it would be the bad char, but it's not), so Emack had to sit forward the whole time. And we both wore dark blue shirts, so Weisberg mentioned we looked like brothers. Big, ugly brothers.

Mets/Marlins weather update -- it's sunny out now! Apparently, as soon as I wrote that it was rainy, it stopped.

Once Eisenberg is done shooting his video, we're headed to Publix for lunch. I'm thinking of just getting a big loaf of awesome bread and a thing of chicken salad. I'm going to be here late tonight. Oooooh, maybe some Jalapeno Pringles!

11:08 a.m.
For those dying to know what the Reds/D-Backs lineup will be today, here it is courtesy of the Arizona Republic:
Diamondbacks
  1. Young, CF
  2. Hudson, 2B
  3. Byrnes, LF
  4. Jackson, 1B
  5. Snyder, C
  6. Reynolds, 3B
  7. Drew, SS
  8. Upton, RF
  9. Webb, P
Reds
  1. Patterson, CF
  2. Keppinger, SS
  3. Griffey, RF
  4. Phillips, 2B
  5. Dunn, LF
  6. Encarnacion, 3B
  7. Hatteberg, 1B
  8. Valentin, C
  9. Harang, P

10:49 a.m.
Still waiting to go into video. Apparently a light is out -- or they haven't put the ugly filters on the cameras yet. They never work anyway.

Mets/Marlins update -- It's raaaaaaining pretty steady in Fort Lauderdale right now. I'd have to say this afternoon's game is in question because it's been raining off and on all morning.

10:17 a.m.
Reds trivia time courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer: Aaron Harang is making his third consecutive Opening Day start for the Reds. That's the longest streak for the Reds since whom?

I talked about Foghorn Harang (I'm going to make that nickname stick!) on Saturday. Here's a few more remarks for one of the most unknown Cy Young candidates in the game: Since the All-Star break of 2005, he ranks third in the NL in wins, second in strikeouts, innings and starts, first in complete games and seventh in ERA. And he has lowered his ERA in each of his five seasons with the Reds. In last year's Opening Day, he allowed one unearned run on six hits and two walks in seven innings against the Cubs. He also struck out five batters.

Trivia question Part II: Which current major leaguer was also part of the trade that brought Harang to Cincinnati?

OK, we're doing video at 10:30, so I have to go take a PVP (pre-video poop).

9:57 a.m.
Roch Kubatko, of the Baltimore Sun, blogged that the conditions are cold and drizzly this morning, which is a bad omen for the Rays/O's game this afternoon. Hamstring gremlins looooooooove cold and rainy conditions.

Here's an interesting story in today's Chicago Sun-Times loosely comparing Kosuke Fukudome's underwhelming spring with Ichiro's first spring training in 2001. Apparently, Ichiro had almost nothing but infield hits that March, causing many scouts to laugh at Seattle's signing of the Japanese import.

9:45 a.m.
Emack just informed me that he's heading over to the Mets/Marlins game around lunchtime. Looks like it's just me and the football guys (Richard and Eisenberg) for Opening Day festivities. They'll probably yell stuff like, "Hey, a triple is almost like a field goal!"

Food options are quickly dwindling. I think I'm just going to the grocery store and buying hot dogs from the stand outside. Maybe I'll roll them around in gravel so they'll be like the ones at Dolphin Stadium.

9:29 a.m.
Here's the MLB Opening Day schedule:
Kansas City Royals @ Detroit Tigers 1:05 PM
Toronto Blue Jays @ New York Yankees 1:05 PM
Arizona D-Backs @ Cincinnati Reds 2:10 PM
Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs 2:20 PM
Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians 3:05 PM
Tampa Bay Rays @ Baltimore Orioles 3:05 PM
Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies 3:05 PM
New York Mets @ Florida Marlins 4:10 PM
San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers 4:10 PM
Colorado Rockies @ St. Louis Cardinals 4:15 PM
Texas Rangers @ Seattle Mariners 6:40 PM
LA Angels @ Minnesota Twins 7:05 PM
Pittsburgh Pirates @ Atlanta Braves 7:10 PM
Houston Astros @ San Diego Padres 10:05 PM

My viewing schedule for today (expect to read snippets on these games):

Kansas City Royals @ Detroit Tigers 1:05 PM -- The Yankees are old news, let's see a slimmed down Miggy in Motown.
Arizona D-Backs @ Cincinnati Reds 2:10 PM -- Opening Day used to ALWAYS start in Cincinnati, so I have to pay respects.
Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs 2:20 PM -- The Cubbies get 40 minutes of my attention on a busy day.
Tampa Bay Rays @ Baltimore Orioles 3:05 PM -- I've been sooooo pumped to check out Willy Aybar at third base finally.
Texas Rangers @ Seattle Mariners 6:40 PM -- Get 20 minutes in of this game.
LA Angels @ Minnesota Twins 7:05 PM -- I'm glogging this game tonight. Rex Hudler is one of my all-time fave broadcasters.
Houston Astros @ San Diego Padres 10:05 PM -- Finishing up the night with a 120-minute Oswalt/Peavy at Petco glog!

9:20 a.m.
Was it just me or was the new Nationals Park -- kinda boring? Why not have something unique, especially in D.C., like a mock Washington Monument in dead center? Or a smaller Lincoln Memorial sitting behind the left-field seats? ... Or how about some Mayor Marion Berry snow-cone machines? Maybe a guy dressed up as Nixon that slides down a big slide every time a steroids cheater comes up to bat? It's a work in progress.

9:03 a.m.
Dave Richard, our Fantasy Football writer, just mentioned that he just watched "The Departed" this weekend. Yeah, he's a little behind (actually, that's the ONLY time "little behind" and Dave Richard are used in the same sentence.) He still hasn't seen "Goodfellas" either. I'm not joking. And -- get this -- he was a film major in college. Irony, thy name is Dave Richard.

Corey Guerrera just mentioned he's going to the Mets/Marlins game this afternoon. He'll get to see Johan Santana in his Mets' debut. As a Mets fan, that's gotta have you pretty pumped. Remember Corey from our All-Time Mets Fantasy Team?

8:55 a.m.
We have Justin Upton projected for just 14 homers and 14 stolen bases this summer. Looking back now, I think we're shorting him a handful at least on both ends. He has been working on his base-stealing all winter, and as this young offense matures, he'll get more chances to steal a base successfully. Baseball Prospectus, one of the industry's best at forecasting numbers, has Upton hitting 37 doubles and 20 homers. They also have Conor Jackson slugging .493 (we have him at .447), with Mark Reynolds pounding out 28 homers (21 for us), and finally, Chris B. Young, according to BP, will rip 27 homers (30 for us). So you can take this from our projection comparisons -- the Baby D-Backs are going to be a much better offense this season.

Emack and I are doing video this morning for the first time in a couple years. We were so bad the first time, they run to find Amber Wilson, who's nearly as pretty as womanly as Emack. Don't worry, Amber's not gone! Get off the ledge! We're trying a point/counterpoint thing with Emack and I. Like, I'll say he looks silly with BBQ sauce on his face and he'll disagree. It should be entertaining. We've gotten a little better in our podcasts I think, so hopefully that will translate over to our on-camera presence.

At one point last night, Tim Hudson retired 19 straight batters. What their sexual preference has to do with anything, I don't know.

Like I said, Emack and I have done three other Opening Days together, and each time, we've tried to make it a little more special than on the other days. For the first couple days of March Madness, CBSSports.com provides subs and pizza for everyone, with cookies and ... I think there was even a pinata!!! For the first Sunday of the NFL season, the staff in the building is treated to barbecue and even more treats -- even pony rides! But for Opening Day in baseball, the only way CBSSports.com celebrates is that our bosses don't fart when they walk by our cubes.

So in the past, Emack and I have taken things into our own hands. We've grilled hot dogs, Italian sausages and brats out in the parking lot and offered them to our workmates in our own little Opening Day celebration. Most of the people though, would just ask, "You spit in this?" And they'd eventually say something like, "Opening Day for what?" I'm not sure what we're doing for lunch today though. I'm thinking microwaved hot dogs!!!

8:28 a.m.
Observations on some of last night's game --
  • Who's this Jones character with Atlanta? When was the last time we saw a Braves jersey with just "Jones" on the back? For those curious, Larry Jones' career season with the Braves was in 1999 when he hit .319 with 45 homers, 110 RBI, 116 runs scored, 41 doubles and even 25 stolen bases!
  • This time last year, Elijah Dukes was getting ready to hit two solo homers in his first two games for the (then-Devil) Rays, sending Fantasy owners into a tizzy trying to pick him up off waivers. Multiple threats to his baby mama and a trade to D.C. for an old Sega Genesis game (with NHL '95 and Bill Walsh College Football) later, and Dukes is on the DL with a tight hammy. So between Dukes and Wily Mo Pena (strained oblique), the Nationals have the hardest hitting LF triage in the majors.
  • Jon Rauch should now be in line for some saves with Chad Cordero coming up lame with a sore shoulder and a horribly unbent baseball cap. Former co-worker Brian Flood told me he spent several hours one day in 2002 waiting on Rauch, then a big-time starting pitching prospect with the White Sox, to show up on MLB's transaction call-ups, so he could pick him up before his opponents. Finally, in one of his first two outings, Rauch gave up eight runs on two homers in four innings against the Tigers. And so began Flood's drinking problem.
7:59 a.m.
Gooooooood morning to you, on Opening Day!
It makes me feel happy, it makes me feel gay!
Of course, I mean in a heterosexual way,
"Not that there's anything wrong with that," Seinfeld would say.


That's right, today's the day many will call in sick, coming up with a rare form of Opening-Day-itis (other forms include March-Madness Disorder and Got-Too-Drunk-After-First-MNF-Game). Emack and I will be sharing our fourth Opening Day together, which is pretty amazing considering I vowed to kill him years ago.

All day, I plan on blogging about games, life, baseball and our Fantasy staff. I already have my big coffee and blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I'm ready to rock. So keep coming back because I have a lot of people to make fun of.
Posted on: March 17, 2008 10:07 am
Edited on: March 17, 2008 9:12 pm
 

It's 'MOCK' Madness ... not March.

Basketball!?! College Basketball!?! ... Never heard of it.

Today is our fourth or 12th installment of "Mock Draft MONDAYYYyyyyyy..." (you have to read it like a TV announcer falling down a well).

Emack and I took part in two mock drafts once again this afternoon, at 2pm ET., so come check out the new Mock Draft product.



Tout Wars: Battle of the Experts! I found out this past weekend that CBSSports.com will officially be hosting the Tout Wars experts leagues this season. This is my fourth season in the mixed league group. The AL league was detailed in Sam Walker's FantasyLand book. (If you still haven't read this, you're dead to me.)

Here's my review of FantasyLand from 2006:

When you think about it, what is Fantasy Baseball? Isn't it just the chance for an Average Joe to manage baseball players from a statistical standpoint, in hopes of proving their knowledge of the game by dominating other Average Joes?

What if that Average Joe had a chance to give his slumping players a pep talk? What if he had the opportunity to scout free agents in person or talk to the managers of opponents' players for possible trades?

Sam Walker did just that -- and then some. Fantasyland: A Sportswriter's Obsessive Bid to Win the World's Most Ruthless Fantasy Baseball League chronicles one man's hilarious quest for Fantasy Baseball dominance by using every available outlet at his disposal. That includes talking to players, scouts, managers and general managers as he attempts to win the Tout Wars, possibly the greatest of all Fantasy Baseball expert leagues.

This book is a wonderful read for any Fantasy enthusiast. Walker finally does what all of us wish we could. He takes you from spring training, to the auction, to the trade deadline, all the way through the final month of Fantasy play in a raucous ride that only Fantasy players would truly understand.

Walker, a sportswriter by trade with the Wall Street Journal, assembled a three-man team to attack the Tout Wars auction. He hired a grizzled Fantasy freak that went by the name Nando, along with a NASA biomathematician named Sig to crunch the numbers. Each member of this Fantasy triad brought special things to the table. Sig had the ability to run anything and everything through the computer for statistical analysis. Nando had the Fantasy experience to assist any new owner to a championship. And Sam had the connections with players, managers and scouts to help get the extra edge on the competition.

Sam, Sig and Nando -- that sounds like a fourth edition to The Lord of the Rings.

Walker also did his best to finally figure out which is more important: a scout's eye or a statistician's algorithms? Can a scout see something that the numbers don't already tell us and vice versa?

Do major leaguers care, or even know, about Fantasy Baseball? Walker talks to a number of players including Jacque Jones and the always entertaining David Ortiz. Big Papi even gives Walker Fantasy trade advice about one of his players -- him!

Not only is this book an incredibly entertaining read, but I guarantee it will actually help your own Fantasy game as you learn what some of the top Fantasy minds in the industry are thinking. He speaks candidly to a number of touts, including Ron Shandler, Jason Grey and Lawr Michaels, three names that have permeated the industry for several years.


Mark Reynolds has given up trying to become something he's not -- a patient hitter. In today's Arizona Republic, he talks how all spring he has been trying to cut down on his strikeouts, while working counts deeper. "I realized that's not me," he said. "I'm swinging at the first strike I see. Hanging curveball, hanging slider, fastball, whatever. That's what got me here, so I don't think I need to change it. I just realized, 'Why am I trying to change something that got me to the major leagues?' Strikeouts are going to be there. I've accepted it. I don't care what anybody writes about it or anybody says. It's just me." He poked 20 doubles, four triples and 17 homers in 366 at-bats (along with 129 strikeouts), and he proved early on that he has the power to help mixed league teams in all formats. Those strikeouts can hurt H2H players, but the extra-base ability should offset it in a full season.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes another '07 rookie that's ready for a huge sophomore season. Yunel Escobar hit his second homer of the spring on Sunday, and he's batting .473 with 12 RBI in the exhibition season so far. Hitting coach Terry Pendleton watched Escobar crush batting practice pitches out of the playing field before the game and commented, "He's strong as an ox." You like to hear similes like that for a player you can start at shortstop, second base and third base this year. I've mentioned in the past how the Braves are in love with this kid and that stud-SS prospect Brent Lillibridge has been forced to find a different path to the majors. If you miss out on the top shortstops, don't feel bad if you have to wait until the later innings and pick up someone as promising as Escobar.


Mark it down -- 12:25pm, Emack has already spilled a taco down the front of his shirt.


Roch Kubatko, one of the easiest names to slip off the tongue, is the Orioles beat writer for the Baltimore Sun. In today's blog, he noted that he thinks the Brian Roberts deal will still go down with the Cubs. He thinks Jay Payton comes along with Roberts, and that five players come back in return.

We know that some of the players mentioned on the way back to Baltimore include: RHPs Sean Gallagher and Jason Marquis, LHPs Sean Marshall and Donald Veal, and SS Ronny Cedeno. Emack and I were both surprised that Corey Patterson's younger brother, Eric Patterson, wasn't mentioned in the deal. He's a solid 2B prospect that would make sense in Baltimore's plans. But their intent on fortifying their pitching staffs in the majors as well as Triple-A mandates them seeking more arms. Don't expect ALL of those pitchers to go to Baltimore, but a combo of Gallagher/Marshall/Veal with Marquis, Cedeno and a throw-in makes sense. Remember that Marquis has been anything but graceful in his complaints about not being guaranteed a Cubs starting rotation spot. He is finally helping his case though, with a 2.00 ERA in nine spring innings (three appearances).



The Boston Globe put this schedule up Monday. It's possible that, depending on how your league is set up for the first week, that brand new daddy Daisuke Matsuzaka will get a super-rare three-start Fantasy scoring period in Week 1. Asterisks indicate the Globe's educated guess at the starting pitcher.
  • March 21: Red Sox vs. Hanshin Tigers (Japan) -- Clay Buchholz
  • March 23: Red Sox vs. Yomiuri Giants (Japan) -- Tim Wakefield
  • March 25: Red Sox vs. Athletics (Opener in Japan) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • March 26: Red Sox vs. Athletics (Japan) -- Jon Lester
  • March 28: Red Sox at Dodgers (Exhibition) -- TBA
  • March 29: Red Sox at Dodgers (Exhibition @ LA Coliseum) -- TBA
  • March 30: Red Sox at Dodgers (Exhibition) -- TBA
  • April 1: Red Sox at Athletics (Regular season) -- Daisuke Matsuzaka *
  • April 2: Red Sox at Athletics (Regular season) -- Jon Lester *
  • April 4: Red Sox at Blue Jays (Regular season) -- Clay Buchholz *
  • April 5: Red Sox at Blue Jays (Regular season) -- Tim Wakefield *
  • April 6: Red Sox at Blue Jays (Regular season) -- TBA (possibly Dice-K again)
  • April 8: Red Sox vs. Tigers (Home opener) -- TBA
I said it before, and I'll say it again -- this little trip is going to slow the BoSox down in April, so hit your fellow owners up for some trades for them in the last week of April.


Let's talk Reds pitching. You know you want to.

The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that manager Dusty Baker has all but engraved it in stone that youngsters Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez will be in the Reds' rotation out of camp. That means they'll likely join Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Josh Fogg in the starting five. Notice anyone absent from that group?

Last year's rookie sensation Homer Bailey has an ERA north of 8.00 after four spring appearances (10 2/3 IP). He has nine strikeouts, but eight walks as well. He could be looking at a Triple-A Louisville start to the season again, but don't dismiss him just yet. He could be their first call-up if an injury hits their staff. If you have any reserve space, he's worth a look.

Cueto has been great this spring, turning many heads with an aggressive approach on the rubber, but he got dinged up a bit Monday. More on that later.

It's Volquez, 24, that I want to discuss this afternoon. He came over from the Rangers, who had broken up their vaunted "DVD" prospect group last season when John Danks joined the White Sox (Thomas Diamond is still with Texas, but he's working his way back from Tommy John surgery).

Volquez was inconsistent in both '05 and '06 when he was called up, but he actually pitched well for the Rangers last season, allowing more than three earned runs in only two of eight starts. But this spring, he has been a man possessed.
Volquez has a 3.46 spring ERA after Sunday's five shutout innings against the Phillies' A squad. He threw 69 pitches, 46 of which were for strikes.

When looking at spring stats, one of the first things you take note of on a pitcher -- especially a young one -- is his walks compared to his strikeouts. With just three walks -- and 19 strikeouts -- in 13 innings, Volquez has kept critics at bay. The Reds traded Josh Hamilton for him (with super-OF prospect Jay Bruce waiting in the wings), and it's known that a hitter's ballpark like Cincinnati's can wreak havoc with a young pitcher's confidence. But since Volquez is used to bandbox-itis, coming over from Rangers Park in Arlington, he should be a little more ready than a younger pitcher coming from a different team.

"They're (Volquez and Cueto) pitching like they belong alongside Harang and Arroyo in the rotation," Baker said. "They're dealing. They came in ready to pitch. They played Winter Ball, so they're ahead -- not so much with velocity but with command. That's what you need. They're pounding the strike zone. If you walk people, you have no chance. If you get behind people, you have a little chance."

But there's a reason the Rangers gave him up for an outfielder (and it's not like the Rangers have great pitchers coming out of their ears). Opposing hitters were batting .329 against Volquez, so let's not make him a 15th-round draft pick in mixed leagues just yet. He's someone to think about in keeper leagues though because when he's on, he can rack up Ks, and the Reds' lineup should get him some wins.

For the Rangers, they hope Josh Hamilton's troubles are behind him, of course, but also that he can fit in with the Rangers and not necessarily have the same problems he had in Cincinnati, where rumors circulated that his special treatment and brash attitude were resented by the veterans.

Considering that Michael Young, Hank Blalock and Ian Kinsler attended a news conference in which Hamilton discussed his trials and tribulations with drug abuse, and that Kinsler later asked him to join him for dinner, things seem to be going well. Hamilton said that's the first time a professional teammate has ever extended that courtesy. Now, he's playing video games with Kinsler and Jason Botts.

How's he doing this spring? Well, he's hitting .600 in 12 games, with two homers and 12 RBI. Remember that this is the first spring training he has ever been to in which he already has a job secured. His spring OPS? 1.747. "I don't feel like I have to make the team," Hamilton told the Dallas Morning News. "And when you feel more relaxed, it leads to more confidence and a better approach."

Hamilton enters spring like a lion (he hit .407 in Reds' camp last season) and he could be a solid No. 4 outfielder in mixed leagues this spring.

The Morning News' Evan Grant, another one of my favorite beat writers, notes that Hamilton's batting practice rounds have become legendary already. "From batting practice to the field, it's just amazing," backup CF Marlon Byrd said. "I've never seen a spring like this. You always wonder about players like Vladimir Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez and what it was like seeing them as young players in the spring, and then seeing what they became. If Josh stays on the field 150 to 155 games, there is no reason he shouldn't put up MVP type of numbers."

"It's an absolute joke," Rangers starter Kevin Millwood said about Hamilton's ability. "He doesn't swing at a single bad pitch, and he doesn't miss anything he swings at."

 

Posted on: March 14, 2008 5:48 pm
Edited on: March 17, 2008 12:27 pm
 

A Buffalo Wings Mustache

Went to lunch with Emack, Jamey and Sergio this afternoon. We hit "Wings Place," which has some of our favorite wings at our favorite prices. Eating with Emack is always an adventure. The lady had barely put the wings down in front of him and he already had a buffalo-wings-sauce mustache, much like you'd see a Kool-Aid mustache on a 6-year-old kid. Watching him eat wings is like throwing live birds into a wood-chipper.

On to some baseball thoughts:

Justin Upton has four steals so far this spring and he has yet to be caught on an attempt. He has mentioned that he has really worked hard on his baserunning and stealing in this offseason and it's showing already. Arizona traded away Carlos Quentin, and the Fantasy hype on Upton has fallen off a bit, especially with how successful Chris B. Young was last season. But let's remember that Young has four years on Upton, who turned 20 just last August. Right now, he's being drafted on CBSSports.com after 50 other outfielders. That's a crime. He's a former No. 1 overall pick whose shine has come off just a bit entering his second season -- much like Delmon Young. Both are great value picks this season in my mind.

Speaking of steals -- No outfielder has more steals than Michael Bourn's six. This rookie could reach 40 stolen bases for Cecil Cooper's Astros team. I was a little skeptical, knowing that the Astros haven't been a running team in a while, but with him and Kaz Matsui, they could change that.

I actually might have mentioned this before -- I'm becoming more and more of a fan of Brian Bannister and what he might be able to do with the Royals this season. He was the team's ace last year, coming over in the Ambiorix Burgos trade with the Mets, and finishing with a 12-9 record and top-35 3.87 ERA. The biggest problem with him is that he doesn't strike out a lot of batters. But as he mentioned last week, he actually pitches to contact and he keeps his walks down. Last year, he walked just 44 batters in 165 innings -- only 10 other pitchers had as few walks with as many innings last season. And of those pitchers (guys named C.C. Sabathia, James Shields and Josh Beckett), Bannister allowed fewer hits than all of them.

Edwin Encarnacion -- who struggled early last season, got demoted, then returned with a bang -- is batting just .181 so far this spring. Don't be too scared, he wasn't going to be a high draft pick anyway, and this will help him stay low. As a reserve pickup in mixed leagues, he could serve you well in Cincinnati's ballpark. In his last 108 games of the season, he hit .308 with 15 homers and 62 RBI.

Earlier this week, I did a blog on All-Time Fantasy teams and I got a few good responses. So far, we took care of the (Devil) Rays, Mets, Marlins, Braves and Red Sox. Scotty Blanco took care of his Bravos and we talked about the omission of Fred McGriff from that Braves squad. He cited that McGriff only hit 30 homers with the Braves once in four seasons. While that's certainly true, I noticed that McGriff's best year with Atlanta was actually the strike-shortened '94 season, in which he hit .318, with 34 homers, 94 RBI, 81 runs scored -- and he tied his career-high in steals with seven -- in just 113 games! So if we extrapolate those numbers (159 games because he missed three games that season), he would have hit .318-44-121-104-9, which would have been the slugger's ONLY 40-homer season in his career. And his RBI-mark would also have been a career high. -- I know, I know, "If your Uncle Fred had breasts he'd be your Aunt Fred." But still, even though it's just speculatin', it's still fun. I vote in the CRIME DOG!
Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com