Posted on: March 28, 2008 10:02 am
Edited on: March 28, 2008 10:04 pm

Fridays ... Not Just the Fried Green Beans Place

Psssssssttt ... Wanna see something pretty cool? ... [looking left] ...[looking right] ... [reader starting to get uncomfortable] ... Check this out! [opens up trenchcoat to gasping reader] ... Go to your League page, mouse over "Stats," then click on "Weekly Planner."

This is a tool I've worked with Jason Fox, one of our programmers, for the past two months. What it gives you:
  • Weekly schedule broken down daily with gametimes
  • Color indicators to show you which Top-10 hitting teams are facing bad Bottom-10 pitching teams (GREEN), and Bottom-10 hitting teams facing good Top-10 pitching teams (RED).
  • Breakdown of how many games each team has in the upcoming Fantasy scoring period.
  • Hitting and pitching stats for each team (currently set to show '07 numbers). You can click back and forth between Hitters and Pitchers.
  • More importantly, this shows Home and Away hitting and pitching stats also (again, set for '07 for the first couple weeks of this season).
  • Top 10 hitters and pitchers over the past seven days (currently set to show top hitters and pitchers in our projections).
There's still some stuff we have to iron out. For instance, when double-headers are scheduled, what will that do to the table, stuff like that. But I think this tool will really help you get a bird's-eye-view at the week ahead before setting your lineup. Hope you feel the same!

Nationals Park
We're just a couple days away now from the opening of Nationals Park against the Braves. The pitching canyon known as RFK Stadium is in our rearview mirrors. What's weird, though, is that Washington's home still wasn't that friendly to their pitching staff over the three seasons they have played there.
  • 2007 -- 4.08 ERA (10th), 77 HRA (12th-fewest)
  • 2006 -- 4.66 ERA (20th), 91 HRA (16th-fewest)
  • 2005 -- 3.56 ERA (7th), 66 (5th-fewest)
In '05, their best season in that park, they had three pitchers (Livan Hernandez, Esteban Loaiza and John Patterson) throw sub-4.00 ERA seasons. And each either eclipsed or came very close to throwing 200 innings. None of the three have had a better season since, with both Hernandez and Loaiza changing teams the next season, and Patterson starting just 15 games over the next two seasons combined.

Early indicators seemed to convey the thought that Nationals Park would be more of a hitter's park, but now, the thinking is just that it's going to be more hitter-friendly than RFK, but still it's going to be a pitcher's park. Here are the dimension comparisons:
  • RFK Stadium: 335' L, 380' LC, 410' C, 380' RC, 335 R
  • Nationals Park: 336' L, 377' LC, 402' C, 370' RC, 335 R
Players have disagreed with the posted distances for RFK Stadium in recent years, but it's obvious the difference isn't going to be a great one. George Washington and St. Joseph's failed to hit a ball out of the playing field in the new stadium's only game last week, even with aluminum bats.

Washington doesn't have a ton of big bats in their lineup to begin with, but the development of Ryan Zimmerman and the return of Nick Johnson, and the departure of big RFK Stadium, this season should be a marked improvement offensively. Last year, they ranked dead last in the majors with 639 runs scored. But considering offenses like Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and even the Padres should be even worse, the Nats lineup should climb a few spots.

Either Ethier or Perhaps Pierre
Remember a couple seasons ago, when Andre Ethier came to the Dodgers a couple seasons ago in exchange for Milton Bradley? And Ethier's rookie efforts proved to be outstanding, leading NL rookies in batting for a large part of the season. Now, it looks like he's forcing the Dodgers to pick between his upside and the weak defense/soft bat of Juan Pierre in left field. Something tells me he'll be coming out ahead in the long run and Fantasy owners should grab him now while his value is still low.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com