Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"2 For Tuesday" - #1

Welcome all!

One idea I've had in my head for a very long time before becoming a blogger was to have a weekly feature... I figured if I made the title catchy and interesting, it would be something people would look forward to seeing every week... With that in mind, I decided to use Tuesday as the day for this feature. First off, it's an easy way to get a catchy blog title! Secondly, all new music is released for sale on Tuesdays so I figured this would be a great way to get the word out about new CD's that I would strongly recommend purchasing. Without further ado, here's my first installment of "2 For Tuesday"!


Appropriately, the first of my two topics on the day is new music. This week, there is definitely one CD which stands out above all the rest - the new Tim McGraw release entitled "Let It Go". A friend of mine has already heard the CD and he stated the following to me last night regarding Tim's new release: "I'm looking forward to buying it tomorrow; it's really impressive." The CD includes 13 tracks and features the current #2 Country song in the land: "The Last Dollar (Fly Away"). In case you haven't heard the song, it features some kids singing at both the beginning and the end. Those aren't just any kids singing - they are his and wife Faith Hill's! Anyways, I'll be travelling off in a bit to pick this up and throw it in my CD player on my way to work. I'll give a full review sometime over the next few days.


My second topic on the day is one that is always on my mind at this time of the year: Fantasy Baseball sleepers! Just what is a "fantasy baseball sleeper"??? Well, by my definition, it's a baseball player who is going to be VERY undervalued on draft day. Someone who will VERY MUCH outperform his expectations. Take notes here as I expect you'll be able to get some nice bargains!

1. Chris Duncan (OF - STL) - With 22 homers and a .293 BA in only 280 at bats last year, some were expecting Duncan to be this year's Ryan Howard. This probably won't happen with him hitting 2nd in the lineup for the Cardinals - the RBI opporunities simply won't be there. However, hitting in front of Albert Pujols should have HUGE benefits in the runs scored department. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he hits 40 homers and scores 120. For an end game pick, that is too much upside to pass up!

2. Rafael Soriano (RP - ATL) - You're all probably wondering why in the heck would I recommend a guy who is currently third in line for saves for the Braves. Well, successfully drafting a sleeper sometimes means taking guys with skills who at some point may get an opportunity to have a much bigger role. Studying Braves history, manager Bobby Cox has always eventually put his best reliever into the closer's role. You may remember that future Hall of Famer John Smoltz moved from starter to closer to alleviate arm issues late in 2001, notching 154 saves in his 3+ years in the role. Smoltz went back to starting in 2005 and the Braves tried several different closers in the pen without ANY success. Finally, they traded for a guy with GREAT "closer stuff" named Kyle Farnsworth on July 31, 2005. As pitchers continued to struggle in the role, Cox finally gave "Farny" a shot on August 24th... all he did was go a perfect 10 for 10 in save opportunites the rest of the way with a sparkling 1.98 ERA. The Braves currently have Bob Wickman in the closer's role - but at 38 years old, he simply isn't the pitcher he once was. Soriano, on the other hand, is a power pitcher in the mold of Smoltzie and Farny... with a 2.25 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 65 K's in 60 IP last year for Seattle. At worst, this end gamer will help stabilize your staff. At best, you could get a cheap 30 saves.

3. Jonathan Broxton - (RP - LAD) - This one is a little easier to figure out than Soriano. The Dodgers had the AMAZING Eric Gagne in the closer's role for 5 years - for three of those years (2002-2004) he posted argubaly the best closer numbers in history: 152 saves a 1.79 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and an incredible 365 K's in only 247 innings pitched. Gagne was supposed to come back each of the last two years, but elbow and back issues sidelined him. Last year he saved all of 1 game - a game versus the Mets where I was with friends at Dodger Stadium to watch future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez pitch. I immediately knew something was wrong with "Gags" that night despite his 2 K's as his fastball was topping out at only 89 MPH, as opposed to the 91-93 MPH in his previous outing. With that, Japanese import Takashi Saito seized the role, posting a Gagne-like line of 24 saves, a 2.07 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 107 K's in 78 1/3 IP. So why am I down on Saito with those numbers? Three things - Firstly, many Japanese pitchers in the past have been very successful in their first runs through the big leagues - Byung Hyun-Kim and many others started well, only to struggle once hitters figured them out. Secondly, Saito's numbers in Japan were plain AWFUL his final 3 years - with 5.21, 9.65 and 4.75 ERA's in the 2003 thru 2005 seasons. Lastly, Saito is 37 now... so age is not on his side. Saito uses deception to get batters out... Broxton just overpowers them with a high 90's fastball and some nasty offspeed breaking pitches. In 2006, Broxton had a 2.59 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP and a VERY impressive 97 K's in 76 1/3 IP... I look for Broxton to be in the closer's role by mid-season at the latest.

4. Michael Barrett (C- CHI) - One of my rules of thumb to successfully drafting a fantasy baseball team is to NEVER draft based on positional scarcity (at least in the traditional 5x5, 10 team setting). In the days where Mike Piazza and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez were putting up gaudy numbers, picking these Catchers in the first few rounds was definitely worth it. These days though, you have the Mauer's and V-Mart's of the world putting up much less lofty numbers, yet getting picked almost as early as Piazza and Pudge did in their prime... my question is why? All you're doing by taking these guys early is putting yourself behind numbers-wise across the board. This is where Barrett comes in. Last year, I was able to make Barrett an end-game pick in many leagues and he didn't disappoint (asides from the "punch AJ" incident)... posting a .307 BA, a .512 SLG and a very impressive .885 OPS along with 16 homers and 57 RBI's in only 375 at bats. Assume he is healthy this year and doesn't punch AJ - he gets 450 AB's at least and posts 20-25 HR, 75-80 RBI, a .300-ish BA and a near .900 OPS! Numbers which compare VERY favorably to those guys going in rounds 4 and 5. The word is getting out about Barrett though, so take him a couple of rounds early to be safe - round 15 or so in a standard roto draft, round 10-11 in a Saber league.

5. Dave Bush (SP - MIL) - What's not to like about this guy other than the team he pitches for? People will look at the 4.41 ERA he posted last year and quickly dismiss him... what one often fails to notice though is that sparkling 1.14 WHIP he put up last year! Most pitchers with that kind of WHIP have an ERA at least a run lower than Bush had in '06. Bush was incredibly unlucky last year, as 36% of all baserunners he allowed ended scoring - the league average is around 28%-30%... one of the main culprits to his high ERA was the bullpen allowing a lot of his runners to score. That should be less of a problem this year as they grabbed closer Francisco Cordero from Texas late last year. What kind of numbers should we expect? I'll say 15 wins, a 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 170 K's. For a 16-20th round draft pick, that's what we call in this business A STEAL!


This just in - some sad news to report nationally - George Bush press secretary and former Fox News reporter Tony Snow has had a return of his conon cancer. Not only has the cancer returned, but it's spread to his liver. Please keep Tony in your thoughts and prayers. He's a great man who loves his job and his family and has done so much for this country. I hope that he can beat this thing a second time.

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