Mad Max Beyond Tiger Dome

June 1, 2010

With his 14 strikeout effort in Oakland yesterday, Max Scherzer showed his naysayers (myself included) that he’s still capable of displaying the same filthy stuff that got fantasy owners giddy two seasons ago. I along with many other fantasy baseball writers who will remain nameless, left Max for dead on the waiver wire after his May 14th debacle against the Red Sox. Yesterday Mad Max returned for payback, gunning down A’s hitters as though they were a leather-clad motorcycle gang in the Aussie Outback. There’s no silver lining here folks, only schadenfreude in watching this years version of the one that got away. That 14 K outing was most strikeouts thrown by a pitcher in under six innings since 1920 for a little perspective. I should have done my due diligence instead of acting off of raw emotion and giving Scherzer the boot. Now I’ll get to watch him perform for another owner. If I end up losing this thing because of this move, it’ll be tough to talk me down off of the ledge.

Other apocalyptic happenings from around the league…

As everyone knows by now, Roy “Mr. Perfect” Holiday perfect-plexed Florida bats on Saturday night, throwing the 20th Perfect Game in baseball history. I watched the last three innings of the game, and I can’t remember seeing a pitcher so surgically dissect a lineup. Halladay hardly broke a sweat. He looked like he could have gone another perfect nine.

Albert Pujols showed and proved, giving the finger to ESPN Hindsighter and snapping out of his recent power outage with three jacks on Sunday. It was just a matter of time before El Hombre got it going. I’m happy to have grabbed up Cards lead-off man Felipe Lopez in my 12 team league, as he stands to benefit from a Pujols power surge.

Derek Jeter ended his torrid May on a sour note, leaving yesterdays game in the 7th inning with a strained hamstring. Jeter was hit in the leg with a pitch earlier in the 11-2 victory over Cleveland, but continued to play, going 2 for 3, before getting lifted for a pinch runner after the leg tightened up. After a sizzling end to the month that saw The Captain go 12 for 27 (.444) with 6R/1HR/4RBI/1SB/ and a .483 OBP, lets hope this isn’t a serious issue going forward.

Another scalding hot Yankee bat belongs to right fielder Nick Swisher. While Jeter wasn’t available for comment after leaving today’s game, according to MLB.com, Swish offered,

“I bet you $1 million he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow,” Swisher said to a group of reporters. “He’s tough. He’ll be back.”

Hopefully D.J. took Swish up on that bet. Swisher went nuts in May, with a strained bicep no less and enters today’s action with a .317/.395/34 R/9 HR/28 RBI/0 SB line on the season, good for 44th best in our 6×6 format according to Yahoo. While Swisher’s average may regress some, he is a .249 lifetime hitter after all and that bloated 25.2% liner rate and the .368 BABIP (career .280) scream unsustainable, the Yankee lineup offers ample opportunity for the switch hitting, TTO hero to rack up plenty of counting stats.

Ubaldo Jimenez continues his domination of opposing batters, upping his record to an MLB best 10-1 to go along with a sub-atomic .78 ERA, out-dueling a shaky Tim Lincecum in a 4-0 Rockies victory in San Francisco. While the defending two-time NL Cy Young winner continued to struggle, Jimenez once again made his claim for this years honor. Jimenez’ arsenal of high-90’s heat and plus breaking stuff has made batters looked silly all season long but a 3.58 xFIP suggests that Jimenez should ultimately come down to Earth somewhat in the coming months. Not including yesterday’s game, he carries a garish 91.7% LOB and has only allowed one homer over 71 1/3 innings of work. Expect that number to rise with the temperatures as we head into summer.

Kendry Morales might be done for the season after the mother of all boneheaded injuries, suffered Saturday during his walk-off granny celebration. Who’s on first for the Halo’s? How about Mike Napoli? Or Robb Quinlan? Or Mike Ryan? Well all three have seen time at first since Morales went down. Good times ahead in Anaheim of Los Angeles.

We might have to change Sunglasses At Night’s nickname to The Hitman, as Corey Hart he’s been slapping The Sharp Shooter on NL pitchers in recent weeks. Launching his 13th homer of the year yesterday, his current ZiPs forecast projects 27 HR/ 92 RBI/ 9 SB for the season. Not bad for a guy I got on waivers two weeks ago.

If you say his name like someone from the midwest, he sounds like a hokey Vegas magician. Angel Pagan has been sort of magical for the Mets this year and he’s really been picking it up as of late. .360/.385/5 R/1 HR/ 2 RBI/ 4 SB in the last week. Leading the team with 2 WAR, Pagan should continue to see steady playing time as there has not yet been a time-table set for Carlos Beltran’s return to the Met outfield.

Brandon Morrow has been the starting equivalent of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn this season, posting an 11.7 K/9 and 5.76 BB/9 entering last nights start against Tampa. In the 3-2 victory, Morrow shut down the Rays, not by missing bats as one might expect, but by diplomatically giving his defense some work. I suppose he watched “Bull Durham,” again and decided that “strikeouts are fascist.” In seven innings, Morrow only had one K, while allowing two walks and only three hits for the W.

Buster “Pocket Full Of” Posey went 0-4 today against the above mentioned Ubaldo, in his first hitless game since getting the call on Saturday. He’s garbage. All rookies shudder at the awe inspiring power of soon-to-be-unleashed Carlos Santana. Kneel before Zaun!

I’m being facetious of course, but I do like Santana over Posey this year and in the long term and not because I own Santana. He has the more advanced eye of the two young catchers, which should translate best into immediate impact in the Majors. Two days before Posey was called up, I received a trade offer of Posey and Pirates prize prospect (and Washington Heights native) Pedro Alvarez for Santana. If that were a keeper league, I’d have taken it, but in a redraft I believe the Indians backstop will be the most valuable fantasy producer this year of the three.

With Posey up and the calendar turning to June, the Carlos Santana watch is in high gear. While no one questions if his bat is Major League ready, Jensen Lewis gives Santana a thumbs up for his work behind the plate. We should be seeing Santana in the next week or two.

A final note. With both Kevin Correia and Hisanori Takahashi getting lit up in the Padres 18-6 victory over the Mets in San Diego, I find my pitching ratios so inflated, that I decided to dump Takahashi and pick up Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn, who gets starts on the road against the punchless Mariners later today and The A’s on Sunday. I figure if I’m going to chase counting numbers, I should grab Blackburn, who might possibly provide two W’s and QS by weeks end.

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Shooting Blanks

April 25, 2010

Not a good week for the Uptown Ham Fighters. With Albert, San Quentin and The Captain struggling this week and Hill coming back from injury with a 1 for 12, production fell off across the board. Add in some lousy starts by Gavin Floyd, Mark Buerhle and Cole Hamels, who’s looking more like ’09 than ’08 and I’m looking at a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of “My Boomstick.” Changes are in order…

If only there were lemon-laws in fantasy baseball. I take a flyer on what I think is a cream-puff of a ballplayer and within two weeks, the wheels have fallen off and he’s sitting on cinder blocks on my front lawn. Happens all the time I suppose. Most rookies are hard to figure.

Kyle Blanks has been living up to his name at the plate, putting up zeros in the box scores on just about a nightly basis. While his San Diego Padre teammates have jumped off to a surprisingly hot start (admittedly on the strength of pitching and defense), the power hitting behemoth has been firing blanks. With an abysmal 62.7% contact rate and 11.7/39.2 BB/K in 60PA, going into today’s game, Blank Man has done nothing for his fantasy owners aside from his 3/6 1HR 5RBI day in the Pod Peeps’ 17-2 beating of The Bravos on April 12th. While I think he could very well deliver some serious power, Blanks just does not look like he has a major league batter’s eye quite yet. Perhaps a year or so of struggles may be in front of the young bopper, before he develops into a viable middle-order slugger.

With a good deal of power production already in my lineup and a need for some speed, I think Blanks is getting the heave-ho, in spite of his 1-4 2RBI effort today’s 5-4 loss to Cincy. Two homers every three weeks are not going to cut it for a hitter who’s going to be such a BA drain, especially since I’m already rostering three true outcomes champs, Nick Swisher and Carlos Quentin. I know that he’s not going to be confused with Tony Gwynn (the elder), but Will Venable‘s power/speed mix is intriguing. Hopefully he’ll perform a little better than the fellow whose place in the order he’s taken.

Sorry kid. I may regret cutting Blanks one day, but I have games to win now. H2H fantasy baseball is a cruel mistress.

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Fantasy Breeds Strange Bedfellows

April 17, 2010

“It’s a sick sick world, so what do you do kid?” – “Sick Sick World,” Rancid

That chorus wafted through my mind last night as I saw Chris Carpenter shut down my beloved Mets last night, on the way to a 4-3 Cardinal victory at Busch. I have Carpenter in my 15 team league and at that moment, my team had collected one lone Win in about 80 some-odd innings of work. Oh it gets worse for a Mets fan. I have Cardinal’s rookie lefty, Jamie Garcia going today against Johan. Oh wait, what’s that? I’m not feeling dirty enough… how about Adam Wainwright on Sunday? Yeah got him too. I need wins from that trifecta. This weekend I’m singing, “beat the Mets, beat the Mets, head to the park and…” I feel like Harvey Keitel in “The Bad Lieutenant,” betting on The Dodgers in a fictional playoff series against his home team.

Some readers might not be old enough to remember that in the 1980’s the St. Louis Cardinals were The Mets most hated rival. At the age of 10, I was throwing garbage and hurling insults at Cards fans brave enough to visit Shea. I was a young, rabid Cardinal hater, frothing at the mouth at the very mention of the name Whitey Herzog. My father fueled the hatred, telling me a story about how he once asked Stan “The Man” Musial for an autograph before a Giants game at The Polo Grounds. Stan replied, “you look like one of the fat cows on my farm.”

Fuck you and your 3,630 hits Stan.

***CORRECTION***

My father called to correct me. Musial ignored him when he asked for an autograph. It was actually Cardinals infielder Solly Hemus who had insulted him.

Well fuck you and the horse you rode you rode in on too Solly

That rivalry had a good run. This was before the six division realignment, that now has The Cards playing in the NL Central. The Cards played in the NL East and year after year, they would go down to the wire with The Mets, usually getting the better of them. It was tougher than seeing The Phillies win these past few years. At least The Phils have a murderers row of hitters and a couple of big time arms. I don’t blame the Mets players for not being good enough, it’s managements fault for assembling such a flawed team and still pay out the 3rd highest payroll in baseball. With all the incompetence the various cabals in the Flushing front office has displayed, I can feel comfortable saying that The Mets aren’t going to win the NL east this year. If you’re the ’10 Mets, you look at the names and say, “lets try for the wild card guys.” Well in the ’80s there was no Wild Card. You beat the Cards or you go home in October, and I couldn’t understand how we didn’t finish ahead of those guys in ’85 or 87. Of course The Bulldog did us in 88 and after that it was down hill.

I’d always marvel at how those Cards managed to win. The Mets always looked like the better team, top to bottom. St. Louis had one home run hitter in Jack Clark for fucksake and a bunch of speedy guys! Pitching? Look at this starting five from ’87: An injured Tudor’s your ace??? Danny Cox? Matthews? Magrane? An over-the-hill Bob Forsch? Are you kidding me? They didn’t have phenoms like Doc or Darryl, or household name All-Stars like Mex or Kid. The Wiz is a Hall of Famer for his glove, not his bat. They had nothing that could compare to Pujols. The Cards just won a lot with solid D, fleet and aggressive feet and consistent pitching. You can say they were very similar to Scioscia’s Angels. Mets injuries and off the field shennanigans did them ultimately, but it was maddening to see this Cards team deliver clutch hits, make great plays and win tight ball games, over and over again. Pendleton’s homer off of McDowell in ’87 still haunts me. I brought that inbred hatred with me to Shea during the 2000 playoffs as I delighted in watching The Mets crush St. Louis on their way to The Series. I expected to see the same thing in ’06, watching from the stands as The Mets grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in games 2 and 7 of the NLCS. Just swing the bat Beltran! Now Adam Wainwright’s the ace of my keeper staff.

The Mets had just won it all in ’86, running away with The East. This was the sort of team that’s supposed to win year after year, we felt. The Mets felt it too, but too many injuries and too many parties helped derail that dream. Aside from the feeling that “we should be killing those guys,” that Mets fans felt, there was a genuine animosity between the two teams. This wasn’t good natured ribbing like J-Roll and Beltran traded a few years ago. Just about every series between these teams provided each clubhouse with more bulletin board fodder. “I think they’re a little scared of us now,” Carter said. “The Mets are pond scum,” Whitey so famously said. These teams didn’t just want to win. They wanted to beat each others brains out in the process and we fans felt that intensity.

So here I am with three Cards starters going this weekend. I need Wins. I got one last night as The Mets bullpen spoiled a splendid start by ’06 hero Oli Perez. I think I’ll get two more before Wainwright’s game on Sunday is over. My pops always told me to bet with your head and not with your heart. This is a guy who had The Bills in Super Bowl 25. Grey Albright, the genius behind Razzball calls it “fucking your step-sister,” when you’ve got your fantasy guys going against your favorite team. This weekend, I’m running a train on my step-mom. To quote Lou Reed, “I feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive,” much like The Bad Lieutenant. If my Cards pitchers don’t perform, you might see something like this…

*WARNING NSFW*

For the record, Bad Lieutenant director, Abel Ferrara is a Yankee fan. Figures.

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Fuzzy Math

April 13, 2010

No I’m not referring to the kind of number crunching that should lead to an auditing of the Federal Reserve. Nor am I talking about over-cooked NYPD crime data or circulation numbers for the NY Times… It’s time for some fast, fun baseball numbers!

  • Barry Zito’s victory last night over The Pirates pushed him to a lifetime record of 105 wins and 6 losses, when his team scores 4+ runs.
  • Blue Jay’s SS, Alex Gonzalez has 10 hits in 31 PA. 4 of those 10 hits are HR. With a career high of 23 HR in 2004, his last full season, he has a little pop for a replacement level MI. He’s also walked once so far this season. His OBP in 2004? .270. He’s currently the 16th ranked player overall in my league. Have fun with that.
  • Toronto reliever, Casey Janssen picked up Wins in each of the 3 games he appeared in on opening week.
  • Giants set-up man, Jeremy Affeldt picked 2 Wins and a Save in his first three games pitched.
  • The Padres put up 17 runs in last nights victory over Los Bravos, the most they’ve ever scored in cavernous Petco Park.
  • Cubs pitcher and recent Uptown Ham Fighters acquisition, Sean Marshall has struck out 9 batters in his first 5 innings of work. His FIP currently stands at -.66.
  • I almost feel embarrassed for pitchers ahead of time when they face Albert Pujols. He has 5 HR in his first 7 games. Can this be the year he cracks the 50 HR mark?
  • The Yankees kick off their opener today at The House That Taxpayer Subsidies Built. The 161st Street Bombers are 11 – 1 over their last 12 home openers.

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The Naturals

April 6, 2010

So by now we know that Jason Heyward > Sliced Bread x foi gras. The home run he hit on the third pitch of his first at bat might one day be spoken about in the same breath as other great regular season homers, like Aaron’s 715th or George Brett’s Pine Tar Shot. One day I’ll probably tell my grand kids about it and lament that I didn’t draft him in my keeper league. It’s funny how baseball works. How all the little things can add up to history.

The heavens opened up and smiled on Heyward, the local kid made baseball legend before he ever took his first swing in the bigs. Fortune took a dump on the trimmed down and sedate, 2010 edition of Cubs pitcher, Carlos Zambrano. With a little luck, Zambrano (why in god’s name did I draft him?) could have very easily gotten out of that inning unscathed. A couple of bloops are correctly played, a seeing eye single bounces a foot to the left or right and The Say Hey Kid 2.0 never steps up to the plate with runners on and Big Z flailing to get a guy out. Baseball’s a cruel mistress isn’t it Mr. Zambrano?

This is the text exchange between JP, who drafted Heyward in our keeper league, and myself. Remember precisely what you were doing when Heyward hit his first. One day it’ll make for fantastic party filler conversation.

Me: Wow Heyward takes Z deep in his first at bat!

JP: 3 run job beeyotch.

Me: Cruel inning for Z. bloops and bleeder… that’s alright albert hit 2 sucka!

All sarcasm aside, it was pretty sweet to witness a great baseball moment. Now excuse me while I try to forget that Zambrano’s epic fail probably just sunk my ERA and WHIP for the week. Enjoy this poor quality, Zapruder-esque video of Heyward’s first at-bat taken by a fan at the game.

Aside from Zambrano’s stinker, it was a damn fine start to the 2010 season for The Uptown Hamfighters. Albert jacked 2 and mocked all other hitters by singing “anything you can do, I can do better.” Mark Buerhle tossed a gem and flashed the leather for what might be the play of the year. Nelson Cruz used his boomstick and Brian Fuentes picked up a 1-2-3 save out west. The Uptown Hamfighters are well on their way towards handing the hated Jamaica Beef Pattie it’s first beating of the season.

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