The Camden Bard

Protected: Weekend Recap

Posted in fantasy league, orioles, Things, Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on June 15, 2009

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Don’t Snooze on the Kouz!

Posted in Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on April 2, 2009

OH YES MY FRIENDS, Kevin Kouzmanoff is in fact hitting .421 this spring.  This is very excellent, especially given the ongoing intrigue surrounding Brian Roberts “abdominal ailment,” which looks like it may not clear up by Monday (which makes me SO HAPPY.  Argh.).  Offense, dammit–I NEED OFFENSE!

Kev, listen buddy–feel free to hit as many as 141 points lower than you are right now during the season–just jack me some ding-dongs and I will be a happy, happy man.

Morning Moves, 3/20/09

Posted in fantasy league, orioles, Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on March 20, 2009

Amidst gathering speculation that Matt Wieters will start the season at AAA, I found myself in need of an everyday catcher to start the fantasy season.  A proposed deal with EJ for Geovany Soto or Russell Martin (he has BOTH of them, plus Joe Mauer) was rejected, so I found myself scrambling.  I have Kelly Shoppach on my bench already, but he figures to start the season as Victor Martinez’s backup and it was starting to look like I would be heading into the season with a hole in my everyday lineup.  Fortunately, Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki went undrafted and was available as a free agent, so I signed him (and dropped Cesar Izturis like a bad habit) for the interim between Opening Day and Wieters eventual recall from Norfolk.

Having resolved that particular dilemma (for the moment), I next took a long hard look at my bench, upon which were seated Ty Wigginton (3B, OF), Rick Ankiel (OF), Jay Bruce (OF), and Kelly Shoppach (C).  It became clear that I am hosed if any of my infielders gets injured, since Wigginton will be a backup at best in Baltimore and primarily in the outfield.  I set about perusing the free agent listings for an ideal solution, and after a brief fliration with Marco Scutaro, settled upon Felipe Lopez, who is eligible at 2B, SS, 3B, and the outfield, and figures to play everyday in Arizona as their leadoff guy.  He’ll add hardly anything stastically (though he’ll likely hit around .280), but should be available to plug a hole should any of my regular infielders get hurt, and will have a better lineup behind him than Scutaro.

This, however, prompted a tough decision–should I drop Shoppach (who is now my third catcher) or Wigginton?  Wigginton is the sentimental choice to keep (being an Oriole), plus he’s got bench power and doesn’t strike out a lot.  My gut, however, knows there’s no room in the Orioles outfield for him to be reliably available for fantasy points, whereas the Indians are both nervous about Martinez’s elbow and looking for ways to get Shoppach into the lineup, hoping to capitalize on the 21 homers he cranked in only 350 at-bats last season.  Since either guy will be playing off the bench for the Taxibirds, I figured it makes more sense to go with the one who is more likely to be in the real-life lineup on the day I need him, so Wiggy got the boot.

Moments later, I cruised over to the Baltimore Sun’s Orioles page, to discover that Wieters was unexpectedly NOT included in today’s round of roster cuts from the major league squad.  This seems like a temporary situation, however, as there are overwhelming financial reasons that compel the front office to keep Wieters on the farm until May.  Speaking of financial matters, the only thing to dislike about Wieters is the fact that Scott Boras is his agent.

In other real-life Orioles news–why the hell are they handing Felix Pie (career BA: .223) the starting job in left field when they have organizational prospect Nolan Reimold (.321 with four homers this spring) and Ty Wigginton (23 HR in only 386 AB in 2008) as alternatives?  Shouldn’t you start Wigginton in left, put Pie on the bench, and tell him he’ll have to keep his job away from Reimold, who will theoretically be only a phone call away in Norfolk, with the gory remains of AAA pitching dangling from his maw?

Your 2009 Alexandria Taxibirds, cont.

Posted in fantasy league, orioles, Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on March 20, 2009

As promised, here are the hurlers who will string together pitch sequences with orchestral flourish for your 2009 Alexandria Taxibirds:

STARTING ROTATION

  1. Diamond Roy Oswalt (Houston Astros)
    Did you know that Diamond Roy Oswalt has earned a decision in over 80% of his career starts, and has thrown 200+ innings in each of the last five seasons?  Of course, the catch there is that every year a guy throws 200 innings, it makes it that much less likely he’ll do it again next year.  Something tells me Roz won’t let me down.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    16-11, 3.50 ERA
  2. Derek Lowe (Los Angeles Dodgers)
    Some would be concerned about the likelihood of Derek Lowe holding up for another full season at the top of the rotation given his age (36).  Bill James and I disagree.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    14-9, 3.60 ERA
  3. Javier Vasquez (Atlanta Braves)
    I’ll say it: I’m not completely thrilled about Javier Vasquez.  His ERA has always been high, and he gives up tons of hits, which is not ideal in a fantasy league where you get points for WHIP.  That said, he’s thrown 200 innings in eight of his eleven major league seasons (and threw 198 in another), and usually strikes out about as many.  Moving to Atlanta from the White Sox won’t be good for his win totals, but you could do a lot worse from the 3 spot in your rotation…I hope.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    13-11, 3.80 ERA
  4. Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels)
    J-Weave is a gangly mess of junkballs, but he’s consistent and he’s got one of the best teams in the game behind him.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    11-9, 3.63 ERA
  5. Jeremy Guthrie (Baltimore Orioles)
    J-Guth gets a bad rap because he’s being asked to lead the rotation for a team with no better options, but he quietly threw 190 innings and posted a 3.63 ERA for one of the worst teams in the league last year.  If he can do the same for me in 2009 as a fifth starter, I’ll be more than satisfied.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    11-11, 4.03 ERA

IN THE BULLPEN

  1. Joakim Soria (Kansas City Royals)
    Soria saved 42 games and posted a 1.60 ERA for the Royals last season, and fireballing closers his age don’t usually regress (they just burn out early–that’s what makes people like Billy Wagner and Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman so incredible).
    BILL JAMES STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    37 SV, 2.16 ERA
  2. George Sherrill (Baltimore Orioles)
    Drafting Cesar Izturis was embarrassing enough–I really did not intend to end up with Sherrill.  As a second closer, however, I wouldn’t mind something approximating his 2008 season (31 saves, 4.73 ERA).  Bill James’s prediction is out of line with what I’m reading, which suggests Sherrill will start the season as the go-to closer, with Chris Ray at the ready should Sherrill falter (or–more likely–become trade bait).
    BILL JAMES STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    3 SV, 3.42 ERA

On the whole, I’m pretty excited about my pitching staff–Diamond Roy is the only standout, but we’re solid top-to-bottom, and though I think Bill James is probably being a little bit optimistic in the ERA department (except with Soria), it would certainly be helpful to finish with only one guy above four earned runs per game.  I’m currently pondering a few trades, the results of which may allow me to tweak the pitching staff slightly, but I’d be more than happy to go with these guys for the full season.

As for the Taxibirds on the whole, a lot depends on Matt Wieters and Joey Votto having the seasons everyone seems to think they’re going to have.  Josh Hamilton is something of a gamble given his history, but every indication is that he’s even more focused this spring than he was last year, and he’s been hitting the cover off the ball in pre-season games.  Wieters will evidently start the season at Triple-A, which I wasn’t expecting, but he too has been mashing his heart out all spring and will surely arrive big when he finally arrives.  Jim Thome’s back is acting up once again, so Jay Bruce may have to do some unexpected DH’ing early on–but if he has the kind of year people are expecting (.296-35-94), I may not miss Thome so much.

Now, if I can just arrange for Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels to be imprisoned in a subterranean bunker for the duration of the season (reality show!), I might just beat Flav and Ben.

Here They Are, Ladies and Gentlemen: Your 2009 Alexandria Taxibirds

Posted in fantasy league, orioles, Uncategorized by audienceoftwo on March 20, 2009

The draft is complete, and the first flurry of trading has subsided.  Now is as good a time as ever to introduce the team that will captivate your hearts from now until October, so let’s meet the starting offensive lineup that will hopefully wear out SEAL (Semi-Employed All-Stars League) pitching on the regular for the next few months:

  • CATCHER–Matt Wieters (Baltimore Orioles)
    The top prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, I’m predicting Rookie of the Year honors for the 22-year old backstop.  Some would argue he should start the season in the minors, but the front office has decided little Wieters needs to fly.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .311-24-85
  • FIRST BASE–Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
    Votto actually put up slightly better numbers in his first full season (.297-24-84) than NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto (.285-23-86), and Bill James thinks he’s on tap for a breakout year.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .307-30-102
  • SECOND BASE–Brian Roberts (Baltimore Orioles)
    One of the most statistically consistent players in all of baseball, B-Rob is also the heart-and-soul of my Orioles, who just signed him to a four-year contract extension after years of trade rumors.  Together with Ellsbury, Roberts will form the speed component of my Peripheral Scoring Strategy for winning the league–the two of them ought to be good for close to 100 SB.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .283-10-58 (36 SB)
  • THIRD BASE–Kevin Kouzmanoff (San Diego Padres)
    Kouz was not, admittedly, my first choice at third base.  In a league that only gives points for offense, there’s only  a handful of first-tier options at the hot corner (A-Rod, David Wright, Chipper Jones), and the second-tier options were snapped up pretty quickly (Carlos Guillen, Evan Longoria, Ryan Zimmerman).  I had Kouz on my draft list, but the auto-draft skipped him somehow, so I had to nab him off of waivers.  I figure he’s a lock for solid across-the-board offense–although I would have much preferred Aramis Ramirez (my first choice).
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .283-25-94
  • SHORTSTOP–Yunel Escobar (Atlanta Braves)
    Already a lock to get a few guys with Kouz-style stats, I went for batting average at short, and feel pretty good about Escobar.  My hope is that his relatively moderate offensive production will be counter-balanced by the excellent pitching numbers I’ll get from the guys I ranked high instead of making a play for HanRam.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .300-9-78
  • OUTFIELD–Nick Markakis (Baltimore Orioles)
    The Pride of Baltimore, Markakis is a five-tool star in a town that never makes enough baseball news for the rest of the league to recognize his stardom–which, as an Orioles fan, is fine with me, since he’s probably worth far more than the $66 million the O’s just paid to keep him in Baltimore for the next six years.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .309-22-99
  • OUTFIELD–Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston Red Sox)
    Another underrated guy (though for a much larger-market team), Ellsbury should contribute a high BA and about 50 SB to the Taxibird’s tally.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .302-9-53 (52 SB)
  • OUTFIELD–Josh Hamilton (Texas Rangers)
    One of the most compelling stories in all of baseball comes to Alexandria as the anchor of the Taxibirds offense.  League Commissioner Ben Masten attempted to block my trade for Hamilton (in exchange for Astros closer Jose Valverde and Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour), but justice and America’s desire to see The Muskellunges (Masten’s squad) lose ultimately prevailed. Plus, I successfully prevented him from acquiring Brandon Webb for Aramis Ramirez as revenge.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    .310-36-126
  • DH–Jim Thome (Chicago White Sox)
    One of the all-time great sluggers is on the downhill slope of his Hall of Fame career, but he should be good for 30-some homers and close to 100 RBI, especially given the continued strength of Chicago’s lineup.  On an unrelated-to-fantasy-league note, there are fewer and fewer hitters of his generation free from the stain of steroid abuse, and it’s nice to see him getting the credit he’s always deserved.
    BILL JAMES 2009 STATISTICAL PREDICTION:
    none provided–there was some concern about Thome’s back being ready during the offseason, apparently enough for James to leave him out of this year’s book.  My personal guess is that he’ll be in the neighborhood of .250-35-95.
  • ON THE BENCH
    OF Rick Ankiel (St. Louis Cardinals), OF Jay Bruce (Cincinatti Reds), 1B/3B/OF Ty Wigginton (Baltimore Orioles), C Kelly Shoppach (Cleveland Indians), SS Cesar Izturis (Baltimore Orioles)

In comparing my offense to the others around the SEAL, I feel pretty confident, though I wish I had another masher or two in the lineup, especially since I ended up with the #2 overall draft pick (though there’s no way I could have known that ahead of time) and could easily have landed ManRam, Ryan Braun, or any number of other monster sluggers–hence the trade for Hamilton.  My priorities going into the draft were as follows:

  1. Get Nick Markakis
  2. Get Matt Wieters
  3. Get Brian Roberts (so as to have my teams fortunes rise and fall with those of my beloved real-life Orioles–do not laugh!  I suspect Dr. Flav of employing the same strategy–his first four draft picks were Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, and Brad Lidge)
  4. Find underrated hitters to fill power spots in the lineup and use my higher draft cards for pitching…

…which is how I landed Diamond Roy Oswalt, the ace of my pitching staff–but that’s a story for tomorrow.

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