Baseball Rant #1
by Matt “Hack” Hackenmiller
The baseball season is a few weeks old and I just realized that I haven’t written a nice old fashion rant. Most of the time there is no real reason why a rant comes about. Usually, it is just something that pops up one day, probably after a day without caffeine, and sticks in my brain for some reason. The inaugural rant of the season has to with the big and mighty ESPN. More specifically, the fantasy sports coverage that ESPN provides for the millions of loyal fans.
For the last couple of years, ESPN has prided itself as offering the best fantasy baseball game in the business. They also have many excellent writers and former scouts that include some insightful analysis. Yet, for some reason, this season the higher ups at ESPN have decided to charge the fans for the privilege of reading that analysis that was once free. Not only have they decided to do this for fantasy baseball, but other fantasy sports as well.
The revenue that ESPN receives from fantasy sports most likely is a very small percentage in the overall big picture for the World Wide Leader. They are one of the most popular networks on cable TV that makes millions for their stockholders. Then why does ESPN feel the need to squeeze money out of the fantasy sports community? Doesn’t that seem a little Ebenezer Scrooge-ish?
It’s not that I have anything against businesses or websites charging for fantasy information. I understand why sites like Rotowire and Baseball HQ charge a fee. That is their lifeblood. Those sites aren’t making millions as they run a commercial every two minutes during a basketball game like the four letter network. The writers at the small sites typically have other jobs and only write because it is their passion.
Naturally, I don’t blame the fantasy writers at ESPN for this change in policy. This was probably decided on by some stuff shirt in a corporate office and now everyone else has to suffer. But hey, as long as the it helps make the bottom dollar look good, ESPN sees no problem with charging a few dollars a month for their expertise. Fantasy managers of the world unite!
Boy o’ boy, what a special day for the Archive Family! As most of you know Johnny Archive is active in the local Little League as an umpire and coach of the Rockies — for whom JA’s son Jacob plays for. Well, today Jacob — who has been showing steady improvement and enthusiasm all season — went deep for homerun #1 of his baseball career!
It was an oppo-shot for the young righty that was hit high and deep, landing in the upper-deck. It was a no-doubter. Well, if you think it was a little odd that a Little League field had an “upper deck” you are correct. Actually, it was a line drive screamer that went between the firstbaseman and the bag and rolled almost all the way to the rightfield fence. Plenty deep enough for me, as the firstbase coach, to keep him running all the way around the bases.
The whole stadium (probably 15 or so fans — parents and siblings) went wild! Jacob jumped for joy and his teammates gave him plenty of high-fives as he entered the dugout. The 3rd-Inning bomb gave the Rockies a 1-0 lead over the Blue Jays, which was also the first lead of the year for the Rox.
But as we all know, baseball is a game of highs and lows. The Rox defense let them down in the bottom of the 3rd and the ‘Jays tallied 3 runs. In the top of the 4th, we almost had a classic finish as the Rockies, with two outs, loaded the bases for…yep, you guessed it…Jacob “the Thunderstick.” Unfortunately, after fouling off 2 pitches, the mighty Jacob went down swinging to end the game.
Sure, a rally to win the game would have been amazing, but this was still an extremely big day for the Archive Clan and I am so happy for the achievement of my son.
-Johnny Archive, proud papa
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who took in the live version of The Johnny Archive Fantasy Baseball Show at BlogTalkRadio. Remember, if you missed it, you can download it at iTunes.com(search for “johnny archive”).
It was definitely not my most focused show, but it felt good to be with you all as I adjust to this time of the year. Remember with the 11:05am start time on Monday’s game in Boston it’s important to get your lineup set early, especially you weekly-leaguers.
Okay, enjoy your week and check me out on http://twitter.com/johnnyarchive during the week. Oh yeah, in effort to make sure the “big guys” out there know my status, I am doing what I can to mention that I am indeed still a free-agent and looking to catch on with like-minded fantasy baseball people.
Not too subtle, I know, but hey I am so ready to contribute to the right situation.
Definition of Utility: -adjective having or made for a number of useful or practical purposes rather than a single, specialized one.
In baseball terms it means being able to play multiple positions, perhaps because they are not “specialized” at one. Every MLB team has at least one utility man, more often then not, a player who can play multiple infield positions. They are crucial for a team’s success because of the long 162-game schedule that spans six months.
As we look at the Houston Astros, who are winless in their first 7 games to start the 2010 season, we see they have a number of players — Jason Michaels, Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger — who have played mulitple positions. Basically, they are utility players being counted on to play on a daily basis.
Is having this many non-specialized players by plan or the result of a lost focus on the present, with an eye on the future? Certianly the injury to Lance Berkman has to be a factor, but what about the rest of the roster? What was, and is, the plan? Was the hiring of a first-time MLB manager, Brad Mills, the initital indicator of an organization raising the proverbial white flag on not only the 2010 season, but for the next few seasons as a rebuilding process is undertaken?
The year started by the Astros taking their up and coming ace of the future, Wandy Rodriguez, to arbritation and winning — which meant Rodriguez lost. Also lost, was starting SS Miguel Tejada, Closer Jose Valverde, Setup man LaTroy Hawkins.
There were additions, but how much of an impact was expected out of Giants and Phillies cast-off Pedro Feliz? Two other former Phillies, backup OF Jason Michaels and SP Brett Myers, who spent time bouncing between the major leagues and the minors in 2009, were also signed as free agents, as were former closers Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom.
The Astros farm system appeared to be contributing two stud pitchers to the roster in SP Bud Norris and closer-of-the-future Sammy Gervacio, who has one of the best sliders in the game — as well as one of the strangest pitching mound routines which has him stopping and staring before letting it loose. But Norris has been unimpressive in his one start this year and Gervacio went down with an injury to his pitching arm that could lead to surgery.
So, the loses are piling up and the fans are starting to wonder what is there to be excited about for the near future? Berkman has had his knee drained more times(6) than a leaky bathtub and fellow bopper Carlos Lee seems unmotivated as he sees fewer and fewer quality pitches.
Perhaps the biggest mistake was expecting the hustling Hunter Pence to assume the clubhouse leadership role left vacant since future Hall-of-Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell rode off into the sunset. For one, the on-field production just isn’t there for Pence to lead by example and his personality is not one that conjures up images of military generals Patton or MacArthur.
As bad as it looks now, you have to think the Astros will eventually get their fair share of wins, but the days of postseason expectations are long gone. But if any playoff teams need to trade for a utility player or two, the Astros are stocked.
Fantasy Sports Writers Association
Join Johnny Archive for another exclusive interview of an industry leader as he welcomes the most celebrated fantasy personality in the fantasy sports business, Matthew Berry of ESPN. Berry discusses many topics, including; what fantasy owners should do with their slow starting players in 2010, how to “break in” to the ever-growing fantasy sports industry, the impact of major companies like Bloomberg launching a fantasy sports product in 2010 and the importance of the MLB Network’s Fantasy 411 which is a daily fantasy sports show. Does “The Talented Mr Roto” prefer high-dollar leagues or free leagues? Tune in Sunday 4/11/10 at 6PM EDT at BlogTalkRadio and the Fantasy Sports Channel to find out.
That’s right, I was able to spend some time with Matthew Berry at a politcal event for the next Mayor of College Station, TX — who just so happens to be the “Talented Mr. Roto’s” mom! Nancy Berry is an excellent candidate and I will be pulling for her in the upcoming election, but the highlight of the evening took place when I was afforded the opportunity to interview fantasy sports icon, Berry. We did the session across the street from the University of Texas A&M Friday night and the college students were out in force. It was a fun environment to talk fantasy sports and I had an absolutely great time.
This was a fun evening and be sure to catch the podcast for the interview. As always, if you miss the live show, you can always download it at iTunes just search for “Johnny Archive”.
2010 MLB Opening Day First Impressions…
-CarGo (Carlos Gonzalez) of the Rockies is special. This young OF has incredible bat speed and plate coverage. He was cut down trying steal after one of his four hits on the day, but it was still a good sign to see the Rox will be aggressive.
-Carlos Gomez of the Brewers is an exciting player and now that he knows he will get plenty of ABs he should be able to relax. He has tons of speed, but he’s got some pop too. He is a perfect fit with Milwaukee which figures to ahve plenty of baserunners.
-Jason Heyward, the 20-year-old Atlanta Braves rookie, is the type of player that gets massive media attention and is really good for the game of baseball. My nature is to sell high on hyped young players like this because baseball is such a grind. Ken Griffey, Jr. who was also a phenom at a young age and made the big league club unexpectedly with a big spring — just like Heyward — hit 16 HR in his rookie year. Non-keeper leaguers especially should try and shop this wonder-kid, imo.
-Many MLB teams are embracing the speed game again, which makes the game more exciting for fans and fantasy owners should take note. The White Sox, Mariners, Rockies and Angels have all made their intentions to run well known.
-Josh Beckett, the staff ace of the Red Sox, seemed disinterested in his season debut versus the Yankees. It sure didn’t take him long to end the contract negotiations and take the current offer on the table right after the poor start. Beckett almost needs his emotions to push him to that elite level, time will tell if he finds himself or is another big ticket arm that fades after inking the mola.
-King Felix is as dominant as advertised. His mechanics are smooth and his stuff lively. He pitches in a great home ballpark in Seattle with a decent defense behind him. The problem is the lack of power in the lineup, so he could end up on the wrong side of many 3-2, 2-1 games this year.
-Ken Griffey, Jr. has a belly and that makes me kinda sad. I know he’s only a DH at this stage of his career, but still he barely made it to second on a rope that the RF dove for and missed which led to the ball rolling to the wall. I don’t see any value for fantasy owners this year unless you’re in a 20-team AL only league.
-Speaking of older players hanging around, the Brewers are choosing to give former Cardinals all-star Jim Edmonds the playing time lost by Cory Hart and his vision issues. Edmonds swing, which has always been a tad long, is now slow and long which means he’s over-matched by any low-90s fastballs. How the management in Milwaukee handle this issue could determine the fate of the ’10 Brewers, which has a chance to make some noise.
-Mets fans got plenty to cheer about on opening day with Johan Santana on the mound and David Wright hitting an opposite-field HR. The problem is Johan only pitches every 5th day and I still don’t think Wright is back to the 30-40 HR guy he seemed to be a couple of years ago. Santana was a bargain in many drafts going after 5 or so other starters, but the Wins may be a smidge elusive this year since the East is as tough as ever.
-It’s going to be a looong year in Cleveland. This current group of Indians remind me of the Rockies 5-6 years ago that didn’t seem to have an identity or direction and took multiple good drafts to repair. Even Grady Sizemore will be unable to spark this mish-mosh group of players, especially when the rotation figures to put the tribe behind on the scoreboard on a regular basis.
-The Pirates have several productive fantasy players, which is surprising since this team hasn’t had a winning record in 16 years. Everyone assumes OF Andrew McCutchen is the real deal, and I would agree with that, but the concerns have been about Garrett Jones and his age. Is he legit or just an ’09 flash. Well, if you drafted this 1B/OF mid-to-late he’s probably worth the pick, as he showed on Monday with 2 bombs. I wouldn’t count on him as a 1 or 2 OF, but as a 4 or 5 he should have value.
-Several teams are already exposing themselves as teams with unstable bullpens. Minnesota, Toronto and Oakland, to name a few, all have question marks because of health issues. Taking fliers on members of crowded bullpens, even the longshots, can really pay off over the course of the season
My fantasy baseball montage put together with some baseball images for your viewing and listening enjoyment!
Baseball Season Is Here! Yippee!
My NFBC Roster Easter Story 2010
This was Easter and not Christmas, which meant I wouldn’t have to say,”Feliz Navidad” since I’m not Fuentes in spanish. Though it was a Holliday and time for me to go upstream, upland and Upton. So, I filled my cup with Coco jumped in my Cano, knowing if I fell out I’d have to Wade to shore even if the water level was Lowell. The Chase was on and over the Hill I went. I wasn’t too careful, I tripped on a Matt as if I’d drank Borbon in excess. As a result, many toes suffered Stubbs and became rather Soria, which caused me to become Peavy. Justin the Nick of time, I Drew myself down from the Crisp pace. Danks to my strength, for I am strong as the god Thornton, I avoided the beavers as they built Adam. I needed a Luke out, a way to protect my Headley from thinking of food since it was all Gonzalez except for a few black and green Olivo.
How many names from my NFBC roster can you find? Check out my roster from the previous post to see if you’re right.
I completed my final 2010 fantasy baseball draft last night when I did my online NFBC draft. This is a big dollar league, $350 per team, per league and all the teams/leagues (600+ Teams) are eligible for $50,000 grand prize.
Last year, my first in the NFBC, I finished 3rd in my league — after being in 1st for most of August — and was in top 80 after being in top 50 for most of the final months. The biggest problem was I got buried in the standings early, spent the first 6-7 weeks in last place, and so when I made my charge I had too much to overcome.
I learned in 2009 just how important it is to utilize the FAAB process to acquire free-agents. The biggest key to my surge was barely winning the bid for ATL SP Tommy Hansen. I bid $256, almost 25% of my budget, on him and won the bid by $6 — the next closest team bid $250. When bidding with your $1000 FAAB remember that most people tend to go with even amounts, so for example going $11 on player instead of $10 can make a difference.
Alot of times owners will go $1 for a two-start pitcher or when taking a flier on a position player. You may want to go $2 for that $1 player if you really want that player. Again, that extra $1 can really enable to land those players you want. One more suggestion, mix up the amount of your bidding every once in awhile. Most owners will notice your trends if you consistantly bid the same amounts.
Alrighty, let’s move on to my NFBC draft. This is a 12-team mixed league and I had pick #11 — which is where I like to draft because, as my friend John Zaleski says,”It’s better to drive the draft then have to react to other teams’ picks.”
|1||Albert Pujols||1B||No Team Name|
|3||Alex Rodriguez||3B||knuckle ballers|
|4||Chase Utley||2B||No Team Name|
|5||Ryan Braun||OF||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|6||Miguel Cabrera||1B||JaserD Cy’s|
|8||Matt Kemp||OF||Coe Kohawks|
|9||Joe Mauer||C||Two Wise Men|
|12||Evan Longoria||3B||Dark Horse Duge|
I have been getting more and more convinced lately that this will be THE year COL SS Troy Tulowitzki breaks out and becomes an elite fantasy player. This kid is a monster who could easily hit 40+ bombs and drive in 110+ RBI, plus he plays in an extremely good hitters park. In 2011, Tulo could be the #1 overall pick — remember where you heard(read) that first!
So, obviously I was thrilled to get my targeted player, a player I would have taken as high as 5th this year. Thus, my preference to pick late in round #1, because instead of taking Tulo at 5 and then having to wait a looong time to pick again, at 11 I’m back in action just 2 picks later.
|13||Ryan Howard||1B||Dark Horse Duge|
|16||Carl Crawford||OF||Two Wise Men|
|17||Tim Lincecum||P||Coe Kohawks|
|19||Roy Halladay||P||JaserD Cy’s|
|20||Ryan Zimmerman||3B||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|21||CC Sabathia||P||No Team Name|
|22||Victor Martinez||C||knuckle ballers|
|24||Jacoby Ellsbury||OF||No Team Name|
It’s amazing that even when you get the player you want with pick #1, you still have to adjust with your second pick based on who is available. I had my eye on 3 players, Howard, Holliday and Crawford. Those 3 break down this way; Howard=Major power and no speed/low AVG, Crawford=Major speed and decent AVG/Low power, Holliday=Nice Balance and intrigue to see what a full season batting next to Pujols for a full season looks like? So, with Howard gone, I went Holliday who I might have taken regardless.
Now, the extended wait begins.
|25||Jimmy Rollins||SS||No Team Name|
|27||Brian McCann||C||knuckle ballers|
|28||Mark Reynolds||3B||No Team Name|
|29||Brandon Phillips||2B||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|30||Pablo Sandoval||1B||JaserD Cy’s|
|32||Jose Reyes||SS||Coe Kohawks|
|33||Dustin Pedroia||2B||Two Wise Men|
|36||Ichiro Suzuki||OF||Dark Horse Duge|
This is where a good chunk of elite players begin to disappear and I need to prepare for not only my next pick, but my next 2 picks. I tweeted during the draft that Ian Kinsler, who will begin the season on the DL with a high ankle sprain, was dropping not only out of the 1st round, but the 2nd round as well. I started thinking that I might be able to get him with my 3rd pick and if so, I would definitely snatch him up. However, he went right in front of me so, oh well, back to normal prep mode. Yankees 2B brings a lot to a fantasy roster and I think coupling him with another high average guy like Holliday would open up flexibility later in the draft if I need to go with a speed/power guy who might ding my average.
|37||Derek Jeter||SS||Dark Horse Duge|
|40||Felix Hernandez||P||Two Wise Men|
|41||Jayson Werth||OF||Coe Kohawks|
|43||Adam Lind||DH||JaserD Cy’s|
|44||Justin Morneau||1B||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|45||Jonathan Broxton||P||No Team Name|
|46||Ben Zobrist||2B||knuckle ballers|
|48||Dan Haren||P||No Team Name|
I had two players qued for this pick, Adrian Gonzalez and BJ Upton. Both would bring production and fit into my plan, though I think you have to look at upside if you want to contend for not only the league title, but the overall big money. This is the mindset that drove the Upton pick. Again, with Cano and Holliday I can deal with the risk of BJ’s potentially low AVG – I can see .270 this year easily if he’s healthy — and the speed boon was enough to out-weigh the relative safety of A-Gon.
Because of the no-trading rule it can be risky to wait too long on pitching, particularly top-end starting pitching. Starters were definitely beginning to evaporate as I again settled in for me extended break until pick #5.
|49||Justin Verlander||P||No Team Name|
|51||Kendry Morales||1B||knuckle ballers|
|52||Adam Wainwright||P||No Team Name|
|53||Jon Lester||P||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|54||Jason Bay||OF||JaserD Cy’s|
|56||Johan Santana||P||Coe Kohawks|
|57||Aramis Ramirez||3B||Two Wise Men|
|60||Brian Roberts||2B||Dark Horse Duge|
I seriously considered NYM Johan Santana though he is coming off an injury and has not looked real sharp this spring. BAL 2B Brian Roberts, with the back issues, is another player I like more than most people and I felt would be a decent addition, even with Cano already rostered. Johan went two picks in front of me and I decided I could probably get Roberts 3 picks later so I chose a player I feel is a solid guy and being overlooked this year, HOU OF Carlos Lee.
El Cabayo, as C-Lee is called, didn’t have a massive 2009, but this guy is a proven fantasy stalwart and a great number #3 OF. Not sexy, but winning fantasy rosters are filled with the un-sexy!
|61||Mariano Rivera||P||Dark Horse Duge|
|64||Bobby Abreu||OF||Two Wise Men|
|65||Adam Dunn||OF||Coe Kohawks|
|67||Chone Figgins||2B||JaserD Cy’s|
|68||Josh Hamilton||OF||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|69||Derrek Lee||1B||No Team Name|
|70||Josh Johnson||P||knuckle ballers|
|72||Tommy Hanson||P||No Team Name|
I kinda surprised myself with this pick of TOR 2B Aaron Hill in round #6. I thought I would go Roberts, but he was gone. I noticed Hill was still available which surprised me. I have never drafted Hill nor have I ever had him on any of my rosters, but the prospect of the punch of 30+ HR from my MI was enough to make me put off SP for at least another round. I was hoping ATL SP Tommy Hanson would somehow still be there when I picked again, but he went at the end of round 6. Bummer.
|73||Billy Butler||1B||No Team Name|
|75||Yovani Gallardo||P||knuckle ballers|
|76||Jason Bartlett||SS||No Team Name|
|77||Ricky Nolasco||P||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|78||Nick Markakis||OF||JaserD Cy’s|
|80||Andrew McCutchen||OF||Coe Kohawks|
|81||Michael Young||3B||Two Wise Men|
|84||Javier Vazquez||P||Dark Horse Duge|
I had pretty-much decided it was time to snag a staff ace. I considered Gallardo, Jimenez, Vazquez, but I went with another player who has lost some luster over the past year or two, CHW SP Jake Peavy. Health is a concern with the former Padres Ace, but I feel the AL Central is a decent pitchers division and I think he’ll produce a somewhat typical year for him which is plenty to anchor my staff. I’m “all-in” with Peavy this year as I have him on almost every team.
If I didn’t go SP, McCutchen was a serious factor to consider.
|85||Cole Hamels||P||Dark Horse Duge|
|88||Hunter Pence||OF||Two Wise Men|
|89||Lance Berkman||1B||Coe Kohawks|
|91||Wandy Rodriguez||P||JaserD Cy’s|
|92||Chad Billingsley||P||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|93||Michael Bourn||OF||No Team Name|
|94||Cliff Lee||P||knuckle ballers|
|96||Torii Hunter||OF||No Team Name|
Another player who I am extremely high on this year is CArGo, COL OF Carlos Gonzalez, who will be the lead-off man for a very potent lineup. I touted this stud last year and feel he is a legit 30-30 guy. Even the local Fox Sports affiliate promotes his speed/power combo and directly asked him in an interview this past week if 40-40 was possible this year? After missing out on Hanson, I was not going to watch CarGo rip this year on somebody elses roster.
I seriously considered go SP again, but Vazquez was taken so that left Cain as the next guy I wanted and fear of missing out on CarGo was too much.
|97||Jose Lopez||3B||No Team Name|
|99||Alfonso Soriano||OF||knuckle ballers|
|100||Shane Victorino||OF||No Team Name|
|101||Jay Bruce||OF||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|102||Dan Uggla||2B||JaserD Cy’s|
|104||Carlos Pena||1B||Coe Kohawks|
|105||James Shields||P||Two Wise Men|
|108||Heath Bell||P||Dark Horse Duge|
New Red Sox SP John Lackey was on my short list with pick #9, but he went right in front of me, so I decided to nab a Closer. KC CL Joakim Soria is one of the good young clsoers in the game, even though he’s not on a team expected to win a ton of games. The good news is the Royals don’t blow out many teams either, so Save opportunities are there.
|109||Nate McLouth||OF||Dark Horse Duge|
|112||Asdrubal Cabrera||2B||Two Wise Men|
|113||Raul Ibanez||OF||Coe Kohawks|
|115||Juan Pierre||OF||JaserD Cy’s|
|116||Kurt Suzuki||C||Wiffle Ball Legends|
|117||Francisco Rodriguez||P||No Team Name|
|118||Carlos Quentin||OF||knuckle ballers|
|120||Michael Cuddyer||OF||No Team Name|
This is a perfect example of where I can drive the draft and my roster. Coming right back with another top-notch Closer in SF CL Brian Wilson ensures I will contend in the always competitive Saves category.
So, there ya go, my first 10 picks. I certainly have OF, MI and Closers covered, aye? Value and upside are all represented in these picks as well as essential building blocks for the remainder of my draft. Speaking of the rest of the draft, here it is…
Have a great weekend and HAPPY EASTER! Find lots of eggs!
Today’s podcast features a full recap of my trip to the NFBC Main Event draft last weekend held in St.Louis. I was able to talk to several members of the NFBC live draft, including Dan Kenyon, George Puhl, Dan and Evan Satinoff, as well as Robert Sargent. Site coordinator, Mike Sheets, took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk to me about the NFBC in St. Louis for the first time.
A special treat for me was to sit down with old friend and fantasy stalwart, John Zaleski of Ultimate Fantasy Sports, who is a founding member of the FSTA. John was amazingly candid about his draft strategy and the players he was targeting and where he hoped to get them. You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to hear what a true legend in the fantasy industry is thinking just minutes prior to entering a high-dollar fantasy draft, which the $100,000 NFBC definitely is.
See you live at 6PM EDT or on the archived edition at iTunes!