Decision, decisions

I’m holding off on another Thursday Theriots for the time being. Too much going on in life between adding a second job and prepping for my auction draft.

I did make a few big decisions the last couple days about my other fantasy team though.

The rules in this league are that if the player is 25 or younger when drafted or picked up on waivers, he can be a keeper for life. Each keeper takes pick from the middle of the draft, so everyone still has a chance at a first rounder every year.

Keepers:

Buster Posey

Eric Hosmer

Howie Kendrick

Will Middlebrooks – Wary of him this year, but worth a wait-and-see approach

Hanley Ramirez

Andrew McCutchen

Mike Trout

Matt Wieters

Jered Weaver

Stephen Strasburg – Who I originally drafted while he was still in college. Not allowed anymore in this league.

Wade Miley

Yovani Gallardo

Brett Anderson

Trevor Bauer

Chris Tillman – I traded Danny Hultzen to my brother to get him. Has the potential to do something special this year I think.

Dropped:

Jacob Turner – Has never lived up to the hype. I’m done with him.

I have 11 picks to make now. Outfielders and perhaps a SS will be priorities, along with SP depth. Relievers will come late.

What do you think? Did I make the right calls?

Thursday Theriots for 2/21/13 – Fantasies do come true

Hey everyone. Seems like there’s a lot to talk about on the fantasy side of the ledger today, so let’s get to it…

ESPN just released its big fantasy package this evening. I always find this to be a great starting point for figuring things out in each of my leagues. What’s really key for me is the auction values they provide. There’s so much variation compared to the auction league that I’m actually in that the next link really helps…

Complete ZiPS projections. It’s the most exhaustive prediction system out there, so if you’re going to pick one to use, this is it.

So the basic strategy as I see it this year. Start with ESPN, update based on ZiPS, modify the numbers to fit the league. Hopefully in some meaningful way. I mean, it can’t go worse than last year…

Definitely suggest checking out Eno Sarris’ Thursday chat on Fangraphs. Lots of fantasy questions, plus a healthy amount of beer.

Patrick Dubuque has a great line related to fantasy and real life:

Your daily life plays a factor in how you build your roster. I can speak of this from experience: as a young naïve college student, I was once free to scour the internet for changes in the wind, and kept myself on top of all the latest rumors. In my twenties, from my cubicle, I could still check every once in a while when I knew the boss wasn’t wandering the halls. Now, my vocation keeps me away from the computer, and baseball essentially dies for eight to ten hours at a time, long enough of a span for both my closers to lose their jobs and get traded for each other as long relievers.

That’s basically how I feel these days. I have an hour at lunch to check non-work things. I’m lucky to spend a few minutes updating my rosters, then catching up on Fangraphs and ESPN.

And to end this all, my other league, which does a slow offline draft with numerous keepers, has started to ramp up. Decisions on keepers are due in a week. More on that in another post…

Thursday Theriots for 2/7/13 – All about prospecting

Thursday Theriots for this week focus on the young guys.

An incredible article from Ben Badler at Baseball America about the difficulty of scouting international prospects. As it says in the article, it’s like scouting JV-level players with bigger bodies. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to figure out who stands out and what price is associated with each player. Scouts have a unique talent, one that’s so often overlooked at the major-league level.

Keith Law’s Top 100 Prospects – This is the article I wait for every single year. It’s impressive how much information he puts into each write up. It’s crazy reading the comments about guys thinking he did a terrible job because someone was rated lower than they thought. Just silly.

Also very happy that the O’s have players at #3, 26, 50 and 100. And Machado would likely have been a top 5 guy if he didn’t lose eligibility.

ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball Top 300 – Another list I wait for all offseason. Surprised Braun is ranked above Trout, but I can’t complain. What I really wait for is the auction value list, which is key for my auction draft.

In case you missed it (and I’m sure you all did), I had a little back and forth with Buster Olney via Twitter on Tuesday. I absolutely hate how he uses misleading stats for the sake of the “common reader” and called him out on it. He didn’t like it too much. But I think Keith Law said it best yesterday: “Pitcher wins are a useless stat.” End of story.

Alright, keeping it short for today, as I’m fighting off sickness the best I can…

Ranking the stadiums I’ve visited

For a while, I tried visiting a new stadium every year, whether it was in the minors or majors. I haven’t kept that up, but I have been to a few. Here are my personal rankings for the stadiums I’ve visited.

  1. PNC Park, Pittsburgh – I can’t believe I’m writing this, but PNC blows all other stadium experiences away. The stadium is beautiful and has gorgeous views of the water and downtown. The atmosphere is friendly and I’ve had good luck talking with players before games.
  2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore – Retro done to perfection. My “home” park if I have one.
  3. Miller Park, Milwaukee – It’s fun. Neat indoor/outdoor stadium. Plus the original sausage race.
  4. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati – There’s a huge gap between the first three and this one. Nice modern park, but a bit boring.
  5. Nationals Park, Washington DC – It feels like it needs time to season. Potential to move up this list.
  6. Progressive Field, Cleveland – There’s not much that’s particularly interesting here.
  7. Memorial Stadium, Baltimore – My first stadium experience, though it’s hard to remember since it was so long ago.
  8. Wrigley Field, Chicago – I know, it’s sacrilege. The stadium just felt so old and cold.
  9. RFK Stadium, Washington DC – Made for football and it always felt like it.
  10. Olympic Park, Montreal – Playing in a dome just doesn’t feel like how you should play the game.

Special mention: Canal Park, Akron – I live about 10-15 minutes away from here, so if I want to see a game, this is where I go. It’s quite well designed and every seat is close to the action.

Parks I’d like to visit that are within driving distance: Comerica Park in Detroit, stadiums in Columbus, Toledo, Louisville

What about you? Agree that Wrigley is horribly overrated or think I should go back to Stadiums 101? Let me know…

Thursday Theriots for 1/31/13 – Why it’s fun to root for mediocre teams

Fewer links and more commentary today.

I definitely suggest checking out all the chats at Fangraphs. But the one from Jeff Sullivan is always the highlight of the week. He’s extremely witty and makes funny responses out of standard questions. For example:

Question: “is it just me or is gio gonzalez’s dad the worst at excuses”

Answer: “he’s probably not the *worst*, but that’s just from the probabilistic perspective”

Classic, just classic.

But there’s a couple lines from the end of the chat that really stand out, as a fan of a team that has been bad for about fifteen years:

fans of bad teams still care because it’s the bad that makes the good. if I were just getting into baseball, and if I had to pick a team to like, I’d pick a bad team over a good team. I want to feel like I earned the success, if and when it ever comes…also, it isn’t just about winning. it’s about the whole experience and the distractions and the coming and going discussion topics that carry us through month after month. baseball is just a thing that goes on and bad teams don’t provide any less material than good teams

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It doesn’t matter if your team is bad or good, you still follow them. It can be frustrating year after year after year, but you don’t give up the hope that next year could be the year it all comes together (like last year for the Orioles). I still get excited when my guys do well and sulk when they hid a bad skid. It’s like we’re in this secret club and those who aren’t in it just don’t get what’s going on.

Back to the links…

I always enjoy skimming the minor league transactions at Baseball America. This time of year, there’s a lot of names you’ll recognize on there. Looks like Charlie Haeger’s getting another shot with the Red Sox.

Why is there still Spring Training in Florida? Because of contracts and politics. Arizona makes so much more sense given the location of all the camps. This article talks about trying to possibly lure another team east, but I don’t see the payoff.

I admit it, I have a thing for rookies in fantasy (football and baseball). I think most of these guys are already gone in one of my leagues where you’re allowed to keep guys their whole careers.

One final thought…I love Craig Calcaterra’s smack down of stupidity in most things he writes. His article on ARod and the idea that he might walk away from his big contract is no different.

Essential Twitter Follows

In my day job, I spend quite a bit of time on Twitter (@ppi_translation). It’s mostly related to translation and manufacturing, but I manage to follow quite a few baseball-related accounts too. I do follow quite a few more on my personal account (@langloogy).

If you’re interested in baseball and trying to get into Twitter, here is who I suggest you start following:

Keith Law, ESPN @keithlaw – Who else? I don’t follow every word he says or anything. Let’s move on…

Old Hoss Radbourn @OldHossRadbourn – This is how I would write if I could be constantly sarcastic and demeaning of stupidity

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs @dcameronfg – About the most insightful writer around

Jonah Keri, Grantland @jonahkeri – Read his books, then follow his other writing

Craig Calcaterra, NBC Sports @craigcalcaterra – Knows how to push people’s buttons

Larry Granillo, Wezen-Ball @wezen_ball – Always insightful

Buster Olney, ESPN @Buster_ESPN – Knows a lot about the game, appeals to a wide audience

Dan Szymborski, Fangraphs @DSzymborski – Great for his ZiPS projection system

Jordan Bastian, MLB.com @MLBastian – For great coverage of the Indians

Baseball America @BaseballAmerica – Too many writers to name who you should also follow

Rob Neyer @RobNeyer – One of the all-time great baseball writers

Joe Posnanski @JPosnanski – Always spot-on with everything he writes

Jon Heyman, CBS @JonHeymanCBS – Great for scoops on stories, rumors

MLB Trade Rumors @MLBTradeRumors – Talking about rumors…

Dirk Hayhurt @TheGarfoose – Pitcher and writer, Kent State grad

Akron Aeros @AkronAeros – Local team, they have an pretty active account

I have to skip over a few dozen other names, but this should serve as a pretty good start for anyone wanting to get into the baseball side of Twitter. Enjoy!

Memorable Games – July 30, 2006

Note: This is the first in a series of posts I’m planning on memorable games I’ve attended over the years.

I can’t remember half the games I’ve gone to. And the moments I do remember, I’d have a hard time locating the exact game. But there are a number that stand out. My first Memorable Moment is one of those occasions where I simply didn’t expect what happened given the time period.

The game: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL200607300.shtml

Date: July 30, 2006

Location: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Final score: Orioles 8, White Sox 7

The Orioles were mired near the bottom of the AL East, in the midst of yet another losing season. The White Sox were streaking along, 20 games above 500. I was about a month into a new job in Arlington, VA, and decided to make the trip up to Baltimore and spend some time hanging out with my sister. And in my family, if you can go to a baseball game as part of any trip, you do it.

So we found ourselves sitting along the third base line, probably 20 rows up. Or in the upper deck, I can’t really remember those details. Heck, the only thing I really remember is the 8th and 9th innings. The O’s had been up 6-4 headed into the 8th, before Jermaine Dye hit a 3 run bomb off of Todd Williams. Talk about turning a sweet day into sour in a hurry.

Heading into the bottom of the 9th, I remember blabbering to my sister about this Bobby Jenks fellow. Young guy who had just been to his first All Star game. Unhittable at times. I was convinced there was no way we could get even a hit off of him. I just kept talking about how good he was, though my sister remained optimistic. For me, it was about to be 1-2-3 and time to go home with the L hanging around our necks the rest of the day.

But then the unthinkable happened. Jenks imploded. After an out by Melvin Mora took the White Sox’s win expectancy up to 88%, there wasn’t a single out recorded. Miggy Tejada hit by pitch. Gibbons single, Tejada to third. Conine single to drive in Tejada, Tatis (PR for Gibbons) to third. Intentional walk to Corey Patterson to load the bases. Seriously, Corey Patterson. And the game winner, a single up the middle by Javy Lopez. This was his next-to-last game as an Oriole, in his last season.

The pure emotion that flows out of your body at that moment when you go from losing a game to winning it is incredible. It has to be one of the reasons so many of us follow sports, baseball in particular. You shout, you high five, you dance around. Nothing’s quite like it. And that day, that game, provided such an opportunity to exult in us beating them.

Do you have any memorable games you’ve been to over the years? I’d love to hear from you…