Monday, December 6, 2010

On Santo, Werth, Jeter

Baseball lost one of its most devoted and lovable icons this past week when Ron Santo lost his battle with bladder cancer on Dec. 2 at age 70.

In fact, his cancer had come back several months ago, according to longtime teammate Glenn Beckert, but he swore his family not to tell anyone.

Widely known as one of the top 3 third-basemen during his generation (after Mike Schmidt and Eddie Matthews), baseball's Hall of Fame has continued to pass over Santo.

While this blog could be devoted entirely to reasons why Santo should be in the Hall, that drum has been beaten to death and frankly, the Veteran's Committee blew it. No post-death induction will make up for that.

Forget Ernie Banks, Santo was Mr. Cub. His blood quite possibly was Cubbie Blue, although it can't be proven.

He played for 12 years with Diabetes before anyone found out, then later had to have both legs replaced because of the disease. Yet, year after year, I'd see him walking out to his car after a Cubs spring training game in Mesa, using two prosthetic legs.

But besides all his on-field contributions, Santo endeared himself to Cub Nation -- if that's such a word -- with his ultra-homeristic calls on WGN radio. Thanks to XM radio, I was fortunate to share many of the Cubs' heartbreaking moments with Ronnie.

It's not just your typical hometown whining with Santo. He feels every bad play deep within the recesses of his soul to a point where you as a fan don't feel nearly as bad about it.

Ohhhhhhh, noooooooooo. Jeeeeeeeeeee, whiiiiiiz!!!!!! Oh my Goaaashhhhh!!!

I'm convinced that at least 10 times a game, Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes has to hit the cough button on Santo's mike, as the bemoaning would just be too painful for a mainstream audience to hear.

Here's a classic call from Sept. 23, 1998 as the Cubs were in a Pennant race and OF Brandt Brown dropped a routine flyball, giving the game to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Here's another one against the Phillies that is self-explanatory.

Lastly, a nice Ron Santo tribute, including many celebrities talking about what Santo means to them. Worth a watch.

Is he Werth it? Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals for 7 years and $126 million dollars. What?!?

Are you kidding me? A guy who turns 32 in May, who has only had a regular gig for three years -- and was platooned at one point in 2009 -- is worth $18 million a year?

I only have one word for this: Boras. Actually five. Boras is ruining the game. He's driving up prices to a point where teams have to raise ticket prices to a point that an average family can no longer afford to take in a game.

Ironically, Barry Zito and Vernon Wells signed exact same contracts. Oh, and both have the same agent.

To steal a joke from a Twitter post, I thought Washington was trying to reduce the National deficit.

Jeter signs with Yankees: This is a day or so old, but still newsworthy. Derek Jeter signs with the Yankees for 3 years and $51 million.

This is a rare situation in sports where both the player and the team desperately need each other. Jeter certainly needs the Yanks, but what would the pinstripes be without their "Captain."

It's a little much for the production Jeter brings to the table, but this contract is far more than just the numbers he brings to the table. At least half of it is for Jeter's star power, image and marketability he portrays with the Yankees.

If the Boss was still alive, Jeter may have pocketed an extra 10 or 15 million on this deal. But in the end, not an unfair deal on either side.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't count Rangers out quite yet

Sure, it doesn't look good, Texas fans.

Down 3-1 isn't usually the recipe to a World Series title. But it just might be this year.

So, 38 of the previous 44 teams up 3-1 have closed out the deal. So, what?

All that stands in the way of the first Rangers World Series championship is a 3-game sweep. That's not impossible.

And they're in a perfect spot with Cliff Lee on the bump tonight. Before the Game 1 debacle, Lee was easily the ace of the playoffs. He had allowed 1 ER in six of his past seven starts, including 24 innings of 2-run dominance.

Baseball is a funny sport. Momentum can swing on one crack of the bat, as it did Sunday with Aubrey Huff's monster shot to right.

But a strong Lee performance sends them back to the Bay, where C.J. Wilson faces Matt Cain. The entire series would hinge on that game and even though Cain has been unhittable in his previous two starts, nobody will confuse him for Nolan Ryan, who up until now has made all the right moves, and based on his first-pitch, could probably still throw an inning or two of scoreless inning in relief.

Wilson was strong in Game 2, giving up just 2 runs, 3 hits and 2 BB in 6 IP and his 2010 splits were actually better on the road (2.91 ERA, 1.23 WHIP). The Rangers clearly need to get the bats rattling or else this is a moot point, but a Lee win and the Giants start thinking a little. A win over Cain and they're nearly toast. Baseball is a game best served up loose (just like a Maid-Rite sandwich).

Technically, anyone could win Game 7, but the "grizzled veteran" Colby Lewis is the guy I want on the mound over lefty Jonathan Sanchez.

So if you hail from Texas, fear not, as everything is bigger, including, in this case, World Series comebacks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Andre Johnson inactive; Steve Smith injured

It's not looking good for Andre Johnson owners this week. Even worse for Steve Smith owners.

And as the case in the Observer league, if you are one and the same, well, our condolences.

Steve Smith was carted off the Panthers game with an ankle injury. Carted off. Never a good phrase to read as an owner. Word is, he couldn't put pressure on the ankle. That could mean anything. But one thing's clear, until Jimmy Clausen gets more seasoning, Smith is no longer a top WR option. You could argue he's not even worth starting at all.

Brandon Lloyd (another 100-yard game today) or the aging Derrick Mason (80 yards, 6 catches) would make a nice fill-in for Smith if either guy is hanging on your wire.

Texans WR Johnson has been declared inactive, which means Jacoby Jones will start on the outside. Jones, seemingly a good play, will likely draw shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha, so on paper, he's not a good play. Slot guy Kevin Walter, however is.

If you need a quick sub out, kick the tires on Arizona Cardinals WR Stephen Williams (filling in for Steve Breaston) or the Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was targed 11 times last week (so what if he only caught 3 passes) and draws the league's worst pass D in Houston.

I just ordered me a side of Heyward-Bey and plugged him into my lineup, so we'll see how tasty that ends up being.

-- Trevor Freeze

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On Torre, Jeter, Josh and Big Z

Some quick notes over the past few days that are begging for some commentary:

Joe Torre: The long-time Yankee skipper turned Dodgers manager said he's calling it a day in L.A. And when you're a dozen games out of the division race, who can blame you.

This opens the door for Don Mattingly, who hopes to last longer as Dodgers manager than his restaurant did in Evansville, Ind.

Donny Baseball will bring the mechanics of one of baseball's sweetest swings and if Hollywood is lucky, he'll bring back his infamous mustache, one of the all-time greats in the game.

Derek Jeter: And the Oscar goes to ...

The Yankees Derek Jeter did his best Tom Hanks this week in Tampa, faking a hit-by-pitch with one of the most convincing selling jobs I've seen.

The ball hit the handle of the bat, but Jeter flailed in apparent pain, which led to Joe Madden arguing the call and ultimately his ejection. Watch for yourself:

"It's really a big deal being made out of nothing," Jeter said on Friday. "I had nothing to do with the call. The umpire called it from the get-go. I didn't do it. I didn't tell myself to go to first base."

True. But some think Jeter went over the "Gamesmanship" line with his charade. Third word. Sounds like ditch.

Just as the Yankees would be furious if Evan Longoria tried such a stunt, the Rays have a right to be mad at Jeter. Technically, there was no rule broken and it's true his job is to get to first anyway possible, but this gives new meaning to beg, borrow or steal.

Guess that's what you'll resort to when you're hitting .261.

Josh Hamilton: It's officially time to get worried, Rangers fans. And if you had hoped for Hamilton to come back and push your fantasy team to the finish line, it's not looking good.

Hamilton said Saturday his ribs have not responded to two cortisone ejections earlier in the week. Not that this is a surprise.

Hamilton is nearing a modern-era record for cortisones, totaling five so far this year. He had a chance to hit for the Triple Crown (.361, 31 HR, 97 RBI) but won't get there.

Even Hamilton himself says getting back on the field a week before the season ends is not looking good, so you should probably cut him loose. And frankly, it might be time to cross him off next year's cheat sheet, unless he falls considerably. Just too brittle.

Let someone else take him late in the first round.

Carlos Zambrano: Despite unforeseen success this year or any year recently (6-0, 1.59 ERA since joining the rotation), the Cubs' Zambrano is talking retirement. Again. Only he'll play out his lucrative contract that pays him nearly $36 million over the next two years.

Cubs fans, with their ears perked on the news of Big Z's retirement, were let down to hear he's planning on playing out one of the worst contracts dished out by a team in this century.

If he's still dangling on your wire, he's worth a shot in almost every format right now, especially if you're league's turned into Streamsville, USA, like our Observer league unfortunately has.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Moments in Lou Piniella History

Lou Piniella may not have invented arguing with an umpire. But he sure perfected it.

But on Sunday, five weeks earlier than anyone expected, Piniella retired, pulling the plug on 48 years of baseball, both as a coach and a player. He moved up his retirement date to be with his ailing mother and his final post-game press conference was quite emotional. Read about it here.

Piniella, a likely managerial Hall of Famer, finished with 3,547 wins (14th all-time) and 1,705 hits.

But more than those stats, he'll be remembered for his on-field antics. Going nose-to-nose with an umpire. Throwing a base into the outfield grass. And, of course, kicking dirt on an umpire's shoes.

Here's a couple classic Lou tirades to warm your soul on a Monday.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lee trade signals winds of change at Wrigley

Well, if you know anything about this blogger, it's his passion for the Cubs.

As much as I try to hide it (not that much), Wednesday was a sad day for the Chicago Cubs (not really).

There was a small pit in my stomach when news broke that Derek Lee had been traded to the Atlanta Braves for three mediocre low-level pitchers. This wasn't about the minor-leaguers.

It was about starting over for the Cubs. This is the twing in the gut part.

Not too long ago, the Cubs were annual threats to win the NL Central. A powerhouse, if there is such a thing in that division.

The core of Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derek Lee and Carlos Zambrano were going to help them break that 100-year World Series. Or so we believed.

Then, they got old. Together, Soriano (34), Ramirez (32) and Lee (34) brought to the plate a century worth of years to the plate. And who knows what happened to Big Z. Probably too much e-mailing his brother.

But this is what happens when you hand out long-term contracts like full-size Snickers at Halloween. Eventually someone gets the circus peanuts. And that's the Cubs right now.

Nobody knows what they're doing. Lou's retiring. They're trying to play the young guys, although Tyler Colvin has now sat out three straight games.

Shedding their aging, big-money contracts gives fans hope, as they make room for younger guys like Micah Hoffpauer, who seemed more than ready after the 2009 Spring Training.

Between Colvin, rookie SS Starlin Castro, Hoffpauer, Randy Wells and Carlos Marmol there is a youth movement starting to creep into Wrigley.

The sad part is a true youth movement takes years to mature and pay off.

Look for Ryne Sandberg to get the managerial gig, if Joe Girardi spurns their advances (and why wouldn't he).

But there's still a lot of dead weight in that lineup.

Derek Lee was the lightest. Sure, he was hitting .250, but he just raked 4 HR in the Cardinals' series. He's a "professional hitter," as some would say.

He will be missed. A quiet leader, Lee never really took over that position, but he was a stand-up guy and one of the fan favorites on the North Side.

So much so, that someone put together this little ditty:

Fantasy Spin: Lee's value probably gets a kick up in Atlanta. Presumably, he'll hit 3rd or 4th with the Braves, who desperately need the Gold-Glover's service. Lee has a way of hitting HR in bunches when he's healthy. A wrist injury limited him a couple years ago, but it's been the back that has kept him off the field. Still, if he's around your wire, snatch him up. Double-digit HR are not out of the question. Since when has a pennant race not help energize a slugging hitter?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Slowey's no-no broken up by manager

Here's one you don't hear every day.

In the year of the pitcher, the Twins' Kevin Slowey's near no-hitter may be the most bizarre of them all.

Slowey was breezing along with seven no-hit innings against the A's when it was abruptly broken up -- in the dugout.

That's right. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pulled the plug after Slowe had thrown 106 pitches.

"They said we'd love it for you, but we can't do it," Slowey said of the dugout conversation. "Gardy specifically said, 'Liston son, I can't throw you back out there. I'd love to, but I can't look myself in the mirror and say I threw him back out there."

Why not? The rationale was that Slowey's last start had been skipped because of elbow tendinitis. I get that.

But pitch counts can be one of the most overrated statistics managers use. Slowey was breezing and a majority of his pitches were stress-free. Had Slowey felt anything, sure, take him out. But he could've breezed through the 8th and 9th in 20 innings.

At the very least, I think you leave it up to the pitcher. After all, it's Slowey's future earnings at stake.

"I would do it a thousand times the same way, because Slowey is just coming off an elbow injury and we're not about to e en come close to risking this guy," Gardenhire said. "I know I'm responsible for this young arm."

ESPN agreed with Gardenhire's decision and it's definitely the cautious approach. But this may be a real turning point in the game of baseball. Where the business side has overtaking the fun side.

Sure, the Twins don't want to lose their pitcher to an injury in a stretch run. But what about the 30-some thousand home fans, all wanting to be apart of history.

Instead, they were apart of the color beige.

Fantasy spin: Slowey owners who have hung on for dear life this year, your patience has been rewarded. Slowey showed signs a couple years ago to breaking through to that near-elite status, only to fall way back in 2009. Keeper leaguers, especially of the AL-only variety, take special notice. Slowey could be in for huge things this decade, pitching at the spacious new Target Field. Keep him in mind for a mid-round sleeper in next year's draft. His final numbers will not show up on a lot of radars.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 observations at trading deadline

Some thoughts at baseball's trading deadline:

Yankees get richer: There's no way around this. We say this every other year. We moan about the bottomless wallet. The free-spending pinstripes were at it again, snatching up a DH (Lance Berkman), a setup man (Kerry Wood) and bench depth (Austin Kearns).

Berkman's fantasy value gets a lift in the Yankees' wind tunnel (for lefties), Wood loses value and Chris Perez inherits the Indians' closer job and is the only decent pickup here.

None of these can be pointed as impact moves, but together they might be. And baseball economics aside, you have to hand it to the Yanks for trying to overpower the Rays, Angels and Rangers.

Spending is Bigger in Texas: The story is similar in Arlington, where Nolan Ryan and company has decided to go for it all. After all, with Vlad and Cliff Lee free agents at the end of the year, this may be their window.

Cliff Lee a few weeks ago was the big splash, but they put a little window trimming at the deadline by adding the Marlins' Jorge Cantu, Benji Molina and Christian Guzman. You can officially start the eulogy for Chris Davis, the latest Ranger with the AAAA tag. Cantu's value gets a boost, playing in the Texas air and Guzman's drops to a utility role, so if by chance you had him manning a MI spot, go ahead and cut the cord once Ian Kinsler comes off the DL.

Phillies add another Roy: By throwing prospects at the Astros, Philly now has both Halladay and Oswalt, not to mention Cole Hamels for possibly the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball. The biggest concern is getting Rollins, Utley and Victorino back in time to squeak into the playoffs. Oswalt's value gets a small bump in the wins, but the ERA/WHIP may take a hit in a smaller park.

Cubs can't unload the right guys: Getting Blake DeWitt and prospects for Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly isn't exactly the Cubs fans' idea of blowing up the team and starting over. Theriot had found Lou Piniella's dog house and at the bottom of the lineup, playing sparingly, his value had almost vanished. Lilly, however, gets a boost, pitching for a contender in a hitter-friendly park. But why the Cubs didn't deal Kosuke Fukudome or Carlos Zambrano is a mystery. Actually, they probably couldn't find a taker with their huge salaries. You have to wonder when the rebuilding truly begins here. Or how.

Twins lose faith in closer: Jon Rauch evidently blew up one too many times for the Twins brass. Minnesota paid retail and then some for the Nats closer Matt Capps, in the currency of highly-touted catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Sure, he was going to rot behind Joe Mauer, but they could have fetched a quality starter or position player to help fill a more obvious need. After all, Joe Nathan's back next year. Drew Soren of the Nats is the obvious add here, while Rauch hits the cutting room floor, unless your league for some reason counts holds (yes, I'm in one of those. Somehow).

Padres going for it all: Nobody believes San Diego is for real. That's fine. They went out and shored up their lineup. Or at least tried. Adding Miguel Tejada will move Chase Headley to the OF and give them another professional bat in a lineup seemingly held together by smoke and mirrors. Tejada may be rejuvenated in San Diego and playing in a pennant chase. He's hitting cleanup, which bodes well if you need RBI. Don't look for too many HR in that cavern called Petco Park.

Red Sox quiet: Boston, without doing so, raised the white flag on the season when they didn't go after any big, medium or even small names a the deadline. Disappointing season gets an exclamation point. Too many injuries.

Cardinals add Westbrook?: Cincy fans have to look at the Cards move (dealing Ryan Ludwig and adding Jake Westbrook) and breathe a sigh of relief. That's all they've got? Jake Westbrook? And they give up one of their top 4-5 bats to do so? That could be game over for the Reds.

Dunn stays home: Washington said all along they weren't going to trade Adam Dunn without getting the right package. Message received. The best hitter on the market wasn't going to come cheap and so he didn't come at all. Interesting strategy. We'll see if Dunn resigns to play in Washington now next year.

Angels going after it again: Two words: Dan Haren. These guys don't know how to give in. You have to like that about any franchise.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dawson, Piniella and trade rumors

Andre Dawson: Congrats goes out to the Hawk for being elected into the Hall of Fame. Finally.

Dawson was a true 5-tool player, with an arm in right field that could gun out anyone at any time. No particular stat jumps out at you, but when you look at all of them, you get a complete picture of the complete player he was: 438 HR, 1591 RBI, 314 SB, .279 avg.

Playing 11 years in Montreal, MLB decided Dawson would be inducted as an Expos. Dawson wanted to go in as a Cub. After all, he won his lone MVP award in 1987 on a last-place Cubs team. Of course, he also hit 49, when 49 meant something.

LOU HANGING IT UP: Earlier this week, Lou Piniella decided that at age 67, it's time to hang it up. One of only two men to rack up 1,800 hits and 1,800 wins (Joe Torre is the other), Piniella may have felt that the Cubs' window of opportunity has temporary closed.

"Sweet Lou" will forever be remembered for countless tirades, including this classic during his stint with the Cubs:

So, who will replace Piniella as Cubs manager next year? Names like Bobby ValeLinkntine, Fredi and Bob Brenly have been floating aroud. But my money is on Ryne Sandberg.

Ryno may not be the best Xs and Os guy with only four years of minor league managing experience, but he does have the Iowa Cubs in first place. And frankly, he'll excite the fan base. Ryno's a no-nonsense manager, who connects with the fans. And above all else, he's the only Hall-of-Famer managing in the minors.

Trade Talk: The second big deal of trading season shook down today as the Diamondbacks traded Dan Haren to Anaheim for Joe Saunders and minor leaguers Rafael Rodriguez and Patrick Corbin.

So, who's next? Roy Oswalt's going somewhere. My money's on St. Louis. The Detroit Tigers love Adam Dunn. There's better odds Jayson Werth is not a member of the Phillies by Thursday's deadline. Stay tuned for the latest as news happens.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rough week for Yankee fans

To say it's been a rough week for the Yankees is as much of an understatement as the franchise normally overpays for free agents every year.

In the span of about five days the pinstripes have suffered several major blows.

1). First, on the doorstep of trading for this year's trading-deadline prize of LHP Cliff Lee, the Texas Rangers upped their offer on Friday and yanked lee out from underneath, like the tablecloth underneath a table full of dishes set for thanksgiving dinner. Fantasy Spin: Lee may get more wins in Texas, but his numbers will suffer across the board when he pitches in Arlington. He's still a Top 10 option.

2). On Sunday, the Yankees family lost long-time announcer Bob Sheppard. And when I say long-time, I'm talking 57 seasons-worth. Sheppard started announcing Yankees games in 1951 and did so until 2007.

His style and voice was so crisp and unique that Derek Jeter has requested a recording of Sheppard announcing "No. 2, Derek Jeter...No. 2" be played when he bats. Players have often said they never truly felt like they made it to the big leagues until Sheppard, also known as "The Voice of God" introduced them as a batter.

Here's a quick clip of Sheppard reading a farewell poem during the final game at Yankees Stadium:

3). The final crushing blow was a big surprise as long-time owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday of a heart attack. Love him or hate him (and most people where in the latter camp), "The Boss" brought back the Yankee Legacy, bringing seven world championships and 11 pennants to the Big Apple during his tenure (1973-2009).

The biggest rap against Steinbrenner was he was too competitive, always wanting his teams to win championships, and paying whatever it took to get them. But don't blame George. He was playing well within the free-agency rules that baseball agreed to long ago.

Personally, the bigger crime would be for Steinbrenner to hoard the money he makes from the Yankees cash cow and not reinvest it into the team. There's no crime in wanting to win as an owner. Even before his death, this tribute ran on the Yes network, and the common theme you hear from his players was that above all else George cared deeply. About baseball. About winning. About his players.

There's a lot to be said for that.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Newsday: LeBron leans toward Miami

OK, so this isn't baseball news, but it's huge.

The LeBron decision that most of us are sick of hearing about has happened. Well, pretty much. Sorta. Depending on who you believe. But yeah, here it goes.

According to, LeBron James will join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and sign with the Miami Heat. Although currently the terminology is "leaning toward choosing the Heat," although that may also be changing by the hour.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer was also reporting the Newsday story that LeBron was gone. ESPN's Chris Broussard says "sources with knoledge of the situation" said LeBron is headed to Miami "barring a late change of heart."

Definitive? Well, this isn't exactly water-tight conclusive reporting, but it's also something. The first real smoke signal of what's going on inside LeBron's head.

So, why am I blogging about basketball on a baseball blog? Good question. But this is one of those stories that has crossed over sports, the first free agent bonanza that may change the way other sports look at free agency. The New York Yankees have been crucified for years for trying to buy their way to a championship, which didn't exactly work for a decade.

Except in the NBA, it's all about the stars and 2 or 3 players can dominate an entire league. Baseball can't say that. Football certainly can't.

The general feeling I get is this new Big Three would be anywhere from bad to extremely bad for the NBA. Where's the competitive balance? And will the public opinion of LeBron be forever that he had to team up with two other superstars, including a mega-superstar in Wade, to ever win that elusive ring. Couldn't do it on his own. That the title is hollow and manufactured.

And maybe he doesn't care what public opinion is. Although perception often times is reality.

Sure, Jordan had Pippen. And Kobe has Gasol. But to have two superstars along side you, including a consensus Top 5 player? And the other 23 other teams around the league, left holding the bag, don't even have one...?

Or maybe this report is completely false. Early reports have a way of coming up empty.

All I know is 9 p.m. can't come quick enough tonight. Let's get this over with already.

And back to baseball.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Braves' Infante the most surprising All-Star ever?

Omar Infante? Really?!? The super-utility guy for the Atlanta Braves an All-Star?

There are almost no words for such an obvious puzzling choice to this year's NL All-Star squad.

Joey Votto? Ryan Zimmerman? Where for art thou, Charlie Manuel?

The problem is, Infante, a nice Swiss Army Knife type of a player, is, well, not even a full-timer on his own team.

For Manuel to skip over obvious All-Star-deserving players like Votto (19 HR, 57 RBI, .313), who might be the N.L.'s first-half MVP, or Zimmerman (13, 40, .280) or teammate Adam Dunn (17, 49, .276) is not just a cause for concern.

It may be a cause to change the way All-Stars are chosen.

Yes, the fans vote in the starters and we've often thought that to be mostly a popularity contest. But even the fans wouldn't have whiffed so bad on this one. Check out the full rosters here.

So, what's so wrong with tabbing Infante? Let's look at his numbers:

1 HR, 22 RBI, 23 runs, .311, 9 doubles, 1 triple, 3 SB.

Get your science lab microscopes out, scrape off the sodium phosphate debris there, and tell me if you can find anything that says All-Star.

Maybe I need my prescription triple-checked by Clark Kent's eye doctor.

But the most startling number is 164: number of at-bats, or about half what most every-day players have.

This head-scratcher will go on for some time. May live in infamy. Even Infante, when he got the call, thought first that he was traded and secondly that it was a joke.

Other notable omissions who likely have been keeping your fantasy team afloat: Mat Latos, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Marmol, Jered Weaver and Andy Pettitte.

Who do you think was 2010's biggest snub?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What to do with Upton, Big Z?

I like B.J. Upton's upside. Always have. But this weekend may have tarnished his image, not just in baseball, but in fantasy circles as well.

How many times can a player dog it, before getting called out? Whatever that number, Evan Longoria felt lighting had struck twice and not in a good way. Longoria dialed up Upton's number in the dugout, unleashing a good old-fashion tongue-lashing for not hustling on two plays in a recent Rays game.

Good for Longoria. Nothing's worse than seeing a guy not hustle. Here's the chewing-out session.

Fantasy spin: This may finally shake Upton to be the player everyone though he would be. But I doubt it. Generally, guys are hustlers or they're not. Upton's history of going less than full-speed has been well-documented and Joe Madden may want to end this experiment with an off-season (or trade deadline) deal, depending on if they can resign Crawford. Any system short of the Angels would mean a decrease in Upton's steals. But that aside, Upton's average has been hovering around the Pena, er, Mendoza Line for too long now to take him serious as a fantasy star anymore. If you can get a Top 75 value for him, it's probably worth it.

Zambrano suspended after blowup

A unremarkable Cubs season unraveled on Saturday as Carlos Zambrano blew a major circuit with Meltdown No. 78 over his Cubs career.

If the Cubs unofficial mantra is "Wait 'til Next Year," most Cubs fans would settle for "Wait 'til Big Z is traded."

Zambrano's big beef was that Derek Lee, playing with a bad back, didn't dive on a ball down the line hit by the White Sox's Juan Pierre. Lee had little to no shot at the ball, but Big Z thought otherwise and went all John McEnroe in the dugout before being separated from Lee.

If you've been living under a rock, here's some video footage:

This seems to be the last straw for Jim Hendry and the Cubs, who suspended Zambrano and are ordering evaluation and anger-management treatment. And when Big Z returns, sometime after the All-Star break, it will be in the bullpen.

It's also the final verse for most Cubs fans, who find themselves humming "Go, Carlos, Go."

But how do the Cubs get rid of a loose-cannon such as Zambrano? If this was football, he would be on by now. But his 5-year, $91.5 million contract signed in August of 2007 makes waiving him about as improbable as Harry Caray making it to the 7th-inning stretch without a cold Bud.

The Cubs will try to quickly rehabilitate his image and hopefully Milton Bradley Zambrano, as in trading him to any taker out there for an equally bad contract. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a contract in the same stratosphere as Zambrano's, now that Vernon Wells has revived his career from the dead. Maybe for Carlos Lee perhaps? The Yanks' Kei Igawa?

All the so-called experts say the Cubs need to blow this team up, if not now, after the season and start from scratch.

Whoooooooooo dere. Not so fast. This is MLB not slowpitch softball.

How in the name of Bob Brenly will the Cubs be able to find takers for guys like Alfonso Soriano ($72 million, 4 years left) and Aramis Ramirez (owed a minimum $16.5 million for one more year)? Not to mention Zambrano.

This is Hendry's mess and he's gotta find a way out of it and his job might depend on it. But this is far worse than the Milton Bradley catastrophe of 2009. This is multiple players with bloated salaries who are not living up to expectations.

Good luck with that.

Or as Cub fans might be thinking: "Wait 'til 2014."

Fantasy Spin: Most owners have ridded themselves of Big Z (only 33 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) and those who still have him might be either on vacation or asleep. Once a top-tier SP option, Big Z will be in the bullpen for likely the rest of the year. His value is almost zero. As for Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, etc., there seems to be little life left in the Cubs' well right now. A momentary surge on Sunday was met with a 2-1 loss to the juggernaut Pirates. Harumph. Best thing to do is try to limit the number of Cubs as possible. The trio of Lee, Ramirez and Soriano are all borderline droppable in very shallow mixers, but I can't recommend that. Not yet anyway. Too much track record to go cold turkey.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Buy low or sell high (hitters)?

Playing the stock market perfectly is fairly impossible. Same could be said of trading players in fantasy baseball.

Or could it?

A lot can be learned over the years. Knowing which guys are historically slow and fast starters helps, but common sense can yield helpful tips.

Here's a list of under/overachieving hitters and what you should do, whether you own the player or not.

Albert Pujols: Can we really complain about Pujols' production this year? Yes. And as a Cubs fan, I urge you to do so at every possible moment. 15 HR, 50 RBI and .311 for most any player is a career year. For Pujols, it's run-of-the-mill. The RBI will probably be in the 110-120 range by year's end, but the long balls are on a much slower pace this year, unless you factor in 2007, when Pujols only hit 32. And Pujols is a career .333 hitter. Verdict: Buy-low. Matt Holiday is heating up and that will give Pujols more protection and some extra fastballs moving forward.

Chase Utley/Ryan Howard: Both players are underperforming with regards to expectations. Utley quite a bit worse (11 HR, 33 RBI, .265) Howard, until last week, would have been a prime buy-low candidate, but has woken up the past 5-6 games and is now up to 14 HR, 52 RBI, .297. Of course, Howard is a perennial slow starter, so a savvy league would not have discounted him much. Verdict: Surprisingly, I'm going to say sell-high on both. Sell high? My gut feeling is something isn't right in that Phillies clubhouse. Almost to the day of MLB busting Philly for stealing signs, their run production has been cut in half. Coincidence? Can't all be. But both Utley and Howard have perceived bargain-bin numbers, they might actually be overhyped in the end, if an owner is factoring their big second halves that will bring them back to their normal numbers. If you can still get late-first-round/early-second-round value, by perhaps the diehard Phanatic in your league, I'd definitely sell.

Mark Teixeira:
Always, always, always a slow starter. Always. His career April average is 40 points less than any other month and the April home run numbers are half what Aug. and Sept. are. Verdict: Time to go shopping on the clearance rack. And if you have time, get your inseam measured for this Teix. That window, however, may have gotten a little snugger with the Grand Salami.

Prince Fielder: Stat of the year. In the last month, Fielder has actually hit for decent power (6 HRs), but the RBI (8) are on the back of a milk carton. It's nearly impossible to accomplish this feat from a cleanup hitter, but alas, the doubles just don't seem to be coming this year. For the season, Prince has 13 HR and 27 RBI, hitting a pedestrian .257. Verdict: Early in the season, there where whispers that Prince had a wrist thing. Makes sense. Nothing concrete on that injury, but something clearly is affecting his swing. Not playing like $20 guy, let alone a $40 guy. The looming contract might be playing with his mind. If you can get third round value or better, I'd sell now. Something not right.

Ian Kinsler: Possibly the granddaddy of all fantasy disappointments. I'd make Kinsler a buy-low. His value, other than playing in Arlington, has really dropped off the shelf. Just 1 HR 19 RBI, 6 SB from a guy who has hit mostly 3rd in the Rangers lineup. If it wasn't for the speed, Kinsler would be unownable right now in most mixed leagues. Verdict: Kinsler could still hit 25, but I'm not expecting more than 15 this year. If you know the Kinsler owner is beside himself, making him pull out his hear, this is the perfect opportunity to offer him Uggla, Weeks or Stewart and see what happens.

Jose Lopez: Raiser your hand if you've taken a flyer on Lopez in your league. His 25 HR and 96 RBI in 2008 has pretty much flown the coup. But a 2008 return to form is possible (17/89/.303) would keep the locals happy. Verdict: Buy low off the 25 percent off shelf, but don't give up too much. Lopez doesn't swing like the same player from last season and he's being yanked all over that lineup, which can't help his cause either.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jim Joyce honored by MLB players

Like him or hate him, Jim Joyce has become a household name in baseball.

The umpire who botched one of the biggest calls in recent history was given an honor recently, voted MLB's best umpire by major leaguers in an ESPN poll.

Of course, this vote came just days after Joyce blew a call at first base that literally cost Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game.

Here it is one more time if you have been living under a rock the past two weeks:

Of course, immediately what comes to mind is that players gave Joyce the vote because they felt bad for the guy. Nobody seemed to take the blown call worse than Joyce, who was as professional as they come, apologizing to both Jim Leyland and Galarraga just minutes after he saw the replay.

He even gave Galarraga a hug, tearfully regretting his mistake.

But in two previous Sports Illustrated polls, Joyce was ranked 2nd among all umpires in both 2003 and 2006, so the ESPN results do have some merit.

I, however, like to look at this as a reward for being a stand-up guy. Yes, Joyce is one of the best umpires from a technical standpoint, but even moreso, he represents what is right about sports.

He admitted his mistake immediately and confronted a very tough situation, apologizing to both the manager and player he had wronged. Still probably didn't sleep well that night, but the outpour of support he received in the following days was reportedly overwhelming to the 22-year veteran umpire.

One last parting word about sportsmanship. Young Galarraga, who was robbed of the perfect game, did not argue the call. He didn't make any gestures. Didn't say a word to the umpire.

If only our kids playing little league -- and even adults playing softball -- could learn from this example of playing the game the right way, we would all be better for it.

By the Numbers:

0.32: ERA of Reds RP Arthur Rhodes, who according to the MLB network today said he's either 56 or 57 years old. His nickname is "Moses," as most players think he's been around since the beginning of time. Rhodes now has 26 straight scoreless innings. Has only given up 1 run all year, in his second outing in April. No wonder the Reds are in first. Fantasy spin: Rhodes is worth a flier in very deep leagues or those with a hold wherever those may be (although somehow, I happen to play in one).

6: Consecutive games Carlos Pena homered in last week, hitting 7 total. Remarkably, those 7 HR accompanied just 10 RBI. Still, if you traded Pena or dropped him before the surge, you probably kicked yourself with every click of the Rays box score. But that's Pena for ya. Fantasy Spin: Now would be about the worst time to deal for this guy. Sure, pick him up if he's somehow still around on your wire, but he hits in streaks and after an 0-for-4 day Sunday, it appears this one has run its course. But sell-high if you can. Maybe you can package him to the Ryan Howard owner in your league.

1-for-27: David Ortiz's latest slump, dropping his average from .275 to .237 in less than a week. Big Papi responded with a 6-for-14 weekend vs. Philadelphia and is back over .250. Fantasy spin: Ortiz's big number days are over. Might wanna hit the eject button on the next mini-power surge, if you can get a taker.

Last 10 pickups (in a 11-team mixed league):

Mitch Talbot
Jason Vargas
Freddie Garcia
Tyler Clippard
Placio Polanco
Juan Rivera
Pedro Alvarez
Kevin Slowey
Felipe Paulino
Jason Hammel

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Strasburg, Stanton here to save the day

Step aside politics. There's a new Super Tuesday in town.

And both campaigns are in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

What are the chances that both Steven Strasburg and Michael Stanton make their debuts on the very same night?

In the same state? At 7:05 p.m.?

This is not just a big night in fantasy baseball history, but baseball lore as well. The two mega-prospects will debut 309 miles apart, connected by baseball enthusiasts and Interstate 76.

If you have a pulse at all and have not been hanging out, eating bugs in a cave, you surely know about the Strasburg story.

He dominated AA and AAA with Tim Lincecum-type numbers. In six AAA games, he posted the following numbers: 33 1/3 IP, 38 Ks, 1.08 ERA, 0.75 WHIP. The biggest news came in his last start, when Strasburg and his triple-digit heater gave up his first home run. That's right, 1 HR in 55 minor league IP.

Some experts think he may be baseball's best pitcher already. High and lofty praise. And certainly there will be an adjustment period. But his dominance in college and the minors made him worth adding back in March.

Through the wonders of technology, we even know how he'll fare against his first batter:

But then there's Stanton, who you may not know as much about. If your team lacks power, you may have latched onto him already. Somehow, he's still only 43 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Although, that's up from 7 percent not even a week ago.

Stanton, 20, is young, which makes you wonder if he'll be able to make the leap as successfully as Strasburg. I say yeah. Look at what he did in AA Jacksonville.

In 52 games: 21 HR, 52 RBI, 41 runs, .311 avg., .441 obp.

You won't get the average from Stanton, who has struck out 53 times this year. But don't let that sway you. The power is legit.

Folks who have seen him talk endlessly how the crack off Stanton's bat is different. Judge for yourself. Here's a Spring Training HR off one-time stud pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

With every once-in-a-decade type prospect, there's an equally legendary story to go with him. Stanton's is a 500-plus-foot home run in the first week of May that turned him from just another top prospect to The Prospect in the minors.

Florida RP Dan Meyer, on a rehab assignment with the Jacksonville Suns, was on hand for the mammouth HR that cleared the scoreboard. There's no available footage of the blast, but listen to Meyer describe the shot.

It's hard to predict how the debuts of each player goes tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Strasburg threw a 4-hit gem, striking out 8, while Stanton went 2-for-3 with a HR and 4 RBI.

But they both could bomb under the intense pressure. Still, both are must-adds in any format, even a 6-team league, if such a thing exists. Very soon, possibly even next spring, these guys may be first or second round picks.

Strasburg, Stanton, are seeing the next wave of youth movement spring up before our eyes, an exciting time in baseball.

Even better if you can latch on to one of these guys at the ground floor.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Griffey retires; Detroit pitcher robbed of perfect game

Just when you thought you've seen everything in baseball.

Not even a couple hours after Major League Baseball was shocked with the news of Ken Griffey Jr. retiring, an even more stunning development happened in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers RHP Armando Galarraga sent 26 batters back to the dugout when Jason Donald, Cleveland's No. 9 hitter came to the plate.

Donald hit a slow chopper to 1B Miguel Cabrera, who threw it to Galarraga covering first.

Galarraga clearly beat Donald to the bag on a close play.

Perfect game!!!!.......Tiger fans go crazy ..... whoa, dere .... wait just a minute.

Inexplicably, first base umpire Jim Joyce, a 22-year veteran who is widely considered one of the best umps in the business, called Donald safe, effectively robbing Galarraga from tossing just the 21st perfect game in baseball history.

Here's a twitpic that's crystal clear. And here's the video:

To Joyce's credit, he quickly admitted being wrong and regretted the call.

"I just cost that kid a perfect game," Joyce told AP. "I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay."

Jim Leyland, never shy about giving an umpire an earful, argued after the play, then really gave Joyce the business after the game ended one batter later on a harmless grounder to third.

But the damage was done.

"I don't blame them a bit or anything that was said," said Joyce, who was voted by the players twice in a Sports Illustrated poll as the 2nd best umpire in all of baseball. "I would've said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would've been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me."

Benefit of the doubt clearly went out the window on this call. Tie goes to the runner? Usually. When a perfect game is on the line? Uh, yeah. And then some.

But as critical as many will be about Joyce's missed call, plenty of credit should be due to how he handled the aftermath. Joyce personally went to both Gallaraga and Leyland and offered a heartfelt apology. Reports were that Joyce hugged Galarrag and was even tearing up when offering his apology.

According to Galarraga, Joyce told him "I'm so sorry in my heart," The Free-Press reports. "I don't know what to tell you.

"He feels so bad," Galarraga continued. "He's sitting in there in his whole uniform."

Galarraga responded kindly, telling Joyce, "Nobody's perfect."

And on this night, unfortunately, that included Galarraga.

His 1 hour, 44 minute gem would have been the third perfect game in the past month with the Phillies' Roy Halladay spinning one Saturday and Oakland's Dallas Braden doing the same in early May. By comparison, there has been only one decade (1990s) that have seen three perfect games.

So, yeah, the debate is effectively on. Should instant replay be expanded to all field calls in baseball? This sure adds a couple logs to the fire. And maybe a gallon or two of gasoline. I'm still not in favor of expanding it, but the case could clearly be made tonight. And I'm finding less reasons to argue against it.

Some say another perfect game -- the fourth in less than a year -- would have been even bigger news than an umpire costing a pitcher the same feat.

I guess we'll never know.

Griffey retires: After 22 years and 630 home runs, Ken Griffey Jr. has announced his retirment from baseball Wednesday. Griffey, who started in Seattle, then later moved to Cincinnati, returned to Seattle last year but injuries and age (40) finally caught up with the 1997 MVP.

Many of us first were introduced to Griffey's star power with the hype of his rookie baseball card, a 1990 Upper Deck card that was as simple as it was hugely popular.

Recently, Griffey had gone a week without playing and after a report of Griffey falling asleep in the Mariners clubhouse during the late innings of a game, there was tension in the clubhouse about whether or not he would get regular at-bats.

Here's a shoutout to Griffey, the .284 lifetime hitter, who played the game the right way, helped bring baseball back in the 90's and led countless thousands to fantasy titles throughout the past two decades.

First-ballot Hall-of-Famer, no questions asked.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Observations (by the numbers)

Scanning the baseball globe, numerically.

1: Number of hits Matt Cain gave up over 9 innings vs. the D'backs. The Giants RHP added 9 Ks and lowered his ERA to 2.50. Almost as shocking, the Giants scored five runs.

3: Number of home runs by Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera against the A's in a losing effort. Cabrera now has 13 slow trots and a league-leading 44 RBI.

5: Orioles OF Adam Jones was detained for several hours early Friday morning until 5 a.m. at the Torono Airport. Jones was told he had a "criminal record." It was unknown whether authorities were looking for former Cowboy Adam "Pacman" Jones. And there's no validity that the crimes were related to his rise in strike outs (39) or drop in on-base-percentage (.278).

8: Nationals Savior RHP Stephen Strasburg's uber-anticipated (if that's a word) debut is all but certain for June 8. If he's not taken, grab him, but if that's the case you're league is not any fun because you're probably lapping the field.

11: Earned runs given up by Tim Lincecum, matching his previous 8 outings. Do I need to hire a sky-writer with a buy-low sign to fly over Charlotte Motor Speedway? His price may never be lower.

18: Home runs hit this year by Jacksonville Suns' Michael Stanton, called the best Marlins prospect since the aforementioned Cabrera by all the important people in South Florida who would know these things. Stanton, 20, who hit 37 HR as an 18-year-old, hit one earlier this year that went an estimated 500 feet. The current Florida Marlins OF has a combined 10 HR and 54 RBI. Stanton now has 47 RBI.

30: Number of consecutive scoreless innings by the Phillies offense before Raul Ibanez's triple in the fourth inning Friday. Proof that anything can happen in baseball.

51: Hitting streak by Florida Internationals' Garrett Wittels that's still alive, just seven games short of Robin Ventura's Divison I 23-year-old record. This may be the most PR Ventura has gotten in a decade.

.286: Highest average for any Angels regular (Kendry Morales). In fact, five starters are hitting .258 or less. Think they miss Figgy and Vladdy?

.278: We're almost two months in and guess who leads the America League in hitting. That's right. The Royals, buoyed by Billy Butler (.349) and Mike Aviles (.341). What is this season coming to?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Should we send interleague out to pasture?

Interleague play has always been a little strange. But this weekend, so many things happened that borderlined on the ridiculous you wonder if baseball should do away with this 15-year experiment.

Attendance, sure, is great. And frankly, that's why we'll probably never see interleague go away. And actually, I like the natural rivalries (Cubs-Sox for one) that we'd never see otherwise (I know, baseball purists will shoot me down for this).

But from a fantasy perspective, everything we've known to accept as truth have shaken our core a little. Mainly from the top-shelf pitching department.

Seven of the preseason top 10-ranked pitchers (according to Yahoo), gave up at least 4 earned runs over the past three days. Several were lit up for their worst outing of the year. Here's just a sampling.

Roy Halladay: Normally untouchable, was rocked by the Red Sox: 5 2/3 IP, 8 hits, 7 runs, 6 ER, 2 BB.

Zack Greinke: Rocked by Rockies in K.C. Just 3 1/3 IP, 9 hits, 8 runs, 7 ER,

C.C. Sabathia: Was hit by the Subway in Queens: 5 IP, 10 hits, 6 runs, 5 ER, 2 BB.

Cliff Lee: Wait. This was against San Diego. At home? 6 1/3 IP, 11 hits, 8 runs, 7 ER.

So what can we surmise? A couple things.

For starters, each blowup was accompanied by at least one error, which may have been from a little added juice from the game. Certainly the Subway Series and the Phillies-Red Sox had playoff-type atmosphere in May. Not sure folks were patting down the goose bumps in the hyped Padres-Mariners duel.

Secondly, fuggetaboutit. Interleague throws a lot of things out of whack. Teams may be facing the opposing team's stud for the first time for several years. They may have to hit without the DH. There is added pressure that they weren't prepared for. The list goes on.

It's more than a coincidence, that almost all the top-flight aces in the league scuffled.

But it does open just a crack into a potential buy-low trade window. Just that seed of doubt that the owner may have now. Wouldn't hurt to float a decent offer to the Grienke owner in your league who may be short on power. Maybe a serviceable sell-high pitcher like Ricky Romero or Matt Latos and a near-top tier hitter like Kendry Morales or Pablo Sandoval.

Think outside the box. This may be the only bad outing these guys will have all year.

Dice-K Revival? If for some reason you were still clinging to hope with Daisuke Matsuzaka, congrats on the near-no hitter Saturday night. But don't be fooled. Dice-K threw four balls and had a couple spectacular fielding plays go his way (one that he made a nice move to cover first base). Yes, it was the Phillies, but I still don't trust him. The WHIP (1.28) hasn't killed you so far, but facing the Blue Jays, Rays and Yankees a million times down the stretch will kill his ERA. Find a taker, if you can.

Waiver Wired: Here's the last 10 pickups in my 11-team league. Mike Napoli, Travis Hafner, Casey Blake, Gio Gonzalez, Alexei Ramirez, Howie Kendrick, Jon Garland, Kris Medlen, Carlos Villanueva, Carlos Santana.

Lima Time over: Jose Lima, the high-energy closer for the Dodgers, Astros, Royals among other teams, died of a heart attack Sunday.

Sure, Lima may have been misunderstood, often times having a spirited two-way conversation with himself in his glove around the pitcher's mound, countless reporters have talked about how vibrant a character he was and the impression he put on the game.

Here's a good read from the Seattle Times' Larry Stone.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sporting News releases Top 50 Player List

Albert's done it again.

As a surprise to almost no one (who follows baseball, anyway), Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols has repeated as the top vote-getter on Sporting News list of the 50 greatest players in baseball today.

Pujols grabbed 67 first-place votes, while Joe Mauer, the Twins new $23 million/year man, was second with 41 first-place votes.

Two Yankees (Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter) along with Tim Lincecum rounded out the Top 5.

The award is selected by a panel of 125 Hall of Famers and other decorated baseball players (for a full list scroll below).


1 Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2 Joe Mauer, Twins
3 Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
4 Derek Jeter, Yankees
5 Tim Lincecum, Giants
6 Roy Halladay, Phillies
7 Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
8 Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
9 Chase Utley, Phillies
10 Ryan Howard, Phillies
11 Mariano Rivera, Yankees
12 Felix Hernandez, Mariners
13 CC Sabathia, Yankees
14 Evan Longoria, Rays
15 Zack Greinke, Royals
16 Mark Teixeira, Yankees
17 Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
18 Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
19 Justin Verlander, Tigers
20 Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
21 Prince Fielder, Brewers
22 Ryan Braun, Brewers
23 Justin Morneau, Twins
24 Adrian Gonzalez, Padres
25 Carl Crawford, Rays
26 Matt Kemp, Dodgers
27 Johan Santana, Mets
28 Matt Holliday, Cardinals
29 Cliff Lee, Mariners
30 Andre Ethier, Dodgers
31 Torii Hunter, Angels
32 Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
33 Derrek Lee, Cubs
34 Todd Helton, Rockies
35 Josh Johnson, Marlins
36 Josh Beckett, Red Sox
37 David Wright, Mets
38 Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
39 Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
40 Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
41 Brian McCann, Braves
42 Pablo Sandoval, Giants
43 Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
44 Bobby Abreu, Angels
45 Aaron Hill, Blue Jays
46 John Lackey, Red Sox
47 Jason Bay, Mets
48 Dan Haren, Diamondbacks
49 Jayson Werth, Phillies
50 Carlos Pena, Rays


Yogi Berra
Gary Carter
Orlando Cepeda
Bobby Doerr
Dennis Eckersley
Rollie Fingers
Goose Gossage
Ferguson Jenkins
Al Kaline
Harmon Killebrew
Ralph Kiner
Paul Molitor
Joe Morgan
Jim Palmer
Nolan Ryan
Red Schoendienst
Earl Weaver
Dick Williams

Mark Davis
Doug Drabek
Tom Glavine
Pat Hentgen
Orel Hershiser
LaMarr Hoyt
Randy Jones
Denny McLain
Don Newcombe
Steve Stone
Bob Turley
Frank Viola

Don Baylor
Phil Cavarretta
Steve Garvey
Dick Groat
Fred Lynn
Al Rosen
Bobby Shantz
Larry Walker

John Castino
Alvin Davis
Ben Grieve
Ron Hansen
Mike Hargrove
Gil McDougald
John Montefusco
Wally Moon
Gregg Olson
Gary Peters
Tim Salmon
Don Schwall
Roy Sievers
Ted Sizemore
Bill Virdon

Bill Buckner
Ralph Garr
Al Oliver

Dwight Evans
Graig Nettles
Gorman Thomas

Will Clark
Cecil Cooper
Darren Daulton
Damion Easley
Javy Lopez
Hal McRae
Lloyd Moseby
Lance Parrish
Frank White

Gene Alley
Glenn Beckert
Ken Berry
Del Crandall
Steve Finley
Ray Fosse
Bud Harrelson
Don Kessinger
Jim Landis
Sixto Lezcano
Mike Matheny
Mike Mussina
Amos Otis
Jimmy Piersall
Joe Rudi
J.T. Snow
Mike Squires
Mickey Stanley

Mike Boddicker
Bob Friend
Joe Magrane
Dennis Martinez
Stu Miller
Frank Tanana

Scott Brosius
Ron Cey
Bobby Richardson
Ralph Terry

Jeff Brantley
Jeff Montgomery

Jim Frey
Tom Kelly
Jack McKeon
Buck Rodgers
Buck Showalter
Jeff Torborg
Eric Wedge

Frank Cashen, former Orioles and Mets G.M.
Fred Claire, former Dodgers G.M.
Dallas Green, former Cubs G.M.
Peter Ueberroth, former commissioner
Fay Vincent, former commissioner

Steve Hirdt, Elias Sports Bureau
Bill James, writer/historian
John Kuenster, Baseball Digest editor
Will Lingo, Baseball America co-editor
John Manuel, Baseball America co-editor
George Will, author

Bert Blyleven, Twins
Tom Candiotti, Diamondbacks
Jim Deshaies, Astros
Ricky Horton, Cardinals
Jeff Huson, Rockies
Dave O’Brien, Red Sox
Pat Tabler, Blue Jays
John Wehner, Pirates
Chris Welsh, Reds