February 2007

Ready to ‘Buc’ the Trend?

Spring
Training has its typical topics. Over the last few springs, there’s been the
A-Rod/Jeter coverage, Barry Bonds chase of Hank Aaron’s all-time home run
record and of course, the endless comparisons between the Yankees and Red Sox.

And yet,
for some reason, there’s only one team on my mind, haunting my baseball dreams,
banishing the usual Spring Training fodder into the background.

The

Pittsburgh

Pirates.

Huh?

Yes, those
Pirates.

For some
quirky, ill-conceived reason, I have a funny feeling about a franchise that
hasn’t enjoyed a winning season or qualified for the playoffs since winning the
division under Jim Leyland in 1992 – nearly 15 years ago!

Call me
crazy, delusional or illogical, but something tells me this may be the year

Pittsburgh

finally ‘Bucs’ the trend.

From a
fantasy standpoint, there are a number of bargains sporting yellow and black in
2007. Not only is the team generally cast aside in fantasy wasteland, creating
good buying opportunity, there’s also a young foundation in place.

For
starters, I confess to having a completely functional, heterosexual “man-crush”
on rotation ace Ian Snell, who won 14 games and struck out almost as many
batters as innings pitched while demonstrating advanced control all in his
first full season last year. Plus, not many fantasy owners take pride in owning
a guy named Ian Snell. I have no studies to support such an outlandish claim,
other than to say that last names which remind competitors of a harmless,
slithering animal tend not to draw as much fanfare as ones such as Escobar,
Mussina or Burnett. Laugh all you want, but there’s truth to the theory.

The rest
of the Pirates’ rotation has potential, too, with rising lefties Zach Duke, Tom
Gorzellany, Paul Maholm and potential offseason steal — relative to the gold
diggers’ spending market — in right-hander Tony Armas.

Most of
their position players are unusually appealing. Leading the way, of course, is
underappreciated right fielder

Jason

Bay

, who’s
produced All-Star numbers over the last few seasons despite a complete lack of
offensive protection. With the acquisition of budding 27-year-old first baseman
Adam LaRoche, however, Bay’s days of feeling lucky to see a strike appear all
but over. With both Bay and LaRoche coming off 30-homer seasons, might one –
or both — finally become the first player(s) in franchise history to reach 40
jacks? It’s certainly within reason.

Then
there’s the little-known, speedy center fielder Chris Duffy. Under the radar,
Duffy quite possibly had the best comeback story of 2006. Batting just .194
through mid-May, he was sent down to the Minors. The only problem was, he
didn’t report until almost 1 ½ months later for personal reasons. During
Duffy’s self-imposed exile, many speculated that he had lost the desire to
play. He would later rise from the ashes and lead all National Leaguers with 23
steals over the final two months of the season.

Whether
it’s third baseman Freddy Sanchez, reliever Matt Capps, the solid yet
unspectacular Xavier Nady or the team’s extremely underrated defense (I know,
referring to defense violates some sort of fantasy supreme court amendment),
Pirates fans have reason to feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.

<i>– Alex Cushing, MLB.com Fantasy 411 crew</i>

Sleepers and Busts and Upcoming Show News

Been awhile since I blogged so my bad.

On Thursday we had Fantasy Opening Day and brought you three hours of fantasy content on BaseballChannel.tv and MLB Radio. The first hour was mine and Cory’s picks for sleeper and busts at each position with us giving you two starters and two outfielders.

Here they are

Sleeper:

Catcher. Cory-Ianetta / Siano-Laird

1B. Cory-Mike Jacobs/ Siano-Garko

2B. We both took Kinsler

3B. Cory-Betemit / Siano – Back to the well with Eddie Encarnacion

SS. Cory – Y. Betancourt / Siano – Lugo

OF. Cory – Nelson Cruz and Ryan Church / Siano – Wily Taveras and Hideki Matsui

SP. Cory – Erik Bedard and Dan Haren / Siano – Dan Haren and Dave Bush

CL. Cory – Valverde / Siano – Broxton

Overrated:

Catcher. Cory – Pudge / Siano – Barrett

1B. Cory – Youkilis / Siano – Conor Jackson

2B. Cory – Brandon Phillips / Siano – Ray Durham

3B. Cory – Mora / Siano – Crede

SS. Cory – Felipe Lopez / Siano – Bill Hall

OF. Cory – Milton Bradley and Jeff Francouer / Siano – Dye and Ibanez

SP. Cory – Zito and Willis / Siano – Dice-K and Jered Weaver

CL. Cory – Todd Jones / Siano – Borowski

Thoughts?

We’ll be in Arizona at the Diamondbacks Fan fest on Saturday 2/24 from 1-2pm MT. Come by and say hello if you are in the area.

Starting March 12Th we go 5 days a week. Same noon ET time.

-Siano

Cleveland rocks!

If you didn’t watch the Indians Fantasy Summit live, bad jobby you. And in that case, you should have checked out the archive by now. And if
you haven’t even done THAT yet, well, then let me paraphrase Robert DeNiro in Copland: "You blew it!!"

Fortunately though, it’s not too late to check it out and I
highly encourage you all to do so, here’s the link.

Aejauese
As Siano said during the show, Mark Shapiro and Chris
Antonetti might not have known it, but they gave out some killer fantasy
advice. And as I mentioned during the event, I counted about 20 valuable lessons
they put forth that have direct relevance and importance to the fantasy owner,
from offseason prep to draft strategy to in-season roster management. Check out
the archive and draw your own conclusions, but here’s what I took away from it
(in no particular order):

  1. Have a system and a strategy in place and put as much data as possible into it, but crave flexibility and have
    alternatives
  2. Be able to "adjust on the fly" and take
    advantage of opportunities as they arise
  3. Focus first on maximizing talent rather
    than reacting to the competition
  4. Be aggressive about looking for undervalued properties to build competitive advantages
  5. Remember to balance risk vs. reward when evaluating long-term value… focus on ability first and foremost!
  6. Don’t underestimate the importance off offseason preparation and inseason focus
  7. Make sure to build depth to support star players (beyond lineup as well)
  8. Base decisions on all available information: stats, scouting reports, medical reports, personalities, trends, etc.
  9. Emphasize track record when evaluating performance
  10. Focus on what players CAN do, not what they can’t do
  11. Be honest when evaluating your roster
    and don’t get fooled by small sample sizes or more situation-dependent stats (RBI, wins, etc.)
  12. Don’t just trust results, trust "stuff" and skills
  13. Be aware of players who might be options in the future if not in the present
  14. If there’s a guy who can help you, make room for him!
  15. Recognize the interaction of run support, starting pitchers and bullpens
  16. Remember to adjust for league transitions and park effects
  17. Remember the importance of infield defense to pitching
  18. Focus on pitchers’ ability to make adjustments… college pitchers are more likely to adjust faster because development is tougher at the Major League level
  19. Pay attention to the cumulative effects of pitch counts… not all pitch counts are equal!
  20. Direct quote: "Emotion and momentum will lead you to a bad decision… in this game, patience is usually rewarded"
  21. Don’t confuse the outcome with the decision!

Go back and listen to the archive because it was a great
experience to be a part of. We’ll be out in Arizona in two weeks for the Diamondbacks FanFest, and I don’t know what we’ll be doing
but it will be hard pressed to top this. Hopefully other clubs will check this
out and we’ll be able to do more of these in the future!

Finally, special thanks to GP in Cincy, Bob in Cleveland and Al from Queens, all of whom came to the event and joined us for some after-event socialization. Cleveland rocks!

–CS

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