Posts Tagged FantasySports

Season Preview: Providence Sox

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports

This is the eleventh and final preview and it’s going to trip you out, man. Eleven is a great number. My craps shooting amigos will know that 11 is probably the best number at the table. It’s a winner on the come out but doesn’t sweep the line after the point is made. Everybody hollers out “Yo’leven”. That alone is enough to make 11 my favorite number, but there’s more.

I was born at 11:11 p.m. and all my life I’ve found myself compelled to look at the clock at exactly 11:11. Now I figured there’s a logic explanation for this. 11:11 is pretty memorable, especially on digital clocks, and probably I look at the clock all the time but consciously take note when it’s 11:11. Makes sense. You ever heard of this cat Uri Geller? He’s a fake psychic. Here’s a note from his website:

I started experiencing this rather bizarre occurrence when I was forty years old, at first I thought they were coincidences, I would stand with my back to a digital clock and something made me turn around and I would notice that the time would be 11:11. These incidents intensified I would be checked into hotel rooms on floor 11 room 1111. I started noticing these digits on computers, microwave ovens, cars, documents, etc. I decided to write about it on my website. I was immediately inundated by hundreds of emails from all around the world. Individuals were telling me their own 11:11 stories, almost always saying ‘I thought it only happened to me.’ It is difficult for me to decipher what this is all about but my intuition tells me its positive.

Weird, huh? Same experience. Turns out 11 is what numerologists call a master number. This is a powerful number for numerologists. It’s closely associated from psychics. I’ve always been a little bit psychic. In fact, from the time I was about 5 years old I had dreams about airplanes crashing. One morning I woke up very early, before the alarm went off, mechanically went to the tv as if compelled, turned it on and watched a plane swoop into the WTC. It was like watching a replay of the dream I’d had all my life. September 11. 9-11. Or 9+1+1=11. Trippy man. Real trippy.

So given this is my 11th preview, I figure this one is going to be highly prescient. I remember previewing this team early on and being unimpressed but the second impression has been more favorable. Hanley Ramirez is a do everything bona fide fantasy star. Morneau and Holliday have an all star track record. Holliday of course basks in the reflected glory of Fat Albert. Chase Headley and Howie Kendrick are both value picks that will contribute with Headley running a lot early on and Kendrick doing what everybody has always expected he would when healthy. Cameron Maybin is a perpetual waiting to break out guy and you add in Podsednik this is a team that will steal a lot of bases, score a lot of runs and pound the ball. There are 7 guys hitting over .300 so far this year and one hitting over .400 (Podsednik). Expect the averages to deflate a bit, but this team will be solid on the offensive side.

I really like the deal to pick up Tim Lincecum. He’s the kind of guy that, given two starts in a week, can pretty much dominate four categories. Randy Wells is an underrated compliment to Lincecum. There are too many pitchers here that don’t do enough to really help, though. Don’t expect Mike Pelfry to maintain his hot start. Jared Weaver seems to be legitimate, but I tend to wonder. Floyd, Aceves and Sean Marshall are taking up roster space. Carl Pavano remains Carl Pavano. That leave just Leo Nunez down there in the pen doing anything worthwhile and that will likely need to be addressed.

Prediction? You know I’d like to say 11th. Planned on it, in fact. But this team is a bit better than that. I think they’ll be in striking distance but just miss the playoffs.

That’s a wrap, Jacks. Have a great year everybody.


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Season Preview: Seattle Vaportrails

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports

By harsh necessity, Atlas supports the broad sky
on his head and unwearying arms,
at the earth’s limits, near the clear voiced Hesperides,
for his is the doom decreed for him
by Zeus the counselor.

The poet Hesiod wrote these lines about the Titan, Atlas, about two thousand years ago. Atlas fought with the Titans against the Olympians and when the Titans went down on a Zeus walk off home run, Zeus condemned him to hold up the heavens for all eternity. It’s unclear just what Albert Pujols did to deserve a similar fate, but he’ll be asked to hold up what chances the Vapes, one of FBB’s more successful franchise, will have this season. Now if that’s not a torturous segue, I don’t know what is, but hey this is my tenth one of these so cut me some slack.

It’s tough to tell what’s going on with the Vaportrails this year. It started with the drafting of Joe Nathan, an uncharacteristic gaff. Aaron Hill, the only second baseman on the roster, has been a ghostly inhabitant at the keystone with no replacement as he languishes on the DL. Bedard and Lidge currently occupy the DL spots but there’s no guarantee either will be contributors this year. Chone Figgins is off to a slow start. Ellsbury is nicked up. The bullpen features two shaky closers in Ryan Franklin and David Aardsma while Jose Mijares gives the Trails yet another player on the DL.

There are some nice pieces here. Vlad Guerrero was a shrewd pick and will probably contribute well above his 17th round draft slot. The roster is really outfield heavy with Victorino, Hawpe, Ludwick and Byrd all fighting for playing time. Danny Haren should provide solid numbers, at least through July, and Chris Carpenter is a true ace. Yovanni Gallardo has the stuff to be a third ace in this hand but he’s off to a slow start so far.
Buehrle and Lackey bring similar skill sets but the innings eater type sometimes can be more of a difference maker on the real diamond than in this game.

And yet, in spite of all the Vapes came roaring out of the gate and blew out the Dish in week one. Which brings us around to Pujols once again, who, like our friend Atlas, hoisted the team on his shoulders hitting more than half the home runs for the week, driving in a third of the team’s runs and scoring a quarter of them. As long as he’s around and healthy, the Vapes will be dangerous in any given week.

I just don’t think a one man team gets it done in this year’s league though and I’m not seeing enough in the complimentary players to be able to recommend Cloudie’s boys this year.

Prediction: Just miss the playoffs


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Season Preview: Lancers

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
Somewhere in So Cal

6 of 12, 9 of 12, 11 of 12. That’s how the Lancers have finished since joining FBB three seasons ago. During that time, managers have been fired and GMs were canned. Pitching coaches were pitched and hitting instructors axed. Even the groundskeepers were mowed down. Nobody has been immune. So what do you do when you run out of places to cast blame. Well there’s always the fans of course.

In a bizarre off season tirade, that’s just what owner and used jet ski magnate Nacho Troell did. Citing repeated instances of fan interference, doing the wave during home at bats and order of magnitude attendance discrepancies depending upon whether or not it was beach towel, snuggie or plush toy give away night, the Lancers’ top man made it clear that enough was enough. And so was born the Superfan program. Want to buy a ticket to a Lancers game this year? Be prepared to be committed. There are classes to attend. There are tests to pass. Unsure about the infield fly rule? Maybe this isn’t the team for you. Unwilling to keep score during the game? Too bad. Everybody keeps score and there are an army of ushers out there to enforce the rule.

Now you might think this might discourage the casual fan, but something very unusual took place. The Superfan program took off. And you’ll never believe with whom. The cast of popular reality television show The Real Live Ladies of the OC. Since the Lancers caught the attention of these So. Cal trendsetters, the lines for tickets has been one great sea of silicone implants and peroxide blondes. If there opening week of play is any indication, this team may have to change it’s name to the cougars. Perhaps Silvia Plath was right when she opined that “every woman adores as fascist.”

So what will the product on the field look like for the ladies. Well it’s a good thing chicks dig the long ball, because this team can hit, hit and hit some more. The Lancers did the right thing picking both the falling Miggy Cabrera and Prince Fielder despite the double dip at first base. The combination Rollins and Pedroia make for as solid a double play combo as you’ll find in the league and Aramis Ramirez solidifies a position that’s thin leaguewide. Pierre and Bourne provide the speed and Torii Hunter is consistently underrated. A comeback year for Josh Hamilton could make this team scary good offensively.

Pitching is another story, where Huston Street, Cliff Lee and bullpen workhorse Michael Wurtz start the year on the DL. Shields, Billingsley, Baker and Saunders may do more harm than good, providing innings but threatening the loss column, ERA and WHIP week in and week out without guaranteeing the flipside categories. The pen is a shambles with just shaky Kevin Gregg and veteran Darren Oliver out there. When it comes to pitching, man can this team hit. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see some of the bench players like Rivera, Hairston and Swisher, all fine options for another team, depart via waivers or trade to shore up the staff.

Things are looking up for the Lancers. Playoffs are not out of the realm of possibility, maybe even likely. Superfans get ready.

Prediction: Playoffs one and done.

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Season Preview: San Diego Yankees

Is there a better place to see a game than at The Big Stink, home of the San Diego Yankees? No there is not. C’mon. There’s beach at the stadium. A beach where you can get beer. Cheap beer. Did I mention the girls yet? There are a lot of girls on the beach. The girls are also drinking beer. Did I mention that? And did I mention that the best park in FBB just got better?

Working under the theory that if some is good, more is better, maverick owner D. “Stink” Levinski has turned the whole stadium into a beach. That’s right, no seats. Just sand. Sand in the bleachers. Sand in the plaza level. Sand in the loge. Sand in the owners box and sand in the cheap seats. But this isn’t your ordinary sand. Night games it’s heated. Day games it’s cooled. And there’s beer. Everywhere. And girls with beer. I believe I mentioned them. Except now they’re everywhere.

So I know some of the more sensitive, less girl with beer oriented among you are probably saying, “hey that’s gross. There’s beer spilled in there every night. What about the peanut shells?” Ok, probably none of you are saying that. But somebody might say that. And if they did, here’s what they would find out. This is no ordinary sand. Using a revolutionary technique developed by Levinski himself the sand is fully sterilized after each game. The sand is purged of liquid which is then highly filtered to such a degree of purity that it’s then given free of charge back to the city. The solid waste removed from the sand is pulverized and turned into a nutrient rich compost which is given to needy Mexican organic farmers. Free of charge. Pretty cool. And yet, maybe not as cool (certainly nowhere near as hilarious) as the Sand Yanks new mascot…a sombrero topped chimp named Senior Gauchos. I hear that the chicks dig Senior Gauchos.

What’s great about this franchise is that the product on the field keeps pace with the action off the field. Yankees 3 and 5 hitters Tex and Cano anchor the line up. Cano in particular looks poised for a monster season well above his draft position. Youk contributes everywhere but the basepaths. A big year from Jay Bruce would really solidify the lineup, especially if Manny Ramirez continues his decline. Carlos Lee remains under appreciated. Pena and Helton will also see playing time. Contract year Carl Crawford should be among the league’s best. Carlos Beltran may arrive in time to contribute to the second half though he’ll occupy a DL spot well into the first half.

Johann Santana and Ricky Nolasco are by no means stone cold locks but few pitchers have a higher ceiling. Oswalt will fight some back problems and probably won’t recapture past numbers but he will deliver quality starts as will Slowey. I’m a seller on Harang. Hughes could produce some intreguing results, though it will be interesting to see how Girardi handles his pitch count. The bullpen includes Carlos Marmol, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco and Joba. If these guy hold jobs all season they should be adequate, but overall the staff is pretty midtier.

The offense looks solid enough to carry this team back to the upper tier again this year and I expect a playoff run. And in the playoffs, life can be a beach…with girls. And beer. Did I mention the beer?

Prediction: Into the semis and then who knows.

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Season Preview: Panda Molesters

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports

Woohoo! Threepete! Yeah, bitches! Threepete! Woohoo! Welcome to my 2010 Panda MoLesters blog!!!! This blog is going to be a kick ass place where you can come all season and get you’re PML updates, keeping you up to date on a sure fire take it to you local S&L lock on yet another championship for the D&B dominators. Check often because Im gong to update this shit like two…three times a day. Except I do kind of have to work a bunch the next couple of weeks. And I have dinner at my Moms on Sunday, so I don’t know about that. Maybe not twice a day, but I am super fired up for this…

Ok, ok, it’s a cheap shot I admit, but as everybody knows the only thing worse than a guy who talks smack is a guy who talks smack and backs it up. Running championships constitute backing it up, and if the two-in-a-row guy says he’s going to win a third, who am I to argue? If memory serves, though, neither year featured a regular season title, and winning the FBB playoffs is a little like getting lucky on the river and handing the other guy a bad beat (first of two poker terms references to be featured).

You might have heard me talk in the past about one of my favorite topics: the difference between strategy and tactics. If you missed it, here’s a review. The best way to think about strategy and tactics is in chess terms. Strategy is high level thinking along the lines of, “I want to get my rooks on open files, I want to attack this defense queenside, I’m concerned about my pawn structure.” Tactics on the other hand go something like this: “If I go there then he goes there then I go there then he goes there” as far out as you brain can handle the permutations. One of the greatest of all chess masters (my dad named our dog after this guy when I was a kid), Emanuel Lasker once said that chess is basically 99% tactics but strategy gets all the ink. I bring this up because Mike has been the tactical genius of our little club here.

Tactics get a bad name in FBB because those not in the know will spin it as the guy who spends too much time on it, or the guy who cares too much. False. The tactical advantage flows from the ability to read opponents, to make adjustments, to exploit opponent weaknesses and to defend against opponent strengths. Mike has shown the ability to do all these things and that’s not about being a geek, it’s about being smart.

Take the beginning of this year for an example. The Providence Sox publicly admit to being on tilt (poker term 2) and Mike spots it, generates a trade proposal that dangles a big name local guy for the Sox (Victor Martinez) and basically acquires multi-category juggernaut Werth plus breakout candidate Matt Wieters as a replacement for Martinez. And if that wasn’t enough he also unloaded Kevin Gregg, who lost his closer’s job before the Jays broke camp, and added a very decent pitcher for a slightly better team in Chad Qualls. Nice work indeed.

The MoLesters are going to be active on the waiver wire all year. How active you ask? Hello Chris Davis, 7:54 EDT opening day. Goodbye Chris Davis exactly 4 hours and 3 minutes later. If anybody is going to beat this team, they’re going to have to pay attention. So let’s see if we can find any vulnerabilities on what appears on the surface to be another deep and talented team.

Sandoval, Wright, Kemp, Lind and Werth are all fantasy powerhouses and they will do the bulk of the work offensively. There is some BA risk here, with Ian Stewart, Elvis Andrus and Jason Werth all potentially dragging the number down. Andrus also made 22 errors last year and though he should improve, Stewart, Sandoval and Wright will kick a few as well. One of the strengths will be the availability of several multi-category box score stuffers, including Werth who hit 36 HRs and stole 20 bags, Kemp 26/34, Wright 10/27 (and sure to improve the HR numbers) and Alex Rios 17/24 and a new park in Chicago for a full season. This team will need those multi-dimensional players as the bench is not deep, with just one bench player on the offensive side. That will be something to watch as the rosters evolve, especially if there are any injuries late in the year when the waivers look like slim pickings.

The pitching staff here is intriguing. I love both Jon Lester and super soph Brett Anderson. I think both will be top 10 Cy Young finishers with Lester an early favorite to win it. Hamels, also picked up in a pre-season trade, has the motivation, the new mentor and the new cutter to put together the season most think he’s capable of. The Duke is my pick for comeback pitcher of the year and, when right, he’s a WHIP monster and a two time all-star. I’m not in love with the pen after Broxton. Gregerson is probably behind Bell and Adams for a team that may only win 70 games. Qualls is unhearlded by far from a lock. Rhodes has the history, but Nick Masset is probably the better pitcher in the Reds pen and Feliz is showing early signs of a major second season jinx. If the Pandas have an Achilles heel, it would have to be here.

This team will be there to the end; they will be a playoff team and a danger throughout. They would be my pick to win the regular season title this year. Luck has a way of evening out, however. I’m not a superstitious man, but somehow calling your shots seems to have a way of boomeranging back on you. As a wise man once said, pride goeth before a fall.

Prediction: The run stops at back to back.

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Season Preview: Wood Beats Johnson

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
In a galaxy far, far away

“If only you knew the power of the Dark Side…”

You can hear Lord Vader in your head, can’t you? And the dark side sound pretty good, doesn’t it? Why is that? What’s the allure?

What happens when you’re on the side of right? You go around rescuing people and sticking your neck out for others and for what? Even if you get the girl in the end, it’s probably some princess that wants to get married. Meanwhile, the Vaders of the world are out there fucking drunken prom queens. On the dark side, you don’t have to play by any rules; all you have to do is win. “Vader is in this for one person…and that’s Vader” (*points two thumbs at self*). The appeal lies not just in the power, but also in the freedom to exercise it in the pursuit of personal pleasure, unfettered by the constraints of morality.

If the current version of the Yankees built a three headed Mt. Rushmore, it would feature the carved faces of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera. There’s another place you’ll find this trio: on the 2010 Wood Beats Johnson squad. Having been competetive year in and year out with a team featuring a cadre of Sox, but with only an ’09 second place finish to show for it and with the Yankees reigning champs in the alternative universe…well, hello dark side.

Built around the face enemy, Ned has assembled a team that will once again find itself in the mix. Six players hit 30 or more home runs last year. Eight players drove in more than 90 runs. The defense will be excellent. Uggla, Abreu, Ibanez and Cuddyer are all under the radar veterans and Adrian Gonzalez is as much under the radar as a bona fide superstar can be. The offense will not dominate, but they will provide a challenge for opponents week in and week out.

Verlander and Jurgens lead a staff of reliable hurlers. De La Rosa quietly led all NL southpaws in wins last year. Jeff Niemann is a comer. Wolfe and Arroyo eat innings and both should provide reliable contributions. Heath Bell and Rivera are elite closers, with Brian Wilson firmly in the second tier. Holds machine Matt Guerrier will form a part of the Twins closer by committee, so holds may need to be addressed via the waver wire.

So has Ned really gone to the dark side, giving up everything in the pursuit of winning? Let’s ask Dr. Jung, who loved his shadow, though some modern scholars say it’s a silly notion.

“When we must deal with problems,” Jung wrote, “we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer.”

Just as we noted in a previous season’s preview for Commissioner Ned’s team that homerism rationally applied is really a kind of pragmatism, perhaps this journey through the darkness is, as Jung suggests, a reflection of a higher understanding of the self. God speed, Commish. May it be more sweet than bitter.

Prediction: In it to the end

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Season Preview: The Hitomi Tanakas

When Emperor Lovetron disbanded his franchise this year, league officials put out an open invitation for new ownership but times being what they are, pickings seemed slim. Luckily, Sensei Fukudome answered the call. From the moment the vetting process began, it was clear that this diminutive, bespectacled gaijin had what it takes to join these elite ranks.

Fukudome arrived at league headquarters wearing a silk kimono, flanked by a stunning, jaw dropping really, pair of Japanese twins who attended to his every need throughout the day. When asked if he needed introductions to his soon to be fellow owners he replied, “Beneath the cherry blossoms, there are no strangers.” Asked to describe his basic understanding of the game, he answered, “baseball is but a tale of a clockwork sparrow.” Clearly, here was one ready to take his place at the table.

Draft day did not disappoint, as the newly minted Hitomi Tanakas drafted the great Ichiro and later added countrymen Akinori Iwamura and Kosuke Fukudome himself. When questioned by a reporter about the subsequent release of the latter two, Sensei Fukudome quipped, “Externally keep yourself away from all relationships, and internally have no paintings in your heart.” The zen mind is nothing if not pragmatic.

The roster, for the most part, reflects the eastern obsession with striving for balance. Veterans like Ichiro, Posada and Jeremy Affeldt stand on the one side of the age continuum, promising youngsters like Nyjer Morgan, Clayton Kershaw and the electric Aroldis Chapman to the other. Flashy talents like Dexter Fowler, Kyle Blanks and Alexei Ramirez share the clubhouse with a heavy contingency of underrated workmen Jason Kubel, Casey Blake and Asdrubal Cabrera. If these players fill the background with archetypal faces, like the feudal townsfolk in a Kurosawa movie, then top pick Tim Lincecum occupies center screen like the shogun warrior. He will need to be every bit the hero in this film to justify the early selection.

On offense, Kendry Morales, Kubel and post-hype sleeper Hunter Pence should provide enough pop to keep the competition honest. Six of the nine probable starters hit .300 or better last year, including Ichiro’s gaudy .352 mark. There’s plenty of speed here too. It’s not an offense that leaps out at you; rather it reveals itself slowly. One would suspect Fukudome prefers it that way.

Lincecum, Kershaw and Adam Wainwright give this team a potent Big Three, and the complementary starters all come with some upside potential. The bullpen will be a lonely place to start the year, with just Jose Valvede and Affeldt pitching in relief. However the Tanaka’s appear active on the waiver wire, having made more than twice as many moves as any other team before the start of the season, and relief pitching can be had as the year goes on.

The activity on the waiver wire is a promising sign for the future. Championships can be lost in the draft but are seldom won there. I think this will be a playoff team.

Prediction: Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know

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Season Preview: Chicken On The Hill

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
12 minutes ago

Matt “Ezra” Standish and his renegade Shadowmasters came into the league with a who gives a shit, mock ’em and shock ’em attitude. Amid rumors of skull violation and other subterranean, nefarious goings on, the Shadowmasters settled in as FBB’s most entertaining and least successful franchise. The team slogan, “In the cellar…and loving it!”, was emblazoned on slacker tee-shirts and tattooed on necks in prisons across the country. It was a hell of a ride.

When the makeover came, everybody sat up and couldn’t help but take notice. In a FBB equivalent of a shave, haircut and new suit, the Masters showed up all business and ready to compete. The change culminated last year with a season long place at the head of the table and a deep playoff run last year. Had it not been for an untimely collapse on semi-final Sunday, Standish would have found himself playing for the title.

But Standish is nothing if not mercurial, and where you might have expected that he build on last year’s success, this season finds yet another name change and yet another style. This year’s squad, dubbed Chicken on the Hill, a reference to Standish childhood hero Willie Stargell, seems like an exorcise in nostalgia in more ways than just the name. However, where in years gone by the overt homerism was just a fuck you in the face of convention, this year’s draft seems filled with genuine hope and goodwill for a beloved city left behind long ago.

Andrew McCutchen is the real deal and will only get better. Garrett Jones is a giant figure at first base. Ohlendorf has the makings of a future ace. Third baseman of the future Pedro Alvarez will start the season in the minors but will be back this year and I’d expect The Chicken Hillers to snap him up. Octavio Dotel, picked up this week, is an excellent sleeper at the closer position. McCutchen, Ohlendorf and Alvarez are probably all a year or two away from being real contributors, but that hardly seems the point. Oh, and if that’s not enough nostalgia for you, Jason Bay is back.

The team around this core of ‘Burgers presents a mixed bag. Standish emphasized starting pitching and landed two of the best in Greinke and Sabbathia. Most everybody thinks Matt Cain will inevitably become one of the league’s elite. The Hill also dealt Cole Hamels for high upside pitcher Rick Porcello and closer in waiting Matt Thornton in a move that bolsters the bullpen, though with Hamels under the tutledge of Doc Halliday this year, this one has some potential to backfire, particularly if Porcello regresses. Francisco’s squared will anchor the pen. Bionic pitcher Stephen Strasburg is a wild card, though he’ll have to be carried for some time in a DL slot and will face pitch counts when he comes up. The pitching should help keep these birds close week in and week out.

Offensively things look a little less settled. Mauer is usually an early round reach for me base on scarcity alone, but last year’s numbers, if duplicated, will justify the pick. Healthy seasons from Ricky Weeks and BJ Upton, who battled a bad shoulder all year, would go a long way, but even in the best case scenarios, there just doesn’t look like there will be enough offense here. Cantu, Inge, Peralta and Jones all feel like second options that will be counted on as starters here. Only Bay reached 30 homers last year and he moves to pitcher friendly Citi field. Batting average and OPS will be problem spots all year.

I generally favor those teams who put a premium on offense and look for value among starting pitchers, so it’s going to be tough for me to put the Chicken Hill Gang in the playoffs. There will be some dominating weeks on the mound though, and it’s a team that will be entertaining and maybe on the rise as the year moves on.

Prediction: Out of the cellar…probably somewhere on the front porch drinking lemonade…and enjoying it!

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Season Preview: ChiTownDeepDish

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
Too Late On A Friday

Some years back I had occasion to roll into Chicago on a Greyhound bus. My plan was to find a reasonably priced hotel and a pizza place, have a couple of beers and get up the next morning to head to the ballpark. Where I ended up was at Rush and Division. I spent the next three to eleven hours, give or take, trying to pick up girls from the U of Wisco (unsuccessful). Closing time in Chicago came unexpectedly and I found myself on the sidewalk, full of beer and short of ideas or good sense. A bum came by and bummed a cigarette and I asked him if he knew anywhere to get more beer or some weed or both. The guy said I needed to go down to K Town, which I came to learn later is also known as North Lawndale. To get an idea about K Town, if you recall a few years back the law finding 15 abandoned kids living in one room eating dog food…that was in K Town. Eventually this bum showed up with a dime bag of really lousy shake and two malt liquours which I bough for $60. I then walked the streets of Chicago for who knows how long and at the end, looking very much the part of a man who hadn’t slept in a bed for several days, I found myself at the entrance to a hotel called the Palmer Court on Wabash and Monroe. Very posh. I attracted some odd glances in the lobby as I booked a not half bad room. I went upstairs, took a shower and lay down on the bed in fresh clothes with the tv on. I left a wake up call for 11 and I slept on and off for a couple of hours. The phone rang and I got up and went to the ballpark. What followed was a story to better the day before in both excess and strangeness, but that’s a story for another time. The moral? When you’re out there, when you take chances, anything can happen. You rise and you fall in the street and then something else happens.

And so it is for the ChiTownDeepDish this year. Anything could happen. I sometimes think a fantasy team is a kind of Rorschach Test. We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we be, to misquote Anais Nin. Well this team speaks of a man willing to take chances. Mr. Vegas. An aggressive gambler. Allow me to demonstrate. Soto (fat, stoner, skinny). Berkman (old, something hurts), Barmes (Coors Field, upside, swing and miss). Reynolds (homer, steal, strikeout but in what ratio). Reyes (hammy, thyroid, ‘roid). Bourbon (rookie rookie rookie). Jones (should I break out?). Quentin (one good season). Escabar (might be something). A. Soriano (what’s the deal?). R. Soriano (my arm, she hurts). Billy Wags (see previous). Hanson (for real?). Jenks (my arm she hurts in my calf). Zambrano (see Soriano, A.). Gonzalez (Yankees? Again?) Price and Cueto (boy we might be good).

Point of order: Braun, Hernandez and Jimenez are good.

So where will these guys finish? A roll of the dice. And I do love dice. I’d say in craps lingo, the point is four. That means a winning roll pays 2x but a seven wipes you out.

Prediction: Seventh out…line away.

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Season Preview: SFsEmptyTrophyCase

By Ryan A. Gold
Wahoo! Sports
a few odd minutes ago

There are some sad images floating around out there in the culture. Paul Simon sang about Fat Charlie the Archangel who was “sad as a lonely little wrinkled balloon.” That’s pretty sad. There was Iron Eyes Cody crying over air pollution in the 70’s. Definitely sad. Hemmingway probably set the bar for sad with his famous six word short story: “For Sale: baby shoes, never used.” Now that’s sad. Along side these morose thoughts and appearances, I now submit SFsEmptyTrophyCase. Poor trophy case, sitting there like a fat kid in a tux waiting for a prom date who never shows. Sad indeed. Who among you counts themselves so cold hearted that they wouldn’t like to see that fat kid get laid? Well, what are the prospects for this year’s Casers to dust off a place for some new hardware?

Unfortunately, where sadness rests one often finds pain, and a number of key players may find themselves ailing. Russell Martin will start the season on the DL and recent history suggests he may be pretty well worn out. Joey Votto’s suffering is all on the inside. Hopefully he’ll have a season filled with hugs. Brian Roberts (bulging disk) can compare bad back notes with Derek Lee who went Goldilocks on a baby bear chair in the club house and tweaked himself. Truthfully Lee will probably be fine, but it really had to be mentioned. Grady Sizemore suffered through a long, injury hampered year and they will need him to find his pre-2009 form. Yaddy Molina has a strained oblique. Somewhere John Madden reminds us that in his day, they didn’t get oblique injuries because they’d never heard of an oblique.

Assuming a season of smiles, Votto, Longoria, Tulo and Sizemore provide a very solid foundation of multi-category players. There aren’t any offensive categories being punted and there are no real weaknesses here except maybe defensively. Playing Adam Dunn and his 16 errors as an outfielder may cost the category from time to time. Dunn makes a nice power compliment to speedier players like Spann and Gutierrez, though. Matsui might prove to be a late round bargain. Overall I would expect a slightly above average performance on the offensive side.

So far so good, right? The fat kid looks up and there are headlights coming his way. Could it be her? Alas, it’s just a dump truck filled with pitchers. Ok, so maybe dump truck is a little harsh. Compost bin? I fear the combination of NYC and Javy Vazquez. That personality on that team in that park don’t strike me as particularly auspicious. Dempster, Danks and Kuroda are nearly the same guy, and while they are nice to have players in the middle of their rotations, they don’t provide a ton of value in the game we play. Garza and Burnett are a tick above their stable mates here, but both are high WHIP guys with ERA’s not quite good enough to offset that weakness. There will be a lot of strikeouts here, but losses, WHIP and ERA will be tough categories week in and week out. As will saves, which seem to have been omitted. Saves is a category this year, right? Taking two hold guys will give The Case a regular shot on the flip side and both Rodney and Madson should get regular opportunities.

I’m a compassionate man and goodness knows I’ll root for this team to fill up the empty places in our hearts, but with my head I just can’t pick ’em. After all, this is spofo’s America and not every kid gets a trophy here.

Prediction: 8th-ish


Position Players

Russell Martin    (LAD – C)
Joey Votto    (Cin – 1B)
Brian Roberts    (Bal – 2B)
Evan Longoria    (TB – 3B)
Troy Tulowitzki    (Col – SS)
Grady Sizemore    (Cle – OF)
Denard Span    (Min – OF)
Franklin Gutiérrez    (Sea – OF)
Derrek Lee    (ChC – 1B)
Adam Dunn    (Was – 1B,OF)
Hideki Matsui    (LAA – Util)
Yadier Molina    (StL – C)
Austin Jackson    (Det – OF)


Javier Vázquez    (NYY – SP)
Ryan Dempster    (ChC – SP)
Fernando Rodney    (LAA – RP)
Ryan Madson    (Phi – RP)
John Danks    (CWS – SP)
Matt Garza    (TB – SP)
A.J. Burnett    (NYY – SP)
Hiroki Kuroda    (LAD – SP)

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