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Rotisserie Duck


You Just Might Be A Fantasy Baseball Player PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 13 March 2015 00:00

As Hedley Lamarr (or maybe Chase Headley) once said, "My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives." So, with Spring Training upon us, and with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy:

> If you were paying attention in December and clearly know that Andrew Heaney has a great sense of humor, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you get more excited about Evan Longoria than Eva Longoria, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Marc Rzepczynski's nickname is "Scrabble", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your elbow was fine but you decided to have Tommy John Surgery just to see how long the rehab takes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you see an elderly woman with bad hips walking through the grocery store and it causes you to think of Matt Kemp, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your neighbor brags about his 4x4 and you reply by saying you prefer 5x5, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Al Alburquerque is not from New Mexico, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know it's d'Arnaud and not D'Arnaud, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Cam Bedrosian's father was once the closer on your team, you just might be a veteran Fantasy player.

> If someone inquires about Archie Bradley's marital status and you wonder if his wife's name might be Veronica, you just might be a Senior Citizen Fantasy player.

> If you're walking through the woods when someone yells "Snake" and you yell back "I prefer Auction", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you chase Anderson, Headley and Utley at the draft table, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know what Alex Guerrero and Evander Holyfield have in common, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If someone refers to a girl as a "Keeper" and you ask if she qualifies at more than one position, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think Antonio Bastardo's nickname should be "Inglourious", you just might a Tarantino-style Fantasy player.

> If the team names "Okrent Fenokees", "Sklar Gazers", "Cary Nations" and "Pollet Burros" are familiar to you, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

> If the quote "Loe is High" makes sense to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think the best thing about the Super Bowl is that it's the last football game of the season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you declined an invitation to go on a road-trip with Jayson Werth, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you're sure that Buddy Carlyle isn't the name of a Las Vegas lounge singer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the whereabouts of Kyle Crick, Kyle Elfrink, Kyle Blanks, Kyle Gibson and Kyle Kendrick, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you've ever used the word "Eh" in a conversation with Tim McLeod, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you watch a movie that stars Ben Kingsley and you're motivated to check Trace Wood's Long Gandhi website, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think the Mayo Clinic is where Jonathan spends the off-season looking at minor-league video, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think "Black Magic Woman" is only a song by the wrong Carlos Santana, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you are aware that during the off-season, Marlins GM Dan Jennings traded Marlins Pitcher Dan Jennings to the White Sox, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your podiatrist diagnoses you with a callous and it causes you to wonder if Jim has finished the top 100 prospect list yet, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you've signed a petition to have Bill James' countenance added to Mt. Rushmore, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you went to farmersonly.com to look for a scouting report on Buck Farmer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If the term "Pleskoff Prospect Pipeline" is meaningful to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you realize that Wily Peralta's name is not pronounced the same as Wile E. Coyote's name, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you see graffiti that says "Jesus Is The Answer" and you wonder if the question is, "Who Is Matty and Felipe's Brother?", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Jesus Montero should replace Dan Marino in those NutriSystem commercials, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you're hoping to play the part of Larry Schechter in the movie version of his book, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know what Miguel Olivo and Mike Tyson have in common, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you believe that Wilin, Welington, Dioner and Yasmani are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you're secure in the fact that Vinnie Pestano never worked at the "Bada Bing", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If the song "Ventura Highway" makes you wonder if Yordano is really an ace, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you've applied for one of the new Visas to Cuba, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you are secure in the fact that Lord Zola is not a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your girlfriend's name is Betty Jo but you've started calling her Melvin, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your employer uses a company called ADP to process payroll and your paycheck causes you to wonder if you can get a quality closer in the top 60, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If it is clear to you that Ryan Lavarnway should never sign any rental agreement on an apartment longer than 30 days, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you meet someone whose child is named Jurickson and you don't consider it unusual, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If a Spring Training report indicating that a player added "seven pounds of muscle" during the off-season brings back memories of that long December weekend when you added seven pounds of fat, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know more about Bubba Starling than you do about Clarice Starling, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Kevin Quackenbush should pitch for the Long Island Ducks, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that brothers Cesar and Maicer Izturis were born only eight months apart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the difference between Hunter Dozier, Hunter Renfroe, Brian Dozier, Bryan Morris and Hunter Morris, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you're sure that Pete Seeger, Bob Seger, Kyle Seager and Corey Seager are all talented, you just might be a folk/rock Fantasy player.

> If you know that Rougned Odor has a ball-playing brother who is also named Rougned Odor, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Starlin, Alcides, Adeiny and Asdrubal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know how to spell Oberholtzer, Foltynewicz, Tropeano, Scheppers, Tepesch, Pierzynski, Nieuwenhuis and Szczur, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If a conversation with Jason Collette would be more interesting than one with Toni Collette, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If someone invites you to see "Kung Fu Panda" and you ask if the second half of the double bill is "The Green Monster", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that the Cecchini Brothers are not characters in a mob movie, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you believe that "Rotoman" may soon become a comic book Superhero, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Josh Donaldson and Dee Gordon were stolen during the off-season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that James Shields left a few bucks on the table in exchange for an ocean view, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Conor spells it "Gillaspie" and Cole spells it "Gillespie", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you wonder why the Mexican restaurants in Kansas City don't serve Moose Tacos, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If it occurs to you that Juan Carlos is a much more exotic name than Leo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that meeting Billy Beane would be more exciting than meeting Brad Pitt, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the difference between Ryan Wheeler, Tim Wheeler, Zelous Wheeler and Zack Wheeler, you're definitely a Fantasy player.

> If Ron Shandler has replaced John Grisham as your favorite author, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If it ever crossed your mind that Julio Iglesias might follow Jose Iglesias to Motown, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you've changed your name from Mike to Giancarlo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If the song "Camptown Ladies" makes you think of Lucas Duda, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If someone tells you they live on Huston St. and you immediately think about Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that the word "Norichika" means "Ground Ball" in Japanese, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the difference between Jarred Cosart, Kaleb Cowart and Zack Cozart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your wife isn't concerned about you visiting Asian websites because she knows you're scouting prospects, you are obviously a Fantasy player.

> If you don't believe that Jon Lester is worth $155 Million, but you're sure he's worth at least $20, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Yovani, Aroldis, Ubaldo, Jhoulys, Odrisamer and Anibal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you use the names Asche and Maikel in the same sentence, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the stats of John Smiley and Drew Smyly, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

> If you know that Dane, Eury, Jorge and Rubby are all named De La Rosa, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know more quotes from Dylan Bundy than from Al Bundy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If the total bill every time you shop at Costco is $260, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Kyle Drabek's dad was once on your Roto team, you just might be a veteran Fantasy player.

> If the song "Whip It" comes on the radio and you think about a pitcher's ratio, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Scott Feldman, Trevor Rosenthal, Nate Freiman, Ike Davis and Craig Breslow are all on your team, you just might be a Jewish Fantasy player.

> If the names Leonys, Taijuan, Kolten, Rymer and Xander are familiar to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your only link to opera is that you once saw Alfredo Figaro pitch, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think Steve Moyer has better velocity than Jamie Moyer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think the movie "Ender's Game" is a documentary about Inciarte's rookie season with the D'Backs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Stolmy, Josmil, Mauricio, Yorvit and Koyie are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your Zen Master plays a guitar, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Yuniesky spells it "Betancourt" and Christian spells it "Bethancourt", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you are in possession of the MRI on Masahiro Tanaka's elbow,  you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you absolutely hate it when managers decide to give their closers some work in non-save situations, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you drive all the way to Las Vegas in March to see Greg Ambrosius, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you bruise your knuckles and immediately think about R.A. Dickey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think Brett Gardner could be related to Steve Gardner, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Brian Kenny is the smartest guy on MLB Network, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> On a related note, if Harold Reynolds drives you bonkers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think Perry is a better Capt. Hook than Christopher Walken, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think "Classical Gas" is only a song by the wrong Mason Williams, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you are perfectly clear on the fact that "Saltalamacchia" is not tonight's special at that upscale Italian restaurant, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you actually know the starting lineup of the Houston Astros, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If the hotel you book for your family vacation this summer must have wireless access, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you have zero interest in the members of the Rockies starting rotation, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you go to a seafood restaurant and can't bring yourself to order the (Mike) Trout, (Tim) Salmon, (Kevin) Bass, (Mike) Carp, Catfish (Hunter) or (Bobby) Sturgeon, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you book a flight to Honolulu and it makes you wonder if Shane Victorino is really a 4th outfielder, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Doug Dennis is funnier than most stand-up comics on HBO, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If a politician brings up the topic of inflation and you wonder why he isn't also concerned with position scarcity, you just might be a keeper-league Fantasy player.

> If Brian Feldman has ever been your auctioneer, you just might be an expert-level Fantasy player.

> If you have zero interest in middle relievers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you suffer a personal injury and call Rick Wilton for a diagnoses, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Tyler Flowers could be related to Ray Flowers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that the term "Elvis Has Left the Building" means the Rangers Shortstop hit a home run, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know that Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Dayan Viciedo and Didi Gregorious are not females, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If your kid's history homework includes a lesson about the Wright Brothers and it makes you wonder how much the Mets 3B will go for at the table, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Jeff Erickson is your favorite radio personality, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you meet someone named Roberto but keep calling him Fausto, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you believe that Jhonny Peralta's productive first season with the Cardinals caused Brian Walton to change his name to "Bhrian", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think that Bartolo Colon is related to Andre the Giant, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know the true identities of Car-Go, Lo-Mo, K-Rod, J-Roll, J-Up and V-Mart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you've ever tried to buy something with "Patton Dollars", you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If someone sneezes and it causes you to think about the Rangers lead-off hitter bouncing back from injury, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If someone uses the term "Wise Guy" and you think of Gene McCaffrey instead of Joe Pesci, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you know why Trea Turner is listed as a top prospect in two different organizations, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If Jeff Winick represented you in salary arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> If you think a "Sale Price" is getting Chris for less than $20, you just might be a Fantasy player.

> And, finally, if Draft Day is your favorite day of the year, you have become a true Fantasy player.

 
Prospecting For Profit PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00
March is primetime for prospects. For Fantasy Baseball players, baseball fans and baseball card collectors alike, there's always optimism about those youngsters. The fact that only a small percentage of them turn out to be major league regulars, let alone stars, doesn't dampen the enthusiasm. In the last 20 years, the Donald's Ducks franchise has invested in future Hall of Famers like Brian Hunter, Cameron Drew, Steve Hosey, Royce Clayton, Billy Ashley, Chad Hermanson, Alex Escobar, Brad Wilkerson, Jeremy Hermida, Travis Lee, Matt Clement, Sean Burroughs, Rickie Weeks, Lastings Milledge and numerous other unmentionables. And that's just the NL-only squad! If one of them had at least been a switch-hitter, he could have been described as "ambiduckterous." In 2015, Kris Bryant, Archie Bradley and David Dahl will carry on the team's great tradition.

As the Old Duck bounces back and forth between fantasy baseball and baseball card collecting, the parallels are interesting and instructive. In both cases, young players are purchased on the cheap with hope that their talent will emerge and an immense profit will be reaped. In one "dynasty" type keeper league, Miguel Cabrera was chosen in the Spring of 2003 when he was still at Double-A and he remained a loyal member of my squad for over a decade. Of course, if this smart owner had also purchased a cache of Cabrera autographed cards from the 2000 Topps Traded set, this column would emanate from a beach in Maui. So, what do collectors think, as opposed to the fantasy player who is currently scrolling through multiple top-100 lists from prospect experts?

The baseball card product that caters most toward prospects is Bowman Chrome (produced by Topps). Each year, they dig deep into the minor leagues and not only offer base cards, but also autographed versions. For these autograph examples, we'll consider players who still have "rookie status" and were included in the 2012, 2013 or 2014 set. The value range is from the March 2015 Beckett price guide.

2012 Bowman Chrome

1) Jorge Soler, Cubs OF...$50-$120. This youngster had over a .900 OPS in 89 major league AB's in 2014 and is a cornerstone of the Cubbies youth movement.

2) Joey Gallo, Rangers 3B...$40-$100. Jumped into the upper echelon of prospects with 42 minor league HR's at two stops in 2014.

3) Addison Russell, Cubs SS...$40-$100. Added to Chicago's embarrassment of riches last season when the A's went "all in." 12 HR's in 194 AB's in the Southern League shows the potential of this 21-year-old.

4) Corey Seager, Dodgers SS...$30-$80. Hit .349 with 20 HR's in the Minors last season. Slotted at Triple-A in '15 and then Rollins and Uribe are gone in '16.

5) Albert Almora, Cubs OF...$20-$50. Yes, another Cubbie! This one might not be as close as some of the others, but he's only 20 and got to Double-A last year.

6) Joc Pederson, Dodgers OF...$20-$50. Matt Kemp is gone and this 22-year-old will have the chance to be the everyday centerfielder. Hit 33 HR's and swiped 30 bases in the PCL last season.

2013 Bowman Chrome

1) Byron Buxton, Twins OF...$125-$250. Near the top of most lists, he lost most of 2014 to injury but is still only 21.

2) Carlos Correa, Astros SS...$60-$150. The #1 pick in the 2012 Draft, he's 20 years old and hit .325 in the California League last season.

3) Austin Meadows, Pirates OF...$40-$100. To highlight the Bucs depth, he might only be their 4th best prospect. At age 19, he hit .322 in the Sally League. Was the #9 pick in the 2013 Draft.

4) Cord Sandberg, Phillies OF...$30-$60. Not even in the Phillies top ten, this 20-year-old still gets love from collectors. He hit .235 in half a season at Low A.

5) Lucas Giolito, Nationals P...$20-$50. There's no room in the Nat's rotation at the moment, but this 20-year-old was 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA in the Sally League.

6) Clint Frazier, Indians OF...$20-$50. The first high school hitter taken in the 2013 Draft, he's also 20 and hit 13 HR's in the Midwest League last season.

7) Aaron Judge, Yankees OF...$20-$50. At 6'7" 230 lbs., he looks like Giancarlo Stanton and hit 17 HR's in the Minors last year before showing impressive power in the Arizona Fall League. And, there's a plethora of Yankee fans.

8) J.P Crawford, Phillies SS...$15-$40. Jimmy Rollins is gone and this guy isn't far away at age 20. At two minor league stops last year, he had 11 HR's, 24 SB's and a .285 BA.

9) Tyler Glasnow, Pirates P...$15-$40. At age 21, this 6'8" right-hander was 12-5 with a 1.74 ERA in the Florida State League.

2014 Bowman Chrome

1) Kris Bryant, Cubs 3B...$125-$250. Even without a major league at-bat, this phenom has everyone's attention. Card collectors are hoping the Cubbies don't go cheap and start him at Triple-A to save money down the road.

2) Alex Jackson, Mariners OF...$50-$120. Only 19 with a handful of professional games, this youngster was the #6 pick in the 2014 Draft.

3) Kyle Schwarber, Cubs C...$50-$120. May not stay at Catcher, but his bat will play anywhere. His pro debut at three levels equaled 18 HR's and a .344 BA in 262 AB's.

4) Julio Urias, Dodgers P...$30-$80. Just turned 18 in August and made 20 starts last season in the California League. The results included a 2.36 ERA and an opponent BA of .194.

5) Nick Gordon, Twins SS...$20-$50. Dee's brother was the #5 pick last June and this 19-year-old is already on the fast track to Minneapolis.

6) Tyler Kolek, Marlins P...$20-$50. The second player taken in the '14 Draft, this 6'5" right-hander consistently throws 100 mph.

20+ players to watch...and collect.

 
Spring Training Questions - Part Deux PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 27 February 2015 00:00

On our last visit, the Old Duck pondered some of the American League questions that need to be answered in the next 4-6 weeks. This time, we'll soar above the National League training facilities and try to determine what we need to know to increase our baseball IQ for the purposes of fantasy or reality in 2015.

NL East

> Atlanta Braves - "Can 2017 arrive soon enough?"

It becomes very clear that this franchise is focused on the opening of their new ballpark in 2017 when you realize that their clean-up hitter on opening day could be Jonny Gomes and only one member of their projected rotation is over 24. The next two seasons could be ugly.

> Miami Marlins - "Did the Stanton contract commit the owner to achieving success?"

Florida fans have been fooled by Jeffrey Loria before but this squad looks like it can contend for a Wild Card spot. With the additions of Dee Gordon and Mike Morse, there isn't really a hole in the lineup and a healthy Mat Latos could front a decent rotation.

> New York Mets - "Can the young pitching mature before the lineup gets old?"

Names like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom have the fans optimistic but David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are all on the wrong side of 30.

> Philadelphia Phillies - "How will the GM perform in his walk year?"

Ruben Amaro Jr. created a sink-hole with bad contracts and now he's challenged to re-build the team. Jimmy Rollins is gone but Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee still remain. It's a reasonable assumption that they'll all be gone before 2016.

> Washington Nationals - "Is spending $11 Million to keep a 15-game winner in the bullpen the best allocation of resources?"

With the addition of Max Scherzer, the budget busting includes Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister making $23M while Tanner Roark is the 6th starter. They will be the best regular-season team, but winning in the post-season will be the key.

NL Central

> Chicago Cubs - "When was the last time multiple prospects matured at the same time?"

Joe Maddon and Jon Lester are great additions, but can Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant all be positive contributors this season? On the flip side, was the Dexter Fowler acquisition really necessary?

> Cincinnati Reds - "What year are they playing for?"

It seems like this franchise can't decide if they're going to rebuild or try to contend. Waiting until June to make that decision might not be the best idea. Two members of the rotation are gone, Johnny Cueto is in his walk year, Joey Votto and Homer Bailey are coming off injuries and Brandon Phillips is in decline. At least they added Marlon Byrd.

> Milwaukee Brewers - "Did last season's early success give them a false sense of security?"

The Brew Crew fell apart down the stretch in 2014 and they really don't look like they've improved the team. Jimmy Nelson replaces Yovani Gallardo and Adam Lind replaces Mark Reynolds. Is that an upgrade over last year's 82-win team?

> Pittsburgh Pirates - "Has the atmosphere changed for good?"

Back-to-back solid seasons has created a new feeling for the Bucs. Clint Hurdle is a hero and despite losing Russell Martin, the lineup looks solid with everyone under the age of 30. The real question is about the rotation counting on 38-year-old A.J. Burnett and re-tread Vance Worley.

> St. Louis Cardinals - "Is there a more consistent franchise in baseball?"

The Redbirds have added Jason Heyward, Matt Adams and Kolten Wong are emerging and the pitching staff is deep. Only injuries or bad luck can keep them from 90+ wins.

NL West

> Arizona Diamondbacks - "Can this team actually be worse than last year?"

The Snakes won 64 games in 2014 and trotted out a Triple-A lineup in September. For all the off-season moves by the new front office, Vegas has their over/under for 2015 at 71 1/2. Even if Yasmany Tomas is more like Jose Abreu than Dayan Viciedo, if he can't play third base, it puts young outfield talent on the bench. And their starting rotation features Josh Collmenter starting on opening night against Madison Bumgarner.

> Colorado Rockies - "New leadership, but is it the same team?"

After 20+ years and three playoff appearances, nothing seems to change in Denver. The team will hit, especially if Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez are healthy, but the pitching can't compete in the high altitude. The fact that they signed Kyle Kendrick to be in their rotation tells you everything you need to know about the readiness of pitchers in their system.

> Los Angeles Dodgers - "We only won 94 games last season, let's blow it up and start over?"

When an organization of any kind hires new leadership, you can't expect them to keep the status quo. Otherwise, they can't justify their position. The outcome is Jimmy Rollins for Hanley Ramirez, Howie Kendrick for Dee Gordon, Joc Pederson for Matt Kemp and nobody to replace Kenley Jansen for the first month of the season. If only Clayton Kershaw hadn't hung that breaking ball to Matt Adams in the playoffs.

> San Diego Padres - "Bold moves and an exciting new team, but can they catch the ball?"

Even more fans will show up this season at the ballpark by the shore and the lineup is downright scary with Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers hitting the ball. James Shields fronts the rotation, so the team looks solid. However, let's watch the defense as there are no gold glove contenders is this lineup.

> San Francisco Giants - "Will positive intangibles keep them in the hunt?"

When a team wins three World Series Championships in five years, the usual analysis goes out the window. While the team didn't make any significant moves in the off-season, they're still an organization that is smart and savvy.

Here's hoping you get the chance to visit at least one Spring Training ballpark this time around. If it happens to be in Surprise, Arizona, come say hello. The Quacker will be in Section 102 right on the railing.

 

 
The Quacker's Spring Training Queries PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 20 February 2015 00:00

With Pitchers and Catchers reporting this week, it's the best time of the year for fantasy and reality baseball fans. No team is on a losing streak and every player is in "the best shape of his life." The next six weeks will answer all of your questions and on April 6th, you'll be much more of a baseball expert. Of course, if you believe that, there's some beautiful beach-front property here in Arizona that's just waiting for a buyer like you.

The real question is, "What are the right questions?" As the Old Duck soars over the ballpark, here's what he observes in mid-February.

AL East

> Baltimore Orioles - "Can a lousy owner ruin a good team?"

The birds won the division by 12 games in 2014, but their off-season has been questionable. Steve Pearce and Travis Snider replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in the lineup and they have a $12M pitcher slotted for middle-relief. Bounce-back campaigns are needed from Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters but if Davis and Wieters produce, they'll be gone as free agents.

> Boston Red Sox - "Will they be able to contend with five #3 starting pitchers?"

The BoSox were 20 games under .500 last season, so contending is not a given. If your fantasy team had a staff of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly, would you be confident?

> New York Yankees - "What kind of starting pitcher could they buy with A-Rod's salary?"

The Bronx Bombers rotation is even more suspect than the Red Sox due to the uncertainty of C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka coming back from injury. And then, there's going to be the drama of A-Rod's bonus if he actually hits at least six home runs.

> Tampa Bay Rays - "Will they ever be the same franchise without Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman?"

This small-market team has over-achieved for years, but leadership can be a fragile component. They still have good young arms but other than Evan Longoria, does anyone in their lineup put fear in opposing pitchers?

> Toronto Blue Jays - "Did their big splashes fill the right holes?"

The additions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson were impressive, but the division is wide open and they still have multiple question marks. They don't have a major league second baseman or an experienced closer and if Dalton Pompey isn't ready, who plays centerfield? They may have the best 1-5 hitters in the league, but 6-9 looks ugly.

AL Central

> Chicago White Sox - "Are people getting excited about the wrong Windy City team?"

With all the news coming out of Wrigley Field, the Pale Hose have had a spectacular off-season. There's an emerging superstar in Jose Abreu, they've added Melky Cabrera to get on base in front of him and Adam LaRoche for protection behind him. David Robertson is an established closer and if an opposing team comes in for a three-game series to face Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana, it will be scary. The 4th and 5th spots in the rotation will be the key.

> Cleveland Indians - "Can they squeeze a few more wins out of last year's 85-win team?"

The Tribe was pretty much under the radar last season, but their lineup looks solid even before Francisco Lindor gets to the big leagues. Young arms are everywhere with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar while Cody Allen is an underrated closer.

> Detroit Tigers - "Is Father Time sitting in their dugout?"

Perennial favorites in the division, there seems to be some real concerns about their team. Miguel Cabrera is coming off foot surgery, 36-year-old DH Victor Martinez is already out due to knee surgery and 40-year-old closer Joe Nathan isn't reliable any longer. Add that to a shortstop who missed all of last season and a new centerfielder who sports a lifetime .234 BA and you have the makings of a disappointing result for 2015.

> Kansas City Royals - "Can the same squad minus James Shields find the magic again?"

The feel-good team of 2014 will send out essentially the same roster in 2015. Alex Rios replaces Norichika Aoki and Kendrys Morales takes the spot of Billy Butler, but everyone else is back except their best starting pitcher. If you think Edinson Volquez fills the void, you are a true fan.

> Minnesota Twins - "Will ownership let the fans see the future?"

Despite adding a quality arm in Ervin Santana, this team doesn't look very good. DH Kenny Vargas is projected to bat clean-up with the experience of 234 major league AB's and 39-year-old Torii Hunter will hit behind him. The only potential excitement in the Twin Cities is the arrival of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano...it needs to be sooner rather than later.

AL West

> Houston Astros - "No longer doormats but is the pitching competitive?"

The everyday lineup looks much better than a 70-win team. Jose Altuve is a genuine All-Star and bunches of HR's will fly off the bats of Chris Carter, George Springer and Evan Gattis. In order to take the next step toward respectability, fairly unknown pitchers like Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Brett Oberholtzer will need to perform. If they get a lead, the much improved bullpen will help tremendously.

> Los Angeles Angels - "Can they overcome the contracts?"

With one of the best owners in the game, the Halos have been very generous to their players. The result is $32M committed this season to C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver and $40M to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The average age of those four players is 33+, so the window might be closing.

> Oakland Athletics - "Is Billy Beane just messing with us?"

No baseball pundit has a clue what the A's GM is doing, but we can't help but watch. In September, when Brett Lawrie is an All-Star, Ben Zobrist has a WAR of over 6.0 and A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are healthy, he might have the last laugh. If Billy Butler steals a base or hits a triple, just head for the nearest bar.

> Seattle Mariners - "Will this team be dominant and take the next step from 87 wins to 90+?"

The lineup is better with Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith and three of the top four starting pitchers are in their 20's. A strong bullpen keeps them in games, so they'll be tough to play.

> Texas Rangers - "After everything went wrong in 2014, can a lot go right in 2015?"

What do the following players have in common...Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar and Shin-Soo Choo? That's correct, they were all on the DL last season. If a team signed those seven players as free agents this off-season, you'd be impressed.

On our next visit, the National League goes under the bright light of questioning.  

 
The SI Time Machine PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00

The Old Duck began subscribing to Sports Illustrated Magazine while in High School and that relationship still exists today. The excellence of the writing, the beauty of the photography and the in-depth detail of the reporting has not wavered over all these decades and looking forward to the publication is still part of my weekly agenda. In addition, if you were to visit the Duck Pond, you'd find almost 200 autographed SI covers in beautiful oak frames all through the house with the vast majority still showing the original mailing label. The project has been a rewarding labor of love over the years.

About 20 years ago, SI made a unique offer to their long-time subscribers. For the appropriate price, we could purchase an original copy of the magazine's first issue from August 16, 1954. This wasn't a replica or re-print. It was from the production press-run of approximately 600,000 produced at that time. It arrived in a beautiful leather binder with a certificate of authenticity and the signature of the publication's president. Since then, it has had a prominent spot on the coffee table of whatever abode I called home. Looking through the magazine with Braves slugger Eddie Mathews on the cover has always been akin to opening a time capsule. There are articles by legendary writers such as Red Smith, Grantland Rice and Budd Schulberg. Sports events covered included the Roger Bannister - John Landy mile race at the British Commonwealth Games, as well as the Rocky Marciano - Ezzard Charles fight for the Heavyweight Championship.

There was also an article titled "The Baseball Bubble Trouble" about a new phenomenon called baseball card collecting. To emphasize the written words by Martin Kane and Jerome Weidman, there was also a full-color fold-out of 27 1954 Topps baseball cards in their actual size. From Ted Williams to Willie Mays, from Ted Kluszewski to Duke Snider and from Jackie Robinson to Larry Doby, they're all there to admire and the replicas even include all the information from the backs of the cards.

On the most recent visit through the 146 pages, it struck me that this 60-year-old magazine is also a history lesson about more than organized sports. Sociology is defined as "the study of human social behavior, especially the study of organizations, institutions and human society." What better way to learn about America of the mid-50's than to look through this time capsule and review the advertisers trying to sell their products to the country's sports fans. Many are gone, some are still around but all offer a fascinating look at Americana.

> Inside Cover - Ladies alpaca coats from a company called Swansdown. The prices were $65 for the short version and $85 for the long coat...not exactly blue collar.

> P. 1 - High-Octane Ethyl gasoline. As a kid, I always thought "ethyl" meant the highest priced gas at the pump, but in '54, there was a company called the Ethyl Corporation.

> P. 3 - Ladies sweaters called "pringles" sold at Bonwit-Teller. The price range was $20-$28.

> P. 4 - Goodyear tires...the company was already 39 years old.

> P. 6 - Florsheim shoes...$18 and higher.

> P. 7 - The Stetson Railbird hat...$10.

> P.9 - Lincoln automobiles.

> P. 10 - Four color photos of Bob Hope promoting Catalina sweaters made from Orlon for $10 or cashmere for $27.

> P. 12 - White Stag outdoor jackets from Heller...$20-$25.

> P. 13 - Ronson's windproof cigarette lighter...only $3.95.

> P. 14 - Black & White scotch whiskey (86.8 proof).

> P. 15 - Wilson Sporting Goods including endorsements from Sam Snead, Jack Kramer, Ted Williams and Otto Graham.

> P. 16 (and P. 130) - Chrysler Corporation hyping their new 235 horsepower V-8.

> P. 18 - Great Western Champagne...a product of New York State.

> P. 53 - Cadillac Motor Cars.

> P. 59 - Winchester automatic shotgun, priced from $120. Their slogan was "The Gun that Won the West."

> P. 60 & 61 - Skyway luggage..."pack up your travels the smart way."

> P. 62 - Seagram's Golden Gin (90 proof).

> P. 64 - Bausch & Lomb binoculars...the model shown was $170.

> P. 67 - Keepsake Diamond Rings...the three wedding rings in the ad were $675, $575 and $500.

> P. 69 - Hamilton Watches that were water-resistant, shock-resistant and self-winding. The steel case model was $72 and the gold case $175.

> P. 73 - Bantamac Jackets...prices begin at $10.

> P. 74 & 75 - Ford Thunderbird! The car wasn't even out yet, but this two-page ad must have made young men drool.

> P. 76 - Cunard Cruise Line showed a painting of the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary ships.

> P. 77 - Heineken's Beer.

> P. 79 - IBM's executive electric typewriter..."it open doors."

> P. 82 - Walker's Deluxe Bourbon (90.4 proof).

> P. 83 - Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco.

> P. 83 - Foot Joy golf shoes.

> P. 84 - Old Spice after shave lotion at $1 per bottle.

> P. 84 - Ace bowling balls made by the American Hard Rubber Company...they also made Ace combs.

> P. 85 - Union Oil Company and their purple royal triton motor oil.

> P. 86 - American Express Travelers Cheques..."100% safe, spendable anywhere."

> P. 87 Pontiac Motor Division with an artist's rendering of a red star chief convertible.

> P. 88 & 89 - Samsonite Luggage.

> P. 90 - Schweppes quinine water and club soda.

> P. 91 - Dunlop Maxfli golf ball...it pictures 1954 U.S. Open champion Ed Furgol.

> P. 94 - Ballantine's Blended Scotch Whiskey (only 86 proof).

> P. 95 - Hertz Rent-A-Car.

> P. 97 - United Air Lines.

> P. 98 - J.W. Dant Straight Bourbon Whiskey (100 proof).

> P. 100 & 101 - Kaiser Darrin 161 automobile. These cars were only made in 1954 and a total of 435 were in the production run. You can find photos on the Internet of this beautiful convertible sports car.

> P. 103 - Flex Action hair brush by Hughes.

> P. 105 - U.S. Royal Golf Balls made by U.S. Rubber Company.

> P. 106 - Mercury Mark 20 outboard motor.

> P. 109 - Brunswick Fireball bowling ball...it had a red-rippled color and the ad claimed that no two were alike.

> P. 110 - Cresta Blanca White Vermouth.

> P. 113 - John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance. This ad might tell more about the attitudes of 1954 than any other. The picture is of a grieving widow and a small child and asks "if you were to die perhaps your wife could eventually get a job, but do you want her to have to do this?"

> P. 114 - Arnolt-Bristol Sports Cars "for 100 discriminating Americans."

> P. 121 - Adler Socks, 90% virgin wool and $1 per pair.

> P. 124 - Goebel 22 Beer.

> P. 131 - Jockey Brand Underwear.

> P. 133 - Ben-Gay Baume had Ben Hogan as their spokesman.

> P. 134 - Lucky Tiger Hair Tonic.

> P. 136 - Miller High Life Beer..."it's the champagne of bottled beer."

> Inside Back Cover - Early Times Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (86 proof).

> Back Cover - Parliament Cigarettes with the "filter mouthpiece."

If your idea of fun is drinking and driving, it appears you were born too late. The good news is that some of us love baseball even without beer. Hope you enjoyed Sociology 101.  

Last Updated on Friday, 13 February 2015 10:39
 
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