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Rotisserie Duck


This Ethan Allen Made Memories, Not Furniture PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 26 June 2015 00:00

In a couple of weeks, the Old Duck will make a presentation to our local community sports interest group about Fantasy Baseball. As most of the attendees will be from the Baby Boomer generation, they'll need to be reminded that young baseball fans have always played some sort of game that simulated our national pastime.

In ancient times, before personal computers and the Internet, board games were an important part of American culture. As youngsters in the 50's and 60's, we had a number of choices when it came to baseball-themed games and each one has its aficionados. American Professional Baseball Association (APBA) was first introduced in 1951. Created by Dick Seitz, it was played with dice and player cards representing both hitting and pitching statistics. The game caught on immediately and allowed fans to pass time during the off-season. As Seitz refined the game, it continued to gain popularity and is still sold today. And now, the game is offered in baseball, football, golf, hockey and soccer.

During the same era, Hal Richman was also developing a baseball simulation game and Strat-O-Matic was introduced in 1961. While it took a little longer to catch on (Richman had to borrow money from his father in the 3rd year), the game survived and now has a cult following and is updated each year with current players.

The game that took me and my friends away from our homework was called All-Star Baseball and it has a long and interesting history. First distributed in 1941, it was never as intricate as APBA or Strat-O-Matic and didn't include pitching stats, but for the target audience of 9-12 year-old boys, it was the most fun we could have while also learning the history of the game.

Ethan Allen was a major league outfielder from 1926-1938 and had a lifetime batting average of .300. He later was the head baseball coach for Yale University, winning five Ivy League championships in his 23 years at the school. For Allen, however, all of these accomplishments pale in comparison to his creation of this famous board game. The key to the game were player disks where the individual player's statistics were represented. Power hitters would have a larger home run area while contact hitters were more likely to hit singles, so when you placed the disk in the game's slot and spun the dial, the outcome of each at-bat would be based in reality. Youngsters would put teams together and then by making up a batting order of the disks, play out a nine-inning game to determine the winner. Results of each play are recorded on the field using plastic pegs for base runners, while runs and outs are posted on a rotating scoreboard.

To understand the genesis of the game, here's Allen's recollection in a 1983 interview with The Sporting News - "I had this idea, even when I was playing, that you could put a man's playing record on a disk. While I was with the Cubs in 1936, I went to various manufacturers with the hope of selling the idea to them as a game, only to have most of them practically kick me out of their offices."

The moment of truth happened when Allen approached a Chicago company called Cadaco-Ellis in 1940. Donald Mazer was the principal owner and had marketed other sports board games such as "Elmer Layden's Scientific Football", "Touchdown" and "All-American Football'. Mazer made a quick decision to add All-Star Baseball to the company's products and 40 star players of the day were included in the 1941 edition. The following year, 19 of them returned and the rest were replaced by other stars, and that's the way it worked for the next 50 years.

For an old codger, the memories of playing this wonderful game as an 11-year-old come rushing back. Other than the recollection of putting a band-aid on my index finger to alleviate the pain from hours of hitting the metal spinner, the clearest memory is the disks and the players they represented. By the 50's, the game had evolved and not only had disks of current stars like Ted Williams, Duke Snider and Hank Aaron, it also had added legendary Hall-of-Famers. We didn't need a baseball encyclopedia when we could look at the disk and understand the player's statistical attributes. Some of the players who would occasionally be in the lineup included Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Bill Dickey, Lou Gehrig, Rogers Hornsby, Walter Johnson, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Pie Traynor and Honus Wagner.

You see, some of us were playing Fantasy Baseball before Fantasy Baseball was cool.

 
Selling High? Check The BABIP PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 19 June 2015 00:00

Legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey once said, "Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late." For the last 20+ years, Fantasy Baseball pundits have essentially said the same thing every time they tell us to "sell high and buy low" when it comes to players on our roster. My experience over that same timeframe, however, is that the vast majority of owners don't accept this advice. It just seems that we're blinded by an above average performance in a small sample size and don't approach the situation logically. If a veteran player with a lifetime .275 batting average is hitting .330 in mid-June, we can't seem to conclude that the last 3 1/2 months of the season will create a regression to the mean for that player. Instead, we think that he's found the magic bullet and will continue the onslaught on opposing pitchers.

On the flip side, you'd think fantasy owners would also try to find proven players who haven't performed well so far and target them in trades. In the AL-only keeper league I've played in for 25+ years, my team is having a lousy season. The analysis is easy, as the three most expensive hitters on the squad are Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury and Victor Martinez. It's clear that the team will end up in the second division and none of those three All-Star caliber players will be keepers next year, but not one contending team has approached me about a potential deal. Do they really think Cano will hit .240 for the rest of the year? Or that Martinez will continue to hit .216 when he comes off the DL before the end of June? Or that Ellsbury won't still be a .300 hitter when he comes back in a week or two?

If you're in the camp that believes selling high or buying low might help you win your league, one of the tools to utilize is "Batting Average For Balls In Play" (BABIP). This advanced baseball metric measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. It eliminates strikeouts, walks and home runs to only include balls put in play by the batter. Three main factors influence this statistic: defense, luck, and talent level. When analyzing an experienced player, luck is the key component we're looking to find. It helps us determine if selling high on this player is a wise decision. Through games of June 13th, major league hitters have an average BABIP of .296, so let's look at the top 15 BABIP leaders for 2015 and see if their performance might be sustainable.

> #1 Dee Gordon .415 - The Dodgers silently said that Gordon overachieved last season when they essentially traded him for Howie Kendrick. Speedy guys usually have a higher BABIP figure, but his .353 BA in 2015 is fueled by this MLB-leading figure. His 2014 number of .346 seems much more in line with reality, so watch for regression.

> #2 Kris Bryant .412 - There is no MLB track record for this phenom, but his line drive rate of only 21% seems to say that this BABIP isn't sustainable, so don't count on a .300 BA moving forward.

> #3 DJ LeMahieu .409 - This seems to have the word "fluke" written all over it and his BABIP was only .322 last season. If you're an owner of this player, the good news is that his line drive rate (29%) is second-best in the Majors this year, so a big drop-off isn't necessarily in the forecast.

> #4 Paul Goldschmidt .404 - If you looked up "underrated" in the dictionary, Goldy's picture would be there. His BABIP last season was .368 before getting injured, so this guy is the real deal.

> #5 Anthony Gose .400 - Last season, his BABIP was .317 and his BA was .226. If someone in your league thinks he'll continue to hit .288, listen to their offer.

> #6 Nelson Cruz .384 - His BABIP the last four seasons was .288, .295, .301 and .288...this won't last.

> #7 Jorge Soler .383 - Currently on the DL, this young outfielder had a .339 BABIP last year in 189 at-bats. That stat, along with a 29% line drive rate, says he's the real deal.

> #8 Jimmy Paredes .383 - Maybe the most interesting case study on this list, it would be easy to write this off as a lucky two-plus month stretch. On the flip side, he's only 26 and has never been given regular at-bats in the past. In his rookie season of 2011 when he had 179 at-bats, his BABIP was also .383...hmmm?

> #9 Jason Kipnis .371 - Finally appears to be healthy and is having a great season. His lifetime BABIP of .316 tells you to temper your expectations slightly, but his line drive rate of 28% shows his skills are intact.

> #10 Miguel Cabrera .370 - A normal performance for the future Hall-of-Famer, he leads the AL in OBP at .439 and OPS at 1.014.

> #11 Bryce Harper .368 - It's about time he had a decent season. After all, he is 22 years old. Even in an injury-plagued 2014, his BABIP was .352.

> #12 Brandon Belt .368 - A somewhat forgotten player this spring as injuries limited him to only 214 at-bats in 2014. If you think this number is due to luck, understand that this 27-year-old has the best line drive rate (32.6%) in the Majors this season.

> #13 A.J. Pollock .368 - He just might be this good, as last year's BABIP was .344 while he fought through injuries.

> #14 Matt Holliday .367 - Another player on the DL, his 2015 start was generated by this unsustainable number. He's 35 years old coming off a season where his BABIP (.298) was just about league average.

> #15 Prince Fielder .366 - Good to see this popular player come back from injuries with a splash, but he's leading the AL with a .347 BA thanks to this number. Even in his last productive season (2013), his BABIP was only .301.

As for my "buy low" All-Stars, Cano's BABIP of .283 is over 50 points less than his first season in Seattle and V-Mart's figure of .230 is over 80 points below his lifetime figure. Regression to the mean works in both directions.

Last Updated on Friday, 19 June 2015 07:14
 
Drafting Without Roger Goodell PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 12 June 2015 00:00

Despite being a pro football fan for over 50 years, the Old Duck is pretty much fed up with the NFL/ESPN "Hooker - Pimp" relationship that has evolved over the years. From the Brett Favre comeback to the Ray Rice elevator cage match to Tom Brady's deflation issues, one ugly perception emerges...instead of reporting the news, ESPN is very often attempting to create the news. The ultimate example is the annual NFL Draft, which draws a huge audience and generates lots of dollars for the league and the network. Maybe the most telling fact is that when they moved the draft to Chicago this year, people were paying scalpers $1,500 for a ticket to get inside the venue. Think about that for a moment. Paying an exorbitant amount of money to sit in an auditorium for a couple of hours to hear 64 names being called. If that is considered exciting, imagine going to your child's high school graduation with hundreds of names being called. And guess what? You'll recognize more names at the graduation. Seriously, after Winston and Mariota, the average fan would have been stumped by the other 62. So, in my small way, I've started protesting this school of sports reporting by boycotting the NFL Draft and any other ESPN football programming prior to at least one exhibition being played. It might not seem like much in the big picture, but at least the TV in my house won't add to the ratings.

These thoughts lead to baseball's "First Year Player Draft" held this week. While MLB certainly would like to have the same level of fan enthusiasm as the NFL, the harsh reality is that it never will because the players chosen won't have an immediate impact on a fan's favorite team. The advent of the MLB Network, however, has now made the draft a little more relevant and for Fantasy Baseball players, it has become worthwhile viewing. If you play a keeper league format, especially with deep rosters, the names announced could be important to your success. If you like shortstops, the names Brendan Rodgers, Dansby Swanson and Alex Bregman could be meaningful to you in 2016.

Let's take a look at some picks from the recent past and how they've panned out for fantasy players.

2006

If your current pitching staff is based on this draft, you're in pretty good shape. First round selections included Clayton Kershaw (#7), Max Scherzer (#11), Andrew Miller (#6) and Ian Kennedy (#21). Of course, other hurlers taken in the first round included Greg Reynolds (#2), Brad Lincoln (#4) and Kasey Kiker (#12).

2007

David Price was the #1 pick and he's turned out OK. So has the #10 choice, Madison Bumgarner. Everyday players from the first round include Mike Moustakas (#2), Jason Heyward (#14), Devin Mesoraco (#14), Ben Revere (#28), Todd Frazier (#34) and Josh Donaldson (#48).

2008

#1 pick Tim Beckham is still trying to make it but Pedro Alvarez (#2), Eric Hosmer (#3) and Buster Posey (#5) are household names.

2009

All things considered, the top selections from this draft haven't been top-notch. Stephen Strasburg went #1 and after that, many of the names are forgettable...Dustin Ackley (#2), Donovan Tate (#3), Tony Sanchez (#4) and Matt Hobgood (#5). There was one fairly good player named Mike Trout, who was taken with pick #25.

2010

Starting a fantasy squad with Bryce Harper (#1), Manny Machado (#3), Matt Harvey (#7) and Chris Sale (#13) would make you smile.

2011

Some good results already with Gerrit Cole (#1), Anthony Rendon (#6), George Springer (#11) and Jose Fernandez (#14). The jury is still out on Dylan Bundy (#4) and Francisco Lindor (#8), but Danny Hultzen (#2) and Bubba Starling (#4) look like wasted picks.

2012

Carlos Correa (#1) and Byron Buxton (#2) will be knocking on the door soon enough but Addison Russell (#11) has already arrived along with Michael Wacha (#19).

2013

Kris Bryant (#2) is the first to emerge at the major league level but watch for Mark Appel (#1), Clint Frazier (#5) and Austin Meadows (#9).

2014

Only a year removed from amateur status, Carlos Rodon (#3) and Brandon Finnegan (#17) have already pitched in "the show". Who will be next to arrive in the big leagues? Maybe Kyle Schwarber (#4) or Aaron Nola (#7)?

Check the results for 2015 and target the prospects now for future success.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 23:38
 
The Rotisserie Baseball Time Machine PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 05 June 2015 00:00

If you didn't play Fantasy Baseball before the Internet, the historical concept of 1980's Rotisserie Baseball might be slightly hazy. For the Old Duck, it is an era filled with the best memories one could imagine.

In March of '81, I read an article in Inside Sports magazine entitled, "The Year George Foster Wasn't Worth $36." It was written by Dan Okrent and was one of the very first references to "Rotisserie" (Fantasy) baseball. By 1984, the originators of the game (including Okrent and Glen Waggoner) published the first edition of "Rotisserie League Baseball." When I spotted the book, the '81 article came to mind and I couldn't wait to consume the details of this fascinating hobby. After reading the entire book in one sitting, I got on the phone and called numerous baseball-loving friends with the following challenge - "Go buy this book and tell me if you're in." Within 48 hours, the "Bowling League of Rotisserie Baseball" was born. Why Bowling? Well, almost everyone in the group (including me) worked in the bowling industry...owners, executives, managers, sales reps and the like.

So there we sat in the spring of '84, eight guys who were baseball fans but didn't have a clue about this new game other than the minimal strategies talked about in the book. No Internet, no Fantasy magazines, no Sabermetrics and no Rotisserie Gurus. Our main resource was the Sporting News and its Baseball Register. I chose Donald's Ducks for my team name and we went boldly where no fan had gone before.

In going through some personal archives, I came across an article from the L.A. Times published in 1986. As you'll see, the writer was trying to make sense of this strange hobby and interviewed me along with a number of other "pioneers". Hopefully, you'll enjoy the perspective of our great game from almost 30 years ago.

For Rotisserie Baseball Fanatics, a Grand Sham BY FRANK CLANCY

April 30, 1986

April 3 was not a good day for local baseball fans. On that day, Pedro Guerrero, the Dodgers' star left fielder, ruptured a tendon in his left knee, causing fans throughout Southern California to bemoan his misfortune. But J. R. Williams probably reacted more strongly than most fans to the injury, which will keep Guerrero idle at least until July.

"I was really upset," the 23-year-old computer operator recalled later. "I was shocked. I couldn't believe it."

"I hate to see any player get hurt," Williams added, but his concern was not entirely selfless. Williams owns the "J. R. Ewings" of the Golden State League of Rotisserie Baseball Clubs; Guerrero, who hit 33 home runs last year and batted .320 for the Dodgers, was also the Ewings' star. On April 1, Williams had signed Guerrero to one of the richest contracts in league history: $7 a year for three years.

Confused? You've never heard of Rotisserie Baseball or the Golden State League, let alone the J. R. Ewings? Don't worry. Except in the hearts and minds of J. R. Williams and 10 friends, the Ewings exist only on paper.

Thousands of Fans

But how does this league, and hundreds like it, exist in the minds of owners! Indeed, Rotisserie League Baseball (named after a Manhattan restaurant at which the first known league was conceived in January, 1980) has attracted thousands of baseball fans, causing some to lose sleep worrying about their players, others to run up large phone bills, and many--heresy among baseball fans--to root against the home team.

The object of such devotion, also known as "ghost" or "fantasy" baseball, is on its surface a disarmingly simple game. It has no board, no dice, no cards. It requires only imagination--and an incredibly detailed knowledge of baseball.

While rules vary somewhat from league to league, often being altered at winter meetings by "club officials", basically here is how it goes: Soon after baseball season begins, about 10 "owners" gather to select real players from major league teams. Each chooses 22 or 23 players, including eight pitchers, at auction or through a draft. As in major league baseball, the challenge is to evaluate players and assemble a balanced team.

Throughout the six-month long baseball season, owners trade, cut, and move players, measuring their success by the actual statistics of their players. In October, leagues use eight statistical categories, such as home runs (5 points in a typical league) and pitching victories (30 points for a starting pitcher, 20 for a reliever), to determine the best team. The top three split the money collected from the player auction or from entry fees. One local league, for example, charges $60 per team to enter and pays $350 to the top team, $150 to second place and $100 to third.

(The concept is not confined to baseball, and a handful of leagues play a similar game with pro football, using only offensive players. In one, the "Hollywood Football League," owners chip in $500 apiece.)

If J. R. Williams' reaction to Pedro Guerrero's injury seems extreme, in context it is not at all so.

Last summer, mononucleosis and hepatitis forced Matthew Irmas, owner of Matt's Fat Bats in the Westwood Rotisserie League, to miss three months of work. But Irmas, 29, remained an active owner. "For three months I was completely consumed by baseball," the Marina del Rey resident remembers. "I would wake up at 3:30 in the morning waiting for the paper to come."

A fellow owner avoided that problem by subscribing to a computer data base that provides detailed baseball results. Now he can find out how his players did minutes after a game ends.

Penny Pincher League

Donna Turner, 51, a banking consultant, owns the DT's in the Penny Pincher League. The Torrance resident says her long-distance phone bill doubled last summer because she was calling major league teams for information.

Turner isn't unique. According to Toby Zwikel, assistant publicity director for the Dodgers, the team received a number of calls from Rotisserie players asking about Guerrero. Zwikel says his office gets "too many" such calls: "They are a pain for us. We're here 14 hours a day and more during the season. To answer those questions is just one more thing we have to do."

"Being a baseball fan is one thing," Donna Turner explains, "but to really let your fantasies go in a league is another. You get the 'owners' syndrome--you really think these players are yours. Your mind runs away."

Rotisserie leagues have made dedicated Dodger fans reconsider their loyalties. "You never watch a baseball game the same way again," says Don Drooker, 40, of Canoga Park, whose team, Donald's Ducks, competes in the Bowling League of Rotisserie Baseball (a group of bowling industry managers and executives). "You could be a lifelong Dodger fan, but if you go to the stadium and one of your pitchers is pitching against the Dodgers, you root against the Dodgers."

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of similar leagues. Ghost League Baseball, a San Francisco company selling computer software to run leagues, has responded to more than 1,000 inquiries about the program and a statistics service since both were introduced in February, says part-owner Jules Tygiel. Bantam Books' Rotisserie League Baseball, a humorous guide, has 51,000 copies in print, and more than 400 leagues, including about 40 in Southern California, have paid $50 apiece to join the Rotisserie League Baseball Assn.

For their money, association members get a mixture of serious information (final major league rosters, lists of players by position) and humor that has from the beginning marked this game. At the end of each season, for example, the original Rotisserie Leaguers ritually pour Yoo-Hoo, a soft drink once endorsed by ex-New York Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, on their league champion; the association will send a can of Yoo-Hoo to any league that cannot obtain the syrupy chocolate beverage. Few, it seems, actually emulate the ritual.

With names like the Wulfgang (owned by Steve Wulf) and the Sklar Gazers (Robert Sklar), the original league also spread a plague of puns that play on owners' names. The J. R. Ewings compete against Harper's Bizarre (Ben Harper), the Fuller Brushmen (Alan Fuller), and the Haskimos (Mike Haskins).

Fall in Love

Devotees of Rotisserie baseball offer various explanations for the game's popularity. "It begins with little boys," suggests Glen Waggoner, 45, a founding member of the original Rotisserie League, the editor of Rotisserie League Baseball, and now a contributing editor at Esquire. "Just before sex, boys fall in love with baseball. In adolescence they get their heads turned by sex, but in their 20s and 30s baseball comes back; by then you no longer have a credible fantasy of playing major league baseball yourself. The next greatest fantasy is to own a major league team. With Rotisserie League Baseball you can do that, and you don't need $25 million."

Although league champions have been known to win more than $1,000, players say money is hardly a motivation. "The money is irrelevant," Don Drooker insists. "The people in our league would do this for 260 match sticks."

Along with the leagues have come a host of related businesses selling statistics services, winning systems, a scouting service, and leagues via computer modem. One new company, Ghost League Baseball, grew out of the Pacific Ghost League, formed in San Francisco five years ago.

At 37, part-owner Jules Tygiel is no ordinary businessman. A professor of history at San Francisco State University, he is the author of "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy."

"Baseball has been booming," Tygiel says, "and part of it has to do with the computer. Baseball is so much a game of numbers, of statistics; the marriage of baseball and computers is a fortuitous one. Baseball first became popular in an age of mathematics, the 1880s, so it doesn't surprise me that this resurgence in popularity of baseball coincides with the introduction of the personal computer."

But if the Dodgers cannot replace Guerrero, it will be a long summer. In his absence, the team is using Franklin Stubbs, a promising rookie, and Cesar Cedeno, an aging superstar.

The J. R. Ewings are no better off. Drafting on Sunday, April 13, at a league meeting in a Glassell Park residence, owner Williams acquired Andy Van Slyke and Greg Gross, who last season hit 20 fewer home runs and batted 60 points lower than the Dodgers' popular star.

At that five-hour auction, Golden State League owners showed they can be as ruthless and unforgiving as George Steinbrenner, the temperamental New York Yankees owner with a penchant for firing managers and publicly berating players. Consider, for example, the case of Ken Landreux.

Two nights earlier, the Dodger center fielder played poorly against the San Francisco Giants: with several Golden State League owners watching, Landreux made an error that allowed the Giants to score three runs. By Sunday, his Rotisserie League value had plummeted. Selected by Commissioner Pete Arbogast (the "Arbohydrates"), Landreux was the very last player chosen. His auction price and 1986 salary: 10 cents.

Hope you enjoyed the quick trip in the time machine...maybe next year, I'll try to draft that English prospect H. G. Wells.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 23:04
 
What I Thought About That Thing PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 29 May 2015 00:00

In the 1999 box-office smash hit "Analyze This", Billy Crystal plays Dr. Ben Sobel, a psychiatrist trying to help mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert DeNiro) get his life under control. The incomparable Chazz Palminteri adds even more zest to the film as Primo, a rival Mafioso. During the climatic scene where Crystal is impersonating DeNiro's "consigliore" at a meeting of the bosses, the following conversation takes place...

Primo: Everybody knows there's been this thing between me and Paul Vitti for a long time.

Dr. Sobel: Which thing are you talking about? The first thing or the second thing?

Primo: What second thing? I only know one thing.

Dr. Sobel: Hey, how can we bring up the first thing if we're not gonna talk about the second thing? Did you talk to the guy?

Primo: What guy?

Dr. Sobel: The guy with the thing?

Primo: What thing? What the **** are you talking about?

Dr. Sobel: How should I know? You brought it up.

As Memorial Day shows up in our rear-view mirror and with the baseball season almost one-third gone, all fantasy players are trying to analyze what they thought about that "thing" that is now haunting them each time they look at their league standings. Or maybe they enjoy reminiscing about the other "thing" that has them in contention. So, as with Paul Vitti, the Old Duck will attempt to gain some "closure" by reviewing the things he thought during the off-season...starting with the first fantasy draft for 2015 (XFL) back in November and continuing through the hot stove months and then into March and Spring Training.

> I thought Ben Revere's productive second half in 2014 would bode well for his age-27 campaign...he's been even less than a "one-trick pony" in 2015 with a .262 BA, .307 OBP and nine steals.

> I thought Zach Britton would continue to be a top-level closer after his breakout '14 season...so far, so good with ten saves and a 22-3 K /BB ratio in 16 IP.

> I thought Colby Rasmus could have a productive bounce-back at age 28 if he landed in a comfortable spot and I took him for $1 in the XFL end-game...a solid contributor to the Astros success with eight home runs and a .813 OPS.

> I thought paying market value ($11) for Ervin Santana last November would be OK no matter where he signed due to his consistency and durability...an 80-game suspension  for PED's wasn't in the equation.  

> I thought keeping Tanner Roark for $12 was more than reasonable after his 15-win season in '14...the Nats kicking him out of the rotation for Max Scherzer wasn't in the equation either.

> I thought drafting Addison Reed and Steve Cishek would add two stable closers to my squad with no obvious challengers to their jobs...do the names Enrique Burgos, Brad Ziegler and A.J. Ramos mean anything to you?

> I thought that drafting Chase Utley for $6 was a steal based on his healthy season in '14...his .174 BA in '15 proves that health and age are two very different components.

> I thought the D-backs acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson was misguided...his first eight starts have produced a 5.52 ERA.

> I thought just about every move made by the Dave Stewart/Tony LaRussa management team in Phoenix has been a blunder, but maybe I was too kind...last week, a local beat writer wrote a column about how the D-backs mishandling of their 40-man roster has cost them players and flexibility...at the time of the article, the bullpen ERA was 4.50 but the team essentially gave away Will Harris (0.40 ERA and a 29-6 K/BB ratio in 22+ IP for the Astros) to clear space after he didn't allow a run in his final 16 appearances of 2014. They also gave away Mike Bolsinger, who pitched eight shutout innings for the Dodgers this past weekend. If NFL teams have employees in charge of salary cap analysis, shouldn't MLB teams have a similar position to monitor the 40-man roster?

> I thought Nolan Arenado would continue to become a top-level player...despite the Rockies woes, he has seven homers and a .779 OPS.

> I thought Cody Asche was not the answer at third base for the Phillies...he's back at Triple-A learning to play the outfield...maybe to replace Ben Revere.

> I thought that Javier Baez was a slender version of Mark Reynolds...with Baez at Triple-A, I owe Reynolds an apology.

> I thought Jay Bruce would continue to be plagued by defensive shifting...he's hitting .216.

> I thought Asdrubal Cabrera's career was in decline as he entered his 30's...he's hitting .212 with a .603 OPS.

> I thought Nelson Cruz couldn't possibly duplicate his 2014 season playing this year in Seattle...I was right, he's been better!

> I thought Khris Davis' flaws would get exposed with more AB's...he's hitting .226 with an OPS under .700.

> I thought Freddie Freeman would take his game to another level...even in a weak Braves lineup, he's still at a similar level with a .301 BA and .857 OPS.

> I thought Matt Holliday would be on the decline at age 35...his .314 BA and .876 OPS has helped the Cardinals to their fast start.

> I thought Eric Hosmer was overrated due to the Royals great run in '14...a lesson in judging young players too quickly, he's hitting .313 with a .920 OPS.

> I thought Austin Jackson had already showed us that he's not very good...was hitting .242 with a 19% K rate before getting injured.

> I thought Desmond Jennings was past the prospect stage and not to expect much improvement...hitting .222 when he hasn't been on the DL.

> I thought Russell Martin's career year in '14 would fool a lot of fantasy players...so far, 2015 has been even better.

> I thought Brian McCann was a lousy signing in 2014 and this season wouldn't be any better...last year's BA and OPS were .232 and .692. This year's is .233 and .677.

> I thought A.J. Pollock would bounce back nicely after being hurt last year...he's hitting .314 with ten stolen bases.

> I thought Pablo Sandoval would be an over-priced free agent...even hitting in Fenway Park, he's below all his lifetime numbers (BA, OPS, etc.).

> I thought David Wright would be a bad fantasy investment...has only 35 AB's with no return in sight.

> I thought Cody Allen would continue to be a solid ninth inning guy for the Indians...has nine saves with 25 K's in 17+ IP.

> I thought R.A. Dickey would keep the Blue Jays rotation stable...he's 2-5 with a 5.49 ERA.

> I thought Matt Garza would be underrated...he's been reincarnated as R.A. Dickey with a 2-6 record and a 5.71 ERA.

> I thought that Kyle Hendricks wouldn't be a one-year wonder...pitched a five-hit shutout last week for his first win.

> I thought Shelby Miller regressed in 2014 and his value for 2015 was questionable...he's 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA.

> I thought Drew Storen would be just fine in the closer's role for the Nats...how about 13 saves and a 0.98 ERA?

> I thought Paul Goldschmidt would be an elite fantasy contributor and took him 4th overall in my only snake-style league...owns a .327/.431/.614 (1.045 OPS) slash line with 11 home runs.

> I thought the Red Sox were overly optimistic about their 5-man rotation made up of #3 starting pitchers...the five ERA's are 5.07, 4.58, 5.10, 5.13 and 6.37.

> I thought Robinson Cano would be even better with an improved Mariners line-up and I drafted him as a cornerstone of my AL-only squad...undrafted Jimmy Paredes has been more productive.

> I thought Travis Snider was ready for a breakout season...he's lost his job to Delmon Young!

> I thought Jonathan Lucroy was the best catcher available in my NL-only league and paid top dollar for him...hit .133 before going on the DL.

> I thought Arismendy Alcantara would be a super-utility, multi-positional, speed-power guy for the Cubs and with an excess of SP's, I traded Michael Wacha to get him just before opening day...hit .077 before getting sent down...of course, if you have a Triple-A fantasy team, he has five homers at Iowa.

> I thought Carl Crawford would build on a strong 2014 finish and play every day with Matt Kemp gone...had three RBI and zero steals before going on the DL.

Just to make sure we touched all bases, a final conversation with DeNiro's character should bring clarity to the situation...

Paul Vitti: So, did you take care of that thing I asked you about?

The Duck: I took care of it.

Paul Vitti: How about the other thing?

The Duck: I got to wait for the first thing to come through before I can move on the second thing.

Paul Vitti: That guy give you a problem?

The Duck: The guy on the first thing?

Paul Vitti: Yeah.

The Duck: He's a lunatic.

Paul Vitti: What did he say?

The Duck: The usual.

Paul Vitti: Did you tell him you weren't going for it?

The Duck: What am I going to do, Paul?

Paul Vitti: You gotta nip that crap right in the bud.

The Duck: But if the first thing comes through, that'll fix everything.

Paul Vitti: Exactly. Including the second thing.

The Duck: Absolutely.

Paul Vitti: Exactly.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 May 2015 00:32
 
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