Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Charles Barkley, Micheal Strahan and Steve Urkel Walk Into a Bar...

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but some simply amazing details are starting to pour in about Sir Charles Barkley's DUI arrest early Wednesday. There were about five different parts to this story that are bizarre at times and hilarious at others.

1) Barkley told cops he ran the stop sign because he was going to get oral sex from a woman who had previously serviced him the week before as well. That wasn't even Sir Charles' best part of the excuse, he then followed up with including it was the best oral sex he had ever had.

This comment alone will cause dozens of college students to ditch Cancun for Scottsdale, Arizona

2) Barkley told a civilian employee at the police station, "I'll tattoo your name on my ass" if he could help him get out of the DUI charges. Charles should know better than to make an offer like that to a civilian employee. That's something you offer to a Sargent or the ranking officer at the time of incarceration.

3) This pictureGood lord. Can someone get Charles a cold glass of water and hanky to wipe his face off?!?! He's sweating more than Patrick Ewing in a double overtime game.

4) He was out with Jaleel White. Don't know who that is? T.V.'S STEVEN URKEL!! Barkley's crew certainly does not run as deep as is used to I guess. I wonder what other Afro-American sitcom stars Barkley roles with? Perhaps Rerun from "What's Happening?," Theo from "The Cosby Show," or the Guy on the Fire Escape from "Martin" have all been apart of Sir Barkley's pose at some point.

5) Police found a gun in his car and didn't press charges. It isn't clear if the gun was licensed or not, because finding a gun isn't even worth investigating in Arizona. Nevermind the gun was found in the car of a man who was intoxicated, wouldn't one want to look into this further? If this was New York he would have spent the night in Riker's, with the looming penalty of a 3.5year prison sentence haunting him.

The fact that former N.Y. Giant Micheal Strahan was also at the bar with Barkley that night was only a coincodence. However, I do think it important for people to now recognize that we are seeing a trend emerging with N.Y. Giants and club frequenting that generally end with someone wearing handcuffs. Now I am not saying to be like Pac Man Jones scared if you see a N.Y Football Giant at a bar, just be weary and take note and watch your back.

Cubs Are Making a Big Mistake

SI.com's Jon Heyman speculates that with their recent trades of Jason Marquis and Mark DeRosa the Chicago Cubs now will turn their attention to bringing in a right fielder. Heyman says that the Cubs are going to focus their attention to bringing in the switch hitting, ever volatile, oft injured, Milton Bradley. Bradley would fit in very well in the Cubbies line up and would be counted on to provide the pop from the left side of the plate that they had counted on getting when they signed Kosuke Fukudome last off season.

Bradley, when healthy is a five tool player and an OPS machine. However, he is only fully healthy for about 2-3 weeks out of a regular fantasy season. He had a very good season last year with Texas and still only managed to play in 120 games. Of those 100 came as a DH while the other 20 were in the outfield. Last I checked the the N.L. does not feature a DH position, meaning that Bradley would have to play right field everyday in order to be in the line up. Again, last I checked Bradley can't stay healthy and in the line up enough as an everyday outfielder. The Cubs would be making a big mistake by bringing him on and expecting him to play in 120-140 games as an everyday outfielder. He couldn't play in 120 games last season when he was DHing most of the time, how is he supposed to stay on the field if he has to play the outfield too?

If the Cubs were smart they would let Bradley go somewhere else, (for his own good it should be an A.L. team) and focus their efforts on bringing in Adam Dunn. Dunn has thrived hitting in Wrigley Field as an opposing player over the years and would provide a lefty presence in the line up that the Cubs are looking for. Think of how dangerous a 3-4-5 of Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn and Aramis Ramirez would be.

In 60 games played at Wrigley over the course of his career Adam has amassed 217AB, 23HR, 44RBI, a .286BA, a .419OBP, and a ridiculous .664SLG. There is really no other away ballpark Adam played at that is even comparable to the numbers he put up at Wrigley Field.

Adam also provides something Bradley can't. A healthy, consistent bat that can play everyday. Over the last 5 seasons consider the following. Since the 2004 season Adam has played in 152 or more games every year. He also holds the distinction of hitting 40 or more homeruns in each of those years. Finally, he has averaged 100RBI a season in that time, as well as close to 100R scored. This is not a small sample size or a one season thing, like we saw from Bradley last year. This is a guy who has been one of the most consistent power and RBI bats in all of baseball for the better part of a half of a decade.

If the Cubs do wind up deciding to go in this direction they better move fast because they aren't the only ones vying for Adam's services.

Fuentes Signs With The Angels

The closer market got a little smaller today with the L.A. Angels of Anaheim announcing they have signed Brian Fuentes. Fuentes is coming off of a great 2008 season where he had 30 saves and a 2.73ERA. The move once again signifies how much Anaheim prides itself on having of the deepest and deepest bullpens in baseball.

FANTASY IMPACT

Expect the lefty to have another solid 30+ save season in Anaheim this season. The Angels play in one of the worst divisions in baseball, so they should be winning plenty of ball games and giving him plenty of opportunities. He will be undervalued at draft time because of his '07 struggles and because he didn't take over the closer's role until the end of April, when the Rockies had finally grown tired of the Manny Corpas Pyrotechnics Show getting lit up every night.

I should note, however, that Corpas is currently listed as the Rockies closer for next season, according to ESPN.com's depth chart. Given his struggles early last season, he could be a good sleeper closing candidate that could be had much later on in the draft. It is now also worth noting that his top set up man will be Houston Street, who has thrived in the closer's role for years. I could envision the Rocks handing the job to Street and then trading him while his value is high and then hand Corpas the job later on in the season.

The biggest impact this move has is on guys like Scot Shields and Jose Arrendondo, who have both been dominant set up men in the past and were expected to replace Francisco Rodriguez as the Angel's closer. Shields having more experience might have given him the edge going into Spring Training, however many believed that Arrendondo would have been given a shot to close first. It was a case of Shields being so good at his job, they wouldn 't want to move him.

None of this matters now, as Fuentes will get the ball at the end of the game, for a team that stands to win a lot of ball games.

Mets Lowe Ball Derek


The New York Mets, knowing that they want to bring in a veteran pitcher, have offered Derek Lowe a 3 year contract worth about $36 million. This is far below the 5 year, $90 million that agent Scott Boras had envisioned earlier this off season. It stands to reason that this is only the Mets first offer and should increase a bit as negotiations on go. However, in a wake of what just happened with the Red Sox and Mart Teixeira, wouldn't it be prudent of the Mets to go harder after Lowe?

They know they want and need him. So why are they trying to be cute and low ball him? A team like Milwaukee (assuming they don't listen to me) or even say a Nationals team could swoop in and offer something ridiculous like 4 years and $60 million. If you think that's not possible, lets remember what just happened with the Sox. They thought they had the best offer and there was no one else in the pool with them and that Boras was bluffing when he told them there was a team with a higher offer on the table. Then the next day, the Sox more or less allowed their most coveted off season priority go to their biggest rivals.

The Mets need to get serious and fast. The should have offered 3 years at $42-$45 million and not dilly dallied with these near offensively low offers. I realize it's not popular, but look at what the Yankees did. Sure they overpaid to get what they wanted, but the bottom line is they got what they wanted. In this case the Mets need to do the same and get this done sooner rather than later.

FANTASY IMPACT

Lowe is a consistent pitcher who will thrive in Citi Field's pitcher friendly dimensions. He will also benefit from being on a much more potent offensive team than he has had backing him for the last several years. The downside would be the Mets' infield defense which, for all of its fanfare really isn't that good. David Wright, despite his Gold Gloves, is really prone to making many sloppy plays and bumbling easy ground balls. Over at first Carlos Delgado has been a DH in first baseman's clothing for years now.

If the Mets get serious and can land Lowe, expect at least 15 wins with an ERA in the 3.50 area. He won't get a ton of K's and is prone to the occasional stinker, which is what keeps him from being elite. Think of him like an N.L. version of Chien Ming Wang, who could be had around the same time of your draft.

Charles Barkley Arrested

TNT basketball analyst and former All- Star Charles Barkley was arrested early Wednesday morning on suspicion of drunken driving. Barkley was stopped by a DWI enforcement cop after he saw Barkley run a stop sign. While Barkley refused a breathalyzer he was given a blood test, the results of which are not yet available. I find it damning, that for the first time in about 10 years, Barkley refused to open his mouth and allow something stupid to come out.

Barkley was stopped outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona's trendy Scottsdale's Old Town area. He was processed and took a taxi home following his release.

The arrest is another sign of Barkley's gluttonous lifestyle, that has featured him boasting about his gambling habits and has been known around the league for years as a frequenter of local clubs and bars when on the road. The arrest could damage Barkley's status as a talking head on TNT's NBA studio show, where Barkley has become infamous for his opinions and outrageous statements that has drawn the ire of players like Kobe Bryant and more recently LeBron James.

Cubs to Win Milton Bradley Game


According to CSNChicago.com the Chicago Cubs are close to a multiyear deal with outfielder, Milton Bradley that should be announced sometime soon or after the New Year. The Cubs current depth chart lists Reed Johnson or Felix Pie as their center fielder, so it stands to reason they could ad Bradley and shift Alfonso Soriano or Kosuke Fukudome into center. That would allow them to use Reed as a bat off the bench and to trade Pie for something of value, while the fledgling prospect still has some.

FANTASY IMPACT

Bradley will have another season of solid numbers, assuming he can have another season of similar health to what he managed in his 2008 season. He managed more than 400 at bats for the first time in 4 years, but not coincidentally, it was also the first time he had been fantasy relevant in 4 years. The numbers across all seasons show he can be very productive if he can stay healthy enough to stay in the line up for extended periods of time. The Cubs line up offers additional interest given its depth and the potential he has to hit somewhere before or in between Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

Bradley could go 25/ 100/ 100 if he could ever stay healthy. But he never can, so temper the expectations. A season of 20/ 75/ 75 seems more in line. Personally I hate drafting players who get hurt or are injury risks. Fantasy success relies on drafting players who can stay on the field and post the big numbers they are expected to. Bradley, while he's a remarkable talent in reality baseball is a fringe player in fantasy, simply because it's not guaranteed he can stay on the field.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Fit For Manny

A slow day of baseball headlines has forced me to play the "what if" game (not that the Blue Jays monumental signings of Micheal Barrett and Mike Maroth aren't blog-worthy). I decided to do some thinking about which team would really be the best fit for Manny Ramirez. After looking at all thirty teams and their current situations I have found the team that would be the best fit for Manny.

The Milwaukee Brewers

WAIT PLEASE KEEP READING!

I know Manny has alienated himself every where he has gone. He managed to carry the Dodgers to the playoffs and was a hero, and even they look like they are moving on as if he won't be there next season. I know he is flaky and plays when he feels like it, and his defense is an embarrassment at times. However, I do think there are many more positives to his signing there than there negatives.

Manny would give the Brewers the best 3-4-5 in baseball. Imagine Manny, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun hitting in a row. It would give them the best middle of the line up in all of baseball. Better than the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, Tigers, Astro's, Phillies or any other team you can think of. Those are 3 40HR, 120RBI guys who can all hit .280 or better. It would also allow the Brewers to stagger their line up and go righty- lefty- righty.

Milwaukee's current outfield situation features Mike Cameron in center, Ryan Braun in left and Corey Hart in right. Now clearly the Brewers are not going to trade Braun and by bringing on Manny they are going to need all the defensive help they can get, so keeping Cameron also makes sense. The player who they should trade is Hart. He was an All- Star last season, so he value is still high, despite slumping badly in the second half of the '08 season, hitting .239AVG with only 5HRs and 33RBIs. It is known that the Giants have been shopping Jonathan Sanchez and looking for hitting. A Hart for Sanchez deal would make sense for a hitting starved Giants team and a Brewers team that currently features only one lefty and Dave Bush as its #2 starter.

Some would argue that Milwaukee is a small market team and can't just throw money around at players like that. I would argue that Milwaukee just offered C.C. Sabathia a 5 year $100 million contract and were prepared to increase their offer. So, don't give me that 'whoa is me, small market, can't afford him' act. They have the money it is there, it's a matter of thinking if they want to go for it now or stick with the status quo. The way things are going for Manny right now, he might be lucky to get a 3 year, $70 million contract offer. A lot of money for a small market team like Milwaukee, but it would be worth the risk, if it meant bringing home a championship.

Others might say that Hart is about a decade younger than Manny and they would be getting older and losing a player who could be good for another 7-8 years and getting a player who might only have a good season or two left. I would argue that the Brewers only have another season or two with Prince Fielder on the roster. He is going to start arbitration soon and will begin to make a lot more money than he is now. In fact, there have already been Prince trade rumors that have circulated. And it would also allow them to bring in some much needed starting pitching help in a player like Sanchez, who is a young, strikeout lefty. Wouldn't Milwaukee be doing their fans better by bringing on a big ticket, game changing hitter like Manny and going for it all in 2009?

This is just pure speculation on my part. Feel free to post agreements or disagreements.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Andruw Jones to the Mets Rumored

ESPN.com's Buster Olney is reporting that the Mets and L.A. Dodgers are discussing a deal that would send the much maligned Andruw Jones out of L.A. and to New York. The deal makes sense for the Dodgers as it would allow them to free up some cash and room in their already crowded outfield, to sign Adam Dunn.

Jones was once looked at by many as a sure fire first ballot Hall of Fame player. He played a gold glove center field and hit 20+ homeruns for 10 straight seasons. However, an ever increasing decline in his offensive production, defensive range and an increase in his waste size have caused many to question if he can still play the game effectively.

If he can get himself back into playing shape and has clear up the knee injuries that plagued him for much of the '08 season, the move would give the Mets a very good sleeper candidate in right field to start next season.

FANTASY IMPACT

If the Dodgers do sign Dunn I think his value stays the same. Granted Dunn goes into a much bigger home ballpark, but he also goes into a better contact line up, that will be less prone to prolinged slumps. Also, most of Dunn's homeruns go a very long way and would leave the ballpark, no matter how big it is.

Andruw Jones would be on more or less be on his last chance. The Mets might be a good place for him to try and regain his swing and bravado on the playing field. The Mets showed their patience with Carlos Delgado last season and allowed him to work through his struggles at the plate, when many felt his career as a power hitting first baseman was over. The Mets patience paid off and they were handsomely rewarded when Delgado came onto be the hottest hitter in the majors over the last few months of the '08 season. They might need to be ready to wait out Jones to see if he can regain his homerun swing from yesteryear. The move to right field would allow him less wear and tare on his legs over the course of a long season and should only benefit him.

Come draft time take Dunn where you normally would. With Jones take him late, as a sleeper, but be ready to go through some early down periods early on. Don't expect great things out of the gate, but it could certainly be worth it to stash him. It will probably take him a while before he is able to swing the bat the way he once did.

Dodgers Dunn With Manny?


Sources had told ESPN.com's Jason Stark that the L.A. Dodgers have been in contact with with the agents for free agent slugger, Adam Dunn. The move signals that the Dodgers are not going to wait around to hear back from Manny Ramirez and his future intentions.

The Dodgers have many, many fine young hitters in their line up, from catcher Russel Martin, to first baseman James Loney, to outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They also have fine roll players in Casey Blake and Blake DeWitt manning third and second base respectively. Dunn would add a veteran presence to the line up and legit source of serious power, that the Dodgers hadn't seen for years, until the mid Summer deal that brought Manny to town was completed.

This could be big trouble in waiting for another free agent. Manny Ramirez. Manny burst on the scene in L.A. delivering clutch RBIs and timely hitting for his 2 months tenure in L.A. It seemed like the Dodgers would be a slam dunk to resigning, but after their early efforts to sign him were rebuffed the Dodgers have been waiting back to see what develops with Manny and where the market takes his value.

The addition of Dunn will also make an already crowded outfield situation in L.A. even more unsettled. Young sluggers Kemp and Ethier are going to play everyday, because they produce and should be playing everyday. That leaves left field to be patrolled with either Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones or Dunn if the Dodgers sign him.

Andruw Jones is perhaps the biggest piece of this puzzle. The once sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer has slumped miserably the last two seasons. His 2008 season was a joke. In 209 at bats he hit .158 with 3HR and 14RBI. The Dodgers seem to have come to terms with the idea that his signing was a mistake and they are going to have to eat the remaining $14 million or so he still has awaiting him for the 2009 season.

If Manny doesn't wind up going to the Dodgers, then where will he wind up? We examine the team that is the best fit for Manny here.

Mangini Out of a Job


Fitting that the coach who once made a cameo on "The Soprano's" coached his last game against, the Miami Dolphins and head coach Tony Sparano. Various sources around New York are reporting that Jets' head coach Eric Mangini will not be returning to coach the team again next season. The announcement is to come at a news conference the Jets have scheduled for today at 10a.m.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation about Mangini's job status that has been up in the air ever since the Jets entered their late season swoon. Entering week 13 the Jets sat alone a top the AFC East at 8-3. Then came a disastrous stretch where the Jets lost 4 out of their last 5 games, including a pivotal loss to a Seattle Seahawks team that finished the season 3-13.

Mangini early on in his Jet tenure was nick named "Man-Genious" for his coaching decisions and highly touted offense. However, the nick name wore off fast as many of his decisions over the last few weeks have been greatly scrutinized, highlighted when the Jets went for a first down on a 4th and 2 from their own 20 with over 2 minutes to play in the Seattle game. The Jets were only down by a touch down at the time, however the turn over on downs so deep in their own territory led to an easy field goal for Seattle and put the Jets chances to win the game and make the playoffs out of reach.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sox Close to Picking Up Penny: Fantasy Impact

Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Red Sox and free agent Brad Penny are close to agreeing on a one year deal pending some contract details and a physical. The latter could be the more difficult part for Penny given his injury plagued 2008 campaign.

(Update: WBZ TV's Dan Roche confirmed the Penny deal to be for, one year at $5 million, with another $3 million in potential incentives. The deal, however is still pending a physical.)

Penny won 16 games for the L.A. Dodgers in 2006 and again in 2007. In 2006 he was the starting pitcher for the N.L. All Star team. It looked as if he was going to cash it in following the 2008 season, however shoulder injuries derailed his season and he finished 6-9 with an ERA over 6.00. The fact that the Dodgers turned down a single season, market value option on him, perhaps hints that they weren't totally convinced his shoulder issues are behind him.

The deal is reminiscent of the one the Sox signed Bartolo Colon to last season. An All Star pitcher, who has been battling injury, given a one year contract to try and increase their market value, following a few injuries


FANTASY IMPACT

I find it a bit disconcerting that Penny fought shoulder injuries all last season, and there was no sort of surgery or rehab done during the season that was able to diagnose and fix exactly what was wrong with him. If there was something that wasn't serious wouldn't the Dodgers have resigned him? They could use the starter with Derek Lowe leaving via free agency and the young Clayton Kershaw still being limited in the amount of innings they want him to throw.

The Red Sox aren't exactly taking a risk here, and it is a bit too early to tell if Penny is healthy enough to hold up over the long haul of a full baseball season. What it does show is that the Sox want to be patient with Clay Buchholz and his development, and probably want to try and use Justin Masterson in a variety of ways, as an arm out of the bullpen and spot starter when needed.

So basically what we learned is; take Penny late in your draft as a sleeper. However this could change come March as we learn more about how healthy he is. He has ace type stuff and could wind up being the 3 or 4 starter, which will favor him greatly in most match ups. The Red Sox are not yet ready to let The Buccholz train leave the station. They don't want to rush him and have him take a step back like he did in 2008 again, so the signing of a veteran like Penny can give him some more time to develop in the minors. That being said, Buchholz is still a great prospect and is worth a late round pick, as he'll get the first call to the majors when a Red Sox starter goes down with an injury.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Willy Taveras to the Reds: Fantasy Impact

The Cincinnati Reds and center fielder Willy Taveras agreed to a two-year contract on Saturday. Taveras is coming off of a mediocre 2008 season where he only managed to hit a paltry .251 with a .308 on-base percentage, making him expendable for his former team, the Colorado Rockies. Despite the rather down season Taveras still managed to lead all of baseball with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts.

FANTASY IMPACT

Taveras needs to stay healthy and show he can play everyday. The move away from Coors Field could actually help Taveras' numbers this season. Coors Field has quite an expansive outfield, that combined with the thin air and Taveras' thin frame probably made it difficult for his body to recuperate properly and added to the wear and tare his body went through. Moving to a smaller outfield that is actually located at sea level should help Taveras stay healthier than he has over the last few seasons.

The 2008 season was a bit of an anomaly as he had his career worst season with the bat, yet had a career year using his speed, doubling his previous single season stolen base total. This could be seen as a fluke or it could be looked at as a player finally developing what he does best as a baseball player and playing to his strength, like we have seen Juan Pierre do for years.

The young Reds team that will surround him in the line up could also be a detriment. No one will doubt the talent of the players that will surround him. Guys like Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are some of the finest rising stars in the game. However, they are still young and will be prone to some ups and downs and inconsistencies throughout a long baseball season.

Taveras, despite being a speedster and lead off man for the majority of his career, has never scored 100 runs in a season or collected more than 180 hits. Before 2008 he had never stolen more than 34 bases in a season and has yet to drive in more than 30RBIs in a season. Granted in the NL it's tougher for a lead off man to drive in runs with the pitcher hitting in front of him, but still at some point you'd expect to see better production in at least one season.

Taveras is strictly a stolen base threat at this point and should be looked at as nothing else. He could, at best, steal 60 bases again and score close to 100 runs and finish with a .300AVG. At worst he gets nicked up again, misses time and winds up with around 70runs scored and 35SB.

Come draft day I would avoid taking him out of necessity. That meaning, don't draft a line up full of strictly sluggers and then bank on Taveras to go out there and make up the difference. His numbers have been rather inconsistent and you don't know how much time he'll spend on the ball field. If you can grab him as a guy to bolster your stolen base numbers and to compliment other stolen base threats you have, you'll be in a much more stable position.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Randy Johnson Signs With Giants

The Big Unit will give it another go in the NL West next season in his question for 300. The 45-year-old, five time Cy Young Award winner signed a one year, $8 million contract with the San Fransisco Giants Friday night. The contract joins Johnson with an already formidable Giants staff that features former Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito as well as the highly touted Matt Cain.

FANTASY IMPACT

Johnson has gone to a very good place and this really helps his fantasy value for next season. While the Giants' offense is nothing to write home about (in fact it's nothing to write anywhere about) the Big Unit should see similar success to what he saw in the second half of last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Don't be totally fooled by Johnson's overall numbers, his second half numbers showed flashes of the Unit of old we are used to seeing.

First half

Wins- 6
Losses- 7
ERA- 5.23
Strikeouts- 95
Innings Pitched- 98
Games- 17

Second Half

Wins-5
Losses- 3
ERA-2.41
Strikeouts- 78
Innings Pitched- 86
Games- 13

Clearly Johnson's numbers picked up in the second half as he got healthier and came to terms with what he now is as a pitcher. Less power, more finesse, pitching more to contact and allowing the defense to do their jobs really allowed Johnson to thrive. If you add that to the fact that he'll be going from a good hitter's park to a good pitcher's park, you could have yourself a five time Cy Young Award winner, with over 4,700K's who could be a draft day steal.

He isn't the dominant ace he once was in years past, but you can still expect near 15 wins, 175Ks and an ERA in the low 3.00s. Before last season's draft I would have told you to avoid Johnson because he was such a health risk. However, he really seems to have righted himself and has his back issues in check, so I don't think he'll be somebody you have to worry about breaking down too early in the season and losing him for an extended period of time. Think of taking him around the same time an A.J. Burnett or Scott Shields might get drafted.