Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Third Base Primer That Strangely Focuses On, Wait For It, Mark DeRosa

Mark DeRosa turned 34 years old two days ago. Happy belated birthday, Mark. For your birthday I am going to give you something that no one else has given you recently: a post all of your own.

Let's get to it: DeRosa was the 9th best third baseman last year. He also qualifies as a 2B in all leagues and he was 5th best at that position in 2008. If you draft him, you want him in your 2B slot.

I know, I know. The fact that I’m talking about DeRosa in what is ostensibly a post about 3B is a little confusing, but I already talked about Alexei in my 2B post (even though I probably should have discussed him as a SS). But remember, this post isn't about doing things in a logical way so as to avoid confusion. This post is about being a birthday present to Mark DeRosa.

DeRosa has really had two separate careers. In his first career, which ran from 1998 to 2005, he was a teen pop idol. No. Wrong wikipedia page. Ah, yes. Here we go: in his first career, he never had more than 309 at bats. When a guy is unable to find a starting gig in the majors for seven years, it usually is a sign that you don’t want him on your fantasy team. But in DeRosa’s second career, which is heading into its fourth season, he has had 520, 502, and 505 at bats and was a 70-80 R, 10-13 HR, 70-80 RBI, 2-4 SB, .290 type guy.

The most popular thing to say about DeRosa right now is that he had a “career year” in 2008. Is this true? The answer, it seems to me, is yes and no. DeRosa had more hits and a better batting average in 2006 and 2007 than in 2008. But when people say “career year” what I think they really mean to say is that in 2008, DeRosa more than doubled the amount of home runs he hit in his previous year. DeRosa had 13 HR in 2006, 10 HR in 2007, and 21 HR in 2008. Incidentally, the second most popular thing to say about DeRosa is that “his power numbers should decline in 2009.” And they might, as DeRosa led the league with nine "lucky" home runs in 2008. So I would argue that DeRosa's entire statistical 2008 season wasn't "career," it was just that his home runs were league-leadingly "lucky."

So that’s the background. Let’s get to the numbers:


As you can see from the list above, DeRosa was the 67th best player in the Y! game last year and is being drafted, on average, 134th this year. So my question is, what sorts of stats does DeRosa need this year in order to be better than his ADP?

Well, the 134th best player in the Y! game in 2008 was Kelly Johnson. Here are his stats:
86 R, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 11 SB, .287 AVG.

Can DeRosa top those numbers? To help answer this question, I will show you DeRosa’s 2008 stats, an average of the stats DeRosa generated over the last three years, and Bill James’ 2009 projection for DeRosa:

DeRosa in 2008:
103 R, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 6 SB, .285 AVG.

Average of DeRosa’s 2006-2008 stats:
81 R, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 3 SB, .291 AVG.

Bill James’ 2009 DeRosa projection:
87 R, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 4 SB, .273 AVG.

Conclusion: Some people will read this post and think that DeRosa is STILL going too high in drafts. Others will read it and think that nabbing DeRosa as the 134th pick overall is a great idea, because you are essentially making a low-risk bet that he hits somewhere around his three-year average. And if he happens to hit better than that? Gravy.

Personally, I probably wouldn’t target DeRosa, but knowing the above information will make me feel comfortable picking him up if he slips much more than his 134 ADP (which is in the 11th round of 12-team mixed-league my last few 12-team mock drafts, he has gone in the 11th, 12th, 7th, and 13th rounds). I’m only a moderate fan of DeRosa, but I’m a complete sucker for position flexibility, and DeRosa has a lot of that. DeRosa’s 3B/OF flexibility gives daily leaguers the ability to get a few extra counting stats on days when regulars at those positions aren’t playing (assuming your league doesn’t have 162-game position limits). Plus, having a DeRosa makes it easier to figure out a way to get starters in all positions without dropping valuable guys onto the waiver wire when folks on your team start getting injured.

There is very little Mark DeRosa reading out there. The stuff below is the best I could find. If you find something you think is interesting, feel free to post it in the comment section.

  • As Razzball says, maybe now that he is in Cleveland people will "no longer overrate a player that was underrated."

  • DeRosa quick to become team leader.

  • Lou, DeRosa deny recent report of rift.

  • A Fake Teams piece on Mark DeRosa from back in early October.

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.
  • Friday, February 27, 2009

    Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Which First Basemen Will Exceed Expectations?

    What if every single player in baseball were to put up the same exact stats in 2009 as he did in 2008? If that were to happen, which first baseman would outplay his 2009 Average Draft Position (ADP) in Y! mock drafts by the widest margin?

    And no, this is not the plot of a new movie starring Bill Murray. The intent here is merely to see if jumping through some mental hoops helps us get a better sense of which first basemen might outperform their 2009 Average Draft Position. If you don’t happen to know the answer offhand, or if you don’t know the name of the player pictured on the right, use this list to find the answer:


    That’s right. Carlos Delgado. You know, the guy who hit 38 home runs last year and has hit more than thirty home runs in eleven of the last twelve seasons.

    Delgado will be turning 37 this season, so while he might be hard pressed to continue to hit more home runs than this age, he is being drafted so far below his 2008 value that even if he were to regress a bit in 2009, it is not unimaginable that he might still outplay his 2009 ADP.

    Let’s put some numbers to this hypothesis. If, in 2009, Delgado were to duplicate his worst season since 1995, would he still outplay his 2009 ADP of 135?

    Delgado’s worst season since 1995 was his 2007 season with the Mets:
    71 R, 24 HR, 87 RBI, 4 SB, .258 AVG.

    The 135th-best hitter in the Y! game in 2008 was Jason Giambi:
    68 R, 32 HR, 96 RBI, 2 SB, .247

    The answer? It’s close. So assuming Delgado can stay healthy in 2009 (which might be a big assumption), he can outperform his 2009 ADP as long as he plays slightly better than how he played in his worst season of the last thirteen years. And yes, I'm as surprised as you are that this post turned into an episode of Pimp My Delgado.

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    Is Alexei Ramirez worth his ADP if he duplicates his 2008 stats?

    There are countless ways to determine the value of a player in fantasy baseball, but a common and relatively unscientific method is to glance at a players’ stats and then rely on gut in deciding if that player is going to improve, regress, or simply maintain his current rate of production.

    For example, it seems many owners think Alexei Ramirez—who hit .290 with 65 R, 21 HR, 77 RBI, and 13 SB in only 480 at bats in 2008—will improve in 2009, which explains why he is currently being drafted in the fourth round of Yahoo (Y!) mock drafts. While participating in a recent mock draft, I witnessed an owner bragging about getting Alexei with the 54th overall pick. “Getting Alexei here with this pick is amazing value. He’s gonna mash this year,” the proud owner wrote. “At worst, he’ll duplicate his stats from last year, which would easily make him a top 50 pick.”

    Which got me thinking. If Alexei were to duplicate his stats from last year, would he be a top fifty pick? Turns out, the answer is no. Alexei was the 114th-best player in the Y! last year, which puts his value somewhere in the middle of the ninth round.

    Part of the reason his value was suppressed in the end-of-year 2008 Y! rankings was his 480-at-bat total limited his potential in the counting stats (R, RBI, HR, SB). So what if we were to extrapolate his stats for a 580-at-bat season? How would this change his value?

    Your wish is my command:

    Alexei Ramirez’s 2008 stats extrapolated out for 580-at-bat season:
    79 R, 25 HR, 93 RBI, 16 SB, and a .290 AVG.

    The player closest to having these same stats in 2008 was Vlad Guerrero:
    85 R, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 5 SB, and a .303 AVG.

    Vlad was the 56th-best player in the game in 2008. If Alexei were to duplicate a extrapolated version of his 2008 stats in 2009, he would be almost exactly worth his 50th-overall draft value. No more, no less.

    This list should help give you a better sense of which second basemen might outperform their 2009 Average Draft Position (ADP):


    (Note: my explanation of this list is a little convoluted, but hopefully it makes sense.)

    Other required Alexei Ramirez reading:

  • Bill James projects Alexei to hit .289 with 88 R, 24 HR, 97 RBI, and 14 SB.

  • Turns out FB Junk also played around with this same data: Who is Really Under/Over Valued?

  • Razzball likes Alexei better than that likeable wood gnome, Dustin Pedroia.

    Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.
  • Tuesday, February 24, 2009

    Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: HR/SB Dual Threats

    One draft strategy is to target hitters who are adept at both hitting home runs and stealing bases. Some managers take this strategy to such an extreme that they won’t draft players who can’t steal at least ten bases and hit at least ten home runs. This probably explains why Russell Martin’s Average Draft Position (ADP) is currently somewhere in the 42 range.

    In an effort to help owners that prefer this strategy, I have generated a quick cheat sheet that lists all the dual HR/SB threats. The players on this list met the following three requirements:
  • 10+ stolen bases in 2008
  • 10+ home runs in 2008
  • 30+ combined HR/SB in 2008

    I call it the Ten-Ten Thirty Plus (TT30+) Club. Nobody else calls it this, so don't go bragging to your friends about how nearly all the players you just drafted are members of the TT30+ club. They won't know what you are talking about. But even though it is a make believe club, this list might help you to target some of the more underrated power/speed players for your 2009 fantasy baseball draft.

    Note: the number to the left of each player name is the combined total of each player’s 2008 home run and stolen base output.

    Any names surprise you? I’ll leave you with a list of players that just missed being included in the above list. Some of these players will probably be joining the TT30+ club in 2009.

    What player from the "just missed" list do you think is most likely to go Ten-Ten Thirty Plus in 2009?

  • If it helps, here is the cheatsheet I used in my actual draft.
  • Sunday, February 22, 2009

    H2H Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: The Pitching Heavy and the Average Challenged (PHAC)

    If you had the 8th pick in a Yahoo 12-team daily H2H roto (not points) fantasy baseball draft, would you consider drafting a starting pitcher with your first pick? Perhaps? How about this: would you consider drafting a starting pitcher with your first four picks? I call this the Pitching-Heavy-AVG-Challenged (PHAC) strategy. So the question is, will PHAC frick up your team?

    Nearly every reliable fantasy baseball source will tell you that this strategy will lead to disaster. ("Santana is a beast, but pitchers simply shouldn't be taken this early.") FB Junk, for example, makes a great case for pursuing hitters that have high home run totals and hit for high average. The PHAC strategy requires you to pick home run hitters that do not hit for high average, which is certainly cause for pause.

    Still, I thought it might be interesting to do a quasi thought experiment and see if taking starting pitchers in the early rounds can work. To make this thought experiment more concrete, we'll pretend that the categories for this hypothetical league are a typical 5x5, with the exception of Quality Starts being substituted in for Wins. The pitcher categories are SP, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, and P, and the inning limit each week is 19 innings.

    (Note: Razzball does make a case for snagging some pitchers in rounds 3 through 8, although FB Junk suggests that zigging while everyone else is zagging might not work as well as you might think. Also note that Fake Teams accidentally followed a version of the PHAC strategy in this draft.)

    If you were to attempt the PHAC strategy madness, the challenge would be to see if you could assemble a decent group of hitters in the later rounds. One way to try to accomplish this would be to target players who project to have high home run totals but are available later in the draft because of low batting average concerns:

    1.Pick #8 Johan Santana (ADP = 17)
    2.Pick #17 Tim Lincecum (ADP = 25)
    3.Pick #32 Cole Hamels (ADP = 41)
    4.Pick #41 Roy Halladay (ADP = 46)
    5.Pick #56 Adam Dunn (40 HR in 2008)
    6.Pick #65 Dan Uggla (32)
    7.Pick #80 Ryan Ludwick (37)
    8.Pick #89 Carlos Pena (31)
    9.Pick #104 Hardy (24)
    10.Pick #113 Closer or Delgado (38)
    11.Pick #128 Closer
    12.Pick #137 Napoli (20)
    13.Pick #152 Burrell (33) or SP
    14.Pick #161 Ankiel (25) or Cantu (29)
    15.Pick #176 Weeks (14) or SP
    16.Pick #185 Chris B. Young (22)
    17.Pick #200 Thome (34)
    18.Pick #209 Swisher (24) or SP
    19.Pick #224 Beltre (25)
    20.Pick #233 Giambi (32) or SP
    21.Pick #248 Closer or Cust (33)
    22.Pick #257 Reynolds (28) or Mike Jacobs (32)

    (Note: the players in the above team should be understood as placeholders of sorts, merely to give you a better idea of what this draft strategy might look like if it were to be carried out in the present fantasy baseball market. During your draft, you can always target other pitchers or home run hitters that you feel are more likely to be available in your league or more likely to perform at a high level during the 2009 season.)

    In a roto league, it would be difficult (read: impossible) to win without at least a few steals and a decent batting average. Still, you might be able to pull this off in a H2H league, as you could reasonably hope to win HR and RBI, as well as three of the five pitching categories each week. It is also worth mentioning that this might be a decent strategy for owners who don’t have a lot of time to do research. All you need to do is take the top four pitchers off the board, and then target the highest home run threats in each round, regardless of batting average. I know that owners usually don't want low-average, home run hitters in H2H leagues because these players tend to be extremely streaky, but perhaps having an entire team filled with these low-average types will make it so that at least a few of your low-average players are on a hot streak during any given weekly H2H matchup.

    Conclusion: while PHAC would be fun to do in a draft with friends (they will all think you are crazy), the strategy is ultimately fraught with risk as you are essentially giving two categories away each week (stolen bases and batting average), which is even risky to do in a H2H league as it makes it harder to make in-season adjustments if your initial strategy bombs. If your starting pitchers get injured or regress, for example, you will be hard pressed to assemble a team that can win a majority of the categories each week. To hedge your risk somewhat, you could consider using only three of your first four-to-six picks on starting pitchers, but this will probably result in a pitching staff with less depth.

    Anyway. The strategy might work, especially if this is the year Johan Santana wins 30 games.

  • Interested in a SB, AVG, CL draft strategy (SAC)? Click here.

  • Want even more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.

  • If it helps, here is the cheatsheet I used in my actual draft.
  • Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Sinkhole Vertical Leaps: 2009 Slam Dunk Contest

    How high can the 2009 Slam Dunk contestants—J.R. Smith, Nate Robinson, Rudy Fernandez, and Dwight Howard—jump?

    Truth is, it’s hard to say because it is difficult to believe any vertical jump / vertical leap data that's out there. But let’s pretend that all the vert data we find on the net is true. Here are the standing vertical leaps of the 2009 Sprite Slam Dunk contestants:

    Rudy Fernandez’s vertical leap: 120 cm

    What does 120 centimeters mean to you inch-lovers? Well, it converts to 47 inches. Do I believe it? Not really. (That picture feature in the link above isn't helping his case.) I mean, his draft profile said that he needed to “work on his vertical leap.” So unless he really worked on it, I’m guessing it isn’t 47 inches (note: other pre-draft sites said he had a "nice" vertical, so clearly the information is conflicting). But maybe he surprises us during the contest and and makes some "so so awesome dunks." Sort of like how he surprised Dwight Howard on this play.

    J.R. Smith's vertical leap: 44 inches

    He’s a very good in-game dunker, and he supposedly had a 44 inch vertical coming out of high school.

    Nate Robinson’s vertical leap: 43.5 inches

    This is, of course, according to wikipedia. Incidentally, he also set the Washington state record in the 110 hurdles, keeping up his trend of playing sports that most short people avoid. Nate Robinson's official height (and I believe these numbers) is only 5 feet, 7.75 inches, and his standing reach is only 7 feet, 7.5 inches. So he has to jump almost three feet just to dunk the ball in a non-fancy way.

    Dwight Howard’s vertical leap: 38 - 40 inches (and a standing reach of 9'3 1/2)

    Fast forward to the 2:39 mark of this video to see Baby Dwight touching 80% of the way up the backboard.

    Click here for more vertical leap information, as well video of some of the dunks Dwight Howard didn't get to use in the Slam Dunk Contest last year.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    A-Rod, Steroids, and The Eddy Curry Lineage

    In the 2007 – 2008 NBA season, Eddy Curry epitomized my biggest fan dilemma, as he was my least favorite NBA big man and he was playing for my least favorite coach alongside my least favorite point guard on my most favorite NBA team. On any given play, I found myself rooting for Eddy Curry to miss a shot and then rooting for David Lee to hit Marbury with a stray elbow as he put back the resulting offensive board for a score. This added complication ruined the experience of watching the Knicks play, so much so that I briefly considered pretending I liked the Charlotte Bobcats. Things got so bad that I even tried to postulate that Walter “Dub R Dub N” Herrmann was the most exciting player in the NBA.

    As many of you probably know, a few years ago the “Eddy Curry Line” was established by Matt Buser, a former Y! fantasy sports writer who currently runs, as a measure of futility. The standard: a player must average more turnovers than assists, steals, and blocks combined. In order to qualify, a player must have appeared in at least half of his team's games and averaged at least 20 minutes of playing time.

    As a direct result of being forced to watch the ’07 – ’08 Knicks play, I transmuted Buser's idea of the Eddy Curry Line so that it became a way for me to determine my amount of dislike for a given player. Among friends, I called it The Eddy Curry Lineage—I don't know why, it just felt natural, maybe because The Lineage was a descendant of The Line.  Anyway, when a player is under The Eddy Curry Lineage, I root against them even if they are on my favorite team. If Barry Bonds ever becomes a Yankee, for example, I would root against him. Barry Bonds is below The Eddy Curry Lineage.

    I understand that the timing of this post isn’t perfect, given the recent events that Curry has gone through in his personal life, but my intent is not to slander Curry. I’m not sure that rooting against Curry was ever productive, but it certainly isn’t productive now, as so much has changed with the Knicks in the last year: Thomas is gone, Marbury is gone-ish, and Curry is injured, out of shape, and probably heartbroken.

    But I was reminded of The Eddy Curry Lineage when the A-Rod / steroids story broke. Given my status as a Yankee fan, I've tried to keep A-Rod above The Eddy Curry Lineage. And I have, barely. I cheer for him, defend him, and generally tolerate him. To my mind, there is no denying that he is an incredible baseball player and saying otherwise is folly.  At the same time, my feelings for him have alternated between ambivalence and mild dislike. Perhaps what has saved him for me is that I find his complete inability to control how he is perceived to be uniquely interesting.

    To help me deal with A-Rod being on my favorite team, I developed a theory about it. Essentially, I decided that A-Rod had “chancha,” which I defined as a strange sort of melancholy in which an incredibly successful person who has everything feels sad because he is terrified that at some point his amazing luck will run out and things will start to suck. I suggested that A-Rod had an inability to enjoy the good times of his life because he was constantly obsessing about where or when the guillotine of ills would drop. This affliction is a subtle emptiness and brings with it a self-centeredness mixed with insecurity that makes the afflicted pretty annoying to be around.

    (I have no idea if any of this is true. These are just some of the mental hoops I jump through and rationalizations I make in order make rooting for the Yankees possible.)

    So while the recent steroids news about A-Rod has certainly injected an element of uncertainty into my already fragile A-Rod fandom, the silver lining of it all is that perhaps A-Rod will finally be able to shake his self-absorbed chancha affliction—he no longer has to fear the worst because baseball-wise, steroids are pretty much as bad as it gets—and become someone to root for unreservedly.

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Thinking of switching from Wins to Quality Starts?

    Here are the three main reasons I can see to make the change:

    1. When Dice-K plays the Yanks, it is possible for him to get a QS for your fantasy team but also a loss to the Yanks.  Or Sabathia can get a Quality Start but a loss to the Sox.  My point is that it makes being both a fantasy baseball player and a fan of baseball a little easier.  This point might be less obvious to those of you who hate the Sox and the Yanks.  But you get the idea.

    2.  Todd Jones can no longer blow your wins.  Actually, this is only partly true.  He can still let inherited runners score. Actually, that's not true either: Todd Jones is retired.  But you get the idea.

    3. While handing out Quality Starts (AKA six innings pitched with three or fewer runs given up) isn't a perfect way to reward a pitcher, it certainly seems better at rewarding good pitching than Wins.  One is green beans cooked in butter and the other is green beans cooked in margarine.  Or is margarine worse than butter?  I can never remember.  But you get the idea.

    3b. As RotoTommy notes in the comment section, switching to QS eliminates the RP win vultures because you need to actually start the game to get a QS.  So don't forget to adjust your setup men, middle relief, LOOGY, and closer rankings accordingly.   Can there be a 3b without a 3a?  No, not really, but you get the idea.

    Assuming you do make the change, which starting pitchers should get bumped up your draft board?  I thought you'd never ask.  Here is a list of the starting pitchers from 2008 who had the biggest positive W/QS differential (minimum ten QS):

    Here are the starting pitchers that were least helped by the switch from W to QS (minimum ten QS):

    I'll leave you with a list of the 2008 starting pitchers who had the best QS% (minimum ten QS):

    Trying to convince your league to make the switch?  Email them the link to this post.  And then also email them this picture of Todd Jones blowing a save.  Hopefully they'll get the idea.

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    Go Get Greinke

    Likely overlooked because of the Royal(s) blue uniform he dons, as well as his general underachievement leading into the 2008 season, 25 year old RHP Zack Greinke is about as good a bet as any to be a 2009 fantasy breakout pitcher.

    The Royals' 2002 first-round pick, Greinke was The Sporting News' 2003 minor league player of the year after winning 15 games and posting a 1.94 ERA.

    In 2006, he was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list, which gave him the opportunity to get away from baseball entirely, and presumably helped him manage his condition.

    In 2007, he returned to Kansas City, but because of his erratic performances, he alternated between the bullpen and the rotation.

    The Royals gave him another opportunity to start last year, and he finally did something with it. In April, he was 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 1 CG in 5 starts.

    He returned to his bad habits the next three months, posting a 5-7 record with a 4.93 ERA. He bottomed out in July when batters hit .301 against him.

    But perhaps this bad stretch was simply the final hurdle for a pitcher with the weapons to be an ace.

    He went 5-3 the rest of the way, 4-1 in September, with a 2.32 ERA and 58K's to 14 walks.

    Overall, he was 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA, 183 strikeouts to only 56 base on balls, and a 1.28 WHIP. He also was one of the league leaders in QS (23).

    Greinke is one of the rare pitchers who has the command to locate his pitches, and the heat -- a mid-nineties fastball -- to blow hitters away, evident by his 8.14 k/9, and 3.27 k/bb ratios, respectively.

    At only 25, Greinke is only going to get better. Pitching in the AL, he may still take his occasional lumps, but the guess here is he'll have many more April's than he will July's.

    If you can nab him anywhere after the ninth round, you may have found a gem fit for a king. (Sorry, I felt obliged.)

    The Prognosticators:

    What sort of draft pick is Hafner worth, if any?

    Let's start here: "Pronk has a lot to prove this season, and it could turn out to be a nice story for fans if he can return to something resembling the guy who used to get MVP votes. But like I said, 50/50 proposition at this point."

    This means that drafting Hafner gives you a fifty percent chance at MVP-votes production. Not bad for a guy that I haven't seen get picked before the 19th round. If we somehow knew for certain that Hafner had a fifty percent chance of having great stats this year, he might even be worth a pick in the top ten rounds.

    But this analysis doesn't feel quite right. It feels like reading a little too much into the use of the phrase "50/50." Perhaps it was meant more in the way of "I have no idea but it certainly is possible that Hafner plays well." If that be true, perhaps the phrase "50/50" in this context really means something closer to "10/90." And when he says "MVP votes" maybe he really just means "a respectable home run total of, say, more than 25 or so." Even so, I'd probably use a 19th round pick on a guy who had a ten percent chance of getting "MVP votes."

    Here is what others are saying:

  • Hafner is not considered to be one of the top five fantasy players on his own team.

  • Rotoauthority thinks he's worth rolling the dice for late.

  • He didn't play any 1B last year so he's probably going to be a UTL clogger with his DH-only eligibility.

  • Hafner, who had shoulder surgery in October, plans to be ready to go by Opening Day and has tentative plans to begin hitting in late February.

  • Rotosavants doesn't think Hafner will hit 30+ homers again.

  • Pronk is dead to Fantasyhurler and he considers him borderline undraftable. Razzball agrees.

  • Rotoprofessor considers him a late-round power option, and projects .275 with 28 HR, 85 RBI and 85 R.

  • The most optimistic of The Prognosticators has Hafner hitting 25 home runs.

  • Hafner's coach says he'll play every day.

  • Baseball Notebook calls him a sleeper, sort of.

  • No structural damage was found in Hafner's shoulder during his October surgery...does this mean he doesn't really have any excuses for playing so poorly in 2008?

    Conclusion: A classic either-you-believe-or-you-don't player. Could be a decent guy to get late and stash simply because he barely costs anything to draft. Let's see what he does this spring.
  • Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Mocking AntiBionics' Mock Draft

    Raise your hand if you like Yunel Escobar. My friend, fellow blogger, and Yahoo fantasy baseball co-manager AntiBionics certainly does. He did his first mock draft of the year the other night, and while his draft was not as disasterous as mine, I do want to take a second to explore his undying affection for Yunel "I Cast A Spell" Escobar.

    My sister just married into a family with the surname Escobar, so I consider any Escobar to be part of my family. Which is simply one way of saying that I like Yunel. But probably not in the 9th round. So the theme of this post is going to be, "Ha Ha You Took Yunel Way Higher Than Needed." I know, I know, it is silly to take issue with a particular pick in a mock draft in the month of February. So yes, I am aware of this fact. This post is really just an excuse to write about Yunel a little bit. And to make fun of AntiBionics in a lighthearted way.

  • Yunel seems to be a 16th round to 20th round type guy this year. So even if you really did love him, you probably could have waited until the 14th round or so.

  • Razzball puts Yunel the "Filene's Basement" tier of shortstops and projects 13 homers and three steals. Then again, Razzball took him in the 13th round of this expert mock draft. So this doesn't really help me make my point. So I found this draft, where he went in the 21st round just to even things out.

  • Fake Teams has Yunel ranked as the ninth-best shortstop and thinks he could jump up in the 2009 rankings. Darn, this also isn't proving my point.

  • But who cares where he "should" be drafted. The real questions is, will Yunel be good this year, right? According to The Prognosticators, he's going to be a 10 HR, 5 SB guy in '09.

  • Yunel was the second-best fielding shortstop last season, so maybe we can join a league that takes that into account.

  • He has seven stolen bases and eight caught stealings in his 230 career games played. I think we can officially stop calling him a stolen base threat.

  • Remember this game winner? "He feels really good right now, and he's just trying to help the team win," said center fielder Gregor Blanco, who was translating for Escobar. "He thought it was just a fly ball and was trying to do his job [and move the runner]." Huh. Sounds a bit like an "Oops bop" to me.

  • Conclusion: Maybe Yunel isn't a terrible pick like I first thought, as there still seems to be some excitement about him floating around in cyberspace, but I can't help but think he is, at best, a ten homer, handful-of-steals shortstop who can hit for a decent average. And no one is really disagreeing with this. So why, exactly, is he exciting?

    Alex Rodriguez and Steroids

    This story is only about 15 seconds old, but I'm dreading it no matter what direction it takes. Here is why: I'm a Yanks fan and have always found Alex to be a good ballplayer who is mildly annoying. And so it is going to be really annoying when every story about the Yanks for the next six months is going to have some sort of ARod Steriods angle to it. Think Brett Favre saga of last August only more negative.

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    One-stop Shopping For Kawakami-san and Uehara-san

    I have no idea if these two pitchers will be useful fantasy-wise in 2009 and I don't think anyone else does either. When I don't know what the heck I'm talking about, I try to read as many other confidently-written articles by other people who don't what the heck their talking about. I find that I've been reading a lot lately.

    Here is a collection of the most interesting information I could find on these two players:


  • Ranked 75th best starting pitcher by

  • Has 3.78 K/BB over eleven seasons in Japan.

  • He has the best cutter in Japanese baseball.

  • ESPN says: "Kawakami played in a pitcher's park in Japan, and there's some concern he might be susceptible to home runs. Regardless, he's an upgrade for the Braves, who hope for innings."

  • Expect Kuroda, but in a less favorable division and park.

  • Worth a 19th round pick?

  • Merely an above average MLB player?


  • Ranked 124th starting pitcher by

  • Keith Law of ESPN thinks Uehara is a bad fit for the Orioles.

  • Uehara has given up only 195 walks in 1,549 career innings in Japan. Which is absurdly good.

  • His scouting report

  • ESPN says he'll rely on low walks, ground balls and "veteran craftiness," whatever that means.

  • Some Uehara projections

  • Conclusions: Both are getting towards the end of their careers but both are interesting to me because they don't walk anyone.

    Mocking My Mock Draft

    I had the 5th overall pick in a Mock Draft Central (Yahoo standard 5x5) draft. The experience was an unmitigated disaster. My internet cut out three times, but that wasn’t the problem. The real problem was that my three auto picks were probably my best picks of the draft.

    Since this draft is not worth getting all nitty gritty on, so I'll simply highlight a few picks:

    Round 16:

    Manny Corpas
    – This was not an auto draft pick. I willingly picked Corpas here. I had Huston Street queued up, and then when he was taken the pick before me, I got upset. So, to “get back” at the owner who stole Street, I took Corpas. Except that Corpas probably would have gone undrafted if I hadn’t taken him. So really I just hurt myself. Do you know what I think about when I think about Manny Corpas? I think about being stuck in the frozen tundra and shooting a moose and then gutting it and crawling inside to stay warm. Manny Corpas. That's not intended to be a joke. That's really what I think.

    Round 18:

    Delmon Young
    – Let’s face it: we’ve already seen the best that Young has to offer. I think the Twins know this, too, as they’ve been trying to trade him this offseason. Nobody really thinks he’ll ever hit 30/30. Wait, you do? No you don’t. Look at it this way: in 344 career games, Young has hit 26 home runs and has 26 stolen bases. The only reason I took him was so that the other folks in the draft room would type in “nice value” when I picked him. Which is a dumb reason to pick anyone. Nice value. What does that even mean? A player is worth a pick or not worth a pick. I’m sick of this “nice value” talk. Although I think what grinds my gears most is when someone takes a player that completely sucks and then types the phrase “position scarcity” a few times to make it all better. Anyway, I probably should have taken Frank Francisco or Chad Qualls with this pick (both went undrafted). Or maybe John Smoltz (who also went undrafted). In the future, maybe I'll only draft guys who are considered injury risks. You know, Rich Harden, Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Chris Carpenter. And then, for good measure, I'll use my last pick on Ben Sheets. That'd be a really nice value pick.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    In the twilight of your career, my love for you no longer Byrnes so brightly

    I fell in love with you, dearest Eric Byrnes, in the year 2003. In our first year of love, nay, enrapture, you hit .261 with 12 home runs and stole 10 bases in just 121 games, and we were happy. Remember? Sure, it took us forever and a day to get to the big leagues, but we said to ourselves, nobody knows how good we can be, or the sheer volume of pluck, spunk, grit, and intangibles that flow through our veins. We will astonish the world.

    In 2004 our relationship grew, as you suddenly could hit for decent average (.283), and your games played (143), home runs (20), and stolen bases (17) all increased. You were so toolsy! But we were greedy lovers, weren't we? We wanted more. We needed more. We throbbed with neediness.

    Just when it seemed like our relationship would be easy, things became rocky. We moved to Baltimore and you lost your focus. You hit .226 in 2005, but I never once doubted you, even when Baltimore did and released you. I was a loyal lover and you rewarded me in 2006 when you hit 26 home runs, stole 25 bases, and had a passable .267 average.

    But then something changed. At night, before we fell asleep together, you talked of having a career year in 2007. I nodded, of course, but deep down I was certain that I had already seen the best that Eric Byrnes had to offer. Your less-than-stellar .313 OBP in 2006 worried me, and for the first time in our long relationship, I began to doubt you.

    And so in 2007, when you smashed all expectations with your 50 stolen bases, your 21 home runs, and your .286 average in a career high 160 games, I felt somewhat distant and emotionally detached. You had done this without me, without my fandom pushing you on to greatness. You had done this while my heart had moved on to other potential 20/20 players. So when you came home each night, flush with your own achievement, the best I could do was pretend that I cared. But the truth was I was a little bitter. You had become a fantasy baseball superstar, while I was still the directionless smudge of a person who posted pathetic emotional rants on his teensy-weensy baseball blog each night.

    We both used to be so similar: underdogs in love. But once you got that shiny new ADP in 2008, I began to openly mock you by avoiding you in mock drafts. A few months into the season, I literally cut you down to size: I sliced your hamstrings with a pen knife while you were sleeping and then watched you try to play baseball through the pain. Your 2008 stats were predictably terrible: a .209 batting average with six home runs and four stolen bases in just 52 games. Sometime after the season ended, we separated, citing irreconcilable differences.

    But now, as the 2009 season approaches, I find myself once again thinking about all the good times we had together. Sometimes I dial your number, only to hang up after the first ring. I worry that I pine for you only because I am lonely and you are dirt cheap and easily had. But even if that is the reason, isn't that okay? We are only on this earth for a short period of time, so shouldn't we spend the rest of our time together, even if it hurts sometimes?

    I read everything they say about you. They say you will be paid $11 million dollars to be a reserve, that you are about to turn 33 years old, and that you will be no better than the 76th best outfielder. Others say that you are the 46th best outfielder, but that you should be avoided. And yet, you are somehow getting drafted in the 15th round, which seems quite high for a reserve. Others are taking you in the 12th round, which seems—nay, is—even higher. Confusing me even more is Bill James, who says you will get 540 at bats and hit 18 home runs and steal 20 bases. I don't know what to believe, but I'm beginning to think that this Bill James character (see also: Davis projection) is perhaps the most optimistic person in the galaxy. Why can't I open myself up to the possibility of hope as freely and easily as Bill James?

    I heard you say in early November that your hamstrings were fully healed and that you're feeling the best you've felt since "tweaking" them early last spring. "Nothing has ever come easy for me in my career," I heard you say to that reporter. "I've had to battle for everything I've gotten in this game." I was hoping you'd mention me, how I had made your difficult times easier, and that now that you didn't have me, you were scared. But you didn't utter my name.

    All this is to say that I am surprised to find that the very mention of your name both hurts and confuses me. Maybe that means I still care about you. I know we will never have what we once had, but I'm willing to get back together with you...if you let me draft you in the 18th - 20th round range. But, if you decide to let someone take you in the 15th round, our relationship is officially kaput. And yes, that is an ultimatum, but I reserve the right to change my mind depending on how you look in spring training.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    The Reality of the Cubs Fantasy Potential

    In 2008, the Chicago Cubs were swept away in another first round playoff series, this time to an inferior Los Angeles Dodgers team. Still, the 2008 Chicago Cubs won 97 games, led all of baseball in run differential, strikeouts, batting average against, fifth in WHIP, fifth in batting average, and second in on-base percentage. And yet, the team did not have one fantasy superstar. Sure, there were moments when the Lovable Lou Pinellas put up numbers worthy of starting status, but by and large the North Siders were a team of great depth and chemistry, built well for the regular season, unwell for the post-season. Nevertheless, the team has fantasy potential worth exploring.

    Top Five 2009 fantasy contributors:

    1. Alfonso Soriano: Outfielder Alfonso Soriano, still looking slick in his well-fitting uniform and slightly less slick taking his odd bounce-hop before catching or not catching routine fly balls, is no longer a certain fantasy stud. In fact, his dubious hamstrings, chameleonic nature at the plate – one moment patient and destructive, the next lost and feeble – and age has made him a fringe second-rounder.

    Although Soriano was able to put up a line of 29 HR, 75 RBI, 76 R, 19 SB, and a .280 AVG, all in 109 games, the 33 year old has missed 80 games over the past two years, mostly a result of his bum hamstrings. He’s no longer a candidate for 30 steals, for even when he’s healthy, he has only mild interest in swiping a base. And if he eventually moves to the middle of the lineup – where he belongs – his stolen bases will drop even further.

    Soriano can still carry a fantasy team for short periods of time. When he gets hot he can crush 10 homers, steal a half-dozen bases, and hit over .400 in a week. But he can just as easily fall into a slump that makes you consider relegating him to your bench.

    The virtue and attraction of Soriano in his prime, aside from his 2B eligibility, was his 40-40 potential. You could live with his aggressive swinging because it more often than not yielded favorable results. And pitchers couldn't risk pitching around him because of his baserunning prowess. But that threat has mostly passed.

    Soriano will likely put up similar numbers this year as in 2008, but the bottom line is that his inconsistency at the plate, diminished health, and reluctance to take many chances on the basepaths make him no better than a low second-rounder, high third-rounder.

    2. Geovany Soto: Catcher Geovany Soto may not put up the numbers Derrek Lee or Aramis Ramirez ultimately produce, but his eligibility at a premium position makes his value much greater. The National League Rookie of the year hit .285 with 23 bombs, 86 RBI, 66 runs scored and 1 CS. Okay, so he’s no speed demon like Russell Martin. But the rest of his line is pretty darn good. And at 25, he’s likely to continue to improve.

    Soto has 25-30 homerun power, is patient at the plate – backed by his 62 walks and .364 OBP – and is above-average defensively, which doesn’t directly factor into his fantasy stats, but does allow Pinella to keep him out there in the late-innings when defensive replacements often arrive.

    Soto often batted at the bottom of the lineup, but with Lee’s homerun power disappearing, and overachieving Mark DeRosa now in Cleveland, Soto may stay somewhere in the middle, perhaps behind Ramirez or the fragile Milton Bradley, whose OBP can only help Soto’s RBI total.

    There are other quality catchers out there, including the aforementioned Martin, pudgy Braves catcher Brian McCann, Twins heartthrob Joe Mauer, and the Indians Victor Martinez; Soto belongs in their class.

    3. Aramis Ramirez: Although he’s set to turn 31 in June, third baseman Aramis Ramirez is still one of the premier players at his position. In his five full seasons with the Cubs, he has averaged 31 homeruns, 105 RBI, and a .301 batting average. That’s excellent work. In addition, he’s become more patient at the plate, with 74 walks to 94 strikeouts, and a .380 OBP. He won’t steal you bases, and he has a penchant to miss time with nagging injuries, but you certainly could do worse with Aramis as your hot corner representative.

    There is concern, however, that the departure of Utility giant Mark DeRosa, who often gave Aramis the much-needed and precautionary days off, combined with the lack of a serviceable replacement, may force Pinella to play Ramirez more. This could result in a longer stint on the DL, even by Aramis’ standards.

    Having Milton Bradley in the lineup, even if it’s only for 100 games or so, should allow Ramirez to get a better pitch selection, which, with his keen eye, will allow him to sit back and wait for that ball he can power over Waveland Avenue.

    It’s a fair to expect numbers in line with his career Cubbie average, but fantasy owners should be cautioned that he’s an injury risk and selecting a competent backup in the later rounds would be prudent.

    4. Carlos Marmol: For a two-week stretch just before the all-star game, reliever and potential closer Carlos Marmol decided to mimic Penal League pitcher Ricky Vaughn’s game. Perhaps Marmol was a fan of the movie, or curious about what it’s like to be Charlie Sheen, minus the cost of hookers and undeserved Emmy nominations. Either way, the break seemed to be the remedy to his two-week hiatus from this planet, unlike Vaughn, who needed an eye exam and thick black-framed glasses.

    There are many pundits who rank Marmol outside of the top ten of 2009 closers. And there is merit to these rankings. First, he hasn’t even been named the closer. Pinella has announced that he will compete with newly acquired Kevin Gregg to replace the beloved, star-crossed closer Kerry Wood. Next, Marmol has never been a closer. In two years as a reliever, he has eight saves, seven of which came last year when Wood was out with a blister. He also has three blown saves. Lastly, in both seasons, he’s lost his command. Like all major leaguers at some point during the season, he’s slumped. And his slumps, like many players, have come and gone with no real warning. For a hitter, it’s par for the course. But for closers, who appear in such a relatively minimal number of games, a two-week slump can be devastating, especially for fantasy owners, who count on their closers being consistent.

    However, when he’s on – which is most of the time – no reliever in baseball has better stuff. This includes Papelbon, Nathan, Soria, K-Rod, Lidge, and the all-time master, Mo Rivera. While these pitchers will blow hitters away, Marmol will embarrass them. Routinely, hitters flail at strike three and walk to their dugout shrugging their shoulders. The combination of his mid-nineties fastball and a slider in the high-eighties that has other-worldly movement gives hitters fits. His numbers are predictably impressive.

    His ERA of 2.68 would have been considerably better without the month of June, when he posted a 7.36 ERA. Still, a sub-3 ERA for a relief pitcher with 87 IP is not bad. But his other stats are simply video game-esque. He had 114 strikeouts in those 87 innings to just 40 hits, and 41 walks. He surrendered 10 homeruns. His strikeout-to-hit ratio was one of the best in major league history.

    Although Marmol does have competition in Gregg, and in many ways Marmol would be more valuable in his current role because he’d be able to pitch in either the seventh, eighth, or ninth, rather than just in save situations, Gregg’s general ineffectiveness as a closer and Marmol’s arsenal make him nearly a sure thing to inherit the role at the end of spring training. In addition, the reduction in innings the position brings would likely help Marmol, who’s mid-season swoon may have been a result of overwork.

    Expectations should be tempered until it’s known that he can handle the pressure that comes with being a closer, but the likelihood is that he can, and he may put up the best numbers of any closer in baseball.

    5. Derrek Lee: Derrek Lee will never return to his 2005 form, when he contended for the triple crown, and finished third in the MVP voting, an award he deserved to win. His 2006 wrist injury stripped him of much of his power, and perhaps as precaution, his swing has leveled off, which may not put as much stress on his wrists, but also reduces the elevation of his fly balls, which, in 2008, resulted in many bouncing off the ivy at Wrigley instead of into the basket. He still hit .291 with 90 RBI and 93 runs, but for a corner infielder hitting in the middle of a very strong offense, those numbers are merely adequate.

    Lee is still a good hitter. He had a .361 OBP with 41 doubles, and seemed to be the only Cub hitter to show up in the playoffs. Not to be overlooked is his durability, which, other than the wrist injury, is unquestioned. You can count on Lee to be in the field for 150-155 games, and most of those games will be productive. He won’t have the hot streaks Soriano produces, but he also won’t have the slumps.

    It’s possible he could hit .300 with 25 homeruns, but I’d take the under. At 33, his career is certainly winding down. But like the rest of the Cubs, hitting with support in front and behind is always beneficial to ones stats.

    Last Thoughts:

    Two Cubs players who would be in the top five based on talent alone, Rich Harden and Milton Bradley, are too injury prone to be counted on for a full fantasy season. Both are worthy of roster spots, and perhaps you’ll get lucky—as Harden owners were this past season—but being cynical of their future health is the right mentality. Plus, how long will it take Bradley to scale the ivy walls and slap around a fan with his mitt? The bleacher bums get cavalier with their monosyllabic adjectives in the late innings, and Bradley, perhaps mired in a slump, will receive too many of those words to ignore his instincts.

    Other interesting Cubs-related reads:

  • Razzball has a Cubs fantasy preview. He is wrong about Soriano, but, oh, so right about Lee and sandwiches.

  • FB Junkie: Is Milton Bradly underrated?

  • Is Samardzija worth watching?
  • Who are the top RP/SP eligible players of 2009?

    There are two rare breeds of pitcher: The relief pitcher (RP) with starting pitcher (SP) eligibility, and the SP with RP eligibility. These players can provide a ton of pitcher flexibility in daily H2H matchups. They can be especially helpful in those leagues that use holds or saves, as having a holds-getting or save-getting RP that can slide into the SP slot gives you an advantage in those two categories.

    Johan Santana had RP/SP eligibility when he broke into the league back in 2004. Two years ago, Brett Myers was a mostly reliable SP/RP guy. Hong-Chih Kuo and Taylor Buchholtz were two of the more solid duel-eligible pitchers last year. Little known Leo Nunez was getting holds and had good ratios early in the season before suffering an injury. Starting pitchers Justin Duchscherer and Chad Billingsley also rocked their dual eligibility in 2008. So the question is, who are the top RP/SP eligible players of 2009?

    Note: The default eligibility setting varies depending on game provider. For example, Y! leagues need three starts to gain SP eligibility and five relief appearances to gain RP eligibility, while for CBS leagues, the default setting is for ten starts and fifteen relief appearances. I decided to cast a wider net and included any pitcher that had at least three starts and five relief appearances. I also included a few pitchers that seem likely to become dual eligible early in the 2009 season.

    RPs with SP Eligibility

    (Note: Click on image to see version that is readable by human eyes.)

    08 SP / RP: number of starts / relief appearances in the 2008 season
    08 HLD / SV: number of holds / saves in the 2008 season
    WHIP: walk + hits / innings pitched
    K/BB: strikeout to walk ratio
    BB/9: walks per nine innings
    K/9: strikeouts per nine innings
    FB MPH: the speed of the pitcher’s fastball in miles per hour

    1. Hong-Chih Kuo: The ultimate goal is to find a duel-eligible pitcher that has a low WHIP (below 1.30), high K/BB (above 2.00), low BB/9 (below 3.00), and high K/9 (above 7.00). The only duel-eligible relief pitcher that checks all those boxes is Kuo. He is the ideal RP/SP candidate, as he has great ratios, gets lots of strikeouts, will get holds, and is probably second in line to Jonathan Broxton for the closer’s role. His injury history is nervous-making, but it is undeniable that he is king of this small pool of potentially useable RP/SP eligible relief pitchers. He is most likely the only dual eligible relief pitcher worth drafting.

    2. Carlos Villanueva: Villanueva should continue to pitch mostly relief with a few spot starts. I’ve always found him to be rather uninspiring, but others swear by him. You could do worse. And if you believe that this will be the year Trevor Hoffman implodes, Villanueva might be first in line for the closer job.

    3. Boof Bonser: In 2008, Boof got into a bit of a groove once he was moved to the pen, as he had an 11/36 BB/K ratio in 36 innings after the All Star break. UPDATE (2/24/09): Boof is going under the knife and it is possible he will miss the entire 2009 season.

    4. Dennis Sarfate: Sarfate played most of the 2008 season with injuries sustained in an April car-door-slamming accident. He throws some real heat, and so perhaps a healthy Sarfate will get his command issues under control and turn some heads in Spring Training. There is a super outside chance he might close. Triva: Sarfate can be typed entirely with the left hand.

    5. Justin Masterson: The Red Sox have yet to decide if Masterson will be a starter or a reliever in 2009. My guess is that he will be in the bullpen, as the Red Sox already have seven or eight starting pitchers.

    6. Ramon Ramirez: Ramirez (the one on the Reds) pitched well in limited action in 2008. While it is possible that he makes the 2009 starting rotation, my hunch is that he’ll be coming out of the pen. He is not sure thing, but he’s worth adding to your “players to watch” list.

    7. Jeff Bennett: Bennett is a fairly boring middle reliever, but he could be worth a roster spot in leagues that have holds as a stat category.

    Note: As I mentioned in a prior post, Chris Carpenter might be a closer in 2009.

    SPs with RP Eligibility

    The first four pitchers on this list (Chamberlain, Morrow, Scherzer, and Price) are head and shoulders above the rest of the players on this list. While it is too early to tell if all four of these guys will begin the season in the starting rotation, my guess is that all four of them pitch exclusively as starting pitchers in 2009.

    It is difficult to estimate the value of the players ranked five through eleven, but you should be watching all of them closely in spring training. Many of them are borderline starters that could very well end up in the pen. For example, early indications are that Sean Marshall will be the fifth starter for the Cubs and that Chad Gaudin will start the year in the pen, but that could change if the Cubs trade for, say, Jake Peavy.

    I’ll leave you with a list of all the remaining duel-eligible starting pitchers (click on image to have it open in a new window):


  • Want more draft strategy? Click here for 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, C, SP, and RP position primers.

  • A RP/SP eligible update can be found by clicking here!
  • Monday, February 2, 2009

    This Team Is In Trouble

    I wanted to see if it was possible to create a competitive fantasy baseball team if all the players I drafted had, at some point in their career, gotten into some sort of trouble. I used a recent expert mock draft on MDC as a way of gauging the round in which a player should be taken. So here it is, your All Trouble team (click on player name to see source):

    Round / (Round, Pick) / Player / Pos. / Offense
    1. (R2, P1) Josh Hamilton, OF: Crack addict
    2. (R2, P9) Manny Ramirez, OF: Caught jaywalking
    3. (R2, P11) Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Brother molests?
    4. (R4, P1) Aramis Ramirez, 3B: Loves cockfighting
    5. (R4, P7) Kevin Youkilis, 3B, 1B: Forgot to register charity
    6. (R6, P8) Jonathan Papelbon, CL: Does some dirty dancing
    7. (R10, P11) Joba Chamberlain, SP: DUI
    8. (R10, P6) Pat Burrell, OF: Discussed sex life in Penthouse
    9. (R11, P1) Brett Myers, SP: Arrested for assault
    10. (R11, P5) Lastings Milledge, OF: L Millz rap song had "language"
    11. (R13, P11) Carlos Zambrano, SP: Brawls in dugout
    12. (R14, P7) Delmon Young, OF: Threw a bat at an umpire
    13. (R19, P7) Miguel Tejada, SS: Steroid allegations
    14. (R20, P1) A.J. Pierzynski, C: Takes On Chicago Sun-Times Writer
    15. (R20, P8) Frank Francisco, CL: Threw chair at fan
    16. (Undrafted) Dontrelle Willis, SP: DUI
    17. (Undrafted) Scott Olsen, SP: DUI
    18. (Undrafted) Esteban Loaiza, SP: Driving 120 mph, drunk
    19. (Undrafted) Gustavo Chacin, SP: DUI

    C - A.J. Pierzynski
    1B - Kevin Youkilis
    2B - Dustin Pedroia
    SS - Miguel Tejada
    3B - Aramis Ramirez
    OF - Josh Hamilton
    OF - Manny Ramirez
    OF - Pat Burrell
    OF - Lastings Milldge
    OF - Delmon Young
    SP - Joba Chamberlain
    SP - Brett Myers
    SP - Carlos Zambrano
    SP - Scott Olsen
    SP - Dontrelle Willis
    SP - Gustavo Chacin
    SP - Esteban Loaiza
    RP - Jonathan Pabelbon
    RP - Frank Francisco

    As you can see, the word "trouble," for the purposes of this post, is loosely defined. Even with this broad definition, the answer to my initial question is no, this team is not competitive. However, all it would take for this team to suddenly be competitive would be for a few All Star starting pitchers to get mixed up in some sundry stuff between now and the start of the regular season.

    It could happen.