RomoBall Fantasy Preview – Eleventh Edition (101-110)

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The Testing Era can only be viewed as a success. In an industry as corrupt and top heavy as any other, baseball’s belated drug testing policy has restored a pure environment on the field, which had become as skewed as team payrolls. When attempting to somehow quantify the impact performance enhancing drugs have had on […]


Quick Reference – The RomoBall Top 100 Picks – Fantasy 2012

1. Albert Pujols, 1B – LAA.
2. Matt Kemp, OF – LAD.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF – BOS.
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B – DET.
5. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF – TOR.
6. Curtis Granderson, CF – NYY.
7. Robinson Cano, 2B – NYY.
8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B – BOS.
9. Joey Votto, 1B – CIN.
10. Prince Fielder, 1B – DET.
11. Troy Tulowitzki, SS – COL.
12. Giancarlo Stanton, RF – MIA.
13. Dustin Pedroia, 2B – BOS.
14. Justin Verlander, SP – DET.
15. Clayton Kershaw, SP – LAD.
16. Roy Halladay, SP – PHI.
17. Jered Weaver, SP – LAA.
18. Cliff Lee, SP – PHI.
19. Carlos Gonzalez, LF – COL.
20. Justin Upton, RF – ARI.
21. Evan Longoria, 3B – TB.
22. Adrian Beltre, 3B – TEX.
23. Josh Hamilton, LF – TEX.
24. Jose Reyes, SS – MIA.
25. Ian Kinsler, 2B – TEX.
26. Tim Lincecum, SP – SF.
27. Hunter Pence, RF – PHI.
28. Hanley Ramirez, SS – MIA.
29. CC Sabathia, SP – NYY.
30. Felix Hernandez, SP – SEA.
31. Dan Uggla, 2B – ATL.
32. Mike Napoli, C/1B – TEX.
33. Mark Teixeira, 1B – NYY.
34. Michael Young, 1B/2B/3B – TEX.
35. Nelson Cruz, RF – TEX.
36. Ryan Braun, LF – MIL.
37. Starlin Castro, SS – CHC.
38. Elvis Andrus, SS – TEX.
39. Stephen Strasburg, SP – WAS.
40. Andrew McCutchen, CF – PIT.
41. Michael Bourn, CF – ATL.
42. Carlos Santana, C/1B – CLE.
43. Pablo Sandoval, 3B – SF.
44. Brandon Phillips, 2B – CIN.
45. Desmond Jennings, OF – TB.
46. Michael Morse, 1B/LF – WAS.
47. Rickie Weeks, 2B – MIL.
48. Jay Bruce, RF – CIN.
49. Matt Holliday, LF – STL.
50. Jon Lester, SP – BOS.
51. Brett Lawrie, 3B – TOR.
52. Cole Hamels, SP – PHI.
53. Yu Darvish, SP – TEX.
54. Alex Gordon, LF – KC.
55. Dan Haren, SP – LAA.
56. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – WAS.
57. Paul Konerko, 1B – CWS.
58. Matt Cain, SP – SF.
59. Carl Crawford, OF – BOS.
60. Alex Rodriguez, 3B – NYY.
61. James Shields, SP – TB.
62. Eric Hosmer, 1B – KC.
63. Ian Kennedy, SP – ARI.
64. Alex Avila, C – DET.
65. Adam Jones, OF – BAL.
66. David Price, SP – TB.
67. David Wright, 3B – NYM.
68. Shin-Soo Choo, OF – CLE.
69. Freddie Freeman, 1B – ATL.
70. Ben Zobrist, 2B/RF – TB.
71. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS – CLE.
72. Jhonny Peralta, SS – DET.
73. Matt Moore, SP – TB.
74. Craig Kimbrel, RP – ATL.
75. Mariano Rivera, RP – NYY.
76. Jose Valverde, RP – DET.
77. Jonathan Papelbon, RP – PHI.
78. C.J. Wilson, SP – LAA.
79. David Ortiz, DH – BOS.
80. Brian McCann, C – ATL.
81. Gio Gonzalez, SP – WAS.
82. Madison Bumgarner, SP – SF.
83. Billy Butler, 1B/DH – KC.
84. Yovani Gallardo, SP – MIL.
85. Zack Greinke, SP – MIL.
86. Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/OF – LAA.
87. Joe Mauer, C/1B – MIN.
88. Buster Posey, C – SF.
89. B.J. Upton, OF – TB.
90. Ichiro, OF – SEA.
91. John Axford, RP – MIL.
92. Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B – BAL.
93. Brett Gardner, LF – NYY.
94. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B – BOS.
95. Matt Wieters, C – BAL.
96. Chase Utley, 2B – PHI.
97. Ryan Howard, 1B – PHI.
98. Jimmy Rollins, SS – PHI.
99. Alexei Ramirez, SS – CWS.
100. Shane Victorino, CF – PHI

RomoBall Fantasy Preview – 10th Edition (91-100)

Every year, a few former first rounders slip into the middle rounds for reasons other than their age or sharp and sudden decline. This year, owners have the ability to stock their shelves with former firsties like canned peaches. The question is, should they? Hanley and Reyes have surely been taken in the top 5 and will likely be drafted in the teens and 20’s, but both guys are big risks. A-Rod and Carl Crawford used to call the first round home and this year will go much later, but Alex gets tested now and Carl’s wrist is a lingering problem. The right side of the Phillies’ infield represents the last chance to snag a previous perennial and as the last two to go, Utley and Howard offer the most value among the former elites.

91. John Axford, RP – MIL. With a 2.48 ERA and .204 opponents’ batting average against him in 2010, Axford didn’t ask for the closer’s role. He took it. He followed his 24-save rookie season with 46 saves in 48 chances with a 1.95 ERA and 86 K’s in 73.2 innings and held opposing hitters to a .212 average. He’ll continue to get tons of hitters hacking, and starters Gallardo, Greinke and Marcum should produce a good amount of ninth inning leads again in 2012.

92. Mark Reynolds, 1B/3B – BAL. In his first year in Baltimore, Mark managed to keep his strikeout total under 200 for the first time in his four-year career. Just two years removed from hitting .260/44/102/24 for the D-Backs, Reynolds clubbed 37 HR in his first season in the pitching-heavy AL East. Still just 28, if he ever gets it together pitch selection-wise he goes from dangerous to scary.

93. Brett Gardner, LF – NYY. Gardner got off to a slow start for the Yanks in 2011, hitting .194 with four steals in April. He eventually got it going, snagging 28 bases over a three-month stretch while hitting .301, .317 and .289 in May, June and July. 47 and 49 steals in the last two years have made Gardner a constant in the Yankee lineup. Even without a move to the leadoff spot, Brett’s elite speed and knowledge of the metric system give him a legitimate shot at 60+ swipes.

94. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B – BOS. Kevin went from you kill us to you’re killin’ me at some point in 2008. In three years since, he has averaged 380 at bats, and last year his injuries affected his performance for the first time, as his average dipped to a career-low .258. If new skipper Bobby Valentine can get 1000 combined at bats from Youkilis and Crawford, he’ll still be managing ballgames in October.

95. Matt Wieters, C – BAL. We wish Matt had a Twitter account. If he did, we could gently point out, first that we’re big fans, and second that he happened to maul to a .339 clip with a 1.124 OPS batting righty last year, and hit just .237 from the left side with a .665 OPS. Plenty of righty bats are actually better facing RHP, which begs the question of how dominating Matt could be if he went to hitting righty full time.

96. Chase Utley, 2B – PHI. Every second baseman in the league used to chase Utley. From 2005-2009, Chase either hit .300, hit 30+ HR or drove in 100+ runs, and in his career-best 2006 season he did all three. Now 33, it’s possible that Utley has gotten old young, as he’s failed to top 425 at bats in each of the past two seasons. The Phillies plan is to go easy on him in spring training so he’s fresher during the year. Our plan is to wait on him until at least the 10th round just in case he returns to form.

97. Ryan Howard, 1B – PHI. Ryan Howard started out as a temp at the Scranton branch. He started the fire, invented a website, became the youngest VP in Dunder-Mifflin history, ripped off the company, hit rockbottom and eventually got redemption. While TV Ryan Howard’s rise, fall and resurrection may not be an exact analogy for the Phillies’ Ryan Howard, the parallels are there. While we’re at it, the creative minds at The Office must be baseball fans, specifically the 1986 NLCS. It’s all about Mike Scott bossing around Dwight and Darryl.

98. Jimmy Rollins, SS – PHI. For the last 11 years we’ve enjoyed watching Rollins band the Phillies together. In ten of those seasons Jimmy has gotten more than 550 at bats. Sure, .268/16/30 isn’t spectacular, but he should lead off again this year and will be followed by a string of proven RBI men.

99. Alexei Ramirez, SS – CWS. Things seem to affect Alexei. Winning baseball and, to a large extent winning fantasy baseball is about being good enough that you’re better than the weather. You’re better than the injuries. You’re better than the blown calls. You’re better than the bad bounces. Every team has those. Every player has those. Alexei has the natural ability to be one of the top offensive shortstops in baseball, we just don’t know what effect the departure of Ozzie Guillen and Joey Cora will have on him. Our guess is he’ll be more relaxed under new manager Robin Ventura, which is always a good thing for hitters.

100. Shane Victorino, CF – PHI. We know there will be good fantasy years to be had in Philadelphia, we’re just not positive who will lead the way. Of the Phils that will slip in drafts, Victorino may be the best value. He’s younger than Utley, Howard and Rollins, is on a contract year, and has 20-30 potential if he can keep himself on the field for 550 at bats.

RomoBall Fantasy Preview – 9th Edition (81-90)

Over the course of the season, bounces and breaks will go for you and against you. Games get rained out. Players get tossed. Games go into extra innings. Umpires blow calls. Official scorers are biased. With so many pivotal moments of the fantasy season up to pure chance, the one thing we can ensure goes our way is the name of our team. As students of karma, we take the “walk softly and carry big sticks” approach to smack-talk, and recommend a similar kill-you-with-kindness approach when picking a team name. Points are scored at various levels and to various degrees among our peers, with the goal of securing a permanent residence at the corner of Humorous and Original. Variations of baseball team names are bran flakes on our scale; better to go with a play on players’ names, Bourn/Uggla, for example as both a Conan-esque self-jab and a thinly veiled Frost/Nixon reference. Ok, maybe not that thinly veiled. Film (Little Neddy Goes to War), music (Instant Shwarma), obscure television shows (Daktari) can provide some great team names, and any notion to reference WKRP in Cincinnati should be met with little resistance. Dr. Johnny Fever sounds like a great fantasy team name. It’s that easy.

81. Gio Gonzalez, SP – WAS. For White Sox GM Kenny Williams, Gio is the one that got away. Twice. He’s also the one he got. Twice. Williams snared Gio out of high school as a supplemental round pick in 2004, then traded him with Aaron Rowand for Jim Thome in 2005. Williams then reacquired Gonzalez from Philadelphia, along with Gavin Floyd in exchange for Freddy Garcia. Before he could make a major league start for Chicago he was dealt to Oakland in 2008 as the primary piece in the package that brought back Nick Swisher. Don’t let Gonzalez get away from you. Once. He’s posted nearly identical seasons averaging 200 IP, 3.18 ERA, 184K and 15 wins in the past two years and the move from Oakland to Washington will not prevent a three-peat.

82. Madison Bumgarner, SP – SF. The Giants’ southpaw pitched his way through a mad bummer of an April, in which he was 0-4 with a 6.17 ERA, and finished at 13-13 with a 3.21 ERA and 191 K’s in 204 innings. His 9-4 record with a 2.52 ERA after the break was more along the lines of what GM Brian Sabean had in mind for Bumgarner, who turns 23 this August.

83. Billy Butler, 1B/DH – KC. Butler has been productive since his arrival in KC back in 2007. A .297 lifetime hitter who turns 26 this April, much of Billy’s success has come in mediocre lineups. This tells us two things: he’s still young enough that he hasn’t yet hit his true hitting prime, and he’ll benefit from having Hosmer to share the load in the middle of the Royals’ order. Perhaps Butler’s greatest service to fantasy owners in 2011 were the 11 games he started at first base, granting him eligibility at the position in most formats for 2012.

84. Yovani Gallardo, SP – MIL. Gallardo has made 30+ starts in each of the past three seasons, increasing his win total each year. In 2012 he set personal marks with 17 wins, a 3.52 ERA and 207 Ks, and will look to build off those numbers in his age-26 season.

85. Zack Greinke, SP – MIL. Greinke rebounded from a 10-14 year in 2010 to finish at 16-6 in his first year in Milwaukee. His 3.83 ERA was better than 4.17, but lightyears away from the almost non-existent 2.16 of his magical 2009. While it’s likely 2009 is his ceiling, he’ll get closer than he got in ’10 and ’11.

86. Howie Kendrick, 1B/2B/OF – LAA. Throughout his career, Kendrick has been known as a “guy who just might win a batting title someday.” After hitting .321 and .306 in half-seasons in ’07 and ’08 that seemed to be Howie’s path, but he’s dipped to .285 over the past three years, adding power to his game in 2011 with 18 HR. We’ll take the swap.

87. Joe Mauer, C/1B – MIN. If fantasy is any indicator, and it’s not, the Twins are in for a rough year. The first Gemini off our board is Joe Mauer, and he comes with a healthy amount of risk. Unfortunately for Mauer, the risk has been the only healthy thing about him over the past three seasons. Back to full strength heading into his age-28 season, Mauer Pauer may be the only show in two cities, but it’s a good one.

88. Buster Posey, C – SF. In his short career, Posey has gone from Best in Show to Waiting for Guffman. No longer Dazed and Confused, the House of Yes should be open again in 2012. All extended Parker Posey metaphors aside, don’t miss out when Superman Returns.

89. B.J. Upton, OF – TB. At 28, some ballplayers are just getting their first shot in the majors. Some feel like they have been here for ages. B.J. debuted all the way back in ’04 and was up for good in ’07. He now has five full seasons on the back of his card, and last year regained his power stroke adding 23 HR to 36 steals for the Rays. His .258 lifetime batting average is actually flattering, as he’s hit .241, .237 and .243 over the past three seasons. If he can hit .260 he’s a value, if he can hit .280, he’s a stud.

90. Ichiro, OF – SEA. Ichiro’s incredible streak of 10 consecutive 200+ hit seasons ended in 2011. In his 11th season in Seattle, Ichiro endured the worst of his professional career. He hit below .303 for the first time, finishing at .272, got on base at less than a .350 clip for the first time with a .310 OBP, and slugged below .386 for the first time with a .335 SLG%. At 38, it’s certainly reasonable to guess that the decline will continue, but we don’t. 40 steals last year means his wheels are far from shot, and we’re betting it was just a horrid year for the Mariners and it finally had an effect on Ichiro. 2012 will be a better year for the M’s and is a contract year for the surefire hall of famer. “They say the Jet’s lost a step or two, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fireworks here.” – S. Smalls

What To Wear XXV

The Twins started out in Washington as the Senators. Following the 1960 season they left our nation’s capitol and set out for the Great North. Washington didn’t miss a beat, though; the same season the Twins debuted in Minneapolis the new verison of the Senators played their games in Washington. That didn’t last long, 10 years later the Senators would leave Washington again, this time for Texas, doing away with the Senator name once and for all becoming the Rangers. Let’s not talk about the sad history of DC baseball. Let’s talk about the Twins. Let’s talk about how easy it is to like a fat man that can run.

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RomoBall Fantasy Preview – Eighth Edition (71-80)

Of all the statistical categories we are targeting on draft day, saves are usually the most attainable in-season. Our strategy is to rate closers lower because of the high injury risk at the position and the subsequent high number of save-getters that will emerge during the year. In head-to-head leagues, passing on relief pitchers opens up more picks to stockpile position players and starters who will win you more of the other categories more of the time. Even in rotisserie leagues we advise that a great bullpen can be built with with late-round picks and one or two shrewd April pickups.

71. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS – CLE. Asdrubal obliterated his previous career highs across the board, but at 26 we’re not ready to deem 2011 his career year. Even if he doesn’t surpass the production of his breakout campaign, expect his numbers to look a lot more like the .273/25/92/17 he put up last season than his totals from years previous.

72. Jhonny Peralta, SS – DET. In his first full year in Detroit, Jhonny realized the dreams that the Indians had for him since his breakthrough 2005. Maybe it was being in a better lineup. But with Sizemore, Hafner, V-Mart and Choo around for much of his Cleveland tenure that seems unlikely. Maybe it was being around Miguel Cabrera, a truly elite righty bat. Most of the offensive talent around Jhonny were predominantly left handed hitters, so watching Miguel’s routines and talking about approach may have made the difference. Whatever the reason, Jimmy Leyland will take .299/21/86 again this year, and is undoubtedly expecting even more from his shortstop.

73. Matt Moore, SP – TB. 2011 will be the year Matt Moore cements himself as THE Matt Moore in the state of Florida. Even though the Dolphins draft strategy may do that on its own, Matt is the early favorite for Rowengartner honors in the junior circuit. That Joe Maddon handed him the ball and that he responded with a 7-inning 2-hit gem at Texas in Game 1 last year shows how polished he already is.

74. Craig Kimbrel, RP – ATL. In 2010 Kimbrel’s first major league action, in which he posted a 0.44 ERA with 40 K in 20.2 innings, was enough to earn him the primary closer’s role in Atlanta heading into 2011. It seemed unfair to Kimbrel to project those numbers over a full season, but the southern fireballer actually made good on those projections. He owned the ninth, posting 46 saves and and striking out 127 in 77 IP with a 2.10 ERA. A couple of blown saves in September cost the Braves the playoffs, meaning it’s plausible Craig is entering 2012 with a chip on his shoulder.

75. Mariano Rivera, RP – NYY. It feels like 42 years since MLB retired Jackie Robinson’s number, when just Moes Rivera and Vaughn and Butch Huskey were permitted to continue wearing it. Now 42, number 42 was barely touchable again in 2011, posting a microscopic 1.91 ERA and notching 44 saves with a minute 8 free passes. The all-time saves leader has gotten better with age, sporting a sub-2 ERA in 8 of the last 9 years.

76. Jose Valverde, RP – DET. Even if news were to come out that Valverde’s real name is World B. Free, he’d still be Papa Grande. With one of the best seasons as a closer in history, Jose became the second-most popular JV in Tiger Town. It’s nearly impossible for him to repeat the perfect 49 saves in 49 opportunities, but the addition of Prince should ensure a plethora of chances again in 2012.

77. Jonathan Papelbon, RP – PHI. Papelbon’s move from Boston to Philly shouldn’t do much to one of the top closers in the game. If there’s any impact, it’s a plus that he’s faced far fewer NL hitters over his career, so he should have the advantage as they get used to facing him.

78. C.J. Wilson, SP – LAA. Wilson’s relocation from Texas to Anaheim earned him $77.5 million McChickens but it also earned him 4 or 5 starts against the Rangers every year. Replacing the Angels with the Rangers on the schedule may result in a slight bump in ERA, but he should get run support and will still get his full helping of starts against the A’s and M’s.

79. David Ortiz, DH – BOS. Big Papi joined Ellsbury, Gonzalez and Pedroia as non-culprits on offense for the Red Sox in 2011. Enjoying a nice resurgence over the past two seasons, David hit .309/29/96 including .329 vs. lefties. If Crawford and Youkilis can get it going for new skipper Bobby Valentine, Boston will have six top-flight bats in their lineup and Papi will have loads of chances to be big.

80. Brian McCann, C – ATL. We don’t know what happened to McCann in the second half in 2011. After mashing at a .310 clip with 15 HR in the first half, he tanked out with a .203/9 line after the break. Still, .274/24/71 is more than serviceable from the catcher’s spot, and to see him at his best is to witness one of the best hitters in the game, not one of the best hitting catchers in the game. It’s unfortunate that some of the best hitters will always have their offensive numbers limited by the physical nature of the position.

RomoBall Fantasy Preview – Seventh Edition (61-70)

Spring Training is just a few days away, which means the first numbers of 2012 will soon start to roll in. But what to do with these numbers? Are spring stats worth reading into? Yes. If a player is performing well in the early going it means he’s healthy, which is huge. Also, spring baseball is still baseball, meaning hitters want to hit. Hitters always want to hit, so if a pitcher is getting outs he’s doing something right. Sure, some of the players are minor leaguers, but there are competitions going on across all levels of each organization for starting jobs, rotation slots and roster spots; these are players pitching and hitting for their very livelihoods, so even if their talent may not be top notch, youngsters’ efforts during camp can’t be questioned. The spring stat to not read into is if a proven pitcher is getting knocked around. It’s a rare opportunity for these guys to work on things against live hitters, (who want to hit, mind you) knowing that they are assured a rotation or bullpen spot. In the most general terms, read in to all success and ignore proven players’ slowish starts. If an unproven is having a bad spring, he’s not making the big club and he’s not worth drafting.

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RomoBall Fantasy Preview – Sixth Edition (51-60)

Having a game plan on draft day is generally a good thing (it means you have done some prep) but it can also be dangerous. We recommend doing the homework and skipping the game plan for one reason: 90% of the picks won’t be made by you. You could enter your draft with a vision of your team and start making unnecessary reaches if a few of “your guys” get taken early, and you might miss out on guys who slip because you’re locking up players that can be had later. The reality is, you will have to watch your rivals draft your favorites. It’s inevitable. We all know this going in. It doesn’t matter that you used to walk Miguel Cabrera to his bus stop every day when he was a little kid and owned him since he first got called up in ’03. Someone else will own him this year, and the sooner we can make peace with this reality, the closer we have already gotten to our goal. The best approach is the simplest; always draft the best player on the board. If you end up with a surplus at a position you’ll have depth, potential trade chips and play keep-away from the rest of your league.

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What To Wear XXIV

Pittsburgh Pirates

I’ll be damned if the team with the toughest road the last 20 years wasn’t the easiest to choose a jersey for. After the 1992 season, Barry Bonds left Pittsburgh. They were coming off of 3 straight NLCS losses and ownership wasn’t interested in offering up the cash to retain their core. The team hasn’t seen a .500 record since. That is a mind boggling streak of futility. The Pirates have been around a long time, have fielded some great teams and suited up a respectable list of Hall of Famers. The people of Pittsburgh certainly don’t deserve this, but that’s neither here nor there. Anybody that knows me is well aware of who my pick is; they’ve likely seen me wearing it. I wear my Pirates jersey more proudly than any other that I own. The number on the back is the inspiration for the height of the outfield wall at PNC Park, which stands 21 feet high.

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What To Wear XXIII

Cincinnati Reds

There have been a lot of players to look up to that have played for Cincinnati in the last 50 years. Joe Morgan, SABR poster boy, yet, opponent. Pete Rose, baseball’s all time hit king. Johnny Bench is arguably the greatest catcher of all time. But then, we could spend hours going over the Big Red Machine. There are enough stories and information for a book, there. In fact, someone even wrote one. A decade or so later, the Reds worked their way to another championship, with Lou Pinella calling the shots this time instead of Sparky Anderson. They may not have lasted as long as The Machine, but for a single season that Reds team was at the top of their game, lead by future of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin and standouts like Jose Rio and Eric Davis. I used to love Davis as a kid (skinny guy power!) but unfortunately 1990 was his last truly healthy season, and a career that might have otherwise garnered Hall of Fame consideration was effectively finished afterward. Though the collective forces that guard baseball’s highest honor may have the ability to do so, I find it impossible to ignore a man with 4,256 hits.

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