Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Candy - April 26th

April 26th, 2009  JunkyardJake.Com

Chris Duncan, St. Louis Cardinals, OF,1B  

While it's true that Tony LaRussa's somewhat capricious lineup strategy defies any reasonable explanation on most days, Chris Duncan has most frequently been penciled in as the left-fielder batting from the #4 spot, so it's surprising to see that he is available in a fair amount of leagues. Granted, Duncan does have a history of fickle performance. Probably a good example of his unpredictable range of batting competence can be observed by comparing his August 2006 output, when he hit .361 with 9 HRs, with his calamitous month of August 2007, when he hit .191 with one HR. However, until Duncan gets benched, goes into a slump, starts smoking hemp and hanging out with jazz musicians or you see a Tony LaRussa lineup that has Fred Bird in left field, and Adam Wainwright at 2nd base, he is certainly useful for fantasy purposes.

Available in 38% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Ross Ohlendorf, Pittsburgh Pirates, SP  
Yes, you have been burned before by various members of the Pittsburgh Pirates suspect pitching staff in the recent past, in some cases (i.e. Zach Duke for the past three years), you've not only been proverbially burned, but scornfully mocked, ostracized and scoffed at by friends, strangers and town folk alike. So why would you want to subject yourself to more abuse by considering Ross Ohlendorf for your fantasy roster? Well, good point, but there are some encouraging signs that new pitching coach Joe Kerrigan has helped to return the Pirates staff back to respectability. Believe it or not, after getting swatted around like a pinata last year (5.08 ERA, .286 BAA), Pirate pitchers actually boast the best ERA in the league (3.07 ERA, .242 BAA) over the first couple weeks of 2009. Ohlendorf was considered a top prospect in the Yankees system, and seems to have responded well to Kerrigan's mentoring so far. As seen in his last 7 shutout innings outing versus Florida, when he can throw his sinking 90-92 fastball for strikes, he can be very effective.
Available in 83% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays, SS  
Last October with America in the throes of a cataclysmic economic crisis, paralyzed with political uncertainty and struggling to endure the untimely release of yet another Queen Latifah movie, not to mention 'High School Musical 3: Senior Year', our nation sorely needed a hero, and Jason Bartlett stepped up to the challenge. That's right, Bartlett succeeded in stealing the first base of the 2008 World Series, and according to the terms of Taco Bell's most dim-witted promotion yet, 'Steal a Base, Steal a Taco', won a free taco for the entire country. While this accomplishment alone should make you want to check your waiver wire for Bartlett, also note that he is off to a torrid start in the new 2009 season, with 5 SBs in 15 games a .352 BA, and even 2 uncharacteristic HRs. If we enter the realm of 'complete silliness with extrapolated numbers' for a second, assuming that Bartlett can make it through a 162 game season, he is on pace to steal about 40 bases and hit 21 HRs (his career high is 5 HRs, so that ain't going to happen, but fun to imagine anyway).
Available in 37% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins, SP  
Pitching in front of the powder-puff Minnesota Twins offense, with a fastball that typically sits around 89 MPH, you could say that Glen Perkins is not the most exciting waiver wire alternative. In fact, you can almost picture the native Minnesotan riding around in a Toyota Prius, drinking a vitamin water and listening to the Dave Matthews Band. Nonetheless, sometimes bland is useful when it comes to fantasy pitchers, and if Perkins can keep on pitching exactly 8 innings a game, with an average 4 Ks, 1.50 ERA and 0.83 Whip like he has over his first three starts, who cares if his methodical fastball/slider/changeup repertoire causes drowsiness. Speaking of Perkins pitch selection, it's interesting to note that he has almost completely abandoned his curveball, and now throws his slider about 3 times as often as he did last year. It seems like this adjustment has helped him entice hitters into a swinging at bad pitches more often in 2009. Compared to a 23% rate last year, hitters have been swinging at pitches outside the strikezone about 38% time for Perkins this year.
Available in 40% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Other Players To Consider:

Jason Kubel,Minnesota Twins,OF  
Available in 37% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

John Baker,Florida Marlins,C  
Available in 42% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Jordan Zimmermann,Washington Nationals,SP  
Available in 36% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Ian Stewart,Colorado Rockies,3B,OF  
Available in 39% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Phil Hughes,NY Yankees,SP  
Available in 75% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Player Spotlights - Matt Holliday and Carlos Quentin

Matt Holliday and Carlos Quentin April 25, 2009

Live Fantasy Baseball Mock Drafts, Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings, Player Trade Calculator, Fantasy Forums and more ! at FantasyBaseballXtreme.Com

OF Matt Holliday,A's, It had been stated many times going into the 2009 season - Matt Holliday might have a difficult time adapting to his new Oakland address after being traded from Colorado. With only one week remaining in April, some fantasy owners are surely wishing that they had heeded this seemingly prescient prognostication. Holliday does currently lead the A's in RBIs with 10, but the fact that he is batting just .254 with zero HRs and zero stolen bases can only be described as a serious performance malaise. So what might be the worst case scenario for Holliday this season? On one hand, there is no denying Holliday's rare talent, not many players possess the quick bat and consistent, powerful swing of the A's leftfielder. However, based on Holliday's historical performance away from his former Corrs homefield before 2009, it might be best to temper expectations down to about a .285 BA, with 20 HRs, 80 RBI and hopefully 15-20 SBs.
OF Carlos Quentin, White Sox, - After joining the White Sox in 2008, Carlos Quentin wasted no time impressing his new team, winning the left field spot in April, and going on to lead the team in homeruns, RBIs, and slugging percentage. As if his 36 homeruns and 100 RBI were not convincing enough, consider that Quentin did his damage in only 130 games, as he missed significant time after a September wrist injury. At the plate, he shows good discipline and a quick and powerful swing. He can typically crush inside fastballs, and adjusts swiftly to breaking balls. In the new 2009 season, Quentin has stormed out of the gates with 7 homeruns over the first 16 games, helping to rebuke any discussion that last season's 36 homerun explosion was a fluke. This 26 year-old emerging star will likely challenge for the league lead in HRs again this season, and has rapidly become a fantasy force.

Player Spotlights By Junkyard Jake JunkyardJake.Com 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Candy - April 11th

April 11th, 2009  JunkyardJake.Com

Travis Snider, Toronto Blue Jays, OF  
At 21 years old, Travis Snider probably still TIVOs his favorite Nickelodeon cartoons but nonetheless, he has rocketed through Toronto's farm system with 50 HRs in 1158 At-bats, and now finds himself their newest leftfielder. While he certainly could have used a bit more seasoning in the minors, he didn't look out of place during his short audition with the Blue Jays late last season, hitting .301 with 2 HRs in 73 Abs. If his early achievements can translate to the Major League level, Snider looks like a potential 25 HR player who can hit around .285. On a scale of 'Sniders', that would make Travis almost as cool as Dwayne Schneider, the superintendent from 'One Day at A Time', and rated much higher than both Rob Schneider and Dee Snider, the annoying front-man from Twisted Sister.
Available in 52% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Travis Ishikawa, San Francisco Giants, 1B  
While we are on the subject of left-handed power prospects named 'Travis', another interesting fantasy waiver target is Travis Ishikawa of the San Francisco Giants. Inapposite with his surname, Ishikawa is a purely domestic vehicle, so no need to worry about pesky tariffs or too much of an adjustment to some of the less polite American pitchers. The 24 year old has been plugging away in the Giants minor league system since 2002, accumulating 96 HRs and 410 RBI over 2,518 Abs. Ishikawa has even shown some speed for a 1st baseman, with 32 stolen bases. If Ishikawa can maintain a starting assignment, his minor league performance suggests about 23 HRs, 100 RBI and 8 SBs could be in store for 2009.
Available in 71% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers, SP  
With a struggling auto industry, less tourism than Baghdad, and Jason Verlander still trying to figure out how to pitch again, Detroit has had little to cheer about over the past couple years. For a city that desperately needs a morale boost, maybe rookie starting pitcher Rick Porcello can help. He is only 20 years old, but Porcello already has an advanced arsenal for his age, with a mid-90's fastball, a 2-seam fastball with good sinking action, a curveball, slider, and also a pretty good change-up. He was knocked around a little in his first 2009 start, giving up 4 runs on 9 hits in 5 innings, but still maintained his trademark command by issuing just one walk. Last year in the minors, Porcello granted walks at a rate of just 2.37 per nine innings, and he was impressive this spring with a 2.30 ERA and 1.25 Whip in six Grapefruit League appearances. Porcello is definitely more solvent than General Motors, a mandatory pick-up for keeper leagues, and he could end up useful in all formats if things fall into place for him this year.
Available in 72% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Chris Perez, St. Louis Cardinals, RP  
If you listen closely, you can hear the subtle sound of about 150,000 fantasy teams dropping Jason Motte and/or Chris Perez this week. At this point, it's safe to assume that not even Tony LaRussa truly knows who will be closing games for the Cardinals over the next couple weeks. So far, major league batters have greeted Jason Motte rudely, while the rotund Dennys Reyes and the unexciting Kyle McClellan have collected saves. Chris Perez was the favorite to emerge as the closer this year, but he was shut-down and sent-down after a case of shouldersitis this spring. Both Motte and Perez have the potential to become quality closers, but Perez seems like a better bet. It's true that Jason Motte did wreck havoc with his 98 mph fastball in Triple A last year, striking out 110 in 66 innings, but his slider is a work in progress, and major league hitters are going to catch up with a 98 mph fastball if they see it 5 consecutive times. Perez is a more advanced pitcher with an exceptional slider to go along with his mid-90's fastball. Especially if you have Motte on your roster right now, picking up Perez is a great contingency plan.
Available in 84% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Other Players To Consider:
Emilio Bonifacio,Florida Marlins,3B  
Available in 28% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Denard Span,Minnesota Twins,OF  
Available in 47% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Khalil Greene,St. Louis Cardinals,SS  
Available in 33% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Tommy Hanson,Atlanta Braves,SP  
Available in 62% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

David Purcey,Toronto Blue Jays,SP  
Available in 73% of all CBSSportsline leagues.

Player Spotlights - Cole Hamels

SP Cole Hamels, Phillies April 11, 2009

Live Fantasy Baseball Mock Drafts, Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings, Player Trade Calculator, Fantasy Forums and more ! at FantasyBaseballXtreme.Com

SP Cole Hamels,Phillies, Heading into the 2009 season there has been much apprehension about Cole Hamels elbow inflammation dilemma, a problem that caused the young right-hander to miss the majority of spring training, and also his opening day assignment. Unfortunately, as he returned to the mound on April 10th, he did nothing to alleviate concerns about his health, yielding an exorbitant 11 hits, and 7 earned runs in just 3.2 innings. Indeed, despite his back to back exemplary seasons in 2007 and 2008 where he totaled 29 wins with outstanding ratios (3.22 ERA, 1.10 WHIP over the past 2 years), Hamels has had a minor history of elbow problems. Most recently, he missed one month of the 2007 season with a mild strain, so hopefully this is similar situation and he will get back on track soon. Keep an eye on Hamels pitch velocity for a clue on his recovery, he normally should be around 90 MPH on his fastball.
Player Spotlights By Junkyard Jake JunkyardJake.Com 

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Can Percy Harvin Break The University of Florida Wideout Curse ?

Can Percy Harvin Break The University of Florida Wideout Curse ?

April 5, 2009  JunkyardJake.Com

As the NFL draft approaches, University of Florida receiver Harvin appears to be a lock to go in the 1st round. Over his three years at Florida, Harvin abused defenses for 1,929 yards and 13 touchdowns as a receiver, and then to add insult to injury, he also carried the ball 194 times for 1,852 yards and 19 scores. His most distinguishing attributes are his rare speed and great hands, and there is no denying that he is a menace in the open field with his absurd acceleration and cutting ability.

There were some questions about his route-running, but he helped alleviate those concerns with his March 19th pro day while catching everything thrown at him within a reasonable vicinity. Oh, and as far as the relative incidental factors that are sometimes overlooked like work ethic, instincts, field awareness and blocking, yeah he scores pretty high on that stuff too.

On the negative side, Harvin is only 5-foot-11 and about 195 lbs, and he does have a little bit of an injury history. These factors probably constitute minor nitpicking in the context of the more flagrant offense that Harvin is expected to perpetuate. That's right, Harvin is attempting to defy a history of futility that has lasted over a decade and includes the likes of Reidel Anthony, Travis Taylor, Taylor Jacobs and Chad Jackson. Evidently, Harvin has the audacity to fancy himself as a 1st day wide receiver selection out of Gainesville who can make an impact in the NFL.

Curse of the Timucua Indians?

Might there be some type of malevolent curse that hangs over University of Florida wide receivers, dooming them to an NFL career of best-case scenario abject mediocrity? Some possibly credible historians have postulated the existence of a 'Timucuan Indian curse' as the primary culprit behind this phenomenon. The Timucua Indians, as almost nobody recalls, were a tribe of American Indians indigenous to the Gainesville Florida area. They were first discovered around 1514 by adventurous sea-faring Europeans, who immediately began a 200 year campaign to extinguish them. By around the year 1700, when only 1,000 Timucuan were left, legend has it that Chief 'GerryCooney' of the remaining tribe finally decided to put a nasty curse on Gainesville Florida. As it turns out, the Timucua didn't so much mind a fair fight, or even occasional cheating at their casinos, but when it become apparent that their current British aggressors were inducing mercenaries into their ranks with non-sanctioned gifts of designer deer-skin jackets, and marinated Raccoon steaks this was the final straw. Coincidently, this was also the first recorded case of a possible NCAA recruiting violation.

Steve Spurious and the Fun 'n' Gun Defective Receiver Factory

Say you don't subscribe to the Indian curse thing, which is completely understandable, is it possible that the Florida offensive system has helped to inflate the draft values of at least a few of their receivers?

From 1990-2001, the Gators essentially operated under Steve Spurrier's Fun 'n' Gun offensive scheme. This offense was unique in that it used the pass to set up the run, almost always involved a whole bunch of receivers on the field and was mostly predicated on timing between the QB and the wideouts. Most commonly in the Fun 'n' Gun, you would have about 4 or 5 receivers running to general spots on the field, sometimes wearing clown shoes or on rollerblades. On occasion, even funny hats, unicycles and/or fake handlebar moustaches were involved.

Draft bust Florida receivers selected during the Steve Spurious era, 1997-2003

Reidel Anthony 1997 Round 1, Pick 16, Overall Pick 16 (Buccaneers)- Ahhh Reidal Anthony, or the 1997 1st round draft pick that many Tampa Bay Buc fans still refer to as 'Who ?'....Yeah those flighty fans can have such a short memory, afterall Anthony did have one productive season in 1998, with 51 catches, 708 yards, and 7 TDs. Problem is, he followed this season up with 30 catches for 296 yards, and then became pretty much invisible during his final two seasons. In his last couple years as a counterfeit receiver with the team,during autograph sessions Bucs fans would typically ask him if he wouldn t mind signing his name as Martin Gramatica.

Jacquez Green 1998 Round 2, Pick 2, Overall Pick 34 (Buccaneers)- Despite sometimes making up his own routes, and dropping more balls than Manny Ramirez when he insists on playing the outfield with his Chewbacca mask on, Jacquez Green did manage to have a couple 700 yard seasons for the Buccaneers. By his 4th year however, Green regressed and finished with 36 catches for 402 yards. It was at this point that Tampa area sportswriters began referring to the 5-10, 170 lb former Gator as 'Crappy Smurf' , and he ended up playing a couple more inconsequential seasons for the Redskins and Detroit. On a positive note,Jaquez Green did win the Madden Bowl in 2001, demonstrating that his experience as an imaginary football player was transferrable for some other purpose.

Travis Taylor 2000 Round 1, Pick 10, Overall Pick 10 (Ravens) - Travis Taylor has not had a horrendous career, but considering that Laveranues Coles and Darrell Jackson were both 3rd rounders in the 2000 draft, the only way that the Ravens could have made a bigger blunder is if they traded up to select Peter Warrick that year. Overall, Taylor has averaged a disappointing 575 yards and 3 Tds per season over his NFL career, but having been in ill-fated relationships with 6 different teams, he does score well on the Larry King Capricious Matrimony Meter, with a reading of 85. Taylor is also one of the only receivers in Vikings history to be tasered by the police, and perhaps his most notable role has been when he played 'Bartender Isaac Washington' in the Minnesota Vikings boat party scandal.

Jabar Gaffney 2002 Round 2, Pick 1, Overall Pick 33 (Texans)- Some might characterize Gaffney's NFL career as uninspired , some might say he simply has a fear of the public spotlight. Whichever camp you are in, and yes those are the only two choices, Gaffney has averaged 36 catches for 438 yards and 2 TDs per season since 2002. Not surprisingly, New England found him expendable heading into 2009, so expendable in fact, that they replaced him with 38 year old Joey Galloway. This former Gator brings his inconspicuous game to Denver this season, where he probably won't be noticed until he does a couple local TV spots for Crazy Fred's Chrysler/Jeep.

Reche Caldwell 2002 Round 2, Pick 16 Overall Pick 48 (Chargers) -Caldwell showed flashes of borderline adequacy in his years with the Chargers, but ultimately finished his 4 years in San Diego with some fairly flimsy numbers - 76 catches, 950 yards and 7 TDs. In other words, it took Caldwell 4 years to accumulate approximately the same numbers as current Charger WR Vincent Jackson achieved in 2008. Probably the highpoint of Caldwell's career came in 2006, when had 61 catches for 760 yards and 4 TDs for the Patriots. Unfortunately Caldwell negated any goodwill he had accrued over the regular season when he dropped two critical passes in the AFC Championship game that year. Over the next two years, Caldwell went on to be released by the Patriots, the Redskins and then the Rams before he even got off the plane in St. Louis.

Taylor Jacobs 2003 Round 2, Pick 12, Overall Pick 44 (Redskins) -Orange Bowl MVP, First-team All-SEC, and Biletnikoff Award semifinalist in 2002, huge megabust draft pick in 2003. I guess that's what you get when you draft a guy with a name that sounds like a professional golfers' accountant. But seriously, this guy was truly a big insult to all industrious professional golfers' accountants everywhere. Jacobs somehow lasted 5 seasons in the NFL, finishing up with 37 catches 384 yards and 2 TDs.

Ron Zook, Master of Intimidating Faces and Chad Jackson, Definitive Draft Bust

After Steve Spurrier and the beloved Fun 'n' Gun circus left Gainesville, current Illinois coach Ron Zook attempted to step into his very large clown shoes. Zook's reign as Florida coach lasted from 2002 to 2004, but that was far too long for many Gator fans, who were mostly unimpressed with the fact that the Gators lost more games in their home stadium during his three years than they did in 12 seasons under Spurrier.

Some of the more fanatical Gator fans were downright enraged by Ron Zook, and felt he had caused the football program to significantly regress under his tenure. For example, some activist Florida fans commenced an internet campaign to voice their grievances. For example, domain names such as these popped up during Zook's time at Florida:
http://ronzook-is an evil space
http://ronzook-is melting the polar ice

To this day, many fans feel that Zook was such an affront to the University of Florida football program, that his name has achieved a new special connotation with it's own special Gator fan dictionary entry:

Anyway, what was the point of all this? oh yeah, Chad Jackson. Jackson was the first notable receiver to enter the NFL as an original Ron Zook recruit, and the results have been horrendous.

Chad Jackson 2006 Round 2, Pick 4, Overall Pick 36 (Patriots)-Oh my, this turned out to be a big mistake by the Patriots. They actually gave up their 3rd round pick to move up 16 places and select Chad Jackson in the 2nd round. In retrospect, this was sort of like being the highest bidder for the ferris wheel in Michael Jackson s Neverland Ranch liquidation sale. The former Florida Gator Jackson has totaled 14 catches for 171 yards in three NFL seasons. The Patriots ditched Jackson after two injury-plagued seasons, and he somehow ended up on the Broncos last year, where he caught one pass for 19 yards- hope Denver saved the receipt.

Urban 'The Legend' Meyer and Percy Harvin's Audacity of Hope

-In 2005, Urban Meyer replaced the abominable Ron Zook as head coach, and has already won national championships in 2006 and 2008. While 2008 3rd round pick Andre Caldwell was the last recruit from the Ron Zook era who went fairly high in the NFL draft, it was Meyer who recruited Percy Harvin.

Both Caldwell and Harvin played in Meyer's 'spread offense', which seemingly represents a better mode of preparation for NFL offensive systems. For example, the 2007 New England Patriots dabbled with a variation of the spread offense on their way to a 16-0 season and a league-record 582 points.

In contrast to the Fun 'n' Gun, Meyer's spread offense frequently features 2 and 3 receiver sets, and those receivers typically end up facing some variation of man to man coverage. One other significant requirement for receivers in Meyer's spread offense, is that they are sometimes expected to alter their routes based on the coverage they are seeing. This is also a skill that transfers well to the NFL.

Given that Percy Harvin was recruited by Meyer, and accumulated his gaudy 3,781 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns over three years in the 'spread offense' seemingly bodes well for this year's 1st round draft prospect. If we can dismiss the existence of an actual supernatural curse that still sabotages the pro careers of University of Florida receivers, Percy Harvin sure looks like he could be a dynamic playmaker at the NFL level.