Posted on: March 22, 2010 10:57 pm

Dynasty League: 2010 Keepers

    Now we are all caught up to the present and as I write this article I am in the 10th round of the 2010 draft. After selecting my keepers I am even more confident than I was last year going into the draft. I have traded four closer hopefuls for three solid closers and much of my young talent has taken a step forward. If I can just limit the number of red crosses on my team page or if my young talent continues to improve that I think I’ll be in great shape to take the crown. If both things happen I should run away with the chamionship.

1. Mark Reynolds: In a league that does not penalize you for strikeouts in any way he is a first or second round talent and is still only 26.
2. Victor Martinez: Returned from injury to sit in the top tier of his position.
3. Aaron Hill: Not only did he return to the development curve he was on in 07 but he blew it up. Even if he slips a bit he will still be a top five second baseman.
4. Josh Beckett: Solid number one starter.
5. Josh Johnson: Potential top tier starter.
6. Carlos Quentin: Can he stay healthy?
7. Derek Lee: Still producing, but for how much longer?
8. Shin-Soo Choo: Established himself as a number two outfielder despite an elbow injury. Does he have more room to grow?
9. Jared Weaver: Finally emerged as the staff ace he was supposed to be and just turned 27.
10. Hunter Pence: Again, waiting for his break out. He was a solid number three outfielder in a league this size, but can he be more?
11. B.J. Upton: Gave me plenty of speed and showed some flashes of the old B.J. If the power does not come back this year it probably never will.
12. Gavin Floyd: Had a rough April, but pitched like a number two starter the rest of the way.
13. Jorge Cantu: Put up decent numbers despite a wrist injury that sapped his power for four months of the season. I am confident he will rank around 6th at third base by the end of this season.
14. Andrew Bailey: This guy has top five closer written all over him!
15. Nyjer Morgan: Played well for the Pirates and got even better in Washington. If he could keep up that pace he would establish himself as a starter in any format.
16. Chad Cordero: Solid Closer option.
17. Ryan Franklin: Should have the job to start the year, but can he hold it?
18. Eric Bedard: Hoped he would return to dominance, now I am just hoping he can return.
19. Macier Izturis: I had nothing to keep a short and even if he only gets 300 at bats he will be productive enough in a league this size. If Brandon Wood flops again he could end up being the starting third baseman!
20. Clayton Richard: Decent numbers for his first full year and he is in San Diego now! That adds up to a potential break out.

I believe I have few holes to fill. I find myself needing to find starting pitchers again, but my closer position is now a strength. I need to find some depth at short stop, but there should be a few good young options available in the draft. I am very deep in the outfield and if Upton, Morgan and Quentin can get healthy and stay that way I could have one of the best outfields in the game without adding another piece to it.

Now we are finally at the point where my forecasts for the season can be challenged and debated without anyone knowing the outcome. So tell me what you think and doubt me if you dare!

Posted on: March 22, 2010 10:56 pm

Dynasty League: 2009 Summary

    This season came with some of the greatest highs and lowest lows I have experienced in my eight years of playing fantasy baseball. By June anyone would have thought I had the league locked up and by August the same people would have written off any chance I had of finishing in the money. Here is how the roller coaster ride went down.

    By June one I had a 20+ point lead and had been in first place all but the first couple days of the season. To make matter even better Andrew Bailey had just took control of the A’s closer job giving me hope in the saves category. Nolasco was tanking and Floyd had started slow, but he turned it around in May. Volquez had hit the DL but was returning soon. Weaver was breaking out big time, Bedard was dominant, Duke was pitching well, and Johnson was a CY Young Candidate.  Powered by Martinez and Hill coming bag big time from injury and Reynold busting out big time my offense was one of the best in the league. At this point the only downer I had was the fact that none of my closer canidates had panned out.

    Shortly after Bedard made a short trip to the DL but was coming back the same time as Volquez, so I decided to turn my pitching surplus into closers. I traded Nolasco and Hanson for Ryan Franklin and Fransico Cordero. The closer part worked out nicely taking me from 15th in saves to 3rh in saves while helping the other pitching stats too. The killer part was the fact that Bedard and Volquez never actually came off the DL leaving me light starters. On top of that a pulled hamstring turned into a lost season for Jose Reyes, my best player, and Carlos Quentin’s foot injury cost him about half the season. Through in a wrist injury that sapped Cantu’s power for four months of the season and 20% of my initial starting roster was crippled by injury for at least half the season.

    Despite such heavy losses I managed to hold onto first place util the beginning of August when a dogfight for the championship started. A few deft moves kept me in the fight. I picked up Nyjer Morgan early on and he replaced Reyes’ production to a decent extent and Macier Iztruis put up nice numbers at short for a three month span. Since I was in win now mode I traded the useless Reyes for Josh Beckett.

    Going into the last week I was as close as 2.5 point out of first and had arranged so I had 11 starts for the last week. Like the rest of the year injuries took their toll. Beckett missed his last start and Floyd missed his last three. I lost two or three more quality starts when guys dominated for five innings only to be taken out of the game since the season winding down and managers wanted to look at young bullpen arms.

This all added up to a third place finish. On one hand this was infuriating. Forget all the huge injuries, if Cantu had not injured his wrist that alone would have been enough of a boost to hand me the title. On the other hand I realizes that this is a dynasty league. As long as I did not have any more freakish injury years I felt I should be able to dominate this league for the next three of four years. I was also very proud of myself for battling through such a frustrating year without throwing my computer out the window or running up and down my street cursing at the top of my lungs.

In your opinion am I right to think this was a freakish injury year? What do you think are my chances for the future?
Posted on: March 16, 2010 4:25 pm

2010 Predictions

Now that my CBS Sport draft is complete I will go on record with my list breakouts, busts, good values and bad. Go ahead and agree with me or tell me I am nuts. At the end of the year we will see if I know as much as I think I do or if I am just another windbag.

Before getting into the details I will say right off the bat that any pitcher drafted in the first four rounds has been over paid for. Sure, you might get a great year out of one of these studs. Considering that pitchers are about three times as injury prone as hitters I would never give up said hitter of a pitcher.

Paid too much for:

5. Victor Martinez or Joe Mauer: Sure these guy are two of the best catchers in the game, but catchers are just as, if not more, injury prone than pitchers. Not to mention the fact that instead of drafting one of them in the first three rounds you can grab another hitter that is 15% more valuable and has a far less chance of injury.
4. Curtis Granderson: Many seem to think that if you take a 29 year old that has ranked in the 20’s for a few seasons now and put him in the Yankee lineup that he becomes a late 4th round pick. I understand the concept here, but what most people do not understand is that the Yankees will not tolerate a full-time starter hitting .200 against lefties. My guess is he will be in a platoon situation by May.
3. Justin Upton: Every year there are a hand full of players that woo owners with young potential and 90% of them fail to live up to the expectations. If he repeats his performance from last year he will fall short of several other outfielders that he is being drafted ahead of. If he exceeds last year’s production then he will be worth the price being paid, but players at this age rarely do that. That same pick could have gotten many owners Jason Werth or Shane Victorino and they would instead have a 90% chance of getting the production they paid for.
2. Javier Vazquez: He had a career year that far surpassed anything he had ever done before at the age of 33. He now returned to the AL where he has been lit up year after year and to the AL east of all places. He has never been a crunch time performer so unless the Wizard of OZ granted him a “pair” I see him falling far short of his average 5th round selection.
1. Jimmy Rollins: He is going around the late third round which is a little high given his value last year and the fact he has been on a steady decline for a couple seasons now. His decline is even more disturbing when you realize that the offense around him has gotten better every year. This guy is primed for a collapse.

Purchased at a bargain price:

5. Matt Holliday: Owners got scared off when his move from Colorado to Oakland decimated his productivity. When you are playing in a pitcher’s park and you are the only legitimate threat in the line up, how many fast balls are you going to see? One he was traded to the Cardinals and took up residence behind Pujols (the best hitter in history through his first nine seasons) Holliday easily a top 10 hitter and I see no reason for that to change.
4. Joey Votto: He missed about 20% of the season last year and over a full season could have scored along side of Miguel Cabrerra. Add in the facts that he is 26 and entering his third year on a good offensive team and I believe you get your next top tier 1st or 2nd round first baseman for the bargain price of a 4th or 5th round pick this year.
3. Jake Peavy: This is a guy that has been a top starter for years and he is going in the late 5ht round. He is leaving one of the best pitchers parks but his home / away splits are usually very close and his inter league record falls in line with his numbers against AL teams. It is likely that any increase in WHIP and ERA will be off set buy having the opportunity to get more wins on a more competitive team.
2. Shane Victorino: He scores in the top 15 in the outfield and he is being drafted around the 9th round. Are people assuming he will fall apart at 29 or that the Phillies will stop destroying baseballs? That is a textbook value pick right there.
1. Andrew Baily: Though I am usually skeptical of players with only one year under their belt I will make an exception here. He is about the 13th closer being drafted despite the fact that he was one of the most dominant. His ERA, WHIP and K’s/9 were all superb. The key stat is that he only blew one save after establishing himself as the closer in June. He fits the mold of such clsing greats like Gosege, Rivera and Gagne in that was a promising starter in the minors that was converted to a closer.

Breakouts and comebacks:
4. B.J. Upton: He tantalized owners with a breakout year in 2007 and started out hot in 2008 before running into shoulder problems. The Rays were having their miracle season so B.J. played through it and as a result had off-season shoulder surgery. What most people do not realize is that shoulder surgery may be worse for a hitter that it is for a pitcher, remember Scott Rollen? Upton is young enough to heal fully and after a full year to recover he could regain his power storke and if he was capable of hitting 25 at age 22 what can he do in the future? The good thing here is that even if he does not regain his power stroke his speed still makes him worth starting in most leagues.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez: He just turned 26 and already has two and a half season under his belt. He already ranked as a number two fantasy starter last year but he still has room to improve. He is a prime candidate to move into the elite tier of pitchers for the next several years.
2. Cole Hamels: Owners get caught up in the ups and downs of starters and draft them too early or too late. Cole is a supremely talented pitcher that showed steady improvement until last year when he had a bad year. Guess what? Pitchers are up and down far more than hitters. There was more major injury so unless he has been mentally damaged you can expect him to return to form especially since he is no longer the team’s ace and the pressure is off.
1. Adam Jones: He had similar production to Justin Upton if you compare them when healthy and yet he does not have the incomprehensible buzz surrounding him that Upton does. I will gladly take Jones in the 11th round and save my 4th round pick for someone other than Upton. Jones could far out value an 11th round pick and if he struggles compared to last year he will probably still be wirth and 11th rounder.

Posted on: March 9, 2010 8:39 pm

Dynasty League: 2009 Keeper List

I was pumped for the start of this season. I can remember clicking the link to the league and swearing every time for a week-and-a-half when I saw the “Getting Ready for 2009” page pop up. Luckily my computer did not eat my fantasy baseball file for lunch so I can dig up exact records for that year’s league and show you why I was so pumped. I felt I had a great foundation of players just entering their prime that would continue to improve or at least hold their own for years to come. Deciding on my keepers was pretty cut and dry and once again I can say that I did not cut anyone that I latter regretted. My keeper list was as follows…

1. Jose Reyes: At the time this was a no brainer top five player.
2. Carlos Quentin: Hoping he finish an MVP season.
3. Derek Lee: Aging but still a solid first baseman.
4. Victor Martinez: Always a stud catcher when healthy and coming off an injury that was not career altering.
5. B.J. Upton: All depended on the progress after his shoulder surgery, but was ranked high this year. I had a feeling this year would be a wash because shoulder injuries are big problems for a power stroke.
6. Hunter Pence: Still waiting for his break out, but he was a solid number three outfielder in a league this size.
7. Shin-Soo Choo: Not only did he put up good number in his rookie season, but hot better every week showing me that he could cope with the majors.
8. Jorge Cantu: Solid option at either corner. Love multi position guys!
9. Mark Reynolds: After getting rid of batter KO’s his value jumped up quite a bit.
10. Aaron Hill: Hoping he would get back on the track he was on in 2007.
11. Alexi Cassilla: I figured I would take a flier here though his minor league history did not indicate a stud in waiting.
12. Josh Johnson: Came back from Tommy John strong in the last couple months and had regained his potential ace status.
13. Edinson Volquez: Assumed we would be solid this year and develop into a potential ace.
14. Jared Weaver: Was OK but Angles pitchers tend to take 4 years to develop so I hoped this would be the year.
15. Eric Bedard: Hoping he would return to dominance.
16. Rickey Nolasco: I expected huge things here.
17. Jason Motte: Not much major league experience, but there was talk of him getting the closers gig at the beginning of the year.
18. Chris Ray: Had a solid year in 2006 and was hoping he would beat out the shakey Sherril for the closer’s job.
19. Taylor Buckholtz: Was probably Colorado’s best reliever, and with weak competition I was sure he would get a chance once he was healthy.
20. Jose Arrenondo: He was dubbed the closer of the future and then the Angles promtly traded for a suspect Fuentes.

As you can see, Derek Lee was my only keeper that would not be considered to be in his prime. Martinez, Bedard, Cantu and Hill were just entering it. Almost all of the rest were former top prospects in their mid 20’s and could be found on almost every breakout or prospect list for any fantasy baseball publication. Of the few established players I had most were coming off injury. Talk about high-risk reward! Well, if you want to go from 15th to the money in two years you have to take chances. If you want to stay on top for a long time those chances should be taken on young potential studs. I felt that if my keepers matured at a normal rate I would contend. If I got lucky with the breakouts I might even have a shot a winning.

I had my hitting positions all filled except for second catcher (which I felt was flushable anyway) and utility. The only position I felt weak in was closer, well more then weak I was empty, which is why I kept four guys that would be competing for a closer’s roll. Do you think I could contend with this team?
Posted on: February 16, 2010 6:57 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 8:25 pm

Dynasty League: 2008 Summary

Going into my first season in 2008 I thought I had accomplished most of my goals in the draft. I felt I had allot of potential in the outfield. I augmented the young arms at starter with allot of developing youngsters and a veteran that would help that year. Most importantly I had picked up several options with upside to fill in large gaps at the corners. I was concerned about a lack of depth at second base and middle infielder. I also knew I was pretty weak at closer, but that was the last position I was worried about given the fact that I was rebuilding.

Given his injury history I had planned from the beginning on trading Ben Sheets. After three years of missing at least a third of his starts I had a feeling that a contract year would make him push it too far. Since my first priority was getting hitters that is where I started to look. Before the season had started I was able to pull off a trade for Aaron Hill. At 26 he had already logged several full seasons in the majors and he had shown steady improvement throughout. His 2007 season had him ranked around 10th at second base in our league and he fit the mold of what I was looking for to a T.

This trade looked terrible by May with Hill suffering a couple concussions and Sheets mowing down batters left and right. By September I was feeling better because Sheets shoulder was acting up and the doctors said that Hill would be back to full strength in 2009. In hindsight I cleaned house on this deal!

My next major move was about acquiring a solid starter in his prime whose arm was not falling off. At the time we used batter strikeouts as a category so Adam Dunn’s value was limited. I had several big prospects in the outfield already so I started shopping Dunn. To replace Dunn I picked up a little known prospect named Shin-Soo Choo to maintain some depth. I ended trading him for Eric Bedard, who at the time was establishing himself as a solid second tier starter. Not only did injuries effect this trade, but the following season the league manager dropped batter strikeouts as a category. I guess you can’t win them all!

The only other impact pickup I had that year was Alexi Casilla. He ended mading a pretty good second baseman for half of 2009. Since I had to wait and see what effect Arron Hill’s concussion would have on him I thought he might make the keeper list as a young prospect.

As I had hoped many of my young keepers and draft picks panned out very nicely. Up until the end of the season Carlos Quentin led the class with with an MVP type season. Jorge Cantu had a good comeback year ranking in the top 10 at third base. The aforementioned Choo was looking like a potential stud and Mark Reynolds was opening some eyes. B.J. Upton started strong but played through most of the season with a shoulder injury that would require off-season surgery and that is as bad as Tommy John for a putcher.

As far as my pitchers when, Edinson Voquez dominated the first half and despite a slow second half he looked like a keeper for years to come. My two Marlins, Johnson and Nolasco, began mowing hitters down in the second half giving me several young arms I could hang my hat on. Jared Weaver did not break out in his third season which is something I had suspected since Angle’s pitchers seem to take four years to mature, so I was not giving up on him yet.

Despite injuries to the two players I traded for I was happy with my team’s progress. They had hung around in the top three for a few weeks around the all-star break but ended up in 9th place. Since I now had fifteen players that were in of entering their prime I was very excited about my team’s future. I knew a few of them would flounder just as some of my prospects had the year before, but I definitely felt like I was moving in the right direction. I even had a good feeling that with a similarly successful draft and in season moves that I would be a money contender the following season. Where do you think this team was headed? Post your predictions before your predictions before you read ahead.

Posted on: February 8, 2010 12:54 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 1:53 pm

Dynasty League: The First Draft

The next thing I had to tackle was the draft and with only about a week to prepare. Usually I would create a spread sheet that would take the players’ statistics in the categories used and turn then into a numeric score based on how they do in each category compared to the average hitter, starter or reliever. It is kind of like the new +/- system CBS Sports came out with this year but I put numbers to it instead of bars. Since I did not have the time for this I had to wing it.

I wanted to rapidly re-build the team, but I hated the idea of just giving up on the season. While I wanted to focus on young break out candidates, I was also willing to draft any quality veterans that were available. I figured that if my team was not in contention that I could try to trade useful veterans to contending teams for picks even if they were middle and late rounders.

I started by ranking players by position taking into account their age, injury history, past performance and the trends they showed. I do not bother with the “expert” rankings because I think they are too worried about making a great statement. They focus on finding that one stud that comes out of no where so that they can look like great prognosticators.  Always look at their drafts and wished I could get in a money league with them so I could kick the snot out f them, which of course is the chance I was getting in this league.

Next I started looking at prospects with a little time in the majors checking out their minor league history and looking at how their numbers had progressed in the majors. Since these players had minimal experience I pulled up their game logs to look at the trends from a month to month basis to see who was learning and who was being schooled. Since I needed to re-build and do it quick I was not looking at pure minor leaguers. As much as everyone else gets caught up in those players I know that only about one a year comes up and does well consistently over their first couple years. Call-ups that would give me a good month or two before hitting the standard youthful ups and downs would not help me now.

Like my keeper list I do not remember all the details about the draft. I do remember the first few rounds and the key picks that made an impact so I will tell you all about those.

Round 1: I drafted Mark Buehrle because I need a starter I could count on and in a league the count quality starts a guy that gets 21+ every year is all good. All of my arms were either developing or injury prone and in a league this deep I was shocked he was not kept to begin with.

Round 2: I took Mark Reynolds. My team had little at the corners and he showed a great deal of potential during his half-year stint with the big club and had a minor league track record to back it up. He also had the inside track on the starting third base job.

Round 3: I took Kelly Johnson, another player in a similar position as Reynolds.

Round 5: I grabbed Troy Percival. He had the closer’s job locked up and if I had a shot at being competitive a couple closers would be necessary. If my team went South I thought he could have gotten something from a contending team in need.

Round 12 (or there abouts): I grabbed Jorge knowing he had shown some talent in the inept Tampa organization and the he had a starting job in Florida.

In the last several rounds I grabbed Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez and Josh Johnson.  Nolasco’s numbers in the minors showed he had talent, especially his strikeout rate and Volquez had always been a big prospect and both had starting jobs pretty much locked up so I took fliers on both. Josh Johnson had already shown flashes of brilliance, but he was coming off Tommy John surgery and would not see action until the second half. When you have nothing on your team I thought it was a good chance to take. I took C.J. Wilson in the middle rounds in hopes of finding a young closer that could turn into a keeper.

If I am not mistaken I drafted Deric Barton as well, but that went no where. Everyone else escapes my memory, so they must not have been very good picks, but in a draft this deep the pickings are slim.

I guess it would have been tactically better to sell out to rebuilding completely, but I just have a problem laying down and dying before the season even starts. Did my gamble pay off? What would you have done?
Posted on: February 3, 2010 12:03 am
Edited on: March 9, 2010 1:27 pm

Dynasty League: In The Begining...

I think I am going to try a little something different here and use my BLOG in a traditional way. Instead of just attempting to write well thought out discussion topics, as many of us do here, I will instead keep a journal of my thoughts and the moves I make in one of the keeper leagues I participate in. Why would someone want to read this other than to watch me tank? I only play in competitive leagues that are filled with guys that are fantasy junkies so my competition is good. In those leagues I have placed in half, won 25% of them and doubled my money over the last eight years. More interesting than my skill, or lack there of, is the fact that this league is made up of several professional fantasy sports writers and editors that work for three different organizations. Theoretically I am going up against the best of the best, so you should have a good chance of watching me flop or you might get some good advice from the expert killer. This will be my third year in this league and unfortunately for their professional reputations I believe I am in position to pound the snot out of them all this year and for years to come! So please read along and see if I can back up my big mouth. Along the way feel free to comment about the moves I make and share you opinion on my performance.

Let me start by giving you the details of the league. It is pretty challenging due to its size alone. There are 16 teams with 40-man roster and we keep 20 players a year. That is a total of 640 rostered players which is more than any fantasy baseball publication will rank or write about, so you have to do your own research and know the minors very well to be competitive. There is no minor league system, but due to the size of the league and the fifteen-man bench many top prospects are kept for years before they even sniff the majors. There are competitive teams that do not start a catcher or have a closer because there are just not enough decent ones to go around. This makes the possible strategies used in this league far more numerous and varied than in most other leagues.

The offensive side of our active roster consists of all the standard positions plus a second catcher, middle and corner infielder, and extra outfielder and a utility slot. As an extra wrinkle we use left, center and right field instead of three generic outfield positions. Our pitching slots consist of five starters, two generic pitchers and five relievers. With suck depth and having several percentage scores steaming in garbage players might get you an extra RBI or quality start, but will usually kill you in SLG% or ERA henceforth some owners have empty slots in their starting rosters.

As far as the particulars of my team I will start from the beginning. I took over this team one week before the draft in 2007. I had never played in a league like this before so I did not have a proven strategy to work with. I also had no idea what the other owners might do as far as selecting keepers or how the draft flowed. The team itself had finished 15th the prior year, and though I cannot remember all the details, I know I had maybe 15 decent keepers at best which kept my keeper strategy pretty limited. If player was reasonably talented and had a full time starting job he qualified. After that I kept any good young prospect players I thought I had, and although not all of my selections in this category panned out, I do remember that I did not give up anything that I regretted by the end of the season.

I can’t remember all of the keepers I selected that year, but if I can’t remember them then they probably ended up sucking anyway.

Victor Martinez: In a league this size a good catcher is worth keeping, especially a top notch one.
Derek Lee : Though he was struggling with injury then he was still worth keeping in such a deep league.
Jose Reyes : The one top tier player I had on my roster.
Andy LaRoche : A young prospect at the time that was going to get a crack at a starting gig.
Adam Dunn : At the time we counted batter strikeouts, so his value was not that great.
Carlos Quentin : He had been a dud top prospect, but he had a starting gig with his new team so I took a flier here.
B.J. Upton : He was one of the best youngsters at the time.
Hunter Pence : Huge young prospect at the time.
Jeremy Hermida : The Marlins used to think he was a top prospect, so I took a shot.
Jared Weaver : A big pitching prospect at the time.
Ben Sheets : One of the most dominating and oft-injured starts in the game.
Tom Gorzalanny : Don’t laugh, he showed promise in 2006.
Joe Blanton : He was young and had upside.
Chris Ray : He was going to be coming back from Tommy John, but since I had no closers I figured I would hold on to him and hope.

This is what I had to start with. Where would you rate this list in a league like this? I know I thought it was pretty bad.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or