Twitter has got fantasy questions, we've got answers. Hot starts, cold starts, bullpens in flux, trade scenarios, a top 10 that'll start 30,000 fights, and much more, all covered in this edition of the Roster Doctor.
Stick with Wade Davis and Jon Niese? Or ditch ’em for likes of Vance Worley, Ryan Vogelsong, Joe Blanton?
What the hell do I do with Jarrod Parker (10-team mixed league)?
The answer to these two questions is none of the above. In standard mixed leagues, there's no reason to stick with any these guys. Parker might've had a nice year in 2012, Vogelsong might've had a couple of good years, and Niese might've come into 2013 as a trendy sleeper. But these are all pitchers you should stream, and nothing more. Even in 14- or 16-team mixed leagues, I'd feel no obligation to own Parker, for instance. Sure he's been marginally better in his past three starts than he was at the beginning of the year. But even if Parker bounces back, you'd have a shot at comparable production by slotting the right Scott Feldman types into the right matchups on a weekly basis. It's more work to study schedules every weekend, scan the waiver wire, and find the perfect plug-and-plays. But fantasy baseball isn't an idle pursuit based almost entirely on luck the way, say, fantasy football is. You want to win your league? Gotta work for it.
Baseball is the most cinematic of our major sports but it rarely follows a script. With dozens of individual matchups, hundreds of pitches, and countless loogies, the national pastime lacks the simple, dependable narrative thrust of Montana-to-Rice or Paul-to-Griffin. Like a Bourne sequel, you sort of have to find the story in the editing room.
Because I am an American, one of my favorite scenes in cinema history occurs about a quarter of the way through Old School. At a fratty party at his friend’s house, newlywed Frank Ricard (Will Ferrell) is waylaid in the kitchen by some young scholars. After boring them to near tears with his disquisitions on the “pretty nice little Saturday” he and his wife have planned (“Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond. I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll have enough time”), his underage interlocutors exchange a look, then, quite rightly, offer Frank the receiving end of a beer bong. Frank demurs, but only momentarily. I think we all know what happens next.
This quick escalation from staid, conservative moderation to drunken debauchery should be familiar to any fan of the Philadelphia Phillies. Until five years ago, we were a downcast lot, conditioned to an unloved life of failure and mediocrity. The team was always rebuilding, but nothing was ever built. We were content to cheer for Rico Brogna and eat at the Olive Garden. Yet one improbable run to the playoffs and an even more improbable world championship later, we found ourselves fat, drunk, and happy. A coterie of homegrown, lovable stars had suddenly coalesced into exactly the sort of successful nucleus that seemed only to happen in other, less self-loathing cities. These were the good times, and the team — and its suddenly ascendent fan base — spent the ensuing seasons streaking through the National League. The line of free agents hoping to pledge membership snaked all the way to the Jersey Shore and, desperate to avoid a comedown, Ruben “The Godfather” Amaro Jr. started handing out nine-figure contracts like Jell-O shots. That’s the thing about success: it’s so good when it hits your lips!
We've officially entered the crazy times leading up to baseball's trade deadline. Luckily, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is on the case. He and Jonah Keri break down the big moves of the past 24 hours, including Cole Hamels's new mega-contract with the Phillies, Hanley Ramirez's trade to the Dodgers, and the Pirates(!) making a go-for-it move in landing Wandy Rodriguez. Also discussed: the Rangers-Angels arms race, the Yankees' injury woes, and the status of Zack Greinke, James Shields, Matt Garza, Chase Headley, and other fine, baseball-playing blokes.
Cole Hamels agreed to terms on a contract extension with the Phillies that will pay him $144 million over six years. Looks like the biggest move of the trade deadline [puts on sunglasses] … wasn't a trade at all.
The deal is the second-largest ever for a pitcher, topping Johan Santana's six-year, $137.5 million pact with the Mets and trailing only CC Sabathia's seven-year, $161 contract with the Yankees.
This is a market-value deal. Hamels will make the same annual salary as Phillies co-ace Cliff Lee, and he's three years younger than Lee was when he signed his deal. It's about $2.5 million more per year than the Giants gave Matt Cain in April, which makes sense, since Hamels was nearly four months closer to free agency than Cain was.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
Alex Rodriguez suffered a broken hand after being hit by Seattle's Felix Hernandez, and is expected to miss six to eight weeks. Hernandez pitched 7.1 solid innings, working out of several jams as the Mariners held on to beat the Yankees 4-2. After the game, Yankees GM Brian Cashman found Ichiro Suzuki in the locker room. "Hey, just for my peace of mind, you're not practicing some weird Japanese sorcery I don't know about, right?" Cashman asked. Ichiro stared at him thoughtfully for a moment, then said, "I'm not not practicing Japanese sorcery." Cashman sighed in relief. "Okay, great. Thanks. Whew."
Here are the most compelling matchups, stories, and personalities in Major League Baseball for the coming weekend.
10. Reality Cometh for One (BAL-CLE)
Now for this weekend’s metaphorical boxing match between two of the luckiest teams in baseball. In one corner, we have the Baltimore Orioles — 48-44, in a really good division, with a run differential of -55. In this corner, you've got the Cleveland Indians, standing 47-45 in a pretty good division, with a run differential of -36. Stick with me while I analyze these teams with some complex baseball terminology: They are total flukes. In games decided by two runs or less, the Orioles are 32-14 (first in baseball), and the Indians are 25-16 (good for fourth). But do they have great starting pitching? Nope. Do they have great bullpen pitching? Baltimore is pretty solid, but Cleveland is near the bottom. What about run-scoring from the seventh inning on? Again, average to below average for both. Average with RISP and two outs? Mediocre. All this means that both teams have been very, very lucky to stay above, and that both are due for bad times. If you get excited by regression, then you'll be riveted by this series, where cold, hard, statistical truth will dig its icy claws into temporary luck.
Jonah Keri talks to ESPN's Buster Olney about the ticking time bomb that is the MLB trade deadline. Could Cole Hamels stay a Phillie? Why aren't more teams interested in Zack Greinke? Where might Justin Upton land? What do the Tigers, Red Sox, and Dodgers have in common? And what do the many teams stuck in the vast middle do, with the siren song of a second wild card calling? Jonah then checks in with NFL.com's Dave Dameshek on his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, and the fantasy league to end all fantasy leagues.
1. Roy Halladay returned from a back strain last night to pitch five solid innings in a 3-2 Phillies win over the Dodgers. In only 80 pitches, he managed six strikeouts and seven swinging strikes. His fastball wasn't very lively (he threw the cutter and the two-seam a combined 52 times, producing zero whiffs and topping out below 92 mph), but since the injury wasn't to his arm, the velocity of the two-seam in particular should go up as he gains strength.
We're five weeks away from MLB's trade deadline. Close enough to start making fantasy roster decisions with that in mind, far enough that your competition might not pick up on what you're doing.
You don't want to overreact to scenarios that may or may not happen, of course. But getting full value now for players who might be affected by pending trades (or other factors) surely beats getting next to nothing for them a month from now.
With that in mind, here are some strategies to consider as we near the season's halfway point, and the players who could be affected.
I'm not one to complain about the hype machine; in fact, I think I like it. At least people are excited about something, right? But it's hard to keep an even perspective when you read stories with titles like "Bryce Harper Makes Fans Dream As Big As He Does." Thomas Boswell's story is excellent, to be fair, but the soaring rhetoric of the title is an indication of where we're headed — hell, where we've already gone — with this Harper Hype.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
The New Jersey Devils seized control of the Eastern Conference finals, using Ryan Carter's late goal and an empty-netter by Zach Parise to beat the Rangers 5-3 and take a 3-2 series edge. Before he skated off the ice, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist told the Devils that a ghost goalie was taking his place, and that anyone who scored on him would be killed in their sleep. As of press time, Parise was pacing through Jersey City in a bleary-eyed panic, blasting heavy metal on his earphones and slapping himself in the face every few seconds.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
In today's installment, I'll ask a question after each recap, and then answer it in scrambled anagram form. It's up to you to decode the (punny) answer. Throw your answers in the Facebook comments, and obviously don't look down there if you want to avoid spoilers.
Chris Paul scored eight of his 27 points in overtime, leading the Clippers to a 101-97 win over the Grizzlies and a 3-1 series lead. After the game, which libertarian presidential ticket did the Clippers star announce? Lone LA-Burp
Manu Ginobili came off the bench to score 17 points as San Antonio finished a four-game sweep of Utah with an 87-81 win. What did coach Gregg Popovich call Ginobili after the game? On Moms Pure Theft
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports over the weekend.
Sources report that the NFL Players Association had the tapes of Gregg Williams's violent bounty speech before they became public. Instead of outing him publicly for targeting players, though, the NFLPA used the audio to make two sick techno tracks: "Kill the Head and the Body Will Die," and "A Mind Troubled by Doubt." Both tracks are scheduled to be released by NFL Films in mid-August on the album Bounty Sheriff.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Miami Heat, led by 30 points and 8 boards from Chris Bosh, exploded in the second half to take down the San Antonio Spurs, 120-98. Tim Duncan attempted to gain an advantage in the paint by quoting tragic poetry, but Bosh was able to play through his constant tears and remain effective.