Tag Archive | "National League East"

I am now in second to last place.  Cue the choir of angels!

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I am now in second to last place. Cue the choir of angels!

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Trish Vignola

I am now in second to last place. Cue the choir of angels! “Beat with a Dan Uggla Stick” has a reason to play the fantasy music in their fantasy locker room a little bit louder this week.


Maybe I’m not the Houston Astros of the Fantasy Baseball world. I’m probably more of the New York Mets.

Pitching has been my weakness. Strasburg has lost the plate. Vogelsong has been a flop and did I mention that Fernando Rodney is in my bullpen? Nonetheless, Mike Minor has been one of my few saving graces.

Thank goodness for Free Agent pickups.

Today, Minor was no different as he got himself back into the win column. He allowed one run on four hits and three walks in seven innings this afternoon, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 7 to 2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The only run scored off the southpaw came in the third inning. It was a Zack Cozart‘s home run. Minor yet again helped to improv the Atlanta Braves’ record, currently the best in the National League East.

Minor is 4 and 2 as of today. He also tied a season-high strikeout count with seven. This was also his first win in three starts. It was the first time in four starts that Minor allowed less than three runs, as he lowered his ERA from 3.26 to 2.96.

I will take what I can get!

Even when Mike Minor needs to “right the ship”, he is still ten times better than anything I currently have.

He’s the Matt Harvey of “Beat with a Dan Uggla Stick”.

In his start on May 3rd, Minor surrendered two home runs in the first two innings. The second came with none out in the second inning, a rocky start for sure. Nevertheless, after the home run in the second inning, Minor retired the next 18 batters he faced.

Calling Roger Clemens!

Minor was ultimately saddled with a no-decision for this performance against the New York Mets. Still, Minor allowed just three hits. He walked none and struck out four against the Mets before being pulled after seven innings.

If Minor is available in your league, grab him at all costs. He’s got a Harvey vibe without the buzz. You can probably get him for nothing. If he can stay away from the long ball, you are going to be in great shape.

CBSSports.com rates him as the 42nd best pitcher in the league. That’s up from number 60 just last week!

According to the metrics of CBSSports.com, Mike Minor has only failed to come through once with less than 20 points once in the first five weeks of the season. Based on how this week has started, that pattern should continue. Minor is expected to make his next start Monday at Arizona. Minor won his only start against Arizona last season. He allowed one earned run in eight innings and struck out nine.

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Tis The Time For Bold Predictions Continued

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Tis The Time For Bold Predictions Continued

Posted on 30 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

How are those brackets holding up? Have they made it to the trash can yet? On the bright side, we are days away from Opening Day! Last week, the prediction jinx was placed on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to represent the American League in October’s Fall Classic. This week will be the National League 2013 preview.


There figures to be compelling season long races in both the National League East and West. The west features the defending World Series Champions, San Francisco Giants and also the new version of “Showtime”, the Los Angles Dodgers. While in the east, the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves both had very busy off seasons in the hopes of playing deep into October.

Starting out west, the rival Giants and Dodgers are expected to be in a season long two team race for the division championship. The Colorado Rockies are rebuilding and potentially experimenting with a new pitching model. Aside from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies will have struggles and finish fifth with the campaign. The San Diego Padres will always compete with a solid bullpen and pitcher friendly park. However, in the end, the offense is not quite there to compete. They will finish just behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-Backs, after making one of the impactful trades of the season will be a hard team to forecast. Ian Kennedy will have a nice season on the bump and Paul Goldschmidt is an emerging first baseman. Much like the Padres, they just do not have enough talent to compete.

The Giants and Dodgers have two very different philosophies. The Giants are a team first collective effort franchise. The sum of the parts is greater than one individual. Buster Posey is the offensive leader on the club and the pitching staff is one of the best in the league. On the other hand, the Dodgers brought in deep pockets to re-buy a new club. With one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball it will not quite be enough to overtake the champs in the divisional race. The Giants will be one, the Dodgers runners up.

For the first time in awhile, the Central Division has five teams competing. The division figures to be a one playoff team group with the Cincinnati Reds the favorites. The Reds have a balanced attack offensively and on the mound. How will Aroldis Chapman be utilized is the big question. The Pittsburgh Pirates have improved over the last two seasons. Led by MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates will continue to improve but fall short of the post season again.

With the remaining three teams in the Midwest, all will have very intriguing summers. The St. Louis Cardinals will compete. The offense under the arch has some pop. The club has two major downfalls however. The loss of Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse will have the starting rotation rely on young arms. Along with that, up the middle appears to be a weak spot and prevent a trip to the postseason. The Chicago Cubs have more questions then answers. The current outfield on the North side is not exactly Cooperstown bound but the Cubs however do have potential. They will be toward the bottom of the league in home runs, but quality of at bats will be a category they will be vastly improved in. The Milwaukee Brewers a week ago was a team that seemed to be viewed as an also ran. However, the surprise signing of Kyle Lohse makes the rotation much more improved. Can Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez carry the offense enough?

The National League East also figures to be a two team race as well between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves. The Miami Marlins cleaned house again and figure to have fifth place locked up. The New York Mets have young arms that could keep them relevant but sadly, David Wright will not quite have the same protection he did during the World Baseball Classic. A very under the radar team, The Philadelphia Phillies could wedge themselves into the division race, and also compete for a Wild Card spot as well. Health will be the key for the Phillies. Can Ryan Howard and Chase Utley play 140 plus games? Can Roy Hallady and Cliff Lee get back to CY Young numbers?

The popular pick in the National League is the Nationals. Loaded with talent, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez will lead the club all year. However, I expect even bigger things from the Braves. Chipper Jones is gone, but the law firm of Upton, Upton, and Heyward will be the “Big Three” in the ATL. The Braves lineup on paper is one of the best 1-7. The bullpen is top tier and the rotation will keep them in ball games. The Braves, not the Nationals win the East.

Once October hits the Wild Card match up will be east versus west as the Nationals will defeat the Dodgers and advance. Because of the weaker division, look for the Reds to be the team welcoming that wild card winner. However, the season will end there for the Reds as the Nationals will advance to the National League Championship. The other Divisional match up will pit the Braves versus the Giants. In an entertaining five games, the Braves will move on setting up an all east coast series.

With the two teams evenly matched in all categories, I am high on the Braves making a return trip to the Fall Classic to battle the Angels. An Angels versus Braves match up will be very entertaining to watch. The future of the game will be on display for both teams. In six games, I am giving the edge to the Angels to defeat the Braves in the World Series and make a short drive over to Disneyland to celebrate. Rally Monkeys welcomed.

When awards season hits, the East will be the landing spot for all of the major awards. Look for the Rookie of the Year to be in New York with pitcher Zack Wheeler. The CY Young winner will be in D.C. No it is not Stephen Strasburg, but Gio Gonzalez who has found a home in the National League and is the award winner. Both the Manager of the Year and MVP will be found on the same team. Once again, Atlanta could have a magical season after difficult ends to the previous two seasons. Manager Fredie Gonzalez and newcomer Justin Upton will bring home hardware. In a new uniform Justin Upton is the pick to click in the National League.

Soon it will be time to Play Ball and in October these will be lead pipe locks!

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Prediction: The Pirates will finish .500 or better in 2012

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Prediction: The Pirates will finish .500 or better in 2012

Posted on 11 April 2012 by Graham Womack

In this space last week, I wrote that I wasn’t buying the steadfast hype this offseason for the Washington Nationals. I wrote that in the densely-packed National League East, the Nationals would be hard-pressed to reign supreme over the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies. I wrote that if the Nationals played in the NL Central, like the Pittsburgh Pirates, I might project them to win 90 games. Accordingly, it’s time for another prediction.

It’s been 20 years since the Pirates last had a winning season. In the two decades since Francisco Cabrera dumped a bloop single in front of Barry Bonds that sent the Braves to the World Series, Pittsburgh fans have gotten to know a special kind of futility. They’ve had at least 90 losses ten times. Not once in 20 years have they scored 800 runs, though they’ve allowed that many eight times. And Pittsburgh has more or less served as an assembly line for sending talented young players to other teams.

Few teams in baseball history have stayed this bad for this long. The Boston Red Sox had a similar run after Babe Ruth left town. The Philadelphia Phillies had one winning season between 1918 and 1948. But eventually, those teams made it out of their ruts, and this year, I see the Pirates doing likewise. In 2012, I predict the Pirates will finish .500 or better.

It has to happen at some point, right? I see a few reasons why this could be the year. First, the Pirates have assembled a solid, young core. Their pitching staff, while nondescript, managed a 4.04 staff ERA last season and will have A.J. Burnett this year. On offense, Pittsburgh has Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Pedro Alvarez, and others. Alvarez is a power-hitting third baseman who struggled last year but is still young and comes highly touted. If Tabata can stay healthy, he looks like a potential .300 hitter. And Walker could be among the best second basemen in the National League if he builds on his 2.5 WAR, 12 home runs, and 83 RBI from 2011.

The Pirates also showed they may have learned from their past, giving a six-year, $51 million extension to budding superstar Andrew McCutchen who, after three seasons, looks a lot like a young Barry Bonds. As it was with Bonds, McCutchen’s an All Star outfielder with speed and power, and like Bonds, he posted a 123 OPS+ over his first three seasons. Unlike Bonds, McCutchen may not be going anywhere through his prime years. It’ll be interesting to see if the Pirates continue to build around him.

All of this is moot, though, save for the most important fact here: The Pirates play in the NL Central, baseball’s most dysfunctional division, the Sarajevo of the MLB. It certainly looks to have all the order this year of a post-Soviet kleptocracy. Consider: The Cardinals and Brewers have gone forward without  Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, respectively. The Reds have much of a team in tact that won 91 games in 2010, but never underestimate Dusty Baker’s potential to create chaos. And as for the Cubs and the Astros, they might not even have a winning season in Triple-A.

So mark my words, good things should be happening in Pittsburgh this year, and for what’s it worth, at least one positive already has occurred. The Pirates kicked their season off taking two of three at home against the Phillies.

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Baseball’s Inaugural Week is Underway

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Baseball’s Inaugural Week is Underway

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Trish Vignola

We’re midway through the inaugural week of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. Thanks to MLB Extra Innings and a well-timed stomach virus, I have watched more baseball than I actually care to admit to. Due to the ensuing lack of sleep scrambling my brain, the following are some musings on what I saw.

For example, my Fantasy Baseball team doesn’t suck…yet. As it stands right now, Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey are my number one and number two. It’s a nice thought, but I don’t see either of them going undefeated for too long.

Speaking of the New York Mets, I just watched Terry Collins’ postgame conference. The press asked him a bunch of obnoxious questions about the team being undefeated. I immediately responded. Come on! It’s the second game of the season. Stop acting like the Mets playing decent baseball is like finding a Chupacabra. In lieu of flipping the table in disgust, Terry Collins calmly reminded those in attendance that regardless of the good or the bad stretches the team might face, they were and always would play as the Major League Baseball players they are. Regardless of how they might be the punching bag of the National League East, the Mets are still Major Leaguers. They are far better than we would ever be. Man. I like this dude.

Did you catch Jordan Norberto pitching for the Oakland A’s last night? He blatantly didn’t hustle to get off the mound to get the out at first. What made it worse was that the announcers said nothing. Has our Moneyball need to not risk injury officially gotten in the way of proper baseball fundamentals?

Did Major League Baseball really have three season launches? I understood and applauded them for a having an International Home Opener and April 5th opened the rest of the season… but can some one explain to me the Miami/St. Louis game on April 4th? If the games in Japan were to bring attention to the International game and April 5th was to launch the game across the country, what was the purpose of the Miami game counting in the standings? When did ugly architecture merit its own moment on ESPN? Man. That stadium is ugly.

With these staggered multiple openers – does it seem like these teams have been playing their first opponents for three weeks?

Did you catch the St. Louis/Kansas City game last night? Until St. Louis blew it open, that game was great. Kansas City actually hung in there with an amazing team picked to march indiscriminately over the American League. For two brief moments, the Royals were a compelling team to watch.

Did Mariano Rivera actually blow a save? That happened right?

I’m watching the Boston Red Sox get smacked around by the Detroit Tigers. My mom wants to know, why does Joe Buck call every game like it’s his last? His very boring last.

On the same subject, why is Joe Buck alluding to Bobby Valentine’s job being in jeopardy already? It’s only game two of the season. Also, didn’t the Red Sox start last season horrifically only to pull it together? If Bobby Valentine’s job is legitimately in trouble, based on what I saw today, he should be so lucky.

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Ring my Bell – Why Heath Bell should be on your Fantasy Roster

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Ring my Bell – Why Heath Bell should be on your Fantasy Roster

Posted on 23 February 2012 by Trish Vignola

It is the middle of your draft. You have to fill the rest of your roster spots.  You’re 30 seconds away from making your choice. The clock ticks down.  You don’t have a closer and Mariano Rivera is long gone.  You see Heath Bell.  Should you draft him?  Didn’t he used to be New York Met?  Sure, but he learned to pitch the second they traded him back in 2006. The clock strikes zero. You’re up.  What do you do?

Since Heath Bell’s tenure with the Mets as well as the San Diego Padres, Major League Baseball has definitely sat up and taken notice of Bell’s prowess. According to ESPN.com, he agreed to a three-year deal worth $27 million with the newly minted Miami Marlins.  Back in the highly competitive National League East, this is Bell’s shot to show he’s ready for the big time.  Now, does he deserve a spot in your big time?

Heath Bell has racked up a career 134 saves, 494 strikeouts, a 3.06 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.   He might be 34 years old (i.e. slightly north his career’s midpoint), but he’s just getting better with age.  He has kept his ERA under 3.00 for the past three seasons.  In those same years, he has delivered at least 40 saves a season.   He converts over 83% of his save opportunities and only blew l5 saves last season. He also kept his WHIP very respectfully under 1.20.

So, what are Heath Bell’s potential capabilities now that he’s a Marlin?  Let’s face it. He has spent his career on some pretty miserable teams, and by miserable, I mean the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres.  The Miami Marlins are making some moves though.  Bell will be joining the team with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and new manager, Ozzie Guillen.  They are not as good as the Phillies, but they are going to put up a fight.  Heath Bell will have more support than he’ll know what to do with.

Juan Oviedo, the artist formally known as Leo Nunez, will welcome Heath Bell to the bullpen.  Oviedo would move from closer to set-up.  If Oviedo can get his identity straightened out with the Dominican authorizes and is cleared to play, Bell would be a part of a pretty lethal one-two combination at the end of the game.

Heath Bell is by no means Mariano Rivera, but the chance that you land Mo in the draft is slim to nil.  There’s only one of him and he’s going to go early.  Bell, a two-time Relief Award Winner and easily one of the top ten relievers in the league, is a pretty interesting alternative.  Even though his strikeout numbers have dipped, his other numbers have stayed consistently strong for three years.  He’s got a lot of baseball left in him, and with an upgrade in his team, he’s got all the tools to just get better.

Heath Bell isn’t going to go cheap on your draft day but you shouldn’t need to break the bank on him either.  Based on his new team, if he stays healthy, Bell is going to deliver for your Fantasy Baseball team.  I don’t know about you, but I’m going for him.  (Jeez! I hope I just didn’t give away my draft strategy.)

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