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Triple Play: Matt Harvey, Matt Adams, “42″

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Triple Play: Matt Harvey, Matt Adams, “42″

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

Welcome to this week’s Triple Play. This week, we will be discussing the Mets’ new ace, a young slugger called Big City, and “42.” With the season being a mere two weeks old, all the standard small-sample-size disclaimers apply. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

matt-harvey-mets

Who’s Hot: Matt Harvey, New York Mets

I mentioned Harvey in last week’s Triple Play. He’s only gotten better. Two weeks into the season, Harvey is thrilling fantasy owners with a 3-0 record, 0.81 ERA, 0.54 WHIP and 25 strikeouts (compared with just six walks in 22 innings). While he obviously won’t continue this pace, Harvey is showing enough dominance to help Mets fans forget R.A. Dickey. Harvey’s composure on the mound has to be exciting for Mets fans, especially when you realize that he just turned 24 in March. As an added bonus for fantasy owners, Harvey will not be pitching this week at Coors Field. That’s almost as good as another victory in itself.

Who’s Not: Aaron Hicks, Minnesota Twins

Hicks earned the starting CF job for the Twins with a sizzling spring, during which he hit .370 with 18 RBI and 18 runs scored. This led to hope that the 23-year-old would be an effective table-setter in front of Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham. The regular season has been a disaster for Hicks. Through his first 10 games, Hicks has whiffed 20 times and batted a ghastly .047. Worse, Hicks got himself in manager Ron Gardenhire’s doghouse due to a lack of hustle on a routine pop-up (that was dropped by Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain). It’s nothing new for a young player to start off cold, but a lack of hustle is the surest way for Hicks to find himself back in the minors. He is fortunate that the Twins lack decent alternatives. As a fantasy owner, though, you should not hesitate to drop him if there are better options sitting on your waiver wire.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .233/.277/.372, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 4 runs, 0 SB, 43 AB
Player B: .643/.667/1.214, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 runs, 0 SB, 17 AB

Player A is the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. Player B is St. Louis’ Matt “Big City” Adams. In addition to having a great nickname, Adams is having a great impact on the Cardinals. In just 14 at-bats (entering Sunday), Adams has punished opposing pitchers, while Howard continues to struggle at the plate. He was one of the players on my “do not touch with a 10-foot-pole” list when my auctions before the season. Adams, meanwhile, is adjusting to major-league pitching just fine, thank you. Actually, Adams’ situation right now reminds me of Howard’s situation with the Phillies in the mid-2000s. Each player had bashed his way through the minors and had an established first baseman blocking his path. In Philadelphia, it was Jim Thome. In St. Louis, Allen Craig is entrenched at first. Fortunately, the Cards have the luxury of using Craig to spell Carlos Beltran in right field, thus allowing Adams to start two or three times a week. If he keeps hitting this way, though, Adams is going to force his way into the lineup more regularly. What a wonderful “problem” for the Cardinals (and fantasy owners) to have.

Player A: 0-1, 7 K, 11.04 ERA, 2.73 WHIP
Player B: 3-0, 20 K, 0.40 ERA, 0.81 WHIP

Player A is the Blue Jays’ Josh Johnson. Player B is Justin Masterson of the Indians. Johnson is off to such a horrendous start that he could have been this week’s choice for Who’s Not. Several respectable baseball analysts have noted a decline in Johnson’s velocity compared to last season. Obviously, it’s early, but this is definitely not how most Blue Jays’ fans and fantasy owners envisioned the season starting in Toronto. On the other hand, Masterson is blossoming into a top-of-the-rotation starter in his age-28 season. In my AL-only auction league, Masterson went for the bargain price of $5, while Johnson fetched $24 from an optimistic owner. Right now, that is looking like money down the drain.

Random Thoughts on “42”

I tried to avoid reading reviews before seeing it on opening night because I didn’t want someone else’s complaints about the film in my head as I watched it. Didn’t want baseball historians nitpicking things, didn’t want film critics bashing the acting performances, cinematography, musical score or who knows what else. So, with that in mind, here are five things I took away from “42”:

1)     The acting was good. Not great, but good enough.

a. I had been apprehensive about Harrison Ford taking on the role of Branch Rickey. Would I be thinking to myself “Look, that’s Harrison Ford!” or would he immerse himself sufficiently enough that I could forget it was Ford beneath all that makeup?  I think he succeeded. He dominated his scenes without hamming it up or turning Rickey into a caricature. Bravo to Mr. Ford.

b. Chadwick Boseman’s role was difficult. The movie did not really allow for many nuances in Jackie Robinson’s character, since the film focused on a three-year span in Robinson’s life. During those three years, Robinson had to turn the other cheek; in other parts of his life, he was much more combative. Boseman wasn’t always 100% believable to me off the field, but on the field, he did well.

2)     The little things were brilliantly done. The CGI images of the stadiums in the film (particularly Ebbets Field) were gorgeous. The uniforms were as well. I’m not an historian, but if those things had not been done right, they would have bothered me. I also enjoyed the Red Barber-isms in the latter half of the film (Incidentally, Barber discovered Vin Scully. More on him below).

3)     The action on the field was pretty good. The sliding, the fielding, the baserunning all looked believable to me. And using an actual pitcher like CJ Nitkowski was a very savvy decision. As we all learned watching Bull Durham, it’s darn near impossible to teach an actor how to pitch without looking like a buffoon. Much better to leave something like that to a professional.

4)     The movie to which I compare “42” the most is “Miracle,” the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Why? Because I already knew the story going in. The hockey team, made of up of college kids, stunned the world by beating the mighty Soviets, who routinely humiliated the NHL’s best. “Miracle” did justice to the story and then some. Would “42” do the same?

5)     In my mind, the answer is a resounding yes. Many baseball analysts have complained that the movie did not cover enough of Robinson’s life. That’s an apples-and-oranges argument to me. The movie sought to tell the story Robinson breaking the unwritten color barrier in major league baseball. It does that in grand fashion. It was not an attempt to chronic Robinson’s entire life, or even his entire career. Most importantly, writer-director Brian Helgeland did not take liberties with the action on the field just to enhance the story. The uncomfortable scenes with the Phillies manager Ben Chapman happened. Racist Dodger teammates really did circulate a petition against Robinson. Robinson really did hit a late-season, game-winning home run off the Pirates pitcher who drilled him early in the season. The movie is a terrific 30,000-foot view of Robinson’s 1947 season that will thrill viewers who don’t know Robinson’s story and should not disappoint those who do. That’s enough for me.

Bonus random thought

Vin Scully is a national treasure, reason #99,999: Listening to his description of the Dodgers-Padres brawl last Thursday was just priceless. No hysterical yelling, no denouncing of the Padres or ridiculous defense of Dodger players, none of it. Just cogent observation of the action on the field. As Matt Kemp spewed one particular profanity repeatedly at the Padres, Scully said this: “That’s fertilizer, Matt Kemp says. That’s fertilizer.” I found myself smiling at how Scully turned an R-rated moment into one appropriate for all audiences, while still conveying all relevant information to his viewers or listeners. If this is his last season broadcasting, then I’m going to savor it for all it’s worth.

Follow me on Twitter @ccaylor10

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Triple Threads

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Triple Threads

Posted on 24 November 2012 by Tim Danielson

Per box items:

2 mini boxes per master box
7 cards per mini box
1 autographed card per mini box
1 triple relic card per mini box

Topps sell sheet

The standard sized base set cards are thicker than normal and depict a color action shot of the player super-imposed onto a grey and white background. The border-less cards have gray and white graphics on the card bottom that list the player name and team. The set name is in silver foil. The card backs are photo-less and are horizontal in design. The black, grey and white backs detail moderate biographical information, last year and career statistics and moderate career highlights.

What I pulled:
14 unique cards, no duplicates
6 base set cards, 6/100, 6% of the base set
4 serial numbered parallel cards
2 relic cards
2 autograph relic cards

Base card front and back:

The parallels:
Bronze #/625 Jones and Rivera
Green #/250 Howard
Blue #/50 Holliday

The Hits:
Ryan Howard unity relic #36/36
David Freese triple relic #27/36
Kirk Nieuwenhuis auto triple relic #5/50
David Justice auto relic #19/25

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************

2012 Topps Triple Threads is an always popular release with all types of collectors. Whether you are a player collector, set collector or a prospector you will find something you like in TTT. This year’s version feels like a ‘jack of jack of all trades.’ It is a little good at everything, but not really good at anything. The base cards and serial numbered parallels look great, but completing the set will get expensive even if you trade a lot. There is a good mix of veteran players and retired stars, but this feels a little watered down with high serial numbering of low level rookies and low serial numbering of semi-stars. The hits do look very good though. I also enjoy the creative ‘windows’ that are cut out to spell things with the relics. Obviously, every box will not produce a 1 of 1 white whale card, but for the price point, I would offer the product name. 2012 Topps Tempting (lottery) Ticket.

The Bottom Line:
Even with the cool looking hits, I give 2012 TTT a shop around rating. Not a product for set collectors as you will have an expensive time completing the base set. Buy the singles you want. If you do buy a box, trade your Rickey Henderson cards to me!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 1/10
Big-hit Hunter: 7/10
Prospector Hunter: 7/10
Value: 7/10
Overall Quality: 9/10

Overall: 31/50 (62% = D)
The biggest drawback being that set collectors will need lots of help or money to complete a base set.

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

The Official card collecting site of Full Spectrum Baseball

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Buy and Sell Calls for Cellar Dwellers

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Buy and Sell Calls for Cellar Dwellers

Posted on 15 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

You can't stop A Miles

While the MLB non-waiver trade deadline seems like a tiny dot in the distant future, it might be too early for some teams to pull the trigger on a big move to try and improve.  For others, it might already be too late.  Keeping in mind that not all deals come with the stipulation that the team must improve immediately, a GM in search of help would do well to consider just about anything and everything at this juncture.  As a “buyer” teams will not necessarily be subjected to inflation that often accompanies the deadline.  As a “seller”, teams may be presented with an opportunity to accomplish something that becomes more difficult after the All-Star break.

Consider the potential buyers in this market:

  • Philadelphia Phillies – Being 6.0 games behind the division leader does not point to the end of all things.  Being stuck behind 4 teams in their division with winning records does add a certain element of difficulty, though.  The return of Cliff Lee should help quite a bit, especially with that pesky -9 run differential.  Even so, this team struggles to score runs and has not adequately replaced the production lost due to Ryan Howard‘s absence.  Given the lack of production from Freddy Galvis, Jimmy Rollins, John Mayberry, and Jim Thome, it appears that the Phillies are quickly nearing a point of no return for 2012.  If they need another bat, can they put together a package around Joe Blanton that will fetch what they need?  If not, do they risk floating Cole Hamels on the market to a team in hopes of obtaining big returns?  While it might be difficult to find a suitable trading partner, the Rangers would be an interesting fit.  Maybe something involving Michael Young or Mitch Moreland and Matt Harrison could happen.
  • Milwaukee Brewers – With Rickie Weeks struggling and Alex Gonzalez out for the season, the Brewers could use someone who can play SS and spell Weeks a bit at 2B.  Aaron Miles, anyone?  The switch-hitter represents a potentially inexpensive option who can play several positions and has some mileage left on him.  A team that stands 5 games out at 15-19 could do worse.  Too bad word has it that Miles has struck a deal with the Dodgers.
  • Boston Red Sox – Jon Lester‘s ERA sits at 4.29, and he has the LOWEST ERA among the starting pitchers.  Considering the 6.5 game deficit, the Sox could be buyers, but I doubt that they can buy enough pitching to do it.
  • Los Angeles Angels – This team trails Oakland by 3.0 games for 2nd in the division.  The Angels have 5 players with 100+ at-bats this season, and 3 are hitting below .240.  The combination of big contracts and older players may limit their options greatly, but there certainly must be teams out there that covet Peter Bourjos and……..well, Peter Bourjos.

Potential sellers:

  • Minnesota Twins – When 1/3 of your hitters are below the Mendoza line, you might want to consider throwing in the towel.  If Morneau can raise his numbers just slightly, he might be attractive to a team that needs offense and can handle a good portion of his $14M for 2013 and the balance of his $14M for this season.  Moving Morneau would clear the way for Mauer to get more at-bats at DH, but it might cost the Twins some cash in the deal.  Still, this is not a team headed for the playoffs anytime soon in its current form, so it might be a good idea to implement that 3 year plan now.
  • San Diego Padres – Maybe now is the time for the Padres to also look at their 3 year plan.  If they can work on getting Andrew Cashner-type players in return, I don’t think fans would be too upset about a salary dump that would return talent to prepare the Friars for the 2014 playoff run they seem destined to make.  Since it seems unlikely that too many general managers are going to hand over guys like Cashner, they may simply want to divest themselves of some salary and bring along some minor league guys while wheelin’ and dealin’ anybody who projects to be irrelevant to their plans a few years from now.

Maybe it does seem a bit early for this, but consider the potential impact to the standing (and more importantly fantasy baseball), if 1 or more of these teams takes action.

 

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AL Pitching Planner: May 14 – May 20

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AL Pitching Planner: May 14 – May 20

Posted on 13 May 2012 by Mark Sherrard

Like their NL counterparts, the AL also has a full slate of games for all its teams, giving you numerous two-start choices for the week.

Here are the Week 7 two-start pitchers and favorable matchups:

Two-Start Pitchers

No-Brainers

C.C. Sabathia: 5/15 @ BAL; 5/20 vs CIN – he’s 16-2 with a 2.86 ERA against the Orioles and 4-1 and 2.33 against the Reds.  Oh, and he’s an ace.

David Price: 5/15 @ TOR; 5/20 vs ATL – Tampa ace is pitching well, despite hiccup against the Yankees

Jake Peavy: 5/15 vs DET; 5/20 @ CHC – starting to remind many of the Peavy of old

No-brainers results

Week 5 – 6 GS, 6 QS, 4 W, 44.1 IP, 43 H+BB, 51 K’s, 10 ER, 2.03 ERA, 0.97 whip

YTD – 29 GS, 22 QS, 18 W, 204.1 IP, 227 H+BB, 173 K’s, 58 ER, 2.56 ERA, 1.11 whip

Not Too Shabby

Jon Lester: 5/14 vs SEA; 5/19 @ PHI – Phillies are struggling without Chase Utley & Ryan Howard, Mariners still can’t hit

Dan Haren: 5/14 vs OAK; 5/19 @ SD – back troubles may push back his 5/14 start, but has two good matchups if he goes

Brandon Morrow: 5/14 vs TB; 5/19 vs NYM – has won 4 straight

Ervin Santana: 5/15 vs OAK; 5/20 @ SD – two weak teams against a good starter

Josh Beckett: 5/15 vs SEA; 5/20 @ PHI – only two good matchups keep him from being dropped a level

Max Scherzer: 5/15 @ CHW; 5/20 vs PIT – two straight quality starts and two favorable matchups

Colby Lewis: 5/15 vs KC; 5/20 @ HOU – amazing 43/6 K/BB ratio

John Danks: 5/14 vs DET; 5/19 @ CHC – pitched well last time out and has a favorable matchup against the Cubs

Ivan Nova: 5/14 @ BAL; 5/19 vs CIN – has been inconsistent so far this year, but has strong offense behind him

Henderson Alvarez:  5/15 vs TB; 5/20 vs NYM – 2.61 ERA despite just 14 K’s in 48.1 IP

Jason Vargas: 5/15 @ BOS; 5/20 @ COL – tough matchups including a trip to Coors, but only 2 ER in last two starts

Jeff Niemann: 5/14 @ TOR; 5/19 vs ATL – pitching well, just needs some more run support

Wei-Yin Chen: 5/15 vs NYY; 5/20 @ WAS – 3-0 with a 2.68 ERA so far this year

Derek Lowe: 5/15 @ MIN; 5/20 vs MIA – 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA despite an unsightly 1.51 whip–sinker must be working

Bartolo Colon: 5/15 @ LAA; 5/20 @ SF – old man river just keeps on rolling

Jeanmar Gomez: 5/14 @ MIN; 5/19 vs MIA – only one bad start this year, unfortunately it was his last one

Jason Hammel:  5/14 vs NYY; 5/19 @ WAS – is this the year he finally puts it all together?

Drew Smyly: 5/14 @ CHW; 5/19 vs PIT – only 1 win despite a 1.59 ERA

Not too shabby results:

Week 5 – 15 GS, 6 QS, 7 W, 82.0 IP, 124 H+BB; 63 K’s, 47 ER, 5.16 ERA, 1.51 whip

YTD – 63 GS, 38 QS, 28 W, 391.0 IP, 497 H+BB, 282 K’s, 161 ER, 3.71 ERA, 1.27 whip

Risky at Best

Carl Pavano: 5/14 vs CLE; 5/19 @ MIL – they don’t call them the decline years for nothing

Bruce Chen: 5/15 @ TEX; 5/20 vs ARI – how many times are you allowed to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton?

Kevin Millwood: 5/14 @ BOS; 5/19 @ COL – 37 year pitcher in decline with two bad matchups, stay away

Jason Marquis: 5/15 vs CLE; 5/20 @ MIL – unless you want to obliterate your ERA and whip, stay away

Risky at best results

Week 5 – 14 GS, 5 QS, 4 W, 76.1 IP, 115 H+BB, 56 K’s, 53 ER, 6.25 ERA, 1.51 whip

YTD – 49 GS, 19 QS, 12 W, 266.1 IP, 403 H+BB, 184 K’s, 159 ER, 5.37 ERA, 1.51 whip

Other Favorable Matchups

Rick Porcello: 5/16 vs MIN

6-4 with a 2.86 ERA in his career against the Twins

Derek Holland: 5/16 vs OAK

3-1 with a 1.91 ERA against the A’s and they are even worse this year

C.J. Wilson: 5/17 vs CHW

3-0 with a 2.92 ERA against the White Sox

Joe Saunders: 5/18 @ KC

4-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Royals

Cole Hamels: 5/18 vs BOS

3-0 with a 1.44 ERA against the Red Sox

Other favorable matchups results

Week 5 – 4 GS, 2 QS, 2 W, 27.2 IP, 33 H+BB, 20 K’s, 13 ER, 4.23 ERA, 1.19 whip

YTD – 13 GS, 8 QS, 5 W, 90.1 IP, 106 H+BB, 79 K’s, 33 ER, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 whip

That’s all for this week.  Until next week, let the pitching Gods be with you.

 

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NL Pitching Planner: May 7 – 13

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NL Pitching Planner: May 7 – 13

Posted on 06 May 2012 by Mark Sherrard

We are now one month into the fantasy baseball season.  Those of you languishing in the middle of the pack, don’t fret, its still early.  Keep diligently setting your lineups each week and hope that the other owners are getting lackadaisical.

To help you along, here are the two start pitchers and favorable matchups for week 6, as well as the results from week 4 and YTD:

Two-Start Pitchers

No-Brainers

Roy Halladay: 5/7 vs NYM; 5/13 vs SD – Phillies ace gets to face to weak teams

Wandy Rodriguez: 5/7 vs MIA; 5/13 @ PIT – has pitched well, just don’t expect any wins

Lance Lynn: 5/7 @ ARI; 5/13 vs ATL – ride him while he’s hot

No Brainers results

Week 4 – 1 GS, 1 QS, 0 W, 6.1 IP, 7 H+BB, 7 K’s, 3 ER, 4.26 ERA, 1.11 whip (rough week for the no-brainers)

YTD – 17 GS, 14 QS, 6 W, 106.2 IP, 118 H+BB, 108 K’s, 31 ER, 2.62 ERA, 1.11 whip

Not Too Shabby

Tommy Hanson: 5/7 @ CHC; 5/13 @ STL – Cardinals lead the NL in runs scored, Cubs are 12th

Jonathon Niese: 5/7 @ PHI; 5/13 @ MIA – Phillies miss Chase Utley & Ryan Howard, Marlins are 14th in runs

Edwin Jackson: 5/8 @ PIT; 5/13 @ CIN – Pirates are last in runs scored, Reds are 11th

Joe Saunders: 5/7 vs STL; 5/13 vs SF – Giants offense takes a hit with Sandoval injury, Cardinals are a concern though

Jeff Samardzija: 5/7 vs ATL; 5/13 @ MIL – has been a pleasant surprise so far

Ted Lilly: 5/7 vs SF; 5/13 vs COL – Rockies are last in runs scored on the road

Edinson Volquez: 5/7 vs COL; 5/13 @ PHI – Phillies are 14th in runs scored at home

Carlos Zambrano: 5/7 @ HOU; 5/13 vs NYM – I don’t entirely trust him, but he has favorable matchups

Bronson Arroyo: 5/7 @ MIL; 5/13 vs WAS – 18/3 K/BB ratio is impressive.  Can he keep it up?

Marco Estrada: 5/7 vs CIN; 5/13 vs CHC – borderline risky, but matchups are nice

Not too shabby results

Week 4 – 21 GS, 16 QS, 9 W, 133.0 IP, 160 H+BB, 105 K’s, 41 ER, 2.77 ERA, 1.20 whip

YTD – 61 GS, 43 QS, 24 W, 382.2 IP, 443 H+BB, 293 K’s, 117 ER, 2.75 ERA, 1.16 whip

Risky at best

A.J. Burnett: 5/8 vs WAS; 5/13 vs HOU – you don’t need K’s THIS bad

Alex White: 5/7 @ SD; 5/13 @ LAD – replaces Jhoulys Chacin in rotation, but not trustworthy yet.

Barry Zito: 5/7 @ LAD; 5/13 @ ARI – I just don’t trust him

Risky at best results

Week 4 – 3 GS, 2 QS, 1 W, 20.3 IP, 23 H+BB, 15 K’s, 7 ER, 3.10 ERA, 1.13 whip

YTD – 25 GS, 13 QS, 8 W, 151.3 IP, 193 H+BB, 102 K’s, 74 ER, 4.40 ERA, 1.28 whip

Other Favorable Matchups

Anibal Sanchez: 5/8 @ HOU

On a roll and facing an Astros team he owns to the tune of 3-1, 2.48 for his career.

Zack Greinke: 5/9 vs CIN

3-0 with 2.57 ERA and 38 K’s in 28 career IP against the Reds

Stephen Strasburg: 5/10 @ PIT

Strasburg against the worst hitting team in the NL.  Umm…yeah.

Johan Santana:  5/11 @ MIA

Santana is an incredible 6-1 with a 1.46 ERA in his career against the Marlins.

Cole Hamels: 5/12 vs SD

7-2 with a career 2.22 ERA against the Padres, who are only scoring a little over 3 runs a game this year

Other favorable matchups results

Week 4 – 2 GS, 1 QS, 1 W, 13.1 IP, 19 H+BB, 13 K’s, 5 ER, 3.38 ERA, 1.43 whip

YTD – 11 GS, 6 QS, 7 W, 66.0 IP, 82 H+BB, 60 K’s, 19 ER, 2.59 ERA, 1.24 whip

Next up is the AL matchups.

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