Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dr. X checks out the Second Basemen choices...



Arguably the thinnest position in fantasy baseball besides catcher, the choices here are pretty limited to guys who have zippy power (other than 3 or 4 of them) and are usually counted on for help in the runs scored and stolen bases category rather than HRs and RBIs. If you plan on getting one of the power hitting 2nd basemen, be prepared to use an early pick in your draft because of the position scarcity which drives their value above some of the better hitting outfielders and 3rd basemen. If you are not in a position to land one of the elite, it may be best to sit tight and look for someone in the middle of the pack to fall to you in rounds 7-10 or to draft a couple of guys with a lot of upside in the later rounds and hope one of them becomes reliable enough to start for your squad. Enough of the chit chat, let's get to the rankings:

The Elite

1. Alfonso Soriano - A move to Washington most likely means his 35+ HR potential is gone, however he should still come through with somewhere in the range of 25-27, while stealing about 25-30 bags....not too shabby from this position. He should also drive in 90 or so and keep his average and runs scored respectable as well. Just don't bid too high thinking he is still playing in Texas.

2. Chase Utley - An absolute steal in most leagues last season, Utley will cost you a lot more in 2006 if you want him on your fantasy team. 28 HRs, 105 RBIs, 16 SBs, a .291 Avg and 93 runs scored in 2005 (his first full year in the majors)....expect his numbers to be similar in 2006 in the powerful Phillie lineup.

3. Jeff Kent - While on the old side, you just can't argue with his average stats over the past 3 years: .292 Avg, 26 HRs, 102 RBIs and 91 runs scored. His numbers could slide a bit as he keeps getting older but I'd feel a lot safer plugging someone with his long term consistency in my lineup over some of the younger guys with only one or two good years under their belts.

4. Jorge Cantu - The 2005 RBI leader for 2nd basemen with 117, Jorge says he can do it again. I'm a believer, even if the Devil Rays do suck a fat one. He is also eligible at 3rd in most leagues which helps his value and should be good for at least 25 ding dongs in 2006.

Just a Notch Below

5. Marcus Giles - We've been hearing that the younger brother of Brian is a 20/20 guy with 30/30 potential for the past 3 years. Is this the year he pulls it off? With Furcal gone, he could be counted on to run more, but I think 20/20 is his ceiling with 16/18 most likely. Either way, he will hit for a good average and provide good all around stats.

6. Chone Figgins - A real surprise with 62 steals in 2005, Figgins is a 3 category stud and is eligible at multiple positions. If the others ahead of him get away from you, try for Chone but don't overspend because 60+ steals won't likely happen again. Be happy if he gets 40-45.

7. Tadahito Iguchi - A 15/15 second baseman in 2005 with average stats in runs, RBIs and batting average. Runs may improve in 2006 if Thome plays up to his potential but it's doubtful that other stats will get much better. 20 HRs isn't out of the question for Iguchi either but don't select him expecting that.

Almost There

8. Rickie Weeks - Marcus Giles lite without the batting average. Weeks flashed his potential in '05 as a rookie, with 13 HRs and 15 SBs in only 360 at bats.....I'm expecting more in '06 but not going to overpay for a possible sophomore slump. If you can get him after you solidify your lineup with proven studs, he's worth the gamble.

9. Brian Roberts - B-Rob caught fire during the first couple months of the 2005 season, but was quickly extinguished in the second half. With a .345 BA, 15 HRs and 18 SBs before the all-star break, he was clearly one of the biggest surprises in all of fantasy, but his .274-3-9 line after the break hurt his owners big time if they were counting on him heavily in their playoff run. Expect totals more in line with his career averages (.289-9-26) in 2006, which is still pretty solid......just watch his elbow in the spring because he may begin the year on the DL until he is ready to play.

A Bit Above Average

10. Placido Polanco - Solid all around but not great in any one category other than maybe BA.

11. Mark Loretta - Will move out of Petco and into the studly BoSox lineup help him regain some pop in his bat? If it doesn't, his value drops a bit.

12. Mark Ellis - .344 BA and 12 taters after the break in 2005 is great but I'd like a bigger sample size than 250 ABs before I invest too much in him. I'd be happy with a .290 average and 15 total HRs out of him and that's about it.

13. Craig Biggio - Father time has been kind to Biggs, and I don't see why he can't hit another 20 ding dongs and score 90 runs playing in Houston.

14. Bill Hall - Another guy who is eligible at multiple positions and has 15/15 capabilities. Has potential to get a little better at age 26 as well.

Limited

15. Robinson Cano - Don't put too much stock in Smokey Robinson because he ain't all that.

16. Ryan Freel - If you feel the need for speed, Freel can help, otherwise he's a stiff.

17. Ron Belliard - .280 average and 12 HRs likely totals in 2006.....don't start him if you don't have to.

Desperation

18. Ray Durham - Older version of Durham is not very good, but return of Bonds could help his numbers a bit.

19. Luis A. Gonzalez - Has decent power to compliment his .290+ average and he plays in Coors - worthy of a MI slot.

20. Luis Castillo - Pretty much a waste of roster space in fantasy....doesn't steal enough bases any more to help.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dr. X takes a look at First Basemen...



First base is a deep position in fantasy baseball and is probably where most of your big power hitters set up shop on the diamond, so you want to make sure you fill this roster spot with a guy whose primary job as a hitter is to hit ding dongs and drive in runs. If you fail to do so, make sure you are getting enough power from your middle infielders and outfield or you're going to be SOL in HRs and RBIs. Many of the big guys here will go in the first 2 or 3 rounds since they are the ones most capable of belting 40+ dingers, so pay attention as I rank the top 25 for your benefit. Note: I did not include players such as Chase Utley and Jeff Kent in these 1B rankings(who may be eligible at first in some leagues) because I figured that they will most likely be drafted as second baseman.

The Very Best

1. Albert Pujols - Phat Albert is a stud to say the least. His 3 year averages of .340 BA-43 HRs-121 RBIs-133 Runs-9 SBs are ridiculous and he has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. At age 26, he could get even better....maybe 50 HRs and 15 steals......

2. David Ortiz - The Gap-Toothed Beast has a 3 year average not too different from that of Phat Albert's in terms of power, but he won't be stealing any bases and his average will not climb much higher than .300. Big Poppi will give you 40+ ding dongs and 130+ RBIs batting behind Manny, so be sure to think of Ortiz in the first round.

3. Mark Teixeira - With 2005 stats almost identical to Big Poppi's, Tex will be smacking 40+ HRs for years to come. He and Ortiz are basically the same player but Ortiz got the nod since he has been doing it longer and is still part of a potent lineup.

4. Derrek Lee - This guy absolutely blew up in 2005 with 46 HRs and a .335 average. He flirted with the triple crown for 3/4 of the year but ultimately fell short because the Cubs simply could not put ducks on the pond for him. Expect that to change in 2006, as the Cubbies went and got Juan Pierre to lead things off which should mean a lot more RBI opps for Lee. Taking this into consideration with his ability to swipe 15 bags and hit around .300 and you have yourself a pretty dangerous player at 1B, even if he doesn't come close to his 2005 HR numbers.

A Step Behind

5. Todd Helton - Big Head Todd did not have a monster year in 2005 and he was an absolute bust in terms of where he was drafted, however he is a career .337 hitter who did not have much of a supporting cast helping him. Expect a rebound in 2006, but don't bank on numbers reminiscent of his 2003 campaign (.358 avg., 33 HRs, 135 runs and 117 RBIs). Be happy with .325-28-110-110.

6. Travis Hafner - Not sure he is eligible as a 1B in all leagues, but ranking him here because I'm not looking at DHs by themselves. If he is not eligible at 1B, you may want to drop him a bit in your overall rankings due to the flexibility limitations on your rosters. Regardless of position, Hafner is a player on the rise and has already proven to be a solid power hitter in relatively limited action. In 2005, he hit 33 HRs and drove in 108 while batting .305....these could jump to 40 and 125 in 2006.....don't sleep.

7. Richie Sexson - Big Sexy is always a crowd favorite and has proven he can hit 40+ dingers while driving in 120 when healthy. His downside is his hurting .270 career average and he definitely won't balance that out with any steals, so just don't count on him winning you the batting average title and you'll be fine.

8. Carlos Delgado - While it's highly unlikely that Carlos will ever be the guy who hit 42 HRs and drove in 145 again, he is still good for 30-35 HRs and 110+RBIs while hovering around .300, so it could be worse. I wouldn't expect much of a change in numbers in his move to Shea from Florida, as he will be surrounded by the likes of Wright, Beltran and Reyes. Let's just hope that he doesn't pull a Beltran in NY and that Beltran rebounds at least a little bit.

9. Paul Konerko - Coming off back to back 40 HR seasons, Konerko is an awesome grab if you miss out on those above, but his other numbers are nothing special to say the least. His career average is .279, has never scored more than 98 runs in a season and has only cracked 100 RBIs 3 times in 7 seasons. Given all that, he still can hit 40 HRs, which is a huge plus in fantasy, and he plays for the world champions so these other numbers may improve a bit.

Good with Issues

10. Ryan Howard - The 2005 NL ROY hit 22 HRs, hit .288 and knocked in 63 in only 312 plate appearances. Pretty impressive numbers for a guy in his first full time gig in the bigs and trying to fill the shoes of Jim Thome. I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up with 35 HRs, 120 RBIs and a .280 average in 2006, so jump aboard the wagon before it gets too full, but also be prepared for a few bumps in the road due to his inexperience.

11. Adam Dunn - If this guy could only get his average up to the .270-.280 range and use more of his base running skills, he would jump up about 5 more spots on this list. A .248 career average and SB numbers that have declined each of the past 3 years (after getting 19 back in 2002) are what are holding him back from the upper echelon. He will be good for 40 HRs and 100 RBIs and Runs in 2006 which are very good numbers at 1B, but his sub .250 average simply kills you so draft accordingly.

12. Lance Berkman - While he is probably better off as a #2 OF on your fantasy squad, he is eligible at 1B and his 4 category numbers are what put him here. A .302 career average and the ability to hit 35 HRs and drive in 100+ runs will make any fantasy GM happy. Just watch the knee during the spring to make sure it isn't acting up on him again.

13. Aubrey Huff - Huffy had a tough year in 2005, especially since most fantasy phanatics expected a lot more out of him heading into the season. I think it was just a down year for him and that he will bounce back to the 30-100-.300 range in '06. Similar to Berkman's numbers but his upside seems a bit lower.

14. Jim Thome - Speaking of upside, this old slugger has a ton even at 35 years old since he is only a year removed from hitting 42 dongers and knocking in 105. The issue here is his injuries which seem to be getting worse than better and we know he's not getting any younger. Draft accordingly in the middle rounds and hope that you can get 30 and 100 from him with a respectable average. If he does better than that it is icing on the cake.

15. Justin Morneau - Another guy with a ton of upside, Morneau may have been set back in 2005 as a lot of pressure was put on the youngster to carry the offense and be the main bat in the heart of the Twins order. Also slowing him down were a slew of injuries which make it even harder to drive the ball deep. If he appears healthy and is stroking the ball on a regular basis during spring training, take a flyer on him as a potential 30-100 guy but don't count on him for anything more than 20-80.

16. Mike Sweeney - Injury Prone but still worth the risk as a utility hitter. He definitely will get hurt at some point during the year, but he should still be good for 20 HRs, 80 RBIs and a good average. Not bad at all for a swing man or bench spot.

17. Prince Fielder - Can this prince be a king? Some think he has the ability to be a HR king someday but don't expect it in 2006. He is still a work in progress, as is much of the Brewers lineup, so a 27-85-.270 line would do us just fine. Plus there is upside in the youngster's blood.

Not Ideal Starters

18. Chad Tracy - Will Arizona's hurting lineup hurt his numbers?

19. Jason Giambi - Has Jason found a way to mask his 'roid use?

20. Chris Shelton - This cat will purr his way onto many fantasy teams as a Utility hitter.

21. Sean Casey - Not much in the way of power but hits for average and provides solid all around numbers.

22. Mike Jacobs - Thrust into the heart of the order much like Morneau a year ago. Has tools to succeed but the Marlins will stink.

23. Dan Johnson - Has tools to hit 25-90 with a decent average.

24. Brad Wilkerson - Will move to Texas bring back his 30 HR power? Like his upside and he steals a few.

25. Nick johnson - Has 25-90 potential but will he avoid injuries and live up to it?

Doctor Pick'Em a Phillie?....



I didn't know he had major league aspirations. Maybe that explains the few and far between posts to the site from him.

Gambling Economist spotted in Astros Spring Training Camp....


Or wait is that Lance Berkman? Hard to tell, they are very similar in looks and stature. Not sure if Lance has a degree in Economics though.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hammer Time!!!


Let's take a break from all of the fantasy talk for a second and enjoy the best sign ever.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dr. X ranks Starting Pitchers...


While pitchers may not be as reliable as hitters when it comes to durability and consistency, they are an integral part of fantasy baseball and are a necessity to win. This is not to say you need a rotation full of aces in order to take home the hardware in your league, however waiting too long to draft a couple of proven studs and relying on younger pitchers with upside could leave your squad screwed in the ERA and WHIP categories...not to mention low win totals.

Everyone has their own opinion on the importance of pitching in fantasy leagues and sure there are different strategies that will enable you to succeed , however starters account for 4 of the 10 categories in your typical 5X5 roto or H2H league, so you will want to form a plan and stick to it when you prepare for your draft. Unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon the 2 or 3 pitchers that explode on the scene, like Dontrell "What U Talkin' 'Bout" Willis in 2005, you will more than likely need to take at least 2 proven upper tier pitchers in the first 6 or 7 rounds of your draft in order to remain competitive in the 4 major categories (Wins, Ks, ERA and WHIP). The number of elite pitchers is very slim these days and unless you are in a good position to take one of them in the first few rounds, you are better off taking the big time hitters first and settling for a couple of arms slightly below the very best. Once you have your 2 or 3 studs, you can then start to take more chances on the guys with upside and those that are on the verge of breaking out.

I am going to breakdown the top 80 starting pitchers as they stand right now (pre-WBC and spring training), assuming a typical 5X5 roto or H2H league. So without further blabber, here are my rankings:

The Cream of the Crop

1. Johan Santana - This guy has been flat out $money$ in the bank the past 2 seasons and is head and shoulders the very best fantasy pitcher heading into 2006. This guy is probably the only pitcher you will want to consider drafting in the top overall 15 and is definitely the only one to consider in the top 10. 18-20 wins, a sub 3 ERA, sub 1 WHIP and 230+Ks to boot are all but a given for Johan over a healthy 30+ games started season.....well worth a first round pick in most formats.

2. Roy Oswalt - All this guy does is win. One of the smallest M F'ers out on the field, Oswalt somehow maintains a low ERA and WHIP, while striking out over 7 batters per 9 IPs. Not too shabby from a guy who has also won 20 games in each of the past 2 years and is still only 28 years old. If you're trying to play your cards safe with your fantasy ace, make sure you choose Oswalt over some of the other younger unproven guys because he has proven to be worthy.

3. Jake Peavy - An NL Cy Young hopeful, Peavy has proven to be quite the strikeout artist and has a low ERA and WHIP to match. His only downside is his ability to win in San Diego because of the team's struggles to play .500 ball. If the Padres heat up in 2006, expect Peavy to lead the way and flirt with 18-20 victories, but I would temper your expectations and pencil in 14-15 as he will lose some low scoring contests if they remain mediocre.

4. Pedro Martinez - This old mule may be a bit banged up and may not be quite as good as he was a few years back, but pitching in the NL with an improved bullpen and a star studded lineup will most likely lead to an improvement upon his 15 wins in 2005. Lets say 18 wins, 2.93 ERA, .98 WHIP and 205 Ks. Not too far off from the almighty Johan. Pay attention in spring training however as Pedro has already said that his foot injury may keep him from pitching in the WBC and may eventually cost him several regular season starts as well. If the news worsens prior to opening day, I'll have to knock him down a few slots but until then he's #4.

Upper Echelon

5. Carlos Zambrano - This young fire baller has made it his goal to win a Cy Young in the near future. Could that be this year? I think it is a definite possibility and love the way this guy plays the game. He is a true gamer and takes his job very seriously, however given his heavy workload for the Cubs the past 2 seasons (I believe he has averaged about 110 pitches per start), you'll want to watch him during the spring to make sure he is not showing any signs of wear and tear before you go investing an early round pick in him.

6. Roy Halladay - Oh Canada! The Blue Birds went ape sh*t this offseason to improve their chances of competing with the likes of New York and Boston, and I like what they have done. By adding some firepower to the lineup with Overbay, Glaus and Molina, and slapping B.J. Ryan at the end of the line in their bullpen, it should mean better things for Roy Boy and the rest of these Canucks. Expect him to have a real shot at 18-20 wins and we know his ERA and WHIP should be stellar.

7. Chris Carpenter - Not really a big fan of ranking him this high because of his extensive use in 2005 between the regular season and playoffs, but the numbers don't lie and if he seems completely healthy in the preseason than I think this spot is justified. Just don't expect quite as good of numbers as last year and realize that he pretty much only has one and a half seasons of good pitching under his belt and he is 30 years old.

8. Randy Johnson - If The Rocket can do it, why can't Randy? Another future HOF pitcher on the wrong side of 40 put up some pretty decent numbers in 2005 even though it was considered an off year for the big fella. I think the Unit has another 200+K, 20 win season in him and should provide a solid WHIP and decent ERA as well. Just don't look for the old 300+K beast of years past as those days are most likely long gone but not forgotten.

A Notch Below but still Fantasy Ace Material

9. Mark Prior - I know most people are thinking X is a bit nutty for ranking a pitcher who just hasn't been too reliable the past 2 seasons this high, but I still believe this guy can be a top 3 fantasy ace if he is back to top form in 2006. I'll be watching him closely during the spring and if he seems completely healthy I may even bump him up a couple notches because we all know that he strikes out a ton of guys and is still young enough to rebound into a Cy Young contender for many years to come.

10. Felix Hernandez - 'The next Dwight Gooden' has arrived in the bigs and last year's preview of the young buck was something special. All the hype proved to be true and the King should be in the running for a Cy Young as soon as this year if all goes well. I'm not sure I would expect a sub 3 ERA and sub 1 WHIP out of Hernandez, but I'll bank on slightly higher ratios and 180+Ks and wouldn't be afraid to make him my fantasy ace. Just don't overpay because he will be monitored closely by the Mariners and likely won't get as many innings as most of the guys ahead of him here.

11. Dontrelle Willis - While last year was a magical one for the D-Train, don't expect anything better in 2006 and you can almost bet the farm on him not winning anywhere near 22 games again since Florida decided to get rid of all it's surrounding talent and go with a youth movement of sorts. Expect his ERA and WHIP to rise and his win total to drop into the 14-16 range as he assumes the lonely position of staff ace with Burnett and Beckett gone. When it's all said and done, I would probably rank him behind Harden and Sheets if they were healthy, but since they are looking more like opening day question marks, Willis gets the nod.

12. Ben Sheets - Big Ben's stats from 2004 were comparable to Johan's in ERA, WHIP and Ks, however he does still play for the awful Brew Crew and won't be winning much more than 14 or 15 games even if he was completely healthy. News out of the Brewers camp is that Sheets is still moving along slowly in his rehab on his shoulder and will more than likely not be ready for opening day at this point. This makes for a risky early round pick for fantasy GMs, but for now we have to rank him this high because we know what he's capable of when 100%.

13. Rich Harden - See Big Ben above. I actually like Harden's upside a bit more than Sheets, but he is a bit more unproven at the big league level and is also banged up heading into spring training. The news right now is that he is only scheduled to pitch in simulated games which doesn't sound too promising for his opening day status, but keep watching the injury updates and bump him up into 11 if he looks like he is 100% in time.

14. Andy Pettitte - I don't know if we've ever seen Andy ranked this high in the preseason before, but coming off arguably his best season ever as a pro, he warrants top 15 status. The NL has helped to lower his ERA and WHIP totals and he is always a solid strikeout guy just below the big dogs. If Houston remains one of the top NL teams, and I think they should, he should be set for another 16+ win season.

15. Roger Clemens - Ranked at 15 because of his numbers from 2005 and the fact that he hasn't showed any signs of a complete physical melt down to date. The obvious problem here is that he may not play in 2006 and if he does it will most likely be less than what he did in 2005. That being said, his potential as a 40+ year old strikeout pitcher could vault him into the top 12 if he decides to give it one more year, or if his status remains unknown 3 weeks from now, drops him into a fringe top 40-50 pitcher since he could wind up being a wasted draft pick. Take good notes.

Serviceable Front Line Starters

16. Mark Buerhle - Plays for White Sox and finds ways to get it done.

17. John Smoltz - A return to age 33 would help.

18. Jason Schmidt - Check the injuries...if looking good, great. If not, stick a fork in him.

19. Bartolo Colon - A fringe fantasy ace who could stand to lose a few LBs and stay away from McDonalds. Maybe they should put one of those electric shock collars on him to keep him from eating everything in sight.

20. Brett Myers - Look out! Moving the fences back in CBP could help lower his ERA below 3.5 and we all love 200+Ks.

Quality #2 Arms

21. Barry Zito - Probably doesn't have to do much to earn huge dollars next year, but it does help that he is in the final year of his contract.

22. Josh Beckett - Is this the year he finally stays blister free and wins 20? Might have to take that chance.

23. C.C. Sabathia - ERA and WHIP not spectacular, but he plays for a good team and has decent K totals.

24. John Patterson - Win totals in RFK have to improve don't they? Love his upside.

25. Danny Haren - Another Barry Zito in Oaktown....very solid numbers in first full season and I would expect even more in 2006.

26. A. J. Burnett - A move to AL and a fat contract will not help his overall numbers, but still has potential to strikeout 175+ and win 16.

27. Tim Hudson - No longer a staff ace in fantasy or in real life, but he is solid. Just don't count on him for Ks.

28. Curt Schilling - Best days seem to be be behind him, but will still provide good strikeout rate and win totals if healthy. Is the sock still bloody?

Middle of the Road

29. Brandon Webb - May be a bit high here but is only 26 and has shown plenty of solid innings with room to improve.

30. Javier Vazquez - Once on the verge of top 15 status, is now lucky to be this high. Will a return to AL lead to even worse numbers or will he put it together again?

31. Zach Duke - Still very risky, but if you can land him as your #3 go for it.

32. Scott Kazmir - Love this guy but he plays for Rays and is still a bit wild. Willing to take that chance as a #3.

33. Mark Mulder - Wasn't this clown supposed to be a stud when he moved to the NL? Not sure if he can strike out a single A hitter anymore, but he will win games in St. Louis.

34. Noah Lowry - Unbelievable August in 2005 (5-0 0.69 ERA). Can he pitch consistently over an entire season?

35. Joe Blanton - Another Oaktown stud in the making....what is in the water over there anyhow?

36. Doug Davis - 200+Ks in 2005, but that's about it. Wins will continue to suffer with Brew Crew.

37. Cliff Lee - Will continue to post solid numbers playing for Cleveland.

38. Freddy Garcia - A little better than average. Met him in a bar once...is a tool box on wheels.

39. John Lackey - K Machine in 2005, but was it more fluke than reality?

40. Livan Hernandez - Just makes the cut here as his extreme workload seems to have caught up with him a bit in 2005. Did he really throw 150+ pitches in a game last year? makes everyone else on here look like big Ps.

Taking a Chance

41. Jeremy Bonderman - I still believe but not a huge fan of Detroit.

42. Matt Cain - Could be silly if he makes the rotation as expected.

43. Oliver Perez - One year wonder or was he hurt last year?

44. Jose Contreras - 35, 38, 40 years old? Who knows, but he has flashes of brilliance in 2005.

45. Jon Lieber - Another guy who can bring it on occasion but never seems to do it over the course of an entire season. Well worth the shot here though.

46. Brad Radke - WHIP master.

47. Kelvim Escobar - Strikeouts!!!

48. Kevin Millwood - Should win more in Texas, but if his ERA and WHIP are anything close to last year it will be a miracle and the Rangers may win the World Series.

49. Kerry Wood - Anyone seen this guy's throwing shoulder?

50. Jon Garland - The Wizard of Oz star....check that, an 18 game winner in 2005.

51. Aaron Harang - The Reds Ace. Yikes.

52. Francisco Liriano - Johan Jr..... Just give him a chance.

53. Chris Capuano - Ks and .....

54. Brad Penny - Injury prone but pitches half of games in Dodger stadium.

55. Matt Morris - Another guy who can't seem to strikeout anyone anymore but will play at pitcher friendly park.

56. Esteban Loaiza - Draft him as your #5 and trade him to a sucker GM while his value is at it's highest during the season as he always seems to get hot for a month or two.

57. Derek Lowe - Respectable and that's about it.

58. Tim Wakefield - AL version of Derek Lowe and everyone loves the knuckleball magic.

59. Chris Young - Like the move out of Texas into San Diego. Could be a sleeper.

60. Erik Bedard - Will Leo make him Staff Ace material?

Really Desperate

61. Mike Mussina
62. Matt Clement
63. Ervin Santana (not to be confused with Johan)
64. Carlos Silva
65. Jorge Sosa
66. Kenny Rogers Roaster
67. Brandon McCarthy
68. Aaron Heilman
69. Gustavo Chacin
70. Daniel Cabrera
71. Jon Papelbon
72. Jae Weong Seo (A favorite of Dr. Pick 'Em)
73. Jarrod Washburn
74. Jeff Suppan
75. Ryan Madson
76. Justin Verlander
77. Odalis Perez
78. Tom Glavine
79. Bruce Chen
80. Paul Maholm

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Slamming the Dunk Contest


A funny thing happened in Houston last night...the dunk contest saw some unusually spectacular dunks which brought excitement back to the contest for the first time in six years. These dunks, by the Sixers' Andre Iguodala and the Knicks' Nate Robinson (no, not the Tigers' pitcher) were undeniably the best since Vince Carter's sick throw-downs won him a dunk contest six years ago. Iguodala, fresh off a 30-point MVP performance in the Rookie Challenge game, showcased his athleticism on two incredible dunks. Meanwhile, the 5'9" Robinson trotted out Spud Webb for his one and only showstopper of the night...yes, that Spud Webb: apparently, the yellow brick road DOES lead to Houston.

Unfortuantely, it all went sour when the title was given to the wrong man, the pint-sized Robinson. In the final round, one judge (I believe it was Kenny Smith) started to put up a ten for Iguodala's final dunk, then changed it to a nine after looking around at the other scores. This resulted in a tie, and a dunk-off for the championship. It almost seemed staged. Check that...it DEFINTELY seemed staged, especially when Robinson netted 47 points (out of 50) for his off-the-glass dunk on the FOURTEENTH try in the overtime (dunk-off) round. Iguodala followed by smoothly throwing down a very impressive dunk that netted a paltry 46 from the judges and a loud chorus of boos from a crowd that all along seemed to be rooting for the little guy. Robinson subsequently won by one point.

In the span of an hour, the NBA pumped new life into the dunk contest, then promptly sucked all the air out again. If the NBA wants the dunk contest to be what it used to be, they need to get sponsors to pump up the purse to entice stars like LeBron and Kobe to participate. At the very least, they'd do well to start doing right by the talent they DO put out there (good luck getting Iguodala to come back next year). If one undisputable element came to light this weekend, it's this: the Sixers had better start getting Iguodala more involved in the offense if they want to unlock his limitless potential.