March 30, 2007
Those of you with high blood pressure may wish to stay away from this situation altogether, but Jorge Julio threw his first pitches as the closer for the Florida Marlins today. While he is certainly better than Florida’s other options, Julio remains a major question mark. Last season he struck out 88 in 66 innings, which was impressive, but he also had a 4.23 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, resulting in a modest 2.51 K/BB ratio. Given consistent opportunities, Julio will notch 25-30 saves and give your squad more than one K per inning, but your other peripherals will suffer.
Jorge Julio’s first tosses were from a few feet in front of the mound. Catcher Paul Hoover stood right around the plate. He barely was able to hold his ground.
Every throw jarred him back as Julio fired the ball as hard as he could despite the relatively short distance between the two.
“You have to be ready with me,” Julio said.
The enthusiasm Jorge brings is nice and all, but he needs to learn some subtlety if he’s going to be a reliable closer for fantasy squads. Nobody will question his natural ability or stuff, but Julio has been a loose cannon so far in his short professional career with a 4.20 ERA, 2.05 K/BB and 1.30 WHIP despite his .239 BAA overall. Regardless, those in need of saves in 12-team fantasy leagues should take a flier on Julio ASAP. You could do a lot worse, and the guy still has upside (check his splits). You’ll probably want to reserve him for the first week and keep a close eye on Wild Thing for the first part of the season, but it wouldn’t surprise if he became a nice sleeper . . . or dud.
Posted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 30, 2007 at 8:38pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News
March 30, 2007
This afternoon the Detroit Tigers secured their starting shortstop for another four years, inking Carlos Guillen to a $48-million contract extension that will keep him in Tiger Town for the prime of his career. Major move by GM Dave Dombrowski to get this done before the season began, because Guillen repeatedly said that if it didn’t get done now, it would have to wait until after the playoffs were over. As you probably know, Guillen was set to become an unrestricted free agent, and though he’s long expressed his desire to stay in Detroit, everyone knows that when fat cats start throwing silly money around, anything can happen.
Guillen is a key cog in the Detroit batting order, and will likely hit either 3rd, 4th, or 5th this season, somewhere around Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez. Since arriving in Detroit before the 2004 season, Guillen has been hitting about .320 all three years. Last year, Guillen played in 153 contests, hitting .320 with 19 homers, 85 ribbies, .400 OBP, and 41 double-baggers. He should be in line to upgrade both his stats and his lifestyle this year.
Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 30, 2007 at 3:23pm in MLB
March 30, 2007
My ETB associate and I made a bet before the NBA season began that second-year Detroit Pistons forward Jason Maxiell would finish higher in Yahoo! fantasy rankings than the Boston Celtics’ Al Jefferson. Obviously, that bet hasn’t worked out for me, but hey, he still owes me 10 cents for Jim Leyland getting the nod over Ron Gardenhire for MLB Manager of the Year last season. So there.
Compared to Big Al, who should be considered a frontrunner for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award along with Leandro Barbosa, Maxiell is a bit player. But that’s not being fair to a guy who’s playing for a championship contender behind veterans like ‘Sheed Wallace, Chris Webber, and Antonio McDyess. Totally different situation, and though I’m not saying Mad Maxx would be posting similar numbers as Jefferson given the minutes (Al is much farther along in his game), he would undoubtedly be logging more than the 14 ticks he’s getting in Detroit if playing for most other teams.
If you’ve had the opportunity to see Maxiell in action, he likely left a lasting impression. He still has issues with maintaining consistency, but on most nights this guy brings instant energy off the bench as he blocks shots, runs the floor, steals rebounds, and throws down absolutely brutal dunks. Anyone see him stuff Carmelo Anthony’s dunk attempt on Monday night? Sick.
He’s stepped up his game enough to get the starting nod when Wallace’s odd injuries and suspensions keep him out of the lineup… and he’s performed relatively well in those stints. Just this past Sunday, Maxiell absolutely owned the Bucks, putting up 19 points on 9-13 shooting, with 15 rebounds and 4 blocked shots in 35 minutes of action. “Everyone’s taller than me, of course,” Maxiell said after the game. “But down low it was a good feeling to be down there, offensive rebounding and blocking shots and just playing the game.”
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Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 30, 2007 at 11:21am in NBA
March 30, 2007
There’s nothing especially wrong with barely creeping into the playoffs. After all, there’s 15 other teams that probably wish they had won the honor of getting embarassed on national TV in the first round by the Mavericks, Suns, or Pistons. Well, that’s true except for those teams that are so mired in their own ineptitude that they’re already thinking about landing the Holy Grail in June’s NBA draft.
With everyone counting less than 14 regular-season games left on their schedule, a lot has yet to be settled for the 7th and 8th seeds. In both the Eastern and Western Conferences, three or four teams are jockeying up and down the standings, in and out of the playoff picture, and at times it feels like some of these teams (ahem, the Pacers) are doing their very best at playing their way out of the postseason. I know they’re not a great team by any stretch of the imagination, but Indiana has posted a 2-13 record for the month of March (!)… and they’re still only 1.5 games out of the 8th seed in the East!
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at each of the teams still entertaining at least modest hopes of making the 2007 playoffs. It probably won’t matter which of these mediocre squads actually gets in because they won’t last very long, but Ron Artest hasn’t made any headlines today and Flea hasn’t updated his blog in almost a week, so this was next on our shopping list. We’ll start with the muddled mess in the Eastern Conference, and recommend looping Bad Religion’s “Mediocrity” to get yourself in the mood while reading.
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Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 30, 2007 at 12:07am in ETB Articles, NBA
March 29, 2007
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: closer Eric Gagne will be spending some time on the DL. For those of you who took my advice and drafted Gagne, don’t get too pissy just yet. Gagne isn’t injured, the Rangers just felt he needed to get some more innings in before he’s ready to close games at the MLB level. He should still be considered the Rangers’ starting closer for 2007 once he returns to the active roster. According to a prominent and reliable Ranger blog, Gagne is expected to be activated April 13th.
The move means that Akinori Otsuka will be the closer for the time being. That makes Otsuka a very sneaky source of saves for the first few weeks of the season. The decision also indicates that he could be asked to close out games beyond the expected April 13th call up of Gagne. Last year, his third season in the MLB, Otsuka recorded 32 saves with an impressive 2.11 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. With the obvious health concerns that come along with Gagne and the uncertainty surrounding his ability to become a reliable closer again, Otsuka is a great player to stash on your bench even after Gagne resumes the ninth inning responsibilities.
It wasn’t too long ago that Gagne was a Sportscenter darling and considered the best closer in Major League Baseball. But after totaling 152 saves combined between the 2002-04 seasons, Gagne has only tallied 9 saves the last two seasons, both of which ended with serious injuries. Gagne gave up 4 runs and 5 hits in his inning against the Padres this Tuesday, so he was clearly not ready just yet, but there is still reason for hope that he will return to post decent save totals this season. Of course, he will never be the Gagne of 2002-04, but 30 saves is still not out of the question by any means.
Posted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 29, 2007 at 9:26pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News
March 29, 2007
The Kansas City Royals’ All-World 3B prospect Alex Gordon will enter the 2007 season fifth in the batting order according to Royals manager Buddy Bell. So far this spring the rookie is hitting 378/.500/.622 in 37 at-bats. The opening day lineup will place Gordon between DH Mike Sweeney and 1B Ryan Shealy, which isn’t exactly an ideal situation, but opportunities for RBIs will be there and the kid will deal. He hasn’t had a Major League at-bat yet, but he led the Texas League in RBIs and home runs last season. Gordon finished the season with one of the few 20-20 seasons in all of the minor leagues and led Double-A ball with a 1.016 OPS.
“I just think he’s our best fifth hitter,” Bell said. “I really don’t think it’s going to affect him where he hits. He could hit fourth. The more I’m around him, the more I like him.
“He’s just a tough kid. Early on, I thought we might want to protect him a little more. Not now.”
People in my fantasy leagues probably know just how excited I am about this guy. He’ll be a fantasy starter in 12-team mixed leagues by the end of the year, mark it down. It’s no exaggeration to say that he could contend for an AL MVP or two (Jeff Passan recently named him as his leading AL MVP-in-waiting) at some point in his career. That means for people in deep keeper leagues, it’s not too early to consider him for future seasons. If everything goes according to plan, which is rarely the case, Gordon should be in a heated battle for AL Rookie of the Year with Daisuke Matsuzaka and uber-prospect Delmon Young (I give the nod to Young at this point).
Posted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 29, 2007 at 8:56pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News
March 29, 2007
A quick heads up for you fantasy MLB players out there who haven’t drafted yet, and a nod to the good folks over at Rotoworld. They have posted their Stay-Away List for the 2007 fantasy season. There are a few no-brainers on the list, such as Nick Johnson (he could miss the entire season), Mark Prior (he’s been optioned to Triple-A Iowa) and Juan Encarnacion (he’ll begin this campaign on the DL, and is unlikely to regain his starting job when he returns). But it’s always good to make sure on those guys, especially for players in extremely deep leagues.
There are also some pretty interesting picks. I had Anibal Sanchez high on my ‘sleeper’ list, even though his no-no last season got so much attention. However, as Aaron Gleeman points out, “Sanchez’s 72-to-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114.1 innings suggests that the 2.83 ERA was due largely to luck.” NL Batting Champ Freddy Sanchez? He may not start the season on time with a lingering knee injury, and history suggests he’s in line for some major regressing to the mean. Chien-Ming Wang had 19 wins and a 3.63 ERA last season, but his “historically low strikeout rate,” combined with the fact that he’ll start the season on the DL with a dreaded hamstring injury, makes him a prime candidate to be a bust this season.
Posted by Andrew Thell on Mar. 29, 2007 at 5:55pm in MLB, MLB Fantasy News
March 29, 2007
Geez, Mr. Bader… how about a little positive reinforcement? Fox Sports has a story about Lebron James’ much talked-about new house under construction, but you probably already know that it will include a bowling alley, a two-story walk-in closet, casino, and, oh yeah, a limestone sculpture of King James’ head. What you might not know yet is how ‘Bron’s neighbors feel about the castle’s construction and all the gawkers it’s drawing. Tom Bader, for one, just wants to kick back after a long day at work:
“People who come to photograph it are disrespectful,” said Tom Bader, one of nine immediate next-door neighbors. “They park their car in the middle of the street — with their doors open! And you’re sitting behind them! All I wanna do is go home after a hard day’s work.”
“As far as LeBron the man goes, I think he’s an outstanding individual,” said Bader, a graduate of James’ alma mater, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. He’s great for Cleveland. I’m proud to have him. I have no issues with LeBron James at all. The problem is the baggage that he unintentionally carries with him.”
The other problem, according to Bader, are the unrealistic expectations of his children that come with living next door to the NBA superstar:
Bader has discouraged his children’s dream that James might have them over to shoot hoops. “I said, `Honey, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Besides that, don’t ever, ever invite LeBron over to our house to play ball because he’s going to twist his ankle and I will have my house eternally egged.”‘
Ah yes, every suburbanites’ worst nightmare: an eternally egged house. That ranks right up there with being victimized by mailbox baseball or a flaming shitbomb on the front porch.
Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 29, 2007 at 11:41am in NBA
March 29, 2007
Though Toronto Raptors rookie forward Jorge Garbajosa “only” suffered the NBA’s second-most gruesome injury this year—Shaun Livingston earned top honors for that disgusting twist of the knee—Garbo proved he’s a man at the operating table on Tuesday. The Toronto Star reports that when he was asked about his preference for anaesthesia, Garbo chose not to be knocked out because he wanted to watch the doctor perform surgery for 1 1/2 hours:
Facing Tuesday’s 1 1/2-hour surgery to repair the gruesome lower-leg injury that fractured his fibula and spun his left foot to an inhuman angle, Jorge Garbajosa was asked for his preference of anaesthesia. There were, the story goes, two options: the full-body knockout or a needle in the lower back to numb everything below the waist.
“Garbo says to the doctor, ‘Just give me the back shot because I want to see what you’re doing,’” said Maurizio Gherardini, the Raptors assistant general manager, flashing a broad smile as he told the tale. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”
Gherardini said he’s been inundated with calls and text messages and emails from overseas wishing a fallen athlete the best. “They always envision him as the ideal loyal fighting warrior that the game should need,” he said.
Wow. This makes me feel like even more of a baby for turning away when getting blood drawn at the annual physical. He doesn’t suit up for the Celtics, but there’s no doubt Jorge deserves one or two Tommy Points for becoming one of the only human beings to ever willingly elect to watch surgery on themself. I wonder if they gave him a box of popcorn, some Raisinets, and a soda during the performance.
Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 29, 2007 at 11:00am in NBA
March 29, 2007
ESPN has just published their Fan Satisfaction Rankings, which ranks all the professional teams in the four major North American leagues (yes, even the NHL) based on categories such as “Bang for the Buck,” “Fan Relations,” and “Affordability.” After surveying over 80,000 people, hockey’s Buffalo Sabres finished first in overall satisfaction; we have no idea how the Detroit Lions came in last. What’s not to like there?
Find out where your team ranks here. Click on each team name for a few reasons why they ended up where they did; here’s an excerpt on how the Sabres ended up on top:
Larry Quinn, managing partner of the Buffalo Sabres, knows owner Tom Golisano doesn’t like him to talk about other clubs’ fans, but he just can’t help himself. Anytime the Sabres host archrival Toronto, Quinn enjoys watching the thousands of crazies who make the 101-mile trek to cheer their Leafs. “Jersey-wearing, face-painted, wig-wearing types, not the kind you see at the Air Canada Centre,” says Quinn. “It’s ironic that Buffalo has become the place where true Toronto fans can express themselves.”
Cheers, Sabres fans: face-painters and wig-wearers are our favorite kind of fans. Mmhmm.
Posted by Brian Spencer on Mar. 29, 2007 at 10:21am in Miscellaneous