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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Pitchers You Don’t Want to Live Without

When building a fantasy rotation, you’re going to need to add depth, and the more you can add, the better you’ll be. Fortunately, you can do a lot of that with pitching, and these guys are some good ones to look at. Best of all is that any or all of these guys will probably be available to you. 


Mark Buehrle, Miami Marlins

The concern here is that Buehrle’s around the plate a lot, so he does surrender a lot of hits. But that’s really the only concern here. 

The hits are more than made up for by the fact that he hardly walks anybody, so the WHIP is greatly neutralized. On top of that, he does not allow a lot of run, so the ERA will be fine. 

Buehrle is pitching on a team that will give him plenty of chances to win games, and he throws a lot of innings, never logging fewer than 200 in a full season. That’s a good way to keep your staff ERA down, as it limits the damage caused by one run. 

On top of all of that, Buehrle is now in the National League, so he now gets the benefit of facing a pitcher instead of nine professional hitters. This is a good middle of the rotation guy that will make your team very deep in pitching. 

Dixon’s Projection’s 

207  226  47 88 13  118  3.83  1.32


R.A. Dickey, New York Mets

The drawback here is the Mets are just not a very good team, so the wins aren’t likely to be high. Still, pitching in Citi Field has done good things for Dickey, who has a 3.08 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in two years as a Met.

What a guy like Dickey will do is enable you to pick up pitchers that will win a lot of games but have inflated ERA’s, like guys on the Yankees or Red Sox. Dickey will be there to provide a good balance. 

Even with the fences moving in, there is no reason to think that Citi Field won’t still be a strong pitching park. The fact is that it’s hard to hit that knuckle ball, so a spacious stadium is good for the ERA. The strikeouts won’t be great, but won’t be terrible either. 

Dixon’s Projection’s 

205  198  52 78 13  129  3.42  1.22


Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays

Think of this is sort of a coupling move. I previously said Dickey would be valuable because you could then go for a guy on a good team that will win games but have a higher ERA and WHIP than you would like. Davis is that guy. 

The innings will be solid, which is always good. The walk totals won’t be high, which will neutralize a lot of hits. But the Rays will win a lot of games, which means Davis will win games. That’s just as valuable as any category in fantasy baseball. 

Dixon’s Projection’s 

186  181  63 81 15  127  3.92  1.31


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Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2012: Top Bargain Studs to Hunt for in Auction Drafts

When you get into an auction and want to place big bids on the likes of Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Matt Kemp, you will have to spend less money at other positions. Fortunately, these guys will be there for cheap, which will enable you to bring in an extra star at the traditional positions. 

Note: All projections based on standard 5×5 scoring numbers.

Hitting: Runs, HR, RBI, Steals, AVG.  

Pitching: Wins, Strikeouts, Saves, ERA, WHIP.


Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

If, for whatever reason, you can’t get your paws on Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler, do not reach for any of the second-tier second basemen like Brandon Phillips or Dan Uggla. Those players are all too one dimensional, and you’re much better off spending big on someone else and bargain hunting for Altuve

This kid can absolutely fly (136 minor league steals in 382 games), and he looks to be hitting at the top of the order in Houston, which will inflate any of the counted statistics. 

The National League Central is still full of good hitting parks, so don’t think that the extra at-bats will dramatically alter his batting average, which was .276 in limited time in 2011. 

Altuve will cost you nothing more than about $5-$10 in a standard auction, which is dirt cheap given the numbers that will be there. Altuve‘s best numbers will be steals, but he’ll give you solid production across the board, allowing you to go hard after some other big-name players.

Dixon’s Projections

Hits    AB    Runs    HR    RBI    Steals    Average
168 603 72 10 59 27



John Buck, C, Miami Marlins

Catcher is really a position with two key numbers. One is 15 homers, and the other is a .230 batting average. Those may not seem massive, but that’s a position with so few great players that anyone you can bank on to get those numbers is someone that will work well on your team. 

When it comes down to it, even the elite catchers don’t get too many at-bats. So their power numbers won’t be much better, and while the average of someone like Brian McCann will be much better, the lack of at-bats will limit the impact that makes on your team. 

The Marlins just don’t have a catcher that’s going to take playing time away from Buck. The additions the Marlins have made will increase Buck’s RBI numbers, and the depth that someone like Jose Reyes gives their lineup will make the runs better.

Even if Buck is at the bottom at the order, Reyes’ addition will put everyone in a more natural spot. The trickle down will get Buck better pitches and men on base to drive in.

Dixon’s Projections

Hits    AB    Runs    HR    RBI    Steals    Average
114 472 72 21 64 3 .242

Vance Worley, P, Philadelphia Philles

First of all, the Phillies are going to win a lot of games. By extension, their pitchers are going to have a lot of wins on their record. Worley‘s numbers will be rounded out because of his stuff, specifically the cutter. 

His ESPN Fantasy Profile described Worley perfectly:

What made the difference for Worley was the cutter; he picked it up from Cole Hamels and used it to neutralize left-handers to the tune of .201/.271/.299 rates last season. Between that and his slider, which frustrates right-handers, Worley is a more “complete” pitcher than people give him credit for.

Following that, he is going to be a strong pitcher all year this year. The fact is that, with Roy Oswalt out of the rotation, the chances will be there for Worley to grow, getting even more innings. His cutter/slider duo gives me a lot of confidence that the extra innings will not hurt the “average” categories of ERA and WHIP, while the wins and strikeouts will be there. 

Dixon’s Projections

IP      H      ER      BB     K    Wins    ERA    WHIP   
183  174 76 61 151    14 3.74 1.28

Dixon’s Top 15 Fantasy Players

Pick  Player   R   HR   RBI   SB   AVG.   K    ERA   WHIP
1. Matt Kemp, OF 98   34 103 41 .304
2. Miguel Cabrera, 1B 108   34 114 2 .328      
3.  Albert Pujols, 1B 102 41 111 7 .317        
4. Robinson Cano, 2B 107 29 108 6 .324        
5. Jacoby Ellsbury, OF 118 26 91 39 .319        
6. Jose Bautista, 3B/OF 107 42 103 6 .292        
7. Troy Tulowitzki, SS 93 31 98 9 .303        
8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B 107 36 115 1 .309        
9. Joey Votto, 1B 109 35 107 6 .312        
10. Ryan Braun, OF 98 29 107 37 .317        
11. Prince Fielder, 1B 110 41 121 2 .289        
12. Roy Halladay, SP   22 212  2.13 1.08
13. Dustin Pedroia, 2B 112 23 82 23 .316        
14. Justin Verlander, SP           21 226 2.21 1.04
15. Evan Longoria, 3B 95 33 97 8 .280        

Note: Saves are also a category in standard fantasy leagues, but no closer is included in the top 30, so they are omitted from the projections. 


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LA Dodgers: Team’s Flimsy Defense in Bryan Stow Case Doesn’t Hold Up

The security that was at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day of the 2011 baseball season failed to protect Giants fan Bryan Stow. As a result, the people responsible for staffing that security need to be held responsible for what happened to him, regardless of what the Dodgers would have you believe.

According to the Associated Press, the Dodgers are asking for the court to disallow the claim filed by Stow and his family that would have the team held responsible for his beating. 

In part of the 37-page motion, the Dodgers claim that they are not responsible for the safety of the fans who attend their games. 

The Stow claim is, when stripped to its core, based on the faulty premise that a landowner is an insurer of the safety of persons on its property.

As a part of the report, the Dodgers also claim that they were adequately staffed for the March 31 game. 

The Dodgers said there were 442 security personnel in the ballpark and parking lots that day, including police. The team said that was an increase from 398 for the 2010 opener and 308 for the first home game in 2009.

Yet here we are, nearly a year later. Fortunately, Stow is alive and even talking, although he is permanently brain damaged. But this came after a coma that lasted nearly the entire season. Clearly, the security was not adequate; the nature of the attack tells us that.

The wounds Stow sustained did not come from being shot or stabbed. As bad as that would be, that at least happens quickly. Theoretically, you can easily fire a shot at someone and inflict serious damage within a matter of seconds while getting away without ever being seen.

That isn’t what happened to Stow. He was attacked by two people for an extended period of time. Not only did the beating take place, but the attackers got away. 

It wasn’t until July that alleged perpetrators Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood were arrested for the attack.

If a prolonged attack takes place and it takes nearly four months to arrest the alleged attackers, then your stadium and parking lot did not have adequate security. The Dodgers can cite whatever numbers they want, it doesn’t change the facts of the case. 

If all of that isn’t enough for you, read something else that came from the Associated Press report. 

…police described (the attacks) as the culmination of a string of confrontations they had with randomly selected Giants fans at the stadium.

According to Baseball Reference, that game lasted two hours and 50 minutes. If incidents were happening throughout the game, a stadium with adequate security would have apprehended the perpetrators long before the final out was recorded. That didn’t happen because the stadium didn’t have anywhere near enough security on staff. 

Again, the numbers are irrelevant. The facts of the case tell us that the Dodgers did not go a good enough job securing the stadium and protecting the game’s fans. That is something that they need to be held responsible for.  


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Tim Lincecum: Giants Offer Ace 2-Year, $40 Million Deal

Eager to avoid arbitration, the San Francisco Giants have made an offer to ace Tim Lincecum.

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports is reporting via Twitter that the Giants have made a two-year offer to Lincecum worth $40 million. 

Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner (2008, 2009) and is controlled by the Giants through the 2013 season. 


What it means?

From the perspective of whether or not Lincecum is a Giant for the next two years, this means very little. But from the perspective of not having an arbitrator determine how much the Giants pay, this is big for the Giants. 

Brown is right in that the $4 million dollar gap can be resolved. But even if the Giants take the counter offer from the Lincecum side, San will now be in a better position to try to lock up fellow ace Matt Cain, who will be a free agent after the 2012 season. 

Either of the contracts would be massive, especially for a pitcher, but Lincecum has shown himself worthy of it. His two Cy Young Awards make him the face of the franchise, he has a career record of 69-41, and was integral in bringing the franchise the 2010 World Series. 

Whether Lincecum takes the Giants offer, they take his, or the two agree to something in between, it’s a good fit for both sides. Lincecum will certainly be handsomely rewarded, and money will be clear for the Giants to not only lock Cain up, but to also potentially bring in other players.


What’s next?

From both perspectives, it would be best to get this thing locked up and not go to arbitration. If they can’t, then an arbitrator will determine Lincecum’s 2012 contract, as well as his 2013 deal if the two sides can’t agree to something. 

While Lincecum is the face of the franchise, his production has dropped in recent years. The numbers tell that story.

  W-L    ERA    K   
2008    18-5 2.62 265  
2009 15-7 2.48 261
2010 16-10 3.43 231
2011 13-14 2.74 220

The strikeouts are the most alarming, as they coincide with a drop in velocity. While only is only 27, his small stature will keep him from sustaining such dominant power numbers.

What all of that means is that if he has even a slight drop in 2012, his arbitration number in 2013 will go down. So from a financial perspective, avoiding arbitration would best serve the Giants in 2012, and Lincecum in 2013. 

The good thing for both sides is that the gap between the two sides is not at all alarming. There is no reason to believe that they won’t work together and get this thing done soon.


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Jorge Posada, Yankees Catcher, Expected to Retire from Baseball

The 2011 season appeared to have been the last for Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, as Sweeny Murti is reporting that Posada will officially retire within the next few weeks. 

While acting primarily as a designated hitter and bench player, Posada hit .235 with 14 home runs and 44 RBI in 387 at-bats during the 2011 season.

This is certainly not surprising news. Posada has battled injuries for each of the last four seasons, only reaching 120 games played once in that stretch. At this point, his value in the field is nothing more than that of an emergency first baseman or catcher. 

If he even wanted to play, he would only be a truly valuable player in the American League as a designated hitter. 

Given his age (40) and the abuse to the body that catchers always take, it certainly makes sense that the market would be thin on him. Long gone are the days when Posada was reliable to hit 20 or more home runs and drive in 90 runs. 

In addition to being the smart, logical decision, this is also refreshing to see. We too often see athletes who no longer have the ability to be elite hang on for a year or two too long. A case can be made that Posada did that, but he was always in a Yankees uniform. We don’t often see players like this play their entire career with one team.

Along with Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, Posada was one of the “Core Four” Yankees that won five World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009. He finishes his career as a five-time World Series champion with a career average of .273, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI.


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Carlos Quentin: White Sox Slugger Dealt to Padres for Pitching Prospects

The White Sox will be without one of their bashers next season. C. Trent Rosecrans of CBS Sports is reporting that the White Sox have traded Carlos Quentin to the Padres for minor league pitchers Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.

Quentin will be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. In 118 games in 2011, he hit 24 home runs, drove in 77 runs and had a .254 batting average and .340 OBP. 

The value of this trade for the Padres will come down to one question: Can Quentin hit at PETCO Park? Since the park opened in 2004, very few hitters not named Adrian Gonzalez have been able to answer that with a yes.

Quentin is right handed, so there is a benefit there. It’s much easier to hit for power to left field at PETCO than right, but this is going to be a tough adjustment. 

In the National League West, you have to deal with some of the best pitching and best pitcher’s parks in all of baseball. Yes, there’s Coors Field and Chase Field, but PETCO, AT&T Park and Dodger Stadium are all parks that favor the pitcher. 

And of course, Quentin will have to deal with some of the best pitchers that baseball has to offer. Guys like Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson all play their craft in the National League West. 

Leaving the hitter-friendly American League and U.S. Cellular Field will be an adjustment that Quentin will have a hard time making.

Whether this is a terrible move or not will depend on what the prospects amount to for the White Sox. Even if Quentin is a bust, the other players involved need to be good to make the trade a bust. 

But Quentin’s not the kind of hitter that’s going to have a lot of success hitting in San Diego. He’s a career .252 hitter, and even those numbers are skewed by one .288 season. He’s also never played more than 131 games in a season. Lastly, Quentin’s home stadiums have always been hitter-friendly parks. That’s no longer the case. 

Lastly, in San Diego, he’s batting in a lineup that will offer no protection or many chances to drive in runs. In Chicago, there were hitters to fear. In San Diego, it’s one unimposing hitter after another.

This is a grasp for the Padres, but it’s not going to work. He’ll be another version of Ryan Ludwick.


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MLB Rumors: Yankees Wise to Keep Infectious Nick Swisher

While the Indians are certainly in need of acquiring a bat, the Yankees are making the right decision by not making Nick Swisher available to them.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports is reporting that the Indians have talked to the Yankees about Swisher. According to Rosenthal, the Indians saw him as a reasonable alternative to Carlos Beltran, assuming he didn’t sign with them.

The Indians didn’t sign Beltran, but that can’t influence the Yankees’ decision. New York is the biggest of the big-market teams and they are competing for a World Series title every year. For them, the decision to keep Swisher or not comes down to one thing.

Can they get a better overall player than him?

The answer to that is a definitive “no.” Swisher is far and away better than any outfielder on the free agent market. With the exception of Prince Fielder, he’s a better hitter than anyone on the free agent market. Moving him would make no sense. 

In addition to all of that, Swisher is a good guy. He’s popular with fans and players alike, and has been everywhere he’s gone.

But this boils down to one thing: numbers. Look at what he’s done in his three years in pinstripes.

Season HR’s RBI AVG.
2009 29 82 .249
2010 29 89 .288
2011 23 85 .260

In addition to that, Swisher also plays good defense. At this point, the Yankees can do no better than Swisher in right field. Logically, the Indians know that the options don’t exist on the free agent market. 

According to Rosenthal, “Club (Indians) officials say they are pursuing every hitter on the market who is not named Prince Fielder.”

Any free agent that the Indians could pursue could also be pursued by the Yankees. If the Yankees felt that they could improve on Swisher, they would have gone after someone. 

It’s not that easy to put up the kind of numbers that Swisher has produced, and find it from a switch hitter that plays good defense, let alone someone who’s good in the clubhouse.

The Indians may need another bat, but that’s not New York’s problem. They’re better off keeping Swisher in the Bronx and working to add depth to their pitching rotation. 


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MLB Trade Rumors: Red Sox Must Continue Quest for Andrew Bailey

If the Red Sox are going to get back to the playoffs and seriously compete for a World Series, they need to bring in a closer. Right now, there’s no better one on the trade market than Andrew Bailey

Yesterday, Jim Bowden of ESPN tweeted that the A’s and Red Sox were close on a deal that would send Bailey to Boston. 

Obviously, the Gio Gonzalez trade has already happened, so there’s some foundation to that thought. The Red Sox now need to pull the trigger on a deal for Bailey and bring him across the country. 

The combination of injuries and playing in Oakland has significantly hurt Bailey’s save numbers over the years. Still, in three seasons, he’s locked down 75 games. That’s an average of 25 saves a season, that can easily go up by 10 to 15 playing on a team that’s in position to win more, like the Red Sox. 

But it’s the other numbers that tell you all you need to know. A career ERA of 2.07 and WHIP of 0.95 is nothing short of incredible. 

Remember, this is a bullpen that completely collapsed at the end of last season. One more game, and they’re in a one game playoff. Two more and they’re in the playoffs. 

And unlike the A’s, the Red Sox can afford to unload prospects. The A’s don’t have a bankroll to go out and bring in big name free agents. Every year, the Red Sox have that budget. So if they give up a top prospect, they will have the money to bring in an elite free agent down the line. 

Boston has little to lose here, even if the players that they would give up turn into legitimate stars, they have the money to replace them, or even sign them back when the time is right. 

But right now, this team needs a closer to anchor its bullpen. Bailey is that guy. With him, other relievers fall into a more natural position, and a weakness turns into a strength. Without him, it’s basically a closer by committee, which rarely works well.

Bailey is hands down the most reliable closer available. He’s better than Francisco Cordero or Ryan Madson, who are free agents. The Red Sox need to pull the trigger and make it happen.


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Bryan Stow Video: SF Giants Fan Speaks on Camera for 1st Time Since Tragic Event

There’s certainly a tremendous bittersweet feeling about this. On the one hand, it’s great to actually see Stow and hear him talk. During baseball season, the news updates were not always positive. So, the fact that he’s alive and actually speaking is nothing short of promising. 

Still, while the positives do exist, they are far from overwhelming. The fact is that Stow’s progress from this point on will be measured in small steps. Hearing that basically told me that we’re not going to see him much better than what we see in that video. That’s sad. 

It’s still hard to wrap my head around the whole thing. I have been to several sporting events in my life and have definitely seen some fights. I understand that happens, especially when alcohol is involved. 

But those fights are almost two willing participants. It may or may not have anything to do with the game, or team loyalty. Also, when people fight, every now and again, long-term damage will occasionally hit one or both of the participants. That’s sad, but at least two people are willingly engaged.

By all accounts of what happened on Opening Day, that’s not what happened. 

This video is just a sobering reminder of a sad reality in sports. When you go to a game wearing the opposing team’s colors, you have to be careful. It helps to travel in packs, never really letting yourself stand out. This kind of thing will happen, and it only takes a few people to make it happen.

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Ryan Braun Positive Test a Sickening Moment for Modern Era of Baseball

There’s just no way around it, this is bad. Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn of ESPN are reporting that National League MVP Ryan Braun tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. 

It’s hard to imagine this ending well. Actually, it’s impossible to imagine this ending well for Braun. Not that that bothers me, it shouldn’t end well for him.

He deserves to be suspended for 50 games. But even if he finds a way to avoid that suspension, this news is going to doom him in the court of public opinion. It’s going to hurt him in future MVP voting, and if it gets that far, will hurt him in Hall of Fame voting.

We’ve seen it with guys like Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire. There’s no way we’re not going to see the same thing happen when Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds become eligible for the Hall of Fame. It’s hard to imagine Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez not suffering when their careers end.

And in the case of every one of those guys, we should see it. They don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Neither does Braun. I don’t want to hear the typical excuses. I didn’t like hearing Barry Bonds say that he never “knowingly” took anything. If you’re a tested professional athlete and put something in your body without knowing what it is, that’s about as bad as knowingly cheating. You don’t deserve any sympathy when that happens.

According to the report, Braun has made that claim:

Since being informed of the results, Braun has been disputing his case. The outfielder has told those around him that he did not knowingly take any banned substances and hoped to prove that during the arbitration process, said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

We’re going to need a lot more than that. False positives do happen, but they’re not common. Not in a company like Major League Baseball. Proof of that is that no player has ever had an appeal upheld after testing positive.

The worst thing about this is that this is an era that needs to be gone. All of the aforementioned players were from a bygone time.

I know that positive tests are going to happen. But those should not be from players of Braun’s caliber. Those tests should come from players that are struggling to find a spot on a team, or maybe earn a starting position.

That’s clearly not Braun. He’s the league’s MVP and has been one of the best hitters in the game since coming into the league in 2007. Frankly, he’s better than that, or I thought he was. 

When this happens, personal awards need to be stripped. I don’t care if the award then goes to the runner-up, or if it’s just declared vacant. But too many players have this cloud over their heads.

Too many of the game’s best awards are just tainted. Braun’s certainly not the only person that applies to, but this test shows that he’s no better than any of them. 

What Braun’s done before doesn’t matter. Who really cares if there’s proof that this was the only time. By extension, that would mean everything done before this was done clean. But it doesn’t matter. When you make the decision to cheat by using illegal performance enhancers, you ruin your entire career. 

This is a terrible day for baseball. Look at the players listed above. Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.

Those are all great players of the “steroid era.” Ramirez and Rodriguez are still playing, but their careers had significant overlap into the steroid era.

The advantage of that era being over is that we as fans got to live in a state of bliss, even if it was naive. We now had the knowledge that the top players of this era and future eras are clean.

Today’s revelation shows that none of it’s true. No reasonable excuse is good enough for this one. This hurts Braun and it hurts the sport and its fans.

Yet another MVP award is tainted. It never gets easier to deal with.

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