Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mariano Rivera will be back in 2013

Although he missed the majority of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, closer Mariano Rivera has told the Yankees that he wants to come back in 2013, according to George A. King III of the New York Post.

Rivera contacted us and wants to play,” [Yankees general manager Brian] Cashman told The Post.

Excluding his rookie season (1995) when he all 10 of his career starts, Rivera has had a sub-3.00 ERA every year except 2007 (3.15).  From 2003 to 2011, that 2007 season was actually his only season where he did not finish with a sub-2.00 ERA.

More impressively, Rivera has a career 0.70 ERA over 141 innings in the postseason.

The only thing standing in the way of the all-time saves leader (608) closing games in the Bronx in 2013 is a one-year deal as Rivera is currently a free agent.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trifone: A.L. Mid-season Award Winners

Yesterday, we named the National League mid-season award winners -- MVP and Cy Young.  (If you missed it, click here.)

Today, it's the A.L.'s turn.

Mid-season American League Most Valuable Player

Joey Bats is tied for the MLB lead in home runs with 27 and Adam Dunn is a virtual lock for comeback player of the year, with his 25 home run and 61 RBIs year so far.

One guy who is looking more and more like the rookie of the year AND MVP is Mike Trout, who in his first season is leading the league with a .341 average.  Bryce Harper has gotten a lot of hype, and is certainly having a great year, but Trout has been even better.

None of these guys have had a first half like Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton had a few week period that may have been the most incredible stretch in baseball history, including a four-homer game, which was the highlight of the first half of the 2012 season.  Early on, it looked as though Hamilton would challenge for the triple crown, although at this point, his average has dipped a bit.  He is hitting .308, is tied for the league lead with 27 home runs and leads the league in RBIs with 75, and is one of only two players with OPS above 1.000.

Mike Trout would actually be my number two, who has 26 stolen bases to go along with his league-leading average, and his emergence is a huge reason why the Angels have gotten back into it.

Still, even his numbers pale in comparison to Hamilton's, who is the pretty clear choice for mid-season AL MVP.

Mid-season American League Cy Young Winner

The mid-season AL Cy Young winner is the toughest award to give out, and the one that is the most debatable.  There are several good candidates, and it's a good thing there is a second half of the season to be played before we have to actually hand out the award.

By my judgement, coming in at number three for the award is Justin Verlander.  Typically, he's the guy you'd see at the top of the list.  Verlander is having a good, but not great year by his standards.  His 2.58 ERA is good enough for fourth in the league, he is tied for the league lead in strikeouts with 128, leads the league in complete games with five, and has a 9-5 record.  It's tough being Justin Verlander.  He puts up those great numbers, and somehow, we expect a little more.

My number two choice for the mid-season award is Jered Weaver, who is 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA, which leads the league.  Weaver has a sub 1.00 WHIP and is holding opponents to an average of under .200.  Weaver, like Verlander, has become a fixture among the top pitchers in the game, and seems to be a perennial contender to win the Cy Young.

That leaves only White Sox second year starter Chris Sale as my choice for the mid-season AL Cy Young award winner.  Sale is second in the league with an ERA of 2.27 and has 98 K's in 102.2 innings.  He also has a sub 1.00 WHIP and has opponents hitting under .200 for the year against him.  The White Sox are leading the AL Central, a division that everyone had yielded to the Tigers at the beginning of the year, and clearly, Sale and his 10-2 record are a big reason why.

I feel this race is the most subject to change, and by the end of the season, I'm not sure we won't see Verlander come back and win his second consecutive Cy Young.  However, midway through, Sale has the best numbers and currently deserves the award.

[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trifone: N.L. Mid-season Award Winners

With the mid-summer classic tonight, it's a good time to hand out mid-season MVP and Cy Young award winners.  There are usually a handful of great options, leaving room for debate, and this year is no exception.

Mid-season National League Most Valuable Player

For NL MVP, I believe it to be a four-horse race.  Although guys like David Wright and Melky Cabrera are having excellent years, they fall a bit short when comparing them with the top contenders.

Losing Albert Pujols is clearly going to hurt a team, but Carlos Beltran has stepped up in a big way, hitting over .300 and yielding great power numbers, for the Cardinals.  He currently leads the NL in RBI's with 65 and is second in home runs with 20.

There was a lot of talk at the beginning of the year over what type of year Ryan Braun would have after his failed drug test was overturned due to a technicality in the offseason.  Braun has responded with a league-leading 24 home runs.  He also ranks second in RBIs with 61 and is hitting over .300, with 15 stolen bases to boot.

Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez ranks sixth in the league in home runs and RBIs and leads the league in runs.  He is also currently hitting an impressive .330, and with 11 stolen bases.  I believe Cargo is the most likely to finish the year strong, playing in a hitter's ballpark in Colorado.

At this point, I feel any of these three are great candidates.

As good as those three have been, however, Andrew McCutchen has been even better.  McCutchen is leading the majors with a remarkable .362 average at the midway point.  He is hitting for power with 18 home runs and 60 RBIs, but also is a threat to run, with 14 stolen bases.  If he keeps this up for the rest of the year, McCutchen could finish the season hitting .350 with 30 hrs, 100 RBIs, and 30 stolen bases.  Tough to argue with those numbers.  I'm not sure if he can keep it up, but to date he is the NL MVP.

[Matt Kemp was the clear front runner before his injury, and certainly deserves recognition for how he was playing, but because of the number of games he has missed, I chose not to throw him in the mix, even though his early pace had him way ahead of the pack.]

Mid-season National League Cy Young Winner

The mid-season NL Cy Young race was looking interesting for a while.  For a few weeks, I thought for sure it would be Cole Hamels, who had a great ERA and won seven consecutive starts after losing his first to start the year.  Then Gio Gonzalez kept winning, Brian Beachy looked great, and Matt Cain threw a perfect game.  Stephen Strasburg is becoming the phenom we all knew he would be.

And then there's R.A. Dickey.  What Dickey has done this year has been nothing short of incredible.

The guy threw consecutive one-hitters, has an ERA of 2.40, a WHIP of just 0.93, is second in the league in strikeouts with 123, has his opponents hitting .203 for the season, and by the way is 12-1.  Dickey has never been a great pitcher, but at 37, he seems to have found whatever he was lacking earlier in his career.  The knuckleballer is hands down the mid-season NL Cy Young award winner.

I'd say that Strasburg could challenge him for the award by year's end if not for his innings count.  My number two right now would Matt Cain, who at 9-3 with a 2.62 ERA and 118 K's is having a great season in his own right.  I think Cain could make it interesting by the end of the year, but at the break, Dickey is the clear choice for the mid-season Cy Young.

Tomorrow we will post my A.L. (mid-season) award winners.

[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Jacoby Ellsbury placed on 15-day DL

As expected, the Boston Red Sox placed center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury on the 15-day disabled list due to his subluxed shoulder.

"Jacoby injured his right shoulder during yesterday’s game," per a team statement (via Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe). "An MRI was performed and showed findings consistent with a subluxed shoulder. We are in the process of gathering further information and determining the treatment plan. Jacoby will be placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to today’s game."

The team is expected to call up Jason Repko from Pawtucket to take Ellsbury's roster spot.

Through seven games, Ellsbury was hitting .192 with no home runs and no stolen bases.  He has four runs scored and three runs batted in.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Andrew Bailey out through the All-Star Break

Per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey will have surgery to reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right thumb.

The injury will keep Bailey on the disabled list until after the All-Star break, according to manager Bobby Valentine.

As far as which reliever will take over ninth-inning duties, the top candidates are Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves.

Melancon and Aceves are currently owned in 39 and 21 percent, respectively, of Yahoo! leagues.

Get our updated 2012 reliever rankings here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Desmond Jennings hits three HRs Sunday

Tampa Bay outfielder Desmond Jennings hit three homers including a grand slam and drove in six runs in an 8-5 victory over the Orioles today.

"I felt good from the first at-bat, I felt like I was seeing the ball good and I was swinging at good pitches today," Jennings said. "I felt like I was swinging the bat good. I was swinging at pitches in the zone. Hitting them on the barrel and getting to pitches inside, that's a good sign for me."

Before today's game, Jennings had no home runs and only one run batted in this spring.

Jennings is now hitting .348 and has three home runs, four stolen bases and seven runs batted in this spring.

The Rays open up the regular season against the Yankees on Friday, April 6th.

In our fantasy rankings, Jennings is our 13th-ranked outfielder.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

David Wright to sit out games Monday and Tuesday (at least)

Mets third baseman David Wright won't play on Monday or Tuesday, at least, when the team begins Grapefruit League play due to stiffness in his rib cage, per Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News.

At this point, however, Wright says he would play if it were Opening Day (of the regular season).

“If the best thing is to just completely knock it out, to take a couple days off, that’s the best route,” Wright said. “If the doctor says I can continue to do stuff, obviously, I’d like to be out there, so.

“It’s kind of the perfect storm with what happened to Scotty (Hairston to an oblique injury on Saturday). I think it’s the correct decision, no question. Sometimes I can be hard-headed and stubborn. The medical staff might take it too slow, but in the end, it’s usually pretty good for you. I’ve tried to battle them the last couple of days. What happened with Scotty, they made it very clear and Terry made it very clear that they are going to run the show.”

Wright, who missed 60 games last year, hit a career-low .255 with 14 home runs and 13 stolen bases in 2011.

Going into 2012, Wright is our third-ranked fantasy third baseman after Jose Bautista and Evan Longoria.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Padres, Maybin agree to a five-year extension

Per Dan Hayes of the North County Times, the Padres and Cameron Maybin have agreed to a deal that will keep the center fielder in San Diego through the 2016 season.

The five-year deal is worth $25 million and the club has an option for 2017 as well.

Cameron has certainly emerged as a core player,” [GM Josh] Byrnes said in a team press release. “During his time with the Padres, he has impressed us with his player and with his character. He has shown us that he is committed to the Padres, and we are happy to secure his rights through 2017.”

Last year, Maybin hit .264 with nine homers and 40 RBIs and stole 40 bases

In our fantasy baseball rankings, Maybin is our No. 43 outfielder.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

VIDEO: J.P. Arencibia impersonating Tim Kurkjian

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian has a distinctive voice and Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia does a great job of impersonating it.

In this video, Terry Francona is interviewing Arencibia, who is impersonating Kurkjian analyzing Jose Bautista:


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 50 Outfielders

With his 50-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs overturned, one thing is clear: it's a positive (no pun intended) to his fantasy value.

Milwaukee left fielder Ryan Braun, last year's N.L. MVP, set career highs in batting average (.332) and stolen bases (33) and came close to career highs in runs scored (109), runs batted in (111) and home runs (33) last year.

While Braun had a career-best season, he's been as consistent as any other player over the past five years since being called up late-May 2007.

Despite playing in only 113 games in his rookie season, here are his career lows: 91 runs scored, 25 home runs, 97 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases. As a career .312 hitter, Braun has hit above .300 in four of five seasons and .320 or better three times.

Based on his first five seasons, here are his average stats per 162 games: 112 runs scored, 36 home runs, 118 runs batted in and 21 stolen bases.

Two reasons for a potential drop-off in production are: (1) the free-agent departure of Prince Fielder and (2) the possible constant questioning by reporters and taunting by fans, especially on the road, about the PED issue wearing thin on Braun.

Going into 2012, Braun is my No. 3 ranked outfielder behind L.A.'s Matt Kemp and Toronto's Jose Bautista, who still has third base eligibility. If Bautista was only outfield eligible, I would rank Braun second among outfielders behind Kemp.

Here are some notes on outfielders:

- Speaking of Kemp, he had a legitimate shot to win the triple crown last year. He finished first in the National League in home runs (39) and runs batted in (126) and third in average (.324). Kemp finished with career highs in home runs, runs batted in, runs scored (115), and stolen bases (40). Only one homer shy of his first 40-40 season, it was the second 30-30 season of Kemp's career.

- Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman, who had his best season since 2008, finished seventh in N.L. MVP voting last year. In 145 games, Berkman hit .301 with 31 homers and 94 runs batted in. Although he hit for a higher average after the All-Star Break (.315 vs. .290), Berkman hit 24 of his 31 home runs and drove in 63 of his 94 runs before the break.

- Washington's Michael Morse, who has eligibility at first base and outfield, was fantasy bargain in 2011. Not only did he have a great season (.303 with 31 home runs and 95 runs batted in), he was consistent before and after the All-Star game: .306-15-49 (before split) and .299-16-46 (after break). That said, his two worst months were his first (April) and last (September) of the season.

- Last year, Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton was one homer and one RBI shy of the career highs he set in 2007. While Upton had a four-year low in steals (36) to go along with his 23 homers and 81 runs batted in, he has hit .243 or less in each of the past three seasons.

- Cleveland's Shin-Soo Choo, who missed half of last season due to his thumb injury, is healthy heading into 2012 and is looking to bounce back after a down season. Before last year, Choo had back-to-back seasons with .300 average, 20-plus homers and 20-plus steals. Choo provides plenty of upside as a bounce-back candidate.

- Atlanta's Jason Heyward has the potential to deliver a big return for fantasy owners in 2012. Heyward, who turns only 23 in August, had a shoulder injury that slowed him down last year, but he should be healthy to start the season. Heyward saw his average drop from .277 to .227 and his RBIs drop from 72 to 42 last year.

- Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki has seen his batting average decline from .352 in 2009 to .315 in 2010 to a career-low .272 in 2011. In fact, it was the first time in Ichiro's career that he hit below .300. Suzuki has stolen 40-plus bases in back-to-back seasons, but he's now 37 years old (i.e., eventually he will slow down) and he will hit third in the batting order, which will reduce his base-stealing opportunities some.

- As a former second-overall pick, Kansas City's Alex Gordon was a bit of disappointment based on his potential. In his first four seasons, Gordon hit .260 or lower, 16 homers or less and drove in 60 runs or less every season. Last year, Gordon had a breakout season setting career highs across the board: .303 average, 101 runs scored, 23 homers, 87 runs batted in and 17 stolen bases.

Here are our top 50 outfielders for the 2012 season:

1. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
3. Ryan Braun, Brewers
4. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
5. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
6. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
7. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
8. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
9. Josh Hamilton, Rangers
10. Nelson Cruz, Rangers
11. Mike Stanton, Marlins
12. Desmond Jennings, Rays
13. Matt Holliday, Cardinals
14. Hunter Pence, Phillies
15. Jay Bruce, Reds
16. Alex Gordon, Royals
17. Michael Morse, Nationals
18. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians
19. Carl Crawford, Red Sox
20. Ben Zobrist, Rays
21. Shane Victorino, Phillies
22. B.J. Upton, Rays
23. Michael Bourn, Braves
24. Drew Stubbs, Reds
25. Jason Heyward, Braves
26. Corey Hart, Brewers
27. Adam Jones, Orioles
28. Lance Berkman, Cardinals
29. Brett Gardner, Yankees
30. Howard Kendrick, Angels
31. Nick Markakis, Orioles
32. Andre Ethier, Dodgers
33. Jayson Werth, Nationals
34. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
35. Chris Young, Diamondbacks
36. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
37. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
38. Logan Morrison, Marlins
39. Melky Cabrera, Giants
40. Delmon Young, Tigers
41. Nick Swisher, Yankees
42. Peter Bourjos, Angels
43. Cameron Maybin, Padres
44. Jeff Franceour, Royals
45. Torii Hunter, Angels
46. Martin Prado, Braves
47. Matt Joyce, Rays
48. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
49. Alex Rios, White Sox
50. Jose Tabata, Pirates

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Joel Zumaya out for year with torn UCL

If it weren't for bad luck, it seems as though Minnesota's Joel Zumaya wouldn't have any at all.

The hard-throwing, 27-year-old reliever threw only 13 pitches at a batting practice session on Saturday before suffering what has now turned out to be a season-ending injury.

An MRI has revealed that Zumaya has a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow and he will miss the entire 2012 season.

Zumaya, who signed a one-year deal with the Twins, is guaranteed only $400,000 since he won't be on the team's opening day roster.

He’s distraught, as you’d expect,” [Twins general manager Terry] Ryan said (via Matt Snyder of CBS Sports). “He’s going to come in here in the next day or so and we’re going to talk about the immediate future for him.”

Having last pitched in a regular-season game in June 2010, a successful rehab from Tommy John surgery would mean that Zumaya would go nearly three calendar years in between pitching in a major league game.

Report: Chris Perez out 4-6 weeks

The Cleveland Indians play their regular-season opener on Thursday, April 5th at home against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Whether or not they will have Chris Perez available to close on Opening Day is now uncertain.

Per AP's Tom Withers, Perez is "out 4 to 6 weeks with strained oblique."

Six weeks from today is April 8th so if Perez is not available on Opening Day, he should be back close to that time.

Nationals, Zimmerman agree to six-year extension

The Washington Nationals and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman have agreed to a six-year contract extension, per ESPN's Buster Olney.

According to the report, the deal includes an option for the seventh year, which means that Zimmerman, who was under contract through 2013, could be a National through 2020 based on the new deal.

"All along, all I've wanted is to be able to stay with the Nationals, which I consider my hometown team, and help the franchise become a winner while also being compensated fairly," Zimmerman said in a statement Saturday. "I'm from Virginia, I was drafted by the Nationals and I've seen this organization make great progress since I signed here. I want to see it through to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series."

Zimmerman, who was the franchise's first draft pick in the post-Expos era, played in only 101 games and set six-year lows last year in runs scored (52), home runs (12) and runs batted in (49).

In our fantasy rankings, we have Zimmerman as the fifth-ranked third baseman.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Shortstops

We noted in our first basemen rankings that the position is especially deep in A.L.-only leagues but not very deep in N.L.-only leagues as seven of our top eight-ranked first basemen play in the American League.

For shortstops, it is the opposite.

In our rankings, five of our top six shortstops play in the National League. There is a gap between the top three and the next group of shortstops and all three of those elite shortstops play in the N.L.

Here are some notes on shortstops:

- Since becoming the Rockies everyday shortstop in 2007, Troy Tulowitzki has put up great numbers when he was on the field. Tulo set a career high in runs batted in (105), hit 30 homers for the second time in his career and batted .300-plus for the second straight season in 2011. On the other hand, the 27-year-old missed 19 games last season and has averaged only 134.4 games per season since 2007.

- With the offseason acquisition of Jose Reyes, the Marlins have two of my top three fantasy shortstops. Although Hanley Ramirez will move to third base, he has shortstop eligibility as well. The good news is Reyes hit a career-high .337 and won the N.L. batting crown last year and stole 39 bases despite missing 36 games last year. Like with Tulowitzki, that's the biggest problem with Reyes, who has played 133 games or less in each of the past three seasons.

- Speaking of Hanley Ramirez, he had his worst season of his career and missed 70 games. Ramirez, who hit only .243 last year, is a career .306 hitter that averaged 25 homers and 39 steals per year from 2006 to 2010. Based on his average draft position of 20 from Mock Draft Central, HanRam could easily be one of the biggest early-round bargains after several seasons of being a top-five pick.

- Unlike many shortstops, Detroit's Jhonny Peralta won't help you on the basepaths. For his career, he has a total of nine stolen bases. Unlike many shortstops, Peralta will help you with the power categories. For the fourth consecutive season, Peralta finished with 80-plus runs batted in and he hit 20-plus homers for the fourth time in his career.

- In his four seasons in the big leagues, White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been solid and steady if not spectacular. There has been relatively little season-to-season fluctuation in his stats and here are his four-year averages: .279 career hitter, 17 home runs, 12 steals, 75 runs scored and 71 RBIs.

- Although he doesn't turn 22 years old until March 24th, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro already has already hit .300 in two major league seasons. In fact, Castro finished fourth in all of baseball in hits (207) after Michael Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury. The Cubs will move Castro, who hit 10 homers and stole 22 bases last year, to third (from leadoff) in the batting order this year.

- Before last season, Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera hit a total of 18 home runs in four seasons (1,415 at-bats). Out of nowhere, Cabrera hit 25 home runs (in 604 at-bats) last year. In addition to his power surge, he set career highs in runs scored (87) and runs batted in (92) while tying his previous career high in steals (17).

- In 56 games last year, Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon ran 31 times and was successful of 24 of those steal attempts. While he will provide absolutely no power (zero homers and 11 RBIs last year), he has the potential to lead the league in steals if he plays 150-plus games.

Here are our top 25 shortstops for the 2012 season:

1. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
3. Jose Reyes, Marlins
4. Starlin Castro, Cubs
5. Elvis Andrus, Rangers
6. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
7. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
8. Jhonny Peralta, Tigers
9. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
10. Derek Jeter, Yankees
11. J.J. Hardy, Orioles
12. Erick Aybar, Angels
13. Dee Gordon, Dodgers
14. Marco Scutaro, Rockies
15. Yunel Escobar, Blue Jays
16. Stephen Drew, Blue Jays
17. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
18. Rafael Furcal, Cardinals
19. Zack Cozart, Reds
20. Ian Desmond, Nationals
21. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
22. Jed Lowrie, Astros
23. Alcides Escobar, Royals
24. Jason Bartlett, Padres
25. Cliff Pennington, Athletics

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

Introducing our 2012 MLB Mock Draft Database

Although there are more than three months to go until MLB's First-Year Player Draft (June 4-6), we have set up our 2012 MLB Mock Draft Database this morning.

Like we do with our NFL and NBA mock draft databases, we link to other sites that have created a mock draft and include their top five picks. All of the mocks are (and will be) sorted based on their last update date listed.

As we get closer to June, more and more sites will offer mock drafts and be included in our database.

If you have a mock draft that should be included, e-mail us for more information.

Related: Our 2012 NFL Mock Draft Database - Our 2012 NBA Mock Draft Database

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ryan Braun wins appeal, 50-game suspension overturned

A couple of months ago, it was announced that Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun would be suspended for 50 games for violating the league's policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

Today Braun, the 2011 N.L. MVP, became the first player to win an appeal of a PED suspension, which means he will be able to play Opening Day and the remaining 161 games this season.

According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Braun won the appeal "not so much on contesting the result of the test but the testing process itself."

Per Haudricourt, here's part of the statement from MLB: " ... While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

With the ruling, we have moved Braun up to No. 3 in our fantasy outfielder rankings behind only Matt Kemp and Jose Bautista.

Not only did Braun set career highs in batting average (.332) and stolen bases (33) last year, but he was one of only four players to finish with a 30-30 season. Braun is five-category stud as he has driven in 100-plus runs for four straight seasons and scored 100-plus runs for three straight seasons.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Third Basemen

After missing 20 games in 2010, Miami's Hanley Ramirez missed many more games (70) last year and was one of the biggest disappointments in all of fantasy baseball.

Not only did Ramirez miss almost half of the season, but he struggled when he was on the field. HanRam hit a career-low .243 and it was the first time since 2006 that he hit below .300. Several months into the season (June 20th), Ramirez was hitting only .200.

Now there is plenty of change in Miami.

The team is no longer called the Florida Marlins, Ozzie Guillen is the team's new manager and the addition of free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes means that Ramirez will shift to third.

Believed to not be thrilled about the move, Ramirez has recently said the right things about the transition.

I never said I’m not going to do it,” Ramirez said, per Tom D'Angelo of the Palm Beach Post. “I’m just happy to be here, be back in the spring with my guys, my teammates, everybody’s happy. That’s what we need. We got to stay together through the year. We’re looking good. This is the best team I have been in six years with the Marlins.”

Although he's not initially eligible at third base, Ramirez will be eligible at both shortstop and third base by the middle of April.

Here are some notes on third basemen:

- Despite being walked 100-plus times in each of the past two seasons, Toronto's Jose Bautista has hit 97 home runs during that span and has led the majors in the statistic each season. In fact, there have been only four 40-homer seasons over the past two years and Bautista has two of them. Over the past two seasons, Bautista also has 100-plus runs, 100-plus RBIs and nine steals each season.

- Arizona's Ryan Roberts, who is eligible at second as well as third base, fell just shy of a 20-15 season. Roberts finished the season with 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases, both of which were career highs. Roberts also set career highs in runs scored (86) and runs batted in (65).

- Although he missed almost 30 games and hit a career-low .244, Tampa's Evan Longoria hit 31 home runs, only two shy of his career best set in 2009. Longoria finished last season much better than he started it. Over the past two months, he hit 17 home runs and drove in 46 runs in 55 games.

- Mets third baseman David Wright hit a career-low .255 last year and played his fewest games (102) since his rookie campaign. After five straight seasons hitting .300 or better, Wright has had back-to-back sub-.300 batting averages. Since the Mets moved to Citi Field three seasons ago, Wright has hit a total of only 55 home runs, which works out to one homer in every 27.5 at-bats. While the numbers are bad at Citi Field (32.4 at-bats per HR), they're not great on the road (24.2/HR) during that span either.

- San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval played in only 117 games last year, but he still managed to hit 23 homers, only two shy of the career high he set back in 2009, and drove in 70 runs. After the All-Star break, KungFu Panda hit .325 with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in over 67 games. Not only is Sandoval eligible at third base, but he is first base eligible as well.

- With Baltimore's Mark Reynolds, you know exactly what you're getting. He's going to simultaneously help you (home runs) and hurt you (batting average). Since 2008, only four players have hit more home runs than Reynolds (141): Albert Pujols (163), Ryan Howard (157), Prince Fielder (150) and Mark Teixeira (144). However, no player has struck out more than Reynolds (834) during that span.

- In his 43 games last year, Toronto's Brett Lawrie gave fantasy owners a sample of what he can do -- hit for power and average and steal bases. The former first-round pick (2008) hit .293 with nine home runs, 25 runs batted in and seven steals.

- Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has not played more than 138 games in any of the past four seasons and played his fewest (99 games) last year since 1995. It was also the first time that A-Rod failed to reach 30 home runs or 100 runs batted in since 1995. Considering he turns 37 in July, it's risky to bank on Rodriguez staying healthy enough to reach 140 games for the first time since 2007.

Here are our top 25 third basemen for the 2012 season:

1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
2. Evan Longoria, Rays
3. David Wright, Mets
4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
5. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
6. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
7. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
8. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
9. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
10. Michael Young, Rangers
11. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
12. David Freese, Cardinals
13. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
14. Mark Reynolds, Orioles
15. Martin Prado, Braves
16. Mike Moustakas, Royals
17. Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
18. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates
19. Emilio Bonifacio, Marlins
20. Chase Headley, Padres
21. Chipper Jones, Braves
22. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
23. Daniel Murphy, Mets
24. Danny Valencia, Twins
25. Placido Polanco, Phillies

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Second Basemen

Last year, there were 12 players in the majors that had 20-20 seasons.

The vast majority of those 12 players were outfielders (10). But the other two were both second basemen: Ian Kinsler, who was one of four 30-30 guys, and Dustin Pedroia.

In addition to Kinsler and Pedroia, there were four other second basemen (or second base-eligible players) that had 15-15 seasons: Ben Zobrist, Danny Espinosa, Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts.

There were only 24 players that had 15-15 seasons in 2011, which means that one-quarter (six) of them were eligible at second base.

Plus Brandon Phillips, who had 18 homers and 14 steals, just missed the 15-15 club.

In other words, there are several solid options at second base that can provide fantasy owners with value after the elite ones at the top.

Here are some notes on second basemen:

- Speaking of elite second basemen, Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano set career highs last year in runs scored (104), runs batted in (118) and stolen bases (eight). Cano is one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. Over the past three years, he has scored 100-plus runs, hit 25-plus home runs and batted .300-plus every year.

- In 2010, White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham started slow, but he hit much better after the All-Star Break (.310, six home runs and 27 runs batted in). Last year, however, he hit poorly all season and even worse after the break (.213, three homers and 19 runs batted in).

- For the second straight season, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley played in 115 games or less. In the previous five seasons (2005-2009), here were Utley's per-season averages in the five standard rotisserie categories: 110.6 runs scored, 29.2 home runs, 108.8 runs batted in, 15.4 stolen bases and .301 batting average. In other words, if he can stay healthy, which seems unlikely, there is plenty of upside from where he is currently being drafted.

- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is not going to help much in runs scored or runs batted in and he's going to hurt you in batting average (.236 last year). That said, Espinosa will help in home runs (21) and stolen bases (17). Espinosa was one of eight National League players to finish with 20-plus homers and 15-plus steals in 2011 and the other seven players were all outfielders.

- One player who fell just short of 20-15 was Arizona's Ryan Roberts, who is eligible at second as well as third base. Roberts finished the season with 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases, both of which were career highs. Roberts also set career highs in runs scored (86) and runs batted in (65).

- The biggest knock on Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has been his ability to stay healthy. Last year, Kinsler missed only seven games and played in more than 130 games for only the second time in his six-year career. Not-so-coincidentally, Kinsler has had 30-30 seasons in both of those seasons. He finished with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases and set a career high in runs scored (121).

- Similar to Kinsler, Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks has struggled to stay healthy. With the exception of 2010 (160 games), Weeks has played in 129 games or less every season. On a per-game basis, Weeks will really help in the counting statistics from the second base position, but the most pressing question will always be: How many games will he play?

- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia started slow (.255 and .227 averages in April and May), but he finished strong from June to September. Pedroia hit over .300 in each of the other four months of the season including .411 in 26 games in July with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in. Pedroia set career highs in home runs (21), runs batted in (91) and stolen bases (26) and scored more than 100 runs for his third straight season last year.

- Not only is Michael Cuddyer eligible at second base, but as we noted in our first base rankings, he is eligible at first and outfield as well. In addition to offering fantasy owners positional flexibility, Cuddyer is moving to the friendlier confines of Coors Field this season. Although he played in only 139 games last year, Cuddyer set a career high in steals (11) and hit 20-plus homers for only the third time in his career.

Here are our top 25 second basemen for the 2012 season:

1. Robinson Cano, Yankees
2. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
4. Dan Uggla, Braves
5. Chase Utley, Phillies
6. Ben Zobrist, Rays
7. Brandon Phillips, Reds
8. Michael Young, Rangers
9. Rickie Weeks, Brewers
10. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
11. Howard Kendrick, Angels
12. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
13. Jason Kipnis, Indians
14. Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks
15. Danny Espinosa, Nationals
16. Neil Walker, Pirates
17. Jemile Weeks, Athletics
18. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
19. Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks
20. Gordon Beckham, White Sox
21. Daniel Murphy, Mets
22. Jose Altuve, Astros
23. Omar Infante, Marlins
24. Sean Rodriguez, Rays
25. Johnny Giavotella, Royals

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

Monday, February 20, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 First Basemen

Two of the best first basemen in baseball signed mega contracts -- more than $200 million each -- this offseason while moving from the National League to the American League.

The Angels will give Albert Pujols $254 million over the next 10 years and the Tigers will give Prince Fielder $214 million over nine years. Only Alex Rodriguez has signed larger contracts.

Based on average draft position (ADP) from Mock Draft Central, that means that only one out of the first eight at the position to be drafted (on average) play in the N.L.: Cincinnati's Joey Votto. While first base is (one of) the deepest positions in fantasy baseball, it's especially deep in AL-only leagues.

Considering Pujols is in his early-30's, it made sense for him to transition to the American League, where he can eventually DH toward the (middle or) end of his contract. Pujols is one of baseball's greatest hitters of all-time.

For the first time in his 11-year career, Pujols hit less than .300 (.299) and drove in less than 100 runs (99). In 2007, Pujols scored less than 100 runs (99) for the only time in his career. And he has hit 32-plus homers in all 11 seasons.

So, in other words, Pujols has had a line of .300-100-30-100 every year with the exception of one run scored, one run batted in and one batting average point.

While Pujols hit a career-low .299, Fielder, who will be 36 years old at the end of his contract, tied his previous career high of .299 last year.

In the past five seasons, Fielder has hit a total of 200 home runs with 565 runs batted in, which is an average of 40 homers and 113 RBIs per season. His career highs during that span were 50 home runs (2007) and 141 RBIs (2009).

With the addition of Fielder, Miguel Cabrera will earn eligibility at third base. As good as Cabrera is regardless of position, he will become even more valuable with third-base eligibility, especially considering the difference in depth at the two positions.

In his eight seasons since his rookie year (2003), Cabrera has driven in 100-plus runs every year and hit 30-plus homers seven times. A lifetime .317 hitter, Cabrera hit a career-high .344 last year.

Here are some more notes on first basemen:

- One player that is often overlooked on draft day, and I'm guilty of it as well, is Chicago's Paul Konerko. Konerko has had back-to-back seasons with 30-plus homers, 100-plus runs batted in and a .300-plus batting average and plays half of his games in a great hitter's park.

- In 128 games last year, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, the third-overall pick in the 2008 draft, hit .293 with 19 home runs, 78 runs batted in and had 11 steals. While he's still only 22 years old and we may see a bit of sophomore slump, Hosmer is one of baseball's great young hitters.

- Switching from a pitcher-friendly park in San Diego to a hitter-friendly one in Boston, Adrian Gonzalez surprisingly hit only 27 home runs, which was a five-year low. That said, Gonzalez set career highs in average (.338) and runs scored (108). He also had 45 doubles and 117 runs batted in, both of which were the second-highest totals of his career.

- The clear top option at first in N.L.-only leagues (as noted above), Votto reached triple-digits in both runs and runs batted in for the second straight season, but he also reached triple-digits in walks (110) for the first time in his career. Not only does Votto hit for average and power, but he has a combined total of 24 stolen bases in the past two seasons.

- Although Boston's Kevin Youkilis has first base eligibiliy, he primarily plays third base, which adds to his value. However, Youkilis is coming off a season where he set a career low in batting average (.258) and, even worse, he has averaged less than 120 games played over the past three seasons, which obviously detracts from his value. In fact, Youkilis has never played more than 147 games in a season.

- San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval played in only 117 games last year, but he still managed to hit 23 homers, only two shy of the career high he set back in 2009, and drove in 70 runs. After the All-Star break, KungFu Panda hit .325 with 15 home runs and 41 runs batted in over 67 games and offers the same 1B/3B versatility as Youkilis.

- Lance Berkman had a great year with a line of .301-90-31-94-2, but the first half told a different story for Berkman than the second half did. Berkman hit 24 homers and drove in 63 runs before the All-Star break and had only seven home runs and 31 RBIs after the break. In 52 games in August and September, Berkman hit only three home runs in 180 at-bats (or exactly one per every 60 at-bats).

- Not only is Michael Cuddyer eligible at first base, but he is eligible at second and outfield as well. In addition to offering fantasy owners positional flexibility, Cuddyer is moving to the friendlier confines of Coors Field this season. Although he played in only 139 games last year, Cuddyer set a career high in steals (11) and hit 20-plus homers for the third time in his career.

Here are our top 25 first basemen for the 2012 season:

1. Albert Pujols, Angels
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
4. Joey Votto, Reds
5. Prince Fielder, Tigers
6. Mark Teixeira, Yankees
7. Paul Konerko, White Sox
8. Eric Hosmer, Royals
9. Michael Morse, Nationals
10. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
11. Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox
12. Carlos Santana, Indians
13. Mike Napoli, Rangers
14. Michael Young, Rangers
15. Freddie Freeman, Braves
16. Ryan Howard, Phillies
17. Lance Berkman, Cardinals
18. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
19. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
20. Ike Davis, Mets
21. Adam Lind, Blue Jays
22. Adam Dunn, White Sox
23. Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
24. Mark Reynolds, Orioles
25. Carlos Lee, Astros

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

(Updated) 2012 Fantasy Baseball Preseason Rankings: Top 25 Catchers

Although he hit only 12 homers last year after back-to-back seasons with 20-plus, Detroit's Victor Martinez had a great season, especially for a catcher-eligible player.

Martinez, who is a lifetime .303 hitter, hit .330-plus for the second time in the past three seasons and drove in 100-plus runs for only the third time in his career.

Unfortunately, Martinez will miss the season after tearing his ACL last month. However, he should be fine for the 2013 season.

Teammate Alex Avila had a breakout season for the Tigers. In addition to hitting with power (19 home runs and 82 runs batted in last year), Avila hit for average (.295). While he may not duplicate that level of production, Avila is definitely worthy of a top 10 pick at the position.

Here are some more notes on catchers:

- Although he played in more games and had more at-bats in the previous two seasons, Texas catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli hit a career-high 30 home runs in 2011. It was the fourth consecutive season that he hit 20-plus home runs. In addition, Napoli had career highs in runs scored (72), hits (118), doubles (25), runs batted in (75) and batting average (.320).

- Last year, Atlanta's Brian McCann tied his career high in home runs (24), but he drove in less than 80 runs and hit .270 or lower for the second straight season. From 2006 to 2009, McCann drove in 90-plus runs three times and hit over .300 twice.

- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina set several career highs last year: average (.305), home runs (14), runs scored (55) and runs batted in (65). After stealing a total of 17 bases in the previous two seasons, Molina stole only four bases and was thrown out five times. Molina has hit at least .293 in three of the past four seasons.

- Of all catcher-eligible players, Cleveland's Carlos Santana was one of three players to finish with 500-plus at-bats: Santana (552), Martinez (540) and Baltimore's Matt Wieters (500). Santana, who played 66 games at first base, ranked second in home runs (27) and fourth in runs batted in (79) among catcher-eligible players.

- Minnesota's Joe Mauer has the potential to deliver huge rewards for fantasy owners. Based on average draft position (ADP) from Mock Draft Central, Mauer is the fifth catcher and 77th player off the board, on average. While he was limited to only 82 games last year and set career lows in average (.287), homers (three) and runs batted in (30), he was ready to go at the start of spring training (unlike last year).

- If you're in a deep a league, a guy I like a lot is Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz. For catchers, he will hit for a high average: .292 over the past two seasons. And he's been even better after the All-Star break: .316 over the past two seasons. Ruiz is currently the 23rd catcher off the board based on Mock Draft Central's ADP data.

- Acquired this offseason in a trade for Michael Pineda, Seattle's Jesus Montero is one of the top prospects in baseball, specifically due to his offensive skills. While the 22-year-old will still need to play enough games to gain eligibility at catcher, he should hit .280-plus and 20-plus homers from the middle of the Mariners' lineup.

- Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, the team's first-round pick in 2007, won't help you in batting average (.219 last year), but he provides plenty of power (23 homers and 78 runs batted in).

Here are our top 25 catchers for the 2012 season:

1. Carlos Santana, Indians
2. Mike Napoli, Rangers
3. Brian McCann, Braves
4. Buster Posey, Giants
5. Joe Mauer, Twins
6. Matt Wieters, Orioles
7. Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks
8. Alex Avila, Tigers
9. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays
10. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
11. Geovany Soto, Cubs
12. Wilson Ramos, Nationals
13. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
14. Russell Martin, Yankees
15. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
16. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox
17. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
18. Salvador Perez, Royals
19. Devin Mesoraco, Reds
20. Chris Iannetta, Angels
21. John Buck, Marlins
22. Ryan Doumit, Twins
23. Ramon Hernandez, Rockies
24. Miguel Olivo, Mariners
25. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

Other Positions: C - 1B - 2B - 3B - SS - OF - SP - RP

To keep track of our updates, follow us on Twitter @EDSBaseball and/or LIKE us on Facebook.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adam Wainwright faced live hitters on Thursday

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who had Tommy John surgery roughly a year ago, faced hitters this morning.

"I really don't feel like I've missed a year," Wainwright said, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It feels like I'm stepping back into something that is comfortable. It feels natural."

Wainwright, who missed all of 2011, was a combined 39-19 with 402 strikeouts in the previous two seasons. His ERAs were 2.63 and 2.42 in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Currently at No. 24 in our starting pitcher rankings, Wainwright provides plenty of upside (and a little bit of risk) for fantasy owners.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rangers, Napoli avoid arbitration with one-year contract

The Texas Rangers and catcher Mike Napoli agreed to a one-year contract worth $9.4 million to avoid salary arbitration, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Napoli had asked for $11.5 million and the Rangers had offered $8.3 million.

Although he played in more games in the previous two seasons, Napoli set career highs in 2011 with 30 home runs, 72 runs and 75 runs batted in.

Even more impressively, he hit .320 and he's a career .264 hitter. His previous career high in batting average was .273.

After Cleveland's Carlos Santana and Atlanta's Brian McCann, Napoli is my third-ranked fantasy catcher heading into the 2012 season.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Royals, Gordon agree on one-year deal

The Kansas City Royals have agreed on a one-year deal with left fielder Alex Gordon worth $4.775 million and have avoided arbitration, per Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.

Gordon, who made $1.5 million last year, was asking for $5.45 million and the Royals were offering $4.15 million.

As a former No. 2 overall draft pick (2005), Gordon turns 28 tomorrow and is coming off a breakout season.

Last year, Gordon set career highs across the board in 2011: .303 average, 45 doubles, 23 home runs, 101 runs, 87 runs batted in and 17 steals.

Gordon is the 16th-ranked fantasy outfielder in our 2012 preseason rankings.

Report: Rangers and Nelson Cruz close on two-year deal

The Texas Rangers and shortstop Elvis Andrus agreed to a three-year contract worth $14.4 million yesterday.

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz may be next.

Per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers and Cruz are close to a two-year deal, which would eliminate the need for their arbitration hearing next week (and next year).

In each of the past three seasons, Cruz has played in 128 regular-season games or less. During that span, Cruz has 84 home runs, 241 runs batted in and 46 stolen bases in 360 games.

If, a big if, Cruz could stay healthy for 150 games this season and maintain his per-game average from the past three seasons, he would hit 35 home runs, 100 runs batted in and 19 stolen bases.

Cruz is the 10th-ranked fantasy outfielder in our 2012 preseason rankings.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A's sign Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal

The Oakland A's have agreed to a one-year deal with pitcher Bartolo Colon, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.

Colon finished last season with a record of 8-10 and an ERA of 4.00, but he started the season much better than he finished it.

Here are his splits of first three and second three months:
  • April-June: 5-3, 3.10 ERA, 8.27 K/9
  • July-September: 3-7, 4.81 ERA, 6.59 K/9

While he may fade toward the end of the season again and he loses the run support provided by the Yankees, Colon moves to a more favorable stadium.

Last year, A's pitchers more than a full run differential when comparing their ERA at home (3.18) vs. on the road (4.26).

Nationals, Gio Gonzalez agree to extension through 2016

The Washington Nationals announced via Twitter that they have agreed to a contract extension with starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez through the 2016 season.

In addition, there is a team option for the 2017 and 2018 season as well.

Gonzalez, who was acquired for four prospects last month, would have been eligible for arbitration this offseason.

In the past two seasons, Gonzalez has won 15-plus games, pitched 200-plus innings and posted a sub-3.25 ERA each year. Last season, he set career highs in wins (16) and strikeouts (197) and a career low in ERA (3.12).

Among qualified pitchers, Gonzalez ranked 11th in MLB in K/9 (8.78) last season. But only Toronto's Brandon Morrow (10.19), Seattle's (now New York's) Michael Pineda (9.11) and Detroit's Justin Verlander (8.96) had a better K/9 among A.L. starting pitchers.

That said, only Pittsburgh's James McDonald had a worse BB/9 (4.11) than Gonzalez (4.05) last year among qualified starters.