The Pirates are having a very fine season. There is no knocking on wood required here, no jinxers, no late-season collapse to ruin the party. They will, at the very least, clinch one of the two wild card spots, and as it stands right now, they have a 95.7% chance to do so. It’s been over 20 years since the last time they were there. As a baseball story, I think we can all appreciate the idea of a good Pirates baseball team. And as such, the journey of this baseball team has, in turn, illuminated several individual performances that have not just come as a surprise in the world of ‘real’ baseball, but that of fantasy as well. In an effort to choose which player to spotlight, and ultimately narrowing my focus to a few performances, I stumbled upon something very interesting. It wasn’t just the fact that both of the players in question had improved substantially from their career norms. And it wasn’t just the fact that both of these players were producing career years or near-career years. It was the fact that both of these players shared the same exact process for these improvements. That is to say, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano changed in the exact same way, and in effect, share the exact same result. Because of this, we’re going to scrap the normal ‘single’ player spotlight and go over both of these guys. And since they’re Pirates, I get to have a little fun. ARRRRRGH you ready?

Booty, booty, booty. I couldn’t help myself. Okay, now I’m ready. Booty.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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Welcome into the Razzball Lounge, fantasy freaks. Here in the lounge we celebrated Razzball scribes like to kick back, relax, sketch Grey’s mustache, debate Yasiel Puig and lament our fantasy baseball failures over a couple of scotch and sodas as we prepare for some football drafting here. What do you mean it’s too early for scotch? It’s 11 in the morning, Guru. Well, get me a Pop-Tart with it. On this lazy Sunday in the lounge we find Sky in a dark corner trying to decide where to rank Bilal Powell, “Isn’t baseball season over yet? How many games do they play, like a 100?” Dropping his quarters into the jukebox is our resident bear or bull, JayWrong, “You guys should really pick up Jhoulys Chacin. Mind if I play Elvis Costello again?” *bottle smashes above head* Bellying up to the bar is our Podcast host and resident Canadian arguing with the bartender, “Whaddya mean you don’t have Labatts? How am I gonna wash down this pickled egg, eh?” Meanwhile, in the ladies room we find the one and only Tehol mid fondle with a handsome honey he’ll soon discover has an Adam’s apple, “Uh, guys? GUUYYSS?!” And here at the pool table is your humble and almost as manly Guru preparing a list of ballers that are going to deliver you a fantasy baseball championship. *closes eye, takes aim, sinks eight ball in corner pocket, downs scotch* What are we doing here again? Oh yeah, it’s time to jam it or cram it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Because we don’t like to leave anyone out here (yeah, right; I don’t think 80% of the words I use would be made up if I wasn’t trying to exclude anyone. I’m sure everyone that stumbles on the site is like, “Oh, yeah, he’s a SAGNOF hot schmotato that was pulling a Kotchman with The Concusstador.”), the title is referring to Phil Rizzuto commercials from the 80′s. I don’t like to point out where anything comes from, to be honest, but Rudy thought it was necessary for non-NY’ers. I do like pointing out how I don’t like pointing anything out, is that too meta for you? So, with that aside, um, aside, Scooter Gennett is calling a black man White and holy cow he’s hot (hitting near .375 in the last week and over .400 in August with 3 homers). You know what Scooter is doing? He’s playing hard in the dog days of the summer to prove he should have the starting job next year. From a fantasy perspective, I love that. If you can have a whole fantasy team of guys playing for a job, and playing well, you’ll be okay during this time of year. Gennett also has some speed in his gams and won’t hurt you on average. If you have a trouble area in the middle infield, I’d absolutely look at him. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

For the most part, there is general theme that I try to cover in this series. Usually, I like to concentrate on the heavily owned guys, say, in the top-100. And within that 100-or-so range, I try to focus on ones that scare the shittake mushroom out of us. Or, players who show us something that is unexpected. A new skill or the deterioration of production are prodded, shaken (not stirred) until we find a suitable conclusion. This is what I do. And while Jhoulys Chacin definitely does not fit the former of what I cover, he does fit the latter quite well. And while he won’t get confused as a player in the top-100, there was a time and a place not too long ago when he was considered a guy with potential, and a pitcher, who, if everything came together, could be a lot more. Plus, you know, this is my series, I do what I want.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

So, how’s your season? *connects hose to tailpipe* That good, huh? Well, the end is near my depressed Razzballin’ droogs. Some of us are prepared for the sprint to the finish and others are drinking too much Colt 45, screaming “Ike Davis” at confused strangers and assembling Fantasy Football draft boards in their tighty whities and Ken Stabler throwbacks. Speaking of which, everyone say hello to Sky. He’s our Fantasy Football Czar and would like to meet your acquaintance here. If you’ve enjoyed our weekly jammer crammer sessions, once we wrap up this here baseball season in a pretty little bow, your humble Guru will continue jamming and cramming on Fantasy Football Island. So join a RCL League now. As for our fake baseball teams, how did you do? Taking a look at The Guru’s collection of teams, I’d have to say it’s been a satisfying season. Currently I’m staring at 10 firsts, 5 seconds and a third. 16 teams? Yes, I admit I do have a problem with moderation. Excuse me while I pour another scotch. Good morning. The areas that have been problematic for me this year have been steals and saves. SAGNOF! Injuries to Jason Motte and Joel Hanrahan certainly didn’t help and had me scrambling to the waiver wire early and often for the likes of Koji Uehara and Rex Brothers. When it comes to steals, the early injury to Jose Reyes and now the suspension of Everth Cabrera put me in the SAGNOF hole. Ouch! Stay away from my SAGNOF hole, it’s an exit not an entrance. As we enter the final three weeks of the regular season, here’s hoping your season has been a success and all the credit can be heaped upon your motley crew of Razzballin’ scribes. If you are out of it, damn the fantasy gods, troll Tehol on Twitter and let me pour you a tumbler of Islay. Enjoy and leave a comment below on the state of your season. It’s time to jam it or cram it – SAGNOF! Part II: Red, White and Screwed.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hey, how are you doing? Good/Bad? That’s good/bad. This is a beautiful/ugly morning/afternoon/night we’re having! What great/lousy weather. I love/hate this time of year! It’s like the beginning/middle/end of everything we love/hate. I remember when we went to (fill-in anecdote) and you said (search old emails for something they said). You are so smart/dumb about those things! I enjoy/hate your insight. Let’s please/never talk again. Oops! I meant to paste in my generic buy on Brandon Belt that I do every year and instead you got my generic break-up/let’s have sex email. Every year around this time, Brandon Belt ignites the furries in my nether regions and I go and tell you to pick him up. Here’s an idea, maybe he’s just a 2nd half hitter! I don’t know, and it’s not really pertinent right now. What is important is how he’s hitting. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .324 with five homers with all five of those homers coming in August, four coming in the last week. I don’t know where I’m gonna fall on Belt next year. Right now, he looks like a solid sleeper, but he looks like that every August. None of that matters, grab him now if you’re struggling at your corner infidel slot. He’s bound to do well/poorly! Hey, I found my generic Belt buy post! Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

We are reaching that time of the baseball season where this series offers more of a prospective look. What I mean by that is that the players we look at from here on out may not contain any real-time analytical value. That’s sort of of an eccentric way to say that it’s too late for me to help you now. In fact, I was thinking of arugula when I typed that sentence. But it’s never too early to begin and gather what we’ve learned from this year and apply to the next. Of course, we’ve been doing that with every single post, but the focus has been mainly on the now and soon-to-be now. The time has arrived when we can officially start laying our eggs in the proverbial futuristic basket. A robot basket, with The Matrix twins and lasers. Wait, is there a proverb that involves a futuristic basket? Virginity like bubble, one prick all gone. No, that’s not it. Man who leap off cliff jump to conclusion. Eh, close enough. Today’s focus is an interesting one — taking a player who has never really done anything great, but done a lot of things well, and when’s he’s done those things well, he’s done it with multiple positions. That’s what she said.

I speak of none other than Ben Zobrist. Now, as stated above, he brings a lot of things to a fantasy team. There’s a mediocre batting average, a sprinkle of power and speed, multi-positional eligibility, and also consistency within all of those things. The old adage that when it rains, it pours, doesn’t really describe the production you get there. Rather, you get The Drizzle.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The 2013 Fantasy Baseball season is heading into its stretch run and the playoffs are right around the corner. My fair Razzballers, it seems like only yesterday we were complimenting Grey’s mustache and singing voice in exchange for roster autopsies, trade advice and grooming tips. We were all so young and naïve with big dreams for Ike Davis and Josh Rutledge back then. Now we are just bitter old men (and four ladies), wondering where it all went wrong and yelling at those kids to get off our lawn. If you’re still in the fantasy hunt *high five/chest bump/headbutt* it’s time to drop any dead weight still rotting on your roster. If you are out of it and still waiting for Josh Hamilton to carry your team, Sky would love to hear from you over on Fantasy Football Island. For the rest of us, we are either trying to hold onto first, grabbing some stats to gain on the leader or getting in position for the playoffs. There is no hope and loyalty left at this point in the season. It’s time to drop the duds and find the studs that may carry you to a fantasy championship. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Common misconception, the A’s know what they’re doing. As of Thursday night, they didn’t even know who was pitching on Saturday. Billy Beane told me confidentially, “I’ve been winging it for fifteen years. I just have a sex tape of Michael Lewis with a contestant from Flavor of Love, so it was write Moneyball or him and Deelishis would be all over the internet.” A lot of sites are listing A.J. Griffin as Saturday’s starter, but I have it on good authority that that (stutterer!) is incorrect. A’s have Straily looking like a lesser-known Muppet Straggly, Alfredo Jettuccine has been getting creamed, Milone is in Sacramento saying to himself, “What have I done to deserve being sent to the Sacra-Ghetto?” and the whole staff needs a Colon cleanse. So, who’s left? My almost-name-sharer and all-around Bubb Rubb-extraordinaire, Sonny Gray. He has nearly a strikeout an inning in Triple-A and a 2.74 FIP. (Yes, I only use FIP when an ERA doesn’t back up my case as tidily. Leave me alone!) I don’t love a start in Toronto, but if he stays in the rotation, the A’s are about to get a great schedule at home. Even if it’s not Saturday, Gray should be up shortly, and no that’s not a height crack, but Gray is tiny. I will call him Mini Me even though he’s taller than me. What? My photo is actual size. So, grab Gray now, because mother says you should buy Gray Gardens– I mean, Gray’s starting. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Has anyone noticed the year Derek Holland is having? This is me raising my hand. You can’t see it, but you’ll just have to trust me. I’ve noticed. And I’m sure those in Arlington have noticed. And perhaps even a Derek Holland owner here and there has maybe gotten a whiff of what he’s cooking. Hopefully it’s brisket. I mean, yes, he’s certainly cooking some great pitching stats (3.18 ERA, 8 Wins, 135 K’s) for teams throughout the fantasy baseball universe. But what I’m saying is, why can’t he also be cooking brisket? Furthermore, why am I not cooking brisket? These are all fantastic questions. Does this have anything to do with baseball at all? Fantasy baseball even? No, it doesn’t. So? I’m not even going to bother justifying it. It’s brisket. I should be able to write in a superfluous fashion about that crispy burned concoction of cow breast, slowly cooked with a spicy yet savory rub… Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Err, you were saying? Derek Holland? Who the ef cares about Derek Holland? Brisket bro

Please, blog, may I have some more?