As a former radio geek that tired of the shallow money trench and the playing of “Free Bird” for the 7,432 time, I’m a fan of taking those radio hits and mashing them up beyond recognition. Take a couple of things that don’t belong together like Metallica and Stevie Wonder, throw them in the blender and you get something sad but superstitious. Anyone want to sample my signature mashup the Detox Mansion? It’s Grey Goose, Hawaiian Punch, a splash of seltzer and a squirt of Aim toothpaste all stirred together with a home pregnancy test from the Dollar Tree. It’s the perfect Razzball readin’ drink. Cheers. When it comes to mashing up a fantasy baseball middle infield it’s like trying to mix Foo Fighters and Miley Cyrus. Sure, it can be done, but it’s kind of a hot mess. The top ranked second basemen and shortstops are all a wrecking ball of risk. Robinson Cano trades the homer friendly House Across the Street From the House That Ruth Built for the Safeco Sac Fly Canyon, Dustin Pedroia is coming off a season in which he only hit nine homers (and had off-season thumb surgery) and Jason Kipnis only likes games before the All Star break – he batted .260 with four home runs in the second half last year. The “best” shortstops are a walking MASH unit with “Hot Lips” Hanley Ramirez, “Trapper” Troy Tulowitzki and “Radar” Jose Reyes missing a total of 181 games last year. Coming into the 2014 draft season – there’s still time for you to join an RCL – don’t go all cray cray screaming “scarcity” at your leaguemates if you miss out on Cano or Tulo, there’s plenty of power and speed to be had late. Don’t be surprised if that middle infield masher you snagged in the twelfth round hits more homers than Pedroia and Reyes combined. Now let’s do some thunderbusting outside the top 100 rankings of the Yahoos, it’s time to jam it or cram it.
Jam or Cram: Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres
2013 Rankings: Opening Rank #262, Final Rank #236
2013 Stats: 62 R, 23 HR, 63 RBI, 1 SB, .249 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $14
The Gist: Only seven middle infielders hit more than 20 homers last year. Among second baseman, the top home run hitter was Cano. Number two? A man named Jedd – and Gyorko played in 35 less games. The .249 average and the 23% strikeout rate may look less than satisfying, but keep in mind he was hitting .285 before going down for a month in June with a groin injury.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 74 R, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 4 SB, .260 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: How’s 30/100 from your middle infielder sound? I’d sell my kidney for that kind of production (you don’t want the liver). Gyorko could approach those lofty numbers this year. If you’re worried about the Petco effect, don’t. 13 of his 23 home runs came at home a year ago. Add in the 3B eligibility in some leagues and draft with the confidence of Matthew McConaughey. Alright, alright, alright JAM.
Jam or Cram: Daniel Murphy, 2B/1B, New York Mets
2013 Rankings: Opening Rank #144, Final Rank #42
2013 Stats: 92 R, 13 HR, 78 RBI, 23 SB, .286 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $7
The Gist: Last season was a breakout year for Murphy. He finished as the number four second baseman. Murphy had career highs in homers and stolen bases while playing in a terrible lineup. Murph will be hitting in front of David Wright and Curtis Granderson this year which should help with runs. The 88.5% success rate in steals could put him close 20 bags again. The fact he gets traded by the summer could help, could hurt, who knows.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 76 R, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 15 SB, .284 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: Murphy was a solid middle infield masher last season. If he’s there for my last pick I might jam. He does have the potential to be a top 10 second baseman this year. He also has the potential to turn your middle infield into a black hole of suck. I’d rather take chance on an upsidey guy like Kolten Wong or Jurickson Profar. *note to self: Start metal band called Black Hole of Suck, win Grammy, bang groupies, die of heroin overdose* CRAM
Jam or Cram: Jed Lowrie, 2B/SS, Oakland A’s
2013 Rankings: Opening Rank #229, Final Rank #99
2013 Stats: 80 R, 15 HR, 75 RBI, 1 SB, .290 AV.
2014 $$$ Value: $5
The Gist: With the middle infield thin in the power department, Lowrie could be a late draft steal. Despite 2013 being the best season of his career, Lowrie’s currently being drafted as the 15-17th middle infielder off the board. That seems a little late for a guy who finished as a top 5 SS a year ago, having had a better season than guys like Ben Zobrist, J.J. Hardy and Andrelton Simmons – all players being taken before Lowrie.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 70 R, 14 HR, 68 RBI, 3 SB, .270 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: Lowrie is the good, the bad and the ugly of the middle infield mashup. His career highs in hits, runs, RBI and average last season is the good. His lack of speed and low average be the bad. The ugly? The guy can’t stay on the freakin’ field! Lowrie has played in more than 100 games once in six seasons. CRAM
Jam or Cram: Xander Bogaerts, SS/3B, Boston Red Sox
2013 Rankings: N/A
2013 Stats: 7 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SB, .250 AV. (44 AB)
2014 $$$ Value: $5
The Gist: As a Sox fan, I’ve followed Bogaerts since he was drafted as a 17-year-old out of Aruba and stalked him for weeks while he played for the Sea Dogs in Portland. Now that the restraining order has elapsed and Bogaerts has moved down the coast to Boston, I’ll attempt an unbiased opinion here. Size, power, ability to drive the ball to all fields and plate discipline make Bogaerts the top prospect in all the land. I’m wearing X-Man pajamas as I write this – and it’s noon.
Dirty Turban 2014 Projection: 68 R, 17 HR, 70 RBI, 8 SB, .275 AV.
Jam it or Cram it: My Bogaerts fantasy where hits 30 homers and bats .300 while we share a plate of pasta Lady and the Tramp style won’t be happening this year, but it could happen soon. Last season I made a bold prediction that Jackie Bradley Jr. would win Rookie of the Year. He got three walks on opening day and was in Pawtucket by mid-April. So much for being bold. This years bold prediction? X-Man wins Rookie of the Year. Bolder prediction? In 2016 we argue whether to take Bogaerts or Trout with the first pick. JAM
Jurickson Profar, 2B/SS/3B, Texas Rangers: Profar is eligible all over the infield and now that Ian Kinsler has been shipped off to Detroit, let’s see what the kid can do. With an ADP of about 240, I’ll roll the dice late. JAM
Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies: Hit .284/73/18/69 last year and played over 130 games for the first time in four years. That won’t happen again. CRAM
Everth Cabrera, SS, San Diego Padres: Steals, steroids, suspension, SAGNOF! If the kid can hit .280 and lay off the Winstrol I’ll grab him. JAM
Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees: I tip my turban in your general direction, captain. CRAM
Harold Reynolds: The former second baseman has been announced as the Tim McCarver’s replacement on the Fox MLB broadcast with Joe Buck. Try to not get all handsy in the booth, Harold. Didn’t think I would miss McCarver. CRAM
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