The greatest sporting event in the history of mankind takes place tonight (if all of mankind lived in a Louisiana trailer park and were named Mick Foley) – Wrestlemania! I’ll admit I come from the deep south of the far north where the pro rasslin’ rivals lobster wranglin’ and coffee brandy drinkin’ as favorite sports. I’ll also admit I haven’t watched wrestling since I was about 11 when Ivan Putski delivered the “Polish Hammer” upside the head of Superstar Billy Graham at the Lewiston Armory. Fortunately, my Hulk Hogan costume still fits! You may be asking yourself, “Guru, you got that turban on too tight? What do headlocks, pile drivers and the ‘Camel Clutch’ have to do with fantasy baseball?” Well, my Razzballin’ Rick Rude lovers, they are both fake sports and I have 1500 words to fill. This week’s jam or cram has your handsome-but-nonetheless-figure-four-leglocking Guru comparing those old school wrestlers to fantasy ballers that could crown you king of the ring. We’re not talking Mike Trout here. We all know he’s the Iron Sheik of fantasy ball and he’ll make any team he faces humble. We are digging down into the lower levels of the waiver wire (owned 50% or less in most leagues, although it can vary league to league for reasons only Matthew Berry knows) searching for the players that will knock the competition stone cold – Gimme a hell yea! With us Razzballers just a week into the season, DL spots already filled, Closepocalypse 2 upon us and a number of studs delivering duds we have to make some early season roster shuffling. No, don’t panic yet and trade away Andrew McCutchen for Coco B. Crisp just because the dread pirate is being outperformed by a man and is parrot friend. We’re just looking for some outside interference à la Captain Lou Albano style to keep the fight going. With all that ‘splainin’ out of the way, it’s time for my signature move – it involves your eyes and my scotch. It’s time to jam it or cram it.
Jam or Cram: Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners
Wrestler Equivalent: Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Stats Last Week: 5 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 SB, .353 AV.
Availability: 57% Yahoo, 7% ESPN
2014 $$$ Value: $1
The Gist: What’s with the ownership difference between the Yahoo!s and the world wide leader? Makes no sense to me, but then again the guys over at Y! are still wondering when their first pubes are going to come in. Whatever, it was quite a start for the Smoak monster as he delivered a DDT to the Angels last week going 6-for-13 with two home runs, seven RBI and five runs in three games.
Key Stat: The Mariners had six RBI all of last April. Smoak did that in a game and a half.
Jam it or Cram it: Smoak’s home run total has risen for three straight seasons topping out at 20 last year thanks to an increase in flyball percentage (45.5%). He also improved his walk rate (12.3%) and his isolated power (.174). Is this the year he shakes off the dreaded “prospect” label and becomes the next Billy Butler or do I dare say the next Chris Davis? Not sure, but he gets the Angels again this week. JAM (until the fire goes out).
Jam or Cram: Angel Pagan, OF, San Francisco Giants
Wrestler Equivalent: Tito Santana
Stats Last Week: 3 R, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, .391 AV.
Availability: 57% Yahoo, 78% ESPN
2014 $$$ Value: $2
The Gist: Pagan is the intercontinental champ of ignored players that could actually help your team this year, but for some reason you keep holding out hope that Brett Gardner is going to morph into Rickey Henderson.
Key Stat: After ripping his hammy off the bone (delicious) last season, Pagan didn’t make it back until August. However, did hit .324 the rest of the way.
Jam it or Cram it: With El Matador leading off and followed by the Killer B’s of Brandon Belt and Buster Posey there’s a chance for mucho points. There’s not a lot of power – Pagan’s career high is 11 homers – but if he could hit 12-15 bombs to go along with his 25-30 steals and 80+ runs you have a quality high flier here worthy of a real title shot. JAM
Jam or Cram: Charlie Blackmon, OF, Colorado Rockies
Stats Last Week: 4 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, .563 AV.
Availability: 97% Yahoo, 100% ESPN
2014 $$$ Value: $1
The Gist: After a terrible spring, Blackmon got rowdy on Friday night in Mile High going 6-for-6 with four runs scored and five RBI – and that’s tough to do while wearing a kilt.The performance should get him more starts and he’s worth rolling out there in daily fantasy leagues like our pals at Draftkings.
Key Stat: Blackmon’s six hits tied a Rockies record set by Andres “The Giant” Galarraga in 1995. That’s a gooey factoid.
Jam it or Cram it: All the pencil neck geeks are high on Blackmon who was barely owned anywhere before Friday night’s suplex on the D-Backs. To quote Classy Freddie Blassie again: One match does not a champion make. Let the geeks go crazy – Blackmon was added over 4500 times on Saturday. Know who else once had six hits in a game? Joe “Honkey Tonk Man” Randa. CRAM
Jam or Cram: Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
Wrestler Equivalent: Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Stats Last Week: 3 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 SB, .579 AV.
Availability: 40% Yahoo, 45% ESPN
2014 $$$ Value: $1
The Gist: I was high on Bonifacio going into last season until he went all Owen Hart on me. SPLAT! Too soon? Sorry, Hitman. Emilo is now with the Cubs, he’s leading off and he’s off to one torrid start. Cubs fans are so excited they actually shut up for a minute about how great Wrigley is to watch his at-bats.
Key Stat: Gooey factoid #2 – Bonifacio is just the fifth player in 100 years to have consecutive four-hit games to start a season.
Jam it or Cram it: If Superfly SAGNOF! can get 400+ ABs this season he can easily steal 35-40 bases. And hit .225. This hot streak won’t last and he’ll be counted out by May. Need steals? Ok, jam him into your bench. Personally, I feel like someone just put me in a sleeper hold talking about him. CRAM
Jam or Cram: James Paxton, SP, Seattle Mariners
Wrestler Equivalent: “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
Stats Last Week: 1 W, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP
Availability: 65% Yahoo, 85% ESPN
2014 $$$ Value: $1
The Gist: Give your Grand Wizard Guru some credit here, I was high on Paxton before the season and drafted everywhere over other young arms like Taijuan Walker and Tyson Ross. Mr. Wonderful rewarded my faith by punching out nine Angels over seven shutout innings giving up only two hits.
Key Stat: Over 24 innings last season, Paxton had a 21/7 K/BB rate and a 1.50 ERA.
Jam it or Cram it: The Paul Orendorf comparison aside, the player he reminds me most of is a young Andy “Gold Dust” Pettitte. The lefty has a plus fastball and his signature move is the hammer – a curve that is lights out. Sure the sample was small last season, but it’s worth noting that Paxton’s SwStr% was 9.4 and that’s a stat I like. Paxton could be this year’s Chris Tillman. JAM
**Rock and Wrestling Bonus Tracks**
Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks: Owings is hitting .444 to start the year with a couple of steals, but is owned in 25% of leagues. No respect. He’s the Bob Backlund of the fantasy ring – not very exciting, kinda weird looking, but a winner. JAM
Follow The Guru and his dirty turban on Twitter @TheGuruGS for fantasy ballin’ wisdom and his signature move – the scotch-fueled selfie.