I’m back from my trip to Colombia, without dysentery to boot! Though, I’m not sure if ‘to boot’ is the right verb, if I have dysentery. Though, Part II, The Return Of Thoughs, I also haven’t seen a solid stool in about a week. “Hmm, that looks like bat signal.” That’s you looking in my toilet, taking a Rorschach test. Let’s start with what I said about Castillo when he was first called up, “Here’s what Prospect Mike said about Rusney Castillo previously, “The one tool that is not in question is (Rusney’s) speed. A 30+ steal season from Castillo is a possibility as soon as 2015. The power is still up in the air. Some have tagged him more as an 8-12 homer type guy while others have said 15 or maybe even 20 homers could be in the cards. With any player, we get lots of comps thrown around. Two of the comps I’ve heard the most are Shane Victorino and Rajai Davis. Honestly, the Davis comp makes the most sense to me. The one that makes the least sense is Grey, he’s just a buffoon.” Hey, what’s that all about? To me, the Rajai comparison feels heavy on the speed; Victorino seems a better equivalent, but, honestly, there’s a ton of unknown here. He could be anywhere from a 7 HR/20 SB fourth outfielder to a 20 HR/40 SB superstar. Victorino feels about right — 12 homers, 30 steals. The more I read that he only had 66 steals in 1097 plate appearances in Cuba, I wonder if the hype machine hasn’t taken Rusney and thrown him into the spin cycle, making him more than he is. Shizzton of risk either way you slice the cake, and, brucely, I love cake, so I hope you’re sharing.” And that’s me quoting me and quoting Mike! In his brief cup of coffee (shot of espresso?), Castillo had two homers and three steals while batting .333 in 36 ABs. Call Cooperstown, Castillo’s coming in to sit for his bust sculpting. Or wrap him in plaster of Paris and put him outside of Fenway. We’ve got ourselves an immortal! Okay, but let’s just say for argument’s sake, he’s not an immortal, what can we expect from Rusney Castillo for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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Well, it’s about that time folks. I’ve taken a small break from running Razzball Football to go over how my 2014 Bold Predictions turned out. If you remember, 2013 was a fantastic year for me, as I got zero predictions correct. So by “fantastic”, I mean a total sh*t-fest. Which is also Nickelback’s favorite venue. Of course I had to up my game, so showing no proof whatsoever that I knew what the heck I was doing, I decided to take on Eno Sarris of FanGraphs, mano a mano, or, in this case, mother’s basement a mother’s basement, and have a prediction competition of the ages! All of them…

Here were the terms: Eno Sarris of FanGraphs has agreed to take on your very own lovable and quite handsome Jason Longfellow (yes, that’s my name, don’t wear it out) in a duel for the ages. His bold predictions will battle my bold predictions for COMPLETE AND UTTER SUPREMACY. Sort of like Highlander. We certainly need more Sean Connery, that’s for sure. And what’s at stake in this epic battle? Heads? Lightning swords? Shinobi’s? Naw. It’s beer. That’s right, beer. Whomever get’s the most predictions right, well, the loser has to buy him a six-pack of the beer of his choice. In this case, Eno has chosen DC Brau. Great selection, but it might come with side effects such as too much hipster and listening to Mumford. My choice? Koko Brown, because Hawai’i is the greatest thing ever known to man besides ice cream and blow jobs.

Here’s what happened…

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Atlanta outfielder Jason Heyward is getting some love for his defense this awards season, winning his second Gold Glove award in three years. But his 2014 campaign was a tad disappointing for the more offensively-minded fantasy baseballer. Keeper league owners hoped Heyward would bounce back to his 2012 breakout form (27 homers and 21 steals) after an injury-riddled 2013 season. Instead they were dealt a bad hand in the power department. While Heyward’s 21 steals provided similar value, 11 homers was a far cry from the power numbers he put up as a 22-year-old. The Braves’ right fielder ended up as the 37th ranked outfielder according to the 2014 Razzball player rater (150th overall). One of the glaring weaknesses this season was his inability to hit lefties. Heyward hit just .169 with two homers against southpaws. That was good for a measly 39 wRC+. Compare that to his 2012 season in which he hit .224 with seven dingers against lefties. Nothing incredible, but it was a more palatable 73 wRC+. All this may lead some impatient fantasy owners to give up on Heyward too early – tempting them to throw him back into the draft in some shallower keeper formats. I think that would be a mistake.

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Hello one and all, it’s the off-season but like those douches at your local gym who are constantly drinking protein shakes and talking about their glutes would tell you, ‘there is no off-season’. If you’re unaware of what we’re trying to do with this post, I humbly ask you go take a look at the Top April Pitchers post from…well, I don’t know when this post is going live so I’ll just say ‘from earlier this off-season’. THERE IS NO OFF-SEASON! Ok, I get it Max! Go back to checking your ass out in the mirror with those spandex on and calm the eff down…now where was I. Oh yeah, this post! We’re doing a bit of a look back on the 2014 fantasy baseball season through the lense of #PitchingIsSoDeep and asking ‘but was it really’? And instead of giving generalities, we’re gonna look at this from an actual numbers perspective. Did it really pay to pay up for pitching? Or was it easier to cull your pitching stats from the waiver wire over the course of the year? We’re using Grey’s top 20 as a basis point for the argument. I’m using this simply because I couldn’t find a consensus top 20 and because Grey’s mustache is so beautiful…hey Grey? Yeah, you’re the editor, not the subject changer. Can we move along from how luscious your lip hair is? Thanks…so without further ado, let’s take a look back on the top May pitchers from 2014 Fantasy Baseball…

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Razzball Nation!  Hopefully the musings and GIFfings (man that sounds dirty) of this friendly, big-ol baseball nerd helped bring you low ERAs and WHIPs in 2014.  And shameless plug, if you need some JB love-n-rubbin’ and/or looking for Fantasy Basketball talk, come over and join us at Hoops!

As I always like to do with rankings, it’s fun to go back and see what went right.  What went wrong.  Especially when you get to say “Member in preseason when Grey wanted everyone to get Justin Masterson Top 25?  Yeah, no fun to make fun of wrong ranks/calls to everyone, is it Grey?!  Hell, everyone knows I’m only writing this since I’ve been talking about Corey Kluber since May 2013!  (True story, I watched these two innings and had him in my line-up in a ton of leagues while either 0 or 1% owned, game went into a 2 or 3 hour rain delay, but those two innings got me hooked on the firebeard!)

So what I’ve put together are my 2014 Preseason Starting Pitcher Ranks (be sure to look at my 5 sleeper picks in the intro – saucy!  Better than last year, HUH GREY?!) in the order I had them mid-March, followed by Grey’s rank, ESPN’s pre-season rank (since RCL Baseball was played there and using this list), and the Razzball Player Rater Final SP Value to establish the final rank.  Here’s how Big Biscuit did:

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2014 (27) | 2013 (5) | 2012 (28) | 2011 (29) | 2010 (8)

2014 Affiliate Records
MLB: [77-85] NL East
AAA: [70-74] Pacific Coast League – New Orleans
AA: [81-59] Southern League – Jacksonville
A+: [50-87] Florida State League – Jupiter
A: [87-53] South Atlantic League – Greensboro
A(ss): [34-42] New York-Penn League – Batavia

Graduated Prospects
None

The Gist
2014 was another step forward for the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton put up MVP caliber numbers while fellow outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna both performed well in their sophomore seasons. All three are still under the age of 25. Right-hander Jarred Cosart was acquired from Houston in exchange for prospects Jake Marisnick and Colin Moran – both top ten prospects in the Marlins’ system a year ago. There is more to look forward to in 2015. Left-hander Andrew Heaney should get a crack at the rotation while pitching phenom Jose Fernandez is expected to return at some point this season as well. The farm system is pitching heavy and features multiple arms that could become options for the rotation soon. In this year’s draft the Marlins signed more high school players (11) than any other organization including first-round pick Tyler Kolek, who was selected second overall.

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This post is gonna look so prescient when Starlin Castro is traded to the Yankees at the Winter Meetings. What, you thought the Yankees were going into the season with Brendan Ryan at short? Zelous Wheeler? Richard Roundtree? He’s a complicated man that no one understands but his woman. I tried to have Cougs agree to the Theme from Shaft as our first dance. Couldn’t pull it off. More props to you if you can. Or maybe Castro will be traded to the Mets. Then again, the Mets have said they’re moving on from Ruben Tejada for about six years and are still holding on tight. Someone needs to rip that deflated life preserver from their arms before Tejada is One-Eyed Willy next to the sunken treasure that is the Mets’ recent fortunes. So, the first thing we know about Addison Russell is Billy Beane traded him away. This is obviously a strike against him. The last prospect Beane gave up on was Brett Wallace, and that was partly because Wallace looks like his face is constantly pressed against a window and that’s disconcerting. Right now, it appears Beane got the worst side of this Russell trade. Maybe he shouldn’t have been in such a rush to get back to the gym to pump iron and waited to negotiate a better deal. It’s still early though, and prospects can flame out. Russell, however, doesn’t look headed in that direction. Russell looks like he could be better than Castro as early as next year. Second thing we know about Russell, is he’s got power and speed. Yummers! Third thing, we know about Russell is there is no third thing. Anyway, what can we expect of Addison Russell for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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When researching prospects for our fantasy teams, we’re likely going to come across some talk about a player’s league or even home park skewing his stats. But exactly how much better are one league’s offensive statistics than the next? Without making it overly complicated, this post aims to give you a general idea of which leagues favor hitters and which favor pitchers. Each league’s average age is listed along with its rank in runs per game, home runs per game, and OPS. Just like in the majors, there are also minor league ballparks that are notoriously skewed towards hitters or pitchers. I find this kind of information helpful when looking at prospects. Player X may be a good pitcher in a homer-happy ballpark. That stud hitting prospect I picked up might be hitting less homers all of a sudden because he’s playing in a canyon now. Home parks and the leagues in which prospects play are important factors just like age, injury, and a host of other variables. Here are the 2014 stats for each league along with this year’s MiLB affiliation shuffle…

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There’s flashier guys to cover, I’m looking at you, Carlos Correa; I’m winking in your direction, Byron Buxton, and your missing finger, excuse me, dislocated. But I’m writing rookie outlooks for 2015 fantasy baseball, i.e., I’m focusing on guys that could play the majority of the time in the majors in 2015. I’m not going to write a Buxton outlook saying. “Will be awesome, come back to read more in 2016.” I’m trying to focus on impact players for this coming year. Prospect Mike is around to talk future All-Stars. Unlike Correa and Buxton, Francisco Lindor is in his last stop at the majors. Maybe the Twins push Buxton along and he jumps to the major league club by midseason, assuming he can stay healthy and the Twins can actually have something nice. “Sorry, we don’t have anything in your size.” That’s the cashier at the Everything Nice store after the Twins enter. Wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Buxton to appear this year. Shoot, he could rip the cover off the ball in spring training and be up sooner than June. Right now, he looks like a September call-up, at best. Same for Correa. With that said (oh, boy, here comes a reversal), I’m not totally sure of Lindor’s path to the majors. A good generalization that is generally good (hey, what do you know?) is a player ends the year in Double-A, starts in Triple-A the following season and is in the majors by June. Or is in Triple-A to end the year and starts the year in the majors the following year. Of course, guys can jump from Double-A or even High-A to the majors, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Lindor, on the other hand (were we even using hands?), played well in Triple-A last year. He really has no place else to go, except the majors or traded to another team. He should’ve been up already, to be quite frank, and don’t call me frank. Why am I even comparing Lindor, Correa and Buxton? Because they’re all the top rookies right now in the minor leagues, and you people demand the best. You demander, you! Anyway, what can we expect of Francisco Lindor for 2015 fantasy baseball?

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