If any good can come from Joey Votto going to the DL with a strained quad, at least he didn’t try to play this weekend and have a set back. Well, there’s other good that can come of it. We can be thankful for our own health. Actually, that’s BS, I’d give my quad to have a healthy Votto. I don’t need my quad to type up my fantasy baseball ‘pertness. I got acumen for days! You know what a smart Indian chef uses? Acumen. Take it, Highlights magazine, it’s yours! Fortch, Votto sounds like he should be back in the minimum fifteen days. Here’s hoping, I got hard-hit singles I need hit! In tangentially related news, Reds manager, Bryan Price, said Jay Bruce would return “very, very soon,” then he was activated from the DL. I’d go as far as saying that was very, very, very soon. Bryan Price added “Very, very soon,” I will buy a thesaurus. That’s a very, very good idea! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Four teams were showing interest in Stephen Drew. No official word on which four teams, but I’m guessing the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox and whoever didn’t want the Yankees, Tigers or Red Sox to get him. Probably the Giants. That Sabean is a real party pooper! “Stephen Drew is under 40 years old, but he comes across as a guy that is aging twice the speed of the average human.” That’s Sabean weighing Drew’s pros and cons. Well, tough noogs, Sabean, the Red Sox secured their long-coveted, barely above replacement level shortstop. In a news conference, the Red Sox said they hadn’t had a news conference in a while and felt like now was as good a time as any. “We were gonna hold a presser to say Jerry Remy was down to a pack and a half of smokes a day, but this is so much better!” Drew hasn’t been worth owning in fantasy in about six years, so I wouldn’t expect you picking him up will work as a Viagra substitute. He’s around that of a 12-homer, 5-steal, .250 hitter. Lowercase yay. This will move Xander Bogaerts to third base and Will Middlebrooks to an outside chance of being a deep league sleeper in 2015, if he gets a few good at-bats off the bench when he returns because he’s now out of a job. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It may only be for two games, but Dee Gordon draws a nice match-up against the Tigers to start the week. Gordon is already in mid-season SAGNOF form, hitting over .400 with 3 steals entering Sunday’s game. Alex Avila can’t catch a cold. In 2013 he caught base stealers at a 17% clip. That was well below the 28% league average. Word on the street is that he spent the off-season catching up on Breaking Bad and True Detective instead of working on his times to second base, so here’s hoping the good times continue. Tuesday’s probable starter Anibal Sanchez gave up a steal every seven innings pitched last year and the battery should be an easy target for a speedster like Gordon. I found the info on Sanchez using the new SB Rates vs. SP tool here at Razzball. It’s a big help when deciding which pitcher’s to target for stolen bases in your daily match-ups.

There was a tear in the fabric of the SAGNOF universe during Opening Week. Pedro Alvarez stole a base off of Yadier Molina while Billy Hamilton was caught. Black is white. up is down. We’ve gone through the looking glass, folks. Seriously though, Hamilton looks lost. Good thing we have SAGNOF options for all of us schlubs who didn’t draft him in the first five rounds. Here are this week’s steals plays…

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Make sure you check out Scott Evans’ Prospect ETA’s for a sense of potential high impact call-ups. I’m going to focus on prospects and MLB sleepers beyond the obvious list of prospects. If I list a prospect, that said prospect should have the opportunity to make an impact this year, and in my opinion, have the minor league numbers/skill to translate well enough.

My ‘translate’ for fantasy purposes is simple: do they make enough contact (how often they put the ball in play); what is their approach to putting the ball in play (balls in play mix i.e. linedrives, flyballs, groundballs, HR/FB, infield flyballs, etc.); and what power/speed potential do they have from a fantasy counting stats perspective. Speed won’t have much of a weight in this post though.

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Here, friend, are some catchers that I will be targeting at my 2014 fantasy drafts after the top options are gone. I’m not going to get into the strategy of punting catchers. Been there, half-drunkenly wrote that three years ago then had to fight Steve McQueen for writing credit. Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2014 projections. This is a (legal-in-most-countries) supplement to the top 20 catchers of 2014 fantasy baseball. Now, guys and four girl readers, I am not saying avoid catchers like Salvador Perez if they fall, but to get on this list, you need to be drafted later than 200 overall. And, to preemptively answer at least seven comments, yes, I will go around the entire infield, outfield and pitchers to target very late. Anyway, here’s some catchers to target for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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As spring training takes off, we, the wonderful people of Razzball, thought it would be a good idea to look into some intra-team rivalries.  What positions are a lock?  What positions are being fought over?  What positions will they hire me to fill-in for (second base Blue Jays, I’m looking at you)? Find out as the second part of this series will focus on AL Central… (You can check out the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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Catcher-rye-full

Get it?

Time to finally hang up the fantasy football helmet, slip into my official Steve Balboni athletic supporter and get ready for some of the base and the balls talk. This nipple hardening February morning finds your humble-but-nonetheless-handsome Guru loading the van up with scouting reports, clean turbans, eye black and my Jenny Dell inflatable doll for that long, lonely road trip to Fort Myers to prepare for spring training. As we cross the days off the calendar until we dive into some actual fake baseball drafting, it’s time to dig out the ol’ jammer crammer machine (available on Adam&Eve.com) and dig through this year’s jams and crams by position for the 2014 fantasy baseball season.

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I just went over the top 10 for 2014 fantasy baseball and the top 20 for 2014 fantasy baseball. Most of you know how I feel about catchers. If you draft a catcher any time before the first 100 picks, you don’t know how I feel about catchers. Let me freshen up your cocktail with a splash of insight. I don’t draft top catchers in one catcher leagues. I Reggie Roby them. Last year, Napoli was the top ranked catcher at the end of year. He was the 11th best 1st baseman. The best catcher can’t spray aerosol deodorant on the top guy for another position. Everyone was crazy about Buster Posey last year (everyone except me). Buster Posey did about as much as Kendrys Morales. Lowercase yay. In the top five catchers last year were Lucroy, V-Mart, Rosario and Molina. One guy was drafted in the top 100, and that was barely. No one should draft a top catcher because there are no top catchers. They’re all hot garbage with a side order of stank. Catchers are unreliable to stay healthy; the job is grueling and takes its toll on offensive stats. There’s not much difference between, say, the tenth best catcher and nothingness. Jarrod Saltymochachino, Jason Castro and Salvador Perez were the 8th, 9th and 10th best catchers last year. All of them were on waivers in shallower leagues as late as July. Only the depth of 2nd basemen is worst, and I say punt them too. Yes, I am saying punt the positions that are most scarce. Finally, a reason that is new to this current crop of catchers — they’re actually deep in mediocrity. You can draft the fifth best catcher or the 12th best and they’re tomato-tomato said with a different emphasis. Because I ignore the top catchers doesn’t mean I’m starting the top 20 catcher list at number twenty-one; some of you might want to know the top catchers. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them draft Devin Mesoraco. In two catcher leagues, catchers are a little more valuable, but I’d still prefer to avoid them. You can see other top 20 lists for 2014 fantasy baseball under 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Listed along with these catchers are my 2014 projections for each player and where the tiers begin and end. Anyway, here’s the top 20 catchers for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Maybe it’s the rush of the holiday season with two kids or the fact that some major cash is flowing in free agency, but I feel like this year’s offseason is just whizzing by. This will be the last sort of “stat review” for SAGNOF before I head into the territory of value plays for steals in 2014. This post will lay out some of the best and worst catchers in terms of their caught stealing percentages (CS%). Keep in mind that pitchers have a lot to do with holding baserunners as well, and you can find my previous post on the best and worst pitchers against the stolen base here at Razzball. A quick note on the catcher tables – I sorted them by qualified and non-qualified catchers. “Qualified” catchers played more than 1/2 of their team’s games, while “non-qualified” catchers played less than that. Catchers who split times between two teams, like Kurt Suzuki, also end up on the “non-qualified” list. The league average caught stealing percentage in 2013 was 28%, and that hasn’t really changed much over the last 3 years (27% in 2012, 28% in 2011). Last but not least, consider that playing time situations can fluctuate with free agent signings and trades, creating new opportunities for previously non-qualified catchers as the offseason transactions continue. Green columns indicate guys that are easy to run against, and red columns designate the toughest to run against:

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Hunter Pence has the manic energy of a gangly man-bird. On average, Hunter Pence’s home run trots last about 20 seconds. So in the last week, he’s run for about minute and twenty seconds while the rest of the world has watched, thinking, “I wonder if he was raised by a pack of pink flamingos.” One time during a trip to the zoo, Hunter Pence got separated from his human family for two hours. He was eventually found in the aviary section of the zoo chewing popcorn and spitting it into a baby bird’s mouth. Those two hours were wiped from all zoo surveillance cameras so it was never accounted for, but anyone who has seen the gangly man-bird run probably can figure out that Hunter Pence was trying to reproduce with an ostrich or some other tall bird. This week he shedded more than feathers. He lost the OCD tissue boxes he’s worn on his feet most of the season and went power crazy: 6 homers in the last week with two coming on Sunday. Hunter Pence said thank you to his H2H owners for believing in this half-bird creature. For next year, I think he’s bound to disappoint as his speed evaporates and goes back to where it was prior to this season (the 10-12-steal range), but for now enjoy a bird/guy who was an afterthought in drafts and has turned into a top five outfielder, according to our Player Rater. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?