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 start of this series will focus on NL East…

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Once again, the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball look a whole lot better than the top 20 2nd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball. For the first time that I can remember, I want a shortstop from the top tiers. Usually I punt shortstops along with catchers due to how bad they are, but this year it’s pretty clear 2nd basemen are worse than shortstops and I like quite a few shortstops. Hey, you gotta be malleable in this fantasy baseball game. Malleable is also a great name for a baby girl. Feel free to take it for your daughter if you so desire. As with the other top 20 rankings, I point out where I think tiers start and stop and my projections. All the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings can be found under that thing that says 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Unsuccinct! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Maybe you’re with me, maybe you’re against me on this one, but the MLB All-Star game is an idea that should be buried alongside B.J. Upton, New Coke, Bic Disposable Underwear, and the XFL. He hate me because I hate the All-Star game. Home field in the World Series, whether it comes down to the Tigers and Cardinals or the Red Sox and the Braves, should not be determined by a matchup between Steve Delabar and Marco Scutaro. Also, it’s fans like this voting guys in, so the teams are not really the “best of the best” to begin with. Yet they are allowed to affect actual teams in real games? Only Bob Costas loves to hear, “Ladies and gentlemen, warming up in the American League bullpen, Brett Cecil!” I look forward to the day when my son tugs on my shirtsleeve and says, “Daddy, tell me the story again how Jason Castro popped up to second in the All-Star game.” And I will turn to him and say, “I have a son? Did your mother work at Applebee’s in 2008?” It’s time we just bury Bud Selig and his “it counts” t-shirt alongside Chris Berman and his Hair in a Can. The All-Star game doesn’t count, it sucks. Bud and Boomer, the people don’t care. Television ratings for the game have been down every year and last year’s game had the worst ever with a 6.8 rating. Know what pulls in those kind of numbers? Sharknado. There must be a way to work that into the Razzball glossary. Erasmo Ramirez sharknado’d my ERA this week!” Not sure, but that phrase may have already jumped the… *now back to our regularly scheduled rant* The first televised All-Star game in 1967 pulled in a 25.6 rating. Keep in mind that in 1967 there was one nationally televised baseball game a week, smoking was good for you and a kid’s favorite toy was Hasbro’s Stick with a Nail in it. Times, they are changin’. Sing it Zimmy.

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Yesterday, Matt Cain had his shortest outing of his career with 2/3 IP and 3 ER. At least Bochy had the sense in his giant watermelon-sized head to remove Cain quick enough that yesterday’s damage was that of a bad Heath Bell outing. Wait a second, did I just compare Cain to Heath Bell? I just rang my own bell and answered with, “Holy crap no one wants to be compared to Heath Bell.” Where did it all go wrong for Cain and can Cain (almost stutterer!) get it back to good, assuming you’re not just signing a Matchbox Twenty song? Looking at his K-rate from last year to this year, he’s actually been better this year. His velocity is fine. His xFIP is nearly the same as last year when he had a 2.79 ERA. The only big change is his luck and his walk rate. He’s missing his spots. This can come one of two ways. He can miss his spots off the plate and walk guys or he can miss his spots in the zone and give up hits and homers. He usually works up in the zone. Done it his whole career. If you miss up…up, it’s a ball. If you miss up…down, you’re Sandy Duncan with one glass eye while watching with your other eye as the ball is leaving the park. The Giants are saying he might not be healthy, but I don’t think Cain is hurt. Still could land on the Disgraceful List. More likely, he needs to tweak something in his mechanics. Until that happens, I’d stay away from him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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If you found us from Google due to this title, you might want National Geographic or an African safari forum where discussion quickly turns into a story about how ‘your old lady doesn’t let you watch scary movies.’ Here, when we say our ‘old lady,’ we’re not using a euphemism for a wife. It’s for my fiancee. Gio Gonzalez had a throwback to the days of wine and roses. The wine being anything but Boone’s. The roses being McGowan. He went seven innings and didn’t give up a hit past the first inning with only 4 baserunners and 11 Ks vs. the Phils and Kyle Kendrick (7 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 3 baserunners, 6 Ks). This was a battle between two teams you think are good offensively, but are not. The Bryceless Nats couldn’t score for Gonzalez and needed an Ian Desmond grand slam in the eleventh to win. This no decision was Gio’s 7th in his last 8 starts — c’mon, Gio, make up your mind. Or console yourself with a QS, Gio! This was a nice start after I had reservations about his falling K-rate and rising walk rate. Again, it was the Phils, so I wouldn’t just accept he’s back to last year’s tricks. It’s an illusion! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Yasiel Puig was scratched yesterday with a strained shoulder, suffering the injury during batting practice. Look at him, making himself feel right at home with the Dodgers. Next thing you know, he’s going to say Brandon League is their best reliever, run at 40% and leave before the eighth inning to beat the traffic. Let’s recap quickly, Puig took a fastball off his nose, wiped blood from his face and took first base. Then The Cuban did an interpretative dance with Kennedy’s whole team that he called “The Bay of Puig.” Finally, the next day, he hurts himself in batting practice. It’s like when Jean-Claude Van Damme beat the crap out of 47 bad guys, but stopped production on Timecop because the production assistant forget to bring his hair gel to set. “Van Damme be Van Damned if his hair isn’t coifed.” As of right now, there’s no word on how long Puig will be out, but hopefully this Puiggy doesn’t go wee, wee, wee all the way home. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Our correspondent in St. Louis, Dan Pants, is reporting at 8:05 Eastern Standard Time, Ian Kennedy‘s fastball died. There’s still no official confirmation. Details are scant. Daniel Descalso is in questioning about the murder. Let’s go back now, and take a moment and recount the life of Ian Kennedy’s fastball. It originally came up in the Yankee organization, where it showed promise, but one two many times it was left out over the plate and hitters clobbered it. They didn’t quite murder it like last night. No, that was saved for a balmy night in St. Louis. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kennedy family. Wait, now I understand they are transporting Daniel Descalso to another police station for questioning. Let’s go there now. Descalso, “I don’t know anything about the situation here. I am just a patsy. Ian Kennedy’s fastball’s died weeks ago in Cuba chasing Fidel Castro. I’d like legal representation.” Wait, is that Kubel… Descalso is down! Kubey’s in cuffs. Mayhem ensues. Hopefully, Ian Kennedy can find some peace on the Disgraceful List, where he’s surely headed. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It was either Kenny Rogers or Pete Rose that said, “Luck comes and goes. Knowledge stays forever.” Or maybe it was from the movie House of Games. I could see Joe Mantegna growling that. Either way, luck is fleeting but good when paired with a smart bet. Rolling the dice on rookies in fantasy baseball is a gamble some are not willing to take. If you’re one of the squeamish then you have already missed out on the likes of Shelby Miller, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis, Jurickson Profar and Michael Wacha. While it’s true not all rookies turn into a Harper or a Trout, the smart Razzballer likes to gamble. That’s why a lot of us live under a bridge. We may not be so good at craps but at least we win our fantasy league. And that’s something to brag about when you’re passing around the bottle of Thunderbird. “To all my friends. Did I tell you guys about the time I drafted Ryan Braun in 2007?” *crickets*

Grabbing a rookie is all about the upside. Sure I could hold onto Mike Moustakas. But with him I know what I’m getting. I’m getting Mike Moustakas. Why not get all Monty Hall and swap him for the rookie behind door #2? He could turn out to be the next Evan Longoria or he could be the next Evan Dando. Coo, coo, kachoo. Time to roll out some rookies. With some Razzball knowledge and a little luck you just might win your league. Time to jam it or cram it.

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Ryan Zimmerman went Yardo Montalban as he Tattooed the ball three times. Da plane, da plane…is flying right next to Zimmerman’s homers! My dear guests! I am Mr. Albright, your host. Welcome… to Fantasy Baseball! Smiles, everyone, smiles! No, seriously, smile, you paid a lot of money for those caps. Since it was a game between the O’s and Nationals, they shared announcers (since they share channels). So, the O’s announcers said everyone’s crazy for Machado, Jones, Zimmermann and Harper and not Ryan Zimmerman or Nick Markakis much anymore, after they were the stars of their respective clubs. Then the Nationals announcer says, “I can’t say I know much about Markakis myself.” Burn! I’d play that over the clubhouse speakers before every game. Not to motivate Markakis as much to mess with him. Oh, and Zimmerman! Right! Yeah, he had a huge game, and you might remember he goosed me in my nethers last year when I dropped him, because he hit 10 homers in July of 2012. Might be the start of another special run. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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They say baseball is a game of inches. When ‘they’ say that, ‘they’ are wearing a plaid jacket and flood pants. They also have adult acne. But if baseball really is a game of inches, the Tigers are packing heat in their lineup like John Holmes. So, for all other teams’ fans, I ask you gently, Tigers, please don’t have good pitching too. I mean, besides Verlander and Scherzer and Fister and Anibal, because that would just be unfair. Yesterday, it appeared they had that with Rick Porcello. He went eight innings with zero earned runs, four baserunners and 11 Ks. After his eleventh K, the sound system played, “Rick’s a Jolly Porcello.” That is the best game I can remember from Porcello, by far, and I use all of his game logs as toilet paper, so I’d remember. I mean, what else am I doing in the john? Answering comments? Well, maybe. Just keep that in mind when you’re asking me who I’d drop. Porcello’s xFIP looks solid and his walks have always been stellar. The one flaw in his game I didn’t like was his ability to K people. So far this year, his K-rate is up and way up after yesterday. If you’re struggling to find a starter, I could see adding Porcello, but there’s risk because he does tend to have huge blow ups. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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