While you’re taking time from your family to read this on this beautiful Fourth of July, I just want to say a few quick thank yous. *intern whispers in my ear* I’m told Thanksgiving is the time for that thanking people crap and the 4th of July is for hot dogs, red, white and blue Jell-o shots and almost losing a finger when a fuse goes off prematurely — that’s what she said! Huh? You know what’s more apple pie (appley-er?) than the 4th of July? A guy that was once lost in the abyss of self-despair and Fruit Loops making good– Wait that’s the intro for Celebrity Fit Club. Okay, better than apple pie is a guy that looks like a stick figure and pitches like Adrian Adonis (in his heyday, obviously), and going into Coors and taming the mountain better than the Red Viper. Zack Greinke threw 8 IP, 1 ER, 11 baserunners and 8 Ks, lowering his ERA to 2.66. His peripherals aren’t much worse either — 9.6 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 2.72 xFIP. He’s pretty much a top five pitcher. So, on today, when we celebrate flashes of color in the sky and a bunch of drunk white guys signing parchment 238 years ago, let’s raise our fruity, rum-filled concoction and toast Greinke. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Cause you got a build up of wax in your eyes and haven’t been digesting the non-verbal medicine I’ve been doling out about Khris Davis, he’s getting a lede. This is coming to you from a tough love perspective, so whatever I say I don’t wish to offend or denigrate. Y’all seem like good people. Some of you I would even consider friends. Friends that I’ve never met and friends that when you called me to make plans I’d lie about other plans I didn’t have to avoid you, but friends nevertheless. You all have good souls. Each and other one of you. Now, it’s time to unload on you. Damn, in the middle of softening the blow, I forgot what the blow was. Well, you should own Khris Davis. I know that was part of it. He’s been out-homering Chris Davis. Everyone knows there’s only one way to spell Khris Davis. Spelling it with a C is for cream puffs. Even that should be khream! Is Khris the answer to your season? Prolly not, but he is capable of 30 homers and he has 10 as of right now. Plus-minus that shizz and you have a bunch more homers in his bat. Oh, and four of those homers came in the last eight games. He is only 26 years old so there might even be a chance here for huge upside. I.e., his ceiling is unknown. All that is known is that he’s hit for power everywhere he’s played. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Welcome to the second edition of the Lineup Maximizer! If you’re here as a result of my Reddit AMA, glad to know that that day wasn’t all for naught. Kidding! My motivations for dispensing fantasy advice are purely altruistic.

Before we get under with this week’s streaming picks, let’s recap how we did last week in honor of commenter Simply Fred. Record-keeping and accountability are taken seriously around these parts.

Last Week & Season Results

16 AB, 2 R, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 0 SB, .188 AVG.

My first edition’s picks did perform as well as hoped, but if you agree with the process, results should follow over a larger sample. The question should be raised though, what should we expect from these players? Sure, most of them have favorable matchups, that’s why I highlight them in the article. But they are still available in the vast majority of leagues for a reason, that reason being they aren’t good enough to be owned in the vast majority of leagues.

I could try to compute a baseline scientifically, something like the rate at which replacement level hitters score runs, homers, etc. on a per game basis, but let’s instead just do something that feels nice. A .250 average, that feels nice. If the hitters I suggest here end up getting one hit for every four at-bats, I think everyone would agree it was worth our time to do this. Also arbitrary, I’ll aim for .5 runs per game, .5 RBI, .2 HR, and .2 SB. If one of every five players hits a home run (one per article), I think we all go home happy.

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?

The hits just keep comin’ for major league baseball players and their fantasy owners.

We’re just a month into the season, and it’s unlikely there are many owners out there who have not been dealt a significant injury to at least one of their players.  Oh, you’re raising your hand?  Here are two recommendations: 1) stop playing in 8-team leagues, 2) there are healthier forms of self-indulgence than a four-leaf clover enema.

In 2014, we’ve seen more pains, pricks, breaks, strains, pulls and tears in baseball than the amount of times Drake has changed his NCAA/NBA team allegiances.

Being in the know when it comes to a player’s health will always keep you one step ahead of your competition.  Here are some ailing hitters (and their possible replacements) to pay attention to in the coming weeks:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

On Saturday, Jon Lester threw a gem: 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 15 Ks. Such a gem that if that were a blood diamond, diplomats from Monrovia would be lined up in the streets of Liberia for a taste of that. If that were an emerald, friends of Dorothy would stand outside of Ricky Martin’s hotel for weeks just for the chance he forgoes the hotel buffet and wants to eat out. If that were a ruby, it would stand outside a Dallas police station to cover any possible conspiracies and add fuel to other conspiracies. Lester has pitched spectacularly so far, and it’s not a product of luck. His 10.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 are elite. Those are fantasy ace numbers. His fastball doesn’t have renewed life, if anything he’s lost something on it. What appears to be the biggest difference is he’s almost completely abandoned his changeup and throwing his cutter a bit more. Since he’s always been good for 200 innings and has had huge success before, I’m willing to say he will hold the improvements to his rates and be an extremely reliable starter. Likely in the top 15 for the year. Yeah, he looks damn good. I want some, purdy puhlease. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Ryan Braun hit his first two home runs off Kyle Kendrick — you know, that Kendrick sure sticks out for a sore thumb — and then Braun emancipated a third ball off Lincoln. Three homers a mere two days after saying he was not able to swing normally is quite the 180. It’s like when Mickey Rourke is one of the best actors — in movies like Diner and Angel Heart — only to have a string of flops, terrible plastic surgery and then he reemerges in The Wrestler. Or Travolta’s career is in the toilet after Saturday Night Fever, dealing with whispers about his bedroom predilections and then he does Pulp Fiction. Doing The McConaughey while McConaughey was still ruining his career. A few years later, Mickey Rourke has another string of flops and his face still scares small children; Travolta does Battlefield Earth and now whispers about his religion have joined the other whispers. (Be forewarned, McConaughey.) So, will Braun now reemerge as the top hitter in the game and hold his Pulp Fiction/Wrestler renaissance or will his thumb continue to haunt him while he commits to Wild Hogs II: Where The Wild Hogs Are? All I know is he was complaining about his thumb a full nine months after he first hurt it, so it doesn’t seem likely to disappear that fast. His value may be even higher now, but I’d still be concerned. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Tanaka, Pineda, ooh, I’m gonna take you. To Sabathia, Kuroda, ooh, I wanna own you. K-Rob, oh hold up now, I don’t want Sabathia and I don’t care if I ruined the song. So, Michael Pineda will be the Yanks 5th starter, at least out of Spring Training. Damn you, qualifier! I don’t think the rest of the league will hit the stuffing out of Pineda (quinceanera pun for the win!), but I do think the Yankees will have have to limit Pineda’s innings at some point. He can’t return from serious surgery and throw 200 IP this year. I’m not adjusting Pineda in my rankings. He’s in the “Lottery ticket” tier and he will remain there, but you don’t need to wear overalls over to the Wawa to scratch him off and win. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in Spring Training for 2014 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

I don’t do 1st baseman sleepers because there are none. If you’re drafting a 1st baseman sleeper, you’re losing your league. Who are you putting at 1st? Yonder Alonso? That’s cool. Don’t pay your league fees until the end of the year and then duck out of the country. You feel me? Okay, now stop. 3rd basemen are more or less in the same boat, and that boat is the Titanic and if you draft a sleeper 3rd baseman that doesn’t pan out, you’re gonna sink while holding until to a lady named Rose who gets real old looking, but some of youse have corner men in your league, so may as well look at a few 3rd basemen for s’s and g’s. Good? Good. These are all 3rd basemen that being drafted after 150 overall. Now, this is a (legal-in-all-countries-except-Indonesia) supplement to the top 20 3rd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball. Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2014 projections. Anyway, here’s some 3rd basemen to target for 2014 fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

Please, blog, may I have some more?