Low voice, “Wow.” Digs ditch, steps down, “Wow.” Need more emphasis. Buys a mini-excavator, consults with architects about installing a down escalator, begins construction, gets behind on schedule, fires a guy that smokes more than he digs, hires a foreman that seems like he knows what he’s doing, foreman runs off with money, tracks foreman down in Aruba hanging out with Andruw Jones, punches foreman, watches Andruw Jones make diving catch of forearm’s body, heads back to the States to oversee completion of down escalator, breaks champagne on escalator, travels down a full story and, “WOW!” Do you see what I go though to emphasize something for you? After Mike Fiers struck out 14 Cubs in 6 innings, he can have anything he wants. Sleep with my Cougs, she’s all yours! He now has a 1.29 ERA, a 10.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 after 21 IP, after blowing through the minor leagues with a 11.3 K/9. I grabbed him in one 12 team league and looked to pick him up in every league, but he wasn’t there. I forgot the most important lesson, you couldn’t get Michael Fiers if you were f***ing Michael Fiers! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Something many of you don’t realize, but one of the first people to talk to a player that was just traded is his new team’s tailor. The Yankees tailor got on the phone with Chase Headley to find out what size jersey he wears, and Headley looked down, beaming to be out of Petco, and said, “Giuseppe, you might want to take out my inseam too.” I wonder if the flowers smelled a little better as Headley stepped into Yankee Stadium for the first time. Sure, in contrast to his hour long ride through the Bronx, getting lost in Hunts Point, anything would smell better, but it can’t be worse, can it? His career in away games prorated over a 162 game season is: 79/19/79/.286/14. Doode’s David Wright! Well, almost. Which is sad for Headley and Wright. More sad for Wright. What a guy does in only half a season can be anywhere from bupkis to I-want-to-bump-grind-and-kiss. Will Headley suddenly be mixed league worthy? Yeah, for at least a flyer, if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The Oakland A’s have been the team to beat in the first half of 2014. They own the best record the majors, their offense, which is comprised of a ragtag bunch of misfits from the other side of the tracks, ranks second among all teams in RBIs and total bases. They lead the league in ERA and WHIP, and they just upgraded their rotation with the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, all without the help of fat Jonah Hill. You don’t need Andy Serkis’ acting school to show you you’d be a real monkey to doubt these guys. They’ve been just as good from a fantasy perspective. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Sonny Gray have carried over their success from 2013, and Jesse Chavez, Sean Doolittle and the two-headed catcher platoon of John Jaso and Derek Norris have all been first half surprises. So which A’s can you hitch a ride on for some second half fantasy glory? Jed Lowrie (2-for-4, RBI) can get real hot, real quick, and is currently on a seven game hitting streak, with multi-hit performances in six of those games. You might want to scoop him up before he explodes, or gets injured again. Similarly, Stephen Vogt (3-for-3, HR (4)) has been excellent since receiving everyday at bats and is slashing .435/.480/.652 over the past two weeks.  He’s got an 11 game hitting streak (six multi-hit games in that span) and two homers in his past three days, and that catcher eligibility makes him extra valuable. P. Diddy says Vogt or die, so you should grab Stephen while he’s still just under 30% owned. We may be through a little over half of the fantasy season so far, but there’s still plenty of time to ride the Oaktown bandwagon to some fantasy glory, at least until they get to San Antonio. #keeptheAsinOakland!

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball Friday night (*All-Star Edition*):

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Gerrit Cole, one of the better young pitchers in the game, landed on the DL Sunday with “right shoulder fatigue”.  What does this mean for the Pirates?  Well, they have been playing much, much better of late, and this is gonna put a wrench in their chances of making a run at first place in the division.  Yes, they are still eight games back, but with Gregory Polanco likely getting called up this week, if they had a push in them, now was the time they were going to have to make it.  Instead, 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke, who was so bad post-break that he finished the year in the minors, will fill the void left by Cole and his 6-3 record.

Fantasy baseball owners are also going to be affected by this.  The Pirates hope Cole will only miss one start, but this sounds like it could develop into a multi-week recovery.  Concern arose when Cole, who normally throws in the 95-98 MPH range, was showing decreased velocity in the mid- to-late innings of games.  Assuming the Bucs fall further out of contention, the team will be in no rush to bring back their 23-year-old stud.  For what it’s worth, the Reds’ Tony Cingrani landed on the DL in May for the same reason (left shoulder fatigue) and missed just the minimum time, but he hasn’t been good at all in the weeks since.  For now, fantasy owners will just have to stash Cole on their DL and hope for a speedy recovery.

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 love the Aussie people; they have goofy words for a barbecue and even goofier animals — koalas and kangaroos? Is Australia animated? Those things are goofy! Why not just get a duck-billed platypus and anteater and call it a day, you wacky-animal-having country! How about baseball there? Did all the fans in attendance win a Bowie knife if a player hit a home run into the big marsupial pouch? Did Crocodile Dundee throw out the first pitch? Did the batters hit with a fraternity hazing paddle? I don’t know, because it was at four in the morning! Selig really needs to stop doing this to Opening Day. The players will be exhausted from traveling and won’t be able to get their usual reps in during the spring. The first pitch of the season should be at a time when 7-year-old North American boys and girls can watch it. Not at 4 AM EST. What if the first game went extra innings or someone got hurt? Can they just call up someone from the minors for the next game? No, so then you’ll have a team playing short. Do these stunts in December as a goodwill trip. Don’t make major league baseball teams into the Harlem Globetrotters for a regular season game. Eh, whatevs, baseball is back, who cares if it comes with a big helping of Vegemite. Anyway, here’s what else I saw for fantasy baseball:

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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.)

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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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Razzball Nation!

The Pitcher Profile corner is back after an off-week of profiling.  If you listen to the Razzball Baseball Contest, I was indeed in Oklahoma but it was the exact opposite of Nick’s rendition.  I think Nick is just mad at my Canadian bashing.  Here is how I would describe his normal weekend:

It’s icy today.  Fishing?

Pail.  Cut hole.

 

Wait.

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I’ve started that dance with Xander Bogaerts. You know what dance I mean. The dance when you pick up, drop, pick up, drop, think about picking up then decide against it, go partially through with picking him up only to sit on your team page and not have anyone to drop…Then decide against it. That dance. The dance that any middle-aged man would do if he were in Morocco and not willing to pick a side because he’d only be fighting for a woman he banged in Paris and his only friend is some guy with bugged-out eyes. Every time I start the dance, Sam starts playing his piano and I’m like, “Play it again, Sam?” I say it in the form of a question so I don’t get sued for copyright infringement. I’ve done that dance with Bogaerts for about a week. And I can’t commit. *lights cigarette* Of all the waiver wire joints in all the fantasy leagues in all the world, he walked into mine. I’m only doing this back-and-forth dance with him because he’s going to be so good and I know he’s about to be called up. The Red Sox moved him to 3rd base in the minors just to give him a bit more flexibility to get him into their major league lineup. On Prospect Scott’s top 50 minor league fantasy prospects, he was number one. Numero uno, the head cheese, the big mahoff. Between Double and Triple-A this year, he has 14 homers and 7 steals. That’s solid for a prospect. For a 20-year-old, that’s the sign of a future perennial All-Star. In all leagues, I’m going to be dancing with him until he gets the call. As I wrote this, I grabbed and dropped him two more times. If you have the room, stash him right now. He will be up within the next month and this will be the start of a beautiful friendship. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?