One of the questions from Bernard Pivot by way of James Lipton is, “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?” That’s easy, “Play ball!” Today, butterflies fly north for the summer, birds and bees have sex to John Fogerty’s Centerfield, and Carlos Quentin is already injured. *slowly smells in a flower* Ahh…Shin-Soo Choo! Stupid allergies. With spring in the air and baseballs in mitts, we’re back in the swing of things. Literally. Sadly, it’s not all good news. With Opening Day comes the news that Clayton Kershaw is starting the year on the DL. Aw, that makes me so sad. Wait, that’s not sadness, that’s happiness. Darn, my emotion detector needs recalibration. My first Sell of the year doesn’t look so bad right now. I feel like Ace Ventura right after he shows up all the other cops. Yes, I have exorcised the demons! The Dodgers are saying it was precautionary and Kershaw will be back shortly. If you own him, I wouldn’t sell him for fifty cents on the dollar. I’d take out my rosary beads and pray to the Patron Saint of Baseball, Ryan Church. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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So, I took part in one of those 15-team NFBC drafts that Rudy and all the cool kids were talking about-slash-doing. What a snoozefest! I mean, it was fun, but I fell asleep literally 19 times during it. Granted, it lasted for 19 days, so if I didn’t fall asleep 19 times, I would’ve needed trucker speed, but still. Speaking of which, I have much respect for truckers. They’re driving all day and they have to wear the stupidest hats. Any the hoo! This draft was one part fresh, two parts ‘to def’ and some random Razzballers took part, so maybe we can chat in the comments — I have no friends! We can’t talk about trades, because there are none. There’s also no waivers. This was a 15-team league that went 50 rounds deep. What you draft is what you have. No backsies, no foolsies. Anyway, here’s my 15-team NFBC team and some thoughts:

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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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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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It’s amazing to me how many times teams get burned by signing huge free agent deals. It’s like they’re either not aware of what other teams are doing or they’re not paying attention. How’d that A-Rod to Rangers deal work out for the Rangers? Hamilton and Pujols to the Angels? Or when the entire National League All-Star team spent three months in a Marlins uniform? Robinson Cano is quality, but Marco Scutaro could’ve won the Mariners the AL West if F-Her, Iwakuma and Taijuan were hitting on all cylinders. Well, at least the Mariners didn’t need to give up anything but a crapton of a money. Cano went from re-signing with the Yanks to resigning to play with the Mariners (play on words points!). Can’t fault a guy for taking that kind of money. Shouldn’t be surprised either, I mean his mother’s maiden name is Mercedes. When it appeared like Cano was going to the Yanks, I gave him the projected line of 97/29/110/.310/4 and ranked him fifth overall in my rankings that I’m working on now that will be published in January. Now, I can’t see it. Not sure which way I’m re-shuffling my rankings, but his projections have to drop in Safeco, unless they move in the fences once again. I don’t like just looking at what a player did in away games at the stadium he will now call home. Just looking at what Cano did in Safeco for his career doesn’t tell the full story. He was facing the Mariners staff, and it was an away game. Players react differently to being on the road, especially cross country. With that said (reversal time!), in 40 games in Safeco, Cano had a line of 17/4/20/.309/2. Last year, Safeco played more neutral than it has in the past. Doubles and triples went up, homers and average sat pretty much where they were prior to the fences moving in. All of that info leads me to think what a fourth grader could’ve told you, Cano will remain a batting average plus but take a small hit in power. A small hit in power for a guy who doesn’t regularly top 30 homers isn’t great. The Mariners are now in play for every free agent so it might seem like his runs and RBIs won’t take as big of a hit, but remember what happened when Pujols and Hamilton were united in Anaheim or every All-Star landed in South Florida? Not a whole lot for their runs and RBIs. Even if the Mariners sign every other free agent, it doesn’t mean great things for Cano. I’ll say Cano will stay relatively neutral from last year because the Yankees weren’t good then either. So that brings me to Cano’s projected line of 84/26/105/.312/4. Not terrible, not quite what I hoped for in a rebound season in New York. As Simon and Garfunkel would tell you, this deal does prove Seattle loves Robinson more than you ever Cano. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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First Heyward, and now Brandon Beachy is headed to see Dr. Freeze. This is the worst back-to-back days in Atlanta since Sherman burnt Atlanta and then Home Depot decided to push back their grand opening by 100 years. If the Braves keep going like this, TBS might have to show repeats of The George Lopez Show. NOOOOOOOO!!! The caps were for emphasis, you know, in case it was lost on anyone. The last pitcher to see Dr. James Andrews and pitch again within 6 months was Lee Majors during a Battle of the Network Stars tourney, but he was bionic. I’d put five internet dollars on Beachy missing the season, but I’d hold him for now. This would obviously clear up the confusion in the rotation between Alex Wood, Paul Maholm and Kris Medlen. Or Alis Moodlen, for short, though that sounds like a guitarist for Deep Purple. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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WHO ARE YOU BRUCE CHEN?! I demand answers immediately. I know, yesterday was just against the Marlins, so we can write off the 7 IP, 0 ER, 6 baserunners, 6 Ks game. But when I put into my supercomputer (that has a mustache too) that Chen has a 1.62 ERA in 72 1/3 IP, my supercomputer walks out the door…And it doesn’t even have legs! If you woke from a season-long coma and saw Chen’s ERA, you’re liable to have a sudden case of Toxic Shock Syndrome (I might be confusing diseases here). So, can the Chen man keep wokking and rolling like he’s Martin Yan? No way in this giant-lush-covered-in-water-thanks-to-Al-Gore planet. He’s not a sub-2 ERA pitcher. He’s barely a 4-ERA pitcher. As a sabermetrician altered license plate in New Hampshire reads, Regress or Die. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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From fear that MLB would crack down on Performance-Enhancing Goggles, Francisco Rodriguez was traded to the Orioles. Or was something else at work besides the Orioles wanting Dor-K to pitch the 8th, setting up Jim Johnson? Here, try this. Put your arm down, now pick it up, now put it down, now move your furry eyebrows up and down. Jim Henderson, The Muppet Master, pulls all strings. He orchestrates all. He forces Beaker to say, “Me me me me me me me.” Bit of a control freak if you ask me, but it worked out for him this time, since Henderson will be taking over the ninth inning now in Milwaukee. For those holding John Axford for saves, it could happen since he’s been solid for the last two months. The Brewers could still trade Henderson or Axford. Or the Brew Crew could send out 2014 season ticket offers reading, “Braun’s Back Without the Acne!” Only time will tell. As for K-Rod, in most redraft leagues that don’t use middle relievers, you can lose him. This did come across the wire in Baltimore, when you trade for K-Rod, then you better watch your back. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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The afternoon started with Matt Harvey. He pitched a stellar 7 innings with 13 Ks, but Terry Collins sent him out there in the 8th after throwing 110 pitches, which lead to two singles and a walk, three runners that the bullpen let in. After the game, Collins said, “I felt bad for Duda (who blew a chance for a Harvey no-hitter by not covering first base on Heyward’s infield single). I couldn’t let Duda make the only Metsake of the game. I was going to keep pitching Harvey until he screwed up. He’d have started the nightcap, if necessary.” Fortch, it wasn’t necessary, as the nightcap brought on Zack Wheeler‘s debut with a line of 6 IP, 0 ER, 9 baserunners (5 BBs), 7 Ks. To summarize, it was shaky as all get-out at first. He looked like he couldn’t hit the broadside of Precious. Then he either calmed, or realized something — if he could locate, no one could hit him. He can easily be as good as Harvey, but I’m guessing it won’t be until next year. Last night was the best you could’ve hoped for. To summarize that summary, he was shaky, then solid. To summarize the summary’s summary, Zack good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?