The issue with writing for a site like Razzball, I’ve learned, is that you expend too much mental energy trying to come up with cute ways of saying everything. At least for those of us whose “written humor” is still somewhat of a work in progress, this is true. Needless to say, in just the past minute alone I’ve thought of so many dumb, unfunny ways of saying “I’m back!” that I’m embarrassed to share a single one, and will proceed as dully as possible. Yes, I’ve returned from my three week European extravaganza. There it is. Now instead of flirting with Australian chicks one year out of Uni in hostel bars, I’m back in the States ready to dispense you with the highest quality fantasy advice this country can offer. (You won’t believe how good German Grey is.)

In case you’ve forgotten or are just joining us here at LM for the first time, my goal is to highlight hitters to add for games on the short-slated days of Monday and Thursday. Filling out your lineup on these days is a basic tenet of fantasy leagues with daily moves and to be quite frank, you probably ain’t winning any titles in a competitive unless you put in the time to do this. Prior to my trip I posted here twice a week but that was before I packed my bags and got a soul-sucking office job, so now I’m going to synthesize those into one article that covers both days.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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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Try not to act so jealous, Frank Thomas. A new superstar has arrived in Chicago. After Evan Longoria hit a go ahead 2-run home run in the ninth inning last night against the Chicago White Sox, most thought the game was all but over. But not Jose Abreu. People have been telling him “No Way, Jose!” all his life. A real defector at heart, he was ready to prove them wrong the only way he knew how– with his bat. The crowd was slowly filtering out, the concessions employees were removing the hot dogs from the rollers and placing them back in the warm stagnant water for the next day, and Adam Dunn was already in the locker room, eating his post-game bucket of oats. But White Sox rookie slugger Abreu aka the Grande Dolor aka or is it el Gran Dolor? aka “I guess it doesn’t really matter, he’s just a monster” Abreu had a different idea. Chicago loaded the bases for the phenom and he promptly sent it into the stands with the grand slam and the walk off win. He finished the day 3-for-5, with two home runs and six RBI. Ay carumba! The final home run was Jose’s league-leading ninth jack of the year, and he also tied for the lead with 27 RBI and his .632 SLG% and .968 OPS are among the league’s best as well. He set the rookie record for April home runs too, and counting. Abreu is making those who gambled on him early in drafts look like geniuses, jacking homers every 10.6 at bats and rocking a sick and a 26.9% HR/FB ratio. That means he’s going to hit more home runs. Like, a lot more. And if he’s as fun to own in fantasy as he is to watch in actual real-life-not- in-a-box score-but-on-the-field baseball, then Abreu could likely find himself in the upper echelon of the fantasy elite as soon as this year.

Here’s what else happened in fantasy baseball last night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Terry Collins announced a change at the top of Mets bullpen system on the down, Jose Valverde would concede the job to Kyle Farnsworth. Valverde handed him the ball, and like a true sportsman said, “You can’t be worse than me, but I know you’ll try.” Terry Collins, or Mr. C as the players call him, told Valverde to sit on it, Farnsy’s cool. Some have speculated on Vic Black, Frank’s little brother. Didja you know when Vic was a young Black he went to his brother Frank and asked if he could play drums in the Pixies and Frank said, “Do drugs for six more years and then we’ll talk.” Rock ‘n roll, doodes and four doodettes! Will Farnsworth do a decent enough job as closer to hold it for the whole year? Seems doubtful, but I like his odds better than Valverde ever had. Farnsworth could get 25 saves and be a Donkeycorn by September. Likely, he gets around 12 saves, has a 4-something ERA and the Mets give Gonzalez Germen a little guten tag a’la vater, which is ‘how’s your father’ in Germen from someone who never took Germen. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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I’m all about the win-now. This means I will rarely own a top prospect, because I’ll trade them for short term MLB value and/or I just won’t spend the dough on those guys, because I can look a bit deeper for translatable prospects that don’t have as much associated hype. Therefore, I’m not going to whine about not owning and emphasizing the obvious: Oscar Tavares, George Springer, Gregory Polanco or even Jackie Bradley Jr. Instead I’ll draft sure-thing offense so long as they’re healthy (Michael Morse and Yasmani Grandal), and then go with upside starters/or solid veterans like Marco Estrada, Alex Wood, Corey Kluber, Tyson Ross, Kyle Lohse and Tim Hudson (all were available around the same time as these prospects in deep leagues). I literally own all of these guys, and the following ESPN’ers <10% owned as of 4/14:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As the seminal prog band Emerson, Lake and Laura Palmer once sang: “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside.” (The song went on for 45 minutes before ‘Yes’ came out and kicked their ass.) Opening day is here and the Razzball Lounge is open for bid’ness. Have a seat, grab a cold one and a pickled egg, and don’t get hypnotized by my bedazzled turban my fantasy freaks. Here in the lounge we dedicated, often celebrated, and usually acquitted (we have a great legal team) Razzballin’ scribes gather every opening day to bicker and banter, indulge and imbibe and moan and marvel at our fantasy teams and Grey’s magnificent ‘stache. On this last lazy Sunday (before things get serious) we find Sky in a dark corner slowing rocking back and forth muttering his mantra of “Tulo, Tanaka, Trumbo” over and over. Bellying up to the bar is podcasting paladin Nick Capozzi, clad only in his Expos throwback demanding another Labatts, showing off pics of his rolling Razzball ride and asking no one in particular, “Get your 32in32in32 tickets yet, eh?” Dropping quarters in the jukebox we find Jay Wrong demonstrating his “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” interpretative dance – “Will you love me forever?”  *bottle smashes above head* Stumbling out of the ladies room is the one and only Tehol Beddict casually zipping up his skinny jeans and introducing his new lady friend, “Guys, I’d like to introduce you to my cousin. Ain’t she pretty?” And here at the pool table is your humble-but-nonetheless handsome Guru putting the finishing touches on my 27 rosters. *closes eye, takes aim, sinks eight ball off two rails, drops shot glass into pint, downs boilermaker, lights cigar, sets turban on fireWith the drinks starting to flow let’s run though the jams and crams at each position for Week 1 of the 2014 fantasy baseball season. We’re not talking Miggy, Trout or Goldy here, we’re looking at players owned in less than 50% of most leagues that could help grab you an early lead on your way to fantasy glory. Good luck this season, it’s time to jam it or cram it.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The hardest division in the league, which includes last year’s world champs, looks to be just as intense again.  For that matter, it probably will be that way for the foreseeable future.  My favorite team is also being covered here.  I’ll do my best not to be biased about the Yankees, and I think I’m pretty good at keeping my emotions away from the reality of the team.  That being said, I think the Yankees are going to win 120 games this season. (You can check out the NL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL West Spring Training Preview here, the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and the NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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As a former radio geek that tired of the shallow money trench and the playing of “Free Bird” for the 7,432 time, I’m a fan of taking those radio hits and mashing them up beyond recognition. Take a couple of things that don’t belong together like Metallica and Stevie Wonder, throw them in the blender and you get something sad but superstitious.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (6) | 2012 (10) | 2011 (17) | 2010 (5) | 2009 (13)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB: [97-65] AL East
AAA: [80-63] International League – Pawtucket
AA: [68-73] Eastern League – Portland
A+: [76-64] Carolina League – Salem
A: [51-87] South Atlantic League – Greenville
A(ss):  [40-33] New York-Penn League — Lowell

Graduated Prospects
None

The Run Down
This Boston farm is exceptionally strong from a fantasy perspective, but it’s a different brand of strength from the top-of-the-league systems that we’ve recently discussed.  Orgs like the Cubs, Twins, Astros, and Pirates all feature a grouping of extreme high-impact prospects at the top of their ranks, whereas Boston’s main attraction is in its fantasy-relevant depth.  Excluding Xander Bogaerts from the conversation, there aren’t any sure-fire top 50 prospects in this group (although Garin Cecchini is certainly in the T50 conversation), but even so, it’d be difficult to find another farm as strong as Boston is from prospects #5 through #10.  Everyone here can be owned comfortably in dynasty formats, and that’s a rarity among these preseason top 10′s.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Last week we rolled out our Top 25 Fantasy Baseball Prospects for 2014, and today we’re moving on to numbers 26-50.  Remember, this is a 2014-specific list — we’re doing our best here to identify prospects who have the best chance at contributing in the fantasy game this season.  A year ago, the second half of this same list included names like Christian Yelich, Matt Adams, Nolan Arenado, Tony Cingrani, Chris Archer, Michael Wacha, and Avisail Garcia.  I suspect that there will be a handful of impact players found in this group, as well.  Do take note.

Please, blog, may I have some more?