“With my last trick, I will make Paul Simon six feet tall, while throwing a 94 MPH fastball with pinpoint control.”  Then Ray Searage waved a fancy-style cape in front of the audience.  It didn’t block their gaze, but it was such an exotic-looking garment, they were distracted enough to not notice a six-foot-tall Paul Simon walk onto stage, towering over Art Garfunkel.  Simon then threw a brushback pitch while singing Home Plate Bound.  Prior, of course, Searage made the seemingly all-over-the-map Juan Nicasio into an ace.  Or at least an ace in spring training.  Do I believe Nicasio is fixed because of some spring training stats?  Actually, yeah, he could be, and is worth a flyer.  Last year, he averaged 95 MPH on his fastball, and his undoing was always his control, which Searage has helped other pitchers conquer.  Bring Searage your stuff, and he’ll make it work.  I added Nicasio into the top 80 starters and gave him the projections of 8-10/3.81/1.33/148 in 165 IP.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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After the top 20 catchers for 2016 fantasy baseball, it’s all downhill.  And by downhill, I mean it will pick up speed and start moving quickly.  That really should be what “it’s all downhill” means.  I fixed you, English language, you’re welcome.  The top 10 for 2016 fantasy baseball and the top 20 for 2016 fantasy baseball were done the other day too.  I think this is what they call getting you up to date.  I don’t mean that as in, “We have to shave his unibrow into two eyebrows, and maybe have him wear something other than a sports jersey, so he’s ‘up to date’ a girl.”  This top 20 1st basemen for 2016 fantasy baseball goes to about 60.  Every year it seems like it gets longer and more unwieldy like the story you tell people on why you didn’t finish college.  As always, for each player there’s my projections and where I see tiers starting and ending.  There’s the position eligibility chart for 2016 fantasy baseball, and all the 2016 fantasy baseball rankings are under that linkie-ma-whosie.  Anyway, here’s the top 20 1st basemen for 2016 fantasy baseball:

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I’ve just never been a Matt Moore guy…

Uber-talented Moore has always gotten praise for his clean mechanics and smooth delivery, plus fastball, and solid slider, but it never materialized into good control and solid numbers.  Those horrible, horrible walks…  Moore’s K zone looks like a star chart!

After never ranking him favorably the past few years because of a 4.5 walk rate, yes 4.5, I thought the buzz for him off the DL from TJ recovery was too… buzzy.  I’m at a loss for words I’m so confused!  But I hadn’t seen him pitch since hitting the DL after two starts last year, and maybe a reconstructed elbow can help.  “He’s more machine now, than man!”  Well let’s hope it helps the horrific walk rate!  Here’s how he looked yesterday hosting the Astros, along with ranks for pitchers for the second half:

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Does this happen to people? You’re working on something, and listening to certain tunes and that informs the way you go about your work. I’ve never had a real job in my life, so I don’t know how this works for those. Does a toll collecting juggalo listen to Insane Clown Posse while working and violently throw change back at drivers? Is this why a building’s roof caves in because the construction crew was listening to Because I Got High by Afroman? Or if you were to suddenly change a hitter’s walk-up music from say Next Episode by Dr. Dre (which seems to be at least one hitter’s song on every team) to The Pina Colada Song would that change everything? I don’t know, but I’m a deep thinker, and I saw Johnny Cueto‘s start yesterday and thought he had to be listening to the Silver Jews, specifically this one section, because that gets me so jacked I could jackhammer a driveway with my foot. I took a hammer to it all! *banging foot on cement* Right?! Okay, maybe it’s me. That’s why we’re having this one-sided conversation, to better understand each other. Yesterday, Cueto threw a farkin sparkler — a farkler, if you will — 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 11 Ks, ERA down to 2.61. Cueto’s the bomb dot gov. He’s almost exactly in line with what he was doing last year when he had a 2.25 ERA in 243 2/3 IP. And, if anything, he’s actually pitching better this year, lowering his walk rate from 2.4 to 1.7. For whatever reason, he seems to stay out of the conversation for the best pitchers in the major leagues, but yesterday he took on Max Scherzer (4 2/3 IP, 5 ER) and took a hammer to it all. A hammer to it all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Dude’s on fire. No. Need better! He is a high-speed torrent download of a yule log burning. Need better! He is Smokey the Bear at a Porno for Pyros concert, wearing earbuds and listening to Firestarter by Prodigy. Need better still! He’s a pyrotechnician smacking a sparkler out of your hand and giving you instead the detonator for the Statue of Liberty’s 4th of July celebration fireworks. Yesterday, Mitch Moreland went 2-for-3 with 4 RBIs and his 13th and 14th homers, and now has five homers in four games and six homers in six games. I already told you yesterday that Moreland has been better than Brandon Belt, Lucas Duda and Brandon Moss, and some other corner infidels, according to our Player Rater. That’s on the year, not in the last week. In the last week, Moreland’s been better than everyone. Let’s take a hootie-hoo at who Moreland has more homers than on the year: Prince Fielder, Beltre (not close), Adam Jones, Big Papi, Tommy Tomstein, Freeman, Yoenis, Billy McDugal, Kris Bryant, Tulo, McClutchin and Sandoval. Sure, some of those guys I only named to rub salt in my own wounds — I hate you, Sandoval! — and other guys I mentioned don’t even exist, but Mitch don’t kill my vibe for the better part of the season now, and, if he’s available, I’d grab him. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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This was just announced by the Yankees’ front office. “No Yankee will ever wear the last Monday of May on their jersey. 5/25-5/31 will all be retired. We dedicate this to all the Yankees who served honorably on federal holidays.” When asked why Memorial Day and not Veteran’s Day, the Yankees’ brass said their roster celebrates Veteran’s Day every day. The Yankees exploded for 14 runs yesterday on five home runs as Jeremy Guthrie (1 IP, 11 ER) got Vin Mazzacred! Chase Headley went 3-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 6th homer as Headley helped *pinkie to mouth* Chase! Guthrie. In the 1st inning, Brian McCann got into the action (1-for-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs) with his 5th homer as he put up the bangfizzle, Stephen Drew added his one hit in five at-bats, his 5th homer, and, because Guthrie was doing a special Memorial Day giveaway with homers going to the first seven batters in attendance, even Slade Heathcott (2-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) got into the action, hitting his 1st homer, and Slade Heathcott is merely just a name spit out by the Preppie Name Generator. But the one I really want to talk about after this clunky sentence intro is Brett Gardner (2-for-4, 3 runs, 3 RBIs and his 4th homer, hitting .285 and has 12 steals). Gardner gives you around the stats you were hoping to get from Jacoby Ellsbury, and at a fraction of the draft day cost. To quote Fonzie’s horse, nay! It’s not just Gardner’s draft day cost, he’s still likely cheap as dog balls to acquire in a trade. Everyone on the Yankees gets overrated, but somehow Gardner never does. Weird and interesting and everything you could want from a novel you find tucked away in someone else’s beach blanket that you steal. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I was going to say Shelby Miller looks sensational, but then I Googled sensational to see its definition, even though I know it already. (Al Gore did originally invent the internet as a tool of procrastination.) So, the Oxford Dictionary defines sensational as: causing great public interest and excitement, example “a sensational murder trial.” Wow, even the Oxford Dictionary is trying to get in on the tabloid journalism of our day. Hey, Oxford, why not, “Kim Kardashian’s booty was sensational when she broke the internet that Al Gore had created and now needed to fix.” That gives me a great idea, a mash up of the Urban and Oxford Dictionary! Definition of a flake: A crazy or eccentric person. “Yo, that flake is three crumbs short of a Peek Frean.” Any the hoo! Shelby Miller did look sensational, murdering bats like The Riddler. Yesterday, he went 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 4 Ks to lower his ERA to 1.33. Is he this good? Oh, c’mon. But how bad is he? His K/9 is 7.2, BB/9 is 2.7 and xFIP is 3.79. His BABIP is .203, LOB% is 88.8% and his ground ball rate is 50.4%. Essentially, Miller’s a 3.25-3.60 ERA pitcher with decent, but not great Ks, solid but not terrific control, and one great pitch that he’s figured out how to use, the cutter. He could easily have a month-long spasm of a 5.00 ERA just as easily as he’s done six weeks of a 1.33 ERA. Would I sell him high? Yes, indeed. Or as the Urban-Oxford Dictionary would say, “Does a corgi crap under the Queen’s bed and she calls it a soon-to-be truffle?” Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Sometimes a news story falls through the cracks, but Lewis Black is there to catch them in a segment we call Back in Black!  Oh wait, got a little carried away there…  I mean:

Sometimes a pitcher falls through the cracks, and Grey is there to catch them!

Now, I have somewhat of an excuse…  Due to the MLB and regional networks wanting to stick it up the rear of their viewers and black out however-the-hell-far their national maps can reach, I can’t watch Orioles or Nationals games live in my region.  It’s so frustrating that I sold high on Adam Jones in my keeper just because I couldn’t see the homers right away!  I’m an instant gratification kinda guy, wink wink.

It’s easy to follow the hitters from these teams and see the highlights, but I never see big samples from either teams’ SP unless it’s on national TV.  Or in this case, in a Pitcher Profile!  Grey has been all about some Miguel Gonzalez on the Podcast, and I guess it’s easy for me to be a little dismissive as he’s never had “huge” numbers and I can’t ever watch him.  Plus, how good could he be anyway, he’s not even the only starting pitcher named Miguel Gonzalez!  Mmmmmm, Alfredo.  But not the Simon kind!  Anyway, since I’ve seen so little of Gonzalez and he had a very under the radar 2.09 ERA in the final 3 months last year and a 2.59 ERA this year with nice Ks, I figured it was a good time to break down his last start hosting the Rays to see how he’s doing pitch-by-pitch:

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Not quite a done deal just yet, but it’s looking like Josh Hamilton is heading home on the Rangers, as the Angels have agreed to pay the majority of Hamilton’s giant contact in exchange for Hamilton agreeing to get the heck out of Dodge. The trade would certainly qualify as Woody’s rootin-est, tootin-est, roundup in the wild, wild west so far this season. The least cynical of all my multiple personalities would certainly like to believe if Josh Hamilton can get back on track anywhere, it’d be with the Rangers in Texas. Yee-haw, we’ve hog-tied us a Hamilton! As a Rangers fan, you’ve got to be happy with any news that doesn’t concern Adrian Beltre’s age, Yu Darvish’s injury, Prince Fielder’s weight, or Elvis Andrus’ suckiness. In five years with Texas, Josh Hamilton batted .305 with 142 home runs and over 500 RBI, including his 2010 MVP season where he hit 32 homers and batted .359 with a .633 SLG%. Well, howdy there, partner! However, Josh managed just 32 homers and a .255 AVG in two injury-riddled seasons with Anaheim. The L.A. air just wasn’t agreeing with him. It was the traffic wasn’t it? Yeah, well, you deal with it because the weather is perfect and the tacos are awesome. Currently on the shelf recovering from shoulder surgery, J-Hammies is due back sometime in June and is available in most leagues. I grabbed him in a few leagues where I had a DL spot to spare, and I’d suggest you do the same. Here’s to hoping he can recapture some of the thrill, the romance and the magic that those hot summer nights in Texas can bring to the bat.

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

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Did you know that the baseball season is just over 10 percent complete?  Great timing for an article covering players who are under 10 percent owned in fantasy leagues.  Time flies, and so do the free agents on your waiver wire.  In this week’s edition of “Deep Impact”, I’ll be discussing some first basemen that can help you in the near future.  As per usual, ownership percentages are taken from ESPN.com, but since every league has different settings, I can’t guarantee every player I suggest will be available in each of your individual leagues. Heeeeere we go!

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