We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2014 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2014 Pirates Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Pat Lackey from Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke?.

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Like the 2nd basemen to target post, this is necessary. You want to take flyers on late middle infielders. I like a few top shortstops this year: Segura, Desmond and Andrus, but if you don’t get them, don’t sweat it and definitely don’t ‘panic reach’ for another shortstop just because you feel like you need one. This is a (legal-in-all-countries-except-Lichtenstein) supplement to the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball. The players listed have a draft rank after 200 on other sites. Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2014 projections. Anyway, here’s some shortstops to target for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Once again, the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball look a whole lot better than the top 20 2nd basemen for 2014 fantasy baseball. For the first time that I can remember, I want a shortstop from the top tiers. Usually I punt shortstops along with catchers due to how bad they are, but this year it’s pretty clear 2nd basemen are worse than shortstops and I like quite a few shortstops. Hey, you gotta be malleable in this fantasy baseball game. Malleable is also a great name for a baby girl. Feel free to take it for your daughter if you so desire. As with the other top 20 rankings, I point out where I think tiers start and stop and my projections. All the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings can be found under that thing that says 2014 fantasy baseball rankings. Unsuccinct! Anyway, here’s the top 20 shortstops for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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We started this thing like boys and four girls (but, let’s be honest, one or two of the girls are kinda manly), and we leave this season as men and four women. In March, we dazzled each other with our drafted lineups in the comments. Today, most of those people are playing fantasy football, fantasy basketball or fantasy hockey and forgetting all about their one-two punch of Ryan Braun and Josh Hamilton, that, in their words, they were just shocked to be able to draft both. Fantasy baseball isn’t made for the water cooler like the Breaking Bad finale — holy crap! — it’s made for the vending machine, because you don’t walk away from your team to talk. You rush away to get snacks and run those snacks back to your team, so you can watch as your team accrues stats or just ‘a-screws’ you. Some of you will sit with your fantasy team’s lineup open on your desktop through November like it has been for the last six months, hoping for one more day to save your season. Some of you will just close that team lineup browser window, ripping off the Band-Aid. But even if the lineup isn’t open, the player’s names will be burned into your screen because you shut off your screensaver six months ago. You should go ahead and turn that back on, or buy a new monitor. If you won your league, the salary hours you put into your teams could’ve saved the economy. Well, eff the economy, you won bragging rights! If you won your league with Henderson Alvarez and his no-hitter, then God bless your foresight, but I wouldn’t be shocked if you were really a witch. Conspiracy Theory Alert! The Tigers are securely in the playoffs and Henderson Alvarez is in the on-deck circle. Bases are juiced with two outs. The Tigers don’t want extra innings right before the playoffs and the Marlins can’t score with a prostitute and a roofie. Leyland sends the pitching coach out and tells Putkonen throw a breaking ball to the backstop and give the kid the no hitter. Either way, what a great way to end the baseball season. A sport that you just can’t ever predict gives a guy no one would’ve predicted a no hitter. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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In the summer of 1937, a woman went into labor. This woman’s name was Alfonsa Soriano. She was 78 years old at the time and the doctors worried she wouldn’t be able to deliver a healthy baby and she risked her own safety. The baby and the mother made it through. Unfortunately, due to her age, her skin wasn’t as elastic as a woman half her age and she walked the rest of her life like she was just jumping hurdles. Her son, Alfonso Soriano, adopted her long gait — a way to pay homage? — and it helped him later in life. He said because of his long strides, he made sneakers last twice as long because he used half the number of steps as most people. Heartwarming. Also, heartwarming is his insane season. Yesterday, he hit two more homers to bring his season total up to 32 and he now sits at 98 RBIs and 79 runs. Yeah, you were counting on that when you drafted him in the last round of your drafts, or as a late $1 flyer. Look away for the next moment if you don’t own him: on our Player Rater, he’s the 6th best outfielder! In front of him, Chris Davis, Mike Trout, Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Jacoby Ellsbury. Right after Soriano? Carlos Gonzalez! Absolute-Lee-Eff-In-Cray-Zee. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I remember as a kid trying to watch Kelly’s Heroes with my dad, and not understanding any of it.  I mean, it didn’t have a Wookie.  Reading over that Wikipedia synopsis, sounds a lot like Three Kings that came out almost 3 decades later.  Nothing original in Hollywood anymore!

But to baseball, Joe Kelly has some heroes of his own.  First there’s the Cardinals developmental system that seems to churn out pitching prospects that can throw upper 90′s faster than Hollywood sequel greenlights.  Then there’s the Cardinals offense that leads the NL in runs scored by 53.  Using his rag-tag unit of pitching coaches, arguably the best catcher in the game Yadier Molina, and an offense ready to give him a lead every game out, can Joe Kelly help you steal the gold in a fantasy title?  I tuned into his start yesterday in Pittsburgh to break down how he looks and if he can be a wildcard contributor to your final fantasy push:

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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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In mythology, Hector was the Trojan prince and the greatest warrior in the Trojan war. So step aside Brad Pitt, while you were fighting the undead in World War Z, Hector Santiago was in warrior mode last night as he dominated the Royals, pitching 8.0 innings, surrendering just 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 ER and striking out five for his third win. Hector could be seen rallying his team in the dugout, “Troy is mother to all of us. Fight for her!” An unorthodox approach for sure, but it worked as the ChiSox managed to score nine runs of support for Santiago. The eight innings was his longest outing of the year, and it was certainly his best, the only blip being the solo home run to Eric Hosmer in the sixth inning. Even if it was only the Royals, Hector seems to have figured things out. Since taking over for the injured Jake Peavy, Sanitago has given up just 5 ER in 19.2 IP, with 2 wins and a 19/7 K/BB ratio. Not bad for the Prince of Troy. Hector is owned in just over 30% of RCL leagues and gets the Cleveland Indians next Friday. If you’re feeling brave like a Trojan warrior I’d start him, but he’s worth the add either way. As long as Peavy is sidelined, Prince Hector should see plenty of opportunities to succeed going forward, and he will fight for your fantasy team.

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

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On this Memorial Day, I’m left thinking about things as American as apple pie and fake-breasted women, but mostly I’m left contemplating how similar Memorial Day sounds to Michael Bay. What better way to think of our country’s great holiday, than our real-life Uncle Sam of excessive special effects-laden movies. You can make cars better than us Asia, but can you blow crap up on celluloid and make apocalyptic tripe like World War Z? So, today, go outside and wish someone a Happy Michael Bay, he’s ours. Also, ours is baseball, and a branch off of that is fantasy baseball, and a sub-section of that sub-section is hoarding prospect pitchers that are called up like Michael Wacha. First (immediately after all that other first shizz), let’s see what our prospect writer, Scott, has said about him, “Wacha’s 2012 numbers were just plain silly: 0.86 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 17.1 K/9 in 11 appearances across three levels (Rookie, High-A, Double-A). Those 11 outings, however, only tallied up to 21 IP. The Cardinals were keeping his workload light, and Wacha never worked through a batting order more than one time through. That was the only criticism, the only reason to expect regression as he stepped up to Triple-A ball this season. Well, Wacha’s done a fine job of quelling those concerns so far. If only we could quell Grey as easily.” Hey, what’s the big idea!? I’m not sure where Wacha’s Ks have been thus far in Triple-A (under a 6 K/9), but his walks have been in check (~2.5 BB/9) and he has an ERA of 2.05 in 52 2/3 IP. If he keeps his K-rate around there in the majors, he’s going to be strictly an NL-Only or 15-team mixed leagues and deeper play. But he looks closer to a 7+ K-rate guy and someone I’d grab in all mixed leagues. The upside is here for greatness; of course the downside of any rookie pitcher is here, as well. All of this is assuming the Cards officially call him up, but the word around town is they’re about to. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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