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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When we started the hitter rankings, we were mere boys. Now, we’re men as we come to the end of the road for hitters and we can’t go on, it’s unnatural, you belong to me, I belong to you. You, “Hey, look at that, I’m in a crazy/stupid/gooftarded deep league and everyone in this league that I’m talking to myself about is well-versed in this fantasy baseball shizz because they are also in this crazy/stupid/gooftarded deep league yet they forgot to draft Matt Holliday. Cool, I’ll take him with my 350th pick.” Yeah, that’s not going to happen. If you’re drafting from guys in the top 100 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball, your league is deep and you know you’re not going to get much from these guys. Potatoes to chips, most of these guys will be worth owning at some point in the season. If you’re joining us late, here’s the top 20 outfielders, top 40 outfielders, top 60 outfielders and top 80 outfielders. Next up in our 2014 fantasy baseball rankings will be the pitchers. You can hardly wait. No, you. Anyway, here’s the top 100 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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Yesterday, it was the day of the pitcher. Since I started this blog, I can’t remember a more pitcher dominated day. Did anyone get a hit yesterday in any game outside of Coors? Put on your long johns with the flap on the butt, the Dead-ball Era is back. Yesterday reminded me when I was in a heated battle for 1st place in my first fantasy league. The year was nineteen-naught-eight. Skeets Lincoln was a staunch racist, unlike his great-uncle, and I hated him for it, but my Gramsie said, “You’re gonna get polio sitting on the radiator,” and I realized how short life was so I grabbed Skeets and he went 1-for-4 with 4 steals (at that time there were seven bases between first and home). Yesterday, Kyle Lohse threw a gem, but, really, who didn’t. He kept the Braves to two hits with no walks and five Ks. He ends the year with a 3.35 ERA and less Ks than a Klan rally as Skeets would’ve said. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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It’s that time of year. With just a couple of weeks until rosters expand in September, it’s time for players in re-draft leagues to start considering prospect call-ups. Billy Hamilton is by far the best bet for a steals impact in the final month of the season. Entering the weekend, he had 70 stolen bases in just 110 games. Check out what Razzball’s prospect whisperer Scott Evans had to say about him recently: “Need to make a late push in steals before year’s end? Billy Hamilton will soon help in that regard, and he won’t need regular plate appearances to do so.” And Evans knows his shizz. Billy Hamilton is fast. He could enter games as a pinch runner on first base and be on third base before you swallow that sip of stadium suds. In addition to holding the MiLB steals record and posting sick times from base to base, Hamilton chugs through Mountain Dews like Dusty Baker chews through toothpicks. He’s one of the players I’m most excited about watching if he gets the call this September. The fly in the ointment continues to be the Reds’ reluctance to place him on the 40-man roster. As of Friday they were still undecided, and that’s important information to keep an eye on. To be honest, the Reds would be foolish not to use him as a weapon, but I’m not running any major league teams last time I checked. As we’ve done all year long, let’s look at who is out there and ready to contribute now in the steals category:

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Common misconception, the A’s know what they’re doing. As of Thursday night, they didn’t even know who was pitching on Saturday. Billy Beane told me confidentially, “I’ve been winging it for fifteen years. I just have a sex tape of Michael Lewis with a contestant from Flavor of Love, so it was write Moneyball or him and Deelishis would be all over the internet.” A lot of sites are listing A.J. Griffin as Saturday’s starter, but I have it on good authority that that (stutterer!) is incorrect. A’s have Straily looking like a lesser-known Muppet Straggly, Alfredo Jettuccine has been getting creamed, Milone is in Sacramento saying to himself, “What have I done to deserve being sent to the Sacra-Ghetto?” and the whole staff needs a Colon cleanse. So, who’s left? My almost-name-sharer and all-around Bubb Rubb-extraordinaire, Sonny Gray. He has nearly a strikeout an inning in Triple-A and a 2.74 FIP. (Yes, I only use FIP when an ERA doesn’t back up my case as tidily. Leave me alone!) I don’t love a start in Toronto, but if he stays in the rotation, the A’s are about to get a great schedule at home. Even if it’s not Saturday, Gray should be up shortly, and no that’s not a height crack, but Gray is tiny. I will call him Mini Me even though he’s taller than me. What? My photo is actual size. So, grab Gray now, because mother says you should buy Gray Gardens– I mean, Gray’s starting. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Manny Ramirez is no stranger to controversy removing him from the field, which makes it even stranger that controversy may end up putting him back on the field. The Rangers, who have Manny playing in their minor leagues, have been insistent that they have no need for Ramirez on their major league squad. However, that could change with Nelson Cruz accepting his 50 game suspension. I want to address a larger point in that over-the-hill sluggers are sometimes worth the gamble, even when they seem unlikely to produce. Yes, I’d take the same approach with Alex Rodriguez (Steamer projects a decent .258/.340/.438 line for him). I know it tends to be unpopular because they aren’t as exciting as younger players, but, depending on the size of your league, they still have value. If you have any doubts about a player being productive at an unlikely age, I’ll give you my Exhibit A: David Ortiz, who is likely well into his seventies. If Manny gets another chance in the majors, I wouldn’t expect Ortiz-like production, but something similar to Steamer’s A-Rod projection seems reasonable. That would be helpful at removing some of the weight from losing any fantasy baseball players to a suspension. Anyway here are some less controversial players I’m following in OPS leagues:

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When he was called up just before the All-Star Break, the exclamation for the long-awaited arrival for Erasmo Ramirez was perhaps hyperbolic.  I’ll admit, I thought he’d be a big fantasy help too.  Sure he was dynamite last year with a decent 3.36 ERA but dazzling 1.00 WHIP and 7.32 Ks per 9 in his debut 59 innings.  His walk rate was under 2 per 9, pitches in Safeco – this was going to be a fantastic season.

But a triceps injury kept him from making the Opening Day rotation, forcing him to rehab his way back up.  After two nice starts in single A and double AA, Erasmo spent most of his time in AAA with a solid 3.09 ERA and 42 Ks in 43.2 innings.  However, red flags did arise with a WHIP at 1.31 and a walk rate at 2.89.  Not exactly too scary, and he was certainly shaking some rust off.

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You wrote a letter to your leaguemates, but before you sent it to them, you asked me to proofread it but not share it. Too bad, here it is, “Yo, what’s up, snitches?! I have six closers and am sticking it to the rest of the league in their whole bum, then acting that out like Knight from MTV’s The Challenge. I don’t need no one! All I need is Huston Street, Kevin Gregg, Ernesto Frieri, Joaquin Benoit, Brad Ziegler and this chair, I need this chair. I got saves for days! Open up your ‘kitten-playing-with-motherf**king-yarn’ calendar and mark September 28th down for the day when you concede the championship to me. Use your rainbow-colored pencil. Is it okay to use that word? Any the hoo! Rather than recount all of that SAGNOF g’dness, let me take this time to instead ask you if you watched the most recent Top Chef Masters. I’m lonely and looking for friends.” Solid letter, I probably wouldn’t put single quote marks around kitten-playing-with-motherf**king-yarn but it’s fine to send it off as is. The only other problem is you might also lose more than half of your closers in less than a week. This is also the last week when you and your opponents can gain major saves if you’re hurting in that category. On July 31st there could be as many as 10 new closers. At no point from now until October do you have a chance for this much turn over. Guys that could move into the closer role in under a week includes, but is not limited to: Luke Gregerson, Blake Parker, Ryan Webb, James Russell, Antonio Bastardo, Carter Capps, Dale Thayer, John Axford (still even with Henderson taking over the job), Jose Cisnero, Pedro Strop and Antonio Alfonseca, because he has six fingers on each hand and you can’t ever count him out, at least not without removing your pants and a shoe. Granted, guys like Huston Street or Tom Wilhelmsen or Glen Perkins might be traded and stay in the closer role on their new team, but that means someone else would lose their job. Or maybe Huston Street will go to the Yankees and become the 8th inning man and Robertson moves to the 7th. Or maybe Jonathan Papelbon goes to the Tigers and Benoit owners have to call the Ben-wambulance. A lot could happen in the next few days or nothing, but I’d absolutely stash as many middle relievers as I could right now. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Did someone call Glenn Frey? Cuz the H is O. When the news hit, I was on the toilet, which reminded me of that famous Lawrence Taylor quote when he said, “My life is in the toilet and no one is flushing.” Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez‘s lives are in that same proverbial toilet; hopefully they avoid sleeping with an underage prostitute. “Baby, you ever see me break Theismann’s leg?” “The Theismann Trophy? Wow, isn’t that bronze?” “Joe Theismann, woman!” “Woman? I’m 16.” That’s an audio recording of LT in the hotel room. So, the world is ablaze with ESPN’s report that a suspension is forthcoming for Braun, A-Rod, Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta and Everth Cabrera, amongst notable fantasy names. Gio Gonzalez isn’t in danger because he makes people write down shizz in invisible ink. “I bought this pen from the back of comic book, forgoing the 3-D glasses.” That’s Gio at the steroid reception desk. By the by, how buff was the lady taking calls at Biogenesis and how bad did A-Rod hit on her? I got questions, y’all! If Ryan Braun is suspended, the repercussions will obviously be huge for your fantasy team. However, Braun looks like he’s already battling something — the Jewish guilt? P to the erhaps. If you’re doing well in your league with the Braun that you have, chances are you can rotate through hot schmotatoes in shallower mixed leagues to give you his production. If A-Rod is suspended? Well, no one cares outside of the buff receptionist. EverCab could also send people scrambling for steals on waivers, while Cruz and Jhonny are replaceable in most mixed leagues. On the bright side, Braun’s lawyers will probably fight this for at least a month or two, and they’ve won before over what mail carrier someone used, so you never know. On the brighter side, the publishers of the Jewish Sports Hero Pamphlet can hold off on an expansion for a while. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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How quickly things change. Last week, it was looking like Adam Eaton was close to returning from an elbow injury and A.J. Pollock would be the odd man out in the Arizona outfield. Well, one setback later, Pollock looks good to go as a part of the four-man Arizona outfield and he’s worth watching in deeper formats. He’ll get starts against lefties and maybe more, so he’s a guy that you’ll have to play the matchups with unless he really catches fire. Meanwhile, Adam Eaton is probably not going to do much in the way of baseball for about three weeks and probably won’t be fantasy relevant until the end of June at the earliest. He was so close to returning too. Kind of like crashing your car with one payment left. We’ll take a look at matchups for all the members of the stolen base leaderboard for Week 9. As always, all players listed are owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues and Sunday’s stats are not included.

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