I love the Aussie people; they have goofy words for a barbecue and even goofier animals — koalas and kangaroos? Is Australia animated? Those things are goofy! Why not just get a duck-billed platypus and anteater and call it a day, you wacky-animal-having country! How about baseball there? Did all the fans in attendance win a Bowie knife if a player hit a home run into the big marsupial pouch? Did Crocodile Dundee throw out the first pitch? Did the batters hit with a fraternity hazing paddle? I don’t know, because it was at four in the morning! Selig really needs to stop doing this to Opening Day. The players will be exhausted from traveling and won’t be able to get their usual reps in during the spring. The first pitch of the season should be at a time when 7-year-old North American boys and girls can watch it. Not at 4 AM EST. What if the first game went extra innings or someone got hurt? Can they just call up someone from the minors for the next game? No, so then you’ll have a team playing short. Do these stunts in December as a goodwill trip. Don’t make major league baseball teams into the Harlem Globetrotters for a regular season game. Eh, whatevs, baseball is back, who cares if it comes with a big helping of Vegemite. Anyway, here’s what else I saw for fantasy baseball:

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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 spring training takes off, we, the wonderful people of Razzball, thought it would be a good idea to look into some intra-team rivalries.  What positions are a lock?  What positions are being fought over?  What positions will they hire me to fill-in for (second base Blue Jays, I’m looking at you)? Find out as the start of this series will focus on NL East…

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Two weeks ago we looked at the speedsters from 2013 and there were more than a few names on the list that were available on the waiver wire at some point. For deeper leagues and daily fantasy players that need to maximize each and every matchup, even the smallest advantages can mean the difference between a win and a loss. That’s why we focused a lot on matchups this past year, and we’ll do it again in 2014. Even the best base stealers get caught once in a while, so it’s good to know as much as we can about who might be doing the catching before deploying our fantasy lineups. There’s a lot that goes into a stolen base, of course, and the battery of pitcher and catcher is a large piece of the puzzle. Pitchers who are good at holding baserunners can be avoided while pitchers who have a tendency to cough up a lot of steals can be exploited. Here’s how some starters fared in 2013 and over the last three years against the stolen base.

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Organizational Talent Rankings via Baseball America
2013 (24) | 2012 (27) | 2011 (11) | 2010 (18) | 2009 (12)

2013 Affiliate Records
MLB:  [73-89] NL East
AAA:  [72-72] International League — Lehigh Valley
AA:  [62-80] Eastern League — Reading
A+:  [67-68] Florida State League — Clearwater
A:  [56-80] South Atlantic League — Lakewood
A(ss):  [37-38] New York-Penn League — Williamsport

Arizona Fall League PlayersPeoria Javelinas
Ken Giles (RHP); Mike Nesseth (RHP); Kyle Simon (RHP); Austin Wright (LHP); Cameron Rupp (C); Aaron Altherr (OF); Cameron Perkins (OF)

Graduated Prospects
Darin Ruf (1B/OF); Cody Asche (3B); Jonathan Pettibone (RHP); Tyler Cloyd (RHP); Justin De Fratus (RHP); Jake Diekman (LHP)

The Run Down
Two of the top four prospects here weren’t in the system a year ago, so it goes without saying that the Phillies have made it an initiative to improve their farm. 

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I’d say Alex Cobb was fantastic again last night, but I have to pay David Stern a nickel to use the word fantastic and money is tight, yo. If it wasn’t for the ball off his melon, The Tampa Bay Peach would’ve been a top 15 starter this year. I’m currently debating if Cobb is going to be in my top 15 for 2014 fantasy baseball. (What I mean by debating is I have three monkeys stand against a wall with signs that read, “Yay,” “Nay” and “Let Rudy decide.” Ling Ling, put down the sign until I ask the question. Ling Ling! Hard to find a well-trained monkey nowadays. His K-rate wasn’t otherworldly like I prefer my beefcake starters. It ended the year at 8.41 K/9. That is ace-ish, but not straight aces rollin’ through Compton flashing signs. His walk rate was 2.83. Again, it’s solid, I’d like to see better on that. Now his ERA ended up being 2.76, but his xFIP was 3.02. That’s not shabby at all. That’s right around Jose Fernandez, Chris Sale and Anibal Sanchez. Guys with seasons you would hump if a ‘season’ wasn’t an amorphous thing. For 2014, I think Cobb’s gonna be right around 15-20 overall for starters, which does mean Cobb is ready to emerge from the husk. Zadow! Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Hunter Pence has the manic energy of a gangly man-bird. On average, Hunter Pence’s home run trots last about 20 seconds. So in the last week, he’s run for about minute and twenty seconds while the rest of the world has watched, thinking, “I wonder if he was raised by a pack of pink flamingos.” One time during a trip to the zoo, Hunter Pence got separated from his human family for two hours. He was eventually found in the aviary section of the zoo chewing popcorn and spitting it into a baby bird’s mouth. Those two hours were wiped from all zoo surveillance cameras so it was never accounted for, but anyone who has seen the gangly man-bird run probably can figure out that Hunter Pence was trying to reproduce with an ostrich or some other tall bird. This week he shedded more than feathers. He lost the OCD tissue boxes he’s worn on his feet most of the season and went power crazy: 6 homers in the last week with two coming on Sunday. Hunter Pence said thank you to his H2H owners for believing in this half-bird creature. For next year, I think he’s bound to disappoint as his speed evaporates and goes back to where it was prior to this season (the 10-12-steal range), but for now enjoy a bird/guy who was an afterthought in drafts and has turned into a top five outfielder, according to our Player Rater. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The news is good, Allen Craig is in a walking boot and on crutches. Yay! Sorry, I should’ve said the news was good for people who don’t own Allen Craig. *smacks forehead with palm of hand* Geez, I’m such a huckleberry! So, this means the new Cardinals first baseman is… Please, open door number one! Actually, all I see is his elbow. Could you open door number two, as well? Hmm, still missing his right side. Go ahead and open door number three, too. There he is… Matt Adams! I’ve teased Adams a lot about his girth and that ain’t right, even if right and girth are anagrams. Adams isn’t out of shape…if watermelon is a shape! The zaftig Madams will be playing first for as long as Craig can’t and I’d grab Adams in all leagues where I needed power. He could hit five homers the rest of the way if Craig stays sidelined until the playoffs. As of right now, there’s no word on how much time Craig will need. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Instead of relegating him to bullpen duties, the Cardinals have opted to send Jake Westbrook to the disgraceful list. In a corresponding move, they’ve called up Carlos Martinez from Triple-A. As of the time of this writing there’s been no official word, but it appears likely that Martinez will claim Westbrook’s spot in the starting rotation. That’d make C-Mart the probable starter for Monday, putting him in line for two starts next week. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I’ve not been shy about my unhealthy adoration for Martinez. The 21-year-old is flat out filthy — 4-seamers at 98; 2-seamers with unreal sink at 96; deceptive change in the mid-80s. If he can shore up his location, he brings as much K-potential as any pitcher in baseball, and that’s not hyperbole. I listed Martinez as a first tier guy below, even considering the tough match-ups. If you have a chance to watch him pitch next week, please do. It’s truly something to behold. The rest of your two-starters are below.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

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Did you guys see that Clint Eastwood movie, “Trouble with the Curve”? No? Yeah, me neither. It got a 52% on RottenTomatoes.com, which is pretty awful, so I think it’s safe to assume we didn’t miss much. Anyway, I’m thinking the whole flick would’ve gone over better if it had just looped this clip from the Little League World Series over and over again:

Bhahahahahah. I laugh, but I’m sure my effort wouldn’t have been much better. Your two-starters are below.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

Please, blog, may I have some more?