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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Today we go over the top 80 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball, which comes after we went over the top 60 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball, which came after the top 40 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball which followed the top 20 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball. Link dump! Tomorrow we hit the 80-100 best outfielders then on to the top 100 starters. It’s the best day of your life because I’m bestowing on you wonderful like your father never did. Don’t ask me to go see you play Little League though, that’s not happening. As always, my tiers and projections are noted and all of the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings are there. Where? There. Dur. Anyway, here’s the top 80 outfielders for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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It’s a closerousel! Which is a play on carousel, not arousal. Pick up your pants. Recently, the Cleveland Indians organization talked to the media about moving away from the unfortunate Native American stereotype their team is known for. They said, “We respect the people who came before us. This was their land, and we drove them out. Scalping was a crime on humanity. In other news, we just signed a guy that goes by the Ax Man. Chief Wahoo, can I get a woohoo?!” John Axford should be perfectly competent as the closer in Cleveland, until he’s not. What I mean is he’ll be handed the job and will hold it the whole year unless he reverts to his hideous ways. I was burnt by him in more leagues than I care to remember, but I would still draft him again. SAGNOF, after all. Then Theo Cubstein went out and got Jose Veras to close games. Cubs fans will miss the days when their games went an extra fifty minutes due seven men getting on base in the ninth inning. If you throw out Veras’s first five appearances and start his stats on April 13th of last year, he had a 2.48 ERA. Yeah, that’ll work just fine. Then the Orioles pulled their best Billy Beane impersonation when they let one high-priced closer go and got Grant Balfour back. Oddly enough, Billy Beane was the one that took the high-priced one. I scream, what’s the world coming to?! Then Billy Beane shoots Spider dead. Then Beane turns to me and says, “Not so fast, amigo. Check Balfour’s health. Oh, and amigo is being sarcastic, you dumbass.” I knew that! But not about the health. No one did. Except for the Jedi master. Of course, there was more to it. So, now Balfour’s deal may fall through with the O’s due to health concerns raised in his physical. It’s a developing situation as they say in third world countries about their water and cable TV. Finally, Addison Reed went from the Chicago White Sox to Arizona. Now the Diamondbacks won’t have to worry about what happens when J.J. Putz hurts himself opening a tin of Band-Aids. Irony only takes you so far, Putz. This leaves a vacuum in the South Side of Chicago in the ninth inning, but I guess they don’t plan on winning any games. White Sox GM Rick Hahn named Nate Jones, Matt Lindstrom, Scott Downs and Daniel Webb as possible replacements. Due to Scott Downs’ Syndrome, Downs is out of the mix. Jones will be a favorite by fantasy baseballers (<–my mom’s term!) due to his ability to strike guys out, but I’m guessing Lindstrom will end up with the job due to that hard-to-put-your-finger-on-it closer experience quality. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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You know who’s happiest about Kolten Wong being called up? The Vatican. Finally, something non-Catholic related will show up in search results when you Google ‘Cardinal + Wong + 2nd base.’ Somewhere, Dan Brown is scribbling notes for a new thriller…the Catholic church took a page out of the playbook of the Native Americans, who having foreseen the Internet in a 1973 peyote-inspired dream, worked to make sure the practice of reselling tickets was known as scalping. So now you Google ‘Indians + scalping’ and the search results are just a way to get cheap seats in Progressive Field. Wong’s call-up crowds the Cardinals infield in the weirdest of ways. Wong can’t play shortstop. It says here. There. Where I just wrote here. He can’t play 3rd. Says there. Where I wrote it. Can’t play 1st. Says here. Next to where I wrote here. He plays 2nd, Carpenter goes to 3rd and Freese goes on ice. Sorta surprised by this because the Cardinals know that seriously reduces Freese’s trade value, but he was seriously reducing his trade value by playing. But, wait, why do we care? What can Wong do right? Here’s what Prospect Scott said just two days ago, “Wong has caught a heater at the right time, hitting .333/.429/.556 with 2 homers and 2 stolen bases through his last 10. Too bad Grey can’t catch a heater in his groin.” What? Why? On the year in the minors, Wong has a line of 10 HRs, 20 steals and a .303 average. That’s close to what I’d expect of him in the majors too. He has a great eye at the plate (60 Ks, 41 BBs) and nice speed. Maybe a handful of homers and steals in the last six weeks with a good average. In keepers, he’s a must have. In redrafts, I’d grab him in all leagues for upside. I’m excited. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday 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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Bob Seger, Chevrolet’s poet laureate, once wrote, “Who wants to play those eights and aces/Who wants a raise/Who needs a stake/Who wants to take that long shot gamble?” The tune was “Fire Lake” and while not his best, (Give me “The Famous Final Scene”) or the best thing out of Detroit (give me The Stooges any day), I do like the line on taking a long shot. I’m a ramblin’ gamblin’ man. Recently we rolled the dice on Marlon Byrd and hit it like a hard ten/a woman’s best friend (For all our Mormon readers, that’s a good thing). Sometimes taking a chance pays off big and it’s Cristal and caviar, sometimes you’re busted and it’s Pabst and pork rinds. We have taken our chances this season, often throwing stats and logic aside. I got a feelin’! Oh, it’s just gas. Stupid pork rinds. Yes indeed, fellow Razzballer’s, we had jammer/crammers that we hit on like Raul Ibanez, Nick Franklin and Koji Uehara. Others left us bankrupt. Damn you Ike Davis! I’m crying real tears over my fake baseball team here. It’s time to take some risks and find us a longshot. Time to put on some Seger, don the Ray-Ban’s and slide across the living room floor in our underwear. It’s time to jam it or cram it.

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Maybe I’m paranoid, but we have to be masters of reality and understand that he won’t be able to continue this wizard-like production. I’m not exactly trying to declare war on Yasiel Puig, but, like any new found glory, it’s all downhill from here. Don’t make me choose my friends over you, Yasiel! He’s truly been a fantasy baseball catalyst, but he has a very low walk rate and his strikeout rate is rising to worrisome levels. He will continue to be hit or miss, although I unfortunately see him missing much more often. Let’s address the giant Sandoval in the room: his .472 BABIP is preparing him for a head on collision. Another factor is that his hip injury has shown that he’s no iron man. I’ll temper expectations a bit by saying that a certain player had a comparable 1.105 OPS last June, only to fall to mediocrity afterwards. Shout out to whoever names that player first. I think Puig will be closer to Mark Trumbo going forward, which isn’t bad, but isn’t anywhere near what he’s been this year. On a different note, Terse and I will be doing a Reddit AMA tonight at 7pm EST. Y’all should stop by. Anyway, here are some other guys who are putting up somewhat surprising seasons:

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Jarred Cosart was fantastical last night in his season debut pitching 8.0 shutout innings, and surrendering just 2 hits and walking three. The rookie carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning before Ben Zobrist spoiled his fun with a 1-out single. The 23-year-old had the longest no-hit bid in a debut since 1972, and he was the first Astro to go eight scoreless in his major league debut. The Astros big get from Philly in their Hunter Pence trade, Cosart has a mid-90’s fastball and a sick curve he used to baffle the TB hitters last night as he shut down the scorching hot Rays who had won eight in a row. The fact that Cosart was facing off with Tampa’s ace David Price, makes his feat even more impressive. Brandon Barnes also impressed, making a circus catch in the outfield to preserve Jarred’s no-no in the sixth, but who cares, that won’t help your fantasy team. Jarred actually had a chance at the complete game shutout in this one and came out for the ninth, but was pulled for Jose Veras after walking the first batter. Naturally, after the game the Astro’s sent him down to AAA, but I imagine after this outing he should be back before the end of the month. If he were to get recalled after the All-Star break, he would likely face the Oakland A’s next week. Grey told you to BUY him yesterday, so obviously he foretold this start (he’s a wiiitch!), but Cosart is certainly worth stashing in deep mixed and all AL-Only leagues. With talented arms like Cosart, Appel, Lyles and Peacock, the Astro’s have assembled an impressive “future stars” pitching staff, and if games like this are any indication, we won’t be making fun of the Houston Lastros for much longer.

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

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Matt Kemp is headed back to the DL. He needs Chris Brown to slap some health into him. Obviously, this a terrible sign for Kemp since it’s his shoulder that he had surgery on that is bothering him. Prior to last week, I stayed away from him all year. Teach me to waffle. Billy Butler, “Who’s making waffles?!” On the bright side, Andre Ethier (3-for-5, 1 run, 1 RBI yesterday) should see everyday playing time. I’m not sure who that’s a bright side for outside of Ethier and his close relatives. Maybe in some leagues where you’re struggling to find a fifth outfielder, you give Ethier a bit of how’s your father. There’s no bright side for Kemp. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole or touch a ten-foot Pole named Stanislaw. He’s the Pole I’ve been seeing in my dreams. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Over the past few months we have jammed and crammed our way through players that have added some pop (Adam Lind, Raul Ibanez), some saves (Koji Uehara, Jose Veras) and some steals (Juan Pierre, Peter Bourjos) to our fake baseball rosters. Let’s forget my mention of Jackie Bradley Jr in week one okay? Thanks. But I have not always been a Razzballin’ Guru. In a former life I spent my working hours spinning the radio hits. Think Backstreet Boys and other boy band classics. *BBLLAARRGGHH!!* Just threw up in my mouth a little. The music may have sucked, but the payola was great! i.e. See The Guru’s swimming pool/pool table courtesy of Tower Records. However, most of my time on the dial revolved around rock radio. Think AC/DC, Metallica, Guns ‘n Roses and some occasional Motorhead. The problem was my share of program directors never appreciated my love for Pabst Blue Ribbon drinking, live sheep in the studio, the lesbian dating game or UFO guitar solos. All things I was fired for doing. To paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson, “radio is a shallow money trench where good men die like dogs.” But I’d still argue morning drinking builds character and one of the greatest guitar solos of all-time has to be the plank spanking in UFO’s “Rock Bottom” (check it out around the 3:30 mark). I’m sure Eddie Trunk would agree. This week let’s look at some jammer/crammers stuck to the underside of your waiver wire Chuck Taylor’s. They are the barely owned cast-offs, the red-headed step children, the “Lobster Boy-Alive” fantasy freaks of our baseball world. They will fit perfectly on my team. *cracks another Pabst* We have officially hit rock bottom. Time to jam it or cram it.

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