As they say in a Jewelery District of any major city, Johnny Cueto pitched a gem. Well, any major city except Detroit. There they call a gem, “Slowly remove it from your finger, and no funny business!” Against the Pirates yesterday — 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 12 Ks. Pretty much across the board for Cueto’s career, I haven’t been a fan. His xFIP has always been much worse than his ERA, and his K-rate has never been close to an elite starter. Well, a weird thing happened on the way to his fifth start of the year, he looks like an ace. His xFIP is down to 2.55, his K-rate is 10.50 and his walk rate is 2.40. Those are fantasy ace numbers. Last year through April, he had a 2.80 xFIP, 9.35 K-rate and 3.12 walk rate. Those numbers aren’t that different. Hey, random italicized letters are my shtick. Not right now, Random Italicized Voice. Whoa, snippy! There is one fairly significant difference between Cueto this year and last. About a mile per hour on his fastball. In some instances, his fastball is averaging two extra miles per hour from last April, and he’s cut out his, uh, cutter, and his ground balls have remained. He’s pitching slightly different, slightly better, and, for the first time I can remember, I’m really liking what Cueto is showing. Ain’t that a kick in Jason LaRue’s head? His ERA won’t stay at 1.50, but I also wouldn’t be looking to sell him high. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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I know, you’re mostly thinking every minute of the day that my number one contribution to the world is my mustache. Number two is my fantasy baseball ‘pertness. Number three though, you don’t know, but I reveal it on today’s podcast. It’s both uncanny and very, very uncanny. Two very’s. Nick’s mind is blown, but will yours? (Yes, it will.) Also, we go over Mark Trumbo and how he will probably hit 178 homers this year; we touch on Tyler Skaggs in the non-sexual way; I explain to the world why I want the Mariners to win the World Series and drop some drool on Taijuan Walker‘s punim. Oh, and Nick can’t believe marijuana is legal in Colorado. Hopefully, he can now pass the Razzball urine test. It’s not your standard urine test, if you test negative, you get fired. You must test positive for some kind of drugs. Anyway, here’s the Razzball Podcast (now with me even more renaissance):

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You’re about to get busted. Do you go harder, become more brazen, with the illegal activity or attempt to clean up your act quickly so you don’t get punished more severely? I don’t know. This is where fantasy baseball meets a PBS Frontline special. I think different people react in different ways. Not to get all philosophical on you like your college philosophy prof who would invite you over for lavash and hummus and marijuana, then try to feel up your girlfriend, but last year’s Ryan Braun — 9 homers in 61 games — could be exactly what he is off of PEDs. There’s no way of knowing when he was or wasn’t using. If he knew he was about to get suspended last year, he might’ve laid off of everything and been totally clean for that decent but not spectacular partial season, even while he battled a thumb issue. The same thumb issue that has resurfaced this year. I should’ve been more aggressive in the preseason about pointing that Braun wasn’t healthy last year. The kind of unhealthy that has lingered into this year. He admitted the other day that he was unable to take a normal swing due to battling a nerve issue. Or if you’re reading in your best Curly voice, a noive issue. That’s hella bad with hella having a hashtag that says 2004. I wouldn’t sell him for fifty cents on the dollar, but I’d be interested to see if someone would give me 85 or 90 cents on the dollar. Or if someone would give me the Euro exchange rate. Why are they still making pennies?! Tell me Yahoo! Answers! Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Scott White from CBS hosted this AL-Only draft that started at 10 AM PST, but started around 1 PM PST for me because I refused to draft anyone for the price they were going. Instead of drafting, I watched my favorite cooking show, Celebrity Chef Mr. Hamiham. He’s the only one I know that makes a sandwich like my Eastern European nanny, Viktoria. Everyone that knows anything about sandwich preparation knows there’s no sandwich before adding the white cabbage. Rudy was in Tampa (slogan: We’re no San Diego, but just as classy), so I went it alone with this draft. All the mistakes (none!) and acclaim (some!) can fall fully on my shoulders. I drafted this on February 18th, so don’t say so-and-so may not make the rotation/lineup/team or is now injured, why did you draft him? I drafted him because at the time it seemed like a smart move. Okay, okay, at no point does it seem like a smart move to draft Kurt Suzuki. Point taken. It’s a 12-team AL-Only league and I drafted using that thing I linked to under the link-ma-whosie — seamless linking! Anyway, here’s my 2014 fantasy baseball AL-Only team:

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This year we went to 15 teams because Rudy and I had a fight and he hates me and I’m typing this through tears while listening to Peabo Bryson. Nah, Rudy wanted to draft his own team, separate from me. Not sure why — *smells armpits* — can’t be that. To see Rudy’s mixed league draft breakdown, click that link-a-ma-jiggie. He goes over the fact that Pianowski drafted no starters and Dalton Del Don (best ‘pert name after yours truly) drafted, like, ten top starters. It’s probably collusion of some sort, but thinking makes my head hurt, so I’ll just assume they came up with separate strategies, ran said strategies by Funston and Funston nodded very slowly, indicating he either approved Godfather-style or he was on roofies administered by Brad Evans. These questions are not for me to wonder why, just do or die, or whatever that cliche is. Anyway, here’s my 15-team Yahoo fantasy baseball team with some thoughts:

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Something that may help you is my pitchers pairing post. Something else that may help you is our Fantasy Baseball War Room. Something else that may also help you is mocking Billy Butler. Nice moobs! So, these starters are all being drafted after 200 overall. Now, this is a (legal-in-all-countries-except-Trinidad-and-Tobago) supplement to the top 100 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball. Click on the player’s name where applicable to read more and see their 2014 projections. Also, I’ve gone over all positions for sleepers; to see them all 2014 fantasy baseball sleepers. Anyway, here’s some starters to target for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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If I am correct on my predictions, the NL pennant race will be a fun one.  I see three teams with playoff potential, and a fourth that is just shy of it.  Sorry San Diego fans, this isn’t your year. [Ed. Note -- JERK!]  Good news though, the Chinese calendar says it is going to be the year of the Tony Gwynn soon. [Ed. Note -- I take it back. Sorta.] (You can check out 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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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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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 Angels Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Garrett Wilson from Monkey With A Halo.

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I’ve gone over the top 20 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball, the top 40 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball and the top 60 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball, which brings us to the top 80 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball. Crazy how that worked, huh? Next thing you know, tomorrow will be the top 100. There’s a few names in this post that I’m really gunning for on my teams. In last year’s version of this post, there were a few guys that I also wanted — Matt Harvey, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Tillman, Alex Cobb, Shelby Miller and Andrew Cashner, and they all shot up the rankings this year, except for Harvey for obvious reasons. His star shone too bright! I imagine a lot of you won’t need most of the names on this list, but there will be some great bargains to be had. Who doesn’t love a great bargain, says Jewish Stereotype Man. There’s tiers and projections mentioned for everyone. All of the 2014 fantasy baseball rankings are there. Anyway, here’s the top 80 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball:

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