Monday, March 24, 2008

Slapped in the fantasy face

Both of my drafts this year worked out where I got Curtis Granderson, who is on the upper-echelon of players in terms of all-around fantasy value. He hits enough home runs and drives in enough runs to be valuable, has a decent batting average, steals a bunch of bases, and then the massive amount of runs he scores just puts him over the top. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have him. I read his ESPN blog last year, and I'm even thinking of friending him on myspace.

Then of course, the fantasy gods, being the cold-hearted bastards they are, break Granderson's finger in a spring training game. He's starting the season on the DL.

This doesn't bode well for my hopes to rebound from a miserable fantasy showing last season, highlighted by a May trade of Chien-Ming Wang and Paul Konerko (who were both awful at the time) for Chris Capuano (who was money in the bank at the time). I don't think Capuano won another game the rest of the season while Konerko proceeded to hit about .400 the rest of the way and Wang won about 18 more games (lest we forget the 10-strikeout game he had against the Mets while I was facing the team I traded him to).

That was my fault for breaking the #1 fantasy rule: Trade players when their value is at its highest, not its lowest. (See: Ian Kinsler, Akinori Iwamura, or Chris Shelton for you bitter fantasy owners out there)

With that out of the way, here are my pre-season fantasy awards:

The Tom Brady Award (Fantasy Stud: Offense) - Mark Teixeira, 1b, Atlanta Braves. The obvious picks could be Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, etc...but I think Teix has a solid first half in Atlanta, and then blows up the second half. 45 homers, 120 rbis, .310 batting average, NL MVP

The Rex Grossman Award (Fantasy Bust: Offense [drop him now!!!]) - Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles. 97 runs scored, 23 homers, 112 rbis, 18 steals, and a .300 batting average is sexy, but he's not a #1 or #2 outfielder. That will shine this year as Markakis hits .270 with a decrease of 20 runs and rbis. He'll probably hit 20 homers and swipe 20 bags, but don't count on him to carry your team.

The Dickie V Award (Fantasy Diaper Dandy, BABY!!!) - Joey Votto, 1b, Cincinnati Reds. Showed signs of stardom when he came up late last year. He'll bust out for a solid rookie campaign. Snag him if he's available. 32 home runs, 115 rbi's, .290 batting average.

The Ernie Bologna Award (Fantasy Sleeper) - Nick Johnson, 1b, Washington Nationals. First base is deep this year, so Johnson is going unnoticed. He broke his leg in '06 and missed last season recovering. This isn't a nagging injury, so he should be back to true form. He appears to have won the starting job over Dmitri Young, and I don't know how much they'll be splitting time, but I expect Johnson to pick up right where he left off. 30 home runs, 108 rbi's, .303 batting average.

King of the Hill Award (Fantasy Pitcher) - Carlos Zambrano, SP, Chicago Cubs. Assuming you didn't get Johan Santana, this is a pretty good bet. You've gotta love having ace pitchers in the NL Central or the AL West, where offense is questionable. Kelvim Escobar will also have a great season (unless the fantasy gods strike an arm injury upon him because I'm praising one of my players).

The Mike Hampton Award (Self-Explanatory) - Mike Hampton. Just kidding. He can't win his own award. Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers. Expectations are getting lofty for Verlander and his team. I don't think he'll start 25 games this season, nor will he win 15 or keep his E.R.A. below 4.00.

The Preparation H Award (Top Relief Man) - Takashi Saito, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers. Lots of great closers to choose from who will all get plenty of save opportunities. Putz won't replicate his '07 season, Nathan won't have nearly as many save opportunities as he had last season, and other teams that will win a lot of games have shaky closers. Saito and Papelbon are the way to go.

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