2014 Tampa Bay Rays Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 04

2014 Tampa Bay Rays Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Before we delve into the 2014 Tampa Bay Rays, let’s discuss last year’s club. Another year with a Bottom-Five payroll and another year with a Top-10 finish in the standings. Yaaaaawn. This whole “small market” thing has to be getting boring for Rays GM Andrew Friedman. By focusing on building his organization through the draft and signing largely unwanted free agents, Friedman has figured out how to work the system to his advantage unlike most other small market teams (ahem … Miami). With one of the more talented young rosters and one of the best managers in all of baseball, 2014 is shaping up to look no different for the Rays faithful (good news, Gonos!). The Devil Rays enter this season with a super star (Evan Longoria), an up-and-coming superstar (Wil Myers), and one of the best rotations in the Majors (David Price, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson). Price is hopefully renting in the Tampa Bay area, but the rest of the rotation are under 27 years old and have the Rays set up to be a perennial small-market contender as long as Friedman sticks around. Fantasy-wise, the Rays don’t have an El Guapo-sized plethora of elite talent to draft early (outside of Longoria and Price), but there are some solid players who could end up being difference makers towards the middle/end of Fantasy...

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Fantasy Baseball Magazine: “The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014”

Feb 01

Fantasy Baseball Magazine: “The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014”

Last week, I got a digital copy of my favorite Fantasy Baseball magazine, “The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014″ and once again, I come away incredibly impressed. As I’ve mentioned in the past, like an old character actor dropping names at a party, I worked on several Fantasy Baseball magazines in my 14 years writing about Fantasy Sports. This is the magazine talked about by six-time Tout Wars winner, Larry Schechter, in the book, “Winning Fantasy Baseball,” as one of his favorites to grab dollar values from every season to compare to his own. Between my five years at CBSSports.com, and my years at OPENSports.com, and since DavidGonos.com began a few years ago, I know how involved and painstaking it is to work on a billion player profiles, detailed projections and rankings. And then, just before print, a new item drops and screws everything up! So I have a soft spot for this medium, as a writer and as a Fantasy Baseball player dating back to 1995, when magazines were much more prolific. If you do decide to order this magazine (PDF or digital copy), make sure you use the coupon code, “gonos14” and save $1 off the magazine cover price! Eric Mack (BleacherReport.com) and I wrote everything in our CBS magazines. EVERYTHING. It was an incredibly large endeavor every winter, as we began working on it in November of the previous year. Dating back to when I bought my very first magazine to the time I spent writing them, it helped build me into the fat Fantasy player I am today! (Well, the fat part is more the fault of chicken wings and carrot cake.) But I digress … Fantasy Baseball Magazines = Championships. “The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2014” The first thing I want to mention about this magazine is that it’s just flat-out beautiful. I’m a writer, not a design guy, so I’m always impressed at how nice their magazines look. It’s perfectly laid out, with a ton of pictures, very useful charts and in-depth player rankings. It’s just a lot of information squeezed into limited space. But that’s not why you buy a Fantasy Baseball magazine. Let me give you a rundown of SOME of the contributors...

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2014 Chicago Cubs Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 01

2014 Chicago Cubs Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Let’s face it — unless you’re talking about the Lovable Losers’ past, you’re talking #CubbiesIn2017. The talk in fake circles last season was Anthony Rizzo leading the Baby Bears with 23 home runs, to the tune of a underwhelming .233 batting average and .323 on-base percentage. Similarly, Jeff Samardzija fanned 214 batters, but only won eight games and registered a 4.34 earned run average and 1.35 WHIP. And then there was the ‘Darling’ Starlin Castro, who had the worst season of his four-year career. It got so bad last year on the North Side, the Cubs turned to 35-year-old Kevin Gregg to hammer down the ninth inning — and he actually didn’t fare too poorly. Can you find a season where a team’s best Fantasy asset was a 35-year-old closer? With the system full of budding stars, Chicago fans should embrace #CubbiesIn2017. Projected 2014 Chicago Cubs “Go-To” Lineup Starlin Castro, SS Luis Valbuena, 3B Anthony Rizzo, 1B Nate Schierholtz, RF Junior Lake, LF Ryan Sweeney, CF Welington Castillo, C Darwin Barney, 2B Projected Pitchers: SP1 Jeff Samardzija, RHP SP2 Edwin Jackson, RHP SP3 Travis Wood, LHP SP4 Jake Arrieta, RHP SP5 Chris Rushin, LHP P Carlos Villanueva, RHP Setup man: James Russell, LHP Setup man: Pedro Strop, RHP Closer: Jose Veras, RHP Fantasy (By Default) Stud: Starlin Castro Relative to his expected draft price tag, it is likely Castro will be a Fantasy stud in 2014. Castro, soon to be 24, is entering his fifth major league season and should get back to being a Fantasy force. Expecting his sophomore season stats from 2011 might be a stretch, but he is also capable of more than he showed in 2012 and much more than last season. Castro’s average statistics from 2011 and 2012 would land him as high-end Fantasy shortstop. Expect a rebound season from Castro. His run and RBI opportunities will depend on where he lands in the lineup. But, with Castro’s ratios on the rise, his counting stats will follow accordingly. Don’t underestimate an almost certain 20 stolen bases in Rotisserie formats, either. Breakout Candidate: Anthony Rizzo It is unlikely Rizzo emerges this season as an efficient hitter and posts better than a .280/.360/.490 slash line, but his...

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2014 Toronto Blue Jays Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Feb 01

2014 Toronto Blue Jays Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

The last two offseasons for the Toronto Blue Jays have been stark in contrast. Last year was all splash, with GM Alex Anthopolous active in both the trade and free-agent markets. This year, the team was content to stand pat while letting a few contracts walk out the door. True to their nature, the Canadian club pushed plenty of runs across the plate in 2013 – their 712 runs scored were ninth in Major League Baseball and 185 home runs were good for fourth. Overall, though, the 2013 Blue Jays season was a disappointment (you’ll recall Vegas installed the Jays as offseason favorites to win the World Series). But there were a few Fantasy bright spots – Edwin Encarnacion and a hot month from Colby Rasmus, for example – amidst the poor individual seasons that contributed to an AL East worst 74-88 record. The team as a whole was inconsistent, as is evident from the fact that Adam Lind led the squad in average (.288) despite the fact that he still can’t hit a lefty to save his life (.208/.240/.333). On the mound, injuries were commonplace – Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey managed full seasons, but that was it from the Opening Day starting rotation, and Dickey (4.21 ERA/1.24 WHIP) severely underwhelmed in his first season with the club. Projected 2014 Toronto Blue Jays “Go-To” Lineup Jose Reyes, SS Melky Cabrera, LF Jose Bautista, RF Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Adam Lind, DH Colby Rasmus, CF Brett Lawrie, 3B Dioner Navarro, C Ryan Goins, 2B Projected Pitchers R.A. Dickey Mark Buehrle Brandon Morrow J.A. Happ Kyle Drabek Other starters to know: Marcus Stroman, Todd Redman, Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers Setup men: Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar Closer: Casey Janssen Fantasy Studs: Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion Had he qualified, Reyes would have been the Blue Jays’ leading batter, posting a .296 average in 382 at-bats. With 10 home runs, 58 runs scored, 37 RBI and 15 steals, Reyes provided reasonably strong value across the five standard Rotisserie categories when he was on the field. Early season promise (the shortstop hit .395 in the 10 games before his injury) was lost with a significant ankle injury suffered stealing second base on April 12, missing...

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2014 Washington Nationals Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Jan 31

2014 Washington Nationals Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

The 2013 Washington Nationals epitomized the plexiglass principle, giving back 12 of their 98 wins from the previous season. Fans and Fantasy owners alike suffered whiplash from the inevitable regression, ill-timed injuries, and the inability to catch a break. Meanwhile, the young stars who were supposed to make up for it had their own problems. Bryce Harper avoided the rookie wall and a sophomore slump, but crashed into a literal wall. Stephen Strasburg scuffled with pitch counts and survived an elbow scare. Jayson Werth only put up his monster numbers after he’d hit the waiver wire in many leagues for countless nagging injuries. The only true bright spot was SS Ian Desmond, who posted his second consecutive 20/20 season at a thin and fragile shortstop position. In Fantasy, as in reality, the 2014 Washington Nationals will trust improved health and more timely production to push the pendulum swing back in their favor. Fantasy Baseball owners will want to come along for that ride. Projected 2014 Washington Nationals “Go-To” Lineup Denard Span, CF Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Bryce Harper, LF Jayson Werth, RF Adam LaRoche, 1B Ian Desmond, SS Wilson Ramos, C Anthony Rendon, 2B Projected Pitchers SP1: Stephen Strasburg, RHP SP2: Gio Gonzalez, LHP SP3: Jordan Zimmerman, RHP SP4: Doug Fister, RHP SP5: Ross Detwiler, LHP Setup: Tyler Clippard, RHP and Drew Storen, RHP Closer: Rafael Soriano, RHP Fantasy Studs: Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Ian Desmond I like to compare Bryce Harper’s career trajectory to a pair of superstar outfielders from the early ’90s —  Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey, Jr. Comparisons are dangerous exercises, but I want you to get three things from this one: Harper generates the same buzz, hype, excitement, #sparkle Harper has the same easy 80 power, and for his age-20 season, better peripheral stats There’s a good chance the hype is a little premature. While I think Harper has an excellent chance to live up to those comps, I can’t tell you which one it will be. Griffey put up Fantasy stud numbers almost right away. Bonds needed five seasons to get there. If it’s Griffey, you can justify a first-round pick. But in a redraft league, I’m more inclined to hedge by going late second...

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2014 Philadelphia Phillies Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Jan 30

2014 Philadelphia Phillies Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

The Phightin’ Philadelphia Phillies provided some hopeful flickers of optimism in 2013, but it will remain a season marked as a low point in the franchise’s effort to squeeze out one more moment of dominance from the World Series core. The negatives hit hard for fans and Fantasy owners alike as we witnessed a future hall-of-famer Roy Halladay limp his way into the sunset, a shell of the pitcher that was a perennial top-three selection at his position. Former MVP Ryan Howard also scuffled in his return from an Achilles’ injury before eventually succumbing to another lower body injury, hitting the shelf in early-July with a torn left meniscus. Unfortunately, the agony doesn’t stop there as Cole Hamels‘ abysmal April, left owners who spent a top-50 selection on the left-handed horse searching for answers. But it wasn’t all bad in the City of Brotherly Love. Hamels bounced back with a strong stretch run. Chase Utley returned to form. Cliff Lee notched another elite season. And Domonic Brown burst onto the scene, riding a May power surge to a breakout campaign. Projected 2014 Philadelphia Phillies “Go-To” Lineup Ben Revere, CF Jimmy Rollins, SS Chase Utley, 2B Ryan Howard, 1B Marlon Byrd, RF Domonic Brown, LF Carlos Ruiz, C Cody Asche, 3B Projected Pitchers: Cliff lee, LHP Cole Hamels, LHP Kyle Kendrick, RHP Miguel Gonzalez, RHP Roberto “Don’t Call Me Fausto” Hernandez, RHP Setup: Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams (shoulder) Closer: Jonathan Papelbon Fantasy Studs: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley With the most potent combination of left-handed arms in the majors, the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies will look to lean on their aces once again and both belong among the top-10 starting pitchers selected on Draft Day. Lee turned in another stellar season, leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio for the second consecutive year (6.94 in 2013, 7.39 in 2012). A consistency king, Lee has tossed over 200 innings with 170-plus strikeouts in six straight seasons, all while accumulating a 2.89 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. There is little reason to doubt he’ll finish at the top of the heap again. Hamels is another case altogether as owners were smacked in the face with his downside during a rough start to the season....

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2014 NY Yankees Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Jan 29

2014 NY Yankees Preview: Fantasy Baseball 30-for-30

Before we discuss the 2014 NY Yankees, let’s note that the Yankees’ 2013 campaign was a Fantasy blunder. For only the second time in 19 years, the Yankees didn’t make the postseason. Able to manage 85 wins in a down year, the Yankees’ front office made some big money changes in response. Last year’s Yankee offense and pitching were abysmal and unacceptable through the eyes of the Steinbrenners. They were below league average in home runs (167), and they totaled (144), and runs (702). Obviously, they needed to correct more than a few things. The pitching was a disaster in 2013 and Larry Rothschild was left with trying to clean it up, which he was somewhat able to do. Their 3.94 team ERA was at the bottom half of the MLB spectrum and the biggest question of all is what the heck happened to CC Sabathia? The Ace of New York finished with a career-worst 4.78 ERA and he never had an ERA over 3.40 since he was with Cleveland in 2008. Hiroki Kuroda was a master in the first half and was old in the second, while Andy Pettite held his own, and Phil Hughes was Phil Hughes. Ivan Nova was the only bright light of that rotation, and the rest were just one too many spot starts for what New York is used to. The 2014 Yankees are full of fresh new faces, up and down the starting lineup. They signed many big names, but let one of the biggest ones go in Robinson Cano. The $200 million he wanted went to seven — that’s right — seven new players. The 2014 projected lineup will give drafters many chances to reclaim massive amounts of power numbers. Projected 2014 NY Yankees “Go-To” Lineup CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L) 30 SS Derek Jeter (R) 39 RF Carlos Beltran (S) 36 1B Mark Teixeira (S) 33 C Brian McCann (L) 29 DH Alfonso Soriano (R) 38 LF Brett Gardner (L) 30 3B Kelly Johnson (L) 31 2B Brian Roberts (S) 36 Projected Pitchers CC Sabathia (L) 33 Masahiro Tanaka (R) 25 Hiroki Kuroda (R) 38 Ivan Nova (R) 27 David Phelps (R) 27 Michael Pineda (R) 22 Setup Shawn Kelley (R)...

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