From The Dugout: Episode IV: The All-Star Break (The Michael Jackson Ghost/Vanessa Hudgens Bikini Edition)
Posted by Phil Brody July 14, 2009
I write for a TV show on The Discovery Channel. It’s called Time Warp. It’s a great show and a great gig, but Season 2 has been keeping me so damn busy, it pulls me away from something I love as much as writing itself — and that’s writing about baseball.
Since we last spoke, so much has happened. Michael Jackson was tragically and obviously murdered (why else would he haunt the Neverland Ranch…have you seen the video of Michael Jackson’s Ghost? If not, go here). In other news, Steve McNair got screwed (literally & figuratively), Billy Mays bought the infomercial farm, Ed McMahon cashed his last Publishers Clearing House check and Farrah Fawcett will always be drop-dead gorgeous in my book.
In the meantime, stuff happened in baseball too!
And these are a few observations and gut feelings. It’s what I see From The Dugout…
Always Look Before You Buy/Sell: “Elementary My Dear Watson”
For some time I’ve wanted to pen a guide to playing fantasy. It’d be called “Winning Is Not A Fantasy” and one of the initial lessons would be what From The Dugout is all about — the fact I believe watching baseball is an essential ingredient to succeed in fantasy. To me, box scores tell about one-third the story, yet some rely on them as if they were the whole truth. Whenever I am thinking about trading for or trading away a player, I watch him play. I know that seems like the old Sherlock Holmes line, “…elementary my dear Watson,” but I cannot tell you how often I have entered trade discussion or just general conversations about fantasy and have heard a fellow fantasy owner say, “I’ve actually never seen him play.” “Wow,” is the response I never articulate. I keep the reaction to myself and proceed in the conversation knowing I have the upper hand. I know we’re all busy with work and life, however, if you’re reading KeeperLeague GM I suspect you are not some owner in a Yahoo Public League. I surmise you’re an above average owner trying to compete in an often-maddening game. Read all the box scores and stats you want, but at some point in time you either need to find a source you trust one-hundred percent or you need to start watching, scouting, comprehending, analyzing and making gut decisions based on all the above. Do that and trust me, you’ll sleep better at night and compete better most weeks.
Don’t Look Back
Now, having said that, I’ll now deliver the arguable “that’s one to grow on” lesson. If you’re scouting a pitcher, watch to see if a batter you respect looks back at the pitcher after striking out. If he does, it says to me that the kid you’re scouting has stuff that blew away the batter. On the flip side, you’ll often see a pitcher do one of two things after a batter gets the best of him. They either watch the ball sail out of the park or they refuse to turn around. If they don’t watch, they know they F-ed up. They know they threw a pitch that was a mistake. However, if they crane their head and watch to see if the ball makes it out, it tells me they are surprised by the hit and, in turn, you should be impressed with the hitter. The pitcher also often watches the batter trot around the bases as if to say, “I’ll get you next time.” Prime examples of the latter can be found here and here.
Moneyball Is Money And You Don’t Even Know It
I don’t think Billy Beane has time for fantasy baseball, but damn if he isn’t a Keeper League GM’s best friend. In dynasty leagues, we all deal in prospects, hoping that sooner rather than later these lottery tickets will pay dividends. Well Billy Beane is all about the present. He puts young pitchers with all sorts of upside on the major league field and allows them to learn to dominate behind a diamond full of capable bats. Sure, the growing pains are painful, but that’s my point. A Keeper League GM should have players like Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson and Vin Mazarro in their minors until next year (or 2011 when I believe all three will be coveted in fantasy). Right now they are too volatile for a playoff-hopeful team to roster. Dallas Braden might be the only exception currently in the A’s rotation and I spoke about him at length in my very first From The Dugout here. Beane simply speeds up the maturation process and, most importantly, these growing pains along the way allow savvy GMs to acquire some of the young arms at a discount from “knee-jerk” owners disappointed in their current numbers. In other words, get ‘em while you can.
Deep Dynasty Target
As Lenny Melnick would say, “etch this kid’s name in your kitchen table”
J.J. Hoover, SP, ATL.
In 82 innings he’s struck out 94 and walked 19. A lot can happen as a young arm moves through the minors toward the majors (TINSTAAPP), but I wouldn’t be writing about him if I didn’t believe. He’s a stock I am buying and one that I think can and will pay dividends, whether it’s for your team later or in a trade much sooner.
Random Thoughts After The First Half
Buy low on Cliff Lee. Sell high on Russell Branyan. Colby Rasmus, Ricky Nolasco and Denard Span are as real in fantasy as Odette Yustman is a fantasy in reality (look her up!—if you’re too lazy look left). Jonathan Sanchez, Josh Outman and Everth Cabrera are fake phony frauds. I like what I see from J.A. Happ and Nate Schierholtz. I am not buying into Marc Rzepczynski (yet) or Brooks Conrad. Jury is still out on Franklin Gutierrez and Homer Bailey. If I am drafting today, I want Yovani Gallardo and Ben Zobrist on every team. I want Matt Holliday or Brandon Morrow on none of them. If I’m trading, I’m targeting David Price, Scott Baker and Jimmy Rollins. I’m selling Dallas Braden, Mike MacDougal and David Ortiz.
Greatest. Quote. Ever.
Eduardo Perez, Baseball Tonight Analyst & Former 1st Basemen on Manny Ramirez:
“It wasn’t the steroids that made him this good a hitter (in the 2nd half last year). It’s all the hard work that he does every day that makes him the hitter he is.” Um, no. Sorry Perez, you just struck out NOT looking.
Tampa Bay will win the AL Wild Card. The Chicago Cubs will win the NL Central. Vanessa Hudgens is the new Jessica Alba and just might be a better, hotter, more liberal version. If the Phillies net Roy Halladay, it’s game over for everyone else. Way it is.
Time Will Tell If I Am Right: Part IV
I have a gut feeling about Franklin Morales. I don’t aspire to Colorado pitchers and Franklin has had his share of injury woes, which should make me plenty allergic to him. However, I think he might make an impact in the second half and will be an asset in 2010. I had to look it up, but the kid is a mere 23 years old. I say buy. Better yet, get him as a throw in any deadline deal you can and thank me later.
Fantasy League Quote
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was making us believe Mike MacDougal and Scott Olson and Andrew Jones might still be fantasy relevant.”
Players You Should Be Watching
Martin Prado, Alexi Casilla, Jemile Weeks
John Bowker, Delwyn Young, Lonnie Chisenhall
Tim Stauffer, Hector Rondon, JJ Hoover
John Grabow, Chris Perez, Daniel Bard
Phil Brody resides in Los Angeles, California. He works in the television industry as a writer and director. In his spare time, he devours everything baseball. He can be reached at: [email protected]