It was the great Terrence Mann who once said, “The one constant through all the years…has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.” I know exactly where I was when I heard the news that Thurman Munson, my childhood idol, died in a plane crash. I had my first real kiss during the summer of the year Cal Ripken, Jr. won the Rookie of the Year award. Craig Biggio’s MLB debut was on the TV as I sat in the hospital waiting room following the worst car accident I’ve ever been in. A strike robbed the Montreal Expos of a probable World Series championship the year I met my wife and Albert Pujols won his first title the year we got married. So when I sat there watching Andy Pettitte pitch eight innings of one-run ball to shut down the Red Sox and Mariano Rivera closed it out for the team’s first win of the season, I have to admit, it felt a little strange as I knew I was literally watching the end of an era.
You sit and listen to the old-timers talk about the good ol’ days, watching legends like Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Mickey Mantle take the field by storm and dominate the game during their years of service. As I watched Pettitte close out the eighth, knowing that Mo was coming in for the ninth, I thought about the last 15 years of both baseball and my life and the fact that, in 30 years, I’ll be speaking to my nephew’s kids about these guys with the same reverence you hear when someone throws out names like Ruth, Gehrig and Cobb. But rather than work myself into a maudlin state of anxiety, fearing my own mortality, a calming sense of warmth overcame me. While this era was ending, marking yet another important segment of my life, a new one is about to begin.
While I don’t know exactly where life is going to take me, I do know that this era will be marked by the youngsters of today’s MLB. I will always remember life as it was during Mike Trout’s impressive rookie season. I will be able to tell you exactly what I was doing during Dylan Bundy’s first major league win and who I was talking with when Wil Myers cranked his first big league home run. The only thing I know for certain about the future is that it my life will always walk hand in hand with baseball, a game I truly love. It will go on far longer than I will, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
::moment of reflection::
OK, enough of the serious stuff. I’m wiping away the tears and getting back to the world of fantasy baseball now. And what better way to get back into the swing of things than to announce Thursday’s Fantasy Beast of the Day, right? After careful consideration, I opted to go the complete opposite way that I draft my teams and am, again, going with a pitcher here. This is likely to be just the first of many accolades for him this season as I feel another year of dominance coming. Ladies and gentlemen….I proudly present to you…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Cliff Lee, PHI||8||2||0||0||8||0.00||0.25|
It really does astound me at times, how little respect Cliff Lee gets in the fantasy world. Since that ill-fated year in 2007 when he seemed to lose the ability to pitch and was demoted to the minors, he has been nothing short of spectacular. For five years and three teams he has never posted an ERA above 3.22 or an FIP above 3.18, has never pitched fewer than 211 innings in a season, and has seen a fairly steady rise ion strikeout rate that goes along with one of the lowest walk rates amongst all starting pitchers. And still, I hear people speak of him as if he is Joe Blanton in a sea of Clayton Kershaws. Well, hopefully more people maintain that ridiculous way of thinking and don’t focus on how dominant he was against one of the most formidable lineups in the game today; a Braves team that I see as the team to beat in the NL East. Congrats Cliff. I hope you end up on all of my teams this year.
Now for the rest….
|J.P. Arencibia, C TOR||3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Josh Reddick, OF OAK||2-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Chris Davis, 1B/OF BAL||2-3, R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Travis Wood, SP CHC||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 4 K|
|Jeremy Guthrie, SP KC||W, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9 K|
While so many were focusing on the Blue Jays bringing in Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Melky Cabrera, I started bumping up J.P. Arencibia in my catcher rankings. With the cloud of the impending arrival of Travis d’Arnaud gone, JPA was cleared for full-time duty in a lineup deemed so much stronger than just the year before. He may not be the guy you want for batting average help, but his 20-home run power is huge and with a stronger surrounding lineup, you should expect a bump in RBI and runs scored.
OK. While I’d love to throw some comments/compliments Josh Reddick’s way, I can’t with that yeti-like look he is sporting. The beard and the mullet-hair have got to go. It’s been done already. It’s passé. We saw Johnny Damon do it prior to the 2004 season and watched in horror as Brian Wilson and that flea-infested hairball of disgustingness took the mound in 2012 and 2011. It makes Reddick look silly and unoriginal. Get a new shtick, buddy, then I’ll praise you for your game.
Chris Davis is looking so good at the plate right now and best of all, he’s actually hitting pitches that he’s struggled with in the past. Normally, I’d be all over selling high on him, but the fact that he’s improved his pitch selection and is driving balls he doesn’t normally drive, it makes me wonder if he’s truly turned a corner and is about to embark on a breakout season of super-stardom. I’m going to give him another two weeks and if I start to see some more strikeouts creep in, then I’ll happily sell him for a king’s ransom. If I don’t, I’ll just give him another two weeks and re-evaluate. I sort of believe, but I’m just not ready to commit.
It would seem to me that Travis Wood is someone who needs to go onto your watch-list. He seems to fit the mold of potential breakout. He’s a fourth-year starter who had an impressive debut season, took a small step back in year two and then improved his peripherals and overall numbers in his third year. Should he continue to take the next step, he could possess some real serious value which you might be able to get your hands on real cheap if you act quickly enough.
And then there’s Jeremy Guthrie. Oh man, is this a tough call or what? He was absolutely atrocious before coming to Kansas City in the second half of last year, and save for his first two starts as a Royal, he’s been amazing. Literally, amazing. And despite a rough spring, he seems to have picked up right where he left off and led the Royals to their first win of the 2013 season. Given his checkered past, he is likely on the waiver wire in most leagues of 12-teams or fewer. I’m picking him up and stashing him, because I need to see just how far this one could go.
|Dayan Viciedo, OF CHW||0-4, 4 K|
|David Wright, 3B NYM||0-3, BB, 3 K|
|Adam Dunn, 1B CHW||0-4, 3 K|
|Brett Myers, SP CLE||L, 12.60 ERA, 1.80 WHIP|
|Mark Buehrle, SP TOR||ND, 10.13 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4 K|
Do any of these names above surprise you? I didn’t think so. You can expect big whiffs from Dayan Viciedo and Adam Dunn and the misses from David Wright are expected as he continues to work his way back to full health from his late spring intercostal strain. As for Brett Myers and Mark Buehrle, we can simply go back to that part where I was talking about the end of an era. Their time is nearly up and outings like Thursday’s will only expedite the transition.
Brian Roberts, 2B BAL – hamstring (probable DL stint)
Sean Marshall, RP CIN – shoulder (day to day)
Brandon Moss, 1B OAK – personal (day to day)
Jose Bautista, OF TOR – ankle (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a vaiety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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