MLB In Full Bloom 11/26/2013

Share

78 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

125 – Number of days until Opening Day

Monday did not provide the fireworks in the Hot Stove that we saw last weekend. There were no blockbuster trades or noteworthy signings, I will give you my top 5 fantasy players for the 2014 season. It's never to early too start building your fantasy draft strategy that you will execute in March. And, for those of us that have completely punted their interest in fantasy football because all it takes to win is luck and no actual strategies can be applied in that game, let's turn our attention to the most rewarding fantasy game - fantasy baseball.....

Top 5 Fantasy Players for 2014

1. MIKE TROUT

Mike Trout has the incredible combination of hitting for power and having outstanding speed. Because of that combination, Trout is my preseason selection to be the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player. Miguel Cabrera will continue to hit for power and provide fantasy owners with a solid batting average. However, the separation between Trout and Cabrera lies with speed and defense. Trout displays that speed on the bases and in the outfield and with Peter Bourjos being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals last week, Trout will settle back into centerfield every day. Trout is a legitimate .300 hitter that will continue to provide fantasy owners with above average power, stolen bases, runs scored, and he provides solid RBI production. In 2013, Trout had 97 RBI and he hit leadoff most nights. At 22-years old, he is going to continue to post impressive offensive numbers and will continue to be the #1 selection on draft day for a long time.

2. MIGUEL CABRERA

Miguel Cabrera has been the best hitter in baseball the past two years. However, the injury bug caught up to him in the second half this year and he was not himself down the stretch of the season or the playoffs. It was a surprise that the injury woes that  bothered Cabrera the past month-plus did not crop up in 2012. It can be argued the fact he was healthy all of 2012 masked that injury was always a possibility. Fantasy owners are left to assume this will drop him out of the top spot next spring. It does for me.

3. PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT

Most experts that will give you their rankings will have Paul Goldschmidt in the first round, but not many will put him this high. Coming into the 2013 campaign, my concern was whether Goldschmidt would regress from the previous season with respect to contact rate. My fears were unfounded as Goldschmidt's present strikeout rate was even lower by a wide margin. Now, add in his 30-plus homers and steals in the teens and we have a perennial top-five fantasy pick in his prime.

4. ANDREW McCUTCHEN

Andrew McCutchen led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first winning season since 1992, batting .317 with 21 homers, 84 RBI and 27 steals while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Like with Mike Trout, there were questions about McCutchen's ability to repeat the .327 average he posted in 2012. And like Trout, he improved his contact rate while drawing more walks. McCutchen's power might has dropped a little bit from 2012, but McCutchen is still one of only three players to hit at least 20 homers and steal at least 25 bases. The others are Trout and Carlos Gomez.

5. CARLOS GONZALEZ

I know...I know.... Carlos Gonzalez will not play an entire season. I get it, but I also know that if he were to stay healthy, the argument could easily be made that Gonzalez slide in to the top 3 behind just Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. There is risk with every player on the board, so by placing Gonzalez in my top 5, I'll accept the risk that I'd rather take the 400-500 plate appearances from him and hope for more. In 2013, Cargo only had 391 plate appearances, but in the three previous seasons, he averaged 528 plate appearances and still posted 25 or more home runs in each of those seasons with solid RBI production.

MLB In Full Bloom 11/25/2013

Share

79 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

126 – Number of days until Opening Day

Its Thanksgiving week and we are in the middle of football season. The NFL is about to wrap up Week 12 with a Monday night showdown between the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers. College Football is inching closer to the tremendously long bowl portion of their season, but still there was enough baseball news over the weekend that non-baseball only channels were talking baseball!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Brian McCann and the New York Yankees agreed to a five-year deal worth $85 million. This just seemed like too good a fit for the deal not to happen for both sides. The Yankees are getting a guy that is a perfect fit for their ballpark and he should do well in New York City. This is just the start of the offseason moves for the Yankees. Look for them to continue to be active.
  • Jhonny Peralta and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a four-year deal worth $53 million. Peralta The Cardinals were able to acquire Peter Bourjos and Peralta and they did not have to trade any of their young top pitching prospects. There has been strong reaction to Peralta's deal. Brad Ziegler, who serves as the Arizona Diamondbacks union representative took to Twitter saying that "it pays to cheat". Ziegler went on to say, "Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use. We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it’s not. So we are working on it again." Peralta served his 50-game suspension last season and came back for the final four games of the season with the Detroit Tigers and played during the postseason.
  • Joe Smith and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a three-year deal worth $15.75 million. Smith immediately improves the Angels' bullpen, as he compiled a 2.29 ERA with 25 holds in 63 innings last season. The Angels have already named Ernesto Frieri as their closer next season but Smith may immediately take over the setup role. The Angels will continue to look to add pitching both for the rotation and the bullpen. The Angels appear to be pursing Bartolo Colon, but it does not appear that a deal is imminent.
  • Dan Haren and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a one-year deal worth $10 million. The Dodgers get themselves the right-hander they wanted to add this offseason as questions surround the health of Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett. Ned Colletti did say last week that he is feeling good about both Billingsley and Beckett and if they do return to the rotation, Haren adds more depth.
  • Jose Molina and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a two-year deal worth $4.5 million. At age 40, this is a good deal for Molina. He batted just .228 during his two years with the Rays. The Rays value him for his game calling and pitch framing, though. He figures to split time with Jose Lobaton in 2014.
  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported over the weekend that top Japanese baseball executives will fly to New York this week in an attempt to finalize a new posting system with MLB. The two sides appear to be moving in the right direction after months of no progress. With no posting agreement in place, one of the biggest fish on the free agent market, Masahiro Tanaka, is unable to be signed.

Page 73 of 193