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Brains And Braun

Who’s sick of the ranting yet? This guy…

But here we are again and it will be the Kings of Corks mission to help clear Ryan Braun’s name from the tarnish and mud that covers it after Buster Olney broke the story from two leaky sources.

Soon to be the Brewers top selling 2012 jersey

Sure Braun wasn’t proven innocent by arbitrators but Braun’s legal team also didn’t pursue that path knowing the most likely outcome of that defense would be ‘guilty’. No one will ever know what happened with test, but below are some articles which others have written with many more sources and time than this site owner has. Hopefully, the links below shed light on the fact that Braun didn’t get off on a ‘technicality’ but a great defense to prove that his test results were unusual.

As mentioned in previous posts, Ryan Braun’s name will never be cleared unless he continues to preform and volunteer for drug tests. If at all in the next five seasons his numbers decline even slightly, all of the Braun doubters will pound their judicial hammer yelling “Guilty!” If its any consolation to Braun, his name and reputation has been cleared by most Brewer fans.

Edit: The collector released a press statement and it agrees with everything previously stated on this site. No one is going to claim any responsibility in the case. Hopefully, the arbitrator comes forward with all of the information provided that determined his verdict.

Were any interesting Braun articles missed in this post? Let us know in the comments section and they will be added to the list.

Dang It Feels Good To Be A… Wisconsin Fan???

Right now around the world, Wisconsin sports fans are living their own version of the printer scene from Office Space. And I feel bad for that machine if Braun is the one swinging the bat.

Over the past few sport seasons, Wisconsin fans have had a lot to cheer for (at least more than they have had in the past 10-15 years). The Badgers have gone been back-to-back BigTen football champions and have appeared in back-to-back Rose Bowls (unfortunately, losing both). The Packers won the 2010 SuperBowl title and fell 1 game short of attempting to defend their title by losing to the 2011 champion Giants. In 2011, the Brewers won their first National League Division Title. They also won their first post season series since 1982 before losing to the 2011 champion Cardinals in their miracle post season run. Wisconsin even won the Miss America title in 2012. So Braun’s steroid verdict should come as no surprise to Wisconsin sport fans… when life is good, life is good.

The decision came down on Thursday February 23 while I was doing what Northern Midwesterners do best in cold weather… sitting on a frozen lake drinking beer catching fish (what else is there to do in the cold months?). I was in the middle of nowhere (this is why this post is delayed a few days) when my fishing partner and my phones wouldn’t stop making noises. The news came in via massive amounts of texts, Ryan Braun’s suspension was overturned and would be allowed the opportunity to play in every 2012 game. It’s only been 5 days since the decision and I’m already sick of all the comments.

That’s the main purpose of this post… the decision was made, deal with it and move on. No one will ever know what happened to Braun’s steroid sample for the 44 hours it sat in a fridge at the collectors house. I already feel bad for collector now that his name has been leaked to the media. Unless someone comes forward and says “Yes, I doped” or “Yes, I contaminated the sample”, no one should be blamed except for the MLB’s official statement about the results.

Braun didn’t find a loophole. Braun wasn’t proven innocent. Braun hasn’t cleared his name. Braun simply provided the facts and got his suspension lifted (see video below). Props to the young blogger who posted this news nine days before it went public.

The fact that the MLB used the sample after knowing the sample shipment was late is absurd. A starting pitcher can’t be late to their scheduled start and expect the game to wait for them. An umpire can’t delay the game because he has to stop and pick up his dry cleanings. The MLB made the testing policy guidelines and those were broken by one of their employees. The chain of custody was broken. Everything from when the news broke in December was broken. The samples should have just been discarded and new samples taken at a later date. Instead, they used a sample that sat in an unlocked fridge for 44 hours on a weekend. How many people come to visit on the weekend? How cool would it be to show a friend Ryan Braun’s sample that your father collected? What are the odds the collector went on vacation and a friend or relative who is a Cubs fan wanted revenge?

As I mentioned earlier, no one will ever know if Braun was actually doping or if someone tampered with the sample. The only things known are the facts. The fact that the sample sat unguarded for 44 hours. The fact that the MLB testing policy was neglected. The fact that Ryan Braun hadn’t gained an inch of muscle and remained consistent agility (both of which have been well documented since his minor league career) despite testing five times higher than the average testosterone levels. The fact that his test results were leaked prior to his appeal. The fact that Braun’s career is now tainted forever. He will never be a first year MLB Hall of Fame inductee. In fact if his numbers decline whatsoever over the next 3 seasons even if its due to injury or age decline, he will be accused of doping in 2011 by his critics. Braun had a lot to lose and he lost it. The MLB had a lot to lose and they lost it. No one won in this decision except Brewer fans. Their hope for the 2012 season has been restored and that’s what has some of the public upset. The fact that their team now has to contend against a fully rostered Brewer team. Because of the steroid era, it seems our generations have gone from being in awe of players’ abilities to being the ones to point fingers and yell cheater when the player doesn’t play for their team (see Jose Bautista’s recent power surge). Hopefully, some day the public goes back to admiring physical talent and not accusing of unfair advantage until the results are official.

In my opinion, the biggest problem with the Braun’s situation was that MLB took the wrong road by defending the tests results and disagreeing with the results of the appeal. That and the fact that the positive results were even leaked to the media (ESPN). But the physical competition in the media to be the first to report breaking news will always be a problem as long as people can’t keep their big mouths shut.

So people, let’s move on to baseball season and only bring up the Braun decision once there is evidence of what happened during that 44-hour period.

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Inside The Acquisitions’ Stadiums: Pineda/Montero

Sure, Target may be able to predict when you have a bun in the oven but can they predict the next hosts of the MLB Fan Cave. Probably not, but you could…

The MLB Fan Cave could be a baseball fan’s perfect dream. The opportunity to sit down and watch all 2430 games. And not only watch, but comment on each of the games. You get one roommate to share the entire experience with but the opportunity to share the experience with as many ball players who stop by (Axford, Nyjer, Big Pappi, etc…). And the lucky two roommates are simply baseball fans. MLB doesn’t choose them though, the fans do. So head on over to the MLB Fan Cave and fote for your favorite entries (don’t miss the guy who has tattoos of all 30 MLB Mascots).

Target may not be able to predict the MLB Fan Cave hosts. But if their software developers had software to emulate Jack Zduriencik’s brain, they could create an algorithm to predict the trade that occurred between the Yankees and Mariners. Did anyone see this coming? Maybe my subconscious did seeing as I dropped Pineda in a keeper league to stream pitchers in the playoffs. I forgot about the keeper option and instead of Pineda costing me a 16th rd pick (he’s currently sitting at an ADP of 89, or the equivalent of a 7th to 8th round pick), he will be on a different fantasy team this year.

So let’s go into the Acquisitions’ Stadiums on the most interesting trade of the 2012 offseason: Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero.

  • Have the Yankees won?

This may be the first acquisition that I actually like for the Yanks in years. Instead of going out and buying everyone’s middle age stars that are past their prime, they went out and got a young stud that should be a staple in their rotation for years to come. It seems the Yankee front office has finally figured out that you can’t win a championship by overpaying a bunch of middle age men. For how pathetic their pitching rotation has been in the previous years, Pineda is a step in the right direction. Pineda is a freakishly tall left hander. At 6foot7 plus 10.5 inches, he towers on the mound. His 95-mph fastball looks more like 110 coming in at a starting height of 8feet. Not to mention he has a wicked slider. But, that’s really all his repertoire has. He has a change-up but it isn’t anything special and he hardly throws it. Still, he managed to strike out 173 batters while only walking 55 in 171 innings. Before his collapse after June, his ERA was a minute 2.75 and a WHIP of 1.05. The first half of the 2011 season, this kid (he’s 23) was Strasburg but without the hype. But will he return to his first half stardom or continue his 5.00+ ERA flop from the second half? The Yankees are hoping they didn’t end up with another AJ Burnett. If they did, at least this one is cheaper.

  • Will Pineda prevail in pinstripes?

As mentioned before, Michael Pineda was unbelievable through mid-June. If the season would have ended June 20th, Pineda would have been the AL MVP instead of finishing 5th in voting last season. And now he’s moving from the pitcher friendly confines of Safeco field to the homer happy Yankee stadium. From his stats last season, you would think that Pineda must have tired and started giving up more gofer balls beginning in July. But nothing is further from the truth. In June, his GroundBall% was an awful 26.5%. Over the rest of the season, it began to climb until his GB% topped out at a whopping 46.8%. This was partially due to him beginning to rely less on his high fastball (53% to 47%) and more on his nasty slider (31% to 35%). However, not only is he changing stadiums, but his opponents in his new division are a tad bit better than the AL Worst West. The Blue Jays and Red Sox were in the top 6 in Runs scored in 2011. And all 4 of the Yankees division opponents were in the top 10 in home runs (3 of the 4 are in the top 5). Even though Pineda was a rookie last season, he did get some experience pitching against the AL East. Boston and Toronto banged him around for 18 runs in 23 innings last season. And Camden Yards also yielded 3 runs in 6 innings. His problems don’t end there. Pineda’s home vs road splits are not very favorable. Safeco, being a pitcher friendly park, was Pineda’s safe haven by yielding a 2.92 overall season ERA. While the road was unkind with a 4.40 ERA. Now apply the home run factor to Yankee stadium and this trade could be a disaster for the Yankees. In my opinion, I believe Pineda has the stuff to be a great pitcher in the big leagues. But I don’t think he will be as good as he could have been if he stayed on the West coast. I will not be drafting Pineda in any fantasy league this season unless his draft position drops considerably. I would project Pineda’s ERA to be above a 4.00 and he will only get double digit wins this season thanks to having one of the best offenses behind him. That just isn’t worth a 7th rd pick.

  • Have the Mariners sold the farm?

Griffey Power Hasn't Been Seen Since 1999 In SeattleThe Yankees have proved that a prolific offense will win you games but it won’t win you a World Series. So what were the Mariners thinking… King Felix and Pineda were one of the best young 1-2 punches in all MLB starting rotations. They would have been equivalent to the hype the 2011 Phillies rotation was suppose to deliver. However, Seattle hasn’t had a true power hitter since the Griffey, Edgar Martinez, and Arod days of ’99. The Mariners get one of the Yankees top prospects in catcher Jesus Montero. The addition of Jesus Montero brings a young bat back into town. He has limited big league at-bats, but in just 61 of them he still swatted 0.325 with 4 long balls. To put that into perspective, extrapolate that out to about 600 at-bats and he would have a line close to 40 homers and 120 rbi. He’s obviously something if the Mariners are willing to trade a pitcher finishing 5th in Rookie of the Year voting. But where will Montero get his playing time?

  • Will Montero recharge the power in the Mariners offense?

Montero WILL hit over 0.300 and WILL hit 20 home runs. Montero is that good of a young hitter. The only obstacle he has to overcome is the fact that Chone Figgens and Ichiro couldn’t get on base in 2011. The good news is that Ichiro will not be as bad as he was last season. I mean it’s Ichiro. Last season was the first year he did have 200+ hits are hit above 0.300. Montero has consistently hit around 18HR, 78RBI, and 0.290 in his last 3 seasons in the minors. And that’s only in about 120 games per year. Team him up in a younger lineup with Dustin Ackley (really, really like this kid) and Justin Smoak (finally out of Texas and getting a chance), Montero will be the powerhouse and RBI producer in the middle of Seattle’s lineup for years to come. There is only one problem in 2012. He most likely won’t qualify anywhere other than DH. Miguel Olivo only missed 32 games last season. Those 32 games could belong to Montero in 2012, but when will he get them to qualify him at catcher. As a DH only player, Montero has little value in fantasy leagues. Sure he will hit 0.300 with 20 home runs and 70+ RBI, but he’s eating up a valuable utility spot on fantasy rosters. Now if he gets catcher eligibility, he would be a top-10 catcher as a rookie. So keep an eye on Seattle’s spring training lineup. If Montero is getting more opportunities behind the plate than at DH, he may just be worth more than a 16th round pick.

Recap:
– Pineda is being over valued. He’s a great young pitcher but the switch to the hitter heavy AL East and smaller ballparks are going to inflate his ERA and Whip. He isn’t worth a 7th-8th round draft pick. Still a good addition to a Yankee team who has been overspending in past years.
– The Mariners are finally dedicated to putting an offense back onto the field in 2012 and Montero will be the next great Seattle hitter. He needs to gain position eligibility to have more fantasy value in fantasy leagues. Unless your league has a DH position or multiple utility spots, hes not more than a late round flier (currently an ADP of 169). Wait for him next year if he goes before round 18. Unless he gets catcher eligibility, then he is going to be a top-10 catcher in 2012. Monitor his status in spring training.

Stay tuned for the next guest of Inside the Acquisition’s Stadiums: Yu Darvish.

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Inside The Acquisition’s Stadiums: Jose Reyes

Miami's New Stadium Appeared In A 1986 Film

Reyes went from sponsoring Ghetto Hikes in Queens to Navigator of Miami.

He was only one of the Marlins big acquisitions this offseason. It seems the Marlins are stocking up on plenty of wood to build an amazing fire for their next big fire sale. They have nearly doubled their payroll going from $57Mil to $94Mil. Three of their four big name acquisitions are the highest paid players on the team (Hanley is now number 4). And guess who the highest paid player on the team is… the most feared name in Gatorade cooler history, Carlos Zambrano. Granted, the Cubs owe 15 of that $18Mil contract. Let’s go inside the Acquisition’s Stadiums of Jose Reyes.

  • When will the next Florida Fire Sale be?

This isn’t a new strategy for the Marlins. Their front office seems to be in a cycle of Buy, Buy, Buy, Sell, Sell, Sell. In 1997, they bought Bobby Bonilla and Moises Alou off free-agency at lucrative deals (see Reyes and Buerhle’s deals) and went on to beat the Indians in the World Series. Soon after, house was cleaned which is rare for a team winning the big game. Alou, Bonilla, Kevin Brown, and Gary Sheffield were all sent packing. In 2003 they won their second World Series, and by 2005 they sent most of their big names packing again. So here we are in 2012, and they are in the buying spirit again by throwing out big numbers out to Pujols, CJ Wilson, Reyes, Heath Bell, and Buerhle. But they only managed to bag three of them. With the major buying period over, it appears the Marlins’ next fire sale will begin in 2014. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco will be a free agents, HanRam will be in his last year at $16Mil, Heath Bell in his last year at $10Mil, Reyes at $16Mil, and Buehrle at $19Mil. Not to mention Stanton will be eligible for his first year of arbitration. Yup, 2014 will be a busy year for Miami’s accountants.

  • Will Reyes finally stay healthy and produce useful numbers?

Reyes will be his fastest yet since hes more aerodynamic and 20lbs lighter without dreads. But he has only played in more than 130 games once in the past 3 seasons. Has only topped 100 runs in one of those three seasons. And hasn’t eclipsed the 40SB mark since 2008 (from 2005 to 2008 he stole almost 260 bases). However, he swiped 39 bags in 126 games last season and cheated won the NL batting title with a 0.337 BA by benching himself in the final game (did Reyes cheat or did he know Braun was doping and didn’t want a cheater winning the batting title?). So the question is, did Miami just buy the most expensive torn hamstring? If Reyes’ hamstrings stay healthy this season, he could potentially steal 70+ bases again. Ozzie Guillen is the new skipper and in 2010 (when the White Sox weren’t made of raw power) he told his guys to run 235 times. That was the most among all teams in 2010. It’s still unknown if Reyes will bat first or second, but he will be given the green light to run wild on the base paths in order to get more scoring opportunities for Hanley and Stanton. I would gamble on Reyes this season after missing 36 games last season and still finishing 16th on the ESPN player rater. Remember, no one has stolen 100 bases in a single season since Vince Coleman in 1987 (he did it in all 3 seasons from ’85-’87). I would love to see a 100SB season and I think Reyes has the best chance.

  • What impact does this signing have on Goliath Mike Stanton?

Mike Stanton is the Jim Furyk of baseball. His swing is so ugly but that ball goes a mile when he connects with it. Let’s be honest, Reyes coming to the Marlins won’t make Stanton’s swing any more beautiful to watch. But what Reyes does bring is a 0.292 career batting average. This translates into more RBI opportunities for Stanton since Reyes will be in front of Stanton in the order. He had 87 RBIs last season… this year he will get his first 100 RBI season and likely more than 110. Stanton’s the real deal; he’s not in Group A for his speed. Stanton is on my target list to own in all my leagues this season while he is still somewhat cheap.

Cut Dread Locks Unlock Reyes 2012 Speed

  • What impact does Reyes have on Hanley?

Oh there you are Hanley” is what Marlins fans hope to be saying this season after last. HanRam’s ADP in ESPN drafts last season was about 2.6! Two, point, six! I watched Hanley Ramirez get traded for Dillon Gee in one of my leagues last season and there was a riot. In the end, Dillon Gee may have been a better player. So adding Reyes definitely can’t hurt Hanley’s ability to perform better than 2011. And if you voiced your hatred to Hanley on his twitter account, HanRam may be giving you credit this season with every crack of the bat. Most likely, the Reyes signing will move Hanley to the three hole in the lineup to make use of his power. Unfortunately, adding Reyes pretty much puts a kibosh on Hanley’s use of his speed. Before 2011, Hanley has a 124HR/196SB split line for his first 5 full MLB seasons. That’s an average of 20HR/40SB per season. Absolutely ridiculous. That type of speed and power combination doesn’t come along often let alone at the most scarce fantasy baseball position: Shortstop. I would speculate that Hanley will now be more of a 25HR/20SB type player. Which is still good but not GREAT. He’s also moving to thirdbase which will give him multiple position eligibility (that’s a common trend in the first 3 Acquisition’s Stadium articles). Even though his stolen base totals will drop, his RBI and potential power will increase. Hanley Ramirez may have upset some fantasy owners in 2011 and terrified would be owners in 2012, but one thing is for certain, I will gladly draft Hanley in the top 15 this season (his current ADP is 19.3).

  • What impact does Reyes have on Lo-Mo and Bonifacio?

The real question here is who’s going to be batting in one of the other top 2 spots in the Marlins lineup alongside Reyes this season. Bonifacio is projected to bat number 2 behind Reyes, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. I would think Logan Morrison would be a better fit at number 2 and putting Bonifacio at the bottom of the order. That might be the reason that I’m not a big league manager. In either case, Bonifacio has nothing to gain other than more RBI opportunities if he bats second. If he bats first, he’s the same player he was last year. If he bats at the back half in my scenario, he has a lot of run opportunities to lose. If LoMo stops playing with his dog Twitter and gets the opportunity to represent his father’s favorite player (the Marlins actually unretired a jersey number for LoMo) by batting in the two-hole, he has a lot more to gain. His runs scored would almost double from the 54 he had last season and his RBI could push 85 or 90. So the current answer to the question posed above is, Bonifacio has first crack at increasing his RBIs from the 36 he had last season. But Logan Morrison could (should) be the beneficiary of said RBIs. Pay attention to the Marlins spring training lineups to see who should be on your fantasy radar.

  • What does this mean for the Mets?

Let’s face it, the Mets season is going to be over after the first pitch, again. The Mets are a team on the brink of bankruptcy sale. Their opening day payroll will probably drop by more than $50Mil from 2011 to 2012. Still at a $90+Mil payroll in 2012, they don’t have the names to be able to contend or justify that amount of money in the payroll. And I wouldn’t be surprised if David Wright is on a new team by the middle of July. That’s not good news for Mets fans as they will be forced to watch a losing team. However, the good news for Mets fans is that the rumor is ticket prices could be reduced by as much as 30% to try to spark more revenue. So it will at least be more affordable to watch the Mets lose than it has been in previous seasons.

Recap:
– Marlins are restocking their shelves for their next fire sale in 2014.
– Reyes has the best chance at a 100SB season. If he stays healthy, he will attempt at least 80SB this season. And with HanRam and Stanton behind him, he has a shot at 120 Runs.
– Stanton will get 100RBI for the first time and has a shot at topping 115.
– Hanley is worth the gamble in 2012. Expect 25HR/20SB and he will be worth a top 15 pick as a multi-position eligible player.
– Either Logan Morrison or Emilio Bonafacio will benefit and the other will suffer. Monitor spring training lineups for the Marlins to see if LoMo is batting near the top of the order. Otherwise, LoMo will not gain any fantasy value from last season.
– Mets Fans, you might as well read the article on being a fan of a sub 0.500 team. Just stick it out true Mets fans, your day will come again (once you stop paying retired player Bobby Bonilla 11-years of interest).

Miami’s New Stadium: Innovative or Just Plain Ugly??

We all knew the Marlins had something cooking this offseason when they went after Pujols, Reyes, Buehrle, and CJ Wilson all at once. And they successfully signed 2 of them: Reyes and Buehrle. The required re-building project that was forgotten about though was the new stadium needed for the move to Miami.

Well here it is:

Or is it…

I will admit, that stadium looks awesome in CGI. The retractable roof looks to be a better design than the leaky roof of Miller Park. The retractable windows/walls on the outfield concourse (again, similar to Miller Park) look to be large and should allow a stiff sea breeze in. And the look of the exterior seems to be ‘out of this world’ or spaceship-esque. But what the animators forgot to include was the home run sculpture. It appears they left a spot for it in the CGI video (the pool looking blue spot in left center) but were too embarrassed to include. Or maybe their CGI software didn’t have dolphins, or seagulls, or marlins or the ability to create something as hideous as their new uniforms what you are about to see below:

Are those intended to be seagulls or chickens

I thoroughly enjoy home run celebrations for the home team at a park. I can still remember the first time I watched Bernie Brewer slide down into a mug of beer at County Stadium (Bernie’s Chalet was way better than Bernie’s Dugout). But this is about as good as my 3rd grade coloring contest entries. It’s not only an eye-sore straight from a front yard from the 70’s (pink flamingo’s anyone), but it also has moving fish/birds and flashing lights. Which means that it was even more expensive to design mechanics rather than just stopping at a stationary sculpture. Check out what Marlin fans will be watching at aminimum of 40 times this season after Stanton hits 40+ homers (Mike Stanton is in Group A of the HomeRun Derby this year):

To make matters even worse, the Marlins decided to throw in some aquariums behind home plate. A unique idea but none of the stadium designers must have had fish tanks growing up. Sure they double layered the fish tank glass and had Gaby Sanchez test their durability, but I’m almost positive that a ball striking the glass will send enough vibrations through the tank that any fish in the vicinity will be belly up due to extreme pressure pulses transferred through the water. Some poor father is going to have to explain to their 5-yr old kid why that fish is swimming upside down after the 3rd inning.

It should be an interesting season for the rebuilt Marlins, maybe next offseason they will spend more time rebuilding their new stadium’s eyesores instead of their physical team.

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Inside The Acquisition’s Stadiums: Albert Pujols

Pujols new look

Pujols may have gotten $254 Million, but he didn’t get $900 Trillion.

The Cardinal organization sold their souls their World Series rings for a first round compensation pick. And the Angels just bought themselves two World Series caliber players (Pujols/CJ Wilson) for a combined $330 Million. Hopefully they enjoy paying a 42-year old DH the remainder of a 10-year $254 Million contract to sit in a hospital bed waiting for a hip transplant. It’s not my job to judge but I think the Angels just made a $100 Million mistake. Pujols is a stud right now but I can’t imagine the Angels break even in 6 years for what they are paying him at that time. Not to mention the $1 Million per year the 10 years after that, the suites, and the numerous bonuses.

Lets take a look at the two teams involved in this huge off-season acquisition (3rd highest in history, only behind A-rod’s two previous deals):

  • What did the Angels buy?

The Angels just bought a team to try and reclaim the American League west of the Mississippi. Tired of missing the playoffs, the Angles paid big bucks to steal today’s best player from the Cardinals and then steal a division rival’s star starting pitcher, CJ Wilson (who will be covered in a later post). The 10-year $240 million deal is completely back loaded. Meaning, Pujols will make most of his money in the latter years of this contract. In fact, he is making $4 Million less in 2012 than he did in 2011. But he also worked out bonuses for reaching baseball milestones (3000 hits, 763 homeruns, etc) and winning awards (MVP, All-star selection, etc). There are other perks when he retires. This deal will be a great deal for the Angels for the next 4 season or so while Pujols is still raking with 35+ HR, 0.300+BA, and 100+RBI. But, I still think this goes down as one of the worst deals in MLB history. Simply for the fact that Pujols will be 42 when the deal expires and making $30 Million. That much cash for a DH who will be well past is prime is $28 Million too much. I foresee a $100 Million fallout in 6-years where someone picks up Pujols for cheap while the Angels are still paying him.

  • What to do when you have three 1B: Pujols/Trumbo/Morales

Unlike having three yearbook photos rejected, the Angles have three 1B that could start for most teams. And that translates to RBI’s for Pujols. Pujols will be the starting 1B and most likely be batting 3rd in front of Morales and Hunter giving him plenty of protection to see better pitches. I would only expect his HR, RBI, and BA to increase this season. It also means that Trumbo and Morales need to find new positions. Rumors are Trumbo will start at 3B, Morales will fill the DH role, and Bobby Abreu will be forced to the logjam of an outfield. With 5 players left on the roster fighting for an everyday position, two of the following Bourjos/Wells/Hunter/Abreu/Trout will be without a starting position with the Angels.

  • Meet Mark Trumbo, a new and very valuable multi-position player

Trumbo was a pleasant surprise in 2011 with 29HR and 87RBI after Kendry Morales was unable to play after his 2010 freak accident. Trumbo was almost my write-in for the Home Run Derby and now he finds himself in Group C for the 2012 Home Run Derby. He was the Angels 2011 starting 1B and presumably the 2012 before Pujols was signed. With nowhere to play, the Angels organization is committed to starting Trumbo at 3B this season to keep his bat in the lineup and Morales starting at DH. This basically means that Bobby Abreu’s bags are packed but doesn’t have a known destination. Trumbo will have 1B and 3B eligibility and should be on your radar as a valuable fantasy source. Plus, if he fails at 3B defensively, he may gain OF eligibility throughout the year. He should maintain similar stats to his 2011 season assuming he is an everyday player and he bats in the 7th spot of the order. I think he’s undervalued at a ranking around the 220-230 range.

Too Many Angels In The Outfield

  • Where does this leave Mike Trout

There are too many Angels in the Outfield in 2012. With Vernon Wells signed for $21 Million (one of the worst contracts in history) and Torii Hunter making $18 Million (and still producing), there really is only 1 “cheap” outfield position for the Angels. Peter Bourjous claims the last spot in CF simply because he can actually cover the vast area required by the CF. What this means is that the aging Bobby Abreu is homeless on the Angels lineup. And I’m not sure how the Angels deal him for a gain. Now we come to Mike Trout. He is a young stud prospect who is ranked as the #3 overall prospect in the MLB. This kid can flat out rake and run. He’s hit over 0.300 every season and has stolen over 30 bases the past 2 seasons in minor ball. He has potential to have a 20HR/30SB season when getting regular playing time. The problem is… the Angels have nowhere to play him. Either they have to bench $21 Million or find a way to off-load such a bad contract (refer to this article in 2017, Pujols will be the next Vernon Wells contract for the Angels). What this means to your fantasy team… monitor Mike Trout’s playing time and performance in spring training this season and the status of Vernon Wells’ playing time throughout the season. If there is any small rumor about Trout grabbing a starting spot in the outfield, pick Trout up and stash him. He is worth a bench spot. Or hope that Morales doesn’t bounce back. The Angels may have to put Wells at DH and Trout in the OF.

  • What happens to Berkman’s and Holliday’s values

What would Starsky be without Hutch? What would Sherlock be without Watson? They would be like Holliday and Berkman without Pujols… average. Seriously, Pujols made these two players better. Opposing teams had to pitch to these two due to the fear that Pujols created. With that fear removed, Holliday will be pitched around and opposing pitchers will take their chances with the aging ‘Big Puma’. Holliday won’t hit over 25HR and will collect less than 100RBI. While Berkman regresses back towards his 2010 numbers (I’ll guess 22HR and 85RBI). I hope Cardinal fans enjoy pitching duels because that’s about all they will be seeing in 2012.

  • The St Louis pitching staff just became more valuable

Losing the biggest bat in the Cardinals’ lineup has one benefit to the fantasy world… the Cardinals bullpen is going to be more valuable. With less offense, Cardinal games will be much closer leading to more save opportunities and holds (hopefully less marry-go-rounds in the later innings with La Russa gone as well). So keep an eye on the closer status of the Cardinals, right now it’s Chris Motte. On the opposite end of the pitching staff, the Cardinal starters just became more valuable to the Cardinals, but not to fantasy owners. If the Cardinals are going to contend in 2012, it all comes down to their starting pitching (Carpenter/Wainwright/Lohse/Garcia/Westbrook). Carpenter (as much as I hate him) will put up his typical polished numbers. Wainwright has a lot to prove coming off of Tommy John, but I would take a flyer on him in any fantasy league. Lohse was great in the regular season, but wore down in the postseason and I don’t see him having a sub-4.00 ERA this year. Garcia could only pitch at home (2.55 ERA at home, 4.61 ERA on the road) and I see his home numbers looking more like his road in 2012. And Westbrook isn’t anything special. With less offense behind them, I see all of the Cardinals’ starters decreasing in Wins and with the pressure on their shoulders in close games, their ERA and WHIP will also increase. I would only trust Carpenter and Wainwright on my fantasy teams.

  • Does St Louis have a shot at defending their 2011 title?

With no replacement to Pujols in the lineup, the St Louis Cardinals will be depending on their pitching staff in 2012. And to be honest, the starting rotation doesn’t really wow me. Unless they sign Roy Oswalt, the starting rotation has 2 mediocre pitchers on the back and their ace is coming off Tommy John. If Wainwright is rusty or doesn’t return back to his pre-surgery form, the Cardinals will be in a large world of hurt. Not to mention losing probably one of the best skippers of all-time (Tony La Russa) and one of the best pitching coaches in the league today (Dave Duncan), the Cardinals will be chasing at least the revamped Cincinnati Reds for most of the season.

In Summary, what does this mean to you:
– Pujols numbers will be better than last season, go get him.
– Trumbo gains fantasy value by gaining 3B and possibly OF eligibility. Undervalued at rank 220+.
– Morales still holds 1B eligibility and could rake in the clean-up spot if healthy.
– Trout needs an injury or a $21 Million bench spot to find playing time in 2012.
– Angels pitchers will achieve more wins with more offensive help.
– Cardinals offense will struggle resulting to less wins by Cardinals pitching.
– Cardinal relievers will have more save opportunities than 2011.
– Berkman will produce more like his 2010 stats and not his 2011 stats.
– Holliday will see an increase in walks and be pitched around.
– Angels will regret the 10 year deal in 5 to 6 years.

Stay tuned for the next guest of Inside the Acquisition’s Stadiums: Jose Reyes

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Guess Who’s Back, Back Again

Cue the music:

Guess Who’s Back, Back, Back, Back Again, gain, gain… Soup is back, back, back, tell Doug Melvin

I almost choked on my lunch when I saw the news… Jeff Suppan signed a deal with the Padres today. As the locals know, me and Soup go waaaay back. He was one of the worst deals the Brewers made by overpaying for an out-of-his-prime, under preforming pitcher. He’s been covered here when the Brewers cut him, when the Cardinals re-signed him, and when the Giants signed him last season.

I thought I would get a season off from the Soup, but I must have jinxed myself by mentioning his name in the first 2012 post. The plus side is that he will only be helping the NL by throwing softballs to all players but the Padre offense. Seems like a good deal for me, until he no-hits the BrewCrew… The Padres signed Suppan to a $950K minor league deal. And it doesn’t even sound like he will get a chance to attend spring training. Instead, he will be used as a personal trainer for the Padres young arms. The only way he will see the bigs this season is if injuries start piling up on the Padres pitching staff (Yoda would never let that happen). Looks like I’m safe from my nightmares of him returning… for now.

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Inside The Acquisitions Stadiums: Prince Fielder

Football has come to an end. And if you are a regular here at the Kings of Cork, you may know my opinion on the football season. There may be a possibility that ESPN Sportscenter will cover a baseball story soon (look at that, Baseball Tonight on my DVR. Play, play, play!!!). This means baseball is in the air so make sure you sign up for the 2012 Kings of Cork Home Run Derby reminder email list at the bottom of the sign-up page if you weren’t a member of the Derby in 2011.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the quiet off-season on the Kings of Cork site doesn’t mean all the MLB off-season commotion will go ignored on the site. For the next few months, I will cover the off-season acquisitions that will have the most impact. The most impact on the MLB season. The most impact on the teams involved. The most impact on your fantasy and derby teams. So let’s step into the Acquisition’s Stadiums which will hopefully be more informative than a James Lipton interview.

Prince follows father's footsteps to Motown

The Acquisition’s Stadiums are proud to welcome Prince Fielder.

Prince wasn’t the top free agent name this year but I’m covering him first because he also affects the second ‘guest’ to this series of posts. Let’s talk about his new team to begin:

  • Why do the Tigers need Prince when they already have Miguel?

Wow, was I wrong last February. The Cubs will be but the Tigers won’t be taking any chances this season. They went All-In in this offseason poker game with a $214Mil raise. By acquiring a HUGE bat, they aren’t going to let the Yankees or Rangers bully them any longer. They added a top-3 2011 MVP player to a team that already has the 2011 AL MVP in Verlander and a top-5 2011 MVP in Cabrera. The Tigers already had the 4th highest run producing offense in 2011 (only behind the RedSox, Yankees, and Rangers). But by adding Prince, they will not only replace the loss of V-Mart but bring in Cecil’s long lost fans. Still, the Tigers have some major offensive holes. There outfield is a mix and match of Delmon Young, Austin Jackson, Don Kelly, and Brendon Boesch. And no one knows who the DH will be (really, that should be Fielder). But I can’t wait to watch Prince tear up that short right porch in the Bronx. The AL Central is now the defending AL Central champs’ to lose.

  • What does this mean for Prince?

Prince is heading back to his childhood. Back to his memories of hitting the ball out of the Tigers stadium as a kid. Some people say how Miller Park is more home run friendly than Comerica, but that is BS. Sure Miller Park is typically slightly ahead of Comerica in HR power rankings, but both have been as high as 6th on the list and lower than 20th in the past 5 seasons. Prince will still bat with the MLB MVP in front of him (calling it right now, Cabrera is 2012 MVP) so his run production and pitch selection will be about the same. He does get the chance to hit chip shots out of more homer friendly parks (Camden, Yankee, and Fenway) but they aren’t directly in his division either. He also has to contend with a better ‘Fielder-shift’. Why will the shift be better in the AL? Typically, the defensive liabilities in the NL get to play 1B (*cough* Fielder *cough*). But in the AL, they get to play DH. Yup, they don’t even have to be in the field. So when Fielder tries to hit those laser beams past an immobile 1B, he won’t get quite as lucky has he may have in the NL. In the end, it doesn’t mean a whole lot for Prince. His numbers aren’t going to change a whole lot so he will still be a top-20 fantasy option with a new DH eligibility at some point this season.

  • What does this mean for Miguel Cabrera?

Cabrera - The new #1 fantasy player

What this means is… Miguel Cabrera is the new #1 overall Fantasy Baseball Superstar (you already saw me give him the 2012 MVP award above). He’s the no doubter at the #1 draft pick. If he falls to 2 or 3 in your draft, you just got a steal. Why? Cabrera will not only be eligible at 1B, but most likely 3B. And he now has Prince protecting him at the middle of the line-up. As a result, his RBI, Runs, and HR totals are going to do nothing but increase. He’s going to get the opportunity to swing more often and at better pitches because pitchers won’t want to walk him to face Prince. I’m telling you… don’t hesitate at drafting Miguel if you get the opportunity.

  • What does this mean for Boesch and Jackson?

Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch are going to benefit from Prince’s addition. Those two are projected to be the #1 and #2 batters in the Tigers lineup. This translates to them being the main beneficiaries to Cabrera seeing better pitches and Fielder’s raw power. That is as long as the two outfielders can figure out how to get on base. Austin Jackson is a career 0.271 batter and Brennan Boesch is a career 0.269 batter. Austin had 181 strikeouts which puts him in the top 25 for most strikeouts in a season (right along with my idol, Jose Hernandez). Austin still managed 90 runs and Boesch had 75 in 2011. I believe they will both top 100 runs this season because they will be told to watch a lot more pitches to try and produce base runners for the big guys batting 3 and 4. I also believe that Austin Jackson won’t top 20 stolen bases this season (he had 22 last year). The Tigers will be trying to keep as many base runners on base for Cabrera and Fielder, so limiting the amount of runners being picked-off means less opportunities for Austin Jackson. If you play in a league with OBP, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch are going to increase in value with Fielder coming into the lineup. Their OBP will rise, their run totals will rise, and the only decrease will be in Jackson’s SB totals.

  • What does this mean for the Brewers?

The Brewers are losing one of the players that redefined baseball in Milwaukee. The Brewers went from not finishing above 0.500 for 12 straight seasons to making 2 appearances in the playoffs in the past 3 years (Brewers fans rejoice). With Fielder leaving and trading LaPorta to the Indians for CC, the Brewers have a large pair of pants hole to fill at firstbase and in the clean-up spot of the batting order. Bring in Aramis. Aram will partially fill the hole at clean-up but could produce close to the same numbers if and only if he stays healthy and rebounds from previous years of disappointment. He definitely won’t be as robust as Fielder (Fielder has only missed 13 games in his career and only 1 in the past 3 seasons), but he had a higher BA and 40 less Ks than Fielder in 2011. Meanwhile, firstbase will need to be covered by some of the players mentioned down below.

  • What does this mean for Ryan Braun?

Ryan Braun is facing a 50-game suspension, but we won’t talk about that until the results are official (pending a recount of hanging chads). When Braun does get a chance to bat this season, he probably won’t get as many good pitches to hit. If I were a pitcher, I would rather take my chances against a struggling Aramis versus a guy on Horse Testosterone who was named NL MVP. Aram should still do a decent job of protecting Braun but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Braun’s all around offensive numbers drop a bit. He will still be an elite player, but losing the vegetarian slightly hurts his fantasy value. Lower HR, RBI, and BA even if he gets a chance to play in all 162 games.

Mat Gamel Has The Power

  • What does this mean for Mat Gamel and Corey Hart?

Mat Gamel and Corey Hart are the pure beneficiaries on the Brewers organization losing Prince. Gamel rakes in minor ball (2011-28HR, 96RBI, 0.300+ minor career BA) but hasn’t found his stroke in the bigs. He will get the first opportunity in spring training to claim his first starting job in the majors. He’s a 3B by trade but like Braun, he is a defensive liability at the hot corner. So if you are looking for a late round flier, Gamel is worth a risk. If he finds that sweet stroke, you may be holding a trophy at the end of the season. Rumors are swirling as well that Gamel may be spelled of tough lefty pitching by Corey Hart. Hart was a disappointment last season after a huge 2010 campaign (26HR but only 63RBI). But if he gets that chance to gain 1B eligibility, his fantasy value increases. Multi-position eligible players are a gold mine. It allows you to meet the maximum games played at each position. Plus if the injury plague hits, they are usually a band-aid for a while the wound can clot.

  • What does this mean for you?

Let’s recap… Prince: Same player, different team, stats should transfer almost equally. Cabrera: New #1 fantasy player, multiple position eligibility, HR/RBI/BA will spike. Austin Jackson/Brennan Boesch: Runs/BB/OBP will increase, SB drops. Braun: Hurt in everyway, HR/RBI/BA drops, still elite player, just expect a dip in stats. Gamel: Finally gets a full-time shot, power/BA is there, just needs to prove it in the Majors. Hart: Multiple position eligibility, increase in RBI back to 2010 numbers.

Stay tuned for our next guest: Albert Pujols.

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