Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fantasy Baseball's 5th Richest Player: Alfonso Soriano - 40/40 or Bust?

As Alfonso Soriano inked an 8 year $136 million contract with the Chicago Cubs to play the outfield and hit lead off, my heart sank to the floor, I felt a chill, and I began a long journey to the bathroom to get a towel to wipe the cold seat off my face and neck. It was that same nervous feeling that the Three Amigos felt upon meeting El Guapo and realizing he wasn't really an actor!


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You see, coming up on two years ago, with my $200 league entry fee in one hand, and a Fantasy Baseball magazine full of "Experts" in the other, I went ahead and bid close to 25% of my salary cap on one player...... yep, you guess it, Carlos Beltran! At the time, Beltran just signed a $100 Million+ contract with the Mets after coming off a tremendous post-season with the Astros where Sir Carlos went "Homer Happy"! After Manny, Vlad, Ortiz, Cabrera, Pujols, Sheffield all flew off the board before I could get a reasonable bid in, I had to get someone I thought was solid to build my team around, and I thought that would be Carlos Beltran, the last top flight player on the board...or so I thought!

Did I think he would be a bust? No. Did any of the experts? Nope. At the time, some were predicting that Beltran was a #1 draft pick in fantasy leagues due to his upside and 40/40 potential, despite having a .270 something career average. Well, we all know what happened and lets just say, I did not win any dough in that league. I might add however, it was that very single event, choosing Beltran and getting burned, that propelled The Fantasy Man persona and Fantasy Baseball Express in 2006! If you've ever questioned where my motivation has come from, there you have it!

Anyway, back to Soriano. Soriano has that same stigma around him in my opinion. I love Soriano and always had since I am a die-hard Yankee fan and have been loyal to him the last few years! However, this year I am staying clear because I cannot let the "Beltran Debacle" happen to me twice. Obviously, if within some miracle Soriano slips past the top 6 or 7, then its not much of a risk. I'm simply saying that Pujols, Howard, Reyes, Beltran, Ortiz and even ARod or possibly even Berkman could be better sure-fire picks before Soriano..... but that's just me! I am an "average" guy, no pun intended, along with the power/speed combo that I love so much. I still think Soriano is top 5 and I'll stand by that, but that does not necessarily mean I have to pick him (because of his lower average). Lets think about this rationally.....

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The Pros: Soriano will lead off a lineup that consists of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hitting behind him. The fact that the Cubs are committed to winning this year and spending their money only helps Soriano and his chances of having a superb year. He's playing in a better hitters park and will score plenty of runs with ARam and Lee hitting behind him. Last year, everyone killed Soriano because he was traded to Washington where it was reported he really did not want to play. He had to move to left field, and he was now in the worst hitters park in the majors. So what does Mr. Soriano do??? He joins the 40/40 club and is now considered a top 5 pick and a top 1 in some fantasy drafts, not to mention scoring 119 runs and driving in 95 RBI's.

The Cons: His 40/40 season moves Soriano into the elite. HOWEVER, and this is a big one, he's still only hit .276 with an OBP of .351 in 647 at bats. Yikes! I realize as a fantasy expert that the idea of 40/40 is top notch, but a .275 average and a .351 OBP just does not sit well with my stomach....thus, the cold sweats and the Ned Nederlander type nervousness! Beltran had similar potential, was thought to be 40/40 although hadn't proved it yet but with that same .270 something average and that ridiculous new contract. Basically you are buying Soriano high strictly for his homers and stolen bases, and that's okay. I'm just not sure if that is okay as one of my top 5 fantasy draft picks. Plus, think about this..... Soriano will still be hitting lead off, so his ability to drive in 100+ runs is could be tough and also remember that with the home runs he hits, he'll leave less men on base for Lee and Ramirez which could possibly lower their RBI potential as well. So this move can not only affect Soriano, but it could have a slight affect on ARam and DLee.

Now, let me just clarify, I love Soriano and I love his potential. He is a great candidate to hit 40/40 again this season. Actually he is even more of a candidate due to the smaller park and the lineup he is in. I also stand by the fact that I have Soriano ranked #3 behind Ryan Howard on my 2007 Fantasy Man's Top 25, but I just think that me personally, I will pass up on Soriano this year if I have a top 4 pick, only because of the scar Beltran left on me. If he slips past 4, then I have no choice but to take him. I just don't want to take the risk of another Beltran-like 2005. Those of you who don't really take the time to read into what I am saying here will say that I don't think Soriano is a top 4 pick. He is, I'm just scared he may do what we don't want him to do....change his game, press at the plate, and BUST because of the huge contract! I don't think I will be picking him if I have picks 1-4, but that doesn't mean that you should not! Just take some of the tips into consideration before making your pick, thats all! Be careful! Pick Soriano if you believe in him. Don't pick him strictly on potential.

FM

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Fantasy Man takes a look at some Important Fantasy Trades & Free Agent Signings

Important Fantasy Trades & Free Agent Signings.......2006 - 2007 MLB Off-Season Moves

1. Alfonso Soriano signs with the Chicago Cubs for 8 years - approximately $136 Million.
What this means FantasyManStyle: As one person put it.........SORIANO, D-LEE, ARAM...... Yikes!

2. The Yankees trade Gary Sheffield to the Detroit Tigers for three minor league pitchers. What this means FantasyManStyle: Sheffield joins a crowded OF in Detroit with Magglio in RF, Granderson in CF, and Monroe in LF. Look for Sheff to mostly DH or dare I say....play a corner spot!!! Remember, Sheff debuted as a 3rd Baseman for the Brewers. By the end of 2007, the Fantasy Man is predicting right here and now that Gary Sheffield plays some 3B along with some 1B. That's "FantasyManStyle"

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3. Jaret Wright traded to Baltimore for Chris Britton.
What this means FantasyManStyle: Wright will still only pitch no more than 6.1 innings a game but he's reunited with Leo Mazzone...who by the way, was his pitching coach the only year Jaret Wright ever pitched well....when he was in Atlanta which afforded Jaret that huge mistake of a contract by the Yankees 2 years ago. Britton, 23, is a second year reliever who will provide some youth and depth in the bullpen. He's young and could be a "sleeper" pick in leagues that consider "holds" and relief pitchers.

4. Frank Thomas signs a 2-year deal with Toronto.
What this means FantasyManStyle: According to CBS.Sportsline, Thomas took his comeback year to help land him a sweet deal in Toronto. Thomas gets a better park to hit homers in but fantasy wise, you can probably expect about the same output assuming he stays healthy.


5. Wes Helms signs with Phillies, Scott Spezio re-signs with Cardinals, Sean Casey re-signs with Detroit, and Jamie Walker signs with Baltimore.
What this means FantasyManStyle: Whooop De-Do! Well, maybe Casey will have some value with Sheffield in the lineup!

More to come as off-season rolls on.......

Fantasy Man

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Fantasy Man + New Dynasty League = Success

Fantasy Baseball Dynasty leagues are quickly becoming popular among some fantasy circles and Fantasy Baseball Express and The Fantasy Man are heavy into the mix this off-season. I recently signed onto a brand new 16 team Dynasty league gift wrapped with everything from a 25 man roster, $85 million salary cap using real players' salaries from 2006, a minor league system to three pages of rules I still have yet to finish! The point here is two-fold. First, I am excited about this league because it gives me some baseball excitement here in November as I am already bored with Football. Second, this gives me a chance to research manager tendencies and strategies in hopes to give you, the listeners and followers of Fantasy Baseball Express credible, reliable, and most importantly, realistic advice, guidance and information. Also, the experience to comment more on dynasty leagues will be invaluable and contribute to The Fantasy Man Show Baseball Podcast in a major way!

The Basics
To start, its a regular straight snake draft. Lucky me drew pick #9 which meant I wouldn't get a 2nd pick until the 24th pick, but I digress. Over the last week or so, I have been drafting my top 25 draft list for the upcoming 2007 season. Being this is a dynasty league, and using real salaries from last year, the object here in the 1st round seems to be the idea that a manager needs to get the best overall talent, for years to come, at the best price. Needless to say, players like Miguel Cabrera at $472,000, Ryan Howard at $355,000, and Chase Utley at $500,000 are already off the board with Albert Pujols going #1 at $14 million. Unbelievable!! I was figuring Pujols, ARod, Soriano, Reyes, Ortiz, Beltran, etc., would be gone and was hoping to land a cheap Cabrera or Utley at pick #9.....UNBELIEVABLE!!!

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The Trend
The point here is that in this dynasty league, and probably others like it, the cheap but solid players will take off first. You should now expect guys like the ones mentioned above, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Jason Bay, Robinson Cano, Grady Sizemore, Justin Mourneau to be all possible first rounders. Again, this is my first Dynasty draft this year and we are currently waiting for the 5th pick. However, just looking at the results so far this is the trend I am figuring. As a result, it is seemingly possible that I might have to make an educated choice from guys like Alex Rodriquez, David Ortiz, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, and Lance Berkman! That's a nice choice to have to make, a difficult one, but a nice one at that!

Now, remember, this is a new league and a continuing league for years to come. We keep all of our players so choosing a player to build around in the first round is the key. We must be smart and there are some tips to follow depending on the route you want to take. Are you in a money league? Or is it a free league? Do you want to win this year? Or build for years to come? You need to ask yourself these four questions. The answers here should determine how you draft. Let's take my case. Four players are off the board, four players that you can build a team around. I have to ask myself, do I win now or do I build a powerhouse? Win now would mean drafting Alex Rodriquez, Alfonso Soriano, or Carlos Beltran with my 9th pick. Expense, but with a "win now" attittude. In this case, I'd have to basically just pick the best player available with each draft pick while keeping an eye on my salary cap of $85 million. A $25 Million ARod would put me in quite a hole to start the draft assuming he was to fall to me. These are the things I am thinking about and things you should be thinking about when doing a draft in a dynasty league such as this. At the same time, I am taunted with the idea of drafting a $385,000 Justin Mourneau or a $374,000 David Wright to be the face of my franchise and the face of my potential powershouse. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

My Answer
After writing the first half of this article, then helping my wife paint while I collect my thoughts, then coming back to finish this, I have decided to slowly build and create the powerhouse! I look at it like this.......
1. I am The Fantasy Man, I have a reputation to uphold. If I go and use up all my funds with a "win now" approach, I may hurt myself later in the draft and hurt my team overall.
2. I plan on sticking with this league, in 2 or 3 years from now, assuming its still up and running, I want to be the man on top and that's a real test to my skills, talent, and mind of being a Fantasy Baseball Expert.
3. By spending less money now, I will have the option of taking someone high priced later in the draft to fill spots with more solid, more "sure thing" players.
4. Lastly, I could always take my high upside cheap players and use them as trade bait later on to make a push for league championship.

So that's that. You just have to use the ole' noodle! I will keep everyone updated as I draft and will post the completed draft in the draft tools area at Fantasy Baseball Express at http://www.fantasybaseballexpress.com for anyone to use.

Remember, you can visit the website and personally email me with any fantasy baseball questions you may have! Thank you for visiting Fantasy Baseball Express.

FM