Friday, February 26, 2010

Is He A Keeper? - AL West, 2010

Anaheim Angels

  • Bobby Abreu, OF
  • Torii Hunter, OF - I always say no at first, then I look at his stats, and have to give it more though. If he can somehow repeat his career-high .299 batting average from last year, he's a top 10 OF.
  • Kendry Morales, 1B - Another year like 2009 and he's a no-brainer, but there's always a chance that he's a one-hit wonder.
  • Jered Weaver, SP - Did he finally start to realize his colossal potential last year, or is he just teasing us before he goes back to a 1.35 WHIP?
  • Maicer Izturis, 2B/SS(/3B) - If he gets regular playing time, he might play himself into a 2011 keeper list, but with Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Wood, he's probably destined for 400-450 at-bats.
  • Scott Kazmir, SP - He only gets a mention because he was lights out for the Angels at the end of last season. If he can recapture some of the old magic, he could be a great find.
  • Howie Kendrick, 2B - He projects out well, but he's had such trouble staying healthy and consistent that I don't think you can't invest a keeper slot in him. He's definitely intriguing, though.
  • Joel Pineiro, SP - I invested a high pick in Pineiro back in 2004. I won't get fooled again. (Cue crazy drums and/or CSI)
  • Juan Rivera, OF - No, but the talent is there to take one more step forward and match stats with Morales.

Oakland Athletics


  • Andrew Bailey, RP - The 2009 AL ROY gives the A's their only keeper-worthy player. And even this one is close; despite his dominant performance, the list of one-and-done closers is long and fraught with disappointment.
  • Brett Anderson, SP - He's one of the most talked about guys on sleeper and prospect lists among fantasy experts, but you have to think of a keeper list as your first eight picks in a dynasty league. I just couldn't see drafting him that high.
  • Jake Fox, 3B - On another team, he probably doesn't get a mention, but the A's are thin, and I have to talk about someone here. He's an up-and-comer, but probably will have trouble cracking any starting lineups this year.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B - He's got a good name at least.
  • Ben Sheets, SP - He's not. He's just not.

Seattle Mariners

  • Chone Figgins, 3B
  • Felix Hernandez, SP
  • Cliff Lee, SP
  • Ichiro Suzuki, OF

  • David Aardsma, RP - Aside from a few outings in the dog days of summer, Aardsma was sensational as a fill-in closer. Plus his name is first alphabetically. Still, he's an unproven closer, so not a keeper.
  • Franklin Gutierrez, OF - His numbers look alright, but I generally use Randy Winn as a cautionary tale in these situations. A slight uptick and he's a keeper, but a slight downtick and he's a drain on your squad.
  • Jose Lopez, 2B/1B - If he can prove his power bump was legit, 25 HR and 96 RBI is extremely good at 2B. Just don't draft him to play him at first. You can do better.
  • Ryan Rowland-Smith, SP - It seems like he can clearly pitch, but a low strikeout rate means he'll never break a keeper list.

Texas Rangers

  • Ian Kinsler, 2B
  • Elvis Andrus, SS - You'd like to see him boost his HR or AVG in 2010, but he showed enough speed to at least merit consideration for a keeper spot. And of course, the upside is Jimmy Rollins.
  • Nelson Cruz, OF - Cruz is one of the toughest guys to project for 2010. I've seen him projected at anywhere from 20 HR and 12 steals to 35 HR and 28 steals. If he falls in the middle (say, 28 HR and 20 SB), he's worth carrying.
  • Michael Young, 3B - He posted his highest batting average and HR total since 2005. While he loses SS eligibility this year, he's still a reliable bat and a solid producer across all five categories.
  • Chris Davis, 1B/3B - We had such high hopes for Davis last year, but he seemed to have trouble finding the ball at the plate, striking out 150 times in just 391 at-bats. He's optimistic about 2010 and so are the Rangers, but optimism won't put a trophy in your case.
  • Neftali Feliz, RP - If we knew that Feliz would be in the rotation, he'd be in the running for a potential keeper slot. But Texas (inexplicably) wants to keep him in the bullpen for now. So play it cool.
  • Frank Francisco, RP - As a first-time closer, he was solid but not spectacular. Well, except for his blown saves; he gave up 15 combined runs in his four blown saves. Ouch.
  • Vladimir Guerrero, DH - Guerrero really couldn't have gone to a better place to put a bow on his career, but I still don't think it'll be enough to bring him all the way back to a keeper list. Draft him, though, if your utility spot is open.
  • Josh Hamilton, OF - He's really just had one huge half of baseball so far. I think you have to look at him early and often come draft time, but I'd be wary of keeping him, after he's shown an ability to be just an average power hitter.
  • Rich Harden, SP - Last year was a rough one for Harden and his owners. He was mostly healthy (though he still missed a few starts), but he was surprisingly not terribly good. He'll likely provide a good K rate and improve on his ERA and WHIP from last year, but you should probably be skeptical enough to ignore him early in the draft.

Is He A Keeper? - AL Central, 2010

Chicago White Sox


  • Gordon Beckham, 3B - He'll be a second baseman before too long, and his numbers project out to a top five 2B option.
  • Jake Peavy, SP - He was quietly very good in his three starts for Chicago last year. The talent is all there to be a great pitcher again.
  • Alexei Ramirez, SS - I see more of 2008 in his future than 2009, which means he's a power/speed guy with a .290+ batting average. At shortstop, I'll take that.
  • Mark Buehrle, SP - He's good, just not good enough. Go draft him as your third or fourth starter, though, and you'll be pleased.
  • John Danks, SP - He wasn't a keeper last year, and he took a small step backwards in 2009. So, again, not a keeper.
  • Bobby Jenks, RP - No no no no no.
  • Paul Konerko, 1B - Too much of a wild card, but he'll definitely give you some pop. He'll also definitely suck in May (career in May: .231 average, .713 OPS).
  • Juan Pierre, OF - He'll have an opportunity to play every day, but he'd have to completely recapture his highest career performances to be keeper-worthy, because he's got no power at all.
  • Carlos Quentin, OF - The power was still there, but his average took a nosedive. I expect a marginal turnaround, but his best comparison is probably Pat Burrell.
  • Alex Rios, OF - His 2009 seems like it could be a blip, but he was so bad in his brief time in Chicago that you can't justify keeping him.

Cleveland Indians


  • Shin-Soo Choo, OF - Choo had a nice little season that nobody noticed. He could be a guy who regresses and makes everyone regret keeping/drafting him (see Corey Hart), but he could be a nice power/speed guy who anchors your outfield.
  • Grady Sizemore, OF - Here's hoping that his subpar 2009 was a result of injury and happenstance, and that he's back and better than ever in 2010. He's still just 27, so it's not crazy to think he can get better.
  • Russell Branyan, 1B - You can't. You just can't.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera, SS/2B - He's a nice player who can give you depth at both middle infield spots, but doesn't do enough for you in power or speed to warrant keeping him.
  • Travis Hafner, 1B - He quietly bounced back a little bit from his horrid 2008. Not enough to keep him, but enough to keep an eye on him.

Detroit Tigers

  • Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  • Johnny Damon, OF - I guess? He's a prime candidate for a drop-off, as he hit 17 of his 24 HR at Yankee Stadium last year. But occasionally that doesn't matter, and it's not like Detroit has a bad lineup.
  • Jose Valverde, RP - Valverde was a tough guy to evaluate for a while, and I still have trouble trusting him, but apparently he's good. He'll have more save opportunities and a bigger park to work with in Detroit.
  • Justin Verlander, SP - He's been inconsistent over his career, but last year he was consistently dominant. He should be good again, we hope.
  • Brandon Inge, 3B - Check this out: .268, 21 HR, 58 RBI before the All-Star break, .186, 6 HR, 26 RBI afterward. He's also not catcher-eligible anymore. Thus ends the Inge fantasy baseball experiment.
  • Magglio Ordonez, OF - His power seems to have dissipated almost completely, so you can't keep him. He's alright for outfield depth, though.
  • Rick Porcello, SP - He had a nice rookie season, and could develop into a #3 fantasy starter. But he'll probably never strike out enough guys to merit being kept.
  • Max Scherzer, SP - Sort of like Porcello, except that Scherzer already does strike out enough guys. He just needs to pitch better.

Kansas City Royals

  • Zack Greinke, SP
  • Billy Butler, 1B - Had a great second half, and he's got the hitting pedigree to expect even more going forward. But you may see him as a UT-only player in the future; he's just ghastly in the field.
  • Joakim Soria, RP - He's getting to be one of the most productive and reliable closers out there. Just think what he'd do for a team that won more than 75 games, like, ever.
  • Scott Podsednik, OF - No, but the fact that he's being mentioned again as a potential keeper is a sign of how far back he's come. Congrats, Scottie.

Minnesota Twins

  • Joe Mauer, C
  • Justin Morneau, 1B - It'd be nice if he could partner a .300 with 30+ HR like he did in his MVP 2006 season, but he's a keeper regardless.
  • Joe Nathan, RP - One of the best closers in baseball, year in and year out. He's 35, though, so his window may be closing.
  • Scott Baker, SP - He's already 28, so it's probably too late to expect a big step forward. He's useful, but not particularly valuable.
  • Michael Cuddyer, OF/1B - His production has been unreliable, and he'll probably never hit .300, but he should probably be a starter in any league as long as he's healthy.
  • J.J. Hardy, SS - He wasn't a keeper off of back-to-back 24+ HR, 74+ RBI seasons. A season of 11 HR and 47 RBI (with a .229 average) isn't going to boost his value.
  • Jim Thome, DH - Not a keeper, but I love the move for Minnesota. Give Thome a chance to beat up on his old teams.
  • Delmon Young, OF - Yuck. He was a 10-10 guy who stopped stealing bases. Go find your .284 average somewhere else.

Is He A Keeper? - AL East, 2010

Baltimore Orioles

  • Brian Roberts, 2B
  • Nick Markakis, OF - Looks like he's going to get 100 runs and 100 RBI every year, with a high average and power and speed. Keeper.
  • Matt Wieters, C - The potential is elite level, and he had a sizzling September.
  • Mike Gonzalez, RP - He was a matchup guy in Atlanta, and I don't expect him to be able to translate 2.40 and 1.20 to the AL East when he's facing equal amounts righties and lefties. Could be a candidate for biggest disappointment in fantasy baseball.
  • Adam Jones, OF - He's got no-brainer potential, but that's all it is right now. Plus his second half was just horrible. I still like him long-term, though.
  • Brian Matusz, SP - Not yet, but keep an eye on him. He could be one of several Orioles starting pitchers to become keepers sooner than you think.
  • Nolan Reimold, OF - I think he's going to be an exciting player, but the depth charts I'm looking at have Felix Pie above him. You can't keep a guy who might not play every day.
  • Miguel Tejada, SS - Not a keeper, but he'll be 3B/SS eligible a couple weeks in, and if he can hit .310 and produce runs again, he'll be valuable for some team.

Boston Red Sox

  • Jacoby Ellsbury, OF
  • Jon Lester, SP
  • Victor Martinez, C/1B
  • Jonathan Papelbon, RP
  • Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  • Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B
  • Josh Beckett, SP - Rebounded after a horrid April to put together a nice season. You have to wonder, though, if he'll ever be as dominant in the regular season as he's been in the postseason.
  • John Lackey, SP - He's missed several starts each of the past two seasons, but if he can stay healthy, he should be very productive.
  • Clay Buchholz, SP - Hasn't been able to put together a whole season of productivity since his no-hitter as a rookie in 2007. But he finished strong last year, so keep an eye on him all the same.
  • J.D. Drew, OF - Only Red Sox fans need to be told he's not a keeper, but in case there are any of you out there...he's not a keeper.
  • David Ortiz, 1B - He's dropped off a lot, and become virtually useless against left-handed pitching. I smell a platoon.
  • Marco Scutaro, SS - He set career highs in R, AVG, HR, and SB in 2009. Uncle Andy Behrens says to never pay for a career year.

New York Yankees

  • Derek Jeter, SS
  • Alex Rodriguez, 3B
  • CC Sabathia, SP
  • Mark Teixeira, 1B
  • Robinson Cano, 2B - He's kind of up-and-down from year to year, but in a stacked lineup, a guy who can hit .340 is almost always going to be a keeper.
  • Curtis Granderson, OF - An uptick of the batting average and he's right back to no-brainer status, but even if he only hits .255, he's a keeper.
  • Mariano Rivera, RP - He's 40 years old, but I can't bring myself to say that I actually think he'll be a disappointment. He's like Hoffman except I trust him more.
  • A.J. Burnett, SP - While his strikeouts are always good, he's otherwise unreliable.
  • Joba Chamberlain, SP - He's just not an exceptional starting pitcher. Toss him back in the bullpen and he's at least interesting, but in the rotation, I'm just not willing to take a chance on him again.
  • Phil Hughes, SP - Hughes, like Chamberlain, was a disappointing starter but an exceptional reliever. Someday, one of them might pan out, but in the meantime, only take them with mid-round fliers.
  • Jorge Posada, C - He might go .300-20-90 this year. But he will turn 39 this year. Too risky.
  • Javier Vazquez, SP - I really don't know what to think of Vazquez. He was blisteringly good last year, but his career numbers, specifically those playing for the Yankees, make me nervous. Risk/reward.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Carl Crawford, OF
  • Evan Longoria, 3B
  • B.J. Upton, OF - He's still got plenty of upside (he's only 25), but I feel like people are still paying for his crazy run in the 2008 playoffs. As long as you only expect 40 steals and 15 HR, you won't be disappointed.
  • Jason Bartlett, SS - Finally came into his own last year, proving his trade (along with Matt Garza) for Delmon Young to be a really foolish move by the Twins.
  • Rafael Soriano, RP - He's got elite talent, and as a full-time closer, he should be able to double his 43 career saves this season.
  • Ben Zobrist, 2B/SS/OF - Position flexibility aside, he's got pop at second base. As long as he can hold steady at .300, he'll be a keeper for years to come.
  • Wade Davis, SP - I'm always wary of keeping an unproven pitcher, mostly because I'm wary of keeping pitchers altogether. Davis has the pedigree to be great, but he hasn't done enough to warrant being kept.
  • Matt Garza, SP - It's very close, and he should probably be among the first players drafted after keeper lists are turned in. He's going to make some fantasy owner very happy someday.
  • Carlos Pena, 1B - The power is there, but so is a steadily declining batting average. If your league uses OBP instead of AVG, then Pena is fine, but not many leagues do. His negative impact on batting average is just too severe.
  • James Shields, SP - He's good, just not good enough. He also seemed a lot more hittable last year.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Aaron Hill, 2B
  • Adam Lind, OF - It took him a while to hit his stride, but he was always supposed to be a big time hitter. And getting 114 RBI in Toronto is pretty impressive.
  • Vernon Wells, OF - Perhaps the worst active contract in baseball. His only competition? Barry Zito.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is He A Keeper? - NL West, 2010

Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Dan Haren, SP
  • Mark Reynolds, 3B/1B
  • Justin Upton, OF
  • Brandon Webb, SP - He was too productive and too reliable to not think he'll be able to bounce back from his shoulder injury.
  • Stephen Drew, SS - He's got pedigree and he turns the magic age of 27 this year, but there's still way too much of a risk of him being more Bobby Crosby than Cal Ripken.
  • Edwin Jackson, SP - Jackson reminds me of guys like Ryan Dempster or Justin Duchscherer, who had keeper-type seasons, but you just know you shouldn't keep them.
  • Chad Qualls, RP - He had far too rocky a road to get to his final numbers. Also his final numbers were just okay.
  • Chris B. Young, OF - He's got the power/speed combo that we look for in potential keepers, but his issues with batting average have gone from bad to worse. Worth a flier, not worth keeping.

Colorado Rockies

  • Troy Tulowitzki, SS
  • Carlos Gonzalez, OF - One of the very few risks I'm taking in these keeper calls, Gonzalez has the potential to be a really exceptional power/speed guy. And two different teams used him as the cornerstone of huge trades.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez, SP - His strikeout rate has always been pretty good, and last year he took leaps forward in learning how to pitch. The upside could put him right there with guys like Lester and Cain.
  • Jorge De La Rosa, SP - If Ubaldo Jimenez hadn't learned how to pitch, he'd be De La Rosa.
  • Dexter Fowler, OF - He's got good speed, but hasn't proven he can contribute anywhere else in the 5x5 system. Draft him, though.
  • Brad Hawpe, OF - Hawpe can get you .285, 25 HR, and 90 RBI. And you can get the same stats from twenty other guys.
  • Ian Stewart, 3B/2B - The potential for high power output from second base is there, but until he can give you a palatable batting average, he's not worth starting.
  • Huston Street, RP - The question isn't talent; it's opportunity and health. I don't keep closers unless they're mortal locks for a good performance.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Jonathan Broxton, RP
  • Clayton Kershaw, SP
  • Matt Kemp, OF
  • Andre Ethier, OF - He's shown the ability to hit for power and hit for average. If he can put them together in the same season, he's as good as Lance Berkman.
  • Chad Billingsley, SP - He still walks way too many guys, and his strikeout rate slipped last season. He can be a keeper, but right now, he isn't.
  • Rafael Furcal, SS - He doesn't even steal bases anymore. The lineup is so good that there's upside, but not enough.
  • Hiroki Kuroda, SP - His strikeout rate isn't good enough to warrant keeper status, but he's definitely someone to draft if you can. His ERA and WHIP are tasty.
  • James Loney, 1B - Not good enough. He's like Todd Helton except worse across the board.
  • Russell Martin, C - One bad season doesn't make Martin an unworthy acquisition, but his value dropped a ton after last year's dismal performance.
  • Manny Ramirez, OF - While his 2008 was exceptional, he sandwiched it between two just okay seasons. Manny might just be a .290, 25, 90 guy now.

San Diego Padres

  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  • Heath Bell, RP - Good averages and good strikeout rate. The only concern is whether the Padres can win enough games to give Bell sufficient save chances.
  • Chase Headley, OF - He's yet unproven, but he does have some talent. Unfortunately, he's in perhaps the worst lineup in baseball.
  • Chris Young, SP - He was worse on every level last year. You can dream, but don't expect too much of a bounce back.

San Francisco Giants

  • Tim Lincecum, SP
  • Matt Cain, SP - He took big steps forward across the board last year but his strikeout rate dipped a little. Or maybe because he stopped working for the strikeout so much. Either way, he's reliably productive.
  • Pablo Sandoval, 3B - This big guy can hit. In another, non-Padre lineup, he's a no-brainer.
  • Brian Wilson, RP - I don't like him, but one more year like 2009 and he'll slide into the keeper discussion.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Is He A Keeper? - NL Central, 2010

Chicago Cubs

  • Derrek Lee, 1B
  • Aramis Ramirez, 3B - Last year aside, Ramirez had become one of the more reliable power hitters in the NL. He's only 31, so there's no reason to think he'll fall off.
  • Alfonso Soriano, OF - I don't love the idea of keeping him, but his upside is .280 with 30 HR and 20 SB, which he is exactly one year removed from.
  • Carlos Zambrano, SP - Big Z is still only 29, still posts about a strikeout per inning, and had five straight seasons of 14 wins before last year's 9-7 record.
  • Ryan Dempster, SP - Honestly, Dempster played better than I expected in 2009, but he still had a (predictable) let-down after his 2008 career year.
  • Ted Lilly, SP - I wish I could say yes, because it'd be funny with how often he gets overlooked in our drafts, but I just can't. A career 4.25 ERA makes Lilly just another pitcher.
  • Carlos Marmol, RP - He's got some legitimate ability, but he has the capacity to put way too many guys on base. If he were a starter, it might be worth the risk, but you can find cheap saves.
  • Geovany Soto, C - A bounce-back isn't out of the question, but if he doesn't bounce back, he makes your team a lot worse.
  • Ryan Theriot, 2B/SS - Multiple position eligibility does not a keeper make.
  • Randy Wells, SP - Wells had a nice season, but an unimpressive strikeout rate and the fact that he's got zero track record means you can't invest a keeper slot in him.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Brandon Phillips, 2B
  • Joey Votto, 1B

  • Bronson Arroyo, SP - No?
  • Jay Bruce, OF - Bruce is looking eerily similar to Adam Dunn, except without the big power and with an even worse batting average. You've got to see more before you can justify keeping him.
  • Francisco Cordero, RP - He's been a solid producer of saves and relief Ks for years, but you generally pay a price in WHIP. Don't pay that price with a keeper.
  • Johnny Cueto, SP - He's still only 24, so he's still developing as a pitcher. But let him develop as your 12th or 13th player, not as one of your top eight.
  • Aaron Harang, SP - It doesn't look like he'll ever recapture his 2007 near Cy Young performance, which is a shame for a guy with one of the all time great nicknames.
  • Edinson Volquez, SP - Tommy John, won't be back until after the All-Star break. Keep an eye on him, though.

Houston Astros

  • Carlos Lee, OF
  • Lance Berkman, 1B - One of the closest calls in this whole exercise, but I still have faith. Besides, he's hit .310 in every other year for the past six years, and he's due for another .310 season.
  • Michael Bourn, OF - I hate to say it, because Joe Mandi will call me a liar, but 60 SB is no joke. If he can approach .300 and get 100 R, he's a keeper, despite his utter lack of pop.
  • Roy Oswalt, SP - I just don't believe he's done. I expect a return to form, with a WHIP around 1.20 and 16-18 wins.
  • Hunter Pence, OF - His upside goes beyond Carlos Lee, but so does his downside, hence him not being a no-brainer. But their values are pretty close.
  • Wandy Rodriguez, SP - First off, I don't like Wandy. But all of his numbers are headed in the right direction: ERA, WHIP, K/9, BAA. He's got to be doing something right.
  • All Relievers - Nobody knows who's going to end up closing in Houston, but regardless of who it is, they're not worth keeping.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Ryan Braun, OF
  • Prince Fielder, 1B
  • Yovani Gallardo, SP - You'd like to see more dominant stats out of Gallardo, but they'll come. His talent is too big to disappoint.
  • Corey Hart, OF - Hart still has the capacity to be a power-speed combo guy who can fill out your roster, but until he starts making good, consistent contact, that's all he can be.
  • Trevor Hoffman, RP - He's an all-time great, maybe the best closer of all time. But you can't keep a closer unless he's been great AND you can expect him to be great again. At 42, you just can't expect that out of Hoffman.
  • Casey McGehee, 2B/3B - He's a compelling guy in a lot of ways, but the presence of Rickie Weeks and Mat Gamel throws McGehee's playing time into question.
  • Randy Wolf, SP - At 33, Wolf turned in one of the best years of his career. Don't expect him to do it again at 34.

Pittsburgh Pirates


  • Andrew McCutcheon, OF - After being the Pirates' best prospect for McCutcheon has arrived. Look for more steals, about the same power.
  • Ryan Doumit, C - He was in a position last year to get himself onto a keeper list, but injuries and ineffectiveness quelled that. Still, don't you (bum bum bum bum bum bum) forget about him.
  • Garrett Jones, OF - This isn't to say that Jones couldn't help your team. I just have a hard time saying that he'll help your team any more than twenty other guys who can hit .290 with 25 HR.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Matt Holliday, OF
  • Albert Pujols, 1B
  • Adam Wainwright, SP
  • Chris Carpenter, SP - He's had a litany of injuries over his career, but when healthy, he's a top ten starting pitcher. Just pray for that.
  • Ryan Franklin, RP - Franklin was a saves machine last year, but ever since Danny Kolb, I've become wary of closers who don't strike people out...or who become closers for the first time at age 36.
  • Ryan Ludwick, OF - I know I told you to keep him last year, and I'll take the blame for that one. This looks like Pat Burrell 1.1.
  • Colby Rasmus, OF - He's got better batting average potential than Jay Bruce, but less power potential. Either way, he hasn't shown enough to keep him yet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is He A Keeper? - NL East, 2010

Atlanta Braves


  • Tommy Hanson, SP - He was an elite prospect, and he produced like one. There's always the concern of a sophomore slump, but Tim Lincecum proved that you can just win a Cy Young instead.
  • Brian McCann, C - He's not flashy, but he's productive and consistent. Let's just hope he doesn't catch whatever Russell Martin had last year.
  • Matt Diaz, OF - If playing time were assured, this decision would be much more difficult.
  • Tim Hudson, SP - Age and health have him headed in the wrong direction. Don't even think about it.
  • Chipper Jones, 3B - Apparently age 37 is when Chipper finally hit a wall. A small bounce-back is possible, but you can't keep him.
  • Jair Jurrjens, SP - He had great ratios last year, but so did Randy Wolf, with the same strikeout rate. It's close, but for now, he's on the outside.
  • Nate McLouth, OF - He's a 20/20 threat, but on a Braves team without any real offensive lynchpin, you can't count on run production.

Florida Marlins

  • Hanley Ramirez, SS
  • Josh Johnson, SP - He finally put together the kind of season we were all expecting after his breakthrough 2006 performance. Expect more of the same.
  • Emilio Bonifacio, SS/3B - One game into the 2009 season, Bonifacio was a superstar. Now, not so much.
  • Jorge Cantu, 1B/3B - He's got RBIs and position flexibility, but he's not a plus in homers, speed, or average.
  • Chris Coghlan, OF - I wish I could say yes, because he used to live in my house. But in the outfield, he's essentially David DeJesus.
  • Dan Uggla, 2B - The one exception would be if you're assembling a team designed to punt batting average. On that team, Uggla is a star.

New York Mets

  • Jason Bay, OF
  • Jose Reyes, SS
  • Johan Santana, SP
  • David Wright, 3B

  • Francisco Rodriguez, RP - You can foresee solid production, but K-Rod has just been a good closer the past two years, and you can't keep a closer who isn't great.
  • Carlos Beltran, OF - He's supremely talented and a great contributor when healthy, but it's sounding more and more like he's going to miss extensive time.

Philadelphia Phillies


  • Ryan Howard, 1B
  • Chase Utley, 2B
  • Roy Halladay, SP
  • Cole Hamels, SP - His 2009 was a step backwards, but I have faith in the talent.
  • Jimmy Rollins, SS - His .250 average in 2009 seems an aberration, which means you can count on top 25 production again in '10.
  • Shane Victorino, OF - Across the board solid performance, and the lineup is still going to be great.
  • Jayson Werth, OF - Surprisingly close to a no-brainer, but since his explosion was fairly quiet, figured I ought to explain: 36 HR, 99 RBI, 98 R, 20 SB. Got it?
  • J.A. Happ, SP - I like everything about Happ except that he's very average in Citizens Bank Park. It's a tough park, but you can't bench a keeper for half of his starts.
  • Raul Ibanez, OF - Had he not missed time, Ibanez would've likely finished with 100+ RBI for the fourth straight season. But I have trouble trusting a 37-year-old bopper, even in this lineup.

Washington Nationals

  • Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
  • Adam Dunn, 1B - There's value in reliability, and Dunn has had at least 38 HR and 92 RBI in each of the past six seasons. Plus, you can partner him with Uggla if you're punting AVG and get 70 HR and 180 RBI from 1B and 2B (yes, Nick, I'm talking to you).
  • Stephen Strasburg, SP - Not yet.

Twenty for Thirty Update - 2/16

So it's been a month and a half, and I've converted two of the easier goals from my list:

2) Move out of my mom's house.

This was in the works before the list was even released, but it was still one of the things I wanted to do this year. Living at home has its perks, but getting out of my mom's house has far more perks. I'm hoping that, by getting out of the house and living much closer to my work, I can use this as a jumping off point for trying to lose weight (through complete diet control) and having a successful party.

18) Host a Joe and Joe trivia show.

As I had mentioned, this has been in the works for a while, so it was nice to finally get it done. You can listen here; the show is just under an hour, and I think it's one of our best shows yet at Joe and Joe Sports. In fact, one of the contestants, my cousin Michael, had such a fun time doing the show that he has taken it upon himself to arrange the next baseball trivia show. Success!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2009 Games of the Year

And so, as we bid farewell to another essentially worthless year, we look back on the video games that helped us pass the time between sleeps.

My 2009 Top 5 Games of the Year:

5. Saints Row 2

I don't often anticipate new games, and even less often do I actually purchase a game within the first month of its release. But I so deeply enjoyed the original Saints Row that I felt compelled to spring for the sequel immediately. The fact that Best Buy had it on sale for $40 for the first week tipped the scales, and I bought my only new game of the year.

It didn't disappoint. Saints Row 2 has a lot of the same game mechanics as the Grand Theft Auto series, but on a much less realistic level. From hairpin turns to flaming ATVs, it's a more fun and funny take on the sandbox style game. I enjoyed the game thoroughly, and while the best feature from the original Saints Row (insurance fraud) was sort of bastardized for this version of the game, everything else was improved. Good for number five on the list.

4. Plants vs. Zombies

In looking back at the year, I'm glad I was able to include a PC game. I spent a good amount of time playing Civilization II and Rollercoaster Tycoon, but neither of those qualifies as a "new" game for me; I've been playing them since high school.

My cousin Michael posted in his AIM profile a video from the game (this video, specifically), and I was intrigued. I did a little research, and the game turned out to be a tower defense game, where you plant plants to kill zombies. The premise is simple, the execution is fantastic. There are funny little parts like the descriptions of different zombies and plants, but it's also got a good deal of strategy involved. Between the Story mode, where you face off against progressively more challenging waves of zombies, and the Puzzle and Mini-Game modes, there's plenty of variety to keep you coming back for more.

I'm always happy when I can get a lot of play out of a $10 purchase, and PvZ made me happy.

3. Gears of War

No, not Gears of War 2. The original Gears of War. The first time I played this game, I played the first level on two-player with my brother, and I really didn't see what all the fuss was about. The controls felt clunky, the action seemed slow, and while the graphics were nice, they weren't enough to carry the game alone. So it got sent back to the minors, maintaining its rookie eligibility until this past year, when I called it back up to the show, this time just playing one-player.

The difference was night and day. While the first level was still kind of tough to get into, the game blossomed into a more action-oriented version of Metal Gear Solid, one of my favorite games of all time. The futuristic/alien component allowed the developers to create a variety of terrifying enemies, each requiring a different strategy. Some are small and fairly easy to dispatch, others are tough and require some caution. Then there's the occasional huge boss enemy with a minute weak point to exploit. And some enemies you just avoid, and focus on staying alive. The game really strikes a great balance between ass-kicking and discretion.

I haven't played the game online at all yet, mostly because I'm wary of getting waxed. I can enjoy myself while not being the best player in the game, but it's a bit tougher when you're the worst player in the game, and I find myself falling into that category more often than not. Still, I'll likely be giving the online component a shot at some point this year, because I really did enjoy the campaign. But I'm not holding out much hope for doing particularly well.

2. MLB Front Office Manager 2K9

When I first heard about MLB Front Office Manager 2K9, I had just finished reading Moneyball, and was completely in the mindset of how to create a baseball team. As such, I was in a perfect mental place to be an early adopter of the new (and hopefully long-lived) franchise. Chip and I used to play Madden 2005 and ignore the actual football games, just doing the team management part. I loved it, and I expected to love this game as well.

I remember buying the game at GameStop the day it came out. I asked the clerk to ring me up for it, and she said, "You know it got really terrible reviews, right?" I hadn't read any reviews, and had no intention of reading them or listening to them regardless. I was buying the game that day, and that was that. I brought it home, and so began a run with the Washington Nationals that continues today.

The game isn't without its flaws. Other teams seem to get fed up with their players at a frightening pace, and they'll cut players who are very early in very long and very large contracts. Just by watching the waiver wire and free agency, I picked up Scott Kazmir, Joba Chamberlain, Jonathan Papelbon, and Joakim Soria. Not exactly the kind of talent you'd normally find sitting around waiting for a phone call. Even though the system isn't perfect, though, the game is just fun to play. And as you may remember from my description of Gears of War, I love finding and exploiting weaknesses in my opponents. And as you may remember from my other blog, I love baseball.

1. Dead Rising

I had thought about purchasing Dead Rising on several different occasions, but had trouble bringing myself to lay the money down. I finally downloaded a demo, and played it briefly (maybe five minutes?) before deciding to purchase the game. Cousin Michael was there. For all the time it took me to decide on the purchase, it was one I'm very glad I made.

The game plays sort of like a Grand Theft Auto clone, with a third-person view and relative freedom within the game's setting (a small town shopping mall). By the game's title, you can guess what's going on in the mall: zombies. It's your job to, well, actually, all you have to do to complete the game is survive for three days. You can ignore everything else, stay in the safe room, and receive an ending after 20-30 hours of gameplay, but that's not fun at all. Besides, there's a mystery to solve: where did these zombies come from? Also, there are folks to find and rescue all throughout the mall, and if a hero like you doesn't do it, no one else will.

The most fun part of the game for me, though, is the way it handles new games. Say you get to a point in the game that you just can't beat ("the convicts" is often a trouble spot). In most games, you'd have to re-load an old game, or start over from scratch. In Dead Rising, you can start a new game, but keep your character's level progression (which means keeping your expanded health bar, physical strength boosts, inventory space, and special moves). So even if you get stuck, you can restart your game and have gotten something out of your previous efforts. I like that.

Also the zombie-killing is fun, and there's something gratifying about saving dozens of innocent folks from certain doom. The sequel is supposed to come out in 2010, and it may be one of those rare games that I purchase new. We shall see.

Oh, and fuck Valentine's Day.

2023 In Review - Movies

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