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National Pastime Archive: February 2009

  • Fantasy Rankings - Second Basemen

    Big league teams have demanded more and more offensive production from the second base position in recent years, and the effects have been felt in fantasy baseball as well. Dustin Pedroia and Chase Utley were top-10 hitters in my league last year and Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts also cracked the top 30, and if you can snag any of these players, you'll have a leg up on the competition. If not you're still left with plenty of options, ranging from multi-tool, high upside guys to all-or-nothing sluggers to steady regulars to crafty veterans to injury-rebound sleepers. Published February 27 2009

  • Manny's unemployment adventure

    Sometimes things in life just don't make sense, like Lost's plotline or John Madden's commentary. What's puzzling this writer at the moment - besides "Who the heck is John Locke?" - is the absence of last year's N.L. MVP-that-wasn't at spring training. The peculiarity surrounding this chapter of the Manny Ramirez Adventure is not that he's aging backwards a la Mr. Benjamin Button (though I'm certain Scott Boras has tried that sell in negotiations) or the fact that he'll be tardy to spring training ... again. It's that no excuse is necessary this go-around, for the 500-home run club member has no place to be on time to. By SEAN RAPOSA Published February 26 2009

  • Fantasy Rankings - First Basemen

    You know how I told you not to worry too much about the catcher position? First base is a different story. Nine of the top 30 hitters in my league last year were first basemen, and having a star at this position can help to make up for deficiencies at other spots. But even with that said, don't fret too much if you don't get one of the eight to 10 difference makers. As long as you've got some studs elsewhere, there's a second tier of 10 or so first basemen who are a good bet to get the job done for you, as well as some solid third basemen with first base eligibility. Published February 25 2009

  • Fantasy Rankings - Catchers

    Fantasy players shouldn't spend too much time worrying about the catcher position. Second-tier options at several other positions will put up better numbers than even the elite backstops, so your best bet is to let others in your league scramble for the McCanns, Martins and Mauers and focus on filling out the rest of your lineup card. Once the better fantasy catchers are off the board, there's a large group of guys who will all offer about the same production and can get the job done for you. Some of them will still be there near the tail end of your draft. Published February 23 2009

  • 2009 Fantasy Baseball Preview

    They start crunching numbers and reviewing injury reports in January in hopes of getting a leg up on draft day. They spend countless hours scouring the waiver wire and keeping tabs on promising minor leaguers in search of any advantage that might net them the bragging rights - and cash prize - they're after. Every conversation with a fellow league member is liable to end up in trade negotiations. Lineup decisions are often agonizing. Each victory brings great satisfaction, and they need their space after a tough loss. Fantasy fanatics, this preview is for you. Published February 23 2009

  • Orioles headed in right direction

    The Baltimore Sun reported Friday morning that the Orioles and second baseman Brian Roberts have agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract extension that will keep the two-time All-Star in Baltimore through the 2013 season. "I don't think I would've made the commitment to even begin negotiations if I didn't think that at some point in this process of the next four or five years that we [would] have a chance to win," Roberts said yesterday as he waited for the deal to be finalized. The sentiment Roberts expresses is correct - the O's are headed in the right direction. Published February 20 2009

  • Report links A-Rod, shady trainer

    The New York Daily News reported Friday morning that Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez has had a long association with steroid-linked trainer Angel Presinal, who is banned from all major league clubhouses. The Daily News further reported that A-Rod has known Presinal since his Rangers days and that Presinal accompanied A-Rod during the entire 2007 season, staying in the same hotel when the Yankees were on the road and sharing a room with Yuri Sucart, the cousin from whom A-Rod says he got performance-enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. Published February 20 2009

  • Braves, Glavine reach agreement

    A day after losing out to the Mariners in the Ken Griffey Jr. sweepstakes, the Braves secured the services of their own home-grown future Hall of Famer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday night that Tom Glavine, Major League Baseball's only active 300-game winner, had agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal. The soon-to-be 43-year-old left-hander can also reportedly earn up to $3.5 million in incentives. He will likely serve as the team's No. 5 starter, allowing more time for 22-year-old top prospect Tommy Hanson to develop in the minors. Published February 19 2009

  • Griffey burns Braves, returns to M's

    MLB.com reported Wednesday night that 12-time All-Star and 600-home run club member Ken Griffey Jr. has agreed to a one-year deal with his original team, the Mariners, that will pay him $2 million plus incentives tied to at bats and attendance. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had reported on Tuesday that an agreement between Griffey and the Braves was imminent, but a person with knowledge of the negotiations said the 39-year-old changed his mind after that deal fell through. Published February 18 2009

  • Nats need to fire GM Bowden now

    The Nationals have yet to finish above .500 during Jim Bowden's four-plus years as general manager. Instead of making progress, they have regressed significantly. The Nats went 81-81 in 2005, their first season in D.C., and followed that up with a 71-91 record in 2006 and a 73-89 mark in 2007. They staggered to the worst record in baseball last season at 59-102. Tuesday's report that $1.4 million bonus baby Esmailyn Gonzalez - a switch-hitting shortstop believed to be 19 - is actually 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo should be the final straw. Bowden has screwed up in every way a GM can and it's time for the Nats to fire him. Published February 18 2009

  • Report: Nats duped by top prospect

    SI.com, citing four sources, reported late Tuesday night that the Nationals minor leaguer known as Esmailyn Gonzalez and thought to be just 19 years old is in fact 23-year-old Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo. The switch-hitting shortstop hit .343 to win the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League's MVP award in 2008 and was recently ranked by Baseball America as Washington's No. 10 prospect entering the 2009 season. He signed on July 2, 2006, for a $1.4 million bonus, which remains the largest sum ever given by the Nationals to an international player. Published February 18 2009

  • A-Rod fills in the blanks

    Alex Rodriguez revealed Tuesday afternoon that he and his cousin obtained in the Dominican Republic a substance known on the streets as "boli" and injected each other twice a month over six-month periods in 2001, 2002 and 2003. He said the substance was intended to provide an "energy boost" and that he wasn't sure how much it helped his performance. He referred to his actions as a "stupid mistake" and reiterated his claims of ignorance and naivety. "We consulted no one. It was pretty evident that we didn't know what we were doing," he said. Published February 17 2009

  • Sports coverage needs perspective

    If we can learn anything from the coverage of the Alex Rodriguez steroid scandal, it's that we've fallen into an ever-repeating cycle of spouting hate and casting blame onto others to elevate our own self-righteousness. Perhaps instead of gossiping about celebrities for their ill-advised and embarrassing but ultimately unimportant in the grand scheme of things indiscretions, ESPN should be bombarding kids with the tragic story of Ken Caminiti, who fell as hard as one can to the Steroid Era and died of an apparent heart attack in October 2004. By SEAN RAPOSA. Published February 15 2009

  • Wieters likely ticketed for triple-A

    It appears Orioles fans are going to have to wait at least a little longer for top prospect Matt Wieters' eagerly anticipated big league debut. In an interview published Friday by the Baltimore Sun, Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail said Wieters - Baseball America's 2008 Minor League Player of the Year - would "in all likelihood" begin the season with Baltimore's triple-A affiliate, the Norfolk Tides. Published February 13 2009

  • Nats' Dunn deal a shortsighted move

    The Nationals have reportedly agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with free agent slugger Adam Dunn. The 29-year-old has smashed 40 or more homers in each of the past five seasons and knocked in 100 or more runs four times during that stretch, and though he hits for low averages and annually ranks among the league leaders in K's, he is the owner of an impressive .381 career OBP. But while Dunn brings power to a Nats lineup that sorely lacks it, this is an ill-advised, shortsighted move. Published February 11 2009

  • Alomar AIDS lawsuit sad, shocking

    The New York Post reported Wednesday that an ex-girlfriend is suing 12-time All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar for $15 millon because, she claims, he had unprotected sex with her despite the fact that he had AIDS. In the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn District Court, Ilya Dall of Queens alleges that Alomar, who played in the majors for 17 years before retiring after the 2004 season, tested positive for HIV in January 2006 and learned soon thereafter that he had full-blown AIDS. Published February 11 2009

  • Alomar AIDS lawsuit sad, shocking*

    The New York Post reported Wednesday that an ex-girlfriend is suing 12-time All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar for $15 millon because, she claims, he had unprotected sex with her despite the fact that he had AIDS. In the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn District Court, Ilya Dall of Queens alleges that Alomar, who played in the majors for 17 years before retiring after the 2004 season, tested positive for HIV in January 2006 and learned soon thereafter that he had full-blown AIDS. Published February 11 2009

  • Abreu a terrific bargain for Angels

    Everyone has been negatively affected by the sagging economy - everyone, that is, except the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. SI.com reports that the Halos have taken advantage of the collective unwillingness of teams not named the Yankees to shell out big money for free agents this offseason by signing former Bomber Bobby Abreu to a one-year deal worth $5 million, plus incentives. The addition of Abreu won't completely make up for the defection of $180 million man Mark Teixeira to the Bronx, but it will come a lot closer to doing so than some people probably realize, at a much lower cost. Published February 11 2009

  • Tejada facing jail time for lying

    Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada has been under a cloud of suspicion regarding steroid use ever since former Orioles teammate and 500-home run club member Rafael Palmeiro blamed a positive steroid test on a B-12 shot he said Tejada gave him, and his inclusion in the Mitchell Report certainly didn't help matters. Now, just one day after Alex Rodriguez became the biggest-name player in baseball history to come clean about his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs, Tejada has learned that he'll face charges for failing to do so himself. Published February 10 2009

  • Does A-Rod read National Pastime?

    Probably not, but a lot of the things he said in his interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons on Monday are very similar to what I suggested he should say on Sunday in my post "If I were Alex Rodriguez ...". At the time, I didn't think he'd actually come clean, but, obviously, I believe there's no doubt he made the right decision in doing so. Anyway, check out the similarities. Some of them are pretty striking. Published February 10 2009