Posts tagged ‘ESPN’

Saturday: 02.9.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 13 Days – Victor Martinez

Only 13 days until live game action…


The biggest issue with Victor Martinez in 2013 is one being settled before camps even start. His eligibility after a season lost to injury has been a topic of debate especially after CBS decided to make DH-only. I personally don’t agree with the decision at all, but they addressed it head on and there is at least reasoning behind it regardless of whether or not I agree. Both Yahoo! and ESPN will keep Martinez at catcher. He played 26 games at catcher in 2011. I get what Nando DiFino is saying with the “regular catcher” issue in that he hasn’t been a full-time backstop since 2010, but I don’t agree that he “used” his last year of catcher eligibility in 2012 and since he didn’t play he’s no longer eligible.

For those of your in CBS leagues, you should reach out to your commissioners to see how it’s going to be played so you don’t get surprised come draft day when you think you’re stealing a catcher late only to realize he lasted a couple of extra rounds because he is a power-light DH-only player. Speaking of DH, some AL-Only leagues require that you put an actual DH (20+ games there) in that spot as opposed to it being a utility spot for anyone. The usage of the spot in baseball has made that a much easier fill with 32 players registering 20+ games there and 27 of them putting up a 101 OPS+ or better. Add in Martinez and you should have trouble filling spot even after you remove guys like Carlos Santana, Evan Longoria, and Joe Mauer who have way too value at their original position to consider slotting them at DH.

As for Martinez himself, he is poised for another big season. His 12 homers in 2011 were the fewest he’s hit in a full season, but he made up for it with a .330 average and 103 RBIs. His flyball rate dropped from 42 percent in 2010 to just 33 percent, but most of the shift went to line drives explaining his career-best .330 mark. His 24 percent line drive was a career-best for a full season and seven percent higher than his 2010. He could bring his average back down to his .303 career level and still push 100 RBIs, but he would likely need the power to return a bit closer to the 20s we were used to from him prior to 2011.

In 2011, he had the bad Austin Jackson leading off with just a .317 on-base percentage. It was also Magglio Ordonez’s final season and he was hardly himself with just a .303 OBP. Miguel Cabrera was still excellent and Brennan Boesch had his best season. In 2013, V-Mart likely gets a much better Jackson setting the table while Torii Hunter will probably be close to what Boesch was that year (.341 OBP). Of course the treat is the Cabrera-Prince Fielder combo just ahead of him.

Last year Delmon Young was the primary fifth hitter for the Tigers. He managed a whopping .261 with men on base resulting in 63 RBIs. In 2011, Martinez hit an amazing .404 with men on. I wouldn’t expect a repeat there, but even his career .324 is markedly better than what Young offered a year ago. Young’s 63 RBIs came on 70 hits, a 90 percent ratio. Martinez’s ratio for his career with men on is 99 percent (664 RBIs on 670 hits). The league as a whole with men on a year ago was at 95 percent (17077-for-18073). Young had 268 ABs with men on last year and Martinez had 270 two years ago, so giving Martinez 269 this year with a .324 average is 87 hits. Using the league average (to be conservative) 95 percent RBI/Men on Hits ratio yields 83 RBIs.

He had just two solo home runs in 2011 after full seasons of 14, 10, 10, 15, 15, and 10 spanning 2004-2010 taking out his 67-game 2008. That’s an average of 12. Even that leaves us just short of 100 RBIs. Of course these are just estimates. He could get more at-bats with men on, he could simply hit better than .324, or drive in more guys than the league average 95 percent of RBI/MOH.

How his RBI total breaks down, I think he is going to be extremely valuable again in 2013 even if his power doesn’t return and even if you’re locked into using him as a DH-only. Obviously he will have much more value as a catcher, but he will also cost more. The price tag will likely fall significantly in leagues where he is DH-only unless you run into someone wanting to gamble that he accumulates enough games behind the dish. I would strongly advise against that bet. Everything I’ve heard out of the organization has said that he won’t catch at all.

If he is to keep his homer output from 2011, he will be looking to have just the 11th instance of 15 or fewer homers and 100+ RBIs since 1990.

Wednesday: 01.30.2013

ESPN Rankings Summit: Top 25 SPs

The ESPN fantasy crew is in the midst of the rankings summit where they get together and hash out the initial run of their positional ranks. It accompanies a chat moderated by one of the parties involved and it’s a pretty interesting watch/read. They are coming down the home stretch with their starting pitchers where I believe they’ll go 50 deep. Here are the top 25.

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Felix Hernandez
  4. Stephen Strasburg
  5. David Price
  6. Matt Cain
  7. Cliff Lee
  8. Cole Hamels
  9. Jered Weaver
  10. Zack Greinke
  11. Gio Gonzalez
  12. Adam Wainwright
  13. Madison Bumgarner
  14. Yu Darvish
  15. R.A. Dickey
  16. C.C. Sabathia
  17. Chris Sale
  18. Johnny Cueto
  19. Mat Latos
  20. Jordan Zimmermann
  21. Roy Halladay
  22. Aroldis Chapman
  23. Kris Medlen
  24. Matt Moore
  25. James Shields

I had some minor quibbles early, but my first real contention was Chris Sale at 17. Of course that was immediately blown out of the water by Aroldis Chapman at 22. I just can’t get behind that on any level. It assumes so many things go perfectly for him. Bret Sayre did point out that it’s a tough rank on overall value because if he implodes, he will likely move back to the bullpen. A fair point, but I just don’t see how they came to this ranking because even if Bret’s scenario comes to pass, he will have x amount of horrible innings on his ledger before transitioning back. I think he’d have to be truly awful to go back into the bullpen, not just fantasy bad. A 4.20 ERA/1.35 WHIP would be fantasy bad, especially at his cost, but Cincinnati can definitely live with that out of their fifth starter especially if he’s fanning 25 percent of the batters he faces and going six innings a game.

Chapman basically has to have Sale’s season to fulfill that ranking and while there is at least chance of that, it’s pretty low on the probability spectrum making such a lofty ranking tough to justify for me. I also think Kris Medlen is too high at 23, but at least he has starting experience at the major league level and an actual arsenal of pitches. Chapman has major name value and Medlen has his brilliant end to 2012, factors that will keep both very high on most lists this year. I just think the talent pool is too deep to take the added risk of them in lieu of more consistent performers who also have greatness in their profile (e.g. Matt Moore, Max Scherzer).

The summit is a very cool event that ESPN does every year. I love reading some of the thinking going on in the room and I hope they show some videos again as they’ve done in the past.

What do you think?

Thursday: 07.21.2011

SweetSpot Network

Pardon the two-day dry spell, but I have been working a big new project and it took some extra free time to get all the i’s dotted & t’s crossed, but the result is that I have officially joined the SweetSpot Network as the proprietor of their Pittsburgh Pirates representation at a site called  I am thrilled to be a part of that excellent community and I have enlisted long-time friend (virtually at least, we have been friends via the net since ’02) John Franco as a contributor.  He lives in Pittsburgh and is a fan of the team so the site also has a true fan’s voice in addition to my bandwagon one!  Make no mistake, the Pirates can never displace my Detroit Tigers.  They will always be #1 for me, but I saw this opportunity as something to seize. Writing about a team that isn’t your favorite doesn’t mean you’re cutting ties with your favorite, at least not in my case.

As with my signing on at RotoHardball back in June, this doesn’t change anything for (well aside from the two day drought you have already sat through).  If you have any interest in following the goings-on of the upstart Pirates, then definitely stop by Pitt Plank and check us out.  Otherwise, we now return you to regularly scheduled fantasy content starting Friday evening.  I will see if I can carve out some extra time this weekend to deliver some extra content to make up for the dry spell, I hate doing to that to those of you who come here daily looking for something.

Friday: 06.3.2011

My Top 30 Franchise Picks

On Wednesday I wrote a bit about the ESPN Franchise Draft whereby they had a one round draft under the premise of who you would start a franchise with if every single player was thrown back into a pool and the league essentially started from scratch.  That piece focused on Doug Glanville’s ludicrous selection of Wilson Ramos and I proceeded to name 50 guys off the top of my head that I would definitely have taken ahead of Ramos.

Now I want to put myself within the draft and offer up my top 30 picks for a draft like this.  There are so many things to consider in this exercise.  Apart from the obvious of pure production on the field, there is age, position, health and marketability.  I’m not sure how many people considered that last one within their equation, but I think there is at least a shred of it in the pie chart.  After all, I’m building my franchise from the ground up, it doesn’t hurt to start off with a star on and off the field.

So here are my top 30 players to select if I was starting a major league franchise.  Let me know what you think or what your own top 30 looks like in the comments or on Twitter (@sporer).

1. Evan Longoria (3B, 25 years old) – I think it’s a really a coin toss between Longo and the next guy as both play strong defense at premium positions with massive bats.  Both are budding superstars with their best years ahead of them and while I’m not sure you can go wrong, my preference is for Longoria.  I’m trading the step down in position importance (but better defense at it) for an extra year of age with this guy…

2. Troy Tulowitzki (SS, 26 years old) – Both of these first two guys have three elite seasons under their belt so far and are en route to a fourth and as I mentioned Tulow also plays elite defense at a cornerstone position.  It’s also smart to build up the middle, except if it’s with Wilson Ramos, so that’s another checkmark in the pro column for Tulow.  I can’t stress enough how close these first two are for that top spot and if I were picking second in this kind of draft with Longo going first I wouldn’t be the least bit upset “settling” for Tulowitzki.

3. Miguel Cabrera (1B, 28 years old) – I’m sorry, was hitting not a factor in ESPN’s draft?  Cabrera DID NOT GET PICKED among the 30 selections in their draft.  Look, I realize that first base is neither a premium defensive position nor a particularly thin one, but this isn’t an good-but-not-great first base type like Gaby Sanchez, Paul Konerko or Ryan Howard (and truly no offense to any of those three, they’d be pretty high round picks), this is a top three or four hitter in all of baseball who is just starting his prime.  I realize my fandom for Tigers will make many think that’s where I’m coming from on this, but rest assured I’m really not.  It’s common sense.

4. Jason Heyward (RF, 21 years old) To be honest, I wouldn’t destroy someone for taking him #1 overall.  This is a franchise foundation without question: he’s 21, he’s shown he can hang in the majors already over a reasonable sample (123 OPS+ in 187 gms) and he plays an important position.  It’s not as important as the up the middle positions, but it’s not exactly left field/first base, either.  Did I mention he can barely drink legally?  This is a superstar in the making and in case you missed it, he’s five years younger than Tulowitzki.

5. Felix Hernandez (SP, 25 years old) – It might go a bit unnoticed because it is almost expected at this point, but Hernandez has done something a lot blue chip prospect starting pitchers or rather any position of blue chip prospect for that matter fail to do: he’s living up to the hype.  Hype is a dangerous thing in today’s sport culture.  The more you get heaped upon you, even if you didn’t ask for it, the shorter amount of time you have to live up to it.  Hernandez began living up to it right out of the gate with a 2.67 ERA in 84 innings at age 19 back in 2005.  He followed it up with a 4.52 ERA as he struggled with gopheritis (1.1 HR/9), but has shaved his ERA down significantly every year since: 3.92-3.45-2.49-2.27 all while adding innings.  With a rock solid skill set and the proven capability to handle workloads easily exceeding 200 innings, King Felix is the kind of pitcher you can build a franchise around with minimal risk (not zero risk, ALL pitchers have risk… it’s an unnatural motion of the body).

6. Albert Pujols (1B, 31 years old) – I, for one, am not going to let two months of hitting like a mere mortal lead me to believe that Pujols is still the best pure hitter in the game and possibly ever.  Even at 31, I think he gets back on track this year and then still has at least two more years among the elite and then another three or four as an All-Star stud.  (See also: Rodriguez, Alex)

7. Justin Upton (RF, 23 years old) – It was a shock to see Upton last until the 29th pick in the ESPN draft.  He is 23 years old with three above average seasons including one elite season (2009) and very strong defense in right field.  A legitimate knock against him would be the fact that the has yet to play more than 138 games in his three full seasons, but his track record of nearly 2000 plate appearances of above average play at such a young age with legitimate defense is too much to pass up.

8. Andrew McCutchen (CF, 24 years old) – This is an overlooked budding star who plays an elite defensive position pretty well already and continues to improve.  He is an across-the-board contributor offensively, too, capable of marked improvement as he gets older.  He can bat first or third, too.  He was another snub that surprised me.

9. Carlos Gonzalez (LF/CF/RF, 25 years old) – Currently a left fielder, CarGo can reasonably play any of the three outfield positions which increases his value for the team drafting him as both of the other positions are more valuable.  His 2010 campaign showed us his upside with the bat while his downside is probably something like .280, 25 bombs and 20 steals with runs scored & driven in depending on the team you put around him.  He was a three time top 32 (18th, 22nd, 32nd) prospect by Baseball America and he is showing why day after day.

10. Ryan Zimmerman (3B, 26 years old) – Perhaps he was forgotten because he is currently on the disabled list, but he was yet another stunning snub in ESPN’s draft.  What doesn’t he bring to the table?  Brilliant defense and excellent offense all wrapped up in a 26-year old package.  If he wasn’t playing in Washington, he would definitely have a higher profile and perhaps get the recognition he deserves as an all-around star player.  Harper & Strasburg get all the press, but Zimmerman is the franchise leader right now.  Those two will join him and Jayson Werth to give them a great foundation for competing in the near future.

11. Joey Votto (1B, 27 years old) – I am a huge fan of Votto.  I was before his MVP breakout last year and remain so now, but I don’t think he is  a high-30s home run hitter going forward, not with the skills he has displayed throughout his career.  That doesn’t mean he isn’t an elite force in middle a lineup, though.  What he lacks in home runs, he makes up for with plenty of other base hits (.317 career hitter including a yearly rise since 2008: .297-.322-.324-.338) and a ton of doubles.  Plus he is just 27 so he could realistically deliver a sustained power jump in the coming years.

12. Ryan Braun (LF, 27 years old) – His bat is so overwhelmingly awesome that his below average defense at a low-impact position barely matters.  He plays an offense-heavy position and yet still outclasses his peers by no less than 30% in any given season (career 141 OPS+; low: 130, high: 161 so far in ’11, but 154 for a completed season).  Throw in a tremendous work ethic and great personality and you have a superstar cornerstone to build your franchise around.

13. Tim Lincecum (SP, 27 years old) – It is frightening to think that he might be “boring” at this point as the next class of ace-potential young arms is making its presence felt in Year 2 of The Pitcher.  Ho-hum all The Freak does is continue to strike out the world (three straight K titles) and post excellent, Cy Young-caliber numbers.  After an un-Freak-like 3.43 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 2010, Lincecum appears to have taken steps to ensure that doesn’t happen again and has come out with a career-best 2.6 BB/9 so far this season with very little cost to his strikeout rate (down from 9.8 to 9.5 K/9).

14. Mike Stanton (RF, 21 years old) – Taking a guy who hasn’t yet reached 600 plate appearances at the major league level is risky but his off-the-charts power potential, youth and big time defense are worth taking the plunge to build around.

15. Jay Bruce (RF, 24 years old) – Between he and Stanton it’s another coin toss tradeoff where personal preference plays a big role.  Would you rather have more of a track record yet keep the power potential and star defense?  OK, it only costs three years.  Some would trade the years for the comfort of certainty.  I went the other way in this instance.

16. Bryce Harper (RF, 18 years old) – It’s really hard to take any player who has yet to see a pitch in the major leagues and build your franchise around him, but everything I have seen from this kid suggests he is worth it.  Still it’s a little scary starting your organization with someone who hasn’t even been to AA yet and then take him 17th overall, let alone 9th which is where Eric Karabell took him in ESPN’s draft.

17. Mike Trout (CF, 19 years old) – The only other prospect in my 30, Trout was also selected in the ESPN draft (12th) despite having never played in the majors.  His potential is slightly more realized with a season and a half (spread across 3 years) of professional ball under his belt and 47 games of mashing AA (.306/.413/.514).  He should no doubt hit AAA this year and could even debut for the Angels at some point in ’11.  He is a tick below Harper for me, but like a few others, this one could go either way.

18. Jose Reyes (SS, 28 years old) – Kind of forgotten after the last two years in which he totaled just 169 games, but he was still an above average player at a great position to build around.  He has only once been an elite defender, but he’s not a stone-handed, no-range shortstop, either.  I prefer someone who can make plays as I would definitely favor groundball/strikeout pitchers so I need my infield to be able to pick it.

19. Stephen Drew (SS, 28 years old) – This one will no doubt surprise people, but he has an above average bat with good-to-great defense (higher defensive value than Tulowitzki last year) at the premium position.  I would prefer as well-rounded a player as I can get depending on pick and who is available and Drew fits the bill nicely.  As I mentioned with Reyes, my infield defense needs to be tight or else they will hurt my franchise’s pitchers so I will bypass this next guy, who might not even be a shortstop soon, for the non-elite, but still very good Drew.

20. Hanley Ramirez (SS, 27 years old) – His ranking here is not an overreaction to his struggling two months, it is because we aren’t doing a fantasy draft here so his horrible defense matters.  Like I said, it might not even be sensible to leave him at short in a year or two which would cut into his overall value.  The offensive numbers are great, but dwindling and we may have seen the best of Ramirez with his .342 average in 2009 and 33 home runs in 2008.

21. Jose Bautista (RF/3B, 30 years old) – He was tough to slot.  He’s definitely become one of baseball’s best hitters in short order, but the track record remains scant with exactly a year and three months (starting in Sept. of ’09) of elite-level production.  Alas nothing in his profile suggests he can’t continue to be a great player and he has the flexibility of right or third base.  He is much better in right, but improvements at third suggest he wouldn’t kill you there if you acquired a big time right fielder later in the draft.

22. Adrian Gonzalez (1B, 29 years old) – Was his first basemenness (new word!) really enough to dissuade all 30 ESPN drafters from his five full seasons of 141 OPS+ coming into this season and a 149 mark so far this season now that he is out of Petco?  I’m sorry, but aren’t we in a power drought these last two years?  OK, enough questions… there is no question that Gonzalez is a top 30 pick for me.

23. Robinson Cano (2B, 28 years old) A major-impact bat at an up-the-middle position is a premium get and Cano is in the midst of such an impressive prime with the bat that his lagging defense isn’t as concerning.  What is somewhat concerning is a worry that second basemen fall off the table without warning as they reach their early 30s (Roberto Alomar and Brian Roberts to name a few; some fear Chase Utley is next) because of the strains the position puts on the body.

24. David Price (SP, 25 years old) – We are in a peak period for excellent young arms so I’m not inclined to chase one in with the first round pick, especially given the inherent risk associated with them, but there are still some who are a cut above and would earn my pick depending on slotting.  Price is just scratching the surface of his potential and I think he is going to be something truly special.

25. Justin Verlander (SP, 28 years old) – The definition of a workhorse, Verlander piles up the innings with relative ease.  With two no-hitters already to his credit, many believe he could add more as his career progress (more as in multiple, not just another one).  Averaging nearly seven innings a start keeps him long enough to give up some garbage runs at times as he is very good at pitching to the situation, but it also has kept his ERA in the 3.00s throughout his career when he definitely the talent to post a sub-3.00 season or two and make a huge push for a Cy Young Award.

26. Carl Crawford (LF, 29 years old) – Unless I was playing somewhere like Fenway Park that robs a ton of his defensive value, Crawford is an elite all-around asset with plenty left in the tank.  Had he stormed out of the gates in the first two months of the season, I’m sure he’d have been taken in the ESPN Draft, alas you only have one chance to take a closer or a backup catcher in the first round so Crawford was left out.

27. Shin-Soo Choo (RF, 28 years old) – This is a superstar from a pure numbers aspect, but playing for a last place team (until now) like Cleveland the last few years leaves him overshadowed and without the due he deserves.  He is the classic .300/.400/.500 guy with power, speed and defense.  A little older at 28, but hardly too old to build around at 28.

28. Buster Posey (C, 24 years old) – A pick here assumes that his recently-suffered injury won’t incapacitate him anymore than this year or cause a move out from behind the plate because that’s where his value is best, of course.  He will never be a pure slugger contending for home run titles and that is what you would want out of a first baseman being picked to start your franchise.

29. Roy Halladay (SP, 34 years old) – Yes, he is the best pitcher in baseball right now, but I can’t only be focused on the here & now.  He is 34 years old and I’m not sure it is the smartest thing to start a franchise with an arm that old.  Of course, if I was saddled with a later pick in the first round, I would take Halladay and the build my team with a lean toward trying to win immediately.  That doesn’t mean I’d take all old guys, but ties would be broken on who can help more immediately.

30. Carlos Santana (C, 25 years old) – He won’t last at catcher, but that’s OK because his bat is so great that you don’t want him automatically losing games due to the wear and tear of that position.  However, he does have less value at first base because he isn’t a true slugger, at least not yet.  I’ll take him now and enjoy another 2-3 years of him as a catcher/first base hybrid and then hopefully I’ll have a catcher in my organization to take over just as Santana enters his prime as a fully developed hitter.


So that’s my list.  I’m sure there are disagreements, perhaps some agreements and plenty of thoughts so feel free to share them.  For reference, here is the ESPN Franchise Draft & Chat.

Wednesday: 06.1.2011

With the 30th Pick in the MLB Restart Draft, Doug Glanville Selects…

When I first heard of the Franchise Player Draft at ESPN, I was intrigued by the idea.  To be honest, I only heard about in passing on Tuesday and knew it was going to be released to the public on Wednesday with a chat to discuss the picks.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, basically they took 30 members somehow tied to baseball whether writers, reporters, talking heads, analysts, etc… and did a one round draft under the premise of “If you were starting a franchise from scratch, you would take…” and they eliminated financial concerns from the equation.  Of course it is tough to think of players independent of their current financial and team control situations.

On the whole, it’s a pretty innocuous exercise that can be fun to discuss and think about on your own and wonder who you might take if you were given the chance to make a pick.  At least it’s better than those fake press conferences they used to do years ago.  Unfortunately, Doug Glanville had to ruin it.  There are more than 30 great players in baseball for whom you could make a case as a franchise starter, so there were going to be snubs regardless, but Glanville made a joke of the whole thing.

Let me say up front that I quite like Glanville.  I have his book in queue to read on my iPad later this summer, I like that he is a huge Strat-o-Matic fan (a recently adopted hobby of mine that has actually cut into my book reading in the last two months) and I respect his thoughts and opinions on the game.  The Penn educated former outfielder is no dummy and he knows and loves this great game.

All of that said, his pick in this draft was stupid.  It’s 100% indefensible and makes absolutely no sense no matter how you slice it.  With the 30th pick in this draft he took Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos.  Say what???  Glanville is the only person in the world who would start a major league franchise with Wilson Ramos.  Wilson Ramos’ mom wouldn’t take him with her first pick.  Ramos probably wouldn’t take himself if he was player/GM of a franchise.

Glanville’s rationale for the pick was that he wanted an up-the-middle presence to be the foundation of his team.  See?  I told you he was smart.  That is smart thinking.  If you’re building a team from the ground up, you want the best players you can get at catcher, shortstop, centerfield and second base.  Of course, his execution of an otherwise smart plan was an egregious misfire.  Ramos isn’t a complete shlub of player, he would eventually get drafted if this thing went several rounds, but there is no way he is the 30th guy off the board.

My first thought when I saw Glanville’s pick and justification was “I can think of 50 players of the top of my head, fulfilling his up-the-middle desires, that I would take ahead of Ramos.  And I could no doubt reach 200 if I veered from the middle of the field strategy instead just going for the best player.”  Alas, I went with my first thought and began punching up the 50 names.  Here are my results:

Ranked in Order of Preference by Position

I’m not trying to be smug or arrogant when I say coming up with that list wasn’t hard at all.  I also want to be clear that I wouldn’t necessarily take all 50 of those players with the #30 overall pick in a draft like this just that I would take every single of them over Ramos.  Ramos is a three time top-100 prospect with a reasonably bright future and the Twins would kill to have him back (they’d trade 3 Matt Cappses at this point), but there is simply ZERO justification for Glanville making that pick.  It’s like when someone takes their 10th-13th round sleeper in round 4 of a fantasy draft.  Sure, the player isn’t a completely worthless bum or anything, but there was no need to take him there as he’d have been available several rounds later even as a reach.

The clear #1 on that list of 50 for me is Andrew McCutchen.  He meets the up-the-middle criteria, he’s young and he’s also a very good hitter with across-the-board production.  Who would I have picked regardless of position had I been in that #30 spot?  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that.  I’m going to post my top 30 picks for this kind of draft.


Wednesday: 02.9.2011

Daily Dose – February 9th

As much as I hate the miserably cold (relative to our climate) weather that has besieged Austin, I am comforted by the knowledge that baseball is on the way and we are seeing more baseball preview content up every single day.  Soon MLB Network will start their 30 Clubs in 30 Days series and with that hopefully the bitter cold of mid-20s with near single digits wind chills will head back to the Midwest and Northeast where it belongs.  I wish this kind of weather understood how unwelcomed it was here in central Texas.  Go back to the people who are insane to actually crave four seasons of weather.  I’m fine with one: summer.

Ray Flowers (@BaseballGuys) has a fun series over at called “I Like Because…” where he digs deeper on some second and third tier players to show their upside.  He makes his case for getting away from the term “sleeper” positing that in the information age, they don’t really exist.  I see where he is coming from on the whole sleeper thing mainly because I think there are different levels of players being undervalued and putting them all under the header of sleeper simplifies it too much, but no need to rabbit-hole on that right now.  I still use the term, but I like to categorize my sleepers when I do articles dedicated to identifying them.

I don’t agree with everything in the article, but I do like that he gives some love to Justin Masterson, someone I’ve been a fan of for a couple of years now.  Masterson didn’t perform as I expected last year as he continues to get positively obliterated by left-handers.  He needs to figure that out if he is ever going to reach his potential.  For his career, lefties have a .291/.381/.433 line against him while righties are much worse at .228/.304/.322.  Until he shows noticeable improvement against southpaws, he is a spot-starter against right-handed-heavy lineups only.

Over at FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli (@cistulli) did some great analysis in examining some of the top scouts of the last five years.  Through his own admission, this piece is merely a jump off point to further analysis, but it is a very interesting study that I look forward to seeing fleshed out either by Cistulli or others.

As the baseball season draws nearer, so too does the release of MLB 2K11 (March 8th), the latest of a series that just keeps getting better annually.  Initially the bar was pretty low, but last year was a huge stride forward and 2011 is setting up to be yet another large step toward perfection.  Jon Robinson got a chance to interview Roy Halladay, this year’s cover, and discuss aspects of pitching a perfect game in 2K11 which is again will be worth a million bucks as it was last year, though Halladay admits it will be tougher.  I took a few no-hitters into the 8th inning last year and one into the 9th, but I was never more than six innings into perfection.  Operation Sports has plenty of MLB 2K11 coverage, too, including screenshots and previews. has released their fantasy baseball positional previews.  It’s a great primer to kick off your 2011 fantasy prep work.  They go deep at every position with 73 catchers, 83 first basemen, 95 second basemen, 85 third basemen, 81 shortstops, 202 outfielders, 21 primary DHs, 230 starting pitchers and 128 relievers.  Each player capsule has the pertinent previous 3 years of stats, projections for 2011, a dollar value, a paragraph with their outlook and a “Fantasy Bottom Line”.  Best of it, it’s all free.  It would be a value at $8-10 which is what you would pay for a fantasy magazine that is outdated long before it hits the shelf.

Want another opinion on players?  How about four more opinions?  Yahoo’s team of guy has released their positional rankings as well as a top 100.  These rankings are short on analysis containing just the 1 through however many deep each position goes, but the Y! gang will have plenty of content coming out throughout February and March so this is just something to whet your appetite for now.

Over at AOL Fanhouse, Frankie Piliere (@FrankiePiliere) released his top 100 prospects list for 2011.  His #1 player won’t surprise, but his #2 might as might a noticeable absence from the top five.  Piliere has experience as a talent evaluator and scout so this is far from a dartboard approach to he is using.  He certainly doesn’t tow the industry line either.  I scanned the list 1-100, but I’ve yet to read every capsule so I’m interested to see his analysis on players (1-50 have a paragraph of breakdown included).

Bill Ladson was on the Beyond the Boxscore podcast this week and he said he expects Stephen Strasburg to be pitching in September of this year.  That’s probably the most aggressive projection for Strasburg’s return as many have had him out for all of 2011.  If this is true, it possibly raises an interesting question for non-keeper drafters about whether or not to take Strasburg and when.  Obviously if you have to keep him in the active roster all year, there is no way you would draft him in March.

However, if there is a reserve roster system in your league then you have to weigh the potential of him helping you for a stretch run against killing a precious roster spot for a guaranteed five months.  For me personally, I wouldn’t even entertain it, but that’s my conservative approach.  Who knows what he would even deliver in six or seven starts to close out the season.  He could be like teammate Jordan Zimmerman who went 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 in seven starts or slightly better like Tim Hudson in 2009 who went 2-1 with a 3.61 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 also in seven starts.  Neither was a game-changer for their owner down the stretch, but neither has the talent of Strasburg, either.

OK, I like Blake Griffin as much as the next guy, but what the hell is going on here??  It’s pretty hilarious if you ask me, but definitely in a creepy kind of way.

In addition to being hilarious, this is also awesome: Saved by the Bell Megacast!  I don’t have a clue who Rob Cesternino or Eric Stein are, but by listening to the podcast I eventually learned that they are reality TV people of some sort.  That information is totally irrelevant.  All that matters is that they did a 2 hour and 51 minute podcast devoted solely to Saved by the Bell.  If you grew up loving the show like I did, watching the 2 hour blocks on cable during the weekdays and then the new episodes on Saturday mornings on NBC, then this is a must-listen.

Knowledge Bomb: In keeping with the theme of ranking lists being released today, I’ll share my top 24 catchers for 2011 in today’s KB.  Catcher remains top-heavy in terms of star power, but the next level down is much deeper than it has been in past years.  Catcher is a tough position to figure in fantasy baseball because it’s the only position with built in days off and the grind of catching can easily add extra days off to that total thanks to nicks and bruises throughout the season.

It is rare that the top catcher will be on par with the top guys at the other positions.  The exceptions are transcendent seasons like Joe Mauer’s 2009 campaign.  One strategy to consider is find catcher-eligible guys who will spend a lot or even most of their time elsewhere on the diamond this year.  Their value will still be highest at catcher on your roster, but if their team plays them at first base, outfield or DH, that’s a good thing for your team.

  1. Joe Mauer
  2. Victor Martinez
  3. Brian McCann
  4. Buster Posey
  5. Carlos Santana
  6. Mike Napoli
  7. Geovany Soto
  8. Miguel Montero
  9. Matt Wieters
  10. Kurt Suzuki
  11. Carlos Ruiz
  12. Chris Iannetta
  13. Jorge Posada
  14. Yadier Molina
  15. J.P. Arencibia
  16. A.J. Pierzynski
  17. John Buck
  18. Miguel Olivo
  19. Ryan Doumit
  20. Alex Avila
  21. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
  22. John Jaso
  23. Russell Martin
  24. Jesus Montero
  25. Jason Castro

Overvalued: Buster Posey – his great debut and playoff exposure has him going in the 4th round of a lot of drafts.  That’s really high for most catchers, but especially for those with just 423 at-bats on their record, even for a wunderkind like Posey.

Undervalued: A.J. Pierzynski – he’s not great by any stretch, but he’s often overlooked.  2011 will be no different as a putrid April and weak May tanked his numbers and covered up a .299 AVG/.719 OPS in the second half (up from .247/.664).

Best of the Rest: Josh Thole – a great approach at the plate (24 BB/25 K in 227 PA) plus a wide open chance at the full-time gig gives the 24-year old a chance at a solid season.  He’s never had even a modicum of power (10 HR in 1733 minor lg PAs) and that’s really what you want from your backstop which is why he didn’t crack the first 25.

Rookie to Watch: Jesus Montero – it’s hard not to be impressed with the prospects of Montero as he has ripped through the minor leagues like few before him, but the presence of Posada and Martin make it tough to project much playing time for the 21-year old right now.  Given that he needs to work on his defense if he expects to stay behind the dish, he’s like to spend a lot of time in AAA to hone his defensive skills.

I’ll leave you with a breakdown of reporting dates for each organization as we get closer & closer to the beginning of Spring Training:

Tuesday: 02.8.2011

Daily Dose – February 8th

I can’t believe how close pitchers and catchers are to reporting.  Baseball season is right around the corner, I can feel it!!  It’s the only thing getting me through this awful cold weather.  Let’s hit the dose for Tuesday:

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Tosh (@danieltosh) since he was an unknown comic doing Taco Bell commercials years ago.  I saw him at the local comedy club around that time and the next time he was in Austin, I was one of the three comics who got to open for him.  Once I heard he was going to have a show, Tosh.0, I didn’t really care what it was going to be about, I knew I’d watch it.  I have not been disappointed as it’s easily one of, if the funniest show on TV.  As much as it makes me laugh on a week to week basis, this clip might be my favorite of all-time:

A while back, Unreality Magazine did a piece covering the 10 Hottest Girls in TV Comedies.  I figured it was a pretty good idea for a column.  While I disagree with some inclusions and the order, it is hard to argue with the content otherwise.  Alison Brie and Katrina Bowden were far too low given that they actually excel in both the hotness and the comedy whereas some were included merely because they are very pretty and part of comedy shows even if they aren’t particularly funny themselves.

No arguments for the picture of Kaley Cuoco they used as she looks great there, but anyone who watches Big Bang Theory knows that that particular picture is definitely Ms. Cuoco at her peak.  I’d have had a bit further down the list despite the fact that she’s pretty funny on BBT.  By the way, I’m sure I’m one of many, but I was saying that the eldest daughter on Modern Family looked like a younger Mila Kunis from the very first moment I watched the show.  It’s a pretty easy link so I’m not trying to suggest I started it or anything.  Any time you are getting compared to Mila Kunis, you know you’re awesome.

A pair of tweets about two of the best Cleveland Indians players had to give fans some hope for the upcoming season.  Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) tweeted that Grady Sizemore is running and taking swings with April 1st, Opening Day for the Tribe, not out of the question.  Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians Twitter feed (@tribeinsider) tweeted that Carlos Santana has been cleared for batting practice and catching activities.  Olney mentioned that Santana is a bit ahead of Sizemore in the rehab process.

Over at Beyond the Boxscore, Justin Bopp (@justinbopp) created a sweet picture of Albert Pujols’ spray chart from last year.  Click on the picture itself and it enlarges to about 3x the size.  He also did one for Carlos Gonzalez last month.  I’m a sucker for infographics like this which is why I can’t get enough of Craig Robinson’s work over at Flip, Flop, Flyball.  If you’re familiar with Robinson’s work, you might want to pre-order the FFFb book due out in July.  Hell, even if you’re not familiar with it, you’ll love it once you click the link and you’ll still want to pre-order the book.

ESPN is running a series of columns grading each team on their offseason grouped by division.  Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) and Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) have done the first four (East & Central) and I’d assume they’re going to do the whole series.  Crasnick covered the American League East and Central while Stark had the National League East and Central.

Sticking with the Worldwide Leader, they have been posting videos from their Fantasy Baseball Summit a few weeks back and it could be (read: most definitely is) because I’m kind of a dork, but I’m loving them.  They started with a Mark Teixeira v. Kevin Youkilis debate and have since released clips on Jayson Werth, Joe Nathan and Adam Wainwright.  The Wainwright clip is especially interesting and I suggest everyone in mixed or NL-Only leagues take a look.

One thing I really enjoy about John Sickels’ Minor League Ball site are his series articles.  The ones I can think of off the top of my head that he does are Crystal Ball, Prospect Retro and Career Profiles.  He’s been doing a lot of reader request Career Profiles of late and I recommend you check them out: Eric Chavez, Francisco Liriano, James Loney, Rickie Weeks and Jayson Werth are just a few that I really enjoyed.  You can look through the rest here and find players that interest you most.  In addition to Project Prospect, who I mentioned yesterday, Sickels’ site is another must-read for anyone interested in the minor leagues.  Whether you already consider yourself a prospect maven or you’re interested in becoming one, his stuff is great.

Twitter Recommendation: CNBC sports business report, Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell), is an absolute must-follow on Twitter.  Don’t let the sports biz moniker deter you either, he covers more than just sports and posts tons of interesting facts and great links about a wide variety of topics.  If I could only pick five people to follow on Twitter, Rovell would easily earn a spot.

Knowledge Bomb: Be careful with stats, they can be dangerous.  Houston Astros third baseman Chris Johnson came out of nowhere last season to put up 94 games of fantasy goodness including 11 HR, 52 RBIs and .308 AVG.  Some will look at his line and think that a full season will bring about even better numbers for the 26 year old in 2011.  In fact, I’ve seen him being trumpeted over Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez based on one stat: OPS.

In his 362 plate appearances, Johnson posted an .818 OPS.  Make no mistake, that’s a pretty solid figure especially for an unknown like Johnson.  Not many think he can repeat next year (including me), but those that do have dangerously wielded that .818 OPS around like a sword.  In his 386 plate appearances, Alvarez “only” had a .788 OPS, 30 points away from Johnson.

While OPS is a useful stat for quick and dirty catch-all production estimations, not all OPS marks are created equally.  The problem here is that OPS brings batting average into the equation so a fluky batting average, like Johnson’s which was powered by a .387 BABIP, can artificially boost one’s OPS.   Alvarez had just a .256 average which cut deep into the OBP end of OPS.  But when you go second level and look at the Isolated Power of each, Alvarez clearly has the brighter future based on their first 90+ games.

Isolated Power is Slugging Percentage minus Batting Average.  Alvarez popped a .205 IsoP, 5th among National League third basemen.  Johnson had a .175 mark, good for 9th.  Alvarez probably won’t hit .300 in 2011, he may not even top .270, but as Johnson’s luck regresses his average will sink and he may end up struggling to stay above .270 himself.  Without the batting average advantage, you start comparing the two in runs scored, driven in and home runs and Alvarez wins a walk.

Alvarez has legitimate 25 home run power already with the potential for more while Johnson is a middling power contributor who will likely top out in the mid-teens.  He’s one to avoid for 2011 as his 2010 numbers, including his OPS, will undoubtedly inflate his value to a level that won’t be commensurate with his performance this year.  If you want a bargain at the thin hot corner, talk up Alvarez’s down average and strikeout tendencies and then swoop in and take him and reap the hefty rewards.

Pitchers and Catchers report in five days…

Monday: 02.7.2011

Daily Dose – February 7th

Today is being unofficially tagged as the official start of baseball as it marks the end of football for… who knows?  For me the baseball season never really ends.  The Hot Stove and offseason is enough to keep my baseball juices flowing even after the playoffs end.  I don’t hate football or anything like that.  I fully understand the game, have a rooting interest in both the pro and college games, but it’s easily #2 to baseball for me.  So those who are turning the page on football to focus their attention baseball are merely joining me and others who are entrenched in baseball year-round.  Before we turn that page, let’s start the Dose with a little Super Bowl coverage:

The commercials have by and large been a major dud the last four or five years as the ad execs appear to have just mailed it in anymore and decided to aim only at the lowest common denominator.  I expected the same this year, but I was pleasantly surprised when the best of bunch wasn’t just the least annoying work of the night, but rather legitimately quality work.  As a native Detroit resident, I’m partial to the Chrysler ad with Eminem and that ended up as my favorite of the night:

I could understand how those from Detroit might not enjoy it as much as me and Michigan brethren, but I was surprised that there was actually some legitimate backlash against the spot.  Of course the loudest critic I saw of the ad also thought the Motorola ad for their fake iPad was good so perhaps commercial critiquing isn’t their strong suit.

I also enjoyed what seems to be the overwhelming fan favorite of the night drawing off of the early week buzz it got by releasing before the Super Bowl, the Darth Vader/Volkswagen commercial.  During the game was first time I had seen it and I definitely enjoyed it.  It worked very well even as a 30-second spot, but there’s a full minute one if you haven’t seen it:

And just so this doesn’t become a complete recap of all the commercials everyone has already seen, two others that I really enjoyed were the NFL Fans one and the Bridgestone Reply All.  I was really surprised that the Reply All ad ended up being for Bridgestone, but I guess they were going for straight humor regardless of how it related to their product.

One more video before I get into some actual baseball stuff at the BASEBALL by Paul website.  I will admit out front that I don’t find Kenny Mayne particularly funny.  I used to enjoy him on SportsCenter to the point where I still use some of his catchphrases, but his brand of humor is pretty much one note and wears quickly.  All of that said, I loved his Super Bowl Mayne Event about Mike McCarthy.  Of course, it is entirely because of Matt Damon.  Just another reason why he’s my favorite actor.

And now for some baseball:

Dirk Hayhurst is one of the more popular ballplayers around thanks to his Bullpen Gospels which I believe started out as a blog and eventually become a book (which I own, but have yet to read).  His Twitter, The Garfoose, is pretty popular just for the unique name, but also because he has brought his blogging goodness to the 140-character format.  I believe he is scheduled to be on the Jonah Keri Podcast on Tuesday, too.  But I especially enjoyed his 10 Commandments for Social Media for Professional Athletes.   There’s a lot of wisdom to be found within those commandments, especially in light of how many athletes have thoroughly embarrassed themselves or outright buried themselves on the medium.

Razzball has released their Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Players for 2011.  Surprisingly, Albert Pujols does not top the rankings.  I’m 100% fine with their top guy.  I loved their outlook on the ultra-popular Rockies so far this offseason, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez as well as their thoughts on Matt Kemp.  Of course they were WAY too high on Ryan Howard for my tastes so there is give and take throughout the list.

Even if you are not big into prospects, I encourage you to check out Project Prospect’s Top 100 Prospect List released today.  It is a very handy fantasy tool if your league drafts minor leaguers, but also all fantasy players should be up on the next wave of talent.  It’s basically the last bastion of knowledge in which one can gain an edge on their opponents.  And it’s not like the window for it will close because prospecting is far from an exact science.  Adam Foster (@AdamWFoster) and his crew are doing excellent work on the prospecting front over at PP and I highly recommend you check them out.

Speaking of prospects, NBC Hardball Talk reports that Toronto’s Kyle Drabek may not have a firm innings cap placed on him this season.  You may recall last year that there was a lot of talk around San Diego placing a cap on Mat Latos’ innings.  It likely caused him to be much cheaper in drafts and auctions than if news like this had come out or if nothing at all had been said.  Instead, everyone was so worried about his season ending at 150 innings that they waited too long or pass altogether.  He ended up throwing 185 brilliant innings for a competing Padres team.  Bet on the talent and let the playing time factors play out as the season progresses.

And finally, in what has unintentionally become my Baseball Prospectus Plug O’ the Day, I suggest you hightail it over there as fast as you can because if you had reservations about paying, you can get it all for free today and see what I’ve been talking about all this time.  The free preview coincides with the release of their PECOTA Projections.

Friday: 02.4.2011

Daily Dose – February 4th

A quick dose today as we prepare for snow here in Austin.  Yes, snow.  It’s still something of a novelty here, but it’s not all that rare as we’ve had snow a couple of times in the last few years.  Of course it will still paralyze the city and no one will have any clue how to drive in it.  By the way, we are looking at 1-2 inches… yep, that’s enough to paralyze the city.  OK summer, you can come back anytime now.  HURRY!!!

Beyond the Boxscore’s Daniel Moroz (@CamdenCrazies) put together a great piece on the worst 30 home run seasons in baseball.  I was sad to see that Curtis Granderson made the list for his 2009 season, but at least he was one of the “best”.  It is pretty stunning how awful the worst of the bunch was in overall value (or severe & utter lack thereof).

One of the biggest questions in fantasy baseball circles this offseason is around the projections of Jose Bautista for 2011.  After his insane breakout 54 home run season, everyone is interested to see if it was a total flop or if he is a legitimate top power hitter in the league now.  Jon Paul Morosi (@jonpaul) has piece out explains why he thinks Bautista shouldn’t be ignored.  As for his fantasy value, expectations are the key.  If you are looking for another 54 home runs, you’re almost certainly going to be disappointed, but if you want 32-36 with 105-115 RBIs, a decent batting average and a great on-base percentage (some leagues use OBP), then Bautista is your guy.  He’s not Brady Anderson 2.0, folks.

Royals Authority writer Nick Scott (@brokenbatsingle) asks whether it was the year of the pitcher or the year of the smaller bat?  An interesting query that takes an in depth look at how a small change could’ve had a significant impact.  Scott makes clear that the bat change was likely a contributing factor to the decreased offense we saw in addition to other theories floated as opposed to a singular reason.

Oh no!!  One of my favorite players went to one of my least favorite teams.  Lastings Milledge has joined the Chicago White Sox, hated rival of my beloved Detroit Tigers.  I can’t believe Milledge is already in “minor league contract” territory.  I love that guy and I really thought he was going to be awesome.  I guess at 26 he can still have a career resurgence (or I guess it would be a career surgence in his case).  As author Satchel Price points out in a Milledge comparison, this proves that while their farm system may be baseball’s best, the Royals front office remains horribly inept when it comes to free agent signings.  I’m pulling for Lastings as long as he doesn’t rip my Tigers.

I’m not sure when this became available, but I wouldn’t be surprised if NBC saw Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness go viral and then decided to make it into a poster they could sell for $19.95.  Parks & Recreation just might be the best show on TV right now and it’s due in large part to Ron Swanson.

Not only is Parks & Rec hilariously awesome, but it also features the lovely Rashida Jones who I have been a huge fan of since Boston Public back in 2000.  She was in some things after BP, but I don’t recall seeing her again until 2008 when she was on a pile of crap show called Unhitched which was also on FOX.  I watched it strictly because of her.  Since then she had a recurring role on The Office and I’d say that really set her career in motion with movies roles (I Love You, Man, The Social Network) and P&R all coming shortly after her Office arc.  She’s awesome:

The new book Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won has drawn mixed reviews from what I have read on Twitter.  I’ve seen some say it’s fantastic and a must read while others question the methodology behind some of the studies.  It’s on my list to read, but I’m waiting for it to come out in iBooks so I can use my iTunes giftcard to get it.  That’s more information than you need, but I can’t recommend it one way or another right now, but I can recommend this New York Times article on the Freakonomics blog where the authors answer questions about the book.

With Spring Training (thankfully) drawing nearer, Alex Remington of FanGraphs wonders if the Grapefruit League may soon become a relic thanks in large part to the sprawling stadium locations in Florida that pale in comparison to cluster, convenient facilities in Arizona.  Having been to both sites (Arizona for the Fall League only), it’s hard not to see Alex’s point.  When I went to see my Tigers in Lakeland, it wasn’t easy to plan on hitting other games.  The only other venue I made it out to was Tampa to see the Yankees and that was 45 minutes away.  It’s just a much better set up in Arizona.

Even though I’m more of an SVU fan myself, this statistical breakdown of the first 10 seasons of Law & Order is fantastic.  I always enjoy stuff like this if for no other reason than to respect the effort put into such a creation.  The author ends with his rendition of the famous L&O sound which he put down as “Ka-CHUNG”.  I’ve never heard that way, for me it’s always been “Dun-Dun!”

It was a sad day for Amanda Rykoff (@amandarykoff) as Andy Pettitte announced his retirement.  Though she took the news pretty hard, she mustered enough energy to put together a Farewell for the Yankee legend.  I’m about as far from a Yankees fan as you can get, but Pettitte was always one of the Yankees I liked as he helped me in multiple fantasy seasons.  I don’t think he’s Hall of Fame despite a great career.  It has nothing to do with the HGH issue, I just don’t think his body of work merits a Hall plaque.

And those who quote his or any other Yankees’ accumulated postseason numbers (most innings, most wins, whatever…), just stop.  That has more to do with circumstance than it does any significant skill.  Pettitte was strong in the playoffs, I’m not denying that don’t quote me accumulation stats as reasons why he should be in the Hall.  There just isn’t a HOF case for him.  Not now.  Not ever.  He will get more consideration than he deserves both because he is a Yankee and because of the postseason success, but in the end I think the writers will do the right thing and leave him out.

It’s hard not to laugh when Justin Bieber booed essentially just for being Justin Bieber as he is here:

And spare me with this idiot crying.  Shut the hell up, clown.  (Hat tip to Sharapova’s Thigh [@sharapovasthigh] for the video.)

Blog recommendation: If you’re a baseball fan and you’re not reading Buster Olney’s (@Buster_ESPN) blog daily then you’re missing out.  It is behind the Insider pay wall, but ESPN has made that well worth it in the past few years.  Olney, Keith Law (@keithlaw) and Chad Millman (@chadmillman) alone make it worth the money, but that’s far from all of the valuable material you get with it.  You can get Insider for $26 and it comes with a subscription to ESPN Magazine.  That’s a pretty great deal.  No, ESPN did not pay me for this plug.  I just think it’s a great product.  And if you’ve followed me on Twitter for any amount of time, you know I’m not afraid to tear into the Worldwide Leader when they deserve it (which is often).

Programming Note: I doubt anyone really cares, but since I write this at night I’m going to start dating it for the following day.  A lot of times I’m not finished until after midnight anyway and it just feels kinda weird promoting a piece dated as yesterday even though it’s only a few hours old when I post the link on Twitter in the morning.  So basically there will be no Daily Dose for February 3rd as this one will be the for Friday February 4th.