A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Javy and Me: A Documentation of Excellence

We all have our vices. John Gortakowski and long, imaginative articles, Tom & Sean Byrnes and New York Yankees, Devin Rochford and adult diapers, Adam Shave and elite prospects, Mike Gortakowski and “Chemonomics,” Francis McFadden Jr. and highest points against total, and, most of all, Brian McFadden and Javy Vazquez.

It all started two years ago, in 2005 Brian McFadden and the Guns of Navarone toughed out their most despicable season in franchise history. Doomed by first and third round busts Carlos Beltran and Jim Thome, McFadden watched his team stumble through the first part of the season… Down the corridor of the 4th floor of Finlay Hall, Devin Rochford, the eventual champion, pondered the numerous ways he could improve his team. Would it be by trading one of his overrated arms or, perhaps, dealing an important bat? As we all know, a champion’s work is never done. Devin eventually found himself negotiating with eventual rival Brian McFadden in a blockbuster deal that would ship Javy Vazquez and Brad Penny to the Guns for 1B/OF Brad Wilkerson and SP/Punk Rocker Derek Lowe. And the rest, they say, is history. Javier L. Vazquez and Brian McFadden have been inseparable ever since.

They have double-dated, shared stock advice, and even named their children after one another (see: Brian Rodrigo Vazquez). The fact of the matter is, there would be no Guns of Navarone without Javier Vazquez. As always, Brian McFadden drafted Vazquez in this past March’s 2007 ICC draft. The selection was met with mock laughter as rivals John Gortakowski and Tom Byrnes merely shook their heads in amusement. “McFadden is the most predictable drafter in the league… We all knew he was going to take Vazquez, he surprised no one,” said Dr. Gorto after the draft.

McFadden, however, could give a shit about what everyone thought about his main man. “I know that everyone laughed when I drafted Javy, but I felt that I owed it to him. We’ve been through a lot together,” said the Guns owner. In the end, McFadden revealed that Javy would not be relied upon in a weekly role for the Guns, rather, as a spot starter if injuries plagued the team down the road. Acquisitions of Jake Westbrook and Ervin Santana made the chance of starting Vazquez even slimmer as the two young guns displayed more potential than the “average” Vazquez had over his career.

When Week 14 approached the Guns of Navarone faced off against Devin Rochford and Los Guapos, who stole a win away from him in Week 2 of the 2007 season. “I wanted in,” stated Vazquez, “I have always had it out for Devin ever since that mid-season trade. I love beating up on him.” According to reports, Vazquez spent several hours in McFadden’s office pleading his case for the start. Eventually, his friend and GM gave in. “Out of respect, Javy deserved this start,” McFadden stated, “Seriously, he could be a number 3 or 4 on any other team.” Vazquez made the most of the opportunity as he completely bent Rochford and Los Guapos over a chair scoring 71 points for the Guns of Navarone. “I can’t remember ever getting a performance like that out of a starting pitcher,” McFadden said on Sunday night, “Javy’s two complete games are the sole reason for our win this week.”

“Screw him!” Rochford exclaimed, “I had the chance to get that guy back two weeks ago and I turned the deal down!” Rochford slammed the door to his office shut knowing that rejecting that deal was the different between 3 games back and 1 game back of the top spot in the South. In fact, Rochford could’ve swept divisional play in Weeks 12-14 with the help of Javy Vazquez… instead he went 1-2.

Around the league others couldn’t believe the Guns’ prolific comeback. “Javy Vazquez?!?!?!? 71 points?!?!?!? I could use that instead of Ollie Perez’s microscopic 11 points per week!” screamed Francis McFadden Jr. “Who’s Javy Vazquez?” questioned Noel Johnson, “If he’s a starting pitcher let me know… I could use that!” But instead McFadden remains mum on the trade rumors surrounding Vazquez, “At this time, I have no comment on that status of Javy,” said McFadden, “he has and continues to be one of the most serviceable players in franchise history and we are grateful for his presence on the team.” On Sunday night, baseball took a vacation. All-Star flew to San Francisco, others traveled home. Javy Vazquez sat poolside, biting down on a Cuban, glass of lemonade in hand, staring into the intense sun rays knowing that he had single-handedly secured a three-game lead for the Guns of Navarone.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fantasy Baseball Musings: Second Half Studs

For a minute, I just want to write about something I care about more than anything else in sports: Fantasy Baseball. It’s true, call me a nerd, call me whatever you want. I’ve really heard it all and I don’t care. My roommate and my girlfriend have witnessed me purchasing champagne to put on ice during championship weeks. They’ve seen me have mood-swings indicating some sort of bizarre bi-polar disorder depending on my team’s outing that particular week. In sum, during the baseball season—it controls my life.

My team, The Guns of Navarone (Pulp Fiction reference), won seven games in a row this season. The streak ended after I lost to the same man that defeated me in last season’s championship game: Tom Byrnes. I deserved it though. Every Monday it’s somewhat hard to set my line up in the best possible order due to my work schedule. For anyone who knows my line of work (beat reporter for both the Mets and Yankees), that may seem rather strange. Think what you will, I’ve made calls to my younger sister (who could care less about baseball) to make last minute adjustments to my roster before the deadline (mainly because I know that I can trust her to blindly make the move that I ask her to).

For instance, I drafted Mike Piazza at the start of this year solely because he was set to become the full-time designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics. Now, as anyone who has followed baseball knows, he’s been on the DL for an extend (maybe 2.5-3 months) because the A’s want to make him a regular catcher. I am ready to pull my hair out on a weekly basis, as I have to scout a new catcher every week to insert into my, otherwise, solid lineup. This week, David Ross has gone 0-for-ever up until a solo HR on Saturday afternoon.

At any rate, this is an example of the moves I will ask my sister to make just seconds before rosters lock each week. I reference each player's 2007 stats for the year thus far plus Ron Shandler’s documentation of 2006 stats. I attempt to draw parallels between the Baseball Prospectus and the Baseball Forecaster to achieve the most accurate numbers for a give player in a given part of the year. This brings me to the second half of the 2007 season…

Richie Sexson is one of the worst fundamental batters in MLB history. If he doesn’t connect for a home run, he strikes out. His biggest knock is that he bats around .265 to .270 every year, which isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either. So much of what’s “great” and “horrible” in baseball depends on a player's contract anyway… which is good for fantasy baseball managers. In this instance, Sexson bats around .200 in the first half of every season, meaning that, if the numbers don’t lie, he’s capable of batting around .310 for the rest of the season, thus bringing him to that “horrible” .267 batting-average.

The same can be said for Adam LaRoche, a player who, up until 2006, was a career platoon first baseman for the Atlanta Braves. In ’06, however, LaRoche stepped it up. He batted almost one-hundred points higher in the second half of the season than he did the first half. What that means is that the Pirates may get their money’s worth in the second half of 2007. In every league I belong to I’ve been attempting to acquire LaRoche, in most I’ve been rejected. This is mainly a result of the offering of uneven deals based on LaRoche’s average draft position (ADP). Therefore, an offer of Nate Robertson for LaRoche would never be accepted by opposing owners.

Jermaine Dye is another player who has made a living off great second half’s, much to the tune of historic second half players like Eric Chavez and Aramis Ramirez. While Dye has been injured and struggling for the early part for 2007, what’s stopping him from ending up with his usual numbers of around.280 with upwards of 25-30 home runs. The guy can obviously his, his slugging percentage hasn’t dipped at an incredible enough rate that owners should give up on him…

In the end, there are a number of other players who have great career second half numbers. It just takes a little research and dedication to figure out whom your team should target and who should be the next to leave you fantasy team. For me, it’s hard to decide, mainly because I feel like my team is holding a number of really good young players combined with a healthy portion of veterans. Perhaps my main concern bounces between Ervin Santana, Javy Vazquez, and Phil Hughes. Obviously, Hughes has the best potential of the three, but currently Vazquez, the vet, has pitched the best. Santana falls somewhere in between. I remember 3 years ago when Peter Gammons sat on the set of Baseball Tonight and told the world that in 4 to 5 years fans would be talking about Ervin Santana as the best Santana in baseball (referring to annual Cy Young contender Johan). Well Pete… I’m still waiting for the guy you warned about. It would be really nice if he showed up every once in a while…