Sunday, June 29, 2008

This week's column: The glass is half full

This week in print I'm taking an optimistic look at some slumping superstars, from Gary Sheffield to Carlos Pena to Erik Bedard, as we move closer to the second half of the season.

Check me out here or in your Herald Sunday sports section.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Chase is on for Headley

Feel like your fantasy team needs a spark? Look no further than Padres super-prospect Chase Headley, recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Portland.

Headley, a third baseman-turned-outfielder, was hitting .305 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 65 games for Portland. He was immediately inserted into San Diego's lineup, playing left field and going 2-for-4 with two strikeouts while batting sixth.

The switch-hitting, 23-year-old Headley has been compared to the Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria in terms of offensive potential. He should at least be a dependable bat from here on out and is certainly worth a look in most mixed leagues (and definitely in NL-only leagues). There's also a chance he may see some time at third after Kevin Kouzmanoff experienced some back pain and was a late scratch from Tuesday's game. I suspect Headley will be scooped up in a good majority of leagues in the coming days, so now's the time to grab him if you're interested.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

This week's column: Overdoming injuries

Injuries to Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano or David Ortiz got you down? This week's column will help you cope. You can read it in Sunday's Herald sports section or online at

Friday, June 13, 2008

An open letter to Billy Wagner

I'd like to take this opportunity to send a special message to my pal Billy Wagner.

Dear Billy,

Sorry we haven't had much time to chat since I traded for you a couple weeks ago. It's been pretty hectic for me at work, and you've been busy blowing saves and whatnot.

I was pretty excited when I traded for you back on May 22, Billy. I was sorry to see Tim Hudson go, but I really needed saves, and you had been almost perfect up until then. That's why I didn't even break a sweat when you blew a save the day after I traded for you. I mean, you're Billy Wagner. You've got more than 300 freakin' career saves. Your entrance song is Enter Sandman, for gosh sakes.

Things were cool after that. You saved four games in a row, and everything was really great. But then, on June 8, you blew another one. And then another one. And then another one. That's three in a row, Bill. We can't have this. I need you. The Mets need you. It's almost as if you're trying to get Willie Randolph fired or something. As if you don't respect the guy or you're not on the same page or something.

Let's get it together, Bill. If I wanted blown saves I would have picked up Jason Isringhausen instead of you. I want to see that old Billy Wagner I used to know. He's still in there somewhere. Set him free, Bill. Set him free.



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is this the end for John Smoltz?

Terrible news for John Smoltz and his owners ... the 41-year-old Braves pitcher is having season-ending surgery.

It's been a whirlwind season for Smoltzie, who got off to a very hot start to the season before he experienced inflammation in his shoulder. After a stint on the DL, the talk was Smoltz would return to his former role as Atlanta's closer. But after a successful rehab, he blew a save in his first appearance back in the majors, woke up the next day with a sore shoulder, and now he's done for the year.

This is a big blow to anyone who built their rotation around Smoltz, but his owners likely already prepared themselves for the worst when he got hurt the first time. Those who have held onto Rafael Soriano throughout his own lengthy stay on the DL are now rewarded with a guy who could be one of the league's better closers from here on out. If he should falter, Manny Acosta and the soon-to-return Mike Gonzalez might get a shot, but for now, the job is Soriano's to lose.

As for Smoltz, is this the end? Smoltz doesn't think so, but we'll have to wait and see.

Photo by The Associated Press

Monday, June 2, 2008

A thank you to the Supreme Court

Apparently Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a fantasy baseball fan. Who knew?

OK, perhaps that's a stretch. But Ginsburg and her fellow Supreme Court justices on Monday refused to hear a case involving Major League Baseball and a company that operates a fantasy baseball site. It seems MLB was denying Missouri-based C.B.C. Distribution and its CDM Fantasy Sports site a license to feature players' names and statistics in their fantasy baseball games, arguing that using individual likenesses for profit was a violation of the players' privacy rights. Other courts have already ruled that enforcing state law would be a violation of C.B.C.'s First Amendment right to free speech.

So what does it all mean for us? In a nutshell, the fantasy world goes on as normal. If MLB and other pro sports leagues had their way, they'd hold power over all the sites that get to run fantasy operations. They have already been limiting their licensing agreements to a select few sites - ESPN, Yahoo, etc. - who are allowed to use players' names and likenesses, for a fee of course. If the courts ruled in its favor in this case, MLB might try to become the sole operator of fantasy sites, forcing all of us together under one umbrella on one site. Other sites would disappear without access to real-life players' names and their real-life stats, the two essential parts of fantasy baseball. But now, with the Supreme Court turning a deaf ear to this case, it's a huge victory that allows other sites appear to continue operating as normal. And we as fantasy players benefit by having more choices regarding which sites to use for our leagues.

The MLB's argument that it should have exclusive control of players' stats is bogus. Shouldn't any site have the right to say that Ryan Braun hit 34 homers last year? Isn't that public knowledge? MLB was arguing that stats are intellectual property, but that argument didn't seem to hold much water when you consider every newspaper and TV station in the country has been allowed to use those same stats in their products. And baseball's concerns about other companies profiting off their players is ludicrous. If anything, interest in fantasy baseball has helped drive up the record-breaking revenues MLB has enjoyed in recent years. As one fantasy baseball fan told the Associated Press, "I follow games I’d never have followed. I’ll flip on a Rangers-Mariners game that I would never have cared about before to see a Josh Hamilton at-bat. It draws me in a lot more.’’

I think we can all tell a similar story. And we can all thank the Supreme Court for protecting the game we love.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

This week's column: Class of 2008

This week I'm taking an in-depth look at the MLB rookies you need to know, from Yankees phenom Joba Chamberlain to Bradenton's Chris Perez to Rays to pick David Price.

You can read all about them here or in Sunday's Herald sports section.