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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

5/31 - The end of May. The NBA is approaching the finals (and David Stern must be rooting bigtime for Cleveland). The baseball season has taken on a significant texture already, although there are still plenty of surprises in store, no doubt. The U.S. Open golf tournament is less than 2 weeks away. And workers all across the northern hemisphere are looking forward to summer vacations.

It’s a good time. Even those whose only fantasy sports interest is football have something to anticipate. I got the first football issue of Fantasy Sports Magazine in yesterday’s mail, so I guess it’s not too early to start draft planning. Or at least to start thinking about starting draft planning.

Although a few hitters had big games yesterday, pitchers seemed to have the upper hand. There were five shutouts and two complete games, plus several other solid outings, including Randy Johnson, who surrendered only one baserunner in six scoreless innings in Philly. He seems to be enjoying his return to the NL. Next week we’ll find out if Roger Clemens wishes he’d remained behind in the NL. It’s not as though the Yankees have been outscoring many teams lately – although they have been outscoring the Astros, who have managed an average of only 2 runs per game over the last two weeks. So from Clemens’ perspective, even the Yankees must look like the Bronx Bombers.

The Memorial Tournament is underway, and 102 of the field of 114 have found their way into GuruGolf action this week. The popular favorites are Stewart Cink and Peter Lonard.

5/30 - He’s doing it again! No, I’m not talking about Armando Benitez snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – although that would certainly apply as well. I’m talking about the outrageous home-away splits for Angels starter Ervin Santana. Baseball is loaded with statistical anomalies, and I often think that many are just that – anomalies due to nothing more than natural statistical variability. Heading into this season, Santana’s H/A discrepancy was widely recognized. He was 19-5 at home, with a 3.09 ERA, while being 9-11 on the road with a 6.46 ERA. So this year, I figured the gap would start to dissipate. Not! So far in 2007, he has an 0-5 record with a 9.30 ERA on the road, while going 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA at home. Regardless of the underlying reason, I guess that’s a distinction that merits respect! Maybe the Angels should consider a modified-Clemens approach with him, under which they never let him accompany the team on the road.

The Memorial golf tournament tees off tomorrow morning, and while the weekend weather looks like a potential problem, Thursday calls for sunshine. A lot of GuruGolf rosters still have inactive golfers. Get ‘em set!

5/29 - With only 12 MLB games yesterday, nine starting pitchers posted triple-digit TSNPs, and none of them was named Santana (who managed only 93). While many starters were doing well, closers were having a more difficult time, as several top ones were imploding, and even Papelbon had a narrow escape, assisted by a “HBP strikeout.” With runners on 2nd and 3rd, one out, and two strikes, Papelbon hit Casey Blake’s hand on a checked swing. However, upon appeal, the 1B umpire ruled that Blake’s bat had gone far enough, and instead of being awarded first base, he was struck out.

Six of the 14 A.L. teams have records below .500, and four of them are in the A.L. East, not long ago considered the strongest of the American League Divisions. Boston has been steamrolling everyone, and although the rest of their division hasn’t been putting up much resistance, the Red Sox have been beating teams in all divisions. The good news for Yankees fans is that, in spite of a 21-28 record, they are only 2 games behind the second place team (Baltimore) in the East. The bad news is that this season, finishing second in the A.L. East isn’t likely to be sufficient.

5/28 - I was listening to a New York radio commentator on Saturday, as he bemoaned that the Red Sox were too strong and too far ahead of the Yankees to be caught this season, and that even post-season play might be too tall an order for the pinstripes. C’mon! I’d like to see the Yankees on the sidelines as much as anyone, but it’s still May! As any Red Sox fan can tell you (I’m not one of those either, but I’ve studied them at close range for 30+ years), a Boston season is a series of euphoric highs and cataclysmic lows. It would be so extraordinary (even bizarre) if both teams continued for the entire summer on their current trajectories. And if your fantasy team fortunes seem to have much in common with the Yanks, buck up!

For example, my RIBC team was ranked next-to-last on April 30th. For the month of May, it has ranked #2 overall, and has climbed to the middle of the pack. With a few more Mays, I can be in contention. It’s a tall order, but not totally laughable.

Switching to GuruGolf, two teams tied for the top honors in best ball competition this weekend, and another five teams were within three strokes of the best score of -51. But on the worst ball side of the ledger, no one was within three strokes of Gescom III. And with just two weeks remaining in the “Spring to the Open” contest, nothing is yet settled on either side of the scoring spectrum.

5/25 - As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, the top pitchers and hitters for the season so far are not necessarily the ones you would have expected. Looking at various yardsticks, I’d say the the top pitcher has been Jake Peavy, with a modest edge over Dan Haren. Neither has had a particularly bad outing all year, and they rank at the top in total TSNP. Yahoo also has them ranked as the top two pitchers, and while I don’t know the basis of Yahoo’s rankings, it makes sense for these two pitchers.

On the hitter side, I’d probably give the nod to Magglio Ordonez, especially in a points-based format. You could make a case that A-Rod’s 4 steals make him slightly more valuable in a standard roto format. Regardless, ARod was the clear favorite in April, and Maggs has dominated in May. Surprisingly missing from view is Albert Pujols, who ranks only #79 in total TSNP among hitters, and who Yahoo has ranked at #165 overall. If you wasted spent the #1 draft pick on him, it’s going to take quite a comeback for him to recover anything approximating decent first-round value, let alone first-pick value. Certainly no one saw that coming.

The worst weather of the day looks to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where not only is baseball in jeopardy, but also the PGA tournament, where the second round is just getting started late this morning while many golfers are still on the course completing their opening rounds. You don’t think of that area as being troublesome from a weather standpoint, but the forecast for the entire weekend looks spotty at best.

Enjoy the long weekend!

5/24 - It’s hard to imagine how the Phillies failed to lose their game in Florida last night. Entering the bottom of the 9th with a 4-run lead and Brett Myers taking the mound, it looked like a ho-hummer. But by the end of the inning, they had not only bungled their way into a 7-7 tie via ineffective pitching and defensive errors (both mental and physical), but they had potentially lost Myers for awhile to a strained shoulder. Any yet, one inning later, they had won the game. It didn’t watch the escapades, but it must have been entertaining, unless you happened to have Myers on your fantasy roster.

Stewart Cink is the popular favorite on GuruGolf rosters this week, although he’s on only 36% of active rosters. Of the 114 golfers in the total field, 100 have found their way onto at least one GuruGolf roster, so there aren’t many irrelevant golfers this week.

5/23 - If you used a high draft pick to get Johan Santana as your staff ace, this was the type of outing you were paying for. Texas had scored 14 runs in back-to-back games, but could only muster one run on 4 hits vs. Santana, who fanned 13 while walking only a pair over 7 innings. His season stats certainly aren’t bad – 3.05 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 80 Ks in 65 IP – but they aren’t the gaudy numbers Santana owners expect. Shutting down a hot hitting team in a hitters park sounds like a good omen.

The Crowne Plaza Invitational tees off at Colonial CC in Fort Worth, TX. (Last year, this tournament was called the Bank of America Colonial.) The field is smaller than for most PGA events (114 golfers), so making the cut should be modestly easier. Ditto for next week’s Memorial Tournament, for which the field is even slightly smaller.

5/22 - There are two pitchers now tied for the major league lead in saves (17). One is Francisco Cordero, who surged into the lead when he saved five consecutive games in early May. Last night, he was joined at the top by Jose Valverde, who hasn’t quite matched Cordero’s consecutive streak, but who has saved five of his team’s last 7 games. And no one in the majors is currently closer than three saves behind them.

The Texas Rangers have scored 14 runs in each of their last two games, and tonight they get to tee off Johan Santana, who hasn’t had a dominating outing in the last month. You’d figure that this might not be the optimum time to get him in your lineup – which probably means he’ll toss a 2 hit shutout tonight. Baseball is like that.

5/21 - Yesterday was a good day to avoid the established pitchers and go with the untested rookies. A few examples:

OK, so maybe John Maine isn’t really yet an “established pitcher. But he’s pitched like one for most of this year, and the real story of that game was that his rookie opponent shut down the steamrolling Mets.

Today’s baseball action is limited to 8 games, all in the evening. The marquis matchup is clearly Boston at New York. Meanwhile, Cleveland finally gets to play its scheduled home opener, facing Seattle in the first of four scattered make-up games from that fateful snowed-out series in early April.

Over to GuruGolf. Congrats to On the Third Day He Rose, who topped all best ball teams this weekend with a -50. Three teams tied for the top worst ball score.

5/18 - Sometimes, when you start a hot pitcher against cold bats, the outcome is disastrous. But yesterday, Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona threw a complete game shutout against a Twins lineup that has been friendly to just about every opposing starter that it’s faced over the past week and a half. Minnesota wasted one of the best outings of the year by their ace, Johan Santana, who surrendered only 2 runs on 4 hits, fanning 11.

By the way, the average starter against the Twins has racked up 82 TSNP over the past two weeks. And that includes the -86 TSNP against Detroit rookie Virgil Vazquez in last Sunday night’s ESPN game. Tonight, Chris Capuano takes his shot. Something to think about.

Interleague play begins tonight, with half of the games in NL parks. If you’ve got a player who usually DH’s for one of the AL teams, you’ve got some research to do.

Weather might claim a game or two tonight. Based on several of the forecasts I’ve seen, the Atlanta/Boston game has about a 0% chance of being played. The NY2 game is also in jeopardy, although it looks more like a 50/50 proposition.

5/17 - It looked for most of the night that Phoenix was going to take David Stern off the hook. But when the Spurs took the game late, they allowed his decision to stand. I listened to a couple of Stern interviews yesterday, and found his attitude to be childish, boorish, sarcastic, and condescending. For someone with his immense ego, it’s hard for me to understand why he didn’t seize an opportunity to exercise his Commissioner’s “I can do whatever I want to do” powers, but perhaps he relishes the spotlight of being the “bad guy” as much or more. As one reporter said this morning, he should have been a Commissioner instead of a clerk.

If you want a vivid example of the state of the Cincinnati bullpen, look no further than last night’s game in San Diego. Going into the bottom of the 9th, the score was tied 2-2, and starter Bronson Arroyo had already thrown 109 pitches, but had allowed only 2 runs (on 8 hits), and was given the ball to start the ninth. After the first two batters each singled, he was allowed to remain in the game, now at 117 pitches. The next batter reached base on a throwing error (by Arroyo), and with the bases loaded and no outs, Arroyo remained in the game at 121 pitches. Eight pitches later, he walked in the winning run. If you were a member of the Reds bullpen, that had to be a deflating experience.

For the first time in several weeks, Bo Van Pelt is not the popular choice in GuruGolf. Of course, he withdrew earlier in the week. This week, the most widely held golfers are Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson, and Peter Lonard, each appearing on roughly 30% of active rosters.

5/16 - It was almost a vintage Randy Johnson performance. Six innings, 9 Ks, 1 hit (a bunt single) – and in Coors Field, no less. The only caveat is that he left after throwing only 79 pitches. But they were certainly 79 quality pitches. If you have him, I hope you didn’t shy away from starting him because of the ballpark.

Interleague play begins this weekend, and seven of those games are in NL parks. If you have hitters who typically fill the DH role, be aware of possible adjustments for the weekend.

The AT&T Classic tees off early tomorrow morning. Last year, this event was the Bellsouth Classic, which took place immediately preceding The Masters. You may recall it as the tournament in which Phil Mickelson ran away from the field, winning by 13 strokes. He ran away from the field this year as well, but this year he’s run far enough away that he won’t be a factor – since he’s not even entered.

5/15 - This was what Boston had in mind when they paid up for Daisuke Matsuzaka - a complete game, allowing only one run, 6 hits, and no walks, fanning 5.

It wasn’t the best pitching outing of the night, however. Greg Maddux surrendered one less hit and matched every other stat. And Washington’s Jason Bergmann lasted only 8 innings, but surrendered only two hits – both in his final inning – and fanned 10. And the list of quality outings doesn’t end there, with Gorzelanny, Haren, and Jered Weaver all reaching 3-digit TSNP territory. And then there was Brett Tomko, also with a three digit number, but this one in red.

We’ve almost reached the quarter pole in the baseball season. The good news is that there’s still plenty of time to turn things around. The bad news is that if you’re in trouble, we’ve played enough of the season that you can’t trivialize the impact of the season-to-date anymore. But regardless, keep plugging away. Youneverknow.

5/14 - Tiger was never a factor this weekend – other than for his verbal jousting with Rory Sabbatini – but it’s always good for golf when some other star steps up his game to compete at Tiger’s level. And maybe Mickelson is getting there again. We’ll see next month.

Congrats to Crazy 88s, who ran away from the field with a 3-stroke best ball victory in GuruGolf this weekend. He didn’t have Lefty, but O’Hair and Lonard provided a solid foundation. On the worst ball side, three teams tied for the top score of -54.

Oliver Perez continued his on-again, off-again season, taking a one-hit shutout into the 9th inning before surrendering a solo home run. So far, his odd numbered starts (1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th) have averaged 117 TSNP, with the lowest output a +92 against Atlanta. His even numbered starts have totaled +16, with a high output of +37 at Washington. If you’re playing the trend, skip this week’s outing against the Yankees, but consider next week’s against Atlanta.

5/11 - Last year, the cut line in The Players Championship was at even par. The year before, it was -1. But if today is a repeat of yesterday, the hurdle will be in the vicinity of +5 or +6. The scoreboard looks like that of a major tournament. I do note, however, that today’s early morning scores look a bit tamer, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Yesterday’s baseball action produced a wide range of pitching excellence and bombastic hitting. Four teams hurled shutouts, while three teams scored in double digits. The hitting star of the day was Oakland’s Dan Johnson, with 101 TSNP on 4-4 with 4 runs, 4 RBIs, 2 HR, a double, and 2 walks. Meanwhile, Roy Halladay suffered his second consecutive shelling. Admittedly, this was against the Red Sox. But after a blistering April (2.24 ERA, 0.89 WHIP), he looked like he was staking a claim to be THE elite pitcher of the season. Since then, his two May appearances have resulted in 16 earned runs allowed in 10.33 IP, for a May ERA of almost 14 and a WHIP of 2.4. Go figure.

5/10 - It may have set the record for the oldest combined age of two starting lefthanders in a MLB game – Randy Johnson v. Jamie Moyer combined for 88 years, 48 days last night – but the previous record that they broke had stood for all of 15 days (when Johnson faced David Wells). So, unless any of those pitchers stop aging, the record could fall (or rise?) a few more times before this season ends.

Today’s baseball slate features a limited schedule of 12 games, 9 of which are afternoon games. If you wait until this evening to make your roster adjusments, you’ll probably be stuck. So get busy!

The PLAYERS Championship is off and running, with Bo Van Pelt again the overwhelming popular favorite on GuruGolf rosters, appearing on almost twice as many rosters as any other golfer. He’s in the final group to tee off today, so if he falters, we won’t know it for awhile. Last week, he started off terribly, but got rescued on Friday when a modest recovery and a favorable, razor-thin cut line kept him alive for the weekend.

5/9 - Perhaps the rumors of ARod’s imminent demise were greatly exaggerated. And perhaps the term “everyday player” now applies to Francisco Cordero, who appeared in Milwaukee’s fifth straight game last night, notching another efficient, 13-pitch save, although he did allow a harmless run. Will he pitch again tonight? Who knows? The team is off tomorrow, so if he doesn’t go tonight, he’ll go two days without working. Maybe the Brewers will be reluctant to risk the rustiness with such a protracted potential layoff.

I like to find quirky stats, so I give props to RotoWorld for pointing out the following in their Barry Bonds blurb this morning: “Barry Bonds homered off Tom Glavine to give the Giants their only run in Tuesday's loss. Oddly, Bonds had never homered on May 8 before hitting No. 745 tonight. He's also never homered on January 13, but that's slightly less odd.”

The PLAYERS Championship (not sure why they always print that in all CAPS) tees off tomorrow morning. This is the first year that it has been after the Masters, but I suppose that has little relevance. What is relevant is the strength of the field. If you’re looking for cheap options in GuruGolf, the pickins are slimmer than usual.

5/8 - Don’t look now, but the top closer in the major leagues so far is none other than Francisco Cordero, with 13 saves (and no blown saves), an ERA of 0.00, and a WHIP of 0.66. He’s appeared in four straight games, but thrown only 29 total pitches in those four appearances, so it’s not as though his arm is about to fall off. Who knew?! And as a consequence, Milwaukee currently has the best W/L record in the majors.

ARod certainly has come back to earth after a sizzling start. Over the past 15 days, he ranks only 62nd among all hitters in TSNP, and his last 7 days have been even less productive. It’s a bit obscured, because he still ranks #1 among hitters (all players, actually) in total TSNP year-to-date, but the trend is not his friend.

5/7 - My weekend fantasy baseball fortunes were torpedoed when Roy Halladay suffered the same fortune. I’m still scratching my head over that implosion. Suffice it to say he’s no longer challenging for the top spot in point production for the TSN game (or probably any scoring format). In fact, he’s no longer even in the top ten, ranked behind such pitching stalwarts as John Maine, Al Reyes, Francisco Cordero, Rich Hill, yada-yada-yada… (Do I sound bitter?)

Congrats to Cyberwahoo for GuruGolf’s top bestball score this weekend, two strokes better than a host of runners-up. On the worstball side, Black Cat also posted a 2-stroke margin. Neither of those two foursomes included Tiger, who appeared on only six GuruGolf rosters this weekend.

5/4 - The Yankees swept a double header, and Mariano Rivera saved both games, tripling his save total for the season.

But the big sports story of the night was in San Francisco, not because Matt Cain totally imploded vs. the Phillies (sigh…), but because the Warriors absolutely smoked the Mavs, becoming the first #8 seed to beat a #1 seed in the NBA Playoffs since the opening series became a best of seven. That the Warriors could win the series is surprising enough, but the convincing fashion – taking only 6 games, almost winning in 5, and making the clincher a 25 point laugher – really has to have Mark Cuban shaking his head. If he wants to buy the Cubs, maybe this was a good preparatory experience.

5/3 - So far, I haven’t demonstrably jinxed the list of unscathed relievers that I posted in yesterday’s blurb. In fact, three of the five had successful outings yesterday (2 saves and a win), while the guy who was ranked as the top closer on many preseason lists, Joe Nathan, blew a 2-run lead. The top two closers taken in the RIBC draft have certainly gotten off to disappointing starts: Nathan (L, BS, 1.80 WHIP) and B.J. Ryan (2 BS/L, 12.46 ERA, 2.54 WHIP, DL). The next couple have been more solid, although KRod did blow one save and also lost a game, while Billy Wagner just hasn’t gotten many save opportunities. Wagner should have appeared on my short list yesterday, however, as he hasn’t yet blown a game. And the 5th closer drafted was Mariano Rivera, whose early troubles have been widely chronicled, even though he did finally notch his first save in Boston this past weekend. “Safe closer” appears to be an oxymoron.

This week’s GuruGolf tournament, the Wachovia Championship, shows both consensus and variety. Bo Van Pelt continues to anchor almost 40% of all rosters, and after going +5 through the first 13 holes this morning, “anchor” may be an apt moniker. After Van Pelt, though, there is no real consensus, and 120 different golfers have made their way onto at least one GuruGolf foursome this week. Last year’s cut for this tournament was at +2, and if early scoring is the norm, a similar (or even higher) cut threshold is likely. So Bo’s not out of it,… yet.

Thanks to Gurupie What About Bob for suggesting today’s quote.

5/2 - Apparently, the Yankees have to sacrifice a starting pitcher to win a game. If they are hoping to contend, they’d better acquire a lot more starters!

The ranks of unscathed closers is getting thinned quickly, with Jonathan Papelbon’s blown save last night. He had been the cream of the crop until then. It’s only May 2nd, but after a cursory review, I can only find a handful of full-time closers who haven’t either blown a save or lost a tie game. That short list includes Francisco Cordero, Takashi Saito, Armando Benitez, and Al Reyes, and J.J. Putz. Probably not the top five closers taken in your draft, or any draft. I suspect they’re all due to implode any day now. If you have any of them, be afraid. Be very afraid.

There must have been a lot of golfer carryovers from last week’s tournament, because there are already very few GuruGolf rosters with inactive golfers. Still, there have been a lot of withdrawals this week, so if you haven’t checked lately, it wouldn’t hurt to review before tomorrow’s early morning freeze.

5/1 - For the past few seasons, Johan Santana has been the uber-stud, the one pitcher that you wanted to have on your team for every start, no matter the opponent. And although Santana hasn’t been on top of the heap so far, he’s certainly not out of the running for this year either. But the early leaders appear to be Roy Halladay (no big surprise) and Tim Hudson (OK, that’s a bit of a surprise). Halladay notched his second complete game of the month, needing only 110 pitches to dispatch Texas with one run, 5 hits, 8 Ks, and no walks. Hudson was almost as tough, surrendering only 2 runs on 4 hits over 8 innings, but was victimized by lack of run support. Still, his 77 TSNP ranks as his lowest output of the season. That’s quality consistency.

2007: April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2006: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2005: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2004: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2002: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2001: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2000: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1999: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

1998: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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