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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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7/31 - There may not be such a thing as a “statement game” in baseball, certainly not in July. But the Cubs are making a case for a “statement series”, having already taken three straight games from Milwaukee - in Milwaukee. This afternoon’s series finale features Rich Harden vs. Dave Bush, and if the Cubs can sweep, it would certainly be make a statement of some sort.
Today brings the MLB trade deadline, and although we’ve already had a fair number of noteworthy deals, some significant names are still in play – with none probably more significant than “Manny being Manny” Ramirez. The Red Sox seems to be in a tough spot: can’t live with him, can’t win without him. But it sounds like they may be willing to pull the trigger.
The Legends Reno-Tahoe Open is underway and not surprisingly, Ben Crane is the week’s most popular GuruGolf, on more than half of all foursomes. Crane is one of only a handful of golfers who is expected to appear in next week’s PGA Championship, so trade-constrained teams probably had little choice.
This will be my last daily blurb for two weeks. I’ll be vacationing in Ohio at the family enclave on the Marblehead peninsula. When I return, it will be time to swing into football draft mode, full throttle.
7/30 - Sometimes, when a top pitcher is facing a contending team, it’s better to avoid picking up that starter. But not always. And not in the case of John Lackey, whose start vs. Boston in Fenway didn’t seem like a good matchup, particularly given Lackey’s 5.82 ERA and .343 BAA in Fenway over the past three years. But he almost no hit them. And not in the case of Carlos Zambrano, facing Ben Sheets and the Brewers in Milwaukee – even though Zambrano’s ERA in Miller Park over the past three years was 5.73. Sometimes a horse is a horse … (of course, of course…)
The Legends Reno-Tahoe Open tees off tomorrow morning, although the field is certainly devoid of any legends. The top golfers are playing in the WGC event this week. For GuruGolf, I have avoided WGC events when possible, since they do not have a cut. But with a weaker field this week, followed by the final Major next week, it’s going to take a lot of roster moves to keep 4 golfers active for the next two weeks. C’est la vie! If you have to buy an extra trade or two, so be it. That’s one reason to build up roster value. And one detriment if you haven’t.
7/29 - I’m back… But not for long. The next trek (to Ohio) starts on Friday, so I have a brief 3-day respite between vacations.
Sign-ups for the RIFC Qualifying leagues are going well, with a few openings still left in one AAA league (for which managers must be prequalified), and several openings in a AA league. Once this first AA league fills, we can try to fill a second one, although that effort failed last year, so this may be your chance.
The Brewers bolstered their staff with CC Sabathia, and the Cubs countered with Rich Harden. Now it looks like the Cardinals have picked up a new starter with “ace” potential without using a trade, as Chris Carpenter makes his debut tomorrow night after missing 1˝ years following Tommy John surgery. If you are looking for second-half pitching help, check your league’s free agent list and see if he’s available.
7/21 - I suspect Greg Norman did better for his first three rounds because he still really didn’t think he was going to be in contention at the end - so he was able to enjoy the moment. When Sunday rolled around, the pressure started, and we had a flashback to the “Sunday-leading-a-major” Greg Norman of years ago. It would have been fun to see him pull it out. But it would have meant he was going to have to completely go out of character. Early in the week, I heard Norman make a comment about golfing being like “riding a bike”. Evidently, final day pressure is also bike-like.
But take nothing away from Harrington, who wasn’t even a surety to start – or complete – the tournament, with his sore wrist. Then again, if Tiger can win on a broken leg and a torn ACL, any other golfer ought to be able to overcome a sore wrist.
Sign-ups for qualifying leagues for the RotoGuru Invitational Football Challenge (RIFC) have begun. There will be two AAA leagues, for which most slots are available to those who finished in one of the top 9 spots in a qualifying league last year, but for which there will be several spots available for any other previous qualifying league managers (on a first-come, first served basis). In addition, one or more AA leagues will be formed, with no prequalification requirements. We have volunteers to commish both of the AAA leagues already, but are still seeking a AA commish. If you have an interest, follow this link for more details.
I’ll be vacationing with family on Long Beach Island (NJ) for the next week, so this will be my last blurb until I return next Tuesday. Stay cool!
7/18 - A few facts on the first round of the British Open:
Over the years, I’ve occasionally been asked if I could provide some sort of “Notes” capability in the Assimilator, a place where a manager could store free-form notes about tentative roster moves – or perhaps a grocery list. But these requests never came when I had the time or inclination to work on it. Yesterday, I got another such request, and decided to bite the bullet. So today, there is a new Assimilator button for this feature. A few notes about this capability:
7/17 - Baseball returns today, but with a very limited slate of only 4 games, all at night. So you still have a few hours to figure out if anything needs to be done to any of your teams.
The British Open has gotten off to one of its prototypical blustery starts, and those who finished their rounds early have to hope that the conditions remain “nah-sty” throughout the day. The popular favorite for GuruGolf teams in Sergio Garcia, but he’s only on about 25% of foursomes, so there is no Perry-esque holding this week.
I managed to get the TSN Ultimate Football players and prices posted yesterday in the sortable stats, player pages, and Assimilator. Rookies have not yet been priced, and will probably not be available until the third week of August, so there really isn’t much to be done with it yet – but since I’ll be vacationing for almost three of the next four weeks, I wanted to get things setup early.
7/16 - OK, I confess. I went to bed after the 14th inning. (I went to sleep about an inning earlier.)
I did get started on a few football activities, as advertised. RIFC Invitations were sent out, and I already have acceptances for 11 of the 14 spots. I hope to hear back from the other three today, after which we will begin the process of filling the qualifying leagues. I also posted the 2008 NFL Schedule. I registered for TSN Ultimate Football, and set up the GuruPatrons division. I’ll start loading up the players for the sortable stats, although I may not get that finished this week. There’s certainly no rush – but it’s one more task that’s nice to check off the list.
Today’s other task is to get my foursomes set for the British Open. The first round tees off at 6:30 at Royal Birkdale – which is 1:30am ET. (If the All Star game had been held one day later, the two events would have overlapped!)
7/14 - When I was a kid, the baseball All Star game was a big deal. I always rooted for the A.L., and yet the N.L. always seemed to have the upper hand. Lately, of course, the upper hand has switched to the other side. But it also seems like no one really cares that much. In fact, the home run derby seems to attract more interest than the game itself.
The All Star break does provide a useful opportunity to deal with some administrative work that otherwise seems to get crowded out. In particular, I want to use this hiatus to begin some football setup work, including kicking off the recruitment process for the 2008 RotoGuru Invitational Football Challenge. Check the football forum later in the week for a status report.
Kenny Perry may not be going across the ocean this week, but the 111 GuruGolf teams that spent a trade for a one-week fling ended up getting that trade back, as Perry won the John Deere Classic. Team BooHoo2 had nothing to cry about, posting the top best ball score for the weekend (-51). Cyberwahoo9 claimed the worst ball honors with a +41.
As is usual for each major tournament, a set of prizes (best ball and worst ball) is offered for this week’s British Open. Standard rules apply.
I may or may not post a blurb tomorrow. If you don’t hear from me, I just decided to take a bye.
7/11 - Good day for a Slurpee!
How is this for a home-away split: David Bush has a 2.87 ERA at home, and a 6.95 ERA on the road. That’s reminiscent of Ervin Santana in recent years. Bush threw a gem against Colorado last night, making the case to keep his rotation slot now that CC Sabathia has made the pitching situation more crowded.
If you like to look at pitcher-vs.-batter stats, I built a simple tool that looks up all of a given day’s matchups and spits them onto a single page. You just need to supply the date as the last three characters of the URL. Here’s an example for Sunday, July 13: http://rotoguru1.com/cgi-bin/dailyhit.pl?date=713. The format isn’t fancy, but it sure beats punching in a bunch of different links. The data is extracted from ESPN.com, so it’s based on their projected starters. You can click on any hitter link from the output page to see more ESPN detail for that hitter, or click on a column link to see corresponding pitcher detail. Feel free to use it if you wish. It works well if you use it before any games have started on the specified day. I’m not sure what happens if you try it after a game has started. I suspect some data is missing in that event.
7/10 - Six MLB games are scheduled for this afternoon, so don’t wait to make your lineup moves. Six games are also to be played under the lights, including the final interleague contest of the season, with the Yankees playing a makeup game in Pittsburgh, where the weather should be friendly this time.
Carlos Zambrano certainly hasn’t missed a beat since his return from the disabled list. In two starts, he’s allowed only one run on five hits in 14 IP. The run came last night, as Adam Dunn’s 2nd inning HR was the only hit off of Zambrano over a span of 8 innings. And although the final score was 5-1, Kerry Wood got a gift save, as Carlos Marmol got into trouble with a 4-run lead, and Wood was called upon to notch the final out with the bases loaded.
Kenny Perry resumes his assault on Ryder Cup points in this week’s John Deere Classic, and GuruGolf managers are evidently anxious to tag along. After a week off, Perry appears on almost half of all active foursomes this week. The second most popular golfer, Aaron Baddeley, is only on slightly more than 20% of rosters.
7/9 - Thrust and parry. Sabathia and Harden. St. Louis – you’re now on the clock.
You would think that the fantasy value of both Sabathia and Harden would get a boost with these trades. Not only are they moving to the N.L., but to contenders. Of course, it’s not like either pitcher is available to be snapped up on the waiver wire. But teams who already had these pitchers must now be taken more seriously.
The John Deere Classic tees off at 8am ET tomorrow the morning, and although the field strength is reduced somewhat by the schedule proximity to next week’s British Open, there are still some golfers who will play both weeks. In fact, the tournament has a chartered non-stop flight to England for all British Open participants, simplifying the transition for those who want to play both. In GuruGolf, this week marks the end of the 4-week “Open Faced Sandwich” Contest, with a very congested leaderboard for both best and worst ball. Check it out - you might be surprised to find yourself in contention!
7/8 - With Hiroki Kuroda, you never know what you’re going to get – although the recent evidence suggests it will be something extreme. In his last five starts, two were 9-inning shutouts, and one was 7-innings of shutout ball. In the other two, he surrendered six earned runs in each game, failing to survive the third inning in either. Matchups provide no clue, either. One of the shutouts was over the Cubs, while one of the implosions was in San Diego. Go figure.
Using TSNP as the measuring standard, the Mets seems to have been snubbed in the All Star selections. Ranking hitters by TSNP/game, only three hitters in the top 15 are not on the team, and all three are Mets: Jose Reyes (#10), David Wright (#11), and Carlos Beltran (#15). Wright is on the ballot for the final spot, so maybe he’ll join teammate Billy Wagner on the squad, but for a game to be held in New York City, it seems odd for the roster to be so devoid of Mets players.
7/7 - Hitters have hot streaks all the time in baseball. Some are undoubtedly the results of a series of favorable pitching matchups, or perhaps of a boost in confidence, and maybe there are even some physical phenomena that factor into some situations. And some, no doubt, are simply statistical noise. If enough people flip a fair coin a number of times, it’s probable that some of them will run off a string of “heads” that appears to defy the odds.
So what’s the rationale for the recent prowess of J.J. Hardy? Who knows. But it sure seems to be more than a fortuitous random walk. In the first six days of July, he’s hitting .600, with 6 HRs and an OPS in excess of 2.000.
Speaking of hot streaks, golfer Anthony Kim would seem to qualify as well. In his last seven tournaments, he has two wins, one second place finish, and no missed cuts. The top GuruGolf team for the weekend didn’t have him and didn’t need him, however, as Suffering apparently played this one by the numbers – with three players suffixed by Roman numerals and the other a Jr. Meanwhile, the top worst ball score was posted by Watisgoedgraszaad, who managed the feat without a single suffix.
7/4 - I guess the Red Sox still have some spring in their step today. The Yankees, on the other hand, must be coiled pretty tightly today. The weekend can still change a lot, but last night’s results were pretty lopsided. Joe Torre may be having his troubles in L.A. as well, but I doubt if he misses New York City right about now.
The Yanks needed some Arizona magic. After being totally shut down for 8 innings, the DBacks entered the ninth inning trailing 5-0, and promptly ran off single-walk-single-double-single-double-single. No outs. The way things were going, they could have rebounded from a 10-0 deficit.
Jeff Overton currently sports a 3-stroke lead in the AT&T National, and only one GuruGolf team has him. Of course, a lot can happen between now and Sunday. But with 10 birdies on his card through two rounds, the team that has him has to be smiling so far. Brad Adamonis was probably the most valuable golfer yesterday, with seven birdies in his first round – although he did take a +3 on one hole, giving him some nice worst-ball value as well. Only one team has him as well, and it appears to be a dormant team, so I guess we won’t chalk that up to an inspirational decision.
7/3 - I f past is prologue, this would be a good weekend to see the Yankees sweep the Red Sox and send all Boston fans into full scale angst-ridden “woe is us” mode. And frankly, although I’m certainly no Yankee fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing Red Sox nation lose a little of its hubris.
Jim Furyk is the popular favorite in GuruGolf this week, with Kenny Perry taking the week off. Furyk appears on a bit over 40% of all active teams, but in general, this week brings a lot of roster differentiation, with 105 the total field of 120 golfers represented on at least one GuruGolf foursome. Scoring will be more difficult this week. After two consecutive weeks with cuts at -3, this tournament had a cut line of +4 last year.
7/2 - Are we witnessing a changing of the guard? Tampa is on the verge of sweeping the Red Sox, and the Yankees are on the verge of getting swept (in Yankee Stadium) by Texas. Of course, “on the verge” isn’t the same as doing it. But when Sox and Yanks face each other starting tomorrow, they’re both likely to breathe a sigh of relief.
As of this morning, only four teams in the American League are playing below .500 for the season, and one of them – Toronto – is only 3 games under. The other three are KC, Cleveland, and Seattle, who are collectively 37 games below. Meanwhile, only four N.L. teams are above .500, although Arizona is on the margin at 42-42. With interleague play over, I guess a few more N.L. teams will probably climb above, since this seems be mostly a consequence of A.L. dominance than of an imbalanced N.L., and five N.L. teams are within 5 games of a break-even record.
The AT&T National tees off at 7:10am ET tomorrow. This tournament has a reduced field size of 120, so making the cut should be a bit easier, although that doesn’t seem to have been much of an issue for most GuruGolfers over the past few weeks.
7/1 - St. Louis has quietly been putting together a solid season, currently sporting the second highest winning percentage in the National League, but somewhat obscured because of the success of the division-leading Cubs. While the Cardinals are perennially strong, a quick look at their roster makes you wonder how they’re doing it, especially with Pujols missing a little more than 20% of the first half of the season. Obviously, they’ve gotten surprising contributions from Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker, while Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus have posted decent numbers as well. And overall, the team ranks second in the league in OPS, so I guess their overall hitting is pretty solid. And on the pitching side, it doesn’t hurt that Kyle Lohse is 10-2.
So how many of you drafted Ludwick, Schumaker, or Lohse in the spring?
I thought so.
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
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 toGuru<firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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