Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Zack Greinke Trade

It is my opinion that the biggest trade this off season involved sending Zack Greinke to the Brewers. When I originally saw that it took place it was represented as a four for one deal and I initially thought that might have been fair. Then it was revealed that the Royals also included shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and cash so I thought the Royals got the short end. In return the Royals received shortstop Alcides Escobar, centerfielder Lorenzo Cain and right handed pitchers Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi. Jeffress and Odorizzi appear to be fair compensation for a former Cy Young winner being former Brewer number one picks in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Yet Jeffress also carries excess baggage with three drug suspensions on his record and could face a lifetime ban if he slips again. Cain and Escobar both gained valuable major league experience last season. Neither is a power bat but should provide the Royals some speed on the base paths. Escobar is the only one of the four that should really contribute this season as the starting shortstop. I think he is an upgrade over Yuni and the more I think about it I believe the Royals threw Yuni in just to clear the spot on the roster. The Brewers might have initially balked until KC threw some cold cash in to seal the deal and get Yuni out of town.

A couple years ago during Zack's Cy Young season I was able to trade for him in my fantasy league. I had lost Johan Santana for the season and needed a quality arm to replace him on the staff. After negotiations I landed him in exchange for rising stars Kendry Morales, Ben Zobrist and Nelson Cruz. He helped me secure a second place finish that year and will be one of my top guns for a few more years. I believe his fantasy value rises with his move to the National League and he'll have his opportunity to win now.

A similar trade in baseball occurred a few years ago during the season that also involved the Brewers. Mid season 2008 the Brewers rolled their dice on a playoff run by trading for CC Sabathia in exchange for four prospects: Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Rob Bryson and Taylor Green. That trade turned out only to be a half season rental for the Brewers as he headed to the Yankees after that season was over. The Greinke trade should be better for Milwaukee with Zack having two more years remaining on his contract and maybe they'll sign him for longer.

I also had the good fortune to trade for Sabathia that same off season. Luckily the trade was made before he ended up in New York or the deal might not have been made. In exchange for Sabathia I gave up rising star Andre Ethier and prospects Ian Stewart, Sean Rodriguez and Travis Snider. Just as the Brewers have done twice now I was willing to mortgage the future in exchange for a shot in the short term. Sabathia was the anchor for that second place team complimented by Santana and later Greinke.

On another Royals note I would like to express my happiness over the Royals signing Billy Butler to an extension. That gives the team a good anchor for the future and with the best farm system he should have a great supporting cast sooner than later. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Pitch

Baseball: sport, game, my passion. It is now beyond American and is beloved in many corners of the world. This is one fan's perspective on my love for the sport that started in childhood and continues to this day.

I started following baseball before I even played my first little league game. I am fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska which has been the home of the College World Series for decades. As a youth in the 1970's I attended many CWS games with family and friends to enjoy the game at its purest level. That sparked my interest to start playing at the school yard and later entered my first year of little league. I was an average kid with a little talent and developed into a good catcher and passable first baseman. Eventually I played those positions in high school but that was the extent of my playing. 

While in grade school I gained an appreciation for the local AAA team the Omaha Royals and enjoyed attending many games. Seeing some of those players advance to the parent club I also became a fan of the Kansas City Royals. Obviously those were the golden years for the Royals but I have remained a loyal fan to this day.

My other sports passion is football and about ten years ago a group of friends invited me to join their fantasy football league. After winning the league three consecutive years the league disbanded rather than allow me an attempt to continue my reign, I later won two more football championships in different leagues when I got an invitation to join a fantasy baseball league. Over the years I had heard of rotisserie baseball but never actually knew anyone that played in one.

My love affair with baseball went to a new level. 

I'll admit that my teams struggled those first two years and lived in the league basement. Many of those in the league have played for years and knew the ins and outs of strategy and much of what I did in fantasy football did not translate over. Ours is an auction draft 12 team keeper league where we can sign players to a five year max contract. The roster has a forty player limit plus we can have ten farm players. In the first five years of our league the same team has won it every year. This is the year of hope because many of their top players' contracts have expired although they are still very deep due to drafting well for need each year.

After that first year I took note on how the championship team constructed their roster and went into the second year draft with that as my template. I wasn't drafting for that year and it was soon apparent at the draft  that I was stockpiling young players for the future. I was content to play in the basement that second year but rose to sixth place in the third year and a shocking second place in the fourth year. I fell off to fifth place last season because the contracts of so many of my stars from the previous season expired and it was cost prohibitive to get them back at the draft the following year.

I now enjoy fantasy baseball far more than fantasy football. The primary reason is the constant craving that it satisfies due to the frequency of the games. Football currently has a 16 game season per team played over 17 weeks with games played 3 times a week max if Thursday is included. In baseball teams play a 162 game season which is spread over about 180 days. Except for the dreaded All-Star game week there are games played every day! 

I am a huge fan of the MLB network and often tune in off season. During the season I am often in search of the sports ticker for updates of that days games. Maybe that's the definition of a sports junkie but I certainly enjoy it.

In the coming weeks and months I hope to express my views on baseball as they relate to players and teams in both college and the pros. When it comes to the Royals I hope to have more positive than negative to offer.  I'll also try to provide some insights on players I'll be following for fantasy baseball. One day I hope this blog becomes a go to baseball resource.

I hope you tune in later.