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Beyond the sea

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  March 5, 2009 04:56 PM

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4. One player I'm avoiding like in fantasy baseball this year: Matt Holliday. All it takes is one look at his home/road splits on Baseball Reference to realize that while he's not entirely the second coming of Dante Bichette, he's essentially been Manny Ramirez at home and Trot Nixon on the road in his big league career. He had just 25 homers in 627 plate appearances last year, and now he's heading to Oakland? Good luck with that, slugger. As for a player on my bargains list, how about Mike Napoli? He had 20 homers in 273 plate appearances a season ago, and in his last 85 at-bats, he batted .388 with eight home runs and a 1.257 OPS. While Mike Scioscia may not be able to resist his urge to platoon him with Jeff Mathis, he could provide power at a position where it's at a premium.

5. And speaking of slugging catchers . . . where, exactly, do you take Matt Wieters in your fantasy draft? The Orioles' 22-year-old catcher is apparently the phenom of all phenoms, at least if you give credence to PECOTA projections. (And you should -- they helped me swipe Geovany Soto, for one, last year.) Baseball Prospectus has Wieters -- who has played one year of minor league ball -- batting .311 with 31 homers and a .939 OPS this season in the big leagues. I have no doubt this kid is going to be a superstar -- everyone raves about him -- but can it really happen so quickly? Is he already Johnny Bench circa 1970? Is he worth, say, a second-round pick in a 10-team league? Tell me what to do, Eric Karabell! Actually, I have a hunch that he'll be long gone in my league before I even think about picking him. Or . . . I could be bluffing.

6. I'll admit it: I know next to nothing about the Bruins' newest defenseman, Steve Montador. But I figure a blue liner who has a last name that sounds like a type of dinosaur can't be all bad, right? He might have my second-favorite hockey name, after Brad Bombardir, who, given his eight goals in 356 career NHL games, was actually a rather bad bombardier. (Sorry.)

7. In terms of the Patriots' potential pursuit of Jason Taylor, I'm going to fall back on the usual "In Bill We Trust" mantra. After reading about Taylor's reluctance -- heck, refusal -- to commit to football during the offseason, I tend to the think Bill Parcells was on to something when he was so disdainful of the 2007 Defensive MVP and "Dancing With the Stars" legend after taking over the Dolphins last year. But Belichick has always raved about Taylor -- the only opposing defender who I recall getting more praise from the coach is Ed Reed -- and if he thinks Taylor still has the talent and desire to contribute in a significant way, I'm all for bringing him here.

8. Three last thoughts on the Vrabel/Cassel trade: 1) I think there's something to the notion that the Patriots sent Vrabel to the rebuilding Chiefs to keep him away from Denver (Josh McDaniels is apparently intent on getting the 2008 Patriots band back together) and Cleveland (Ratso Mangini). Send 'em where they can't hurt you. 2) Didn't anyone else in the league notice that the two people who coveted Cassel the most were McDaniels and Scott Pioli? Shouldn't that have told them something? 3) By giving up Vrabel, the Patriots might have lost their most trustworthy tight end. I wish that was a joke, Watson.

9. I was looking forward to reading what sounded like some combination of "Ball Four" and "A False Spring," though probably not up to those classics' standards. But at this point, I'm starting to think the guy has never even thrown a baseball.

10. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Postcard:

All right, here's the update you've all been waiting for. Or maybe not. But you're getting it either way.

A few weeks ago, I solicited readers' advice on how to shakeup my Seamheads.com Historical League Los Angeles/Anaheim/California Angels, who were off to a 9-23 start and basically playing like a 25-man tribute to Rudy Meoli. You offered good suggestions (get Jason Thompson some more at-bats), bad (play the vastly overrated Garret Anderson in place of Daddy Wags), and the so-crazy-it-just-might work (move Rod Carew to second base).

I listened to the good and the crazy, and thanks to you, the Angels, wouldn't you know, have turned it around. Since I wrote the column, they've gone 37-33 -- quite a feat given that the franchise's history dates back only to 1960 -- and they've moved to within two games of first place in the Expansion 1 division.

Simulated Angels Fever! Catch it!

A few of the reader-suggested changes your loyal GM implemented:

  • I went to a four-man rotation, since the Angels have been loaded with quality relief pitchers but have never really had a true ace. (Dean Chance comes closest; Nolan Ryan was too wild.)

  • I sacrificed defense for offense, moving Carew into a platoon at second base with Bobby Grich, and moving Mark Teixeira to left field (don't worry, Leigh was cool with it). That way, Thompson, who had the best single-season adjusted OPS in franchise history during his one season in California, could play first base. My defense is Offermanesque -- Carew has 15 errors in 36 games -- but the offense makes up for it so far.

  • Oh, and I completely ignored the suggestion to use Bartolo Colon. He was average-to-lousy in three of his four seasons in LA. Plus, he demanded his own postgame buffet.

    Anyway, thanks for your help and for humoring me. Here's the team and league pages if you want to check them out. You might note that Bill James's Red Sox are tied for the best record in the league with Curt Schilling's Pirates. Pair of great baseball minds right there, but in entirely different ways.

  • About Touching All The Bases

    Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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