New Jays GM a fantasy dud

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Though he is a quick learner, apparently.
10 years before replacing J.P. Ricciardi and assuming the title of Blue Jays interim general manager, Alex Anthopoulos took part in Scoresheet fantasy baseball, a game of which I also happen to be a fan.
I’m not going to do a full rundown — if you’re interested, click on the link — but Scoresheet leagues tend to be drafted somewhat similarly to regular fantasy leagues, with the caveat that most are keeper leagues. The big difference is that no categories are involved: games are simulated by the Scoresheet software using actual stats that each player accumulates during each of the 26 weeks of the season. Also, defense counts and managers can employ tendencies, such as when to put the bench into play, whether to sac bunt with anyone but the pitcher and when to pull the starter. It never works perfectly, but it’s still plenty of fun to watch unfold, and there’s a simulated postseason that uses a mixture of September stats and full-season stats to try to come up with the fairest possible result.
As is turned out, Anthopoulos discovered the game long before I did. Thanks to a hot tip from Rotoworld’s Nate Stephens and a little digging, we see that Anthopoulos took part in the 10-team AL-only Harwell League in 1999 and 2000.
In 1999, his “Big Uns” team finished an incredible 49-113, a full 23 games behind any of the league’s other nine clubs. It scored 542 runs and gave up 989. For comparison’s sake, the 1962 Mets scored 617 runs and allowed 948.
Things got ever so slightly better the following year. In the turnaround to end all turnarounds, Anthopoulos’ club went 111-51, a full 62-game improvement. The “Big Uns” scored 1,170 runs and allowed 788. To put that in perspective, one major league team has reached four figures in runs scored in the last 50 years, that being the 1999 Indians at 1009.
So, obviously, this league had some balance issues. Anthopoulos went from worst to first in the regular season and then won the championship 4-1 in the best-of-seven series. Keying his turnaround were some big offseason deals. He moved Mark Mulder, Freddy Garcia and Nick Johnson for Tim Hudson and Paul Konerko. Next was Konerko, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar and one-time top prospect Ryan Anderson for Jason Giambi and Jim Thome. He then spun Thome for Eric Chavez. He somehow managed to swindle away Manny Ramirez, Jorge Posada and Troy Glaus as well, though that did cost him Chavez. Less impressive was trade of Michael Cuddyer for Ron Villone, though that would never come back to haunt him.
To put it mildly, he was an active owner during his two years in the league. But that all changed after 2000, when he got an entry job with the Expos and left fantasy baseball behind. Or at least declined to continue playing under his own name.
Anthopoulos is no lock to keep his GM job once the Blue Jays name a new president, but outgoing CEO Paul Beeston is recommending him for the job. He certainly has my support, and only partly because of the Scoresheet background.
No, the far more significant factor is that, if his team name is any indication at all, he apparently was a “big” Married with Children fan.

Report: Braves sign Kurt Suzuki

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 20: Kurt Suzuki #8 of the Minnesota Twins hits against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 20, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.

Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.

The team has yet to confirm the deal.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.