ESPN’s Rob Neyer sits up in his little cottage up in the Pacific Northwest making people think that he’s this calm, peaceful guy who just researches and writes about baseball all day, but he’s really a ruthless multi-media kingpin:
Imagine Sports Inc., a leading online fantasy sports gaming company,
today announced a deal with baseball analyst and author Rob Neyer,
whose “SweetSpot” blog is a popular long-running feature on ESPN.com.
Under the partnership, Imagine Sports will work with Neyer to produce
fantasy baseball games based on statistics from the past using the
“Diamond Mind Baseball” simulation software.
Call me paranoid, but I think Rob rushed this announcement to steal my thunder. I mean, I can’t go into detail right now, but because of this press release, my marketing team and I are going to have to totally rethink our rollout of “Craig Calcaterra’s MicroLeague Baseball ’10”.
But I’m willing to let bygones be bygones here. In fact, I’ve even accepted Rob’s invitation to join a league test-driving Rob’s new game. The problem: my opponents, who consist of a who’s-sorta-who of baseball quasi-royalty, are all likely better fantasy players than I am. Really, I truly suck at this stuff. So in order to win, I need to use the only advantage I have — the heartless deviousness I perfected during my legal career — in order to have a chance at victory. My gameplan:
- Doug Glanville: Former Cubs, Phillies and Rangers centerfielder and current New York Times columnist. I fear Glanville more than any other player in this league. He’s an Ivy League educated engineer, he knows more about baseball than I ever will and based on his writing he’s thoughtful, balanced, reasonable, well-rounded and admirable. My only hope against him is to engage in psychological warfare: Since the game allows you to use any player from history, I am going to draft a late-career version of Glanville in the first round and constantly offer him back to real-life Glanville in a trade for a Cy Young quality pitcher. Even if he doesn’t eventually bite, the struggle between ego an reason may throw him off his game long enough for me to gain an advantage.
- Joe Posnanski: I’ll do the same think with Poz, but instead of Glanville, I’ll offer him back Duane Kuiper. Substitute the ego-reason distraction with the 7,000 word blog post my proposal will inspire and the same effect will be had.
- Gordon Edes: In less than two years Edes has gone from the Boston Globe to Yahoo! to ESPN Boston. Like all the others he’s way smarter than me, but given his track record, there’s a good chance that he’ll move on to some other fantasy game before the season is over.
- Rany Jazayerli: Harassment campaign. I’m going to start a second blog called “Craig on Rany’s Fantasy Team,” and second guess his every move. If history is any guide, he will become flustered and trade for Yuniesky Betancourt, ensuring victory for me.
- Jonah Keri: There are a lot of possibilities here. Jonah’s a new father of twins and he’s writing a book, so he’s obviously going to be fatigued, so I may not have to pull too many dirty tricks. But if I do, I know that he’s one of the last 11 Expos fans left on the planet so I may be able to rip him off in trades involving Warren Cromartie and Sean Berry. If that fails, I’ll just bribe Rob to take his team away from him and give it to one of my friends in D.C.
- Norm Warner: I don’t know Norm, but I believe he’s in sports radio here in Ohio. I’ll have to consult my WKRP in Cincinnati library in order to come up with the proper hijinks and shenanigans to derail his team.
- Josh Wilker: He of the fantastic Cardboard Gods blog and, soon, book. I love Josh’s work, but this should be pretty easy considering he’s going to limit his roster to enigmatic looking baseball players from 1975-1980.
- Rob Neyer and Charles Wolfson: Charles Wolfson actually works for the company putting out the game and Rob, of course, is the name on the box so I’m just going to assume they’ve rigged the whole damn enterprise. If they don’t want word being spread that the game is crooked, crooked crooked, they’ll have to intentionally tank the season, right? Sure, they may choose not to, but do they really want their integrity questioned like that? Up to you dudes, but if I were you I sure wouldn’t want to finish in, say, the top five.
So there you have it. I’ll keep you updated throughout the season, but like I said, I’m a terrible fantasy player. And I’m even worse at Diamond Mind games than I am at roto and other stuff. But I think I got the mental edge.
The 2016-18 All-Star Games are spoken for, but the Cubs could play host not long thereafter according to commissioner Rob Manfred, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports.
The Padres are hosting at Petco Park this year, the Marlins will host at Marlins Park next season, and the Nationals will host in 2018 at Nationals Park. That will make four consecutive National League hosts and five if the Cubs get it in 2019. In the past, the National and American Leagues have alternated hosting privileges. That is sort of important now since the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series.
The Cubs last hosted the All-Star Game in 1990 and have hosted a total of three times (1962 and 1947 being the other years) since its inception in 1933.
Wrigley Field has been undergoing renovations which are expected to be completed by the 2019 season. Manfred said that the Cubs hosting the All-Star Game “will provide the Cubs and Ricketts family a chance to showcase the unbelievable renovation they are in the midst of doing for Wrigley field.”
Update: Here’s a table showing the last time each team hosted the All-Star Game.
||Olympic Stadium (Expos)
||Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum
||Jack Murphy Stadium
||Oriole Park at Camden Yards
||The Ballpark in Arlington
||U.S. Cellular Field
||Minute Maid Park
||Angels Stadium of Anaheim
||Great American Ball Park
Expect Kyle Hendricks and Adam Warren to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Cubs’ starting rotation this spring, writes Gordon Wittenmyer for the Chicago Sun-Times. Clayton Richard could serve as a fallback option as well.
Hendricks, 26, pitched well in his first full season in 2015. He finished with a 3.95 ERA and a 167/43 K/BB ratio over 180 innings. That was a solid follow-up to his rookie campaign in 2014, when he posted a 2.46 ERA over 13 starts.
The Cubs acquired Warren, 28, from the Yankees in the Starlin Castro trade. He contributed both out of the rotation and the bullpen in the Bronx this past season, pitching 131 1/3 innings with a 3.29 ERA and a 104/39 K/BB ratio.
One through four, the Cubs’ rotation is solid with defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel.
Mets third baseman David Wright missed four months of the 2015 season due to spinal stenosis. In other words, Wright dealt with a narrowing of his spinal column. Going forward, the Mets plan to be cautious with Wright so as not to overuse him.
As ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports, Mets GM Sandy Alderson plans to have the 33-year-old Wright play in no more than 130 games. Alderson said, “We’re gonna make sure that he’s not overworked. So it’s important for us to find somebody who can play 30 games or so at third base when he’s not in there. But I think we have to be realistic, and not expect that he’s gonna be an absolute everyday [player] out there playing 150 or 155 games. That’s not gonna happen.”
Wilmer Flores played 26 games at third base in his rookie season in 2013, so he could back up Wright as needed. But Alderson mentioned that because Wright would mostly sit against right-handed pitchers, the switch-hitting Neil Walker or Asdrubal Cabrera could get the call at the hot corner.
When he was on the field last season, Wright hit a productive .289/.379/.434 with five home runs and 17 RBI in 174 plate appearances.
The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.
This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.