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The “Zen of Baseball” May get MLB Outfielder Back on Track

blue jays outfielder Travis snider

24 year-old Travis Snider

2011 was one of the worst years for Blue Jay’s outfielder Travis Snider


Snider, 24, has been considered one of Toronto’s top prospects since he was a first-round draft pick in 2006. But he has yet to produce consistently in the majors. He had the starting job in left field, and lost it two times to teammate Eric Thames. When he was sent down to the minors, Sniders season quickly ended after he was diagnosed with tendonitis in his right wrist.

At this point, I can’t even imagine how he felt. From being a starting left-fielder in the MLB, to being cut and sent down to the minors where he eventually injured his wrist. Questions must have been running through his mind like, “Will I ever make it back to that level?” or “Will I be forgotten about by the MLB?”

This has to be such a let down for any major league baseball player. Imagine spending your entire life training and making your way to the major league level, and then having them tell you that you are not good enough, twice. This can cause someone so much stress that it can possibly lead to depression.

Travis Snider decided that he was not going to allow this to ruin his career, or his life. This is when he started leaning towards Zen.

He was first introduced to the art of Zen while reading a book written by a  former Blue Jay’s outfielder, Shawn Green. The book is called “The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH” in which he talks about how the game of baseball taught him to be “in the moment” and how to find inner stillness.

After reading this book, Snider explained how he quickly became interested:

“That kind of propelled me into a few other books,” said Snider, who is competing with Eric Thames for the starting job in left field. “I had read that book right before I got called up. I couldn’t put the book down and read it twice. It was not just an enjoyable read for me but I was able to relate to a lot of things.”

He also said that all of his learnings of Zen applied to his own life:

“I don’t claim to be Buddhist or any particular religion from that sense,” he said. “But I definitely was able to take some things and put them in perspective . . . Our minds as competitors can get the best of us at times and (it’s a matter of) being able to take a step back and saying. ‘OK, I’ve done everything I can do to this point, just go out and play. At times, it’s easier said than done but that focus that you are able to refine over the years of experience is what’s key for me moving forward in my career.”

Now as spring training begins this month, Snider believes that he was given a second chance. He will be battling with Thames once again for the starting spot in left field. He feels that his injury in the minors could have been a blessing because he learned so much in his time away from baseball.

“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise,” Snider said of the season-ending injury. “It gave me some extended time to spend with some friends and family and doing some good self-reflection and really putting things in perspective.”

One of them is going to make it, and one of them is going to be cut. Two left-handed batting left fielders will not be needed to roam the outfield in Toronto. Whatever the outcome happens to be, Snider is mentally prepared for it.

Source: The Star

 

Fantasy Baseball With PhDinWeed, Issue 2, 1B Rankings

Hello, fellow fantasy nerds. Let’s get right to it, shall we? Below are my rankings for 1B. If you missed my catcher rankings, you can see them here. Please note that in this section, I am only including players who either played 1B as their PRIMARY position last year, or are expected to this year. I am not including players like Carlos Santana or Mark Reynolds.

ELITE

Miguel CabreraMiguel Cabrera, Tigers

The 29 year-old Cabrera should challenge Albert Pujols as the overall #1 pick in most fantasy drafts. He had a stellar 2011, playing in 161 games and raking to the tune of .344/30/105. He also walked over 100 times, leading to an insane .448 OBP. Of course, everyone knows the Tigers signed Prince Fielder as a free agent, so Cabrera’s shift to 3B makes him, in my opinion, the best option at either 1B or 3B. Keep in mind your league’s rules, as he won’t be eligible at 3B before playing a predetermined amount of games at 3B. He has reportedly arrived to camp 25-30 lbs. lighter than last year’s 240 lbs. Despite playing in cavernous Comerica, I look for Miggy to approximate last year’s numbers and be a legit MVP contender. Obviously a top 5 fantasy pick.

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols, Angels

Must be nice to put up a .299/37/99 line and have that be considered a down year! The 32 year-old Pujols missed time with a broken wrist in 2011, but returned ahead of schedule to lead the Cardinals through the postseason and their World Series championship. Although Pujols seems to lack the lineup protection he had in St. Louis, there is no reason to think he won’t be able to put up a .320/40/100+ season in the AL, especially with the DH allowing him some days off from 1B. Again, obviously a top 5 fantasy pick.

Adrian GonzalezAdrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

Although the HR barrage that was expected upon switching from Petco to Fenway never came to pass, Gonzalez still put up an excellent .338/27/117 in his first year for the Sawx. Entering his 2nd season with Boston, there should be a comfort level increase, and one has to think that Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Dustin Pedroia getting on base in front of him will result in plenty of RBI chances. (although he did lead the league in GIDP.)  Another year removed from shoulder surgery, look for the 29 year-old A-Gonz to crack the 30 HR mark and provide market value for an early-round pick.

Joey VottoJoey Votto, Reds

What can you say about this guy? In 2011 he produced a .309/29/103 line, and for his career he gets on base at a .400 clip. He’s in his prime as he heads into his age 29 season and plays the game right, but I’m not sold on his surrounding cast, and that’s why he slots 4th in my breakdown.  Still worth an early-round pick.

Prince FielderPrince Fielder, Tigers

Fielder can thank Victor Martinez’s ACL for ending his free agency with a bang, signing a 9 year, $214 million contract, and placing him in the same lineup as sluggers Miguel Cabrera, Alex Avila, and Delmon Young. Fielder raked his way to a .299/38/120 season in 2011 and got on base at a .415 clip. Despite playing in Comerica, there’s just so much lineup protection that you have to believe he can duplicate, if not exceed, those numbers. The change of leagues and the pressure of the big contract has him sliding to #5 in my analysis, but there is no question he ranks among the elite. An early round pick for the 28 year-old is an automatic.

NEAR-ELITE

Mark TexieraMark Texiera, Yankees

The lone entry in my near-elite tier, batting average is the only thing keeping the 31 year-old Tex from making it to elite status in my roundup. Since hitting .308 in 2008, he has declined each year, culminating in last year’s .248, a career low. Even if the average doesn’t pick up, you know in Yankee Stadium he will get more than a few cheap HR. In 2011 he parked 39 while driving in 110, so he remains a high draft pick, but falls just short of the top 5 at the position.

ABOVE AVERAGE

Eric HosmerEric Hosmer, Royals

A huge contributor to my championship run last season, the 22-year-old Hosmer made the Royals call him up by mashing AAA pitching for a .439 mark. He did not disappoint as a rookie, contributing immediately. He started strong, hit a rough patch, and finished out the season on an absolute tear, hitting 9 HR and batting .352 over his final 150 at-bats. I have read various columns that state Hosmer is overrated, but as part of an exciting young Royals team, there’s no reason to think he can’t improve on the .293/19/78, and could find himself alongside the elites when all is said and done. If you can grab Hosmer anytime after the 7th round, consider it a steal.

Paul KonerkoPaul Konerko, White Sox

The 36 year-old Konerko started 2011 off on a tear, but the second half of the season saw him battling nagging injuries, and only 9 of his 31 HR came after the All-star break. New Chisox manager Robin Ventura has pledged to get Konerko some days off with the DH slot, so there may be reason to believe that Konerko can come close to duplicating his .300/31/105 marks, especially if Adam Dunn and Alex Rios bounce back from miserable seasons. A mid-round pick could yield excellent value.

Lance BerkmanLance Berkman, Cardinals

Another 36 year-old, Berkman put a sub-par 2010 to rest with an All-Star 2011, swinging to the tune of .301/31/94. Moving from the OF to 1B should keep Big Puma healthy, and despite the naysayers lamenting the loss of Pujols, if the starting cast in St. Louis can stay healthy, the Cards will score their share of runs. If you can get Berkman in the later middle rounds, don’t hesitate to scoop him up.

Michael MorseMichael Morse, Nationals

I have no problem with late bloomers. Morse followed up a solid 2010 season with full time at bats in 2011, and blasted his way to a .303/31/95. The 30 year-old Morse could use to cut down on the K’s (126 in 2011) but the power numbers seem to be legit. With Ryan Zimmerman and a hopefully resurgent Jayson Werth in the same lineup, you should expect more of the same in 2012, though he will spend the majority of his time in the OF.

Freddie FreemanFreddie Freeman, Braves

The 22 year-old Freeman looked overmatched early in 2011, but rebounded to finish with a very respectable .282/21/76. Another year of experience can’t hurt, although he MUST cut down on his strikeouts (142 in 2011). If he improves his plate discipline and the rest of the Braves lineup (I’m looking at you, Heyward) can stay healthy, Freeman can be counted on to be a fantasy starter. Target him in the later middle rounds.

AVERAGE

Ryan HowardRyan Howard, Phillies

How the mighty have fallen. The big man is trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and he’s already had a setback. If he comes back right, sure, he can help you with some power numbers, but his batting average is what it is, and he strikes out a TON. Under the best of circumstances, he was to miss most of April. Do you want to reach for him before the late middle rounds in hopes the 32 year-old comes back in May and puts up 30 jacks? I’m saying no.

Ike DavisIke Davis, Mets

I really am pulling for this kid. Hope he made the right decision to not get surgery on his injured ankle and opt for extensive rehab. If the 24 year-old can make it through the spring with no setbacks, he could pick up where he left off when he rolled that ankle and end up being one of the top 10 1B in the league. A late round pick could pay major dividends.

EVERYONE ELSE

Don’t forget players like Carlos Santana, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Young, etc. who have multipositional eligibility and could very well be a starting 1B for a fantasy team. Here’s some quick thoughts on other first basemen:

Adam Lind, Blue Jays – 20 HR and 80 RBI’s don’t cut it for a starting 1B job in fantasy, and it’s pretty clear that’s what you’re going to get with this guy, plus a ton of strikeouts. Late rounder.

Gaby Sanchez, Marlins – another .280/20/80 guy. If the other players in the Marlins lineup come to play, those numbers could grow. Buy low in hopes of being pleasantly surprised.

Justin Morneau, Twins – Sad story. I think that concussion in 2010 did him in. Don’t expect much.

Kendrys Morales, Angels – The slugger is said to be progressing well from his 2010 injury, and if he sees regular ABs at DH and spelling Pujols, he could be in for a huge year. Monitor his progress through the spring.

Mark Trumbo, Angels – The Angels are working him out at 3B. Playing time could be an issue. Keep track of him during the spring, as he showed last year he can be a cheap source of power with full time ABs.

Adam Dunn, White Sox – He can’t possibly be as bad in 2012 as he was in 2011, right?

Carlos Pena, Rays – Comes back to Tampa, where he had his best years. As long as you don’t mind a guy hitting in the .230s, he could be in line for 30 taters.

Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks – Skipped AAA and came up to the big club, where he showed nice power and the ability to take a walk, but also struck out a lot. Worth a look in very deep leagues.

Brandon Belt, Giants – will be given every opportunity to win the starting 1B job in the spring. Hasn’t lived up to his gaudy minor league numbers, but things should start to click eventually, no?

Justin Smoak, Mariners – Still young, but still plays for the Mariners. Look at this guy in the late rounds in deep leagues in the hopes he lives up to his potential.

Mitch Moreland, Rangers – Could be a significant fantasy contributor, but playing time likely to be an issue. Keep an eye on the Rangers’ camp. If someone goes down with an injury, Moreland could be a huge find.

So there you have it. Let me hear back from you, the reader. Leave me a comment, or better yet, follow me on twitter @phdinweed.

New York Mets 2012 Preview

New York Mets logo

The Mets Look For Respect In 2012

The Mets or “Mess” as some would like to call them have pitchers and catchers reporting today, although the first official team workout is not scheduled until Wednesday.

As if the Mets didn’t have a tough enough road to begin with no Jose Reyes and possibly Johan Santana, they also find themselves in one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, the NL East.

Seems like this team can’t catch a break.

However, the Mets made minor moves this offseason that I think made the team much better and have key players coming back from injury.

The Mets decided to first bring in the fences at their new ballpark. Right-Center Field went from 415 to 398, Left Field comes in from 371 to 358. Citi Field ranked last in the MLB with Home runs per game, it average about 1.43.

Now to the players.

Frank Francisco Mets

Frank Francisco

The Mets made some good moves in regards to their bullpen. First by signing closer Frank Francisco. The Mets bullpen was AWFUL last season, ranking 5th worst in blown saves with 24.

If the Mets had a league average closer which had only 13-14 blown saves, the Mets would have been fighting for a playoff spot. The Mets weren’t necessarily a bad team, their bullpen was just so bad and was their undoing in so many games.

Along with Francisco, the Mets signed John Rauch and traded Angel Pagan to the Giants for Ramon Ramirez. All three will need to have all-star caliber years (and are very capable) for the Mets to regain respectability.

Also, all three of these guys are POWER arms with good stuff and good velocity.

With the dimensions at Citi Field coming in, power hitters like Ike Davis/David Wright and Jason Bay should bring in more offense.

Ike Davis Mets

Ike Davis

Ike Davis was having a breakout year until he got hurt. Davis was batting .302 with 7 Home Runs and 25 RBI’s. I expect Davis to continue his ascent and the fences coming in should not hurt either. Davis has awesome power and if he can stay healthy for a full-season can easily put up 30-35 home runs.

Jason Bay may not be the 40 home run guy that he was in Pittsburgh or Boston, but I know he can be a productive 20-25 Home Run guy and he does play a good left field. Bay needs to have a good year for respect amongst the fan base. Every since being signed Bay has under-performed drastically.

David Wright needs to bounce back big time. With Reyes gone it will be up to Wright/Davis/Bay to really bring up their production. If this offense wants to be productive, it will be up to David Wright to lead the way.

David Wright

David Wright

His opposite field power reminded me of Piazza and his .300+ average made him a feared man in MLB. However, Wright has slumped mightily over the past two seasons and needs to rebound.

 

The Mets projected 2012 starting lineup consists of:

Lineup Player POS Team AB R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
1 Andres Torres OF NYM 450 66 9 37 21 0.229 0.316 0.378
2 Daniel Murphy 2B NYM 420 62 7 50 5 0.305 0.353 0.440
3 David Wright 3B NYM 545 86 21 79 18 0.264 0.354 0.448
4 Ike Davis 1B NYM 495 81 22 79 1 0.263 0.357 0.467
5 Lucas Duda OF NYM 475 74 17 73 1 0.282 0.365 0.476
6 Jason Bay OF NYM 450 61 13 54 10 0.251 0.344 0.400
7 Josh Thole C NYM 340 46 3 37 1 0.291 0.371 0.365
8 Ruben Tejada SS NYM 410 52 0 41 6 0.285 0.370 0.339

 

On the other hand, the starting rotation consists of:

New York Mets Starting Rotation
Player
IP
W
ERA
WHIP
K
K/9
 
Johan Santana 150 8 3.65 1.26 116 7
Mike Pelfrey 200 9 4.45 1.35 111 5
Jon Niese 175 9 3.80 1.31 152 7.8
R A Dickey 200 10 3.55 1.24 122 5.5
Dillon Gee 170 10 4.35 1.38 123 6.5

Obviously the key is Santana, if he can come back and be effective for the Mets it will be a huge lift for a team desperately seeking positive news. Gee started strong for the Mets, than failed to regain his form after the all-star break. It will be interesting to see how Gee performs this season.

Johan Santana

Johan Santana

The one thing the Mets need more than anything is good health. It seems like this team has been stripped due to injuries the past two seasons. Last season they played hard for manager Terry Collins and finished 77-85, which is not too bad considering the injuries they faced and the competition within the division.

Unfortunately, injuries are apart of the game, the Mets need to hope the injuries they face this year are not major and do not effect key parts of their team. This team lacks depth and can’t afford to have their starters out for an extended period of time.

 

Let the heartbreak begin…

 

 

 

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