Sunday, 13 April 2014

Starting a Podcast: The Technical Basics

Getting into the world of podcasting is amazing and can be both fun and rewarding. Let’s face it, we are rarely more enthusiastic than when discussing a topic that we love to talk about! Just think if you could take that enthusiasm and turn it into your very own show which can be shared with other people around the world! 

Now you can.

To start a podcast, you’re going to need a few things. The good news is that things have gotten a little easier lately and you don’t have to be quite so tech-savvy. Knowing HTML coding for an RSS feed was required in the not-so-distant past. Luckily, software companies have made life easier for the less tech-savvy of us (like me!).

The first thing you will need is a microphone. This is not the place to go cheap. The biggest problem with the vast majority of podcasts out there is the fact that their product comes off sounding amateurish and sophomoric. While this may have been a bit of the appeal to early podcasting, it is important to put together a little more polished product. The single best way to create a good sounding show is to use a good sounding mic. You will need a condenser and/or a cardioid mic. The standard multi-directional mics that singers in rock bands are simply not made for podcasting or recording speech. They are great for picking up sounds from multiple directions (thus the name ‘multi-directional’, go figure). You’ll also need one that has a USB connection as these produce the best quality. I recommend the Blue Snowball which is available at most Staples for around $100. It’s the one I use and if you listen to our show you’ll be aware of the quality of its sound.

Up next, you’ll need a headset to listen to your co-hosts and/or guests. This is the area you can afford to go cheap. Do not bother with the expensive “noise reduction” headphones the sales people will try to sell you. When it comes to listening to music, you will want expensive, noise-reduction sound quality. However, when it comes to podcasting, the exact opposite is true. You WANT to hear if there is any background sound getting through so that you can do something about it. For example, just think how upset you’d be if you recorded an entire show and it was awesome and everyone had lots to say and it was informative and entertaining. Then you listen back and you hear the distracting hum of an air conditioner in the background. That would be frustrating. Avoid this problem (and save a few bucks) by using a cheap set of headphones (available for around $25 or less). This way, if the TV in the other room is interfering with your recording, you’ll know about it and will be able to do something about it (like closing the door) before it is too late.

Chances are, your co-host and/or guests for the podcast will not be in the same room as you when it comes to recording the show. In my case, I live in Barrie, my co-host lives in Kitchener and our guests come from as far away as Los Angeles. How do we solve this? You’ll need a communication software program. The best one to use? One word: Skype. Both you, your co-host and guests will need to download Skype for their computers if they haven’t already. Don’t worry, it’s free. Also, they will have to add you as a contact so that you can call them. You will not be using the video interface, just the audio. You can place a “group call” and call several people at once. That’s what I do. Just let the others know what time you’ll be placing the call, make sure they’re logged into Skype and go ahead and call them. Have your mic plugged in to talk to them and have your headset on so you can hear them. You’ll have a 3-way conversation going which will be the basis for your show. 

Once you have a 3-way Skype call going, you’ll want to record the call so that you’ll be able to create a show. I have tried several different approaches to this and the easiest is to purchase a recording software program called Evaer. It is available online for a one-time cost of about $20. Worth every penny. Once you download Evaer, it should start up automatically when you start Skype. I move the Evaer window over to the left of my computer screen and have the Skype window centered on my monitor. When you place the call, you can get into a little small talk and ask if everyone is ready to go, then hit the red Record button on Evaer. You’ll see levels come up as well as a timer for your recording. This is really cool if you are trying to keep your show to a specific length, as you’ll be able to see how long it has been running.

Once your conversation is recorded, you’re going to want to edit the conversation into a show. This is the second most important aspect of the podcast (right behind microphone quality). In fact, editing is where you can separate yourself from the pack when it comes to a polished show. If you listen to the “Dear Mr Fantasy” podcast, you’ll hear that we incorporate a theme song, segment bumpers, sound effects, censor beeps and promos. All of these elements are added in post-production using editing software. While I use Adobe Audition to do my editing, this can be a little pricey (around $500). Instead, you may want to consider a free editing software program such as Audacity, which may be downloaded online for free. Even if you don’t incorporate the same number of elements as we do into your podcast, at the very least you’ll want some intro and outro theme music to indicate the beginning and end of the podcast. Editing will be your best friend and can seriously make or break your show. Bet on it.

Okay, so you’ve recorded your first show and edited it into a masterpiece of podcasting media. However, if no one ever hears it, who will know how good it is and just how much you have to offer to the world? You are going to need to get it up onto the internet and house it on the web so people can download it and enjoy your gift to the world of podcasting. This is done using uploading software. Podcasting audio files can be quite large (figure about 1 MG per minute of your audio podcast… thus a half hour show will be approximately 30 MG, a pretty fair size file to be sure). As a result, such a big file cannot simply be cut-and-pasted such as word processing is done. You will need a special piece of software which helps you to move large files from one place to another (kind of like moving a file from one folder on your computer to another). Since you will be moving your large podcast file from your computer to the internet, you will need a specialized program. I recommend using FileZilla. It’s available online and best of all, it’s free to download.

Before you can go uploading your podcast to the internet, you are going to need a server. If you’re not familiar with the workings of the world wide web, just know that people will be using their computer to access another computer to download your podcast. As a result, you will need to store your podcast episodes on a host computer (or “server”) which will respond to requests for your show and will deliver the show as a download to whoever wants it (be it an individual, a podcatcher like iTunes, or a mobile phone app). There are many server options available. You don’t really need to get into the details of ‘shared servers’ versus ‘dedicated servers’ unless you are really interested in how your podcast will be stored. For starters, I recommend a shared server. Basically, this means that you will be ‘renting space’ on a computer along with other people so that you can all store your information (in your case, storing your podcast) for people worldwide to gain access to. There are several shared server options available but I highly recommend a server which offers unlimited bandwidth. Basically, this means that your podcast can be downloaded by as many people as possible without you ever getting charged extra. Many servers will give you a limited amount of bandwidth per month to use. If you go over, you pay more. Think of it like the data plan on your cell phone. You may think you’ll save a few bucks by going with a cheaper option (and limited bandwidth) but you may regret it later. Downloading podcast files can quickly chew through your bandwidth, so it’s better to be prepared. The last thing you want is to start a podcast, get some loyal listeners, grow the audience and then no one can download the show because your bandwidth usage exceeds your monthly limit. Even the smallest podcasts get a few dozen listeners so you’ll need some room to grow. When I started the “Dear Mr Fantasy” podcast, by the second week, we had over 3000 downloads. I was thankful to have unlimited bandwidth, to say the very least. I recommend using Dreamhost. If you contact me, I can give you a referral code to use which will save you some money. It is very reasonable to use their service (just over $100 for a full year of unlimited bandwidth….a very good deal, indeed). When you sign up for Dreamhost, you’ll also receive a free WordPress blog site and email address so you can have an ‘official’ website and email address for your show (which is nice). Every week when you are done recording (and editing… don’t forget editing) your show, you will use FileZilla to upload it to your server where it will sit for the world to access.

Once your show is uploaded to the server, you’ll need to use your blog (provided in the Dreamhost package) to get your podcast out to the world. Each week you create a new blog post which has the podcast episode attached and you’re all set. I highly recommend using the blog post to display some show notes for that episode. You can see what I mean at the Dear Mr Fantasy podcast website. The show notes are great for people to see what your show is all about and better yet, it allows the search engines like Google to find your show and send people there. As you’ll see at my website, people can click and listen to the show right from the website blog posts. Or they can download an episode (or episodes) for future listening. They can also follow a link and download the show in iTunes or listen on Stitcher Radio.

Speaking of iTunes, you will want to get your podcast listed on as many podcasting aggregators as possible. These aggregators are also called ‘podcatchers’, as they ‘catch’ your show for others to find. This allows people interested in podcasts to easily find and listen to your show. The biggest of all podcatchers in the world is iTunes. It is relatively easy to register your podcast with iTunes and once you do, an Apple employee will listen to your show and determine if it will make it into the iTunes store. You can also get your show listed on dozens of podcatchers and podcast website directories around the internet. I recommend getting listed on as many as possible to help increase the reach of your show. Feel free to contact me for a comprehensive list. 

The one thing you will need in order to register your podcast anywhere is your podcast RSS feed (RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’, because that’s exactly what it is). This is what the podcatchers will use to get your episodes out to the public at large. In the past, podcasters had to be able to create their own podcast RSS feed using HTML coding. Luckily for those of us that are less than tech-savvy, WordPress has a plug-in called “PodPress” which is free and creates the RSS feed for you. It even helps create special tags for iTunes (Apple likes to do things a little differently than others and requires special tags as a result). The RSS feed is available through your PodPress plug-in on your WordPress blog and looks like a URL with the suffix “/feed” at the end. For example, the podcast feed for my show is: http://www.dmfantasybaseballpodcast.com/feed. Your RSS feed is the link between your podcast and everyone else, who are no doubt waiting in anticipation for you to take the world by storm with your amazing new podcast.

That’s pretty much the technical aspect of podcasting. The challenge you will have will be in finding a workable format for your show, keeping it interesting and promoting your podcast. However, since you will no doubt love the topic in which your show is about, it will all be a labour of love and one of the best hobbies you’ll ever have.

Fantasy Baseball Pitchers: The Frustration Mounts

Okay, so you've all heard me complain about my starting pitchers. Who hasn't had a rough patch with their starters from time-to-time? Coming into the 2014 season, it was just about unanimous that starting pitching was deep. Really, really deep.

Well, as we gear up for the start of the third week of the 2014 fantasy baseball season, starting pitching is looking a lot thinner than we thought. Whether it's due to injuries (Clayton Kershaw, Alex Cobb, Matt Moore) or ineffectiveness (Cliff Lee, Homer Bailey, Shelby Miller), the ranks of fantasy pitchers is getting thinner by the minute.

Luckily, for those among us who play daily fantasy sports or wager on baseball games, we have some control over which starting pitchers we want to go with. In fact, there are even places that will help you with choosing the best fantasy baseball starting pitchers. For those of us in fantasy leagues with weekly line-ups however, it can be more of a challenge.

I have always been a proponent of drafting offense first and leaving the majority of my pitching staff until later in the draft. I always try to grab a top starter or two but then leave the rest of my staff until later. The reason for this is simple... pitching in fantasy baseball is notoriously risky. Starters get injured, pitchers who have shown consistency in the past suddenly become inconsistent and closers lose their jobs (on a daily basis lately, it seems).

I still feel that the best approach is to be conservative on draft day (or at auction) when it comes to pitching. Then, once the season gets underway, start working the waiver wire and free agency like mad. Watch like a hawk for pitchers to emerge and for trends to develop. If you can be the first in on a breakout sleeper pitcher or if you can grab a pitcher that a fellow owner has given up on, all the better.

Don't forget about trades either. Although it can be a wildly inconsistent adventure from league-to-league, trading can be a great way to craft your team throughout the year. If you loaded up on offense at the draft, you might be in a better situation to take advantage of certain situations. If a fellow owner went heavy on pitching at the draft (or auction) , they will most likely be starved for offense. If they have just experienced injuries or inconsistency with their pitching, they just might be more likely to make a move out of frustration.

Any way you look at it, crafting a pitching staff in fantasy baseball can be a frustrating experience. It is also one that extends far into the season and doesn't end until the last day of your league's season.

Good luck the rest of the way!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Dear Mr. Fantasy Podcast Schedule - Fantasy Baseball 2014

Once again, we will be recording a new "Dear Mr. Fantasy" podcast episode every Monday night from February right through until October. Joining Chris and the Doctor will be a different guest every episode to talk about fantasy baseball.

For the pre-season, we will look at a different position each week in order to get you ready for your draft or auction.

We'll look at sleepers, over-achievers, under-achievers and get to lots of player picks in our ongoing "Who'd You Rather?" segment. In addition, we'll also feature the returning segment, "Fantasy Judgment" (where the guys will help settle a dispute in your league, along with some help from the guys at Fantasy Judgment, the highest court in fantasy sports!). You'll also get a chance to 'call out' the guys during the "I'm Calling You Out!" segment. Finally, the guys will get to emails during the "Feedback" segment to end the show.

Once the regular season gets underway, we'll replace the positional previews with the following show outline:

"Who'd You Rather?"
The guys pick between 2 players (or 2 of anything at all) based on tweets and emails from listeners.

"Who's Running Hot & Cold?"
A look at a few players who have been on hot streaks and whether or not they are worth picking up. These are players available in the majority of leagues.
A look at a few players on cold streaks and whether or not they are worth dropping.

"Fantasy Baseball Crackerjack of the Week"
The guys will look at one player who had a monster week and discuss whether he is a "buy" or "sell" candidate going forward. Clave Jones from the Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks will chime in with his advice.

"Waiver Wire Pitchers"
A look at a few pitchers that are available in the majority of leagues that may (or may not) be worth picking up in your league.

"Fantasy Judgment"*
Listeners are encouraged to send in emails about a dispute they are dealing with in their league. The guys will debate it, give their 2 cents and then read the "Official Ruling" from the bench of Fantasy Judgment, featuring Michael A. Stein, Esquire.

"I'm Calling You Out!"*
Each week listeners are encouraged to "call out" someone (often Chris and the Doctor are the ones who get called out, and often call out each other!)

"Feedback"
The guys read and respond to emails from listeners.

* These segments are rotated week to week.

We've always gone with a set format for the show and that won't change for 2014. It keeps the show clipping along and allows the guys to get to LOTS of players and analysis in each and every show.


The Dear Mr. Fantasy Off-Season

I don't know about you, but we're not big fans of the winter around here. It's not just because of the snow, either. There's NO baseball! Sure, there's the winter meetings, free agent signings and trades... but there's nothing quite like actual games and fantasy baseball teams to manage.

Getting through the off-season is never all that much fun but the guys were sure busy this year. It's no secret that Chris isn't much of a football fan. So, unlike the Doctor, (who usually spends his earnings from the year over at Football Betting.....or at the local beer store.... ohhh, Doctor!), Chris usually hibernates from November right through to February, but you can always keep visit MyTopSportsBooks.com during this time to keep inform of the news and trends for the next season.

However, this off-season was a little different...

First, we received word that the show was nominated for a 2013 Podcast Award in the Sports category. Up against heavyweights like CBS Sports and ESPN, it was a real moment for us around here. There's always honor in receiving recognition, but to be mentioned in the same sentence as those other guys was something else. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it really was an honor just to be nominated.

Then, came some bigger news... the podcast landed a new sponsor. Dynasty Sports Empire stepped up to the plate (see what I did there?) as the new sponsor for the podcast. Not only that, they funded a trip for the guys to go to Las Vegas to attend the Podcast Awards in person. Needless to say, we love our new sponsor! Then, the guys at Dynasty Sports Empire created a new 16-team league and opened it up for listeners of the podcast to play in a dynasty league along with Chris and the Doctor. Pretty cool indeed!

Just when we thought things couldn't get any better, we got word that the show had landed another award nomination. This time, the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) had named the show one of three finalists for Podcast of the Year! Again, we came away without a trophy but we did come away with something very special indeed... recognition from within the industry.

Talk about a great way to spend the off-season. As much fun as it all was, we're most excited about the upcoming baseball season. We will once again be returning with a new podcast episode every week (we record late Monday nights, with the show usually available sometime before midnight, EST) and the guys will be joined by a different guest each and every week.

Weekly leading up to the regular season, we will review a different position every week. We'll get started by looking at catchers on February 3rd with our guest, former MLB catcher (and current Sportsnet baseball analyst) Gregg Zaun.

We're excited about what we've got in store for you this year. We hope you'll enjoy the weekly fantasy baseball talk, analysis and prominent guests. We'll do our best to keep blending all of those things into a package that is hopefully fast-paced, entertaining and informative.

Thanks to you, we've been able to enjoy the off-season a lot more than we ever imagined. We'll try and pay you back with quality shows each and every week.

Here's to a great 2014!

- "Sloth" the Producer

Monday, 30 December 2013

Best Fantasy Baseball Closers for 2014

The 2014 MLB season will have a different feel to it, especially when comparing all 30 closers. Mariano Rivera is officially retired, which means that the title of “best closer” is officially up for debate. People playing fantasy baseball 2014 don’t stress drafting a closer too early, but everyone needs one to complete their roster. Here’s a look at the best options.

Craig Kimbrel

The Atlanta Braves were once again in the playoffs last season, and a lot of that was due to the quality season Kimbrel put together. After a shaky beginning, he finished with 50 saves and a 1.21 ERA. He struck out 98 batters in limited innings thanks in large part to his two dominant pitches.

Aroldis Chapman
When on, there is no one better, perhaps in the history of baseball. Yes, he can be that dominant at times. However, he still isn’t consistent enough to earn the “best closer in baseball” label. Like Kimbrel, he strikes out batters in bunches, but his 2.54 ERA is pretty high for a guy with such good stuff.

Kenley Jansen

From a stylistic perspective, Jansen is the closest thing to Rivera. He throws a cutter 90% of the time, and he was able to be a dominant closer for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. This will be his first full season as a closer, and since the Dodgers should be contending, expect a lot of close games.

Greg Holland

Holland rounds out the top four closers before a bit of a drop off. He helped the Kansas City Royals stay in the playoff race for quite a while thanks to his dominating stuff. His 47 saves and 1.21 ERA will be tough to match, but the Royals figure he can be just as dominant. Expect a lot of close games for the Royals in 2014, and that could help him finish with the most saves in the American League.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Dear Mr. Fantasy Baseball Podcast Named as a Finalist for 2013 Podcast Awards



Barrie, Ontario, October 30, 2013— The 9th Annual Podcast Awards nominations have been announced and the “Dear Mr. Fantasy” baseball podcast has been named a finalist for a 2013 Podcast Award in the Sports category. Other nominees in the category include podcasts produced by ESPN and CBS Sports.

The “Dear Mr. Fantasy” podcast began in January 2012 by Barrie, Ontario resident Chris McBrien discussing fantasy baseball statistics, player analysis, projections and general advice on the topic. Joined each week by his sidekick, “The Fantasy Doctor”, McBrien’s podcast has featured industry experts such as USA Today Sports Editor Steve Gardner and baseball writer Tim Heaney among the weekly guest spots.

Podcasts have been growing in popularity in recent years. Apple recently announced that the iTunes store eclipsed 1 billion podcast subscriptions spread across 250,000 unique podcasts in more than 100 different languages.

“It’s an honor to be nominated and that’s not just a cliché”, states McBrien. “When you consider the sheer volume of podcasts being produced today as well as the caliber of competition in the category, it’s an achievement just to be recognized alongside such big names”.

The Podcast Awards were founded in 2005 by Todd Cochrane, a universally-known podcaster, new media expert and author. The Awards recognize the best podcasters in the world by allowing the people to nominate, and then vote for their favorite podcasts across several diverse categories.
With fantasy sports growing in popularity annually, there has been an increasing need for more information on the topic. Fantasy sports now account for approximately $4 billion in annual economic impact across the sports industry.

“In addition to providing information on our topic, the key for us is to keep things fun and always involve our audience”, states McBrien. “Baseball doesn’t have to be all stats and numbers. It can be a chance to get together with friends and have fun and a lot of laughs. The content on our show relies heavily on listener feedback, questions and comments. Podcasting can be a highly interactive medium and a chance to connect with listeners. That’s what we strive to achieve with our show”.

The nominations for the 2013 Podcast Awards were announced on October 27th with voting opening up to the general public from November 1st through November 15th exclusively through the Awards’ official website.

The “Dear Mr. Fantasy” podcast has grown quickly since its inception and is now available across a multitude of platforms including iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Podomatic, BaseballPodcasts.com, the Sports Jam Network and many more.

Winners of the 2013 Podcast Awards will be announced at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas on January 4th, 2014.

For more information on the Podcast Awards, please visit:

http://www.podcastawards.com

For additional information or a sample copy, contact:

Chris McBrien
cmcbrien@dmfantasybaseball.com
http://www.dmfantasybaseballpodcast.com

“Dear Mr. Fantasy” podcast: Where we put the fan in fantasy baseball.

# # #

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Dear Mr Fantasy League Update - Week 20

Hey you guys,

This week, we have a new leader in the DMF League. Furbush by Cracky beat JESUS 6-3-1 and now holds a 1.5 games lead for the championship. We also have a new close contender making this a 4 team race. YUPHEMISMS (formerly Yu Serious?, or any other YU name) went 10-0 to vault himself into contention heading into the final 6 weeks. The top 4 look like this:
Furbush by Cracky 112-69-9
JESUS 112-72-6 1.5 gb
Mud Dawgs 109-71-10 2.5 gb
YUPHEMISMS 104-73-13 6 gb

With that, lets look at the players available on the wire that helped all DMF teams to success.

Alex Rodriguez - ManBearPuig (Sloth)
Despite dealing with the steroid scandal, and any other scandal that pops up each day. This guy is producing. Although he is a despicable person, 36% of owners enjoyed 5 R 1 HR 4 RBI 1 SB .357 AVG. He would be a good pickup for David Freese owners who are concerned about his production and his playing time.

Ubaldo Jimenez - Cliff with a K
His wildness scares a lot of people. But Ubaldo hasn't had a bad outing since the all star break. He isn't pitching deep into games because of his command issues. But come on, he is on the wire, and he strikes out nearly a batter an inning. Consider adding Ubaldo to your team for his next start against Minnesota. 18% owned.

Ricky Nolasco - Baseballerz
Hes been on the dodgers for a while now, and he has improved a little with the winning environment. His ERA has come down a notch or to to 3.60. Again like Ubaldo, he hasnt gone deep into games at all since being traded, but he has 3 wins in his last 4 starts. When you play for the dodgers, it's hard to lose. 45 % owned.

Chris Rusin - Hackensack Bulls
I just promoted to pitchers based partly on team success. This isn't the case here as a member of the Cubs. Rusin earned a victory against the Cardinals last week, and he followed it up with a respectable start this week in a loss to the Reds. He has had one bad start against the white hot Dodgers, and for a waiver pitcher, that isn't that bad. He could stand to strike out a few more batters, but he is much improved this year over last with a WHIP of 1.18 and a BAA of .230. This one is for deeper leagues as he is only 2% owned.

Jose Quintana - Toldedo Mudhens
Quintana's fantasy performance can be summed up in two words, “damage control.” He allows quite a few runners in every start. He just usually doesn't let them score. His ERA has been in the mid 3s since april, so if you need some counting stats that won't hurt your ratios, he should be one to consider. His next opponent is Kansas City. 19% owned.

Scott Feldman - Merkle's Boner
His past two starts made him worthy of consideration. However, in 3 of his past 8 starts he has given up at least 4 runs since being traded. Perhaps his very recent success will attract some attention, though there are likely less risky options out there. His next opponent is Oakland. 32% owned.

Jedd Gyorko - YUPHEMISMS
It has been a frustrating year for this rookie. He was hyped, and he failed early, and was sold off, then he succeeded and people bought in, then he got injured and slugged only .100 in July. This isn't July anymore and Gyorko isn't injured. He is enjoying a great month 6 R 5 HR 10 RBI in august. This week he hit for a .391 AVG. So pick him up. He should be owned, not just as a waiver pickup. 32% owned.

Justin Ruggiano - Nostalgic Tall Socks
Ruggiano hit out of his slump in a big way hitting 2 homeruns on Friday. But let's get real, this guy has been ice cold. There has to be better options out there. 10% owned seems too high for me.

Joel Peralta - @DieselCricket
Peralta has 4 holds and 1 win in his last 10 appearances. The Rays trust him in high leverage situations. All of his past 10 appearances have been in games decided by one run. So if you don't like the starting pitching pool in your league, a consistent reliever could help you in the counting stats. 15% owned.

Jonathon Niese - MaineSkin
Reports are that his velocity is back, and his shoulder isn't an issue anymore. With 9Ks in his last outing, that should alert most fantasy owners. Seeing that it was against the woeful Padres, and that he is facing the Braves next start will calm some people's desires for his services as a spot starter. 34% owned.

Marco Estrada - The Village Idiots (Chris)
Estrada recently came off the DL and has pitched well holding Texas to only 1 run over 5 innings. As he gets more stretched out. He has been limited in pitch count (75) so far. His next opponent is the Reds so there might be less risky options in the short term, but keep your eye on the matchups in the future. 32% owned.

Andrew Cashner - Pat Burrell
The first repeat. He had a rough start against the Reds, but had a very good start in colorado. He allowed 3 ER in 7 innings while striking out 7. He isn't known for a good K/9 so this was an exceptional start. He has been pretty consistent this year keeping his ERA in mid to high 3s. So risk-averse owners may look to him as an option even against the Pirates. 27% owned.

Marlon Byrd - You Gotta Believe
Byrd is batting .400 (12 for 30) in his past 7 games. He has also gone deep twice in that span, ending a long power drought. This week he also contributed 3 R and 7 RBI to 55% owners. This is a shallower pick up.

Zach McAllister - Arod For Your Pujols (The Doctor)
After a rough outing versus Detroit, Zach bounced back with a great fantasy outing allowing one earned run over 6 innings for the win against the Twins. He also struck out 7 in the effort. McAllister will bring his 3.74 ERA against the Angels. As of this writing, his start has been moved up to Monday, so he could be a two start starter this week. 7% owned.

Dayan Viciedo - Tex Marks the Spot
He is returning from a thumb injury but put up immediate returns. This week he homered to go along with 5 RBIs. Perhaps a few more games will get him back in the swing of things in Chicago as his average wasn't anything to brag about. 15% owned.

Alfonso Soriano - Sac Flies
Normally I would write about an above average performance from a waiver wire player. I couldn't find one on this team. Instead I am looking at Soriano. 9 R 5 HR 18 RBI 2 SB .484 AVG. The reason I bring this to light, is partially to do with how bad the rest of Sac Flies fringe players did, and more to do with the high trade value of Soriano in leagues that haven't hit the deadline. If you own Soriano, see what you can get for him. Now.

Sonny Gray - JESUS
Gray allowed 2 ER over hist first 18 innings. He gets the struggling Mariners next. Although his recent impressive outing was against the Astros, reports are that he was locating his fastball really well. He is being snatched up quickly. 25% owned and climbing.

Juan Francisco - Furbush by Cracky
How would you like a player at third base and has an OPS of 798. He is currently rated higher than Michael Young, David Freese, and Chase Headley. Yet he is owned in only 18% of leagues. This week he contributed 5 RBI and 3 HR.

Brad Ziegler - O's
Ziegler should be owned. He being placed in high leverage situations coming out of the bullpen. This has resulted in 3 saves and 3 wins in his last 10 appearances. 46% owned isn't nearly enough.

Joe Kelly - Mud Dawgs
Mentioned him last week, and he proved me right. Joe's revenge on the Cubs came in the shut out variety over 6 innings striking out 6. He faces the Braves next, so it may be less than ideal. I'd still start him. 14% owned.

Honourable Mentions - Favoured with a U
Xander Bogaerts gets called up and he has been one of the prospects on everyone's radars. Pick him up. He has value.
Will Venable has been on fire since I first mentioned him in my first article. Add NL player of the week to his resume.
Christian Yelich added 5 R 2 RBI and 1 SB. I mentioned him last week, and he continued his fine play. So he earned another weekly push.

Thanks for reading.
Enjoy this weeks podcast with Chris and The Doctor and guest Joe Pisapia @JoePisapia17.

Enjoy,

-Sloth
@DMF_Sloth

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fantasy Baseball - Week 18

Hey you guys,

This week, JESUS took the lead atop the Dear MR Fantasy league. Mud Dawgs and Furbush by Cracky both had off weeks and sit 1 game behind. Week 19 presents two interesting matchups, JESUS and Furbush play against each other, and Mud Dawgs are against 5th ranked O's. While there are 3 clear front runners, there are probably 4 other teams who could catch up with strong play. Yu Serious?, O's, You Gotta Believe, and Tex Marks the Spot.

Here are this weeks Waiver Wire performers.

Brian Dozier - Tex Marks the Spot
Dozier is relatively hidden in the terrible Minnesota lineup but he has been heating up lately. He has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games. 24/79 (303 AVG.) This past week he gave 25% owners 4 R, 2HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 345 AVG. Who says you can't grab 5 categories off waivers?

Jonathan Villar - Merkles Boner
Villar is expected to return from a thumb sprain this Monday. His thumb should not affect his speed, but it could affect his hitting. If he does get on, this guy can run. 4 steals in one game? 10 steals in his first 15? Sure! You could win your steals category with this guy alone! Only 8% of owners are even aware he exists.

Brandon Beachy - Baseballerz
Through 3 starts, Beachy is sporting a 5.00 ERA. He is certainly capable of that. This week he dominated the Marlins. While beating Miami isn't anything major to celebrate, the 6Ks scattering 4 runners is what makes Beachy a must own in deep formats. It is still wise to play matchups for the next start or two, but after that he should be back to 100%. 41% owned.

Joe Kelly - The Village Idiots
Expected better while facing the cubs, but he wasn't exactly knocked around either. He has yet to complete 7 innings in one start, but the ERA is quite nice. He'll get another shot at the Cubs and should be worth looking at as a spot starter for the weekend. 18% owned.

Josh Reddick - Arod For Your Pujols
Reddick nearly won the weekly matchup by himself. A trip to the homer friendly Rogers Center allowed Reddick to hit 5 Homeruns and 8 RBIs. He also walked twice on Sunday, perhaps suggesting he is seeing the ball better. He was ice cold before this outburst, but if he could find is way back to 2012 levels, he could help you if your outfield is hurting. 35% owned.

A.J. Ellis - Pat Burrell
This week, Ellis gave 10% of owners 3R 1HR and 6 RBI. He has at least an RBI in 5 of his last 6 games. An AVG around .260 is pretty decent coming out of the catching position. LA is pretty hot still so riding the hot team should yield more RBI opportunities.

Michael Brantley - ManbearPuig
Brantley is putting together a fine season again for the Indians. So why is he only 46% owned? Partially because no one believed he could do this again. This is Brantley's ceiling. With the exception of AVG, he should actually surpass 2012s totals in all categories. He is a top 15 CF this year.

Welington Castillo - Sac Flies
17 for his last 42 (.404) and gave 9% of owners 7 R 1 HR 3 RBI and 1 SB. Feel free to add him if you have been burned by catchers with bad AVG. He is not putting up much for power, but he is certainly one of the hottest hitters right now.

Wily Peralta - Toledo Mudhens
Since having a 6.08 ERA on June 16th, Peralta has pitched quite well with only one really bad start. He has lowered his ERA almost 2 full runs. He was a hardluck loser on Sunday as he pitched a complete game allowing only 2 runs. His next start is against the Reds whom he has had some success this year. 1-2 with a 3.10 ERA. 14% owned.

Yan Gomes - MaineSkin
He is the backup catcher for the Indians yet he is getting near regular plate appearances. Having a season OPS of .899 will cause any manager to try to get you ABs. With that said, no one expected Gomes to hit this well still. Despite his lofty numbers, he is still only to be considered in deep leagues. 12% owned.

Christian Yelich - JESUS
Had his 10 game hit streak snapped. This rookie is going to have a lot of opportunities to hit since he is currently the Marlins leadoff man. Even including Sundays poor performance, He is 16 for his last 45 (.356). He is an interesting play in deeper leagues. 16% owned seems a little low.

Leonys Martin - Mud Dawgs
4R 5RBI and 7 SB. That speed is rediculous and can be had at all outfield positions. Martin is being snatched up quickly as frantic owners search for speed. 42% owned and rising fast.

Darin Ruf - Yu Serious?
This Rookie is swinging for the fences. This means his average is hurting a bit. This week, he gave 16% owners 4R 3HR 6 RBI. A pretty good trade off for a pedestrian 217 AVG. If you're looking for power off the wire, give Ruf some consideration.

Robbie Grossman - You Gotta Believe
Since returning from the minors, Grossman has been lighting it up. He is the Astros leadoff man and has gone 18/49 (.367). He has cooled off in his last 3 games though. He can be a source of average power and average speed. Your league might be deep enough to miss out on Michael Brantley, consider this a cheaper and speedier alternative. 20% owned.

Brandon Belt - Cliff with a K
If your short a man at 1B than Belt is a good replacement. He is still competing for ABs under the frustrating management of Bruce Bochy. But when you are hitting 14/32 (.438) in August, it's hard not to find an at bat somewhere. This week he gave 33% of owners 8 R 2 HR 5 RBI along with a 440 AVG. All of baseball is waiting for this young hitter to arrive for good.

Alex Wood - Furbush by Cracky
Since a sub par outing after the allstar break against the Mets, Wood has allowed only 4 runs in 19 innings over 3 starts. He has a season ERA of a very respectable 2.78 and is worth a start against the Nationals next week. Owners are taking notice of this hurler so get him a day or two ahead. 21% owned and climbing fast.

Bronson Arroyo - O's
A lot of owners were scared off from his start in early august. But let's remember he is only 4 starts removed from his complete game shutout. This week he went 7 innings giving up one run. If you play the match ups, Arroyo can reward you. He is owned in 44% of leagues.

Chris Rusin - Hackensack Bulls
Rusin shutout the cardinals over 6 strong innings with 5 Ks. He managed to strand a few runners despite a very strong Cardinals offense. Can he do it against the Reds? Perhaps that is too much to ask of the inexperienced Cubs pitcher. 1% owned and is a possible play in deep NL only leagues with the right matchups.

Luke Hochevar - Nostalgic Tall Socks
Sometimes non-closers get you the odd save. This was the case this week with Hochevar. This is another case of perhaps using a reliever that has good ratios instead of a shallow starting pitcher pool. Remember, if you havent used all of your adds this week, you likely could have used a reliever and benefited from it. 3% owned.

Tony Cingrani - @DieselCricket
Most deeper leagues already know about this guy. At 59% owned he isn't available in most leagues. If you are looking for a good spot starter in shallow leagues, he hasn't given up more than 3 ER in months so he won't hurt your ratios.


Honourable Mentions - Making me look good. (A few follow ups from last week.)
Bruce Chen had another great start. Sure it was only 2Ks, but 7.2 innings of shutout ball allowing only 6 runners is great from the veteran.
Jason Castro sustained his production for another week. 3R 1 HR 3 RBI 444 AVG this past week.
Tyson Ross maintained his good play of late with a dominant performance against the Reds allowing 1 ER and 6 Ks.
Will Venable continued to hit and continued to run. 3 R 2 HR 2 RBI 2 SB .286 AVG. Not bad at all.
Dan Haren got the win allowing 2 ER over 7 innings. That is 5 good starts in his last 6.

After a cancelled show due to beer in the studio. Steve Gardner returns and is well worth a listen. This article is now a weekly thing to help you owners get the edge in finding talent to win a championship.

Enjoy.

-Sloth
@DMF_Sloth

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Week 17 (and Slightly Before)


Hey you guys, 
 
Since Chris is gone, there is no show this week. So, instead of insight and analysis for the upcoming week, I am going to dedicate this to the Dear Mr. Fantasy league itself.

Top Teams

Furbush by Cracky 103 – 59 – 8 (.629) 0 gb
Furbush is going all in this season. Trading away picks 1, 2, 3, and 5 to get Fielder, Tulowitzki, and Nelson Cruz. Furbush is in the the top 6 in all offensive stats, and no surprise, he has a substantial lead in the homerun department. He has been getting by on a strong bullpen with 81 saves (2nd place has 55) and is in the top 5 for Ks. Other than that his pitching stats are mediocre at best. Per haps his midseason acquisitions of James Shields and Hector Santiago as well as a comeback from David Price could lift Furbush to the championship. 

JESUS 104 – 62 – 4 (.624) 2 gb
Jesus has also given up the next draft in order to go for championship this year. He has traded away picks 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 to get Hanley Ramirez, Jonathan Papelbon, and Mariano Rivera. JESUS is at the top of the pack in Runs, SB, and AVG. His only lackluster stat is homeruns. Unlike Furbush, JESUS has somehow won the majority of his games despite having a pitching staff near the bottom in every statistic. Is this luck? Or is it some higher power that is cursing the opposing pitching staffs each week. There are signs of improvement as JESUS' staff out pitched mine with an ERA of 1.52 and a WHIP of 0.91. The reason? Jose Fernandez and A.J. Burnett. Along with Dan Strailly, those seems to be his only starters.

Mud Dawgs 101 – 62 – 7 (.614) 3 gb
Mud Dawgs gave up the league lead (thanks to me) last week but this week he stayed with the leaders going 7-2-1. Mud Dawgs have been quiet on the trade market with the only acquisitions being Cliff Lee and Tommy Milone. Despite the poor trades, Mud Dawgs drafted one hell of an offense leading in RBIS and in the top 4 in Runs, HR and Avg. The pitching staff has not performed as well but hasn't hurt either, Mud Dawgs is around the middle of the pack in all statistics though he is above average in Saves. Perhaps Mud Dawgs has the most to gain if he decides to go all in enticing big stars for his coveted draft picks. Time will tell.

Who's Hot in the DMF League

Chris normally gives insight on Hot and Cold players across the league. I am instead going to look only at the surprise performers who helped each owner.

Junior Lake – JESUS
10/31 with 2 homers this week. Owned in 36% of leagues. Multi position eligibility makes this a dream waiver pick up so late in the season. 

Tyson Ross - Manbearpuig (Sloth)
Allowed a total of 3 ER and struck out 22 over his past 20 innings since becoming a starter. He did it against somewhat weak offenses but should be worth a look in the future, though maybe not against the Reds. 9% owned.

Brandon Crawford - BaseBallerz
2 of his 5 hits went deep along with collecting 6 RBIs in the week. He came into this week cold, so maybe this burst will snap him out of his funk. Having a 273 AVG is pretty good for someone who is only 25% owned as a shortstop. Keep him in mind as an option for Everth Cabrera owners in the near future.

AJ Griffin - You Gotta Believe
He got touched up by the long ball in what was otherwise a very good week. Having a WHIP at 0.88 is usually a good sign, and playing on a strong athletics team are good reasons why Griffin shouldn't stay at only 61% owned for long.

Iván Nova - Toledo Mudhens
Out-duelled the aforementioned Tyson Ross over the weekend and has a stat line of 37K / 10BB / 1.65 ERA / 0.92 WHIP in his past 38 innings of work. He is one of the hottest pitchers going right now. He's gonig against the Tigers next, so be prepared for a bit of regression, but he is still worth owning right now. 38% owned and climbing.

Brett Cecil - Nostalgic Tall Socks
When the waiver wire is thin on quality starting pitching look for the strong relievers. Brett had a little bit of a swoon since the all-star game but has since countered with a win and a save. The Jays haven't been trending the right way lately, but Brett should still be good for holds for the rest of the season. 11% owned seems about right for a reliever, but that means he is likely available for many readers.


Nolan Arenado - Yu Serious?
5 RBIs and 4 Runs in his last 10 games. Nolan is picking up the pace going 12/36 (.333) in that span. He also hit two homers doing it away from Coors Field. 17% owned.

Garrett Richards - Maineskin
Garret has lowered is ERA a full run over the last month, but he was only recently turned into a starter. Over his first two games starting for the angels, he has allowed 2 ER while striking out 8. At only 2% owned, this might be an option in a deep AL only leagues if you like the matchup.

Ryan Raburn - @DieselCricket
Ryan has seen is average climb 17 points in his last 9 games. He has gone 11/30 (.367) with 3 HR, 5R, 9 RBI in that span. He still strikes out often, but that is okay for a waiver pick with multi position eligibility. Owned in 11% of leagues. 

Andrew Cashner - Pat Burrell
What does a guy have to do to get owned these days? Cashner has allowed more than 3 runs four times in his past 18 starts. He is going to keep your ERA around 3.5 and give you decent counting stats. His K% isn't great but is surely worth owning in mid to deep leagues. There is talk of the padres limiting his innings to 150 or so, so keep that in mind, around 5 starts from now pay closer attention. 27% owned as of now.

Bruce Chen - Village Idiots (Chris)
Since regaining the starting role, Chen has allowed 4 ER in 24 innings. He is a known commodity and is pitching over his head right now to the tune of a 2.03 ERA for the season. With the red hot Royals, he may be worth starting against Boston, his next projected opponent. 11% owned.

Dan Haren - O's
Perhaps this troubled pitcher is beginning to figure things out. He has had 4 decent starts in his last 5 and his last 2 were quite dominant. 14 IP, 1ER, 12K, 7H, 3BB. Owners who dropped him earlier in the season are quick to pick him back up. Get him before anyone else does. 52% owned.

Felix Doubront - Hackensack Bulls
Felix hasn't had a particularly bad start since he failed to make it out of the 5th inning way back in the middle of June. Since then he has posted a 2.01 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 9 starts. He is worth adding even against the streaking Royals. 31% owned.

Jacob Turner - Tex Marks the Spot
He plays for Miami. So you haven't come here for the win category. But If you like a low ERA and low WHIP with ample strikeouts, you won't be disappointed. Turner is sporting a 2.68 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP which is about as good as it gets as a starter off the wire. He is quietly owned in only 24% of leagues.

Logan Morrison - Merkle's Boner
Ryan Braun's replacement has been hitting well and producing. He has given 10% of owners 6 RBIs and 7 Runs over the past 9 games. He is no Braun, but you won't get much better than 3 categories off the wire this late in the season. He could also be a replacement for disgruntled Melky Cabrera owners.

Will Venable - Furbush By Cracky
Has hit safely in 7 of his last 10 games taking his average from .236 to .249. Not a lot of power, and above average speed. If you're looking for a cheap source of steals, perhaps Venable is your guy. He is owned in only 4% of leagues.

Bud Norris - Cliff with a K
The WHIP still scares me, the long ball still scares me. But Bud Norris has recovered somewhat in his last two starts. Play the matchups. The padres are his next opponent. 22% owned.


Colby Rasmus - Sac Flies
22nd in runs scored, 4th in homeruns, 6th in RBIs, 25th in Avg amongst qualifying CF. That means he is the 14th ranked qualifying CF. He is providing more value than Bryce Harper, Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, and Michael Bourn. He should be owned in far more than 49% of leagues.

Jason Castro - Arod for your Pujols
We all know the Doctor hates catchers. But he managed to pick up a top 10 catcher off the wire in Jason Castro. He has held a steady 260 average for much of the year and has given the Doctor 8 RBIs and 5 Runs over the past 10 games. He is still only 47% owned.

Stephen Drew - Mud Dawgs
Has raised his average 21 points in 10 games with 5 multiple hit games in that span. He is not hitting for power but it is hard to argue with 7 Runs and 9 RBIs in that same time frame. Worth picking up if your shortstop is about to be suspended.

Honourable Mention - Spelled with a 'U'
This goes out to Andre Rienzo. I meant to start him but got distracted. He has had two great starts for a stellar rookie debut. With Peavy gone from the white sox, Rienzo should get more starts and is worth picking up before his next start against Minnesota.

Next Week

Chris and the Doctor return with special host Steve Gardner, the senior editor at USA Today. Since the show will be a go, I get to be chained back up to a wall eating a Baby Ruth. CHOCOLATE!

Hope you enjoyed.
-Sloth

* Image by I, Surachit [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons