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MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays

MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays: Who’s in First?

 Hello friends, we’re back (finally) with another edition of MAMBINO Fantasy Mondays. We give our (supposed) weekly updates and thoughts on Major League Baseball, and of course, the fantasy spin from some rugged veterans of the internet.

The NBA is winding down it’s season with the championship round, while the NHL and NFL lie dormant until the fall. If your attention hasn’t fully been on baseball the past few months, who could blame you? The NBA Finals is shaping up towards being one of the all-time greats, while the Los Angeles Kings’ surprising romp through a supremely entertaining Stanley Cup playoffs kept us all distracted since essentially opening day.

So if you’re just cracking open the sports page, you’d probably take a look at these standings and your face would be contorted into a mess reminiscent of Jack Wilson’s unfortunate mug. Some of the division leaders are as predictable as a Matt Cain quality start – the Yankees and Rangers are in first, while the Giants and Braves currently hold serve as the NL Wild Card reps and Tampa Bay Rays one part of the AL Wild Card.

But the rest of the standings? Your other divsion leaders (ordered by winning percentage) are the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.

How…is this happening?The Los Angeles Dodgers, left for dead by even Chavez Ravine sycophants here on this blog before the season began, have the best winning percentage in the majors? The supposedly “rebuilding” Chicago White Sox are in first, three games ahead of the presumptive AL Central champions in the Detroit Tigers? The Washington Nationals aren’t just the best team in the ultra-competitive NL East…they’re the most exciting team in the game?

The world is not round my friends. It is a cube, whose answers are in the form of clown questions, bro. It’s MAMBINO Fantasy Monday. Let’s unravel how this has happened in the last 12 weeks of Major League Baseball.

Cincinatti Reds – 38-27, leads Pittsburgh by 4 games in the NL Central

How are they doing this?: By pretty much doing what every good AL team should do – mashing, pitching and fielding. The 2012 Reds were a preaseason pick to be built on solid starting pitching and great hitting in a weak division. However, both sources are somewhat surprising.

The pitching has been great in southern Ohio, but not because of the Reds’ two big offseason trades. Mat Latos, acquired in a blockbuster deal with the San Diego Padres last winter, was supposed to be the savior ace that the Reds had lacked for the past two decades. Quite the opposite once spring training got underway – Latos has surprisingly been the team’s worst starter. His rotation mate Johnny Cueto will be an All-Star in a month with his dominant arm, while Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey continue their solid, if unspectacular play. The Cincy ‘pen, thought to be decent in the preseason, has exceeded all expectations, but not because of import Sean Marshall. Led by destroyer of all men Aroldis Chapman (1.06 ERA and 58 K’s in 34 innings), relievers Alfredo Simon and Jose Arredondo have been damn near unhittable.

The Reds’ lineup is doing things the old school way: hitting the ball really, really hard. The Reds are third in slugging, first in doubles and fifth in homers, but a tepid ninth in on-base percentage and tenth in hits. Joey Votto might damn well be the best first baseman in the Majors and replacement third baseman Todd Fraz… Read more...

MAMBINO Fantasy Monday: The Panic-Meter

On Friday, the Anaheim Angels and the Washington Nationals called up the consensus #1 and #2 prospects in the game, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout respectively. At ages 19 and 20, Harper and Trout are the two current youngest players in the major leagues. “Wayne’s World” has more experience existing than these two. Writing that bringing these two up from the minors is a “panic move” is hardly an overstatement; it might just be accurate.

It’s early in the season, but what I know is that it’s never too early for a team to freak out from underperformance. Let’s take a quick look at some early season moves made by teams across the MLB landscape, grade them 1 to 10 on the “Panic-Meter” and see what type of fantasy implications are there.
The Anaheim Angels call up OF Mike Trout
MAMBINO Panic-Meter: 7 out of 10
For the Angels, Trout’s call-up coincided with veteran Bobby Abreu’s release from the team. Now 7-15, the Halos are performing far below expectations. In fact, they’re one of the worst teams in baseball, along with the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. For Anaheim, the reason for pressing the panic button is pretty obvious: they didn’t give Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson over $300 million dollars combined to finish in last place. They did it to win a World Series.
However, it’s not like this is just a move to just shake up the team. I mean, it’s definitely that, but this is also a really simple numbers issue. Abreu had a putrid spring training, followed by hitting .208 in limited duty this year. Bobby no longer plays the same type of Gold Glove defense that he was known for and was the biggest weakness of an Angeles log-jam in the outfield with Peter Bourjos, Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo and of course, Trout.
More importantly, Trout was laying waste to the Pacific Coast League, hitting .403 with literally a billion extra base hits (I exaggerate; it’s 10 in 20 games, with 6 stolen bases, to boot).

Yes, this is a panic move for the Angels because of how quickly their season was slipping away from them, even in March, but this was also just a simple numbers move for the Halos. Abreu was bad, and Trout is good. Any team, regardless of expectations, would have made this move.

Fantasy spin:Pick up Mike Trout, right now, if he hasn’t already been snatched up.  But perhaps more realistically, this is going to change the look for the other Angels in the line-up. Unless he really stinks, Trout is staying up for good, and probably hitting in the lead-off spot for the duration. I’d buy low into Peter Bourjos, who’s hitting in the 9 spot, seeing as Trout, who has some pretty impressive power, will  be hitting directly behind him.

The Washington Nationals call up OF Bryce Harper
MAMBINO Panic-Meter: 9 out of 10
For the Nationals, the reasons are a little less clear. Harper was only hitting .250 in the minors, with just 6 extra base hits in 82 plate appearances; hardly tearing it up. The logic is that the Nats probably wanted to bring up their young phenom immediately following spring training, but didn’t want to start his “arbitration clock” (which means, quite plainly, that Washington would have to pay him more money sooner if they brought him to the majors right away rather than waiting 3 weeks). At 14-7 and leading the NL East, Washington didn’t necessarily need him anyway. Right?
Wrong.  With 1B/OF Michael Morse and 3B Ryan Zimmerman on the DL, and Roger Bernadina, Xavier Nady and Rick Ankiel Read more...