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On the Fratton Yankees…(2017 edition)

It is that time of year, the time of year where I write a blog post about my fantasy baseball team that not even ten people will read. It is lucky I don’t worry too much about my readership numbers for blog posts like this isn’t it…?

So I’m back with my Fratton Yankees. I still have not won this darn league despite having a fantastic squad. I’ve made the playoffs four straight years but haven’t been victorious at the end. Last year I was the overall #1 seed by a considerable margin but tripped over in the playoffs. The year before I was the overall #2 seed but tripped over face first into a BBQ in the playoffs. I got a shellacking and a half.

As per usual we get to keep 12 major league players and four minor league players. We will then draft 12 extra major leaguers along with four more minor leaguers in the draft.

I kept:

Buster Posey – C
Daniel Murphy – 2B
Manny Machado – SS/3B
Josh Donaldson – 3B
George Springer – OF
Kyle Schwarber – OF
Miguel Sano – 3B/OF
Billy Hamilton – OF
Yasiel Puig – OF
Yu Darvish – SP
Roberto Osuna – RP
Aroldis Chapman – RP

I had one real decision in the major league portion of the draft. Yasiel Puig has all the talent in the world but hasn’t put it together for two straight years yet I didn’t want to give up on his talent. This meant I kept him over Kenta Maeda, a starting pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m still not sure if I made the right decision there as I really liked Maeda but that is how I rolled.

In the minor league portion I kept Joey Gallo, Lucas Giolito, Kevin Maitan and Lazaro Armenteros. Gallo is the power hitting 3B/OF of the Rangers who has issues actually hitting the ball (when he makes contact it goes a long long way), Giolito is the #1 SP prospect in the game but his stock seems to be falling. Maitan is a young SS prospect who was the #1 international prospect last year and Armenteros is a complete unknown but has been called the Cuban Bryce Harper so I rolled the dice.

In the draft itself (major league portion) I took Albert Pujols first to fill my hole at 1B and then went 11 straight pitchers. DeSciafini, Wainwright, Zimmermann, Lynn, Uehara, Rondon, Volquez, Liriano, Sabathia, Kazmir and Stephenson. My first pitcher is already injured and might need TJ surgery so is very possible to miss the whole season and neither Kazimr nor Stephenson broke camp with jobs in the starting rotation. Not exactly ideal that…

In the minor league portion I added Padres SP prospects Quantrill and Morejon. Former #1 overall pick Mark Appel came next followed by Mets SP prospect Szapecki. So another four pitchers. Overall that meant I made 16 picks in the draft and only took one hitter (Pujols) and he was my first pick.

Since the draft I have made one big trade though. Miguel Sano has gone for a haul of four players. A deal I couldn’t really say no to. I got Tyler Skaggs and Alex Cobb to bolster my rotation. Young SP prospect Michael Kopech who throws 105 MPH and is the #2 SP prospect according to Jon Sickels and also got Luis Robert, an unknown who was the best young player in Cuba last year and was described by one scout as the best baseball player on the planet. The type of hype I all too often buy into. Also the type of player I like to own the rights to just to see what happens.

The season started yesterday and to replace DeSciafini and Osuna (both on the DL) I brought in Alex Gordon to give me a spare bat on the bench and Sergio Romo, who’ll be setting up for the Dodgers this season.

Is this the year I finally win this league (its been going since the 2006 season) or is this another year of disappointment? I know one thing, no-one really cares but I can tell you this, I will grimly be participating all season long with the goal to not only win but to create a dynasty…

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On meeting the 2015 edition of the Fratton Yankees…

Many many moons ago I had a blog that a few people would read. It was very similar to this blog actually (although this is read by thousands of people a week and is far less personal). One day one of my frequent readers told me that some of my blogs were boring and that no-one cared about my fantasy baseball team. She said from that moment on she didn’t want to speak to me ever again. From that day I vowed to write about my fantasy baseball team once a year in homage to her. So Louise Fletcher of Manchester (this was many many moons ago, good odds that her surname has since changed) don’t read this, it’ll only bore you (actually it will bore you all but still…)

So I’ve been involved in this one fantasy baseball league for ten years. It is a keeper league, 7×7 stats where you have 24 man rosters with eight man minor league rosters for players who’ve never played in MLB before. You get to keep 12 players from your major league roster every year and four minor league players. Then you draft the rest of your roster each off season.

Things though were a little bit different this year, my long time friend and GM of the two-time champion Edinburgh Red Sox, Neil H, quit the league because of the elongated draft that takes me months and is annoying as hell. He’d been threatening to quit for a couple of years and this year was the year. So my main rival as it were was gone. Yet I stuck it out as I look to secure my first title (I’ve been a losing finalist twice and been the overall #1 seed once).

To start with my keepers were as follows:

Buster Posey – C/1B
Josh Donaldson – 3B
Manny Machado – 3B
Rusney Castillo – OF
Brett Gardner – OF
Billy Hamilton – OF
Yasiel Puig – OF
George Springer – OF
Yu Darvish – SP
Collin McHugh – SP
Jordan Zimmermann – SP
Aroldis Chapman – RP

My four youngsters in the minor leagues that I kept were:

Lucas Giolito – SP
Joey Gallo – 3B
Amed Rosario – SS
Miguel Sano – 3B

Two things are clear. I have too many outfielders and I have serious depth/logjam at 3B. Still I decided to just keep the best players I had and planned to work out how to fit them into my team as/when.

I was drafting 11th out of 16 and in the first round you always try to find a player who can be of keeper quality and in a position of need. I am desperate for that impact bat at 1B, I haven’t had one since Justin Morneau’s AL MVP season. Three excellent 1B options were available in Chris Davis, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez. None of them dropped to me but the fourth person on my draft list did – Kolten Wong – 2B. He’s a young player who many are predicting to become an elite bat at second base. He was an Edinburgh Red Sox player but their replacement manager didn’t keep him. I was glad to take him.

Next up I took a surprise. I have learned over the years not to draft value but to go after players that I like even if it means reaching. Still I came to my second pick and I just thought Trevor Rosenthal – RP was too much value so I nabbed him. This gave me two elite closers in Chapman and Rosenthal and that position was sorted. In rounds three and four I took two players in positions of need that I wasn’t crazy about. JJ Hardy – SS and Justin Morneau – 1B. SS is so shallow that he was the last half decent option there so felt I had to take him (and he’s already injured) and Justin Morneau whilst not finding his power stroke last year did lead the NL in batting average so I thought he’d be a solid if unspectacular option.

That filled up my day-to-day batting roster and allowed me to concentrate on my starting rotation. By now Yu Darvish had got injured and was out for the year. Darvish and Zimmermann was a pretty powerful 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation so losing a player of Darvish’s calibre was a huge blow. McHugh was a surprise last season and was I suspect the biggest shock out of my retained list but to expect him to be the #2 starter was an issue. I tried to find a trade partner to bring in a #2 quality starter but managers were asking for the Earth so I had to draft well.

John Lackey, AJ Burnett, Alfredo Simon and Bartolo Colon were my next four picks. Not stellar but not awful in terms of adding depth to the rotation. Colon has already pitched great on opening night. I’m not expecting miracles from these guys but if they can keep me competitive most weeks in terms of Wins, Quality Starts and K’s as well as ERA and WHIP then I’ll be happy. My pitching is not strong but I don’t think its weak either. My offence on paper is better than it has been in recent years so I should be competitive. I have made the playoffs in both of the past two years including a dramatic playoff run in 2013, where when the last pitch of the season was thrown, I wasn’t in the playoffs but when that play ended, I was in. Drama!

Still four more picks and the next two were set up guys. Our league has Holds as a stat so you need to add a couple of set up guys. I chose Joakim Soria and Jordan Walden. I thought both were good options and was happy with them. Then in the final two picks you look to take fliers on guys who might surprise. My first was a guy I nearly took in round four in Steve Pearce. The Orioles’ 1B/DH/RF was a shock last year with a .925 OPS and 21 HR in 338AB but no-one liked him to repeat. I took a chance and he’s already gone deep twice. I loved this pick then and love it more now. Lastly Ricky Nolasco – SP and his first start was shall we say, not great…

So that is my major league roster but wait, I need to take four youngsters to fill out on minor league squad.

Again I picked 11th and I had a guy in mind but at the last minute I changed my mind and took Kyle Schwarber, a catcher out of the Chicago Cubs organisation. I don’t need a catcher as I have the #1 catcher in Buster Posey entrenched in my major league side but when it comes to the minors I just pick the best players available in my opinion. Second round I brought in a Japanese pitcher who is still playing in Japan in Kenta Meada. Lots of talk about him being posted and I wanted to retain his rights for the season to see if he does get posted next off season.

In rounds three and four I took Kyle Zimmer – SP out of the Royals organisation and Yoan Lopez – SP out of the Diamondbacks organisation. I really liked these picks and whilst I felt my major league draft was only ok, I thought my minors went very well and I have excellent depth and hope that some of my minor leaguers become elite major league players.

So there we go. You’ve met the 2015 Fratton Yankees and some people wonder why I’m single… Don’t you want more politics guff instead of this?

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Fantasy, Fantasy, Fantasy!

No no no. This blog isn’t about what I’d do with [redacted] if she was up for [redacted] with [redacted] whilst wearing [redacted] and melted Mars Bars. Oh no. This is about another fantasy. Fantasy baseball. I have written before that I’ve been told that writing/talking about your fantasy team with people who aren’t in your league is amongst some of the most boring things that one can do but yet here I am and after a dramatic few days in my fantasy baseball league I think its worthy of a blog post.

In recent years I have totally scaled down my fantasy sport commitments. This year I have one fantasy football team and one fantasy baseball team and that is it. The fantasy baseball team is in a keeper league where we hold over half our major league players and half our minor league players each season. This is the eighth season that I have been in this league and I have yet to win it and have only appeared in the final once and the playoffs on two others occasions. However this year was different.

For most of the season I was seeded fourth and cruising into the playoffs. The top six make it. Yet with four weeks to go in the season I got a shellacking and went down 11-3 and dropped to the seventh seed. I lost the next week 6-8 but managed to have a big win in the penultimate week and that meant I basically had to do two better than the sixth placed team in the final week – so if he won his match-up 8-6 I’d need to win mine 10-4 etc…

Now my opponent was up against a long time friend and my friend did his job well and come Sunday I’d have to win 7-6 to qualify for the playoffs and things were tight. Several categories were tight and at various points throughout Sunday I was in and I was out. It was 6-6 and I had one players going in the night game that could win it for me. Aroldis Chapman the Cincinnati Reds closer. However I needed him to get a vulture win as I had saves locked up. I had already gotten a vulture win earlier in the day from Mariano Rivera but he got one as well. Disaster.

As the final pitch of the Major League Baseball season was thrown I was out of the playoffs but by the time that at bat ended the Fratton Yankees were in. I had done it. The Reds won it in the bottom of the 9th and Chapman was the winning pitcher of record. Rejoice. I woke up to a tweet from my friend who simply said as I had signed off Skype with the only thing that can save me was a vulture win from Chapman, ‘a vulture win like that you mean? Chapman gets the W!’ and boom boom boom. I was seeded sixth and would face the commissioner and third seed in the first round of the playoffs.

The commissioner has a fine team but over the past two years I have fluked wins against him in every single match-up. So the draw wasn’t bad for me. I lead the match-up most of the week but on Saturday I inexplicably left my star starting pitcher on the bench. He pitched great and I was livid with myself for just seemingly forgetting to make him active. Had I pitched him I would have won both QS and ERA and comfortably win the match-up but as it stood I was up 9-4 (with one tie) but he had three starting pitchers to go and several hitting stats were still tight.

By the time Masterchef Australia was in full swing I was down 5-7 (with two ties) and looked done but my Fratton Yankees are a resilient bunch. His starters were only able to grab ERA and lead QS but they couldn’t muster a win between them so I kept wins. Then my starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann pitched terrifically and tied up QS again to make it 6-7 and suddenly his batters were stinking the joint up and Batting Average was getting closer and closer and suddenly I was ahead there, up 7-6. I had one batter left to go and he was in a rain delay so I couldn’t take him out of my side. I did the maths and knew he could go 0/6 and I’d win but 0/7 and I was done. He went 0/4 and I survived to play on.

This week a rematch with the side I beat 7-6 in the final week to make the playoffs. I have a string of injuries but I’m still alive and after the first day I lead 12-0 but six more days and lots will change. The strange thing is my team are I think a year or two away as my minor leagues are full of top class talent that will reach the bigs in the next year or so. Miguel Sano, George Springer, Billy Hamilton and Lukas Giolito will be my minor league keepers and all of them have a real possibility of being significant impact players over the next few season’s. With the likes of Manny Machado, Yasiel Puig and Buster Posey already anchoring my my lineup and Jordan Zimmermann and Yu Darvish anchoring my rotation I might be a decent side for the next few years but my 2013 season is still going and I’ve wasted over 900 words talking about it.

I despair at myself and so should you.

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and the Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates survive!

Who could have seen this coming six weeks ago? The Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates looked like toast. After a stunning first week massacre of the Goat belief was high in the camp but then a run of only one win from six led to a 2-5 record and the only hope of making the playoffs was to win out.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well that makes you in the majority – a heavy majority.

The Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates are my fantasy NFL team in the ESPN league ‘Twitter Tw@ats’. My draft was awful in retrospect. Javhid Best got concussion and is out for the year. Ryan Grant just never got going. Chad Ochocinco never made it into Tom Brady’s good books and Austin Collie got nothing from whoever was playing under center for the Colts as it wasn’t Peyton Manning. So basically both my starting RB and WR stunk and the dream was over.

Or was it?

People said I had given up. So I decided to really stan the waiver wire and see what could be done. Plaxico Burress was on my bench and he came in. I still had both Tom Brady and Philip Rivers in my QB/Offensive Player positions and had two great Tight Ends in Antonio Gates and Aaron Hernandez although they both faced injury issues in the middle of the year. I picked up Reggie Bush who started to play great and I was cobbling together wins.

In week eight the first win of the six needed came – 98-65 over Scotter Steelers. Thanks in large to a 28 point performance by the Lions Defense. It was a start but before I could dream of the promised land I needed to at least get to .500. The next week I came against a team who would eventually be good enough for the playoffs in Grant Holt’s Moustache and triumphed 123-96 thanks to a breakout day from Julio Jones as well as Reggie Bush’s coming out party. Next week the Portsmouth Pirates went down 93-69 and it was on.

Then came week 11 and near disaster. A 79-77 win over Pompey Giants and that match-up was still in doubt heading into Monday Night Football. He led by 11 and had the Chiefs QB. I had Tom Brady. I was without a doubt the underdog by Tyler Palko’s stinky night led to him only getting three points and Tom Brady amassed 16. A skin of the teeth victory and now two wins and I was in.

The Yorkshire Pudding’s put up a great fight in week 12 only to go down 98-91 and then we come to this week. I was down by 12 heading into Monday Night Football. My oppo the Malicious Penguins had the Chargers D which scared me. I still had Philip Rivers (who had been a bust in all honesty all year) and Antonio Gates still to go. I thought the Chargers D against the stinky Jags O would score real points so I thought Rivers would have to remember he was Philip freaking Rivers and go to the vertical passing game. Oh boy did he.

Rivers threw for three scores and over 275 yards for 23 points and a 103-88 result ended the regular season. From fighting for last place I have made the playoffs and a two-week match-up against the 10-3 MileHigh Orangesquash who have been as dominant as any fantasy NFL team I have seen. Still my boys have been on a roll and I hope to make it interested. I need to see my players play at the top of their game. We’ll see how they do but whatever happens my slogan for weeks on my Tuesday morning twitter feed and in my Tuesday morning e-mail to the other Neil (the fitter, more athletic, more important businessman type one) has been ‘and the Thorpe Bay Billy No Mates…’ with the e-mail just saying ‘…survive!’

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Neil and Neil make a (fantasy baseball) deal

It was either 2002 or 2003 – in all honesty I cannot remember which year it was – but in one of those years the Five Rare Breeds fantasy baseball league was born. The league ultimately died three years later due to circumstances but one thing lives on – a friendship between two of the managers. They are the (according to his work e-mail signature) ‘Senior Manager, Strategy & Planning for Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets’ and myself.

Now we might not be the most obvious of friends – an at the time student bum and someone very high up at one of the banks but here we are. The fact that we are both called Neil has always been subject to confusion to some people. For the sakes of this piece he is Neil H and I am Neil M. Neil H is Dundee born n bred but resides in New York and is now an American citizen. I’m me but you know about my history if you are reading this blog.

In 2005 we moved to another keeper league UKL2 which is now in its sixth season. Banker Neil is a two-time champion and ex-student bum Neil has yet to win – although he is a two-time defeated finalist.

However despite our friendship we have hardly ever made a trade in fantasy sports. In our nine or ten years of playing against one another our numbers of trades was one – until today. The amount of trades discussed must be in three figures with over 250 hours of trade discussions – and that is a conservative estimate.

Trade one saw Neil H received Roy Halliday, Victor Martinez and Daisuke Matsuzaka. I received Brandon Webb, Ben Sheets, Joba Chamberlain and the rights to Yu Darvish. I think it is fair to say in hindsight who got the best of that deal and it wasn’t anyone who lives in the UK.

Anyway my roster this year has no fewer than nine players on the DL and out injured. My team is toast for the season. So I went public by announcing that I am selling and planning towards next season. I have fielded some offers but I knew that the likelihood of myself and Neil H coming to a deal were as remote as Tony Kornheiser going on a round the world flight for the sake of it.

However I woke up this morning to an offer from Neil H. The deal sees me give up Josh Hamilton – my best player without a doubt and who in my opinion when healthy is the best player in the game. For giving up Hamilton I would receive Matt Joyce and the rights to two high-end Starting Pitching prospects – Martin Perez and Manny Banuelos. I looked at it and it was a very fair offer.

I e-mailed Neil H that I thought it was very fair and that I was leaning towards taking it. Adding the two SP prospects to Yu Darvish in my Minor League set up gives me three potential front line starters. Joyce is the biggest surprise of the season so far and if he is for real then the deal made every bit of sense in the world and I accepted the deal and let him know.

His response when I let him know, ‘Seriously – you and I agreeing a trade on our first go round – presumably hell is freezing over as I type?’ sums everything up. It was so bizarre that I thought I’d blog about it – not that many fantasy baseball nuts ever read my blog – but if they do then they can let me know their thoughts.

Neil H leads 1-0 in terms of trades and something like 6-1-1 in UKL2 match-ups. I can’t recall our previous records against one another. There is a reason why he’s a smart businessman and I’m sitting in jogging bottoms watching Sussex v Somerset in the T20.

As for hell freezing over – the news that has just broken that Penn State and Pitt are to renew their football rivalry is definitely a sign that hell is getting rather chilly. Next thing I’ll be saying I’m in a relationship. Well maybe not.

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Fantasy Baseball – My Dynasty Squad

Just a quick blog about on my hobbies in the summer – fantasy baseball. I am already locked into four leagues for this season and with Yahoo allowing eight per Yahoo ID this year then the possibility of me playing more is high. I’m in one dynasty, one keeper, one re-draft h2h and one re-draft roto. I am the current champion of the UK MLB Division 1. Not too shabby although my other teams didn’t have great years back in 2010.

So on to the dynasty league as this team is already sorted. The keeper I’m in the middle of the offline draft – we are in Round 17. The dynasty roster is 25 man, 6×6 scoring (OPS and Holds the extra stats), a $280million budget with mL rosters as well. I’m well under-budget and have no closers but the rest of the roster isn’t too shabby. I’ll drop Begine Molina and pick up a FA Util guy when the season starts as they’ll be no debt – the same with Jesse Litsch.

Let me know your thoughts on my roster.

C: John Jaso – 3/4

C: Jorge Posada – RFA – 1/10

1B: Adam Dunn – 2/21

2B: Brian Roberts – 2/12

3B: Aramis Ramirez – 3/15

SS: Tsuyoshi Nishioka – 4/5

CI: Justin Morneau – RFA – 1/22

MI: Alcides Escobar – 1/12

CF: Josh Hamilton – 1-$8

OF: Austin Jackson – 1-$1

OF: Matt Holliday – RFA – 3/26

OF: Curtis Granderson – 1/18

OF: Curtis Beltran – 3/12

Util: Bengie Molina – 1/4


SP: Carlos Zambrano – 1/6

SP: Gavin Floyd – 1/3

RP: Koji Uehara – 3/1

RP: Rafael Soriano – 3/6

P: Ian Kennedy – 4/4

P: Ricky Nolasco – 2/10

P: AJ Burnett – 1/6

P: Phil Hughes – 1-$8

P: Brian Matusz – 1-$1

BN: Jesse Litsch – 1/1

BN: Jake Peavy – 5/5

Dollars Spent: $221m
No Debt
Contract Years 50/50

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Fantasy Football…

I am a fantasy geek. There I’ve said it. However fantasty football has never been something that could attract my interest too much. I play American fantasy sports where the draft system is in place instead of a salary cap. Much more fun but anyway I have put together my fantasy football team for the 2010-11 season and I have decided on a new strategy this year:

Buy Big Names.

Therefore I have Torres, Drogba and Lampard all in my squad.

My Team is as follows (3-4-3)

GK: Robinson – Blackburn

DF: Upson – West Ham

DF: Campbell – Newcastle

DF: Dann – Birmingham

MF:  Gutierrez – Newcastle

MF: Walcott – Arsenal

MF: Essien – Chelsea

MF: Lampard – Chelsea

AT:  Jones – Stoke

AT: Drogba – Chelsea

AT: Torres – Liverpool

My bench is:

GK: Jaaskelainen – Bolton

DF: Wilkinson – Stoke

DF: Elekobi – Wolves

MF: Rodwell – Everton

So as you can see – I didn’t have a lot left over for subs. I really ignored the defence and hoped the midfield and attack and grab assists and get goals. I think Kenwyn Jones will be a star at Stoke I really do so I’m delighted with him. I am considering bringing in Rory Delap into the midfield (to replace Jonas Gutierrez) and of course I may change my mind as the hours go on but as it stands that is my team and I am proud of it.

If you are in a league on and would like me to join then please get in touch with the League ID.

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