TRUM: Reacting to the Top 340 criticism

May, 8, 2008

Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless information and Musings for May 8, 2008

Here is how I do my rankings, or to be more specific, how I did my revised top 340 for the rest of the season: I acted like I was drafting.

Simple as that. As if the league started today. I went with the premise that I had the No. 1 pick. I want Hanley Ramirez, I thought. On to the second pick. Hanley is off the board, so now whom do I want? I'll take Chase Utley. OK, so now I'm up again with Hanley and Utley off the board; whom do I want? And so on.

So it's like a draft. Or for those of you who listen to the podcast, a long round of "Name Game." Whom do I want with the next pick? And once I get to a certain point in the rankings, I'll assume I already have certain things, like pitching. Or I could wait and get a closer … really, I went spot by spot and drafted.

Well, I got tons of e-mail and ESPN Conversation (beta!) comments about the rankings, including long dissertations about Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn and lots of debate as to whether I am an idiot or a feminine hygiene product or should just be fired (in some cases, tortured as well) for general incompetence.

Let's dive in.

Alex RodriguezJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesDon't look so puzzled, A-Rod. You belong at No. 23!
nymets31cc (from ESPN Conversation): Matthew, I'm sorry but you make no sense. You drop A-Rod to No. 23 in the poll because he's injured. I have Jimmy Rollins, who has been useless to this point because of injury, and you have him at 6. Great way to validate your point on A-Rod.

TMR: Well, again, it's not about what has happened but what will happen. Rollins, as one of only three guys to have 30 homers and 30 steals in 2007, was a top-five player for me before the season. I believe Rodriguez will be out until early July or not very effective if he comes back sooner than that. Rollins already is on a rehab assignment and will be back soon, fully healthy.

Nick Demola (Sacramento): No Jay Bruce on the list? Anywhere? Really? I traded him away this season in a deal in which I got Nate McLouth. It killed me to do it.

TMR: I like the deal, assuming it's not a keeper league. I didn't include Bruce because I'm not convinced the Reds will call him up for anything more than a cup of coffee, and even if they do, I'm not convinced Dusty Baker will play him every day. And the Reds' brass might think that if he's not going to play every day, they might as well leave him at Triple-A. That's a crowded outfield, ya know?

Michael (Atlanta): Oliver Perez and Ted Lilly ahead of Tim Hudson????? I'm extremely curious as to what your reasoning is for this. Seriously, Perez and Lilly?????

TMR: Yeah, I knew you were curious, but five question marks really emphasized that you were extremely curious. I didn't want to rank 'em this way. But Perez is there because of his strikeouts and because I think the Mets will turn it around. I hate Lilly, but he's going to win 15 games this year. My concern with Hudson is his lack of strikeouts and his inconsistency. He has thrown only three innings in two of his past four starts. Although this was more of a gut call than anything, I also wonder about the Braves' bullpen questions -- they play in a tough division.

tomPELLv.2 (ESPN Conversation): ... mclouth is way to high, burell is way to high, and nady is way to high just to name a few of your horrible picks. and laroche is a top 200 player from this on forward, probably a top 125

enknight33 (ESPN Conversation): I have a hard time seeing Nate McLouth so low. He is one of the best OF is the league right now. He has been producing since the season started. Also if Granderson's outstanding start doesn't show that he should be up higher then your crazy.

TMR: tomPell has a hard time seeing McLouth so high. Well, I have a hard time reading messages from both of you because of your grammar.

Eli (Bardstown, Ky.): I can understand some of those rankings as just being personal bias, but putting Jeter ahead of Furcal is as crazy as giving up 50 points in batting average, 5 homers, 8 steals and, oh, say 18 runs scored. Jeter sucks in fantasy and in real life. If being overrated were a category, he would help, but it isn't, so he doesn't. I know Bill Simmons is your idol or whatever, but that doesn't mean you should pull dumb [expletive] out of your [expletive] and put it in an article. Oh, and did I mention that Jeter sucks and that I would put a hurt A-Rod at shortstop over him. That's right, I would play a cripple before Jeter. Peace, homey.

TMR: Yes, "peace" is the word that came to mind when I read your note. I actually agree with you to an extent; Jeter gets a bit overrated in fantasy because of his celebrity, but the fact remains that he is a career .317 hitter who has gotten at least 600 at-bats each of the past four seasons, with double-digit home runs and steals and triple-digit runs scored. Furcal is an injury risk. Remember, it's from this point forward.

KWhite (Unknown): Why is Yadier Molina not even in your fantasy rankings? He is not a great player, but he doesn't hurt you either. I was surprised to see his omission.

TMR: And I was surprised to see a question about him, so we're even.

[+] Enlarge
Ryan Howard
Rich Pilling/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesBoy am I thankful my belief in Ryan Howard didn't get me fired.
phillyphan644 (ESPN Conversation): Matthew Berry should be fired for putting Ryan Howard at No. 9. He might not even be the ninth best hitter on his team.

TMR: Yup, I can see it now:

TMR: (walks into office, closes door) You, uh, wanted to see me, boss?
Boss Man: Matt, I'm sorry. We're gonna have to let you go.
TMR: But ... why?
Boss Man: Well, you ranked Ryan Howard ninth. Seems insane to me.
TMR: But last April, he hit .221 with three home runs and finished with 47 homers. In April 2006, he hit only five home runs, the lowest of any month that year, and finished with 58 jacks.
Boss Man: Don't throw your crazy stats at me. We don't need you anymore. We just found out we can get bkcox ...

bkcox (ESPN Conversation): ESPN, where do you get these writers? Do they do any research before putting together an article, or is this what you are looking for? I am available to write.

hebajeba (ESPN Conversation): Hmm ... Fukodome after Ankiel? Justin Upton after Hunter Pence? Scherzer ahead of Volquez? Hamilton behind Corey Hart? What the hell is going on with this list? I just lost complete faith in this guy. I clearly can write a better column than he can. ESPN, I am available?!?!

TMR: I still stick by my 40 homers for Ankiel, and I think pitchers will adjust to Fukodome, so his numbers will come down his second time around the league. Have you seen Upton's numbers? Remember, he stole 19 bases in the minors last year, too. I went with Max in part because of the offense and bullpen behind him, and Hamilton doesn't have the speed and power of Hart. He also is more of an injury risk. ... Wait, are you or are you not available? You used an interabang (both a question mark and an exclamation point), so which is it? You are available and are excited about it? Or are you questioning me because you don't know whether you are available and want me to tell you? This is important, 'cause we're about to go slap a contract on bkcox.

Tim (Anchorage, Alaska): Wigginton 100 spots higher than Kelly Johnson? Their numbers last year were very close, with Johnson contributing a little more in the SB department. Also, Johnson is off to a much better start this year. I know Wigginton has 3B eligibility, but is that enough to give him a 100-spot bump? This seems to me a case of TMR mailing in the latter half of his rankings.

TMR: First off, I mail everything in. Second, yes, the position eligibility played into it. And third, this is more of a knock on Johnson than praise for Wigginton. I'm worried you might see Brent Lillibridge play more in the second half, and Johnson has been leading off. He doesn't have typical leadoff-hitter speed, and hitting there will hurt his RBI production.

ryanstevensUMD (ESPN Conversation): This is the worst rankings I've ever seen. Why do they let you do this, Berry? Your a [feminine hygiene product].

TMR: Only because we haven't been able to track down bkcox yet. Oh, and I think you meant to spell it "you're."

Denver (New York): Your rankings are out there, man. Do you really think anyone would trade A-Rod for Corey Hart and a toss-in player? I understand this is a business, and you have to do things like this to get hits, which lead to ad dollars. But at some level you need to be true to the spirit of fantasy baseball.

TMR: Well, Chris liked it ...

Chris (Illinois): TMR, I just want to say that I love that you don't play it safe. Like you said in yesterday's podcast, anybody can tell you what did happen. You're putting yourself out there and saying what will happen, and I love that.

MikeMusc77 (ESPN Conversation): Berry, what do you see in your crystal ball for Santiago Casilla. I know he's had a great start as a set-up guy, but you have him in front of more than a few full-time closers. Do you think he gets the job at some point? I would say there's a good chance of Street either getting hurt again or getting shipped out of Oakland. Just wanted to know your thought process behind the rank.

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Nick (Tampa): Casilla ranked ahead of Marmol? I just don't see it. Their numbers are close, and both have a good shot to close in place of injury-prone closers. But Marmol has been awesome and Casilla slows down in the second half every year. I know this is a little nit-picky seeing that it is down in the 200s in your rankings, but I see it as a big flaw.

TMR: First off, I definitely think Street will get injured and/or traded at some point and Casilla will be his replacement. (Incidentally, Casilla got a save the night I put out the list.) It could be Keith Foulke or Joey Devine or Alan Embree, but I'm betting on Casilla. And yes, Marmol is terrific. But Lou Piniella wants his "better" pitchers to pitch the seventh and eighth innings and get out of the tougher jams. If something happens to Wood, I actually think Piniella would keep Marmol where he is and let Bob Howry close. So that's the thinking there. And the closers ranked below Casilla I feel will lose their jobs sooner rather than later.

Ryan (Seattle): I can't be the only one e-mailing you this question, but here goes: Where is Troy Tulowitzki in your updated rankings? Yeah, he's out until the All-Star break, but you can't be serious that Clint Barmes over a full season is worth more that Tulo for half of one.

TMR: If Tulowitzki were going to be out only until the All-Star break, I'd agree with you. But here, this is from Stephania Bell's recent injury blog :

The latest reports indicate Tulowitzki actually tore the quadriceps tendon near the hip. What does this mean? The quadriceps is the large muscle on the front of the thigh necessary for running, jumping, squatting and just about every other lower-extremity maneuver you can imagine. ... Injury to [the quadriceps tendon] often is seen in kickers and soccer players as it tends to occur with explosive hip movement. Now we can add Tulowitzki to this list. It appears he is not headed for surgery, but given the time it will take for swelling and bruising to heal, and the additional time it will take him to regain strength and power, expect Tulowitzki to miss significant time. Reports vary, but according to the Rockies' Web site, expect him to miss at least six weeks. I would venture to say that is indeed the minimum.

Just like when Bell correctly predicted Pedro Martinez would be out longer than expected, I believe her when she says she thinks Double-T might miss more than two months. He might not regain full strength until August, if then. And then it will take him a bit to get up to speed. I didn't think six weeks or so of Tulowitzki was worth ranking.

Rcarlos24 (ESPN Conversation): I can't wait until your fantasy football column. It will probably be just as accurate and everyone will agree with it ........................... NOT ! You suck. You suck. You suck.

TMR: Wow, you suckered me in and then beat me down with the "not" joke. Well played, sir. Well played.

Alternate response I considered: So did you feel four "You suck" sentences was overkill but two wasn't enough to drive the point home? What was the thought process in deciding how many times I suck? Did you start with one and say, "He won't understand," then add another and go, "Not sure I'm being clear," then add the third and go, "There we go. Now he'll realize"? Or did you plan on doing more than three but got so caught up in your "not" joke that you couldn't type anymore?

Wolfpack1334 (ESPN Conversation): I like the list, but how can you ignore Tim Lincecum's dominance?

TMR: Yeah, I probably undersold him. My concern about him was an unproven bullpen, the poor offense behind him and that he hasn't been consistent at the major league level. That said, I should have ranked him higher. Clearly he's a stud.

Irishfan10383 (ESPN Conversation): you are dumb..sorry but what does it take to become a fantasy baseball analysis guy, obviously just some numbers and names cuz the way you put them together makes no sense.

TMR: Well, using proper grammar helps.

gunnersmith17 (ESPN Conversation): This is an entirely unintelligent, worst ranking list I have ever seen. Few things I'd like to put out there. You say you like speed guys, yet you have Carlos Gomez at 110 and Michael Bourn at 60 (Bourn hits about 60 points lower). Jeter ahead of Furcal? Wainwright ahead of Felix Hernandez and Lincecum? And finally, Soria at 159? Yes, you're right, I would definitely draft Kevin Kouzmanoff and Shawn Hill ahead of this magnificent closer. This compilation of terrible fantasy advice should be burned, and I question your ability to complete day-to-day functions after releasing a list like this one.

TMR: Gomez is another guy I definitely ranked too low. My thought on Bourn was that he's on pace to steal 68 bases and that's with him batting below .200. Assuming he gets up to even .250, he could steal 100. He's a guy who can single-handedly win you a category. Meanwhile, I was concerned with Gomez regressing after his hot start -- he still is only 22. (Bourn is 25, and this is the third year he has been in the majors.) I already addressed Jeter over Furcal, and same with Lincecum. But yeah, look at Wainwright's numbers. He has been absolutely sick since the All-Star break last year. And I don't trust Felix to stay healthy or consistent. His ERA after the All-Star break last year was 4.09. His ERA after the All-Star break in 2006 was 4.02. His ERA for all of last year was 3.93. I want to see him prove it over a full season before I think he's anything but a 4.00-ERA pitcher. My feelings on closers are well documented, and Soria's skill set does not change the fact that he pitches for a team that won't have a lot of leads. And I tied my shoes all by myself this morning. Just like a big boy. So there.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He has been playing fantasy sports for more than 20 years, writing about it professionally for more than 10. He currently appears on or in ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN the Magazine,, ESPN Mobile TV and, as soon as he learns to say "ground-ball/fly-ball ratio" in Spanish, ESPN Deportes.

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