Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Hip, Hip ... Hurry Back, A-Rod
Alex Rodriguez: Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMI

Well, that didn't take long, did it? After four days of he-said, they-said, he-said, they-said speculations from Alex Rodriguez and Yankees execs about whether A-Rod would have surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip OR he'd play through the immense pain ... the news broke Rodriguez would have immediate surgery -- thus waving bye-bye to fantasyland stats until at least mid-May. Now, whether or not you believe the Yankees' ambitious timeline of 10 weeks recovery is immaterial to this forum (especially since Phillies All-Star Chase Utley required nearly double that estimate for the same injury this offseason) ... at least you won't have to waste a Round 1, 2 or 3 draft pick on A-Rod in the next few weeks. Whew!

So, where do we stand with A-Rod? Where does he rank among third basemen in mixed and AL-only leagues? And where should be ranked among the general populace of fantasy studs? Well, looking at's revised Super 225, A-Rod is a healthy choice for No. 39 overall -- but a shaky pick for Round 3 or 4 in shallow leagues.

Taking away his record-setting April of '07 (14 HRs, 34 RBIs, 27 runs, .355 average), A-Rod is averaging 5.5 homers, 15.1 RBIs, 17 runs, 2.1 steals and a .286 BA during baseball's opening month as a Yankee -- good numbers for Garrett Atkins, Carlos Guillen and Adrian Beltre ... but nothing in the class of David Wright, now the gold standard of third basemen. And if you factor in the loss of two weeks in May (historically, one of A-Rod's best months), all told, Rodriguez stands to lose approximately 11 HRs, 28 RBIs, 29 runs and two steals off his seasonal projections.In the fantasy baseball preview, I originally had A-Rod slotted for 34 HRs, 107 RBIs, 102 runs and 14 steals; but with the post-injury numbers adjustment, I'm now projecting 24 HRs, 89 RBIs, 83 runs and 10 steals. Among the top third basemen, Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Evan Longoria, Chipper Jones, Kevin Youkilis and even Beltre have a great shot at eclipsing A-Rod's '09 numbers; and yet, I still would have him rated higher than Atkins, Guillen, Chone Figgins, Ryan Zimmerman and Alex Gordon. That's the reality of the situation, folks.


Switching gears to catchers ... here's my top 30 in 5x5 mixed leagues (HR, RBIs, runs, steals, BA). This list comprises just one of 12 components to the expansive fantasy baseball preview.

1. Russell Martin, Dodgers
2. Joe Mauer, Twins
3. Brian McCann, Braves
4. Victor Martinez, Indians
5. Geovany Soto, Cubs
6. Ryan Doumit, Pirates
7. Matt Wieters, Orioles (a Mike Piazza-like talent)
8. Pablo Sandoval, Giants (could have 1B/3B eligibility this year, too)
9. Ramon Hernandez, Reds
10. Kelly Shoppach, Indians
11. Jorge Posada, Yankees
12. A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
13. Chris Iannetta, Rockies
14. Mike Napoli, Angels
15. Bengie Molina, Giants
16. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics
17. Jeff Clement, Mariners
18. Dioner Navarro, Rays
19. Taylor Teagarden, Rangers
20. Max Ramirez, Rangers
21. Pudge Rodriguez, Free Agent
22. Brandon Inge, Tigers (also has 3B eligibility)
23. Miguel Olivo, Royals
24. John Buck, Royals
25. Gerald Laird, Tigers
26. Chris Snyder, Diamondbacks
27. Yadier Molina, Cardinals
28. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Rangers (would be higher with consistent playing time)
29. J.R. Towles, Astros
30. Jason Varitek, Red Sox (a blah bottom-of-the-barrel option)

Mock Madness

In my own pseudo-scientific study performed in the last 48 hours, I partook in three alike mock drafts (10-team mixed league) on, with the unimpeachable edict of NOT selecting a pitcher in the first 10 rounds of each draft. My purpose: To build three consecutive quality teams -- from top to bottom -- without the help of high-end pitchers. Here's how I fared:

Draft A (9th pick overall)
Rounds 1-10: 1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees; 2B Ian Kinsler, Rangers; OF Alex Rios, Blue Jays; OF Carl Crawford, Rays; C Joe Mauer, Twins; OF Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox; 1B Carlos Pena, Rays; OF Corey Hart, Brewers; OF/1B Adam Dunn, Nationals.

Rounds 11-25: RP Joakim Soria, Royals; RP Carlos Marmol, Cubs; SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; 3B Chone Figgins, Angels; SP Kevin Slowey, Twins; 1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers; RP Heath Bell, Padres; OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers; SS Yunel Escobar, Braves; C Matt Wieters, Orioles; RP Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks; SP Paul Maholm, Pirates; SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies; RP Dan Wheeler, Rays; 2B Aaron Hill, Blue Jays; OF/DH Jason Kubel, Twins.

Verdict: I almost always draft for value -- and not necessarily positional scarcity -- in mixed-league drafts. So, the idea of landing my top-ranked second baseman (Kinsler), No. 2 first baseman (Teixeira) and No. 1A catcher (Mauer) without "reaching" was a perfect way to get the ball rolling. Yes, I have a strong infield (don't forget about Guillen, Figgins, Wieters, Escobar, Hill) and speed-friendly outfield (Ellsbury, Crawford, Hart, Rios) ... but the real proof's in the stable of top-end closers (Soria, Marmol, Bell, Qualls, Wheeler). The way I see it, there's no way I should finish less than second place, cumulatively, in saves, ERA and WHIP. Grade: B

Draft B (5th pick overall)
Rounds 1-10: OF Ryan Braun, Brewers; 1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees; OF Alfonso Soriano, Cubs; OF Alex Rios, Blue Jays; OF B.J. Upton, Rays; C Joe Mauer, Twins; SS Michael Young, Rangers; 1B Joey Votto, Reds; OF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays; 2B Dan Uggla, Marlins.

Rounds 11-25: RP Carlos Marmol, Cubs; RP Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers; 1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers; SP Joba Chamberlain, Yankees; 3B Alex Gordon, Royals; RP Matt Capps, Pirates; SP Matt Garza, Rays; SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; RP Heath Bell, Padres; SP Erik Bedard, Mariners; SP Chien-Mien Wang, Yankees; SS Yunel Escobar, Braves; RP Mike Gonzalez, Braves; OF Coco Crisp, Royals (could steal 45 bases in KC this year); 1B Billy Butler, Royals; OF Elijah Dukes, Nationals.

Verdict: In the second draft, I made a concerted effort to build a dominant outfield first (Braun, Soriano, Rios, Upton, Wells) before constructing a strong infield and versatile pitching corps. Mission accomplished! (I think) Check out my Team USA-like bullpen of Broxton, Marmol, Capps, Bell and Gonzalez. Hmmm ... I'm really starting to like this bullpen-first, starters-second philosophy. Grade: B+

Draft C (1st pick overall)
Rounds 1-10: SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins; OF Manny Ramirez, Dodgers; 1B Ryan Howard, Phillies; Brian Roberts, Orioles; OF Alex Rios, Blue Jays; C Joe Mauer, Twins; 2B Alexei Ramirez, White Sox; 1B Carlos Pena, Rays; OF Jeramine Dye, White Sox; OF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays.

Rounds 11-25: RP Jose Valverde, Astros; 3B Chone Figgins, Angels; RP Matt Capps, Pirates; RP Heath Bell, Padres; 1B/3B/OF Carlos Guillen, Tigers; SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; SP Josh Johnson, Marlins; RP Joey Devine, Athletics; SP Erik Bedard, Mariners; RP Chad Qualls, Diamondbacks; OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers; RP Mike Gonzalez, Braves; SS Yunel Escobar, Braves; 1B Billy Butler, Royals; OF Denard Span, Twins.

Verdict: I'm usually not a hype kind of guy ... but can you imagine the buzz I've created with Hanley, Manny and Howard in the first 21 picks? That's maybe 105 HRs among the trio! For the record, I'm not a big fan of Howard's painfully low batting average; but if Mr. Subway sandwiches could guarantee 45 HRs and 130 RBIs on an annual basis, I'd gladly look the other way. As for the pitchers ... I'm going to dominate saves, ERA and WHIP again with Valverde, Capps, Bell, Devine and Qualls anchoring the bullpen, and I have three virtual locks for 14 wins (Verlander, Johnson, Bedard). Grade: B+


Did you happen to notice I drafted six players in all three drafts -- Detroit's Justin Verlander and Carlos Guillen, San Diego closer Heath Bell (he of microscopic WHIP and high-K's potential), Atlanta shortstop Yunel Escobar, Toronto outfielder Alex Rios and, of course, Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer? It goes without saying, I believe all six are primed for consistently solid (if not extraordinary) seasons. And now, through the wonderful world of mock drafting, I'm quite certain I'll fetch Rios in Rounds 3-4, Mauer in Rounds 5-7, Verlander and Guillen in Rounds 12-15, Bell in Rounds 14-17 and the highly underrated Escobar (my No. 6 shortstop overall) anytime after Round 19. Talk about peace of mind!

The Inherent Flaw Of Mock Drafting

I spent a good chunk of my free time last week mock drafting for two reasons: One, the fiancee was out of town (Napa Valley ... re-tracing Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church's precise steps from the movie, Sideways); AND because you need a significant sample-size of practice drafts -- just in case some random moron ruins one by taking Ivan Rodriguez in Round 6 (10-team league) and J.D. Drew two rounds later (which happened Sunday). Seriously, not even the biggest Red Sox honk would take the oft-injured Drew in the top 80 ... and not even the heartiest admirer of the St. Paul Saints (or whichever Independent League team that I-Rod should choose come April) would consider taking ol' Pudge anytime before Round 16. And if anyone should covet Pudge at this stage of a borderline Hall of Fame career -- purely on name recognition -- may I direct you to his 2007 season with Detroit: He posted an ungodly low On-Base Percentage of .294, the product of collecting only nine walks in 502 healthy at-bats. D'oh!

Wanna Join Our League?

For the & Friends baseball league, we've decided to avail our membership this season to one lucky Clicks reader (or unlucky -- depending on how you draft). Up until March 20, we'll be accepting short-essay submissions (limit 1-2 paragaphs, please) for the 14th slot in our small, but prestigious fantasy league (kind of like George Costanza). The requirements are simple: You need to be a passionate fantasy player (as demonstrated in the short essay), you need to have a computer (for the Java-enabled LIVE draft sometime in late March or early April), you should enjoy posting humorous retorts on our league message board ... and, perhaps above all, you must be comfortable with accepting or declining blockbuster trade proposals during the graveyard-shift period of 2-6 a.m. -- the bewitching hours for all the Atlanta-based employees. (Note: Last Wednesday, I received a one-day record of 22 submissions from prospective owners -- including five from Canadian players ... but not one reference to Tipsy McStaggers Sports Bar & Grill in Toronto.)


Here are Rotoworld's top 30 strikeout kings for the 2009 season (if I haven't said it enough already, Rotoworld is a must-read before all baseball drafts). But a word of caution for those who are expecting to see all-or-nothing slugger Preston Wilson (187 Ks in 2000) on the list -- it's for pitchers only:

1. Tim Lincecum, Giants -- 233 Ks
2. Johan Santana, Mets -- 206
3. Javier Vazquez, Braves -- 204
4. Scott Kazmir, Rays -- 202
5. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers -- 200
6. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks -- 199
7. Jake Peavy, Padres -- 195
8. Felix Hernandez, Mariners -- 193
9. Edinson Volquez, Reds -- 191
10. CC Sabathia, Yankees -- 190
11. Ervin santana, Angels -- 188
12. Brandon Morrow, Mariners -- 187
13. Aaron Harang, Reds -- 183
14. Matt Cain, Giants -- 182
15. A.J. Burnett, Yankees -- 182
16. Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks -- 179
17. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers -- 177
18. Joba Chamberlain, Yankees -- 176
19. Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- 176
20. Brett Myers, Phillies -- 175
21. John Lackey, Angels -- 174
22. Francisco Liriano, Twins -- 174
23. Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox -- 174
24. Max Scherzer, Diamondbacks -- 172
25. Cole Hamels, Phillies -- 172
26. James Shields, Rays -- 171
27. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- 168
28. Oliver Perez, Mets -- 168
29. Carlos Zambrano, Cubs -- 168
30. Ryan Dempster, Cubs -- 168

Permission To Talk Fantasy Hoops ...
Vince Carter: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Switching gears to the NBA's regular season product ... here are three substantial rotisserie lists for fans of NBA fantasy cross-pollination -- dating back to Feb. 9:

15.5 points per game, 5.1 assists
Chris Paul, Hornets
Deron Williams, Jazz
Steve Nash, Suns
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Dwyane Wade, Heat
Allen Iverson, Pistons
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
Nate Robinson, Knicks
Tony Parker, Spurs
Andre Iguodala, 76ers
Ramon Sessions, Bucks
Boris Diaw, Bobcats
Devin Harris, Nets
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Joe Johnson, Hawks
Derrick Rose, Bulls
T.J. Ford, Pacers
Brandon Roy, Blazers
Stephen Jackson, Warriors
Andre Miller, 76ers

5.6 Rebounds/1.2 steals per game
Al Jefferson, Timberwolves (out for season)
Anthony Parker, Raptors
Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Bucks
Dwight Howard, Magic
Jeff Foster, Pacers
Al Harrington, Knicks
Andre Iguodala, 76ers
Kevin Durant, Thunder
Russell Westbrook, Thunder
Antawn Jamison, Wizards
Carlos Boozer, Jazz
Caron Butler, Wizards
Rajon Rondo, Celtics
Tyrus Thomas, Bulls

1.8 3-pointers made/84% Free Throws
Mo Williams, Cavaliers
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
Rashard Lewis, Magic
Kevin Martin, Kings
Jason Terry, Mavericks
Randy Foye, Timberwolves
Stephen Jackson, Warriors
Steve Novak, Clippers
Peja Stojakovic, Hornets
Roger Mason, Jr., Spurs
Ryan Gomes, Timberwolves
Jamal Crawford, Warriors
Manu Ginobili, Spurs
Daequan Cook, Heat
Mehmet Okur, Jazz
Ray Allen, Celtics
Danny Granger, Pacers
Troy Murphy, Pacers

Five Guys I'd Consider Picking Up ASAP

I would highly recommend grabbing these specialists in deeper fantasy leagues:
1. Anthony Randolph, Warriors (this rook's a fantasy shoo-in for his injury-decimated club)
2. DeAndre Jordan, Clippers (he's a reliable source for points, rebounds, blocks -- IF he's playing)
3. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Bucks (the "on-again, off-again" relationship is, um, back on)
4. Chris Kaman, Clippers (he's finally back ... and a perfect playoff stashee)
5. Carl Landry, Rockets (a healthy source of points, boards, steals, FT%, FG% -- at least for now)

Five Guys I'd Consider Dropping ASAP

1. Louis Williams, 76ers (can you say 'one-trick pony'?)
2. Quentin Richardson, Knicks (no NBA player does less with 18 minutes of nightly court time)
3. Keyon Dooling, Nets (it's time to jump ship now that he's nicked-up)
4. James Singleton, Mavericks (he's dynamite for Dallas ... in garbage time)
5. Kyle Lowry, Rockets (new permanent address ... same middling production)

So, This Is How It'll End?

The calendar may read March ... but it's never too early to take an extensive peak at and its usually spot-on projections for the 2009 NBA Draft. This exercise is purely speculative, of course, since none of the college underclassmen (or European gems) have made their intentions known for the June draft party ... but it's always fun to guess which player the lowly Kings might be targeting -- should they actually win the lottery.'s lotto projections are listed below; for a full acccount of the educated guesses (as of March 8), click here:

1. Kings: PF Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
2. Wizards: C Hasheem Thabeet, Connecticut
3. Thunder: SG James Harden, Arizona State
4. Clippers: PF Jordan Hill, Arizona
5. Grizzlies: PG Brandon Jennings, Virtus Roma (Europe)
6. Timberwolves: SF Earl Clark, Louisville
7. Warriors: PG Jeff Teague, Wake Forest
8. Raptors: SF Gerald Henderson, Duke
9. Knicks: PF Craig Brackins, Iowa State
10. Bobcats: SF Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
11. Pacers: PG Eric Maynor, VCU
12. Nets: SG/SF Chase Budinger, Arizona
13. Bulls: PF DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

Fantasy 4-Pack

The & Friends league is a head-to-head weekly, where owners carefully choose their starters every Monday and live with the results -- good or bad -- all the way to Sunday night. So, in the spirit of economizing/maximizing starter picks, here is my dream team (1 PG, 1 SG, 1 G, 1 SF, 1 PF, 1 F, 2 C) of Week 19 stars, all of whom have the maximum four games from Monday-Sunday (March 9-15):

PG -- Steve Nash, Suns
SG -- Dwyane Wade, Heat
G -- Kobe Bryant, Lakers
SF -- LeBron James, Cavaliers
PF -- Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
F -- Tim Duncan, Spurs
C -- Yao Ming, Rockets
C -- Dwight Howard, Magic

Fantasy 3-Pack

This space is normally reserved for the fantasy stars whose teams only have two games in a given week. But thanks to the NBA schedule-maker, every able-bodied stud will get at least three games -- an absolutely vital component to head-to-head success.

PG -- Jamal Crawford, Warriors
SG -- Eric Gordon, Clippers
G -- Devin Harris, Nets
SF -- Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
PF -- Chris Bosh, Raptors
F -- Rudy Gay, Grizzlies
C -- Emeka Okafor, Bobcats
C -- Zach Randolph, Clippers

Mea Culpa Time

For the Clicks readers with super-long memories, you may recall that I bashed Clippers guard Eric Gordon to no end after the June draft, before the October training camps and even after the club got Baron Davis back from injury. (I've never been a fan of slow-footed, T-shirt-wearing guys who have trouble getting off their own shots.) However, given Gordon's astonishing run in his last six full games (160 points) ... I'm willing to back off some of my earlier criticisms about the one-and-done rookie from Indiana. Oh sure, he's still a one-trick pony (excluding FG% and FT%) and he might've had something to do with the Hoosiers' probation (my own thoughts -- no one else's), but he's definitely a class above Ricky Davis, Rasual Butler, Flip Murray and Larry Hughes in fantasyland. But here's hoping he never repeats Ricky's infamous triple-double stunt from a few years ago (I'll take any excuse to show this clip over and over).

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