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Sunday 23rd Apr 2017

Most people in the fantasy industry have traditional day jobs with baseball serving as a hobby and very important diversion in their lives. I was once there too, but in recent years have been able to make this game my fill-time employment. I wouldn’t trade it for almost anything.

Specifically, as it says in my profile below, my primary vocation is reporting on all things St. Louis Cardinals, from the major league club to the Venezuelan Summer League and everything in between. In fantasy, I have found that my increased level of knowledge of that organization actually keeps me from having many Cardinals on my various rosters.

For example, in National League Tout Wars this season, I own zero Cardinals. Rookie Jaime Garcia did join my squad to open the season, but I didn’t think twice about flipping him as part of a deal for needed offensive help in the form of Houston’s Hunter Pence.

One area where I go deep in terms of familiarity is in the area of Cardinals prospects. I have formally ranked a top 40 in the system for the last five winters and see just about every one of their seven US-based affiliates in person each summer, some multiple times. For example, just two nights ago, I was at Brooklyn’s Coney Island, watching the Cards’ New York-Penn League affiliate, the Batavia Muckdogs, take on the home Cyclones.

Though I am not learned on the Mets’ system, it was hard to not notice former major leaguer Greg Vaughn’s son, Cory. The 21-year-old is batting .313 with 11 home runs in 176 at-bats. Fellow outfielder Darrell Cecilliani, barely 20 years old, is batting .382 for the Cyclones.

In this week’s column, I have decided to call out a few of the hitting prospects in the Cardinals system you might want to consider for keeper leagues – or not. Since the big trades last summer that brought them Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday, the Cardinals lost five top prospects – a blow from which they have not yet fully recovered. As a result, this is one of the lower-ranked systems in the game. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good players.

Triple-A Memphis: Second baseman Daniel Descalso was a member of the Team USA medal-winning team last summer before under-performing in the Arizona Fall League. Before breaking his collarbone this summer, the 23-year-old drove in 52 runs in his first 76 games. St. Louis’ incumbent second sacker, Skip Schumaker, is below-average defensively. Though he is under contract for next season, Schumaker might be better as a super-sub, potentially creating opportunity…  Others: First baseman Mark Hamilton has a decent bat, but hasn’t shown proficiency in the outfield defensively. As a result, he won’t see any time in St. Louis with that Pujols guy around.

Double-A Springfield: Just 14 months after signing following his collegiate time at TCU, 24-year-old third baseman Matt Carpenter has a .917 OPS in the Texas League. He is second in average, first in OBP and third in OPS in the circuit.  The right-handed hitter has no one ahead of him in the system at the hot corner. Though it is too early for him to see his MLB debut this summer, Carpenter could put himself into the major league picture in 2011… Others: Drafted in 2005, toolsy outfielder Daryl Jones was the organization’s Player of the Year in 2008 and was in the AFL last fall, but his career has stalled… Shortstop Pete Kozma was a first-rounder two years ago out of an Oklahoma high school, but has 31 errors this season and is batting just .244, three points fewer than Jones.

A-Advanced Palm Beach: No sure MLB prospects here, but you might put outfielder Alex Castellanos on your watch list. The 24-year-old was the organization’s Player of the Month in July after hitting four home runs and driving in 16. His slash line was .348/.394/.663.

Unsigned: Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox, taken in the first round at number 25 overall, has been called the most polished hitter in the 2010 draft class. As an underclassman, Cox has considerable leverage in contract negotiations. If he joins the Cardinals, Cox will become their top hitting prospect with the ability to perhaps move as fast as former Cards’ first-rounder Brett Wallace, who is now starting in Houston two years after having been drafted… Texas high school outfielder Austin Wilson has first-round talent, but fell to the 12th round due to a perceived ironclad commitment to attend Stanford. The Cardinals have wooed Wilson and his family and are working hard to close the deal before the August 16 signing deadline.

 

Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.

Regular readers here could not avoid being pounded with my view that MLB All-Star recognition for the first half of each season only is something I feel is unfair. I recently proposed adjustments to the 2010 All-Star offensive rosters based on stats since the 2009 contest for both the American and National Leagues.

Realistically, I know that isn’t ever going to happen.

Then, this past weekend, we experienced one of the greatest events of the baseball year. The living Hall of Famers assembled in Cooperstown, New York for the 2010 induction ceremonies for Andre Dawson, Whitey Herzog, Doug Harvey and others, held on Sunday afternoon.

While MLB Network televised the ceremonies, they were competing against a full slate of games. Across MLB, it was a day just like any other.

I find that maddening and disrespectful to both the history of the game and the inductees themselves. I understand MLB is about making money, but why couldn’t they avoid holding games during the induction? All eyes should have been on Cooperstown on Sunday afternoon.

With the help of some spirited dialog among friends, these two issues of mine have been melded into what I believe is a viable plan that could address each. Following is a new proposal for Bud Selig and his cronies.

Have two breaks each season instead of one. Each break would occur at two month intervals, with the first coming at the start of June and the second at the beginning of August.

The Hall of Fame ceremonies would be held during the first break. Most importantly, the Hall inductees would get their day in the sun without in-house competition. This would even allow current field personnel the opportunity to attend if they so choose.

The second break would be the time for the All-Star Game. While the rosters would still not reflect an entire season’s worth of accomplishments, at least 2/3 of each season would be complete when the game is played.

A side benefit of the change in date would be that the non-waiver trade deadline could occur during this later break. This would enable many players changing teams to do so while regular season games are on a brief hiatus.

Another advantage would be a second, albeit short, rest period for most players. Having just come from New York where I covered the Cardinals-Mets series, I saw first-hand the number of beat up players suiting up every day. For St. Louis, Albert Pujols was limping, Yadier Molina has a huge bruise on his leg, Skip Schumaker had a sore arm from being hit by a pitch and the list goes on and on.

So that is my proposal. Two breaks - a dedicated spotlight for the Hall and a later All-Star Game to allow more time to select the best players.

This is the time each week when I explain how my story can be applied to fantasy leagues. I have to admit that part of the article is still a work in progress. Sorry about that, but I thought this idea was too important to let it pass without airing it.

 

Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.

 

Last week in this space, I explained why I disagree with Major League Baseball which ignores the second half successes of the previous season, essentially making each All-Star Game a first-half only recognition.

In a complementary piece to last week’s National League analysis, I ran the numbers in the standard five offensive fantasy categories for the 2010 American League All-Stars since the 2009 All-Star Game. In bold, I called out several stats that seem out of line for an All-Star.

When we draft starting pitchers, we are in it for wins – as well as ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, of course. The limited win potential is likely a big reason why I was able to acquire Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt this spring the National League Tout Wars draft for $16.

Every year, fans and commentators from every direction complain about the players named to the All-Star Team and the process used to select them. Everyone has a better idea, supposedly.

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