Almost every year, the battle between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in the AL East is one of the intriguing storylines of the season. The two are age-old rivals and when they’re both postseason contenders – as they are this season – they manage to push each other to go that much further to outdo their rival.
This season, the Boston Red Sox stand head and shoulders above almost every single other MLB team with 41 wins from 60 games. But, very close in pursuit are the New York Yankees with their 38 wins from 56 games. Not even the hailed reigning champions, the Houston Astros can come close to the Red Sox at this stage of the season.
As the war wages on between the Red Sox and the Yankees for divisional and league dominance, the stars of the teams are stepping up in a big way to provide for their fantasy baseball owners.

Boston stars leading the hitting

j.d. martinez
Source: Red Sox, via
Sitting high atop the hitting rankings having played 48 games is Mookie Betts. With a .359 average, he eclipses the .344 of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Matt Kemp and the .342 Cincinnati Reds’ Scooter Gannett. While at this stage, Betts had played around ten games fewer than Kemp and Gannett, and his 17 home runs – only two behind the leaders – means that he’s hitting big at an incredible rate.
But Boston’s arsenal doesn’t stop with Betts as J.D. Martinez also ranks in the top 20 for batting average at the 60-game mark. With 57 games under his belt, Martinez has tallied a .315 average and joint-leads the league with 19 home runs at this stage in the season.
Elite-level batting is a huge reason behind Boston’s surge to the top of the standings this season, and it doesn’t look to go quiet anytime soon. In fact, the Red Sox are so confident in their set up that they even designated Hanley Ramirez for assignment during his dry spell.

New York’s superb team to take the division

Source: Yahoo Sports MLB, via
Coming into the season, the New York Yankees were favoured to take the AL East and even challenge Houston for a place in the World Series. The Yankees boast a roster that is filled with high-quality players all over the park, which is why they’re favoured at -130 to Boston’s -105 in the MLB odds on bet365 to claim the division before the regular season is up.
The Yankees have performed well in pretty much all areas of play, with a few surprise packages suddenly rising to prominence. One such example of this is fantasy baseball hero Luis Severino. The right-handed pitcher has clocked in nine wins to just one loss from 13 starts while rocking a 2.20 ERA by the 56-game point of the season.
It’s come to the point where some are labelling this team as the best in the MLB right now – despite sitting behind the Red Sox and the praise that the Astros have received. They have a complete team that’s full of great players who are performing very well, to the joy of fantasy baseball owners, as well as a bullpen that some deem to be too good.
There’s still a long way to go in this MLB season, with all eyes on who will come out on top in this war for the AL East. Will the Red Sox hold firm and keep ahead, or will the Yankees surge and usurp their bitter rivals?

Rafael Devers
This late into the season, it is difficult to get good fantasy players because the best players have already been taken and have likely been helping your opponents defeat your team. Despite all the big names being gone, there are still good value players to take this late in the season, thanks to the late season call-ups. If you are interested in betting on the second half of the season, check out the latest MLB lines for the rest of the season.


The one thing about players in the minor leagues is that it sometimes doesn’t matter how well they play in the league. Some players have dominated their peers in the minor leagues but ended up being busts when they get the call to join the majors. While some don’t look like they will do much in the majors and have gone on to have storied careers.


Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is a great example. In the minors, he was a towering figure and did very well. In August, the Yankees called him up but he failed to impress in the big leagues. This year, after learning from his experience last season, Judge is one of the best young players in the game, leading his team in homeruns, RBIs, and batting average.


The Boston Red Sox are hoping for similar success to what their rivals got from Judge. The Red Sox called up third baseman Rafael Devers, who is expected to make his big league debut on Tuesday. While there is no such thing as a sure thing, Devers is apparently as close as it gets.


Devers has been one of the top hitters in the minor leagues this year, and is hitting .305 with 20 homeruns in 85 games. Devers, who is 20-years-old, is also one of the youngest players in the minors.


Scott White’s midseason prospect rankings has Devers as the second best prospect, but he actually ended up beating Amed Rosario, the number one ranked prospect to the majors.


Devers always had a sweet swing, but a few years ago, he didn’t have much power. Now, he’s power has improved and he has become the type of prospect fantasy owners go after because he could end up being the next Aaron Judge.


With Devers making his big league debut on Tuesday, watch for fantasy owners to scramble to get him before others do because players like Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez have made big splashes recently and have given their fantasy owners plenty of points without costing them much.


Will Devers live up to the lofty expectations? It’s honestly way too early to tell. He will likely go through growing pains like most players that get the call up for the first time, but once he has settled into a groove, he could be the next great Red Sox player.


The good news for Devers is he doesn’t have to worry about playing time. The Red Sox released Pablo Sandoval a few weeks ago, and need someone to fill the void at third base. If Devers can prove he belongs in the big leagues, expect him to man third base for the Red Sox for quite some time.

pedro and papi
It’s always fun to generate and debate lists. Since I’m a Red Sox fan I am starting a new series with them. Here’s the All-2000 to Present Red Sox Lineup.
C – Jason Varitek
1B – Kevin Youkilis
2B – Dustin Pedroia
3B – Mike Lowell
SS – Nomar Garciaparra
RF – Trot Nixon (Until Mookie Betts plays more)
LF – Manny Ramirez
CF – Jacoby Ellsbury (Just Barely over Johnny Damon)
DH – David Ortiz
SP – Pedro Martinez
SP – Jon Lester
SP – Curt Schilling
SP - Josh Beckett
SP – Tim Wakefield
Closer – Jonathan Papelbon
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees

Big Papi is off to a great start. The guy that has struggled to start the past few seasons is hitting .292 with 18 runs, six home runs, 18 RBI, and a .865 OPS. It’s hard to sit someone that is producing like Ortiz is, but this may be a good time to.
While he is hitting .333 (12-36) against lefties this year, he hit just .222 against them last year, .212 against them in 2009, .221 in 2008. You get the point. For his career he is hitting .259 against them with an OPS of .799, as compared to .290 and .968 against right-handed pitching.
This isn’t just ordinary left-handed pitching either. We’re talking C.C. Sabathia. He is one of the most dominating pitchers in the game.
Big Papi, like most lefties, has had his struggles with Sabathia. His lifetime average is .237 (9-38) with two HRs (.714 OPS). Papi was one for three against him earlier this year, but was one for nine against him last year.
You carry guys on your bench for a reason. It’s not just for Mondays and Thursdays when the baseball schedule is light. If you are locked in a close battle for batting average (weekly leagues), you probably have someone with a better probability to succeed.
I’m not saying Big Papi can’t get it done against C.C. After all, he is one of the few guys that has had regular success (8-24) against Mariano Rivera. I just think if you have a solid option on your bench, you might as well let Papi sit this one out.

Also check out:

Josh Beckett was a train wreck last year. He’s been alternating great and decent years since 2004.
2004:  9-9, 3.79 ERA, 1.22 WHIP
2005:  15-8, 3.38 ERA, 1.18 WHIP
2006:  16-11, 5.01 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
2007:  20-7, 3.27 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
2008:  12-10, 4.03 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
2009:  17-6, 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP
Following that trend, he was due for down year, and did he ever.
Beckett went 6-6 in 21 starts with a ridiculous 5.78 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. He entered the year with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. After last year’s debacle, those numbers are up to 3.96 and 1.24, which is crazy considering he’s pitched 1528-2/3 innings. continue reading »

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ESPN is reporting that the Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox rumors have finally come to fruition. They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this one had enough to see with the naked eye from the moon.
The left-handed slugger will turn 29 during the season, giving the Red Sox a powerful first basemen with a good glove in the prime of his career. Gonzalez, playing with little protection in a pitcher’s park, averaged 34.3 HRs and 105 RBIs over the past four seasons.
The move effectively ends the Red Sox pursuit of bringing Adrian Beltre back as Kevin Youkilis will slide over to third base.
In his new digs, Gonzalez should be right up there with the likes of Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Howard in fantasy rankings for the 4-7 slots following Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto.
The Padres reportedly acquired prospects, including top pitching product Casey Kelly, for Gonzalez.

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Is this the year Clay Buchholz finally sticks in the starting rotation? He has all the tools, but once again the Sox are loaded at the position. Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and John Lackey certainly have their roles carved provided their healthy. That leaves a tussle between Buchholz, the expensive import Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the ageless wonder Tim Wakefield. Whether or not Buchholz can hold off the gyroballer or knuckleballer will go a long way in determining his fantasy value.

As long as he’s not traded, I’m going with the assumption that Buchholz will be a regular in the rotation. Dice-K will likely join him with Wakefield being the odd man out. Wakefield gives the Red Sox more flexibility in that he can pitch on much shorter rest, be it in long relief or a spot start. Plus, Clay and Matsuzaka have more upside.

Speaking of Buchholz’s upside, he’s a guy who threw a no-hitter in his second start. After a miserable 2008 campaign where he posted a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA and 1.76 WHIP, he got back on track with a 7-4, 4.21 ERA, 1.38 WHIP 2009 season.

2010 should be even better. Aside from having twice as many starts, which in and of itself will increase his fantasy value, the Red Sox bolstered their defense by adding Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. Plus, the addition of John Lackey gives him another veteran pitcher to lean on and learn from.

Buchholz’s brilliant September in the heat of the Wild Card race should give him the confidence he needs to succeed. He was 4-1 in six starts with a sparkling 2.87 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and .225 BAA. He even got a taste of the post season, earning a no-decision against the Angels. He gave up two runs in 5 Innings (3.60 ERA). He was in line for the win before Boston’s bullpen imploded. I expect big thing from Buchholz this year.

Prediction: 13-7, 3.65 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 160 Ks

Past profiles:
Arizona Diamondbacks:  Brandon Webb
Atlanta Braves: Yunel Escobar
Baltimore Orioles:  Adam Jones

Here’s an early look at the AL East. Not ready for baseball? Check out Derek Jeter’s hottest girlfriends instead.

1.  Will Matt Wieters become an elite Catcher?
He came with a lot of fanfare and he delivered for the most part. He was at his best in August and September hitting .305 with 5 HRs and 27 RBIs. He struggled against Yankee pitching (.143, 0 HR, 0 RBI), but he chewed up the rest of the AL EAST (.368, 5 HRs, 22 RBIs). He’ll be more comfortable at the plate and with the pitching staff, which should lead to a productive 2010 season.

2.  Will Nick Markakis become a Superstar?
Markakis has been solid for the past three years averaging 99 runs, 45 doubles, 20 HRs, and 100 RBIs while hitting .299. For him to take the next step he’ll have to increase his HR total. At 26, with an emerging Wieters, Adam Jones, and newly acquired Garrett Atkins in the lineup, Markakis can do just that.

3.  Can Jeremy Hermida finally reach his potential?
With Jason Bay moving on to the Mets, Jeremy Hermida has an opportunity to hit in Boston’s vaunted lineup. He’ll have to hold off Mike Cameron or wait for J.D. Drew’s inevitable injury.

His power has been on decline the past few seasons.

2007 – 18 HR in 429 AB (23.8 AB/HR)
2008 – 17 in 502 (29.5 AB/HR)
2009 – 13 in 429 (33.0 AB/HR

His OPS has been .729 and .740 the past two years, which is not characteristic of the Red Sox style. Soon to be 26 though, he could come into age for the Red Sox this year.

The Red Sox are going to move Jacoby Ellsbury to LF and start Cameron in CF, which diminishes Hermida’s value.

4.  Which Big Papi will show up?

David Ortiz entered June with just 1 HR and 18 RBIs in 46 games. He had 27 HRs and 81 RBIs in the remaining 104 games. If Papi, whose age now matches his number, can hit at a high level again, the rest of the Red Sox lineup gets a big lift.

5.  What will the Yankees do in Left Field?
They have already went on record saying Matt Holliday isn’t the expensive answer to the question. There is a chance that Johnny Damon is brought back for another year. Brett Gardner could get the chance. He was decent in the first-half (.282, 36 runs, 18 SBs in 188 ABs). Personally I think he’s better suited as a spot starter/defensive replacement/pinch runner. Reed Johnson, Jerry Hairston, Jr. or even Xavier Nady could emerge as the eventual winners.

6.  Will B.J. Upton bounce back?
After his impressive postseason run, much was expected of B.J. last year. Other than his SB total (42) he was pretty much a disappointment. He only hit above .231 in one month last year. Even his SB production tailed off (31 in his first 81 games, 11 in his last 63). Assuming he is healthier in 2010 I don’t see any reason he can’t bounce back completely to at least his 2008 production. His rough 2009 season should make him a much better value in your upcoming draft.

7.  Was David Price more 2008 or 2009?

Price was electric upon being called up in 2008. He was openly upset about not starting the season in the bigs, and he struggled in the minors. When he finally did get the call, he struggled with a 4.70 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in his first nine starts. Though his strikeout rate dipped from 9.61 K/9 to 5.9 in his last 14 starts, he was a much more effective pitcher. He went 7-4 in those starts with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. His stuff is so electric that I feel the strikeouts will return. He should also be a nice value this coming season.

8.  Is Ben Zobrist for real?
Ben bounced around quite a bit for the Rays last year before injuries settled him in at Second Base. He responded with 27 HRs in 501 ABs (18.6 AB/HR). While it came out of nowhere considering he had 15 HRs in his previous three years, he did hit 12 in 198 ABs in 2008 (16.5 AB/HR). Even if he takes a dip from the 91 runs, 27 HRs, 91 RBIs, 17 SBs he had last year, he’ll still be a high-end Second Basemen. Though with the stability he earned himself, I don’t expect him to take that step back.

9.  Will Vernon Wells get dealt?
The Blue Jays are clearly playing for the future. Though they would love for somebody to take Vernon Wells’ hefty contract off their hands, the likelihood of that happening seems slim.

AL Central Burning Questions
AL West Burning Questions
- NL East Burning Questions
NL Central Burning Questions
NL West Burning Questions

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The Red Sox have once again bolstered their defense by landing two-time Gold Glove Third Baseman Adian Beltre according to ESPN. The move all but signifies the end of Mike Lowell’s time in Boston.

His power numbers were down last year as Beltre battled through injuries, but he should bounce back in Boston. He’ll have to improve his play at Fenway though. In 16 games he hit .179 with 6 runs, 3 doubles, 0 HRs, 4 RBIs, and a .531 OPS.

Monday Must Be Pitching Day

14 December 2009

The Hot Stove has been relatively quiet, but that changed today as three aces have found new homes.

ESPN is reporting that John Lackey reached a five-year deal with the Red Sox for $85 million. Lackey’s fantasy value shouldn’t change much as he remains on a contender. He is pitching in a tougher division, but his move to third in the rotation should lead to move favorable match-ups.

ESPN is also reporting that Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will have new homes in 2010. The Phillies, Mariners, and Blue Jays agreed to a three-way deal that will send Halladay to the Phils, and Lee to the M’s. The details have yet to be finalized. Personally I don’t see the point of acquiring Halladay if you can’t have Lee as well.

Both Halladay and Lee should be two of the first Pitchers off of fantasy boards next year.

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