Articles by Kenn Ruby

A listing of all the articles written by Kenn Ruby for the RotoWire Blog.

The Sarah Phillips Train Wreck

If you haven’t caught up on the whole Sarah Phillips story, Deadspin has been all over it.  Of special note is that one of the scammers dropped the name "RotoWire" (though it fortunately – I guess for us – misrepresented the site as a photo-licensing website).  We’ve got a lot of sports fans on here – did anybody read "her"?  Were "her" gambling tips any good?  Is "she" talented?   I wonder who did the actual writing of her articles – Sarah, her friend Nilesh, or someone else altogether.  Regardless, this train wreck has been fun to watch, and it takes my mind off my ninth-place fantasy baseball team and the sad news coming from San Diego.

Twas the Night Before Draft Day

 
Twas the night before draft day, I sit in the hotel.
Not a pitcher was pitching, not even Dotel.
The keepers selected by Kenndoza with care
In the hopes that home runs will be hit by LaHair.
 
My leaguemates were nestled, snug in their beds
With visions of Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.
I lay there awake, no, not quite aslumber.
Why didn’t I keep, that pitcher Phil Humber?
 
And I with the light on, I haven’t quite slept
I worried that Votto, I shouldn’t have kept.
He cost 52 – that’s way too much dough.
For exactly half that, why not Konerko?
 
When o’er on my Mac, there arose such a clatter,
From my excellent spreadsheet of top pitchers and batters.
Away to the ‘puter, I flew in a hurry.
I looked at it, frowned, and continued to worry.
 
My pitching is weak, my hitting ok
And I don’t have enough money for Matt Holliday
CarGo and Kemp are not going to be mine
I’ve got to buy players – I only kept nine.
 
Did I keep the wrong Hudson, Daniel or Tim?
Do all my leaguemates think I’m really that dim?
What about Danks? Will he pitch well this year?
Will Josh Hamilton stay away from the beer?
 
Now Danny! Now Ian! The Washington Nats!
Now Aramis Ramirez bring all of your bats!
To the draft room in Lisle, on Warrenville Road
It’s at Jimmy’s office, not his abode.
 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on my phone
The ringing of Julie, calling from home.
She said, “don’t you worry, you know you can win.
And please don’t forget, you don’t want Tony Gwynn.”
 
My confidence growing, at my wife’s kindly call.
I could even ignore, the loud guy in the hall.
I closed my eyes tight, my fortunes were shifted.
Sleep, blissful sleep, my mind wonderfully drifted.
 
Two hours later, I awoke with alarm.
Once again bothered by Marcum’s right arm.
Sleep now behind me, I turned on my computer
To read the bad news about Met Lucas Duda.
 
My strategy ruined, oh what can I do?
I knew this would happen. I just knew. I just knew!
I looked at my roster and frowned one again.
It’s hard to buy studs with just a buck ten.
 
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And filled all my spreadsheets, then turned with a jerk.
And laying my finger aside of my sheet
I told myself “Kenn, there will be no defeat!”
 
I sprang to my car, and put on some Dylan
I was quietly calm, I was suddenly chillin’
But I loudly exclaimed with a maniacal laugh
“Happy Draft Day to all! And to all, a good draft!”

Ten Things You Need to Win Your Fantasy Baseball League

The National Fantasy Baseball Championship hosts live drafts in Chicago at the end of the month. I’ll be there, hobnobbing, sniffing the rarefied air, and well, fantasizing about playing against some of the nation’s sharpest would-be general managers.
 
The NFBC players are my kind of guys, and I’m pretty sure I can hold my own with them, but the entry fee, at $1,400, is too rich for my blood. Besides, NFBC is a mixed league—American League and National League players jumbled together—with no trading. What fun is that?
 
For me, there’s only one way to play fantasy baseball: Ultra.
 
In an Ultra league—more commonly known as a “keeper league”—you play either with AL players or NL players. No mixing. Players are auctioned off, and after that reserves are drafted. You need to know prospects and how close they are to the majors. You need to know guys who are not getting much playing time but could succeed if given the chance. You need to know scrubs. In short, you need to know your baseball.
 
You might say, “Why would I want to play in league in which Bryan LaHair is my first baseman?” My response would be, “Because you’re a Major League manager, Mr. Sveum.” Actually I’d say that playing in a deep keeper league more closely resembles real baseball. You have some stars (unless you’re the Astros), some above-average players (unless you’re the Astros), and the rest is filler (Astros!) In a shallow league, your team is made up of great players. You may think your team is stacked at first, but you soon realize that everybody’s team is stacked. In Ultra there’s more strategy. It’s all I want to play.
 
But it’s not easy to win an Ultra league. You need to put in a lot of work, and you need a lot of luck. You also need some narcissistic online writer to come up with a list of Ten Things You Need to Win Your Fantasy Baseball League.
 
Ten Things You Need to Win Your Fantasy Baseball League

 
Excel

This is probably the most important thing I use to prepare for the auction. Even if you don’t bring your computer to the draft, you still need some way to organize all your preparation. I make a sheet for hitters and a sheet for pitchers with projected stats and estimated cost. I add a column for notes. I highlight guys I like one color and guys I want to stay away from another. Do that every day for a couple of months, and suddenly you have a lot of information for draft day. I can also use this to keep track of the other teams in my league – once they decide whom they’re keeping, I can see who was smart and who was Chuck. Keep an eye on the smart ones on draft day – you’ll want to try to screw them at every opportunity.

 

Time

You need time to do this right. You may have to sacrifice some of the NCAA Tournament or pass on that spring break trip (with Northwestern out, a lot of time has opened up in my life.) If you’re married, your spouse better be very understanding. And under no circumstances should you agree to have your parents, or hers, come visit three weekends before draft day.

 

$1 pitchers and catchers you can live with

You need the names on a little piece of paper: three or four catchers you can pick up at the end of the draft (I like Welington Castillo of the Cubs and Tyler Flowers of the White Sox as good $1 backup catchers). About a dozen pitchers with upside who will cost you nothing. That’s it.
 
A projected budget for each open spot on your roster

If you have $180 to spend on nine spots, don’t just say, “I can spend $20 per player!” Jot down how much you want to spend in each open spot. If you want to spend $1 on the last catcher and $1 on the last pitcher, that means you have $178 to spend on seven spots, or about $25 a player. You can go up to $45 or $50 for one stud if you budget for it.
 

One fantasy baseball magazine (preferably RotoWire’s)

Bring it with you and don’t be shy about it. Make sure it’s one that has games played by position last year so that you can consult it in a hurry.
 
List of everyone’s rosters

You can fill in the keepers beforehand. Make sure you have pens and a calculator, and keep track throughout the draft. Knowing another owner’s maximum bid, and their remaining needs, couldn’t be more crucial. True story: Two owners wanted Rafael Betancourt last year and both had a maximum bid of nine bucks. One owner, thinking he’d “save a buck,” bid only eight. The other owner bid nine. The owner who tried to save a buck got second place and would’ve won with Betancourt instead of Hong-Chih Freaking Kuo.
 
One good luck charm

My family has been tearing the house apart looking for DunKenn, a basketball-playing ear of corn I got in a Happy Meal in 1993. He’s been with me at every draft since. This picture was taken a few weeks ago, but he hasn’t been seen since. There is a reward if found.
 
Know your rookies

Find a website you trust and spend a day or two learning about the prospects. Mark big stars next to the guys you like. Tattoo the name “Anthony Rizzo” inside your forehead, for example, just like Sveum surely has. Sure, you might get snide comments for picking Addison Reed when no one else had heard of him. The snidest comments will be from the guy who just wasted a roster spot on Aaron Miles.
 
Sleep

Don’t stay up drinking or even preparing for the draft. Get to sleep. Draft day is not for the weary.
 
Don’t have children

Oh, they’re great and all that, but they take time away from fantasy. And definitely try to not have them born in March while you’re trying to prepare. (In an unrelated note, happy first birthday, Evan Ruby!) 
 
 
Note: This article originally appeared on ChicagoSideSports.com

Stick a fork in the Cardinals

As a Cubs fan living in Cincinnati, I’m always amused that I’m the beat writer for another NL Central team, the Cardinals.  Given that I’m supposed to  hate the Redbirds, I tend to be overly-negative of them every spring and feel like they have too many holes to compete. I turned out to be right last year.

This year I was even more dubious. The Cards were basically counting on David Freese, Lance Berkman, Colby Rasmus, Skip Schumaker, Ryan Theriot, and Yadier Molina to be better than last year, for Ryan Franklin to somehow continue to be a good closer, and for Jamie Garcia (who I like, but his WHIP isn’t so great), Jake Westbrook, and the abysmal Kyle Lohse to be 60|PERCENT| of the rotation.  Oh, and they had to avoid the distractions of Albert Pujols and his contract mess.  Still, with the 1-2 punch of Pujols and Matt Holliday in the offense and Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in the rotation, this looked like a team that could win about 84 games, which might be enough in the NL Central, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Now comes the news today that Adam Wainwright will certainly have Tommy John surgery.  A starter who couldn’t even beat out Lohse (take your pick: Lance Lynn, Adam Ottavino, P.J. Walters, Ian Snell, Raul Valdes, Brian Tallet, and various has-beens and free agents) is now going to be filling the shoes of one of the most valuable pitchers in the league.  The Post-Dispatch is pushing Kyle McClellan, who is probably the best of a bad lot, but that would put a big hole in their bullpen, where he was quite valuable last year.

The Cardinals have already lost key reserve Nick Punto until at least May, and Jim Edmonds retired a week ago. The fourth outfielder (and keep in mind this is on a team in which Berkman, who can’t hit lefties anymore, is supposed to be an every-day outfielder) looks like Jon Jay or Allen Craig.

With all of the turmoil already, if the Cardinals get off to a bad start, do they actually trade Pujols? I’ve seen some rumors of Carpenter to the Yankees, though that’s probably just wishful thinking on the part of Yankees fans.  This team is hanging by a thread right now, and it would not be crazy to see a total collapse and the end of the Tony La Russa era.  And the Albert Pujols era.  I’m not going to dance on their grave just yet, but I can think of a really nice coffin.

Will the Heat go 82-0?

I know Miami now has the new “Big 3,” but I just don’t see how this team works together. They have to count on guys saying “hey, I wanna get in on this! I’ll take the minimum to play with them.” I just don’t know if that’s going to happen.

Who takes the last shot?

What happens to Michael Beasley?

Does Mario Chalmers become Rajon Rondo?

How long does it take to get another championship in Miami? One year? Two years? Never?

What is a Perfect Game Really Worth Anyway?

Jason Donald was out.  Joyce got the call wrong.  He acted classy in admitting it.  Armando Galarraga was very classy in not making a big deal about it.  That’s all known.

But really, what is the big deal here?  Galarraga, in his heart, knows he threw a perfect game (some joked that he had the first 28-batter perfect game).  It was the 27th out, which makes it even more black-and-white (if this gaffe were in the fourth inning, one could make the argument that the course of history would have changed and who would know if he’d retire everything else).  The fans know they saw a perfect game.  Hell, even the players think it was a perfect game.

So what are we missing here?  The great celebration on the field?  The non-stop cheering from the crowd? Galarraga’s name in a record book?  Sure, those are all tangible things, and I’m sure many will feel cheated, but  the Tigers still won and Galarraga can be satisfied in knowing it wasn’t his fault or the fault of a teammate what happened.  Like I said, he knows he threw a perfect game – isn’t that enough?  Maybe I’m just being naive.

As for "The Call" (and it should be capitalized), I keep thinking of Joyce as the worst kid on the little league team in a clutch situation – "Please don’t hit it to me.  Please don’t hit it to me."  He surely knew it was batter #27, and if I were him, I’d be thinking "anywhere close and it’s an out.  Out, out, out, out, out, out, out, out."  How "safe" came from him in that situation is the most baffling thing to me.

Also: Donald.  At what point today (and maybe it’s already started), does the backlash against him begin?  "It’s an unwritten rule that if you’re the 27th batter in a perfect game that you don’t run hard to first!"  Someone will say it, and while I don’t believe that b.s., I guess I’ll be the first anyway.

They’re all gonna laugh at you!

I was just looking at the league-leading pitchers in the NL, and I came up with the "All-Everyone-Will-Laugh-At-You" pitching staff.  If you had bought these pitchers on draft day, and presumably spent your other 225 bucks on offense, you’d be dominating your league.  Just for poops and giggles:

Ok, so the strikeouts (155) could be a little higher, but considering how much you paid, that’s nice.  This group, which everyone would have laughed at unless the league is VERY deep, has so far produced  19 wins, 18 saves, a 1.45 ERA, and a 1.00 WHIP.

Yeah, it’s early, and many of these guys will stink before the year is out, but it’s interesting.