Fantasy Fever: Open Letter to Joe Mauer From WhatIfSports.com image

Fantasy Fever: Open Letter to Joe Mauer

Venting fantasy frustration on Mauer

By Joel Beall, WhatIfSports.com
July 13th, 2010

Dear Joe,

On behalf of all your fantasy owners for the 2010 season, I have a simple inquiry that must be addressed:

What the $*@% is up?

Mr. Mauer, you entered 2010 as the reigning AL MVP and holder of three batting crowns. Fresh off a $184 million extension, your contract was supposed to coincide with the opening of Target Field as symbols of future prominence for the Twins. You even shot a cheesy-yet-enjoyable videogame commercial.

Yet as the All-Star break arrives, your stat sheet leaves much to be desired. Your batting average is more than 70 points lower than last year's mark. After hitting 28 bombs in '09, you've accumulated a grand total of 4 in '10. You're on pace for 66 RBI, 30 short from the previous season.

Joe Mauer

While some Twin fans and fantasy owners have prayed this 1st half was simply an anomaly, others have tried to examine and identify the catalyst for this shortcoming. One theory is you're having trouble adjusting to the new ballpark. Granted, Target Field has yielded exponentially less homers than the Metrodome. Yet while some truth exists in this sentiment, it doesn't explain why you're hitting just .286 on the road compared to last season's .345 figure.

Others have speculated that your lack of production is correlated to your health. It's no secret that you've had to battle injuries throughout the year, most notably a bruised shoulder. But playing hurt is part of the game, and you've successfully dealt with knee problems in the past. (I realize it's sanctimonious to trivialize your injuries. My rebuttal? I was in position to select Miguel Cabrera; instead, I went with you. So there.)

In your defense, a .296 average for a catcher is still well above league average, and you should be able to crack the 80-run barrier by season's end. Despite having a down year in all aspects of your game (including sideburn length, which has been shorter than year's past), you were still selected to the All-Star roster. However, as many fantasy preseason rankings labeled you a top-10 pick, you've been this season's principal underperformer.

Please do not mistake this composition as degradation; rather, we are simply hoping to inspire greatness. As the great Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, than to rank with those poor spirits that knows neither victory nor defeat." How this relates to baseball beats the hell out of me. But at this point, you need all the help you can get.

Cordially,

Joel

Start 'em: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. Before going 0-for-3 on Sunday night, Ramirez had been batting .524 over his last five games with 4 homers and 10 runs. This might be the beacon of hope Ramirez owners needed, as the Chicago 3rd baseman has been a major disappointment, hitting just .207 on the year with 10 HRs and 32 RBI.

Sit 'em: Ricky Romero, Blue Jays. In his last two starts, Romero hasn't made it past the 3rd inning. On a July 3 matchup with the Yanks, Romero surrendered 8 runs in 2.2 innings, and followed that performance up with a 9 run (5 earned), 2.1 inning-gem against the Red Sox on July 9. Heading into New York, Romero had a 2.83 ERA; unfortunately, that's skyrocketed to 3.71 after his forays with Boston and the Bronx.

Wire Watch


Jair Jurrjens Jurrjens is back from injury

Fantasy Flashback: 1886 King Kelly. Not a bad year for Kelly in '86: led the league in hitting (.388), on-base percentage (.483) and runs (155), to go along with 53 steals and 79 RBI. The runs figure is especially eye-popping when realizing Kelly played only 118 games. And for your Fantasy Flashback Fun Fact of the Day, many believe Kelly was the inspirational figure for the legendary baseball poem, "Casey at the Bat."

Waiver Wire Watch: Jair Jurrjens, Braves. Jurrjens, a consensus top-40 preseason pitcher in fantasy, has just returned from a two-month stint on the DL. In his first game back, the Atlanta hurler tossed six innings of two-hit ball against the Phillies. Jurrjens is owned in just 60% of leagues, giving fantasy teams short on pitching the opportunity to take a waiver on him.

Rookie Review: Jason Heyward, Braves. Astonishing that we've reached the All-Star break without giving Mr. Heyward his respects in the Rookie Review. Appearing in only 71 games thanks to an injured thumb, Heyward has still produced phenomenal numbers with 11 HRs, 45 RBI, 41 Rs and a .366 OBP. The extended period of time on the DL should also keep Heyward fresh for the 2nd half of the season.

Matt Holiday

This Week in Jonathon Broxton: Ox recorded two saves to finish the 1st half of the season with a somewhat-pedestrian total of 19. Of course, referring to a Broxton action as "pedestrian" is the equivalent of a "herculean effort" by a mere mortal. Big #51 will be present for the Midsummer Classic; tragically, he was not allowed to participate in the Home Run Derby.

Trade Talk: If you've been lucky enough to employ the services of one of the rookie pitching-sensations, it might be time to cash in your preverbal chips. Many of the young guns are on pitch and inning counts, meaning they could be shut down for the season by September. Furthermore, teams will be having their second go-around at the phenoms, meaning they'll be better prepared and familiar with the pitcher's style. It's would behoove you to trade a Stephen Strausberg or Mike Leake for 80 cents on the dollar.

Big League Chew Player of the Week: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Initially a questionable addition to the NL roster, Holliday has proven his worth over the past month, racking up 10 jacks in his last 22 games.

Spit Your Tobacco At: Francisco Cordero, Reds. Cordero blew his sixth save of the season against the Phillies on Friday night, tops in the league for closers. Noted baseball academics have long debated the merits of the "save" statistic, and Cordero's performance in 2010 is not helping the cause. With a 4.20 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, Cordero has proven that saves don't exemplify success.

And finally, in honor of this week's All-Star extravaganza, the "Dumb and Dumber" Quote of the Week:

Lloyd: So where are you headin'?

Mary: Aspen.

Lloyd: Hmmm, California! Beautiful!


Let us know what you think of Whatifsports.com's Fantasy Fever. Shoot us an email at BtB@whatifsports.com.

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