July 2010

“I decided to get behind home plate and started doing the “Chicken Dance”- Micah Gibbs

It’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish in sports and since 1947 only 24 teams have done it; win a College World Series Title.

Boise Hawks Catcher Micah Gibbs is one of the few people that can say that (and wear the hardware). In 2009, Micah was apart of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers team that went to Omaha, Nebraska and won their 6th College World Series Title.

“It’s one of the hardest things in college baseball to do (make it to Omaha). In the pre-season, Coach Paul Mainieri kept saying “let’s make it back to Omaha”, but all of the us players were like “no, we are winning the National Championship”,” said Gibbs. “We knew we had the pitching, defense, and offense to compete in arguably the toughest conference in college baseball. We felt that would give us the training and preparation that we needed.”

The difficult task for the Tigers that season was to do something that had not been done since 2003; be a nationally ranked team to win the College World Series Title. The Tigers also faced the challenge of losing several coaches, including pitching coach Terry Rooney and hitting coach Cliff Goodwin.

“We found out right before we were getting on the plane to leave Omaha in 2008. Javi Sanchez, who was a volunteer-assistant, stepped up as the hitting coach. David Grewe, who was the head coach at Michigan State, was brought in to be the pitching coach,” said Gibbs. “It was a different phase for our pitchers because Grewe and Rooney have two different plans of attack.”

While Gibbs said that both methods worked well, Coach Grewe had more of a pro-ball mentality that made it easy from Gibbs’ role.

“I think the one thing that coach Grewe did well was that he had a laid back personality,” says Gibbs. “Because of that, I was able to work more with the pitchers in the Fall and figure out who could do what.”

The laid back mentality and approached also helped Gibbs with some of his fellow teammates. Pitcher Matty Ott, who was one of the top closers in the SEC, has benefited from the laid back approach.

“Matty set LSU single-season saves record in 2009. In his first appearance, which wasn’t a save situation, I could tell he was kinda nervous,” said Gibbs. “I tried to calm him down as much as I could with words, but I could still tell he was nervous. As I was jogging back to home plate, the “Chicken Dance” was playing. So I was like “why not” and I got behind home plate and started doing the “Chicken Dance”. He started laughing and I could tell all the pressure went away.”

LSU went into the season with a lot of pressure and hype, being the preseason number one. With a big target painted on their back, the Tigers had all people gunning for them and their number one ranking.

“Every single time someone comes into Alex Box Stadium (LSU’s Home Stadium), they play their best game and that helps us play our best game. We face guys that throw a certain velocity and then they come to Baton Rouge and they throw even harder,” said Gibbs. “When you have 10,000 to 12,000 screaming fans, everyone’s adrenaline is going to be kicking in.”

Gibbs.jpgWhen I asked Gibbs about the team’s defining moment, he talked about a series that had taken place the year before. With the majority of the team returning from the 2008 season, the 2009 team had been impacted by a tough series against the number one seed in college baseball, the Georgia Bulldogs.

“The one that stands out the most was the series we didn’t win against Georgia in 2008. They were number one or two in the nation at that time and they were pretty much on top of the world. That was the team that had Gordon Beckham and Josh Fields,” said Gibbs. “They were the best of the best and we were going to find out how good we really are. We hung in well with them and we almost beat the number one team in the country. That got our confidence up.”

LSU advanced to the College World Series Final and had to take on a team that had already been there 33 times and won six titles, the Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns were the top seed in the tournament and gave the Tigers all they could handle. The series went to a third and final game, in which the Tigers won 11-4.

“We just wanted to go out there and have fun. We knew this could be our only chance at a National Championship and we didn’t want to go in there and be real tight and nervous,” said Gibbs. “That final game we had Anthony Ranaudo on the mound, who was one of the top pitchers in the country that year. When we got off the bus we knew we were going to win, we just didn’t know how it was going to happen.”

Once the final out was recorded, it was all emotion from there.

“There was so much excitement and adrenaline that people were yelling in the dog pile on the field,” said Gibbs. “Louis Coleman, who was the SEC Pitcher of the Year, closed it out for us. I don’t think there is anyone in baseball who was more of an automatic win than him. When we were in the dog pile it’s kinda funny; he kissed me on the forehead and said “I love you man” (laughs). It was a little weird.”

One of the interesting things we talked about was the fact that Gibbs grew up as a fan of Texas baseball, not just LSU baseball. Gibbs is from Pflugerville, TX and being a native, he always had dreams of playing for Texas. The irony of playing Texas in the Championship Series and beating them was bitter-sweet for Gibbs.

“I went to Texas baseball camps and LSU baseball camps when I was a kid. When it came time LSU called me and Texas didn’t, so it wasn’t too hard of a decision. After we beat Texas, a bunch of my friends back home gave me a bunch of crap for it,” said Gibbs with a chuckle. “I don’t think there is a team I would have rather beaten for the College World Series Title than Texas.”  

Gibbs is one of the few who can say he owns the hardware. But before his baseball career is over, there is one other piece he would like to have; a World Series Ring.

“It’s definitely going to a memory that I carry with me for the rest of my life. Until I win a World Series Title for the Chicago Cubs, I don’t think there is anything out there that could top a this,” said Gibbs.

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks

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We’re going STREAKING! (ok, not literally)

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Alright, now that we got that out of the way, there have been
some impressive

“consistent hitting performances” as of late. We are not using
the other word for fear that the “baseball gods” will be upset and in some
weird way, these impressive “consistent hitting performances” will end
prematurely.

 

OF/DH Matt Szczur, 2B Pierre LePage, 1B Richard Jones, and OF
Alvaro Ramirez have been showing off some impressive lumber as of late. Szczur
has had a hit in 10 straight games, LePage has had a hit in seven straight
games, and Jones has received a hit and RBI in six straight games. Ramirez has
been extremely impressive, as he has recorded a hit in 16 consecutive games.

The secret to the success? It comes down to good old-fashioned work.

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“I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff. Jody Davis and
Ricardo Medina have been pretty laid back about everything. If we have a night
where we didn’t get many hits, they don’t really put a ton of pressure on us.
When you let players relax, that is when they play their best,” said Jones, who
is batting .312 on the season.

 

The Hawks have been turning it on at the plate as of late,
collecting 10 or more hits in six of their last seven games.

 

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that we are 30 games into
the season and guys are beginning to feel more comfortable at the plate. The is
a new feel to the team. Guys are beginning to get set in the lineup and their
roles on offense. It’s been great and more wins will come as long as we clean
it up on defense,” said LePage, who is batting .352 on the season.

 

Szczur has been in several different spots in the lineup, but his
success has not stopped, as he is hitting .386 on the season.

 

“More or less, I have the same philosophy each time I step up to
the plate. It is a little different in the lead off spot because you usually
have to work the count. I just try to approach every at-bat like it’s my last
and make it a great at-bat,” said Szczur.

 

With the Hawks offense exploding as of late, the wins have been
there. But like their performances, the team is looking for some consistent
wins as they are locked in a heated battle with the Spokane Indians for first
place in the Northwest League East Division.

 

To lock up this Division Title, it’s going to take an all around
great game, not just a great night at the plate. But a good night of offense
never hurts.

 

 “Baseball is a crazy
game because any team can win on any given day. To give us our best shot to
win, we have to play a better game defensively. We have to pitch well and not
give up a ton of walks, errors, or hits. If we do that and get timely hits, we
have a good chance to win,” said LePage.

“We just have to show up and battle every day. Whether you are
down by one run or five, we have to battle every day,” said Jones.

 

“It’s a joy to play for this team because we battle and we don’t
give up, even when we are down. Everybody is going to work hard, regardless of
the situation. We were down 9-3 last night, but we battled through and made a
game out of it,” said Szczur.

 

If the hitting performances continue and the defense turns the
corner, the Hawks will begin to party like it’s 2006. That was the last season
that the Hawks won a Divisional Title.

 

Till next time..

 

Chad Bates

Media Relations Assistant

Boise Hawks

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“This is why you are single: you spend your free-time looking up Fantasy Baseball stats”

This blog is in conjunction with the “Fantasy Focus” segment on the Boise Hawks pre-game show

If you would have told me at the beginning of the season we would have already had two no-hitters, two-perfect games, and three guys competing for the Triple Crown in the AL, I would have bet you “a brand new Memorial Stadium” that you were wrong.

Thank God I don’t gamble that often.

It’s been one of the crazier season that I can remember in baseball. Which means our fantasy baseball season has been “Tom Cruise” (before and after “Oprah”). It’s safe to say if you have guys like 1B Miguel Cabrera, OF Josh Hamilton, and RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, ride them until their legs fall off. But if you are looking for guys who could potentially be great “buys” in the second half, here are some names to consider.

Buster Posey, Catcher, San Francisco Giants
38 G, 137 AB, .350 BA, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 8 BB, 22 R, 48 H, 16 SO

As if the power, the batting average, and the fact he’s a good player at a thin position is not enough to lure you to pick him up, consider this. He’s all alone on the depth chart. With the trading of long-time catcher Bengie Molina, Posey is now “the guy” and should see an increase in those impressive numbers. If he can get more disciplined at the plate, he could become a “Top 5” catcher on draft day in 2011.

James Loney, First Base, Los Angeles Dodgers
88 G, 337 AB, .308 BA, 6 HR, 63 RBI, 28 BB, 47 R, 104 H, 50 SO

It seems like every year we keep saying “this will be the year that Loney breaks out”. And every year since his rookie year in 2007, we are all sadly disappointed. But Loney went on major hot streak before the All-Star Break (unlike years past) and could finally be ready to restore our faith in him. He has never hit above .300 before the break (outside of 2007) until this season and he is batting a ridiculous .447 in July.

Sean Rodriguez, Second Base, Tampa Bay Rays
70 G, 219 AB, .264 BA, 6 HR, 30 RBI, 6 BB, 34 R, 58 H, 64 SO

Consistency is the name of the game and for Rodriguez, he’s still looking for it. But the thing I like is he will consistently get the duties at second base in the second half and he went into the break batting .309 since June 29th. Rodriguez is a guy worth snagging in head-to-head leagues.

Stephen Drew, Short Stop, Arizona Diamondbacks
81 G, 298 AB, .275 BA, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 6 SB, 31 BB, 43 R, 82 H, 56 SO

Drew is batting .346 in July and has been one of the more consistent producers in fantasy baseball this season (ranked 11th). Drew has always been a better second half hitter and if you are in dire straights and need a solid short stop, he is one worth trading for.

Ian Stewart, Third Base, Colorado Rockies
81 G, 256 AB, .257 BA, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 5 SB, 34 BB, 40 R, 66 H, 76 SO

The weird thing with Stewart is that if you take away June, he’s been a really good fantasy player. But after hitting a dismal .167 in June, Stewart has seen his value drop. With the arrival of SS Troy Tulowitzki (who is due back soon), Stewart could get his production up and becoming a must-start fantasy option.

Drew Stubbs, Outfield, Cincinnati Reds
85 G, 293 AB, .235 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 17 SB, 31 BB, 47 R, 69 H, 90 SO

If it weren’t for the batting average, there would be more people out there talking about him as a Rookie of the Year candidate. Stubbs has been inconsistent (much like Stewart) but nonetheless, he is still on pace to be a 20-20 guy. If he can learn better plate discipline in the second half, scoop him up and get him active.

Tyler Colvin, Outfield, Chicago Cubs
80 G, 179 AB, .262 BA, 12 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 14 BB, 29 R, 47 H, 53 SO

I know this seems like a homer pick, but you and I know at some point the Cubs will trade somebody. And when they do, Colvin will see those every-day at bats in outfield and his value should increase tremendously. He’s already having a solid year in terms of production. Giving him the starting job should make those numbers soar (just don’t tell this to Lou Pinella).

Jair Jurrjens, Pitcher, Atlanta Braves
1-3, 5.40 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 35 IP, 25 K, 16 BB

The hamstring injury he suffered early in the season had a huge affect on him. He’s always been a guy who struggles with walking batters, but he averages an ERA around 3.23 and he is good for at least 10 wins and 101 K. The Braves are in contention, which means Jurrjens will get plenty of starts from here on out.

Tommy Hunter, Pitcher, Texas Rangers
5-0, 2.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 42.3 IP, 27 K, 10 BB, 1 CG

Hunter, like Posey, really didn’t acquire the starting spot until later in the early part of the season. That being said, he has been lights out this far. He will lose a couple of games here and there, but he has a great offense backing him up and should be added in head-to-head leagues.

Brian Matusz, Pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
3-9, 4.77 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 103.7 IP, 80 K, 38 BB

This is a guy that had a lot hype going into the season and given his W-L, ERA, and WHIP, he really hasn’t lived up to it. But then again, he does play for the Orioles. Matusz seems like he is getting back on the winning track and the K/IP totals are pretty darn impressive. If he heats up, add him!

If the first half of the season is any indication, the second half is going to be one of the more exciting ones we have seen in a long time. Good luck to you and your fantasy squad and for more info, tune in every Monday night on 1350 KTIK “The Ticket” for more fantasy advice from myself and Mike Safford.

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks
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“True Life: I’m a Boise Hawks Rookie” Part 2

It’s not easy moving from life as you know it and going to a place (that’s kinda in the middle of no where) and starting a career. It’s even tougher when you 18 to 22 years old and trying to accomplish this.

I had a chance to sit down for a round-table discussion with six of the Boise Hawks baseball players and talk to them about life as a rookie. In this interview we look at the transition from college to the pros, life with their host families, and we even discuss life after baseball.

The six players I sat down with include 2B Pierre LePage, SS Elliot Soto, OF Matt Szczur, LHP Eric Jokisch, RHP Aaron Kurcz, and C Micah Gibbs.

Does the professional game move faster or slower than college?

PL: “The game is definitely faster but sometimes you might think it is slower because you don’t have the same action with wooden bats as you would metal bats. The defense is better and pitchers are making better pitches and getting out of innings quicker.”

EJ: “I think you pitch different at this level. The wooden bat is definitely a big thing because you pitch more inside and try to get on their hands. The hitters are definitely better. It’s the best of the best from the college and high school ranks so you have to concentrate more on hitting spots and making the right pitch.”

AK: “The biggest thing that I have learned is that first-pitch strikes are a big priority. If you can get that, you have a better chance of getting the guy out and throwing what you want to throw to him.”

MG: “The game is definitely a lot faster because from the catcher’s role, you don’t get to look into the dugout and get signs for which pitch to call. I like it because it has helped me grow up and you are more into the game. I feel like I am able to work more the pitcher and I have to know who is hitting, who is on deck, and who is in the hole so I know how to pitch the guys that are in there. It speeds the game up so much.”

How has the transition been from aluminum to wooden bats?

ES: “We have all used wooden bats at one point or another. We know how it is but to hit it consistently, you have to tweak your swing a little bit and square the ball up.”

MG: “From the catching stand point, I am able to call fastballs a lot more because of the pitching staff we have. Not everyone I played with at LSU got drafted, so what that is saying is that you are able eliminate some of the guys that can’t throw as hard or don’t have as good of off-speed stuff. As you move up, pitchers stuff is getting better and you can beat people with wood bats a lot easier.”

Do you plan on going back to school and getting your degree?  

EJ: “There is no doubt I plan on going back to school. I went to Northwestern because of it’s academics. I’m not going to waste the three years I was there. I am going to finish my degree while I am playing baseball and work in sports psychology if baseball doesn’t work out the way I want it to.”

PL: “I want to go back and finish my degree as soon as possible. I think the longer you wait to get it, the more guys get weeded out on going back and getting their degree. I plan on going to law school is baseball doesn’t work out for me.”

ES: “I was studying communications at Creighton University. I will more than likely head back but if I don’t for whatever reason, I will probably work in our family business. We own a Mexican restaurant.”

When you told your friends and family that you were a professional baseball player, did they have any misconceptions?

PL: “When I told a lot of my friends I was going to be a professional baseball player they were like “I’ll see you in Chicago” (laughs). I think a lot of people have a mis-conception about the farm system and how many steps there are to get to “The Show”. It’s a long road and a journey more than anything.”

EJ: “It’s a long road and there are only a few “Stephen Strasburg’s” who can go out there and jump through everything that quickly. It’s a learning process in terms of how the game is played on the professional level.”

What’s your biggest area of opportunity in terms of your game?

AK: “I think having Jeff Fassero as a pitching coach is going to help me a lot. He played in the big leagues for over 15 years and having a person with the kind of knowledge as my pitching coach is big. I can ask him about what I am doing wrong or doing right and he can help me out a lot more than anyone else who has coached me before.”

ES: “Being able to play with these guys and learn from people who know far more about the game than I do is going to help me. Plus, it’s nice to focus on just baseball and not worry about anything else.”

What do you plan on accomplishing before you leave Boise?

EJ: “Our goal is to just improve and make ourselves worthy of playing at the next level. The ultimate goal is to keep improving until we can’t anymore.”

PL: “Improve everyday on everything you can. When I leave here, all I want and all I ask for is that people remember me as someone who played hard and played the game the right way.”

MS: “Pierre sprints out of the dugout to second base every time no matter what kind of at bat he had. It’s awesome to play with a player who is like that because you know he will do anything for the team to win.”

AK: “The goal is to just become a better player and learn things that I have never learned before in order to get guys out.”

Does the baseball community, both major leagues and minor leagues, over-value stats?

EJ: “I think there is a place for them and as a player you shouldn’t worry about stats. If you let that get in your head too much, it can hurt you more than help you. It’s not always a good measuring stick because you could be out there trying to improve on something and you may give up two or three runs trying to do that. If you ERA goes up, people will begin to look at you and think “this guy can’t pitch”.”

ES: “I think with position players, stats can be a little mis-leading. If you ground out but advance a runner on base, then you did your job and moved the runner.”

PL: “There are a lot of team players out who don’t necessarily fill the stat books but they bring an element to the team that can everyone better (as opposed to a guy who hits .300). There is way more to the game than just stats.”

MS: “When I got here, I thought everyone was going to be selfish and no one would be a team player. It was a reality check for me because when I got here, every one on this team cares more about the team than themselves and guys here don’t worry about stats as much.”

AK: “As long as you go out there and keep getting the job done for your team, that is all that matters. If you have an ERA that is high, but you still got 10 saves, that’s 10 times you got the job done and helped your team win.”

MG: “To be honest, I truly hate statistics because I over-think them way too much. I think they are over-rated because you see a lot of people get those infield singles and guys get hits when there is no one on base. They need to have a statistic for getting the job done that needs to be done for the team.”

What has been the tough transition; high school to college or college to professional?

EJ: “I came from such a small school (I had 25 people in my graduating class) so there wasn’t much competition and I was able to throw fastballs and do whatever I wanted. Once we got to college, the kids got bigger. I mean, look at that guy (points to Matt Szczur, everyone laughs). Guys are big like him and they can hit the ball farther.”

ES: “I think in high school
kids are a little more relaxed about the game and are just playing for a bunch of other reasons. College players are there because they love the game and they take it seriously.”

MG: “College to professional has been tougher for me because you have a wood bat in your hands and it is a little less forgiving. The guys in college that you play with are going to be the same guys you play with for two to three years, so that helps. Another thing that is rough is that a lot of the foreign players use a splitter and that can be tough to catch because no one at LSU threw that and it is a pitch that I am not used to seeing it or catching it.”

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks

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“True Life: I’m a Boise Hawks Rookie” Part 1

It’s not easy moving from life as you know it and going to a place (that’s kinda in the middle of no where) and starting a career. It’s even tougher when you 18 to 22 years old and trying to accomplish this.

I had a chance to sit down for a round-table discussion with six of the Boise Hawks baseball players and talk to them about life as a rookie. In this interview we look at the transition from college to the pros, life with their host families, and we even discuss life after baseball.

The six players I sat down with include 2B Pierre LePage, SS Elliot Soto, OF Matt Szczur, LHP Eric Jokisch, RHP Aaron Kurcz, and C Micah Gibbs.

When you found out you were drafted by the Chicago Cubs, what was your initial thoughts?

PL: “At first I was just excited to be drafted. Then when I found out it was the Chicago Cubs, I figured it would be a great organization to move up in because we haven’t won a World Series in so long (group laughs). I was just happy to finally make it and get to where I’ve wanted to be my whole life.”

EJ: “I was actually worried. I have been a St. Louis Cardinals fan my whole life and I grew up in Chicago and went to Northwestern University. A lot of my friends got on me pretty good about being a Cardinals fan drafted by the Cubs.”

ES: “I’m from Illinois and I have been a die hard Cubs fan my whole life. I was shocked when I found out.”

What was life like from the time you got drafted to the time you went to Mesa, AZ (rookie ball)?

MS: “My deal was a little different because I am going to be playing football in the Fall. I had to wait for the commissioner to sign off on my contract, so I was actually kinda nervous and worried. During the summer, I was getting paid a salary and I didn’t know if it was going to go through. I just wanted to come out here and get my feet wet so if I come back and play after the football season is over, I know what to expect.”

MG: “I talked to Jim Hendry (Cubs Vice President/General Manager) a couple of days after the Draft and he told me to take a couple of weeks off. I played 63 of 65 games in college and he wanted me to have a rest.  I wanted to come out here right away but he told me he wanted me to take two weeks off. A week before I headed off to Mesa, I went lifting, running, and began to hit to get myself back into shape.”

AK: “During the season it was hectic because there were a ton of scouts at every game. Once the Draft and everything played out, things began to settle down. I spent time with family and friends and got myself ready to play ball.”

What has been you general impression of Boise, ID?

EJ: “It’s a very clean city. There are very supportive fans at the stadium everyday and anytime you go out and say you play for the Hawks, they know who you are.”

AK: “When I first heard about Boise, ID I didn’t how big the town was. I figured it would be a town of 10,000 people. But it’s a nice town and there is always a good crowd at every game.”

PL: “It’s more of a populated town as opposed to a city because it is very clean and it is beautiful out here with the mountains. This is a great atmosphere to play baseball. Having all of the fans, it makes the grind easier. We play 76 games with four off days. If we only had four fans in the stands each game, it would be harder to get out of bed and play the game. It makes us have more of a team atmosphere and really go out there and win not just for our team, but the crowd that’s behind us.”  

How has the host family program helped you in this transition from home?

MS: “My host family has been wonderful. They make me breakfast in the morning, help me with my laundry, and they even make my bed for me. It’s actually a little better than life at home (laughs). They are great people who are willing to do anything for you, so it’s definitely an awesome thing to have.”

MG: “My host family has been great. Anything I could ask for, they pretty much have it or if they don’t, they get it in a day. They asked me to make a list of things I wanted to eat and I was hoping to get a few things out of the list and they pretty much got everything on there. They have exceeded all of my expectations.”

AK: “It’s a lot nicer going back to a home than a hotel in Mesa, AZ.”

EJ: “Life in Mesa wasn’t as good because you are in a hotel room until it’s time to go play baseball. Up here, there are things that you can go do in the little amount of free time that you have and I think that is necessary to keep you wanting to play the game.”

Do you miss home and how often do you get to talk to your families?

EJ: “All of us went to college, so we have been away from home for quite some time. Right now it feels a lot like summer baseball but next year when it is full-time thing, it will sink in a little more.”

ES: “I talk to my family every couple of days. It’s nice just to talk to them and see how things are gong with them and they always ask me how things are going out here. Due to the time change, I usually try to talk to them in the morning.”

With 13 non-US born players on this roster, how has communication on and off the field been?

EJ: “The game is played the same way pretty much everywhere, so you have faith in your infield and outfield to make the plays. I don’t think the differences in languages or countries should matter.”

MS: “It’s a lot of fun to communicate with this guys and figure things out. We use a lot of hand signals and Kyung-Min Na speaks English and Spanish, so he helps me out in the outfield.”

MG: “It’s been fun trying to learn their language and communicate with them. On the field, we are lucky to have at least one guy in the infield who can help translate some things for me. In baseball, there are some universal words that help out like fastball, curveball, slider, and change up. The hardest part is trying to get signs with a guy on second base. A lot of people want to go with the first sign and they can pick that up pretty easily on second.”

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks

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“We are going to create one of the greatest Fantasy Baseball teams EVER!!”

miguel.jpgThis blog is in support of the “Boise Hawks Fantasy Baseball” segment with Mike Safford every Monday night on the Hawks pre-game show.

aagz173_8x10-2006battingactiondavid-wright-posters.jpgjosh-hamilton.jpgTo be good at fantasy baseball, you almost have to have a degree in mathematics. With saber metrics, WAR ratings, and other somewhat useless statistics, it’s easy to get confused when all you want to do is set a lineup.

I’m not claiming to be the world’s expert on fantasy baseball. If I was, I’d be in a cubicle at ESPN trying to convince people that WAR ratings and saber metrics are worth a thought. I’m here to give some helpful hints on how to improve your team and give you a rundown of the top performers this season. And if by some miracle these guys are available in your league, PICK THEM UP!

The biggest thing you have to realize with fantasy baseball is that it is a marathon, not a sprint. The classic mistake that most people make in fantasy baseball is that they sell guys too soon, only to have someone else profit. My example of this would be Carlos Delgado in 2008. Delgado started off the year rough, only hitting around .235 with 5 home runs. I took him on a flier around June after he was released by a guy in my league; needless to say, my patience was rewarded. He proceeded to crank out 12 homers between June and July and his average rose to .260 in that span. He ended the season with a .271 BA, 38 HR, 115 RBI, and 96 R and finished 9th in NL MVP voting.

Now granted there are situations when you get rid of a guy and come out on top, but the point is that when you have guys like Delgado, OF Matt Kemp, SS Stephen Drew, and RHP Derek Lowe you need to keep them around because they are going to go through cold spells, but they will be consistent over the long-haul.

With that being said, this year has been an exciting one to say the least. There are three guys in the AL that are all getting serious consideration for the Triple Crown. You have two pitchers in the NL that are above 11 wins, and another who could pick up his 11th win this week. And you have several rookies who are playing like seasoned veterans, which should make for an exciting “Rookie of the Year” race.

It has been a crazy first-half of the season, but here are several guys who stand out as being Fantasy Baseball MVP’s (up to this point).

Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers  
78 G, 295 AB, .339 BA, 61 R, 100 H, 26 2B, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 40 BB, 2 SB, 23.6 Fantasy Points Per Week
He has been the mark of consistency this season. They are plenty of first basemen that draw excitement (Ryan Howard, Mark Texeira), but none are as consistent as Cabrera. If I had to vote for a first-half MVP, Cabrera would be my pick.

Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins
79 G, 288 AB, .344 BA, 51 R, 99 H, 25 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 55 RBI, 49 BB, 21.4 Fantasy Points Per Week
He’s another guy who doesn’t grab a ton of headlines, but he’s about as good as they come. On a team that features the reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer, Morneau has by far been the better player this season.

Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees
82 G, 322 AB, .342 BA, 59 R, 110 H, 22 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 25 BB, 2 SB, 21.8 Fantasy Points Per Week
On a team that is as star-stud as the Yankees, Cano has been the best thus far. He has been the most consistent player in the lineup and is having an MVP caliber season. And, he leads second basemen in BA, HR, and RBI.

David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
82 G, 309 AB, .317 BA, 51 R, 98 H, 25 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 64 RBI, 42 BB, 15 SB, 21.4 Fantasy Points Per Week
It’s funny how you have one bad year and everybody forgets who you are. Wright has “resurrected” himself as one of the top options this season and even though his strikeout totals are high, he produces across the board.

Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays
81 G, 318 AB, .296 BA, 49 R, 94 H, 25 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 37 BB, 12 SB, 20.9 Fantasy Points Per Week
He’s has been another guy who doesn’t always grab a ton of headlines, but he will do just about everything for you. He not only has a great bat, but he can run and play defense. He should become a household name by the end of this season.

Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas Rangers
79 G, 318 AB, .340 BA, 55 R, 108 H, 23 2B, 2 3B, 20 HR, 61 RBI, 23 BB, 6 SB, 22.1 Fantasy Points Per Week
Hamilton is another guy who had an injury plagued season and people began to forget about him. He’s another guy who is a candidate for the Triple Crown and continues to be one of the best fantasy options in the outfield.

Carl Crawford, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
79 G, 306 AB, .320 BA, 63 R, 98 H, 20 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, 42 RBI, 29 BB, 29 SB, 22.1 Fantasy Points Per Week
Crawford has had a monster season thus far with the Rays. In “roto-style” leagues, he has been one of the top performers as he is a great source for BA, SB, and R. If it weren’t for him being on the same team as Longoria, you could argue he should be an MVP candidate.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado Rockies
14-1, 2.27 ERA, 119.0 IP, 107 SO, 44 BB, 1.08 WHIP, 27.1 Fantasy Points Per Week
For the first time in a long time, someone other than Tim Lincecum is the top pitcher in the NL. Jimenez has had a stellar season and continues to be the best, week in and week out. It’s too early to call, but I think he’s a lock for NL Cy Young.

Adam Wainwright, SP, St. Louis Cardinals
12-5, 2.24 ERA, 128.3 IP, 123 SO, 32 BB, 0.997 WHIP, 27.6 Fantasy Points Per Week
This is another guy that consistently gets overlooked, even though he is one of the highest scoring pitchers this season. Wainwright has a great offense backing him up, but his low ERA and WHIP totals show he has great tools. He’s another NL Cy Young candidate.

Josh Johnson, SP, Florida Marlins
8-3, 1.82 ERA, 114.0 IP, 115 SO, 27 BB, 0.96 WHIP, 24.8 Fantasy Points Per Week
He busted onto the scene last season and has continued to be one of the true aces in fantasy baseball. He is currently on pace for 235 SO and a sub 1.00 WHIP, which is just insane. Johnson could be a serious candidate for NL Cy Young if Jimenez or Wainwright slip up.

Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
10-7, 2.33 ERA, 139.0 IP, 119 SO, 18 BB, 1.08 WHIP, 25.8 Fantasy Points Per Week
In a league that is loaded with pitching talent, Halladay has proven to be one of the best. His strikeouts compared to walks is insane and already has 7 CG this season. The Phillies have been under-performing as a team, but Halladay continues to play at a high level.

If you want to keep up with all things fantasy, tune
in every Monday night for our Fantasy Baseball segment on 1350 KTIK “The Ticket”. Good luck and keep an eye out for that “Carlos Delgado”.

Till next time..

Chad Bates
Media Relations Assistant
Boise Hawks