Some very early thoughts on 2009 and the All-Schultz awards mark the last 2008 version of the Week That Was.
Mike Mussina: Mike Mussina won number 19th Tuesday throwing five shutout innings versus the Blue Jays. Moose, I am rooting for you to get 20! As to the forecast for 2009, 3.47 and 1.29 say that he will be back. Moose is in great shape, has wonderful mechanics and has learned to pitch throwing in the 80s. Like Greg Maddux, he will continue to return more than fantasy owners are forced to pay.
Erik Bedard: According to reports, the surgery on Bedard's pitching shoulder showed no tears. This gives Bedard hope of pitching early in the 2009 season. Of course, he will be a huge risk next spring. However, most owners will be focused on how Seattle overpaid for the 81 innings they received, rather than on the fact that despite the injuries, Bedard managed a 3.67 ERA and 72 strikeouts in those 81 innings. Bedard represents a high risk, high reward pick for next year. However I bet he is the least expensive potential number one starter you will find in the AL.
Edgar Renteria: Rumor around the motor city is that the Tigers will sever ties with SS Edgar Renteria. Well, on the one hand, you cannot really blame them - Edgar hit just .270 with just 10 HR and 6 SB. If Renteria ends up back in the NL, watch him closely. For some reason, he is just a better NL player. In his only other AL campaign, Renteria hit .276 (Boston 2005). Between 2002 and 2008, he has hit below .292 only twice - both AL campaigns. I bet the Cardinals would love to have him back (no inside info, just a thought that makes a lot of sense).
Chad Qualls: In a report that I call noise, Manager Bob Melvin reportedly dubbed Chad Qualls the Diamondbacks closer for 2009. Yes, Brandon Lyon is not likely to get his job back. However, the DBacks also have Jon Rauch, Tony Pena and Juan Cruz - all of whom have either better closer numbers or closer stuff. Rauch saved 18 games, Pena and Cruz throw gas, and Qualls, until just recently, was never trusted with the 8th inning, let alone the 9th. Watch this situation carefully in spring training.
Barry Zito: Barry Zito dropped to an ugly 10-17 despite allowing only two earned in eight innings Thursday. The other bad news -- Zito sports a really ugly 5.15 ERA and an even uglier 1.60 WHIP. However, he did improve in the second half, posting a 4.59 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in that time frame. Given that the Giants will likely be bad again next year, clearly, Zito is not going to be worth any kind of real money gamble. However, if he can win a dozen games and post a low 4's ERA and a 1.35 WHIP, he could be worth a few bucks in NL leagues. He will cost under $5 next year, so he may be worth it.
Mark Reynolds: Mark Reynolds set a major league record he cannot want when he struck out for the 200th time Thursday. Yes, 200 whiffs. That is supremely ugly and explains the sub .240 batting average. However, given that Reynolds never played AAA and had less than half of a season at AA, 28 dingers and 96 RBI in the show are pretty darn impressive. At 25, Reynolds is likely two years away from his great year, but will still be very valuable next year - just make sure you get two .320 hitters if you draft Reynolds.
Clayton Kershaw: Clayton Kershaw evened his record at 5-5 with his win over the Padres on Wednesday. Simply put, the time to get this future superstar at any kind of reasonable price is fading fast. At 20 years old, Kershaw notched 100 strikeouts in 108 innings. He will be better in 2009 and then awesome from 2010 forward.
Josh Johnson: Josh Johnson looked strong in what was likely his final start of the year, giving up just two runs over six innings Wednesday. In his first season after TJ surgery, Josh went 7-1 with a 3.61 ERA and 77-27 K/BB. Since the second season after TJ is historically much better than the first, Josh is a huge buy recommendation for 2009.
Tim Lincecum: Speaking of young pitching studs, even after a bizarre official scoring correction that added two more earned runs to his latest start, Lincecum's ERA is a miniscule 2.66. Ok, it is a bummer that he trails Johan Santana for the ERA title. However, that is one of the few negatives that one can say about Tim. Other than the fact that he is slight and overworked, he is all that. If you need an ace in 2009, Lincecum is your man. Just beware that an injury is coming. However, it probably will not come next year.
Kei Igawa: If a team ever took on the personality and talent of a free agent acquisition, the Yankees did so with Kei this year. He will not be back but the Yankees will.
And last but not least, Schultz Says: "The 2008 season coming to a close pretty much means that Schultz has nothing more to write about until March of 2009 (unless you go over to Earvolution or jambands.com). With that in mind, I rely on an adage that I've repeated over and over again during my tenure here at The Week That Was: people like lists. Schultz likes giving the people what they want, so I give you the 2008 All-Schultz Awards.
THE 2008 CLASSIC WOODY ALLEN TEAM: these players came out of nowhere and provided considerable value for those who grabbed them. The fact that you likely lucked into owning any of these players will be a secret between you and Schultz.
C Kelly Shoppach CLE - he needed a Victor Martinez injury to put up 21 home runs and a respectable average for a catcher
1B Carlos Delgado NYM - thought to be on a downswing, he looked rejuvenated in putting up numbers that fell a little shy of his career best
2B Alexi Ramirez CWS - there were no real finds at 2B this year, Ramirez gets the nod with 20+ HR, 14 SB and a .295 average
SS Christian Guzman WSH - resurrected his career from the dead
3B Evan Longoria TB - I pick him just to spite Colton
OF Carlos Quentin CWS - he wasn't even a starter and he could end up leading the AL in HRs
OF Nate McLouth PIT - an unlikely 5 category player, McLouth quietly became a roto-stud
OF Ryan Ludwick STL - another 4th outfielder and he nearly outshined (or outshone) Phat Albert
SP Cliff Lee CLE - hittable to Cy Young unhittable in less than 12 months
RP George Sherrill BLT - a fine surprise and a great source of cheap saves
U Milton Bradley TEX - a whole season without a mental breakdown or anger management episode, plus he hit real well
THE NELSON MUNTZ TEAM: if you owned these players, others pointed at you and went "HAH - hah"
C Victor Martinez CLE - injured on opening day and he didn't hit his first HR until late August. Not quite #1 catcher numbers
1B Richie Sexson SEA/NYY - stick a fork in him, he's done
2B Robinson Cano NYY - people paid big and got no reward, he'll rebound though
SS Troy Tulowitzki COL - a reminder to never EVER bid big on last year's post season darling
3B Ryan Zimmerman WSH - the luster on this gem has faded quickly
OF Andruw Jones LA - cue Comic Book Guy: "Worst season ever."
OF Carl Crawford TB - for the top dollar you paid, he underproduced in every category
OF Jeff Francouer ATL - so bad that Atlanta sent him to the minors
SP Eric Bedard SEA - horrific season for the lefty who many selected to anchor their rotation
RP Manny Corpas COL - never EVER bid big on last year's post season darling
U Travis Hafner CLE - wasn't even close, Pronk went Konk
THE CRYOGENICALLY FROZEN TEAM: these sleepers never quite woke up. Don't write them off though, they may thaw in 2009
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia TEX - Rangers never quite let him loose and then he hurt himself
1B Daric Barton OAK - the PCL hitting stud found the majors a bit more difficult
2B Asdrubal Cabrera CLE - never EVER bid big on last year's post season darling
SS Yunel Escobar ATL - didn't quite turn into the 5 category stud he was quietly projected to be
3B Alex Gordon KC - he's still young, it's only a matter of time
OF Adam Jones BAL - the linchpin of the Eric Bedard trade never quite got on track
OF Felix Pie CHC - Lou Piniella never seemed to fully trust the young speedster
OF Jeremy Hermida FLA - he showed flashes but despite being relatively healthy disappointed heavily
SP Phil Hughes/Ian Kennedy NYY - well it's a good thing they didn't trade these two for Santana
RP Tony Pena Jr. ARZ - never took over for Brandon Lyon likely everyone said he would, did he?
U Billy Butler KC - when you can't field, you better hit and this Butler did not do it
THE TEAM FOR 2009
C Jeff Clement
1B Joey Votto
2B Emilio Bonifacio
SS Stephen Drew
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
OF Nelson Cruz
OF Jay Bruce
OF Stephen Pearce
SP Jonathan Sanchez
RP Matt Lindstrom
Seeing as it's the last column of the year, I should probably take this opportunity to thank my benefactor and overlord Glenn for giving me relatively unedited freedom. For that, I can forgive the endless stream of unfunny Kei Igawa jokes.
See you in 2009."
Response: It has been a pleasure. I hope many of you achieved fantasy success and enjoyed the column. More in 2009 when I hope to be SMARTer than I was in 08.