High Fives: Early returns

Brandon Funston
Yahoo! SportsApril 7, 2005
Yahoo! Sports' trio of fantasy experts will each offer up, on a regular basis, a look at their top five lists dealing with a variety of topics.

This week's topics: Early-season returns that matters, fab five on the farm, dream teams and a good read.

5 players that you've looked to add to your team(s) since Opening Day
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Dmitri Young, Det
  2. Clint Barmes, Col
  3. Xavier Nady, SD

    Crushed Triple-A pitching last year; His bat belongs, not sure Sean Burroughs' does

  4. Brady Clark, Mil
  5. Derrick Turnbow, Mil

    Suddenly everyone's best guess for Milwaukee closer-to-be

  1. Clint Barmes, Col

    Two homers at home. We'll see if he and Aaron Miles can hit on the road

  2. Nick Swisher, Oak

    Needs 16 more homers to match his dad's Major League total

  3. Kevin Millwood, Cle
  4. Jermaine Dye, ChW
  5. Jarrod Washburn, LAA

    Six innings of shutout ball against potent Rangers lineup

  1. Jorge Cantu, TB

    56 extra-base hits in 95 Triple-A games in 2004; great start to '05

  2. Clint Barmes, Col
  3. Brandon Lyon, Ari

    Late appointment as closer left him undrafted in most leagues

  4. Scott Kazmir, TB
  5. Craig Biggio, Hou

    Will fly off the shelves once 2B eligibility kicks in

5 players that you're already worried about
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Shingo Takatsu, ChW

    Have him in a few leagues, so the 3 HR's allowed to Indians (Thursday) was disconcerting

  2. Bob Wickman, Cle
  3. Mariano Rivera, NYY

    Boston is clearly Rivera's daddy, but will there be more teams to lay that claim?

  4. Corey Koskie, Tor
  5. Barry Zito, Oak

    Picked up where he left off last season. And that's not a good thing

  1. Mariano Rivera, NYY

    So, there's this new curse that seems to have developed …

  2. Jeremy Reed, Sea

    0-11 to start the season behind Ichiro (who already has six hits)

  3. Javier Vazquez, Ari
  4. Woody Williams, SD

    Gets a mulligan because of the Coors Field factor, but I'll be watching him

  5. Rafael Palmeiro, Bal
  1. Bob Wickman, Cle
  2. Jason Giambi, NYY
  3. John Smoltz, Atl

    Worried only because I'm a heavily invested owner

  4. Barry Zito, Oak
  5. Jeremy Reed, Sea

    Hard to get excited about an 0-for-11 start

5 most anticipated minor league arrivals this season
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Felix Hernandez, Sea

    If he doesn't get a call-up before the All-Star break, a few of my AL-only teams will be hurtin'

  2. Rickie Weeks, Mil
  3. Delmon Young, TB

    Bat is too potent, and Tampa Bay has too many problems in the OF for him not to get a call-up

  4. Dan Meyer, Oak

    See Felix Hernandez note

  5. B.J. Upton, TB
  1. Felix Hernandez, Sea
  2. Brandon McCarthy, ChW

    Steps up to the big club if one of the vets falters

  3. Rickie Weeks, Mil
  4. Edwin Jackson, LAD

    Even though it seems we've known about him forever, he's just 21

  5. Ryan Howard, Phi

    Agent formally asked for his release from minor league purgatory via trade

  1. Felix Hernandez, Sea

    Dwight Gooden-like buzz around this phenom who may debut before age 20

  2. Dallas McPherson, LAA
  3. Ryan Howard, Phi

    Wants a trade, and would instantly become a hot commodity if he gets it

  4. Dan Meyer, Oak
  5. Jeff Mathis, LAA

    Neither LAA catcher can hit, so why not give this guy a shot?

5 players you would pick to start a new (real-life) team
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Ichiro, Sea

    Consummate leadoff guy with equally impressive talent in the field

  2. Derek Jeter, NYY

    Saying a player is a winner is cliche, but there is no doubting Jeter's ability to deliver in the clutch

  3. Albert Pujols, StL
  4. Alex Rodriguez, NYY
  5. Mark Prior, ChC
  1. Roger Clemens, Hou

    Attitude, heart and determination brings instant attitude to a squad

  2. Ichiro, Sea
  3. Albert Pujols, StL

    A beast at a youthful 25, he'd be the player to build around

  4. Ivan Rodriguez, Det
  5. Derek Jeter, NYY
  1. Albert Pujols, StL
  2. Johan Santana, Min
  3. Derek Jeter, NYY

    A little old, but can show the kids how it's done

  4. Oliver Perez, Pit

    Filthy lefty joins Santana to anchor rotation for next 10 years

  5. Carl Crawford, TB
5 favorite non-fiction sports books
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. "Rockin' Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool" by Walt Frazier

    After reading this book, I'm convinced that there was nobody cooler than Walt Frazier

  2. "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton
  3. "They Call Me Coach" by John Wooden

    Simple, and sappy, but completely acceptable when coming from the mouth of John Wooden. This book is full of the quotable quotes that people print out and hang in locker rooms for inspiration

  4. "Seabiscuit: An American Legend" by Laura Hillenbrand
  5. "Chocolate Thunder: The Uncensored Life and Times of Darryl Dawkins" by Darryl Dawkins
  1. "I Am Third" by Gale Sayers

    Book that gave the world "Brian's Song" and a positive picture of athletes off the field

  2. "Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations & Reflections on & off the Court" by John Wooden
  3. "Russell Rules: 11 Lessons on Leadership from the Twentieth Century's Greatest Winner" by Bill Russell

    Lessons about winning, leadership and teamwork. You can almost hear his laugh as he recounts his history

  4. "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis
  5. "Coach's Life: My Forty Years in College Basketball" by Dean Smith
  1. "Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers " by John Feinstein

    Knight hated it, but most readers became supporters

  2. "Heaven is a Playground" by Rick Telander
  3. "Never Too Young to Die: The Death of Len Bias" by Lewis Cole

    Len Bias' death remains the Kennedy assasination of my generation

  4. "The Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory and Honor in Division I College Basketball" by John Feinstein
  5. "Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster" by Jon Krakauer

Reader response to last week's High Fives
Are you kidding putting Bruce Bochy on the list of managers who are most likely to be fired during the 2005 season? He kept his job for the last five years when the Padres stunk. Why would he lose it the year they win the West? The Giants don't have Barry Bonds; the Dodgers lost several key players and Penny is hurt; the Diamondbacks invested a lot of money in questionable players and traded away one of the most dominant pitchers in the league; and the Rockies are as bad as ever. The Padres will run away with the division and Bochy will get his two-year extension. – Jason, San Diego, CA

I was reading your most recent High Fives, and I'm pretty sure that Romig has lost his mind, saying Jim Thome should retire so that "super-prospect" Ryan Howard can have a shot. If I was the Phillies, and I wanted to give Howard a shot at the majors, I would trade him. To say Thome, a guy with 423 career HR's, should retire is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard. Yes, he is 34 years old, but he has nine straight seasons of 30-plus HR's, and four straight of more than 42 dingers. I realize that Romig acknowledged that Thome is too productive to quit, but the suggestion of it is insane. – John, Pullman, WA

On the top fives, one of you listed Eric Wedge as the No. 2 manager you expect to see fired. I could see him as about No. 27 I would expect to be fired. What were you smoking? – Mike, Austinburg, OH

I can't believe you three think that Tropicana Field should be the first to go. With all of the dilapidated ballparks in this country, you choose to attack a new, state-of-the-art facility with … wait … I can't do it. Tropicana Field is the worst stadium ever, in any sport. And not only is the stadium bad, St. Petersburg could be the most miserable destination for a pro sports franchise. All these great cities in Florida, and the MLB brass chose St. Pete? And what the @#$% is a "devil ray?" It's a manta ray, for crying out loud. You know what, the only good thing about Tropicana Field is that sometimes we get to see Lou Piniella explode and do something awesome. – Chris, Denver

Why did all three of you pick Tropicana Field as the worst stadium in the majors? I lived in Tampa for the first six seasons of the D-Rays' existence, and I always rather liked the Trop, despite the horrible product on the field.

Yeah, it's a dome. But it's Tampa. Baseball season substantially overlaps with hurricane season, and Tampa Bay is also the lightning capital of the country. We all love outdoor baseball, but the number of rainouts would be unacceptable in that location. Furthermore, the stadium is clean, well-lit, has comfortable seating and, I should add, the best food of any major-league ballpark that I've visited.

It wouldn't be right to have a stadium like that in many places. But for Florida, it's just right. – Matthew, New York, NY

How the heck could that jabroni say Ozzie Guillen will get fired in 2005? The Sox aren't getting any respect. They have the best overall pitching staff in the division and still have enough guys in the lineup to win. This is a joke. – Lansing, IL

How could Matt Romig put Ozzie Guillen on his list at No.3 of managers possibly getting fired in 2005? First of all, the White Sox have changed the style of there team this year more to match that of the Central Division champion Twins (three years running). This should result in winning more games and, ultimately, the division. Secondly, Ozzie has got players that play the game right and he can get the most out of his players. Ozzie Guillen is well liked in Chicago and it's only his second year as a manager. He will most likely be in Chicago for a long time. If the White Sox struggle, (GM) Kenny Williams should go. Thanks for your time. GO WHITE SOX! – Ryan

In light of yours and Matt's comments about Dusty Baker having his head on the chopping block, I would have to agree.
'03 – stumbled in the playoffs after being up 3-1. No blaming Bartman for not pulling Mark Prior out.
'04 – '69 all over again in September? As big as a jerk as Sosa was leaving on the last day of the season, the Cubs fate was already sealed; time to go back to the drawing board.
Oh, and on behalf of Chi-Town, please blow-up US Cellular Field. – Crystal Lake, IL

Mike (Harmon) Twins fans don't hate you for listing the Metrodome on your top five worst stadiums list (anyone not listing the big inflatable toilet No. 1 or No. 2 has not seen a game there), we hate you for listing the Twins last week on your top five teams that should be contracted or relocated. Why don't you pick on the Los Angeles, California, Anaheim, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or somebody else with another team 30 miles away from it. – Nate, Minneapolis, MN

On Mike Harmon's top five players he'd like to see retire, he has Julio Franco listed third. I'd like to know how anybody could wish for a 46 year old man to retire when he's hitting .300 every year and is determined to reach 3,000 hits? I think just about every baseball fan admires what he's doing. He's older than my father is, and is in better shape than half of the players on the Atlanta Braves. – Trey, Columbus, GA

This is in response to the last two weeks of the column High Fives. I was reading the comments from fans in this week's column about the one two weeks ago, where you guys discussed contracting teams. While reading the comments, I noticed quite a trend.

When a fan from Minnesota or California or any part of the USA wrote an email, they were VERY hateful, rude, and upset. Examples: "are you about the Steinbrenner mindset" (which is equivalent to a swear word truthfully) – "Is Harmon out of his gourd?" – "Mike Harmon, you sir, are nothing but a hater." – and my favorite – "I'd like to know what malfunction your boy, Harmon, suffers from."

When the Canadian fans discussed the relocation of Toronto, they respected you as a person and just asked why, as politely as they could. Their columns began, "but why would you include Toronto in the top five teams to relocate?" – "I'm extremely curious" – "This is more of a comment than a question." – "Would it be possible if you could give some insight into this choice?"

I think you noticed this, too, since your response to the Toronto questions started, "Alright, so I feel a tinge of guilt after seeing the swell of emotion coming from our neighbors to the north."

They realize that you are just giving an OPINION, which is what Yahoo! pays all three of you guys to do. And they, too, would like to voice their opinion, as we all have a human (and American) right to do. I just wish we Americans knew how to voice our opinions.

I think this effects more than just sports, but this is a great place to say it. Canadians seem to know how to handle themselves better than we do. I think the end of that column there somewhat sums up the problems in this country. Now if only everyone could see what I see. – Mark, Pittsburgh, PA

Why do you set yourselves up to be lambasted by readers? In your profession, you must be a glutton for punishment! I just want to address Mike Harmon's "Top 5 players he'd cut loose if they have a bad April"

Mike, if we were in a league together and you cut Russ Ortiz after a bad April, I'd make room on my roster. Real analysts and trend watchers should know Ortiz is due for a Cy Young type season this year. Ever since his rookie season in 1998, he's performed better every other year. And with a subpar season last year, he's due for about 18-20 wins. Yes, he'll have to do a lot work in Arizona on his own, but he's got the stuff - and you know it!

Burnitz? Not a big Burnitz fan, but I do recognize power numbers when I see them. When healthy, and I do know what I mean when I say "when healthy," Burnitz is a 35-40 HR, 115-125 RBI (150 K) hitter. And playing in a hitter-friendly park at Wrigley, Burnitz will easily hit 40-45, maybe even 50 HR's this year … Cut him in April? I dare you! – Marlon, Indianapolis, IN

In reference to Mike Harmon wanting Ken Griffey Jr. to retire, I think Mike Harmon is insane. First of all, he isn't that old. Okay, he gets injured every year, but look at his numbers. He could still pass Aaron if he could stay healthy or become a DH (which he has to much pride to do). Every year it is a tradition in the middle to late teen rounds of drafts that someone takes a chance on Griffey and everyone waits to see what happens. It has become an integral part of fantasy baseball … Mike Harmon, you my friend have no grasp of fantasy or baseball itself. You have to be the only person in the world who wants him to retire. Maybe, if he is still getting hurt in three or four years … but definitely no sooner. That's a joke! – Joe, St. Louis, MO

I would like to agree with the remarks made about Barry Bonds and his much needed retirement from baseball. Hank Aaron was a true athlete, he never exceeded more than 50 home runs, but he was still able to have a great career without any mishaps such as Bonds. – Cody, Springfield, VT

I'm disappointed in Brandon and Matt wanting Barry Bonds to retire. All we have is supposition and conjecture – no real, substantial proof that Bonds is doing anything. Let's not forget that Bonds already belonged in the Hall of Fame before any of this. Right now, the media is stoking the flames of hate and fans/Congress are forgetting what true McCarthyism really is. If we're going to burn Bonds, McGwire and Giambi at the stake, but give a free pass to Canseco, Sheffield and the other 30 percent of Major Leaguers who tested positive for steroids, that's pretty much saying it is okay to cheat, just as long as you don't air your dirty laundry until you retire. I can't wait until Barry returns and plays at Petco Park. Then I can have a shirt made-up in black and orange (or blue and sand) that reads, "Admitted Steroid User: Ken Caminiti." – Mark, Escondido, CA

Brandon, Mike, and Matt,
This is in response to this week's "High Fives," in which you ranked the 5 worst stadiums in Major League Baseball. The inclusion of three stadiums (on the varying lists) – McAfee Coliseum (Oakland), Rogers Centre (Toronto), and U.S. Cellular Field (Chi-Sox) – caught my attention.

During the summer of 2002, my buddy and I embarked on a trip to see a game at each of the 30 stadiums then in operation. We ranked each of the parks (I don't have the rankings with me as I write this), so stadium rankings are something I've thought about and been asked about (repeatedly and to no end) for the last few years.

There is no way the stadiums in Toronto, Oakland, and Chicago's South Side belong on the list of the five worst stadiums. While each of these parks has its problems, including them on that list seems more intended to take a shot at them than to come up with an accurate ranking.

When you look Tropicana Field, the Metrodome, Dolphins Stadium, Shea Stadium, and RFK Stadium, how can you honestly say you'd rather watch a baseball game in any of those sites over SkyDome, U.S. Cellular Field or the McAfee Coliseum? I've been to all of them, and they are pathetic. Tropicana and the Metrodome lose out by being domes (before you even take into account how inadequate the facilities are). Dolphins Stadium is a box with zero personality and terrible facilities/concessions. Shea is ugly and outdated, and RFK would have been demolished along with the Vet and Three Rivers if it had been in operation a few years earlier.

Granted, the three parks whose inclusion I take umbrage with have their flaws. These flaws do not put them in the class of the aforementioned stadiums, though. McAfee is sterile and it's a football stadium, but at least it's clean (was when we were there) and they've at least attempted to update the concessions to improve the fan experience. SkyDome? Well, I thought it was ridiculous when we were there, but my friend actually really liked it. There are still those who think it's just cool, since it was the first retractable roof (first one that worked, thank you, Montreal) and I guess people remember how big a deal was made about it just 15 years ago. It, at the very least, is a clean, welcoming stadium to watch a game in with above average concessions and surprisingly decent seating.

My biggest problem is with the inclusion of "Sox Park." Yes, I live in Chicago. I'm from CT, though, and only moved out here for graduate school (not a Sox fan). I've listened to people grumble about the park, incessantly, for three years now. Yes, it's unfortunate that the architectural team that designed the park waited a couple of years to unleash Camden Yards in Baltimore and not in Chicago (or, more accurately, design a park tailored to the instructions of Sox management, who sought to build a park reminiscent of the old Comiskey, under financial constraints). And it's also unfortunate that the park doesn't face the city's skyline. Does this make it a worse place to watch a baseball game than RFK Stadium or Dolphins Stadium? U.S. Cellualr Field is clean, relatively new, attracts spirited fans, and even has a bar on the field. You can literally sit outside drinking beer, on the field, with only a chain link fence separating you from right field. The bar also has a glass wall so you can look right into the visitors' bullpen. It's fun to watch a game someplace like that, certainly beats sitting in that box of a football stadium in Miami and baking in the heat. "Sox Park" has major flaws and it's frustrating, especially to Sox fans, since they had the opportunity to do something really great on the South Side. But everyone needs to stop bashing it. It's not a bad place to watch a baseball game. – Joe, Chicago, IL