High Fives: On the hot seat

Brandon Funston
Yahoo! SportsApril 1, 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: Players who have overstayed their welcome, middle relief vultures, and stadiums and managers on the hot seat.

5 players you'd cut loose if they have a bad April
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Tadahito Iguchi, ChW

    Kaz Matsui prompts a "Once bitten, twice shy" approach

  2. Kazuo Matsui, NYM
  3. Cliff Lee, Cle

    Enticing strikeout pitcher who blew his buzz with a 7.91 ERA post '04 All-Star break

  4. Jason Giambi, NYY

    I don't own him but, if I did, I'd have him on a short leash

  5. David Eckstein, StL
  1. Angel Berroa, KC

    Do we get the ROY from '03 or last year's slump?

  2. Jose Cruz Jr., Ari
  3. Tom Glavine, NYM

    Last three months of '04 were a disaster; needs to turn it around

  4. Jeromy Burnitz, ChC
  5. Russ Ortiz, Ari
  1. Kaz Matsui, NYM

    Barely above Mendoza line the spring after disappointing rookie campaign.

  2. Chad Cordero, Was
  3. Richard Hidalgo, Tex

    Only hits in April anyway, so not much use if he fails at that.

  4. Jeff Francis, Col
  5. Shawn Green, Ari
5 players you'd like to see retire
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Barry Bonds, SF

    Would be best thing for baseball PR to have Bonds walk away with Aaron's record intact

  2. Sammy Sosa, Bal

    Further housecleaning of those linked to the "steroid era"

  3. Scott Erickson, LAD
  4. Kenny Lofton, Phi
  5. Brian Jordan, Atl
  1. Sandy Alomar Jr., Tex

    Time to become a full-time coach; can't stay healthy

  2. B.J. Surhoff, Bal
  3. Julio Franco, Atl
  4. Ken Griffey Jr., Cin

    I'm hopeful for the comeback, I am. I just want to see Junior smiling like the old days, and injury-free.

  5. Charles Johnson, Col
  1. Raul Mondesi, Atl

    Used to steal bases (30-30 guy in 1999), now just stealing money.

  2. Juan Gonzalez, Cle
  3. Barry Bonds, SF

    Run at 755 would be great for baseball, but let's have it be a clean one.

  4. Rich Aurilia, Cin
  5. Jim Thome, Phi

    Far too productive to quit, but retirement would give super-prospect Ryan Howard a shot.

5 current set-up men that will ultimately earn more than 10 saves
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Huston Street, Oak

    Beane will show Dotel the door as soon as Street proves he's ready to close

  2. Ugueth Urbina, Det

    Someone will come calling for a closer with a career 85 percent success rate.

  3. Ryan Wagner, Cin
  4. Mike Gonzalez, Pit
  5. Antonio Alfonseca, Fla
  1. Akinori Otsuka, SD

    The Padres will work to keep Hoffman fresh, which means Otsuka will pilfer opportunities.

  2. Tim Worrell, Phi
  3. Mike Gonzalez, Pit
  4. Brandon Lyon, Ari

    Arm troubles for Greg Aquino and Jose Valverde may open the door

  5. J.J. Putz, Sea
  1. Ugueth Urbina, Det

    Sharp this spring; rumored to be asking out of Detroit.

  2. Tim Worrell, Phi
  3. Ryan Wagner, Cin

    After last year we shouldn't count Graves out, but I'm doing it anyway.

  4. Bob Howry, Cle
  5. Jason Frasor, Tor
5 worst stadiums in the Majors
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Tropicana Field (TB)

    It's a dome. It has artificial turf. MLB has mandated they vacate by 2010.

  2. Metrodome (Min)
  3. McAfee Coliseum (Oak)
  4. Rogers Centre (Tor)
  5. RFK Stadium (Was)

    Bland, multi-purpose, ashtray stadium that returns from the dead for another three seasons.

  1. Tropicana Field
  2. U.S. Cellular Field (ChW)

    Renovations over the years have made it better, but still a disappointment among the new parks.

  3. McAfee Coliseum
  4. Shea Stadium (NYM)
  5. Metrodome

    Twins fans may hate me for the inclusion, but the dome needs to go.

  1. Tropicana Field
  2. McAfee Coliseum

    Would gladly trade the Raiders to have the Oakland Hills back.

  3. Shea Stadium
  4. Metrodome

    Great fans deserve better – but bring the hefty bag.

  5. Dolphins Stadium (Fla)
5 managers you expect to get fired during the 2005 season
Brandon Says: Mike Says: Matt Says:
  1. Lloyd McClendon, Pit

    Has never had much to work with, but that rarely matters

  2. Jack McKeon, Fla

    Marlins have the talent to win it all. If they struggle, Jack might be pushed back to retirement

  3. Lee Mazzilli, Bal
  4. Bruce Bochy, SD
  5. Dusty Baker, ChC
  1. Lee Mazzilli, Bal

    If Blue Jays and Devil Rays overtake the O's, Mazzilli may find himself on the curb

  2. Clint Hurdle, Col
  3. Frank Robinson, Was

    I don't see a firing, but I could see him walking away.

  4. Lloyd McClendon, Pit
  5. Ken Macha, Oak
  1. Dusty Baker, ChC

    Could take the fall for shaky bullpen and dinged-up rotation.

  2. Eric Wedge, Cle
  3. Ozzie Guillen, ChW
  4. Lee Mazzilli, Bal

    Too much talent here for another sub-.500 season.

  5. Lloyd McClendon, Pit

Reader response to last week's High Fives
I don't know what the heck Matt Romig is talking about when he lists the Los Angeles Dodgers as the fifth team he'd like to see relocate. He must be so hung up on getting a team in San Jose (it'll never happen, Matt), that he's blinded to all the positives involved with the Dodgers. Three million fans a season is a standard that no other team in baseball can lay claim to. If I'm not mistaken, only Wrigley Field in Chicago is older than Dodger Stadium in the NL. Sandy Koufax pitched there! Come on, let's relocate the Red Sox and tear down the Green Monster while we're at Mr. Romig. A senseless waste of writing on your part. – Henry

Matt Romig is a clown. CONTRACT THE DODGERS! You must be a Giants fan. I guess we're not a good team because we don't have Bonds and his big head. I think the Giants should have a stadium built for them on Alcatraz Island. – Matt, Lakewood, CA

Matt listed the Los Angeles Dodgers as the No. 5 team he'd like to see contracted or relocated. Are you out of your mind? Let me remind you of some numbers. The Dodgers drew more people to the ballpark than any other team besides the Yankees in '04. Additionally, we have sold three million tickets for the most consecutive years. Also, we have a rich tradition of winning and integrity going back to the days of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. – Avi, Los Angeles, CA

How could Matt say that the Dodgers should be one team that needs to relocate? They have one of the richest histories in baseball. There would be no point to moving them. It would just hurt the team worse than (GM Paul) DePodesta trading away all of the fan favorites. – Bob, Simi Valley, CA

Romig explanation: To be honest, I'm surprised this struck such a nerve. I guess I underestimated the speed at which the Lakers bandwagon was disbanding. Folks, if you go back and read the question, I wasn't asked to gauge franchise value or be commissioner for a day or run a study to determine how a team can draw three million fans annually without ever having more than 5,000 present for opening pitch. I was simply asked to select five teams that I'd like to see MLB contract or relocate.

As a 34-year resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I think it's my civic duty to wish the Dodgers off the baseball roadmap. So for the record, this selection was purely out of spite. I do have to ask though: Would anybody really miss them? They haven't had a marketable superstar since Fernando Valenzuela, their ballpark is highly overrated (as are Dodger Dogs) and they haven't won anything since Guns & Roses was selling out stadiums and Dyan Cannon looked like an actual human being. The NFL is doing just fine without a franchise in Los Angeles, I'm sure baseball could survive without one.

To Mike Harmon,
Were you trying to be funny when you named the Washington Nationals and the Minnesota Twins as the top two teams you would like to contract. We wait 30 years for a team and you come up with that. Minnesota is one of the great American stories – an underdog battling with the rich evil empires. You have no feel for the most appealing, intrinsic qualities of the game …
– Terry, Bethesda, MD

Is Harmon out of his gourd? He wants to contract the Twins and relocate an MLB team in New Orleans? History would tell you that New Orleans has failed miserably with its foray into professional franchises. It lost the Jazz to Salt Lake City and is currently trying to run the Saints and Hornets out of town. – Nick, MS via MN

On his list of Top 5 teams to contract or relocate, Harmon has the Minnesota Twins as his No. 2 team to contract. The Twins are the only real example of a small market team that can hang with the big boys – three straight division crowns and a very good nucleus of young talent, mainly brought up from their farm system. Yes, their FARM system! Not (a team) made up of a bunch of overpriced, underachieving ego maniacs that occasionally hit the juice. You have the Cy Young champion in (Johan) Santana, the human highlight film in CF with (Torii) Hunter, two of the most promising young talents in (Joe) Mauer and (Justin) Morneau, an excellent closer in (Joe) Nathan, a terrific bullpen, and team players. Yes, I said TEAM players, that go out to play baseball the way it should be played, which somehow most players in this league have forgotten how to do. – Chris, Gilbert, AZ

I'd like to know what malfunction your boy, Harmon, suffers from. I don't mean to overreact to a totally hypothetical situation here but his top two picks for contraction/relocation were the Nats and the Twins. Is he on Peter Angelos' payroll? Does he hate small ball? Firstly, I'm glad to see a team step on the toes of the Orioles. Angelos defines what is wrong with baseball owners today. The Orioles make moves to sell seats (see: Sammy Sosa), not win games. With the Nationals a mere 50 miles away and splitting TV time, the Orioles will have to find another way to keep their numbers up. And that means, sorry Pete, buying and more importantly keeping talent.

Second. The Twins? The team in Minnesota? Are you kidding me? The team that for the last half decade has proven that a organization's commitment to its farm club combined with a camaraderie that extends from the dugout to the owners box can stick around until October and butt heads with the Evil Empire every year. I read somewhere that Brad Radke agreed to a contract extension while on the couch with a beer talking to the owner, not his agent. That right there is a baseball team, boys and girls. Mike Harmon, you sir, are nothing but a hater. – Michael, Atlanta, GA

Harmon explanation: I certainly appreciate the Twins' winning ways and the efforts of the front office. The "never say die" attitude ranks them among the most entertaining teams to watch. Unfortunately, without a new stadium on the horizon and the continual rise in the cost of doing business (read attracting or retaining free agents), eventually management will need to explore new locales clamoring for a team and offering top-notch facilities.

I don't doubt the loyalty of the Twins' fan base, but in the summer, folks in the Twin Cities are looking to get outdoors. Paying high dollars to sit in the Metrodome (even the most ardent supporter of the Twins has to agree with me here) isn't a priority in the summer unless the Yankees or Red Sox are in town.

Hi Brandon,
I'm a little biased on this one, but why would you include Toronto in the top five teams to relocate? We still draw 30,000 per game and with solid ownership (Rogers) and a re- modeled facility, I think we can get even better. Also, we definitely have the market (population, corporate backing, media) to effectively sustain a team. I was shocked to see this.
– Matthew, Toronto, Ontario

I'm extremely curious how two of your writers could say that the Blue Jays should move or contract. It seems like a typical U.S. media bias to think that Toronto, and the Jays, are a small market town. In reality, the Greater Toronto area is home to approx. six million people, and they have an entire country to promote their product. Whatever the reason, it seems like a typical uninformed opinion by the U.S. media on a Canadian organization. – Adam, Toronto, Ontario

This is more of a comment than a question. As a Canadian baseball fan and loyal reader of Brandon Funston's articles, I have to say that I was pretty upset to learn that the Toronto Blue Jays were No. 2 on Brandon's, and No. 4 on Matt's list of the top five teams they'd like to see MLB contract or relocate. I've been a Blue Jays fan for a long time, and it really saddened me to see these views represented by Brandon in his article because I find this is the general feeling of American baseball fans towards the Blue Jays. I know for a fact that the majority of American fans could have cared less whether the Expos were relocated or contracted, and now I'm finding the exact same views on the Blue Jays. I just want to make the point that the Blue Jays and Expos are incomparable in a very large way. – Stan, Toronto, Ontario

Hi Brandon,
I read your list of the top five teams that you would like to relocate and I noticed that the Toronto Blue Jays were ranked second. Would it be possible if you could give some insight into this choice?

In terms of attendance (avg. 24,000/game) we have been sub- par in the last few seasons. The team had an outstanding 2003 year only to have a disappointing 2004. However, Rogers Communications, our owner, has raised payroll to 210 million dollars over the next three years. Our payroll is now above average in the Majors and there is increased hope in landing major free agents.

The market in Toronto is much bigger than one may think. There are 3 million people within driving distance of the Rogers Centre a.k.a SkyDome and like in the early nineties, will support a winning team. We had four years of sellouts, averaging over 51,000 people a game. The Rogers Centre has received impressive upgrades and is becoming a much better ballpark than in years past.

I respect your opinion for choosing the Jays as your No. 2 team to move, but I fail to see why. Any insight would be appreciated.

P.S. – batterbox.ca is a great place for intelligent MLB discussion from a Canadian perspective. Whenever someone says baseball doesn't belong in Canada, I send them here. – Jeff

Funston explanation: Alright, so I feel a tinge of guilt after seeing the swell of emotion coming from our neighbors to the north. But let me explain my rationale for including Toronto on the list of teams to relocate or contract. You see, I've always experienced an artificial feel when watching the Blue Jays. Yes, part of it is due to the fact that baseball is marketed as "America's game." It must be something similar to the feeling that an NHL fan from Toronto feels about the Nashville Predators or the Carolina Hurricanes – it's just a little unnatural. My other qualm with the Blue Jays is the Rogers Centre, which is a weird hotel/baseball park combo. And, let's not forget that it is one of just three remaining fields in the league still using artificial turf. Again, I come back to that "out of place" feel I get when viewing the Blue Jays.

By including them on my list, however, I was educated on the passion of their fan base. I understand that Toronto is a financially viable locale. And, I now have a greater awareness of its loyal fan base. But that doesn't do much for shaking this ingrained feel I get. That might be something only time, and perhaps an outdoor, natural grass stadium can fix.

All three of you guys picked Las Vegas as a place for either a new baseball team or relocation, but I think that you have to remember that with summer temperatures it would be more than likely that Vegas would play in a dome – possibly a retractable one for four months out of the season. That's not exactly something I would want to see. – Stephen, San Francisco

Top 5 expansion sites
1. Hawaii Hawaiian shirt-style uniforms.
2. Butte Montana - Will have to wear long johns in August – gets cold early.
3. Montgomery, Alabama - better bring the bug-off.
4. New York, NY - They have two, why not three. Brooklyn Dodgers?
5. Baghdad, Iraq - Might as well call it the 51st state.

– Matt

Thank you, Brandon! Runs Created should be THE stat for offense in fantasy baseball. As everyone knows, right now the best baseball players are not the best fantasy baseball players. Runs Created is great because it includes everything. Also, I cannot wait for the day that batting average is switched to OBP. Why did the creators of fantasy baseball torture us with such a worthless stat.? – Nick, St. Louis, MO

Hey Brandon, do you have something against Florida? I see your selections on baseball teams you'd most like to see contract or relocate and, while I understand Tampa (even though I'm originally from Tampa), what's up with the Florida Marlins being on your list? Two years out from winning the World Series and you think the Marlins should contract/relocate? Are you saying professional baseball has no place in Florida or are you about the Steinbrenner mindset that if you're not willing to blow outrageous amounts of money on a team, then you shouldn't have a team? The Marlins proved that the Steinbrenner approach is wrong and Miami is a great place for sports. – Paul, Melbourne, FL