Photo by Keith Allison

Things are finally starting to heat up. Games are underway, baseball fever is starting to percolate once again meaning there are plenty of topics to discuss as MLB gets ready for the 2011 season. Today, I'll focus on one aspect of the spring talk by breaking down the situation of a few of the players who have been in the news for the wrong reason – they're dealing with some type of injury concern.

Shin-Soo Choo is dealing with a hyper extended elbow. Everyone is saying the right things, and the big key is that this does not appear to be related to previous Tommy John surgery. Keep an eye on the situation, but it looks like Choo should be good to go when it counts in his attempt to post a third straight 20/20 season with a .300 average (Choo and Hanley Ramirez are the only two players who have hit all three of those levels the last two years).

Adrian Gonzalez is swinging the bat though we're talking about him hitting balls off a tee and in soft toss, and we are talking about a max of 60 swings a day. I take that many cuts a day when I'm stretching to lift weights in my garage. I expect Gonzalez to be fully healthy by the start of the year, but does that mean we should expect him to be operating at 100 percent? I know he is an elite talent, but we are just about a month away from regular season games and he hasn't even come close to taking batting practice. Doesn't that make you nervous? Think of the case of Chipper Jones. He's coming back from knee surgery and everyone is freaked out that his career is over (granted there is a massive difference with the health record of each, and Chipper is about 29 years older, but still). I hate to break this to you all, but Chipper is way ahead of A-Gone right now since he's fielding, sliding, and even DH'ing on Monday. Is perception reality?

I had a nice, lazy weekend. It's amazing what fun doing nothing can be if you actually have the time to do nothing. After years of working 65+ hours every week I might actually like this having a normal work day type of thing. At the same time, I might go bored out of my mind too, so time will tell.

It looks like the Pirates are planning on using Andrew McCutchen in the third hole this season, his rightful place given that he is by far and away the best hitter wearing a Pirates' uniform. In each of the last two years he has hit .286 with a .365 meaning only some slight improvement will take his game to the elite level. If there was one guy who hasn't hit 20 homers with 30 steals but could this season it's McCutchen. I don't think the move to third in the order will cut down on him swiping a bag, and it should help to boost his RBI total substantially.

Mike Stanton tweaked his right quad on Sunday, and everyone started panicking. It doesn't appear that he blew the leg out or anything, but the team will obviously take a measured approach with their future power hitting star (reports suggest that he could be out of game action for two weeks). Stanton only appeared in 100 games last season, but if you give him 150 games played at last years pace you'd end up with 33 homers, 89 RBI and 184 strike outs. Where have I see that before... oh yeah, Adam Dunn.

The Beastie Boys really have annoying voices don't they? Still they have some dope beats, yes I just wrote “dope beats,” and I still enjoy their music. I can also remember the horn tweeters in my pick-up truck blasting Paul Revere back in the day.

Brandon Webb might be showing all kinds of positive signs but let's slow down the plans for a ticker tape parade. He's tossed only four innings the past two years, and shoulder woes are very tough to recovery from. Plus, just because throwing long toss and tossing the pill off flat ground is going well, that doesn't mean you can pencil him in for 180 quality innings this year. He might end up being a solid fifth starter type in mixed leagues, but there is no way I'm drafting him expecting that to become reality.

I know this is a year old, but I still love my artwork in the video so I'm going to re-post it for all of you. It's a brief history of who Ray Flowers is, and what his goals are in the fantasy sports world, and it's called The Illustrated Ray Flowers.

Joel Zumaya tossed his first inning of the spring and reported no problems with his body. When healthy, and he never is, there isn't a more fearsome pitcher in baseball which begs the question – is it possible that Zumaya actually throws too hard for his body? By that I mean does he generate such torque and power that his body literally can't stand the stress? It's a fair question for a man who has thrown his average fastball at 98.5 mph in his career. Still, ever time he comes back from injury the heat is always there. In 2009 he tossed only 31 innings but his heater was 99.3 mph, the same speed it was last year when he threw 38.1 innings. You can only take a shot on him late in AL-only drafts, but if he could ever stay healthy --- well, just look at his rookie season for proof of what he could do (1.94 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 10.48 K/9). Amazingly, he hasn't thrown even 40-innings in any of the last four years.

Finally, my thoughts go out to the family and friends of Duke Snider who passed away at 84 years old. For more on the “The Duke of Flatbush” give Ben Walker's piece a read.


By Ray Flowers


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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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