HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
April 16, 2006

Kane’s Candies take the lead

By Matt Kane

Every game counts. That’s what I’m telling myself after the first week of fantasy baseball.

In baseball, the games in April are often forgotten come September, but the last I checked, they all count. That’s why my early season lead in the Crow River Valley League (CRVL) fantasy baseball league means so much.

I don’t want to brag (but I will), but “Kane’s Candies,” my team, was the only undefeated team in the league heading into this past weekend.

At 2-0-1 (we only count weekend games), I am clearly in the driver’s seat, and the rest of the players in my league, like Barto’s Burritos and Horgen’s Heroes, are just along for the ride.

And why wouldn’t I be in first place? For once, I have a team filled with players I have actually heard of.

My first pick and the league’s third overall was Alfonso Soriano. After belting out 46 home runs, driving in 96 runs and stealing 41 bases, Soriano was a no-brainer pick in the third spot. He had three hits and scored two runs in the first weekend of games against the Cincinnati Reds (April 6-7), but hasn’t shown much power yet this season. That’s not good, but that means he will only get better and add more points to my already-winning totals. Plus, things always get better on the north side of Chicago when the ivy turns green.

Cincinnati’s Adam Dunn is a player who will be in my lineup every day. He’s an outfielder this year, and will also fill the designated hitter spot if he needs to. Dunn strikes out a lot (194 times last season), but he more than makes up for the Ks with his power numbers. He’s hit 40 or more home runs, and drove in 92 or more in each of the last three seasons. And he’s already stolen two bases in nine games this season.

My other outfielders are Rocco Baldelli, Johnny Damon, Curtis Granderson, and Chris Duffy. Gosh, who do I sit out each week? That’s a good problem for myself to have, but a bad problem for my opponents.

My infield is just as lethal.

I didn’t get Albert Pujols this year, but Travis Hafner is more than respectable at first base. With 42 bombs and 117 RBI last season, Hafner should be sufficient at first base. If he’s not, Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder and Seattle’s Ben Broussard will be ready to step in.

Around the infield, I have Robinson Cano at second base, Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, and Morgan Ensberg at third base. None of these three will hit 40 home runs, but Ensberg has good power, especially at the juice box, Minute Maid Park in Houston, and Cano has the talent to be one of the American League’s top hitters.

Cano batted .342, hit 15 home runs, and drove in 78 runs in 122 games for the Yankees last season. Those numbers should go up as he matures this season.

If any of these infielders goes down with an injury or gets into the slump, I have the always-consistent veteran Craig Biggio for second base, Julio Lugo for shortstop, and Aaron Hill, if I need another second baseman.

My team is about consistency, so why not have a consistent catcher? That’s what I have in Jorge Posada. Posada gets lost in the Yankees’ lineup, but he will be noticed by myself if he duplicates the season he had last year, when he hit 23 home runs and drove in 93 runs. That’s impressive, considering he follows guys like Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, two big-time RBI men, in the New York batting order.

My backup catcher, Michael Barrett, should be a starter. He hit .307 with 16 home runs and 53 RBIs with the Cubs last season.

So, there you have it. My lineup. The lineup that occupies first place in the CRVL. I don’t expect it to move.

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