Week 4 Persons of Interest: First Day of Pool Edition

Greetings from Fighting Chance Fantasy’s Week 4 Fantasy Baseball Persons of Interest column. We’re just three weeks into the season, and the only thing that seems to be for sure in Fantasy Baseball right now is injuries. If you’re a Miguel Andujar, Dellin Betances, Mike Clevinger, Aaron Judge, Starling Marte, Daniel Murphy, Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, or Trea Turner owner, you know what I’m talking about. Yikes.

It’s seems like someone gave Deadpool a gold card that said “MLB rosters” and turned him loose. And to continue the analogy, Deadpool must really despise the Yankees. With 13 players on the IL (remember it’s not the DL anymore) so far this season, the Yankees are looking like a mass casualty episode of ER. Of course, fans of every other MLB team are probably just calling it karma.

Hey, wait a sec. I like using quotes from movies, tv, and books to introduce the topics in my columns, and now I’m talking about Deadpool. This could work. It’s almost as if I planned this.

If you’ve never seen Deadpool or Deadpool 2, you’re seriously missing out. These are not only some of the funniest movies you’ll ever see, but also some of the most self-aware. In fact, Ryan Reynolds tells the audience at the beginning of both that they’re watching a movie. Deadpool doesn’t just break the fourth wall, he gives it the shocker without any warning beforehand.

In case you don’t follow the entertainment industry, last month Disney continued its Borg-like assimilation of basically everything entertainment-related by merging with Fox. That’s right; in addition to owning Star Wars and Marvel, Disney now owns all the Fox tv and movie properties including the Simpsons, the Alien franchise, and Deadpool, among others.

Of course, you may wonder how Deadpool is going to fit in with Disney’s family-friendly image. According to Disney’s CEO, the company is “carefully branding [R-rated films] . . . so we’re not in any way confusing the consumer[.]” Allow me to translate that from corporate-speak to English: “We’re not going to turn down a dump truck full of money from making these movies.” I’m also pretty sure anyone who’s even heard of Deadpool will in no way be confused about what they’re watching.

I really don’t see a problem. After all, as Deadpool says at the beginning of Deadpool 2: “[B]elieve it or not, Deadpool 2 is a family film. True story.” Although he follows that up with: “And every good family film starts with a vicious murder. Bambi, The Lion King, Saw 7. Holy shit-pickles! That guy's on fire! That's not CGI, folks. He's actually on fire. Yeah.”

After the merger was announced, Ryan Reynolds sent out a tweet with himself in the Deadpool costume wearing Mickey Mouse ears on a Disney school bus. As he said in the tweet: “Feels like the first day of ‘Pool.” What’s the over/under on Mickey Mouse sex jokes in Deadpool 3? I’m going with five. I’m also beginning to wonder just how often Ryan Reynolds wears the Deadpool suit outside of actually making movies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s still hilarious.

I also went with Deadpool this week because I’m now writing for a site that allows the use of profanity. Fuck yeah! Shit, did I just say fuck? I did? Oh well, fuck it. You have no idea how liberating this feels. I’m king of the fucking world! That’s what great about profanity – it even makes lines from Titanic sound cool.

Getting back to Fantasy Baseball, this week I’m taking a look at the prospects acquired in a deal from last year’s trade deadline. Only July 31, 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays traded Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. In some ways, this trade was a microcosm of the Rays’ existence.

As a small-market team, the Rays acquire prospects for productive MLB players nearing 30 years old when they begin to get too expensive for the Rays’ budget. Of course, if those prospects pan out and become productive MLB players themselves, the cycle begins anew. Enter Chris Archer, who the Rays acquired as a prospect from a trade with the Cubs for Matt Garza (remember him?) in 2011.

Chris Archer turned 30 last September, so Rays fans (those that exist) probably knew what was coming. As for the prospect haul in return, the Rays got two interesting young players in Glasnow (25 heading into this season) and Meadows (23 to start this season). So far, the trade looks like a win for the Rays. Let’s dig a little deeper with this week’s Fantasy Baseball Persons of Interest.

2019 Week 4 Persons of Interest

Person of Interest No. 1: “From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time comes five-time Academy Award viewer, Ryan Reynolds in an eHarmony date with destiny. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you . . . me! Deadpool.”

Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

This is the fourth wall breaking that I’m talking about. For those who missed it, Ryan Reynolds played Deadpool in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And Deadpool’s mouth was sown shut in the movie. That really happened. There’s also a hilarious bit where the current Deadpool deals with this during the end credits of Deadpool 2. Just cleaning up the timelines! 

This quote applies to Tyler Glasnow because he’s got a blazing fastball with big-time K potential, but the Pirates attempted to impose their organizational will and turn him into a groundball pitcher at the MLB level. Like sewing Deadpool’s mouth shut and the box office returns for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it didn’t go well.

At the time of the trade, Tyler Glasnow was sporting a 1-2/4.34 ERA/1.45 WHIP/72 K stat line in 56.0 IP, and all of his appearances with the Pirates were in relief. Not exactly what you’re looking for in a former top prospect projected as a future ace. With 34 BBs in those 56.0 IP, you could say Tyler Glasnow had less control than director Damien Cockburn on the set of Tropic Thunder. That’s another great fourth wall-breaking movie if you haven’t seen it. Tom Cruise as Les Grossman almost makes you forget about that video. You know the one.

After the trade, the Rays put Tyler Glasnow into their rotation and basically let him be himself. Allowing him to go with high fastballs and his wicked curve did wonders for his confidence. So far this season, the results have been stellar. Through April 22, Tyler Glasnow has posted a 4-0/1.53 ERA/0.92 WHIP/29 K line in 29.1 IP. That’s more like it.

The big key is command. The Ks will be there (9.74 MLB career K/9), but the BBs are the big concern (4.61 MLB career BB/9). This season, Tyler Glasnow is rocking a 1.84 BB/9 ratio thus far. If he can maintain anything close to that level of control, big things are ahead.

His current .257 BABIP, however, indicates Tyler Glasnow is due for a visit from the regression police at some point. On the other hand, his ability to generate Ks suggests it shouldn’t be that bad. Just keep in mind there will probably be some blowups along the way. No matter what, you’ll want to watch.

Person of Interest No. 2: “You’re still here? It's over. Go home! Oh, you’re expecting a teaser for Deadpool 2. Well, we don't have that kind of money. What are you expecting, Sam Jackson show up with an eyepatch and a saucy little leather number? Go, go.”

Austin Meadows, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

This quote is from the end credits of Deadpool, and breaks the fourth wall multiple times. First, if you notice what Deadpool’s wearing and the set in the background, it’s the end credits scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Second, it’s a satire of the now-ubiquitous post-credits scenes in Marvel movies.

If you’re a Rays fan (and if you are, congratulations on being one of a select few), you’re probably familiar with some variation of the phrase “we don't have that kind of money.” This is why Matt Garza was traded for Chris Archer, and why Chris Archer was traded for Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows seven years later.

As for Austin Meadows, he’s someone who prospect hounds have been keeping tabs on for years. Why is that? Because he’s got the mythical five-category potential. After being selected by the Pirates in the first round of the 2013 draft, Austin Meadows posted a .303 AVG/46 R/12 HR/43 RBI/12 SB stat line in 69 (insert joke here) games at AAA in 2018. He showed the same potential in MLB despite bouncing back and forth from the minors so he could “get regular playing time” (cough, service time manipulation, cough). Sorry, I think I had something in my throat.

Between Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, Austin Meadows put together a .287 AVG/19 R/6 HR/17 RBI/5 SB MLB line in 59 games in 2018. Heading into this season, he was a popular sleeper candidate for many. Isn’t “popular sleeper” a bit of an oxymoron? Discuss.

Anyway, the Rays gave him opportunities in the leadoff spot to start this season, and he responded with a .351 AVG/11 R/6 HR/19 RBI/3 SB stat line in his first 20 games. Unfortunately, if you drafted Austin Meadows and started celebrating, you may have angered the baseball gods. It looks like Austin Meadows was on one of Deadpool’s gold cards, since he landed on the IL with a sprained thumb on April 21.

Thankfully, the latest news is that nothing’s broken and there’s no ligament damage. The current estimate is that Austin Meadows could be back in about three weeks. I’m guessing a lot of Fantasy Baseball owners are breathing a cautious sigh of relief.

Like Tyler Glasnow, however, Austin Meadows’ .400 BABIP so far suggests there’s some regression due when he returns. But don’t let that scare you off. Legit five-category contributors don’t come along every day. Somehow, Austin Meadows is unowned in 17% of ESPN leagues an 19% of Yahoo leagues. If he’s available in your league, you’ve got a quality IL stash right there. Go find out, I’ll wait.

There are your Fantasy Baseball 2019 Week 4 Persons of Interest. Although you may be tempted to blow things up if you’re team is off to a lousy start, you should remember the wisdom of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. DON’T PANIC. Fantasy Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s too early to declare the season a lost cause. Like Deadpool, you just have to be patient and do things the old-fashioned way: with two swords, and maximum effort. Except for maybe the swords.

Until next time, it’s all in the reflexes.

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