Wednesday, April 02, 2014

2014 Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team

"Jewish" is a funny word. Can you imagine a Catholic calling themselves Catholic-ish? Or A Muslim calling themselves Muslim-ish? Officially, the "ish" suffix, in English, means "belonging to," or "having the characteristics of," but when most of us use it, we use it to mean "close, but not quite." As in, that 5'9" guy we really want to set up with our 5'11" friend isn't short, he's "tall-ish."

This is a long-winded way of saying that, when I call this year's Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team, "Jewish," the "ish" means it's all relative. The sad fact remains, there are still a lot of holes to fill on the roster after you've accounted for the players with any relation to the Jewish faith. Hence, my catcher, Evangelical Christian A.J. Pierzynski. The last name is vaguely Jewish-sounding. A.J. does not stand for Adam Judah, unfortunately.

Here's this year's squad, the Hammering Hebrews of Yahoo Winners' League 101786:

1B- Ike Davis.
"'It’s funny about Judaism,' Davis said. 'It doesn’t matter if you’re ultra-religious or not, as long as you know that it’s in you or you’re a part of it, everyone accepts you.' Following a Jewish custom, Davis’ given name is Isaac Benjamin — the first names of Millie Davis’ two grandfathers." Davis had a rough year last year--.205 AVG and 9 HR, but he secured the Mets 1B job in camp. I predict 20 HRs this season.

2B - Jason Kipnis"Kipnis is a practicing Roman Catholic, though he self-identifies as Jewish due to his father's Jewish ancestry." One of the best second basemen in the game, I predict 20 HRs and 30 steals.

3B- Ryan ZimmermanBeing that my blog comes up a couple times on the top of Google searches for, "Is Ryan Zimmerman Jewish?", the answer is obviously, no. But apparently, Zimmerman means "carpenter" in German, and Jesus was a carpenter, and we all know Jesus was a Jew. So there you go. 23 HRs or so in the heart of the Washington Nationals' order should do this team nicely.

SS- Derek Jeter Find a Jewish Yankees fan and ask him who his favorite player is. If it's not Derek Jeter, I'll eat my hat (I wear a Nestle Crunch bar as a hat). Derek is 40, and coming off a major injury, but he'll bat second in the Yankees lineup, and if he stays healthy, I predict 15 HRs and 15 steals, with a .290 AVG. 

OF- Ryan Braun Wondering why there was no 2013 Jewish Fantasy Baseball Team? Well, Braun's suspension, combined with injuries to Ian Kinsler and Kevin Youkilis... it just sort of brought me down. But Braun is back, and if he's learned anything from his Jewish faith, he repented for his sins last Yom Kippur and will use this season to make the world a better place. 35 HRs and 25 steals would be a good start. Tikkum Olam, Ryan.
OF- Nate Schierholtz Internet commenter pantherpro once said, "Nate is Jewish!" on this HardballTalk post. He then insinuated that Nate is bad at baseball. In addition, Twitterer @TacoTansel, sad that Nate left his favorite team, the San Francisco Giants says, "Ima miss Nate Schierholtz. He's my favorite Jewish player of all time." More authoritative sources haven't weighed in on Nate's faith. But nevertheless, Nate is not bad at baseball. A season of 15 HRs and 10 steals isn't outside the realm of possibility.
OF- Torii Hunter Torii is most definitely not a Jew. And his behavior has sometimes been questionable. But I share his last name. And I'm Jewish. This team needs some category juice. 17 HRs, 10 steals... on Detroit he'll gobble up runs and RBIs.

UTIL- Adam Lind Jewish-sounding name. I'm not the only one who has lumped him in with the Hebrews. I'm high on his abilities. 25 HR, 90 RBI seems possible, even if he may sit against tough southpaws.
UTIL- Ian Kinsler "...Every year for Passover we’d have a seder, which I always looked forward to. I’m not a devoutly spiritual person, but I’m very into the cultural identity that comes with being Jewish. If there are Jewish kids out there who look up to me or see me as a role model of what’s possible, I embrace that proudly." We're proud of you too, Ian. Part of a heavy-hitting Detroit lineup (coached by former Jewish major-leaguer Brad Ausmus) and fully back from injury, Kinsler has a real shot at 20 HRs and 20 steals.
SP Jordan Zimmermann is on here for the same reasons Ryan Zimmer-one "n" is. A high K-rate, facing National League lineups should make him a solid pitcher all year. Clay Buchholz is not Jewish but the last name is... in the ballpark. Once again, his high K-rate should keep my numbers in that category up. Scott Feldman, the only real Jewish starter in the majors, already won his first game of the season, giving up only 2 hits to the Yankees. Tyson Ross is not Jewish, but the last name is. Pitching in Petco should give him solid ratios. And how could I have a Jewish team without one of the most famous names in Genesis? When top prospect Noah Syndergaard gets called up to stop the Mets season from drowning, I'll be there to sneak aboard his ark (yes, this is cheesy writing).
RPTrevor Rosenthal, despite the spot-on name, isn't Jewish, although he says, "My dad is an attorney, and he gets invited to bar mitzvahs all the time." He's a lights-out closer who should dominate in Ks and saves all year. Joe Nathan, another JINO, also should hold down the closer job without issues. J.J. Putz, doesn't wear the Star of David, nor does he have a closing gig, but his Yiddish last name gives me hope he'll provide solid Ks in the 8th inning and be next in line should Addison Reed falter. Craig Breslow, currently on the DL, is a Jew, and if he comes back and contributes the way he did in Boston last year, he'll be a vital member of the squad. While he works his way back from injury, I added Matt Lindstrom, not Jewish, but if I hope to compete, I need saves, and his last name is close enough.

Bench Rounding out the roster is real Jew, Josh Satin, Davis's backup on the Mets. I refuse believe that Houston outfielder Robbie Grossman isn't Jewish... he has to be in denial. I expect 10 HRs and 20 steals from him. Adam Dunn is on my team for his perennial 30+ HRs, he does share names with the first man in Genesis.

I haven't addressed Tim Lincecum. Really no way to justify him. I landed him in the automated draft, and he's too useful a piece to straight-up drop. What I'd like to do is trade him and Torii Hunter for a more "Jewish" player... but so far, no trade partners are biting. I'm hoping Timmy starts the season strong and becomes a valuable asset that someone will give up a Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, Steven Strasburg or Paul Goldschmidt. But that's unlikely to happen.

Also, I currently don't have Sam Fuld or Danny Valencia on the roster. As rarely-used backups, they don't have a lot to contribute right now. But if they become starters, I'd add them. Same goes for if Ryan Lavarnway gets called up and plays for Boston.

Can my team win it all? Probably not. But can we win a good number of games this season, embarrassing teams that chose more traditional strategies? I believe so.

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