FANFOOD FB’13 – Catchers

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It’s that time of year again, Pitchers & Catchers have reported and here is where I will begin my Fantasy Baseball posts for 2013. Throughout the month, I will highlight each position and give you my take on who I think will be worth drafting for your team. Lets kick things off with the catcher position followed by information for trimming and tying a whole beef tenderloin.

 

 

 

Catchers ’13 – Who to target and who to skip

 

The catcher position is deep this year. You need to ask yourself, how high of a draft pick do I want to spend on the position? Most leagues play a single catcher format, and if for some reason you are starting two, it might be time to look into a different league. That said, you don’t have to spend a high pick on a backstop. The truth is, they do not get enough ABs for you to justify it. A typical catcher will only get around 520, so if you are deciding on a top tier catcher or outfielder, take the outfielder.

The next question you need to ask yourself is if you need to draft and roster 2 catchers? The simple answer to that question is it depends on your settings. If you are in a league with daily roster changes, sure… roster two of them. You will have more flexibility when it comes to off days, and after awhile you will be able to see a pattern of when one of your catchers is getting the scheduled day off and make sure to be aware of day games following night games and what their team is doing with it’s DH (if applicable). Now to some players I like and hate.

 

Buster Posey

He is the clear cut #1 catcher and he dominates the position. When do you draft him? Again, it depends on your league’s settings, like how many teams are playing, but you can feel pretty good about getting him in the second or early third round.

 

Carlos Santana

Is this the year that he lives up to all the hype? He had shown that he can hit the ball far, take the walks and has some nice new talent around him this year. I have him ranked third at his position and you can wait until around the 6th round in most standard leagues.

 

Matt Wieters

He is another backstop I really like for ’13. He will improve in almost every category and needs to be on your radar.

 

Victor Martinez

He tore his ACL late in ‘11 and should be all the way back heading into ’13. He will be the DH in Detroit and in a great lineup. In fact, I think the Tigers are the team to beat in the American League. You can trust him to be your #1 guy, and hit around .300 with 20 bombs and over 80 RBIs. I’ll take that any day from that roster spot.

 

Wilin Rosario

If you don’t get one of these guys or someone like Mauer, Napoli or Molina, you should seriously look into “what you talkin’ about Wilin” He has great power and plays in the thin air. He might not slip too far for you, so pay attention and don’t sleep on him.

 

Salvador Perez

He may not hit a ton of baseballs out of the park, but what he lacks in power, he makes up in average. If your league counts OBP, you can feel good about getting him in the middle rounds.

 

Jonathan Lucroy

After all the “big names” are off the board, you can also feel good about drafting JLuc. He could be a very serviceable #2 for you and you could even make the case to wait and take him as your #1. He will score some runs, hit for a nice average and some of them will go out of the park on the fly, plus with Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez and Corey Hart ahead of him in the lineup, expect Lucroy to drive in more runs in 2013.

 

Brian McCann

I have to admit, I have never been a fan of McCann, but to tell you the truth, it seems like the team that rosters him is close to the top in the standings at the end year in and out.

 

Ryan Doumit

He is a player I have been a fan off. He will get plenty of ABs as the C/DH/OF/1B, and I think he will put up some numbers that will justify the late round pick for your team if you miss out on the Posey sweepstakes.

 

A.J. Pierzynski

I have NEVER liked him, but he did hit 27 bombs last year. I guess I wouldn’t hate it if you grabbed him for the bench, but I’m not.

 

Jesus Montero

I have to admit, as a Yankee fan, I was sad to see him leave the Bronx. Fantasy managers did as well. Playing half his games in Safeco Field isn’t doing him any favors. He will get his ABs as the DH, so that is good. He is young, that is also good, and he had a nice second half last year, so that is why you should roster him.

 

Alex Avila

As mentioned before the Tigers are stacked. He will get most of the games behind the dish in Detroit and while he may not be your first choice, keep in mind this will be only his fourth year in the league and I feel his is due.

 

Others

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and JP Arencibia will hit their fair share of home runs, but will both be average killers. They are both good as number two catchers….Russell Martin won’t hit 21 homers in 2013, in fact, I think 15 may be pushing it….Travis d’Arnaud may not begin the season as the Mets starting catcher, but I expect him to take that spot by June. He should be a solid number two in two catcher leagues….Kurt SuzukiWilson Ramos is expected back from his 2012 knee injury, but the Nats’ website says he’ll be brought along slowly, leaving Suzuki atop the depth chart when Spring Training begins. …Jason Castro as a mixed-league No. 2, he could provide decent counting stats with a solid BA…Welington Castillo batted .294 with 13 extra-base hits and 18 RBI over 41 games in August and September last season and posted a double-digit home run count in four of his five complete minor league seasons…Carlos Ruiz is suspended the first 25 games of the season, which allows him to return to the Phillies in late-April. His three-year average is over .300 with over 100 hits in each of the last three seasons. But, and there is always a but, he is on the wrong side of 30 and declining and doesn’t crack my the top 25.

 

 

FANFOOD FB ‘13

 

Top 25 Catchers

Buster Posey
Joe Mauer
Carlos Santana
Yadier Molina
Matt Wieters
Mike Napoli
Victor Martinez
Miguel Montero
Salvador Perez
Jonathan Lucroy
Wilin Rosario
A.J. Pierzynski
Jesus Montero
Brian McCann
Ryan Doumit
Alex Avila
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Russell Martin
J.P. Arencibia
Kurt Suzuki
Tyler Flowers
John Jaso
Jason Castro
Travis d’Arnaud
Welington Castillo

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How to Trim & Tie a Whole Beef Tenderloin

if you purchase a whole beef tenderloin it will most likely come packaged in cryovac:

Whole tenderloins vary quite a bit in weight. I prefer tenderloins that are less than seven pounds—preferably in the 5 to 6 pound range. In that weight range, the central portion of the tenderloin is narrow enough to produce “filet mignon” steaks that are thick, even when cut into smaller (5 to 6 oz.) steaks, or a center cut roast that is narrow enough to cook quickly and evenly to a nice medium rare.

When you open the cryovac package, make sure that you are over the sink. There is quite a bit of blood in the package and you don’t want this all over your work surface (or the floor). Slice open the package. I usually grab the tenderloin at the small end and hold it upright over the sink while I use my boning knife to slice downward along the length of the tenderloin, carefully sliding my knife in between the meat and the plastic so as not to cut into the meat. Pull the drained tenderloin from the package and transfer it to your work surface—hopefully a nice large cutting board.

To begin, use your hands to pull away any large chunks of fat. Some of the membrane will also pull easily away. As you probe the tenderloin with your fingers you will discover that there is the main long muscle and a small sinewy, fatty piece that runs the length of the entire tenderloin. This is called the chain and it is attached most securely at the head (the thicker end) of the tenderloin.

The chain has some meat, but it is mostly fat and sinew. Restaurants sometimes add the chain to beef and veal stocks. At home, if you don’t mind going to the trouble, you can carefully trim away the fat and sinew to produce a small amount (about a third of a pound from a 5 1/2 pound whole tenderloin) of scrappy meat. This meat can be marinated, skewered and grilled, or sautéed quickly for a soft taco or a quick pasta. It is a bit of tedious job for a small amount of meat. Since I was trimming three tenderloins, I went ahead and did it. Here is the cleaned chain trim that I got from those three tenderloins:

 

 

Before picking up your knife to remove the chain, make sure that your working hand (the hand that will be holding the knife) is clean and dry and that the knife handle itself is clean and dry. If your hand or the knife handle is wet, your hand could slip while you are working and you could cut yourself.

To release the chain from the tenderloin, starting at the narrow end (thetail) and using knife strokes that run in the direction of head to tail, use the tip of your knife to make short, careful strokes between the chain and the tenderloin. Use your free hand to pull the chain away from the tenderloin as you cut. Until you reach the head, it should come away very easily—you should only be using your knife to cut through membrane and fat. When you reach the head, be careful about where you cut—the separation between the chain and the main part of the tenderloin is not so apparent at the head end.

 

 

Examine the head where the chain is attached and cut the chain away being careful not to cut too much into the good meat of the tenderloin. There will be a narrow flap of meat left alongside the head of the tenderloin that is not part of the chain. When you have cut the chain away, the chain and the tenderloin that remain should look like this:

 

 

Flip the tenderloin over

 

 

and begin to cut away the thick chunks of fat by carefully sliding your knife along the length of the tenderloin (again, using knife strokes that run in the head to tail direction).  There is generally a big chunk of fat under the head (at the base of the head) that should be pulled away—doing so will create a bit of a flap but that is normal. After scraping and slicing the most apparent fat away from the tenderloin, there will still be some fat that is visible, but removing it would involve digging into the meat, which is not something you want to do.  Here is the filet after the chunks of fat have been sliced and scraped away (with the pile of fat to the left):

 

 

Turn the filet back over and remove the most apparent fat from the top of the tenderloin. All that should be left to remove now is the long thick membrane that runs about two-thirds of the way down the tenderloin from the head.  This is called the silverskin.

 

 

The silverskin must be removed. When subjected to the heat of the oven, sauté pan or grill, it shrinks and will cause the filet to curl. It is also tough and inedible. Because the silverskin is tough and sinewy it is fairly easy to remove. Slide the tip of your knife under a portion of it, starting at the head end, and holding your knife at an angle so that it scrapes the underside of the silverskin (your blade should not be angled in towards the meat), run the blade down the length of the filet, removing the silverskin in long thin strips. As you can see from the picture, the silverskin comes away scraped almost entirely clean of meat.

 

 

When the silverskin has been completely removed, look over the whole tenderloin and remove any stray bits of fat, sinew and silverskin that remain on the surface. When you are done, you will have a cleaned whole filet that is entirely edible, the chain which may be trimmed further to produce small bits of meat and a large pile of unusable trim (about 30% of the original weight will not be usable).

 

 

The usable meat can be cut into the center cut filet, the thin tail and the large and oddly-shaped head. I like to use the center cut filet for roasting whole. Roast center cut filet produces beautiful, uniformly shaped slices that are perfect for serving at formal dinners. A 5 1/2 lb. tenderloin will yield a 2 lb. center cut filet. This center portion (at the bottom of the picture) could be cut into steaks if you prefer.

 

 

 

The tail and head pieces can be cut into steaks and small, roughly 1-inch sized pieces that can be used for a quick sauté (beef stroganoff, for example).  Or, if you look at the head portion (the upper left piece in the above image) you will notice that it is mostly comprised of the central portion of the filet that gets very narrow as you approach the left end, and a fatter, slightly oval shaped piece.   I like to cut the large, slightly oval portion away from the head in one piece.  This resulting piece of tenderloin (the top, center piece in the picture below), when cut from a 5 1/2 to 6 lb. tenderloin, makes a perfect small roast for two. I then cut the remaining portions of the head into steaks and the smaller pieces already described. Occasionally the tail end is too thin and narrow to be cut into a steak (pictured on the lower right in the picture below).  Because it weighs enough to be a steak, it seems a shame to cut it into small pieces.  If you like, this piece can be can be cooked and sliced across the grain–just like a pork tenderloin.

 

 

In any case, what you do with all of these oddly shaped pieces is up to you. The important thing is to use them creatively so that you can get the most value for your dollar. Tenderloin is very expensive. It is always cheaper per pound to purchase the whole untrimmed tenderloin. And even though there is a large amount of fat and sinew that is trimmed away, if you figure out ways to consume all of the usable meat, you will still end up saving money.

If you prefer, rather than cutting the tenderloin into all of these various pieces (center cut filet, small roast, steaks, sauté pieces) you could simply roast the whole thing. Most butchers will recommend that you tie the tenderloin if you are going to roast it whole. That is, they will tell you to use cotton twine to tie the head end at one to two inch intervals to create a compact roast and that you tuck the tail end under and tie it as well—this way you will have a large tenderloin roast of a more uniform thickness from head to tail.

I don’t do this and I don’t recommend it. When you tie a tenderloin you are forcing exterior surfaces to become part of the interior of the roast. This is important because exterior surfaces are subject to contamination—salmonella, e coli, etc. Anything that has possibly been contaminated with these types of bacteria needs to be cooked to 160° F in order to make it safe for consumption. I like to eat tenderloin at an interior temperature of about 125°F, so if I tie the tenderloin and cook it to the temperature at which I like to eat it, these exterior surfaces, which are now inside the roast, will not get hot enough to kill any possible bacterial contamination.

It is fine to roast the whole tenderloin, but I wouldn’t bother to tie it. Even though the head end is oddly shaped, it will roast to roughly the same internal temperature as the middle portion of the tenderloin—the slices from the head end just won’t be perfectly round. I would trim the tail end off and use it for something else, or leave it on (not folding it under) in case there is someone among your guests who would prefer their meat to be well done.

The 5 pound 9 ounce whole tenderloin that I trimmed and cut up yielded the following: 3 lbs. 6 oz. meat appropriate for steaks or roasts (60.7% of the original weight), 6 oz. of small pieces for quick sautés (6.7% of the original weight), 5 oz. of usable trimmed chain meat (5.6% or the original weight), 1 1/2 lbs. unusable scrap (27% of the original weight).

When you are done cleaning your tenderloin, decide how you will want to use it. Then portion it accordingly. Anything you don’t want to use immediately, wrap and freeze. I freeze small roast-type and steak portions by wrapping them individually in plastic and putting these individually wrapped pieces into freezer bags. The small bits I package in packets according to what I am likely to use for one meal—in my household of two, these would be packets weighing 8 to 10 ounces.

The day I trimmed the tenderloins was a long day, but I still wanted to take the time to prepare some of the tenderloin for our dinner. I decided on a couple of the petit filets (from the narrow end of the center portion of the head). I seasoned them with salt, pepper and rosemary in the early afternoon.

 

 

About an hour before I wanted to cook them I pulled them out of the refrigerator to bring them to room temperature. I roasted some potatoes and then pan-seared the filets.

 

 

After they cooked and rested, (about 20 minutes). I sliced the filets (against the grain) and served everything with some arugula dressed with lemon and olive oil.  The flavors were simple and clean and complimented the steaks beautifully.

 

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video that shows you how to trim and tie a whole beef tenderloin:

 

 

 

 

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