Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Charles Barkley, Micheal Strahan and Steve Urkel Walk Into a Bar...

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but some simply amazing details are starting to pour in about Sir Charles Barkley's DUI arrest early Wednesday. There were about five different parts to this story that are bizarre at times and hilarious at others.

1) Barkley told cops he ran the stop sign because he was going to get oral sex from a woman who had previously serviced him the week before as well. That wasn't even Sir Charles' best part of the excuse, he then followed up with including it was the best oral sex he had ever had.

This comment alone will cause dozens of college students to ditch Cancun for Scottsdale, Arizona

2) Barkley told a civilian employee at the police station, "I'll tattoo your name on my ass" if he could help him get out of the DUI charges. Charles should know better than to make an offer like that to a civilian employee. That's something you offer to a Sargent or the ranking officer at the time of incarceration.

3) This pictureGood lord. Can someone get Charles a cold glass of water and hanky to wipe his face off?!?! He's sweating more than Patrick Ewing in a double overtime game.

4) He was out with Jaleel White. Don't know who that is? T.V.'S STEVEN URKEL!! Barkley's crew certainly does not run as deep as is used to I guess. I wonder what other Afro-American sitcom stars Barkley roles with? Perhaps Rerun from "What's Happening?," Theo from "The Cosby Show," or the Guy on the Fire Escape from "Martin" have all been apart of Sir Barkley's pose at some point.

5) Police found a gun in his car and didn't press charges. It isn't clear if the gun was licensed or not, because finding a gun isn't even worth investigating in Arizona. Nevermind the gun was found in the car of a man who was intoxicated, wouldn't one want to look into this further? If this was New York he would have spent the night in Riker's, with the looming penalty of a 3.5year prison sentence haunting him.

The fact that former N.Y. Giant Micheal Strahan was also at the bar with Barkley that night was only a coincodence. However, I do think it important for people to now recognize that we are seeing a trend emerging with N.Y. Giants and club frequenting that generally end with someone wearing handcuffs. Now I am not saying to be like Pac Man Jones scared if you see a N.Y Football Giant at a bar, just be weary and take note and watch your back.

Cubs Are Making a Big Mistake

SI.com's Jon Heyman speculates that with their recent trades of Jason Marquis and Mark DeRosa the Chicago Cubs now will turn their attention to bringing in a right fielder. Heyman says that the Cubs are going to focus their attention to bringing in the switch hitting, ever volatile, oft injured, Milton Bradley. Bradley would fit in very well in the Cubbies line up and would be counted on to provide the pop from the left side of the plate that they had counted on getting when they signed Kosuke Fukudome last off season.

Bradley, when healthy is a five tool player and an OPS machine. However, he is only fully healthy for about 2-3 weeks out of a regular fantasy season. He had a very good season last year with Texas and still only managed to play in 120 games. Of those 100 came as a DH while the other 20 were in the outfield. Last I checked the the N.L. does not feature a DH position, meaning that Bradley would have to play right field everyday in order to be in the line up. Again, last I checked Bradley can't stay healthy and in the line up enough as an everyday outfielder. The Cubs would be making a big mistake by bringing him on and expecting him to play in 120-140 games as an everyday outfielder. He couldn't play in 120 games last season when he was DHing most of the time, how is he supposed to stay on the field if he has to play the outfield too?

If the Cubs were smart they would let Bradley go somewhere else, (for his own good it should be an A.L. team) and focus their efforts on bringing in Adam Dunn. Dunn has thrived hitting in Wrigley Field as an opposing player over the years and would provide a lefty presence in the line up that the Cubs are looking for. Think of how dangerous a 3-4-5 of Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn and Aramis Ramirez would be.

In 60 games played at Wrigley over the course of his career Adam has amassed 217AB, 23HR, 44RBI, a .286BA, a .419OBP, and a ridiculous .664SLG. There is really no other away ballpark Adam played at that is even comparable to the numbers he put up at Wrigley Field.

Adam also provides something Bradley can't. A healthy, consistent bat that can play everyday. Over the last 5 seasons consider the following. Since the 2004 season Adam has played in 152 or more games every year. He also holds the distinction of hitting 40 or more homeruns in each of those years. Finally, he has averaged 100RBI a season in that time, as well as close to 100R scored. This is not a small sample size or a one season thing, like we saw from Bradley last year. This is a guy who has been one of the most consistent power and RBI bats in all of baseball for the better part of a half of a decade.

If the Cubs do wind up deciding to go in this direction they better move fast because they aren't the only ones vying for Adam's services.

Fuentes Signs With The Angels

The closer market got a little smaller today with the L.A. Angels of Anaheim announcing they have signed Brian Fuentes. Fuentes is coming off of a great 2008 season where he had 30 saves and a 2.73ERA. The move once again signifies how much Anaheim prides itself on having of the deepest and deepest bullpens in baseball.

FANTASY IMPACT

Expect the lefty to have another solid 30+ save season in Anaheim this season. The Angels play in one of the worst divisions in baseball, so they should be winning plenty of ball games and giving him plenty of opportunities. He will be undervalued at draft time because of his '07 struggles and because he didn't take over the closer's role until the end of April, when the Rockies had finally grown tired of the Manny Corpas Pyrotechnics Show getting lit up every night.

I should note, however, that Corpas is currently listed as the Rockies closer for next season, according to ESPN.com's depth chart. Given his struggles early last season, he could be a good sleeper closing candidate that could be had much later on in the draft. It is now also worth noting that his top set up man will be Houston Street, who has thrived in the closer's role for years. I could envision the Rocks handing the job to Street and then trading him while his value is high and then hand Corpas the job later on in the season.

The biggest impact this move has is on guys like Scot Shields and Jose Arrendondo, who have both been dominant set up men in the past and were expected to replace Francisco Rodriguez as the Angel's closer. Shields having more experience might have given him the edge going into Spring Training, however many believed that Arrendondo would have been given a shot to close first. It was a case of Shields being so good at his job, they wouldn 't want to move him.

None of this matters now, as Fuentes will get the ball at the end of the game, for a team that stands to win a lot of ball games.

Mets Lowe Ball Derek


The New York Mets, knowing that they want to bring in a veteran pitcher, have offered Derek Lowe a 3 year contract worth about $36 million. This is far below the 5 year, $90 million that agent Scott Boras had envisioned earlier this off season. It stands to reason that this is only the Mets first offer and should increase a bit as negotiations on go. However, in a wake of what just happened with the Red Sox and Mart Teixeira, wouldn't it be prudent of the Mets to go harder after Lowe?

They know they want and need him. So why are they trying to be cute and low ball him? A team like Milwaukee (assuming they don't listen to me) or even say a Nationals team could swoop in and offer something ridiculous like 4 years and $60 million. If you think that's not possible, lets remember what just happened with the Sox. They thought they had the best offer and there was no one else in the pool with them and that Boras was bluffing when he told them there was a team with a higher offer on the table. Then the next day, the Sox more or less allowed their most coveted off season priority go to their biggest rivals.

The Mets need to get serious and fast. The should have offered 3 years at $42-$45 million and not dilly dallied with these near offensively low offers. I realize it's not popular, but look at what the Yankees did. Sure they overpaid to get what they wanted, but the bottom line is they got what they wanted. In this case the Mets need to do the same and get this done sooner rather than later.

FANTASY IMPACT

Lowe is a consistent pitcher who will thrive in Citi Field's pitcher friendly dimensions. He will also benefit from being on a much more potent offensive team than he has had backing him for the last several years. The downside would be the Mets' infield defense which, for all of its fanfare really isn't that good. David Wright, despite his Gold Gloves, is really prone to making many sloppy plays and bumbling easy ground balls. Over at first Carlos Delgado has been a DH in first baseman's clothing for years now.

If the Mets get serious and can land Lowe, expect at least 15 wins with an ERA in the 3.50 area. He won't get a ton of K's and is prone to the occasional stinker, which is what keeps him from being elite. Think of him like an N.L. version of Chien Ming Wang, who could be had around the same time of your draft.

Charles Barkley Arrested

TNT basketball analyst and former All- Star Charles Barkley was arrested early Wednesday morning on suspicion of drunken driving. Barkley was stopped by a DWI enforcement cop after he saw Barkley run a stop sign. While Barkley refused a breathalyzer he was given a blood test, the results of which are not yet available. I find it damning, that for the first time in about 10 years, Barkley refused to open his mouth and allow something stupid to come out.

Barkley was stopped outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area in Arizona's trendy Scottsdale's Old Town area. He was processed and took a taxi home following his release.

The arrest is another sign of Barkley's gluttonous lifestyle, that has featured him boasting about his gambling habits and has been known around the league for years as a frequenter of local clubs and bars when on the road. The arrest could damage Barkley's status as a talking head on TNT's NBA studio show, where Barkley has become infamous for his opinions and outrageous statements that has drawn the ire of players like Kobe Bryant and more recently LeBron James.

Cubs to Win Milton Bradley Game


According to CSNChicago.com the Chicago Cubs are close to a multiyear deal with outfielder, Milton Bradley that should be announced sometime soon or after the New Year. The Cubs current depth chart lists Reed Johnson or Felix Pie as their center fielder, so it stands to reason they could ad Bradley and shift Alfonso Soriano or Kosuke Fukudome into center. That would allow them to use Reed as a bat off the bench and to trade Pie for something of value, while the fledgling prospect still has some.

FANTASY IMPACT

Bradley will have another season of solid numbers, assuming he can have another season of similar health to what he managed in his 2008 season. He managed more than 400 at bats for the first time in 4 years, but not coincidentally, it was also the first time he had been fantasy relevant in 4 years. The numbers across all seasons show he can be very productive if he can stay healthy enough to stay in the line up for extended periods of time. The Cubs line up offers additional interest given its depth and the potential he has to hit somewhere before or in between Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

Bradley could go 25/ 100/ 100 if he could ever stay healthy. But he never can, so temper the expectations. A season of 20/ 75/ 75 seems more in line. Personally I hate drafting players who get hurt or are injury risks. Fantasy success relies on drafting players who can stay on the field and post the big numbers they are expected to. Bradley, while he's a remarkable talent in reality baseball is a fringe player in fantasy, simply because it's not guaranteed he can stay on the field.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Fit For Manny

A slow day of baseball headlines has forced me to play the "what if" game (not that the Blue Jays monumental signings of Micheal Barrett and Mike Maroth aren't blog-worthy). I decided to do some thinking about which team would really be the best fit for Manny Ramirez. After looking at all thirty teams and their current situations I have found the team that would be the best fit for Manny.

The Milwaukee Brewers

WAIT PLEASE KEEP READING!

I know Manny has alienated himself every where he has gone. He managed to carry the Dodgers to the playoffs and was a hero, and even they look like they are moving on as if he won't be there next season. I know he is flaky and plays when he feels like it, and his defense is an embarrassment at times. However, I do think there are many more positives to his signing there than there negatives.

Manny would give the Brewers the best 3-4-5 in baseball. Imagine Manny, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun hitting in a row. It would give them the best middle of the line up in all of baseball. Better than the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Cubs, Tigers, Astro's, Phillies or any other team you can think of. Those are 3 40HR, 120RBI guys who can all hit .280 or better. It would also allow the Brewers to stagger their line up and go righty- lefty- righty.

Milwaukee's current outfield situation features Mike Cameron in center, Ryan Braun in left and Corey Hart in right. Now clearly the Brewers are not going to trade Braun and by bringing on Manny they are going to need all the defensive help they can get, so keeping Cameron also makes sense. The player who they should trade is Hart. He was an All- Star last season, so he value is still high, despite slumping badly in the second half of the '08 season, hitting .239AVG with only 5HRs and 33RBIs. It is known that the Giants have been shopping Jonathan Sanchez and looking for hitting. A Hart for Sanchez deal would make sense for a hitting starved Giants team and a Brewers team that currently features only one lefty and Dave Bush as its #2 starter.

Some would argue that Milwaukee is a small market team and can't just throw money around at players like that. I would argue that Milwaukee just offered C.C. Sabathia a 5 year $100 million contract and were prepared to increase their offer. So, don't give me that 'whoa is me, small market, can't afford him' act. They have the money it is there, it's a matter of thinking if they want to go for it now or stick with the status quo. The way things are going for Manny right now, he might be lucky to get a 3 year, $70 million contract offer. A lot of money for a small market team like Milwaukee, but it would be worth the risk, if it meant bringing home a championship.

Others might say that Hart is about a decade younger than Manny and they would be getting older and losing a player who could be good for another 7-8 years and getting a player who might only have a good season or two left. I would argue that the Brewers only have another season or two with Prince Fielder on the roster. He is going to start arbitration soon and will begin to make a lot more money than he is now. In fact, there have already been Prince trade rumors that have circulated. And it would also allow them to bring in some much needed starting pitching help in a player like Sanchez, who is a young, strikeout lefty. Wouldn't Milwaukee be doing their fans better by bringing on a big ticket, game changing hitter like Manny and going for it all in 2009?

This is just pure speculation on my part. Feel free to post agreements or disagreements.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Andruw Jones to the Mets Rumored

ESPN.com's Buster Olney is reporting that the Mets and L.A. Dodgers are discussing a deal that would send the much maligned Andruw Jones out of L.A. and to New York. The deal makes sense for the Dodgers as it would allow them to free up some cash and room in their already crowded outfield, to sign Adam Dunn.

Jones was once looked at by many as a sure fire first ballot Hall of Fame player. He played a gold glove center field and hit 20+ homeruns for 10 straight seasons. However, an ever increasing decline in his offensive production, defensive range and an increase in his waste size have caused many to question if he can still play the game effectively.

If he can get himself back into playing shape and has clear up the knee injuries that plagued him for much of the '08 season, the move would give the Mets a very good sleeper candidate in right field to start next season.

FANTASY IMPACT

If the Dodgers do sign Dunn I think his value stays the same. Granted Dunn goes into a much bigger home ballpark, but he also goes into a better contact line up, that will be less prone to prolinged slumps. Also, most of Dunn's homeruns go a very long way and would leave the ballpark, no matter how big it is.

Andruw Jones would be on more or less be on his last chance. The Mets might be a good place for him to try and regain his swing and bravado on the playing field. The Mets showed their patience with Carlos Delgado last season and allowed him to work through his struggles at the plate, when many felt his career as a power hitting first baseman was over. The Mets patience paid off and they were handsomely rewarded when Delgado came onto be the hottest hitter in the majors over the last few months of the '08 season. They might need to be ready to wait out Jones to see if he can regain his homerun swing from yesteryear. The move to right field would allow him less wear and tare on his legs over the course of a long season and should only benefit him.

Come draft time take Dunn where you normally would. With Jones take him late, as a sleeper, but be ready to go through some early down periods early on. Don't expect great things out of the gate, but it could certainly be worth it to stash him. It will probably take him a while before he is able to swing the bat the way he once did.

Dodgers Dunn With Manny?


Sources had told ESPN.com's Jason Stark that the L.A. Dodgers have been in contact with with the agents for free agent slugger, Adam Dunn. The move signals that the Dodgers are not going to wait around to hear back from Manny Ramirez and his future intentions.

The Dodgers have many, many fine young hitters in their line up, from catcher Russel Martin, to first baseman James Loney, to outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They also have fine roll players in Casey Blake and Blake DeWitt manning third and second base respectively. Dunn would add a veteran presence to the line up and legit source of serious power, that the Dodgers hadn't seen for years, until the mid Summer deal that brought Manny to town was completed.

This could be big trouble in waiting for another free agent. Manny Ramirez. Manny burst on the scene in L.A. delivering clutch RBIs and timely hitting for his 2 months tenure in L.A. It seemed like the Dodgers would be a slam dunk to resigning, but after their early efforts to sign him were rebuffed the Dodgers have been waiting back to see what develops with Manny and where the market takes his value.

The addition of Dunn will also make an already crowded outfield situation in L.A. even more unsettled. Young sluggers Kemp and Ethier are going to play everyday, because they produce and should be playing everyday. That leaves left field to be patrolled with either Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones or Dunn if the Dodgers sign him.

Andruw Jones is perhaps the biggest piece of this puzzle. The once sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer has slumped miserably the last two seasons. His 2008 season was a joke. In 209 at bats he hit .158 with 3HR and 14RBI. The Dodgers seem to have come to terms with the idea that his signing was a mistake and they are going to have to eat the remaining $14 million or so he still has awaiting him for the 2009 season.

If Manny doesn't wind up going to the Dodgers, then where will he wind up? We examine the team that is the best fit for Manny here.

Mangini Out of a Job


Fitting that the coach who once made a cameo on "The Soprano's" coached his last game against, the Miami Dolphins and head coach Tony Sparano. Various sources around New York are reporting that Jets' head coach Eric Mangini will not be returning to coach the team again next season. The announcement is to come at a news conference the Jets have scheduled for today at 10a.m.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation about Mangini's job status that has been up in the air ever since the Jets entered their late season swoon. Entering week 13 the Jets sat alone a top the AFC East at 8-3. Then came a disastrous stretch where the Jets lost 4 out of their last 5 games, including a pivotal loss to a Seattle Seahawks team that finished the season 3-13.

Mangini early on in his Jet tenure was nick named "Man-Genious" for his coaching decisions and highly touted offense. However, the nick name wore off fast as many of his decisions over the last few weeks have been greatly scrutinized, highlighted when the Jets went for a first down on a 4th and 2 from their own 20 with over 2 minutes to play in the Seattle game. The Jets were only down by a touch down at the time, however the turn over on downs so deep in their own territory led to an easy field goal for Seattle and put the Jets chances to win the game and make the playoffs out of reach.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sox Close to Picking Up Penny: Fantasy Impact

Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Red Sox and free agent Brad Penny are close to agreeing on a one year deal pending some contract details and a physical. The latter could be the more difficult part for Penny given his injury plagued 2008 campaign.

(Update: WBZ TV's Dan Roche confirmed the Penny deal to be for, one year at $5 million, with another $3 million in potential incentives. The deal, however is still pending a physical.)

Penny won 16 games for the L.A. Dodgers in 2006 and again in 2007. In 2006 he was the starting pitcher for the N.L. All Star team. It looked as if he was going to cash it in following the 2008 season, however shoulder injuries derailed his season and he finished 6-9 with an ERA over 6.00. The fact that the Dodgers turned down a single season, market value option on him, perhaps hints that they weren't totally convinced his shoulder issues are behind him.

The deal is reminiscent of the one the Sox signed Bartolo Colon to last season. An All Star pitcher, who has been battling injury, given a one year contract to try and increase their market value, following a few injuries


FANTASY IMPACT

I find it a bit disconcerting that Penny fought shoulder injuries all last season, and there was no sort of surgery or rehab done during the season that was able to diagnose and fix exactly what was wrong with him. If there was something that wasn't serious wouldn't the Dodgers have resigned him? They could use the starter with Derek Lowe leaving via free agency and the young Clayton Kershaw still being limited in the amount of innings they want him to throw.

The Red Sox aren't exactly taking a risk here, and it is a bit too early to tell if Penny is healthy enough to hold up over the long haul of a full baseball season. What it does show is that the Sox want to be patient with Clay Buchholz and his development, and probably want to try and use Justin Masterson in a variety of ways, as an arm out of the bullpen and spot starter when needed.

So basically what we learned is; take Penny late in your draft as a sleeper. However this could change come March as we learn more about how healthy he is. He has ace type stuff and could wind up being the 3 or 4 starter, which will favor him greatly in most match ups. The Red Sox are not yet ready to let The Buccholz train leave the station. They don't want to rush him and have him take a step back like he did in 2008 again, so the signing of a veteran like Penny can give him some more time to develop in the minors. That being said, Buchholz is still a great prospect and is worth a late round pick, as he'll get the first call to the majors when a Red Sox starter goes down with an injury.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Willy Taveras to the Reds: Fantasy Impact

The Cincinnati Reds and center fielder Willy Taveras agreed to a two-year contract on Saturday. Taveras is coming off of a mediocre 2008 season where he only managed to hit a paltry .251 with a .308 on-base percentage, making him expendable for his former team, the Colorado Rockies. Despite the rather down season Taveras still managed to lead all of baseball with 68 stolen bases in 75 attempts.

FANTASY IMPACT

Taveras needs to stay healthy and show he can play everyday. The move away from Coors Field could actually help Taveras' numbers this season. Coors Field has quite an expansive outfield, that combined with the thin air and Taveras' thin frame probably made it difficult for his body to recuperate properly and added to the wear and tare his body went through. Moving to a smaller outfield that is actually located at sea level should help Taveras stay healthier than he has over the last few seasons.

The 2008 season was a bit of an anomaly as he had his career worst season with the bat, yet had a career year using his speed, doubling his previous single season stolen base total. This could be seen as a fluke or it could be looked at as a player finally developing what he does best as a baseball player and playing to his strength, like we have seen Juan Pierre do for years.

The young Reds team that will surround him in the line up could also be a detriment. No one will doubt the talent of the players that will surround him. Guys like Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are some of the finest rising stars in the game. However, they are still young and will be prone to some ups and downs and inconsistencies throughout a long baseball season.

Taveras, despite being a speedster and lead off man for the majority of his career, has never scored 100 runs in a season or collected more than 180 hits. Before 2008 he had never stolen more than 34 bases in a season and has yet to drive in more than 30RBIs in a season. Granted in the NL it's tougher for a lead off man to drive in runs with the pitcher hitting in front of him, but still at some point you'd expect to see better production in at least one season.

Taveras is strictly a stolen base threat at this point and should be looked at as nothing else. He could, at best, steal 60 bases again and score close to 100 runs and finish with a .300AVG. At worst he gets nicked up again, misses time and winds up with around 70runs scored and 35SB.

Come draft day I would avoid taking him out of necessity. That meaning, don't draft a line up full of strictly sluggers and then bank on Taveras to go out there and make up the difference. His numbers have been rather inconsistent and you don't know how much time he'll spend on the ball field. If you can grab him as a guy to bolster your stolen base numbers and to compliment other stolen base threats you have, you'll be in a much more stable position.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Randy Johnson Signs With Giants

The Big Unit will give it another go in the NL West next season in his question for 300. The 45-year-old, five time Cy Young Award winner signed a one year, $8 million contract with the San Fransisco Giants Friday night. The contract joins Johnson with an already formidable Giants staff that features former Cy Young winners Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito as well as the highly touted Matt Cain.

FANTASY IMPACT

Johnson has gone to a very good place and this really helps his fantasy value for next season. While the Giants' offense is nothing to write home about (in fact it's nothing to write anywhere about) the Big Unit should see similar success to what he saw in the second half of last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Don't be totally fooled by Johnson's overall numbers, his second half numbers showed flashes of the Unit of old we are used to seeing.

First half

Wins- 6
Losses- 7
ERA- 5.23
Strikeouts- 95
Innings Pitched- 98
Games- 17

Second Half

Wins-5
Losses- 3
ERA-2.41
Strikeouts- 78
Innings Pitched- 86
Games- 13

Clearly Johnson's numbers picked up in the second half as he got healthier and came to terms with what he now is as a pitcher. Less power, more finesse, pitching more to contact and allowing the defense to do their jobs really allowed Johnson to thrive. If you add that to the fact that he'll be going from a good hitter's park to a good pitcher's park, you could have yourself a five time Cy Young Award winner, with over 4,700K's who could be a draft day steal.

He isn't the dominant ace he once was in years past, but you can still expect near 15 wins, 175Ks and an ERA in the low 3.00s. Before last season's draft I would have told you to avoid Johnson because he was such a health risk. However, he really seems to have righted himself and has his back issues in check, so I don't think he'll be somebody you have to worry about breaking down too early in the season and losing him for an extended period of time. Think of taking him around the same time an A.J. Burnett or Scott Shields might get drafted.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hot or Not

Welcome back to another edition of Hot or Not. We've got Hotness, we've got Notness, and we've got an emotional good-bye to...Billy Butler. Let's get to it.

Hot Bats

Milton Bradley

Stats over the last 7 days: 5 HR, 4 SB, .478 BA

If the Texas Rangers were a woman, they'd be the one that always dates Guys With Problems, convinced that they can save them. Amazingly, it's paying off - Bradley and Josh Hamilton have been great (we'll pretend Sidney Ponson never happened). How much longer until they swing a three-way trade for Delmon and Dmitri Young?! Or how about acquiring a certain relief pitcher?

Jorge Cantu

Stats over the last 7 days: 3 HR, 7 RBI, .407 BA

Did you know that Cantu was named the Devil Rays' team MVP in 2005? Check his bio - it's true. What do you think that award looks like? Probably a lot like one of those plaques they give to the coach of a 6-and-under soccer team at the end of the season.

Joe Mauer

Stats over the last 7 days: 2 HR, 6 RBI, .450 BA

Mauer may be third in the AL in batting average, but he leads the league in sideburns donated to small children.

Also Hot:

Manny Ramirez - 3 HR, 9 RBI, .381 BA

JD Drew - 3 HR, 7 RBI, .500 BA

Joe Crede - 5 HR, 12 RBI, .611 BA

Hot Arms

David Price

Stats over the last 7 days: 0 W, 0 K, 0.00 ERA

He's already owned in 30% of Sportsline leagues. Carlos Silva is available in 81% of leagues. I guess that sums up the difference between Tampa Bay and Seattle's seasons - even the Rays' prospects are hotter than the Mariners' everyday players.

Kerry Wood, Matt Capps, George Sherrill

Stats over the last 7 days: 4 S, 0.00 ERA each

Meanwhile, Eric Gagne lasted 1 2/3, giving up four runs and six hits while playing as himself yesterday in MLB 2K8.

JP Howell

Stats over the last 7 days: 2 W, 1 ER, 4 2/3 IP

This is the second time THIS SEASON that Howell's won two games in a week. Eric Bedard's only won four games all season. I guess that sums up the difference... 

Not Hot 

Billy Butler

Stats over the last 7 days: Who cares

I don't like to get emotional about guys on my team, but here we go...

We drafted Billy Butler in like the 14th or 15th round this season and thought we had ourselves a sleeper. Played on an up-and-coming team with some decent protection in the lineup. Hit for good average and decent power. Had a slight weight problem, but seemed relatively nimble - we were optimistically drawing Tony Gwynn comparisons at the time.

The first week of the season Butler hit .400 and drove in 3 runs. I remember thinking that Billy Butler might win a batting title one year. Then I thought that maybe that year was THIS YEAR. Why not? There was no law that said Billy Butler couldn't win the batting title this year. This was 2008. Things were wide open. This was The Year of Billy Butler!

Things, of course, did not turn out as I hoped. Butler apparently forgot that there was no rule against hitting a ball out of the park. Or that one was allowed to generate runs during plate appearances. At the end of May, Butler was unceremoniously shipped back to the minors. I haven't really gotten over it.

Phil, my colleague here at FSE, argued in a post last week that Billy Butler was worth stashing on your bench in deep leagues. I beg to differ. Billy Butler is a DH who hits for decent average, no power, and breaks owners' hearts. Do not keep him on your team unless you are prepared to deal with significant emotional torment throughout the season.

Wow, that was not easy. But I feel better. Good to get that out there.

I'm off to watch the Royals v. Tigers game from 4/3/08. Have it on the Tivo. See you next week...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Top Pickups Around The Diamond & On the Mound - 6/8/08

Another week, another time for me to spend 2 hours checking the minor league stats of Rod Barajas.

Around The Diamond...

C- Rod Barajas

Barajas had a few good seasons with Texas and since then has been relegated to back up duty and has not been a fantasy worthy name. In 92 at bats this season, Barajas is doing his best to make himself relevant again. He has 5HR to go along with 17RBI and 12R, for the Toronto Blue Jays, and has found himself as the everyday starter with regular Greg Zaun on the DL. He is having a far superior season to Zaun and might have found himself a way to remain in the line up at C or even DH when Zaun returns.

VERDICT

Barajas might actually be a decent addition as the Blue Jays are starved for offense and he will get at bats so long he produces. if you are hard up for catching help go out and grab Barajas, who still might be able to reproduce the effectiveness he showed in seasons past.

1B- Chad Tracy

Tracy came on a few seasons ago and had a huge first year. Since then he hasn't done a whole lot and has become a utility player as Conor Jackson and Mark Reynolds now man the corner infield spots for Arizona. Thus far in only 20 at bats, he is hitting an even .300 with 2HR and 3RBI, prompting many to add him in their league in the hopes he can reclaim the magic he showed in season past.

VERDICT

I am not buying the hot start. He won't be starting once Connor Jackson comes back and the talk of him moving to the outfield will fizzle when Eric Byrnes comes back healthy as well. He is going to have to hit to earn his way back into the everyday line up and that will be difficult for him when he is constantly shifting to different positions as a super utility man.

2B Alexi Casilla

Casilla has had a few cups of coffee in the majors over the last two seasons and is now getting the everyday starting job at 2B while hitting second in the line up to help Carlos Gomez provide a spark and speed at the top. Casilla can steal a bag and knows how to draw a walk, making him serviceable at least in most leagues, especially if your current 2B is injured or struggling. He needs the everyday at bats to keep the average up and the stolen bases should come at a greater frequency oce he gets settled in. Believe it or not the one thing that could slow his speed down is having Carlos Gomez on base ahead of him, as the Twins would be more reluctant to have him run if it's a double steal, and the risk to be thrown out at third grows.

VERDICT

I like Casilla. I checked out the numbers and think he can do some things out there. Don't expect the power he has flashed early on, but he can slap the ball around and plays well hitting in front of Joe Mauer, and Justin Morneau. While the RBIs will slow down, he will still get a decent amount because of the aforementioned Gomez, and his speed in front of him.

3B Ian Stewart

Listed at 3B and playing 2B, this is another example of an immensely talented young player on Colorado's roster. The Rox have been trying to find a place for him on the big league roster, but he has been blocked by incumbent Garret Atkins. The banged up middle infield finally gave Stewart enough of a shot to get in there and Colorado seems bent on giving him every opportunity to succeed and show what he can do there.

VERDICT

Based on his minor league stats Stewart is a threat to hit the long ball, and also be able steal a base. He has some very good numbers in the minors, but the change of position in addition to the adjustment of going from hitting minor league pitching to major league pitching might be abit more than Steart can handle this early in his young career. Don't expect great things from him yet, but next season he might be a great young sleeper pick, who is both 3B
and 2B eligible.

SS Jhonny Peralta

Can hit the long ball and finish with a decent amount of RBI but does nothing to distinguish himself as a SS. In 2005 many thought his 21HR, 78 RBI campaign was a precursor of things to come with the next great SS. Instead all that season did was serve as was a reason for Peralta owners to get frustrated and bewildered by hsi lack of ability to grow as a hitter, to the point where he actually regressed.

The 11HR look good this season, but he only has 20RBI total to go along with a .241AVG. He is currently in a hot streak where he has collected hits and scored runs by the bunches and has given fantasy owners yet another reason to believe.

VERDICT

Don't buy the hot streak. Peralta will frustrate you more often than not and you are better off find a guy who can go out there and put up some consistent numbers for you throughout the season, even if it means sacrificing the power numbers he puts up.

OF Carlos Gonzalez

A young player on Oakland... HE MUST BE GOOD! This far Gonzalez has 19AB in the bigs has not done anything overly impressive to warrant him being added like he has been. The A's are getting ready for OF Ryan Sweeney to get healthy at which point either Gonzalez or Travis Buck will be bound for AAA. At this point I think Gonzalez will be the one headed back down because Buck has more experience and given the early indications Gonzo could use a bit more seasoning.

VERDICT

Maybe down the road, but not yet. Perhaps in September or August as a late season call up depending on where Oakland is in the standings at that point in time.

Marcus Thames

Has it gotten this bad for added outfielders? Thames is nothing more than a guy who can deliver cheap power. Low batting average, not a lot of RBI, and will have to do something to impress Jim Leyland if he wants to stay in the line up. He did hit 2HR in a game last week, but other than that there isn't a whole lot going on for him.

VERDICT

I know he is a hitter on Detroit and people have fallen in love with that line up, but please in this case it's nothing to get excited about.

Cody Ross

Speaking of cheap power... Ross had a remarkable May, managing only 14 hits, but 10 of those hits managed to leave the ballpark. For the majority of his career, Ross has only managed fill in duty and the power display he put on in May helped earn him a bit more playing time, which helped his numbers a bit.

VERDICT

It is a nice story, but this seems more Shane Spencer than Sammy Sosa. If he was going to hit 10HR every month it would be one thing, but this power was way to fluky and in no way is demonstrative of what he has done throughout the course of his career. Stay away and don't bother.

On The Mound...

Justin Masterson

With Daisuke Matsuzaka on the shelf for a bit, Masterson gets the call from the minor leagues and of course as a Red Sock with limited experience he is pitching like a seasoned veteran. It is not exactly sure how many more starts Masterson will actually get, as it depends on the ability of Clay Buccholz and Matsuzaka to get healthy and get back into the rotation.

VERDICT

If you have unlimited roster moves he might be a good bet to ride while he is hot. If you are limited or already have a full staff, don't bother, he won't be around in the majors that much longer.

Homer Bailey

Cincinnati's most coveted and hyped pitching prospect makes his debut Thusday, playing at Philadelphia. Let me repeat, young pitcher, coming up to the majors for his first start of the season, AT PHILADELPHIA.

VERDICT

He has enough talent to merit an addition to most fantasy squads in most leagues. However, I would not go near having him start in his big league debut against Philly. Grab him and stash him so you can see what you will potentially get out of him down the road.

Rafael Soriano

With John Smoltz being lost to the DL for the rest of the season, someone has to close in the ATL. Soriano was the closer early in the season, but after one save he wound up in a familiar place, on the DL nursing elbow soreness. After locking down two saves it appeared Soriano had turned the corner; however, he was unable to pitch this weekend due to elbow tendinitis.

VERDICT

Manny Acosta did a fine job of blowing the lead and the game on Wednesday, so don't expect to see him get the ball in any pressure situations any time soon. Soriano has said he just needs a few days to rest and will return for week 11. He will close, so long as he is healthy. Keep an eye on Mike Gonzalez who's return is getting cl0ser.

Dan Wheeler/ Salomon Torres

Wheeler will get save opportunities while Troy Percival remains on the shelf. Torres will get save opportunities while Eric Gagne remains on the shelf, and will probably continue to do so afterward as well.

VERDICT

Torres is probably the better bet to be closing a month or two from now, so if you have to choose between the two, go with him.

Joel Zumaya

The once dominant set up man was beset by injuries in 2007 and so far in the beginning of 2008. He has been rehabbing his arm and in his last appearance he touched 100MPH on the gun, something many thought he might never do again.

VERDICT

Could be a great source of ERA, WHP and Ks for your fantasy team. Todd Jones is pretty well entrenched in the closer's role there, so don't expect him to take any chances away from him.

Bonderman's Season Over: FANTASY IMPACT

According to Baseball Prospectus.com's Will Carrol, Jeremy Bonderman has under gone surgery to correct the clotting problem that has arisen in his shoulder. The surgery ends Bonderman's season as the recovery time is listed as being between 6-12months.

This is a big blow for the Tiger's rotation as it seemed as if Bonderman was just getting it going. It looks like this means more turns in the rotation for upstart Armando Gallaraga and professional disaster Dontrelle Willis. Gallaraga is a decent starting option, but it's obvious the Tigers have lost faith in Willis and are reluctant to start him on a consistent basis.


FANTASY IMPACT

Bonderman really isn't that good, and is generally one of the more overrated pitchers come draft day, He was awful to start the season and while he has pitched better of late, the WHIP remained high and his struggles to locate his pitches remained. This shouldn't be a big blow to most fantasy owners, as Bonderman's number can be easily replaced by guys like Aaron Laffey, Jason Bergmann, or Jeremy Guthrie.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

***Sleeper Alert*** Chris Duncan & Billy Butler

Chris Duncan and Billy Butler have both recently been sent down to the minors to get their swings worked out. It sounds crazy to want to buy into a player after a demotion, but this might be just what they need to right the ship and pick it once they return to the majors. I would be surprised if either player spent more than a few weeks, and at most a month. Both players can hit, Duncan for power, and Butler for average with a bit of power and upon their returns I expect both players to pick it up and hit like they should have been all season.

Duncan only has 4HR on the season after hitting 20+ the last two seasons. Duncan is drawing walks and getting on base, so he is seeing the ball well and just needs to get that power stroke back that he boasted in seasons past. The only concern I have with Duncan is that he has broken down a bit in his previous seasons and his numbers tailed off a bit down the stretch. That being said, I think he still manager to put it all together this season once he returns to the line up. 20HR is still a possibility, and he will be hitting in the heart of the line up, so he will be placed in a run producing position.

Butler is known as a youngster, who at 22, was already being labeled as a DH type, all stick and no field. After a hot opening week Butler has tailed off a lot and is currently hitting .262 with 1HR. He seems to have been made the sacrificial lamb for a struggling Royals offense, that has struggled to score runs consistently this season. But if you look at it like I do, this is actually the Royals showing confidence in Butler. They know he can hit better and they know a stint eating up some AAA pitching will be just what his swing and confidence needs to get him where he needs to be.

If you have the roster space stash one of them if you think they can help. I have Chris Duncan sitting on my bench in one of my more competitive leagues and can certainly use his pop once he returns. If you don't have the roster space, just keep an eye on their situations and when they are called back up, make a call with your own roster to see if/ where you can use them.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Top Pickups on the Mound - Week 9

Some kids and veterans on the comeback trail make for an exciting Week 9 adds list.

SP- Clayton Kershaw

Never heard of him.

FSE VERDICT- Hold off until we know more.

Clayton Kershaw (Ah Clayton Kershaw, The Stud Fireballing Lefty...)

The young lefty with a curveball nick named, "Public Enemy #1" had a successful first start against the Cardinals going 6 innings with 7Ks and a WHP of 1.00. He has a fastball that he throws for strikes in the mid 90's both up and down in the zone. When you combine that with a devestating curveball that is clocked roughly 25 MPH slower, it can make for long days for opposing hitters. The Dodgers will be very careful with him and he is another great sell high candidate. He will be limited in the amount of innings the Dodgers allow him to throw this season because they want to protect his golden arm from injury.

FSE VERDICT- If for some reason he is still available in your league or on waivers you need to put in a claim and grab him immediately. He has special stuff that can dominate a line up and win a game on his own. He can help your team in many aspects of the game and will immediately improve any pitching staff, no matter how good. Just be careful and sell high in mid-July. I doubt he'll be getting the ball in September, and if he does itwill be as a reliever so they can limit the innings on his arm.

SP- Doug Davis

The veteran has been around for years now, and with the exception of 2005 has never done anything to warrant serious fantasy ownership. This season might be a little different for Doug for a variety of reasons.

First off he will no longer be featured near the top of the D-Backs rotation. With Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Micah Owings, and a healthy Randy Johnson (for now anway), Davis does not have to be counted on to carry the team or match up against the ace of other teams. He will now see better match ups against the opposition's 4th or 5th starters.

Another reason to like Davis is because the D-Backs are scoring a ton of runs and playing good defense. Better run support will help Davis stay in games and potentially put up a solid win total. He has 15Ks in 16.2IP this season and while the WHIP is a bit high, it is nothing to get too concerned about as it is near consistent with what Davis has done in the past.

FSE VERDICT- Don't expect a Cy Young award, but if you need the help with Ks and Wins, Davis could be a solid addition. Don't think I am trying to play up the "comeback from thyroid cancer" aspect either. He can do somethings out there and might actually surprise you.

SP- Bartolo Colon

The Red Sox took their time with Colon, giving him plenty of time to rehab and get his arm in good shape. His first start off the DL ended with a W and 4Ks in 5IP. He touched 96 on the gun, and is a two start pitcher for week 9. His first start on Monday he went 7IP and gave up 5 hits to go along with only one walk and 4Ks. What's not to love?

For one Colon was playing the Royals and the Mariners respectively who have both been starved for offense for the majority of the season. At the same time, he did beat both teams and in reality, these are the teams that he should be beating.

FSE VERDICT- I am seriously beginning to believe that the Red Sox aren't expecting anything from Curt Schilling this season, making Colon all the more valuable to the Sox. They will be careful with him and baby him through some starts. With the Red Sox potent offense you can expect very good run support. On the other hand the bullpen outside of Papelbon has been up and down all year, and if Colon is only going 5-6innings a start, he is leaving a lot of outs on the field for the pen to pick up.

All that being said, he is worth the add if you need another starting pitcher. Another good suggestion, would be to then sell high near the end of June. Pitchers who are overweight and oft injured generally don't hold up too well down the stretch.

SP- Jason Bergmann

He was lit up early in the season and sent to AAA to get himself right. Since returning, he has been solid, going 7 shutout innings in each of his last two starts and combined for 14Ks in that time. Bergmann doesn't walk many guys and now that he is limiting the hits he gives up, he has seriously reduced the damage done against him.

The Nats' righty is another two start candidate in week 9 but faces tough match ups against Milwaukee and Arizona.

FSE VERDICT- Personally, I would grab him now. However, you should be able wait this week out. Bergmann pitches in relative obscurity in Washington, so he should go under the radar for a bit longer. Don't blame me if he tosses a gem and gets scooped up before you have the chance to.

RP- "Stunning" Joe Borowski

I love veteran closers and there is no reason to think Borowski won't come back to Cleveland and effectively close out games. No one in the Cleveland bullpen has been able to step up and take a firm hold of the role in his absence and Manager Eric Wedge has said the Stunning One will be his closer once healthy. Borowski locked down his first save in a month and half on Saturday and should get plenty of more chances going forward.

FSE VERDICT- Borowski doesn't have great stuff and will likely tally a high ERA. The bottom line is he gets the job done, something no one else in the Cleveland bullpen can do apparently. Go get him in all formats.

RP/SP- Joba Chamberlain

The Yanks have announced plans to ease Joba into their starting rotation by increasing his pitch count over the span of the next four to five weeks. Yankee owner Hank Steinbrenner has already called him "our Josh Beckett" several times, so fortunately there's no pressure on him to perform.

Being in New York, I have seen Joba pitch a lot, and think that he could initially struggle as a starter. He will occasionally walk guys or get into deep pitch counts and get himself into trouble. While as a reliever he boasts a gaudy strikeout rate, you can expect that to go down a bit, as he will have to pace himself better so he can last longer into games. Thus, he might initially have difficulty in is ability to pitch and not just throw as he does in 1 inning relief outings.

In spring training, Joba was roughed up a bit in the games he was starting. Granted it was only spring training, but it does raise some speculation that this move won't be as easy as many are making it seem.

FSE VERDICT- All that being said, Joba has tremendous stuff and he might be able to work out the kinks while the Yanks stretch him out from the pen. If you are hard up for a pitcher grab him and start him as a reliever. If you already have a decent staff, you don't have to go nuts over him. I could be way off base here, and am kinda going out on a limb by not buying into the "Joba The Savior" act some are pandering to, but if you don't feel as if you need to take the chance on him, then don't.

RP- Salomon Torres

With Eric Gagne out for a bit, the Brewers have initially announced that they will use a bullpen by committee to close out games. That being said, Torres is the guy with the most closing experience and with the Brewers struggling, they will need some consistency at the end of games to anchor the pen and help get them steadied.

FSE VERDICT- You should get him if you need saves. While the Brewers have showed an awkward loyalty to Eric Gagne, if Torres can close out games consistently he should be able to hold onto the closer job going forward.

RP- Chris Perez

I don't know a ton about this guy, but he is in the St. Louis bullpen and throws 100mph. He has closing experience in the minor leagues and if something should happen to Ryan Franklin he might be the next guy in line to get a save.

FSE VERDICT- If you are desperate for saves stash Perez. He could be a good candidate to help out in ERA, WHIP and to a lesser extent Ks if he can stick with the big league club.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Frank Thomas To The DL: Eric Chavez Off The DL Fantasy Impact



Oakland A's DH Frank Thomas has landed on the DL with a strained right knee and quadriceps tendinitis. The frustrating part for Thomas and fantasy owners was that the Big Hurt had just started to get it going at the dish going 11-24 with 4HR, and 6RBI in his last six games. Thomas believes the DL stint will help him stay in the line up more when he returns because they caught the injury before it could do any serous damage to his leg.

Coming off the DL for the A's will be veteran 3B, Eric Chavez. Chavez is coming back from an off season in which he had surgery on his back and both his shoulders. During the rehab stint he has hit .367 with 11hits, 2 of them coming by way of the long ball, 7Runs and 3RBI in 9 games. For the time being Chavez will be limited as far as playing the field goes, and will instead man the DH spot for the aforementioned Thomas. Oakland does plan to try and get Chavez some playing at 3B and gradually work him back into playing the field, while all the while making sure he can remain healthy and productive for an extended period of time.

FANTASY IMPACT

Tough blow for the owners who stuck with Thomas; you get rewarded with a DL stint. I am about ready to put Chavez into the "That Old Gag" category soon, as he has been unable to be productive or healthy in a few seasons. The fact he will be DHing will help, but I just don't know if his body will ever be the same after all the surgeries. If you want to look at the small sample size from his AAA rehab stint you can, but I don't think those number will correspond to what he will do at the major league level, over the course of the rest of the season.

The positive here, if you are hard up for a 3B and want to take a gamble on Chavez is that he will be DHing. Many leagues now use errors as a stat category and if Chavez is DHing full time, you will be able to plug him into your team's 3B spot and not worry about him burning you by making errors.

Troy Percival To The DL: Fantasy Impact


The Tampa Bay Rays placed closer Troy Percival on the DL on Thursday with a slightly pulled hamstring. An MRI has already revealed the pull not to be too serious and Percival is expected back June 14 when his stint would be due to end.

Hamstrings can be a tricky injury and are known to linger throughout a season. There have been many players who will pull or simply tweak a hamstring in spring training and come August or so the player reveals it has bothered him all season, and explains why their production is down. While Percival might be ready and feeling healthy in 15 days, don't bank on the 38-year-old to be able to remain healthy for the rest of the season.

FANTASY IMPACT

In the meantime you Percival owners, or owners looking to scratch out a few saves should look to either Dan Wheeler or Al Reyes to be the main source of saves while Percival is out. Popular belief has Wheeler getting the nod in most spots as he was the one who came in and closed the door when Percival got hurt on Tuesday.

I wouldn't be surprised either if Reyes was the one who wound up getting the call. Wheeler has proven himself to be one of the most consistent set up men in the big leagues over the last three- four seasons, and Reyes has closing experience, as he did such an admirable job for the Rays last season.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Injury Updates & Fantasy Impact - Week 9

It seemed like many big name or hot players all went down on Tuesday with one injury or another. We look down the list to see where most of these players are at and what that could mean for them.

Gary Sheffield

After hitting just .213 with 3HR and 12RBI in the first two months of the season, fantasy owners finally have a reason to stop thinking Sheff can get it going. Sheff hit the DL on Tuesday with a strained left oblique, and will be out at least for a few weeks if not longer. Sheff has had a variety of ailments all season long and given his production this might be a well needed reprieve.

To be honest Sheff looks finished. He is closing in on 40 and unless you are Barry Bonds, this is generally where a player's career is over or near the end. I would say trade him, but I doubt you could get much for him. Be sure to keep a close eye on the FA wire in your league for a guy who could get hot for a while, or perhaps has been underachieving who you feel could still put together a productive season.

Eric Byrnes

The Diamondbacks' spark club who provides high energy for the team and more importantly SB and HR for fantasy owners has been battling sore hamstrings all season. The injury has slowed him a bit limiting him to only 4SB and a .219 batting average.

While Byrnes could have played through the injury, the D-backs played it safe and shelfed him for a bit. Give them credit for looking ahead towarda August and September when they might really need him for the stretch run.

If you own Byrnes think of this as a benficial forced benching. You can find a hot bat on the waiver wire to replace what he has been doing up to this point in the season, and when he does come back you'll be able to reap the benefits of a totally healthy player.

Travis Hafner

Sat out another game with a sore shoulder and while no DL stint seems imminent, it might not be a bad idea for Cleveland to shut him down for a bit so he can get himself totally healthy. Hafner has been awful this seasona after struggling mightily last season.


It is tough tell to you to get rid of Hafner because when healthy he is one of the best bats in baseball. But right now he really looks lost, combine that with the fact that he can't even seem to stay in the line up and you have reason to try to deal him for whatever you can get and look else where for production.

Mark Kotsay

Kotsay had to sit out with a sore back, and might wind up on the DL because of it. I will defer any further analysis or commentary to our Most Added Hitters Article in Week 7. I didn't like Kotsay then and I don't like him now.

Jeff Kent

Kent was a last minute scratch with lower back spasms. He is no longer the stud he once was but at .242, 4HR, 16R and 22RBI, he is still a decent 2B option in the right league. At the age of 40 Kent still does pretty decently for himself, but these sort of nicks and bumps are t be expected along the way. Kent is a gamer, don't be surprised to see him back in the Dodger line up tomorrow or Thursday.

Carlos Guillen

Manager Jim Leyland admitted that Guillen had been playing with a severe case of hemorrhoids, and probably should have been on the bench on Monday night. He said he would DH Guillen in an attempt to keep him in the line up, but also give him some rest at the same time.

Good God! If you were Guillen wouldn't you just want Leyland to lie and make something up, or maybe not mention the injury to people? Perhaps Leyland is trying to light a fire under Guillen's butt (much pun intended).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hot or Not: Do You Remember...

As we look at the Hottest and Nottest players this week, we also turn our focus backwards, to the studs and stinkers of yesteryear, for a very special "Do You Remember..." edition of Hot or Not.

Hot Bats

Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas

Relevant stats: 4 HR, 6 RBI, .455 BA over the last seven days

Reminds you of: Frank Thomas

The Big Hurt is playing like it's 1996 - his finest statistical season. This makes you wonder if Frank Thomas is doing everything like it's 1996. Is he really into the Spice Girls? Is he arguing with Bobby Crosby about why Independence Day is better than Twister? Fantasy owners can only hope so.

Lance "Big Puma" Berkman

Relevant stats: 53 runs scored, on pace for 165 runs this season

Reminds you of: Jeff Bagwell

Here's a surprising fact: Jeff Bagwell scored 152 runs in 2000 - that's the most runs scored in a single season since 1936, when Lou Gehrig crossed the plate 167 times. Never would have guessed that. Bagwell put up ridiculous numbers in 2000, but somehow finished 7th in MVP voting that season. Jeff Kent won the award, with his BFF Barry Bonds finishing second.

Jacoby "Nickname Unknown" Ellsbury

Relevant stats: 19 SB, caught stealing twice

Reminds you of: Cool Papa Bell

Like Cool Papa Bell, tales of Ellsbury's elusiveness on the basepaths may be somewhat exaggerated. (Ichiro and Willy Taveras both have better SB/CS ratios this season, but receive far less media attention as base-stealers.) Unlike Cool Papa Bell, Ellsbury does not have the greatest nickname ever.

Cold Bats (Mendoza Line edition)

Richie Sexson

Relevant Stats: .197 BA, 9 HR this season

Reminds you of: Rob Deer

Rob Deer hit 25 homers in 1991, while batting a putrid .179. Deer's Wikipedia page says he's currently a "roving hitting instructor" for the San Diego Padres. Wouldn't you like to be a "roving hitting instructor"? You'd travel from town to town, carrying only a worn wooden bat and a clipboard, working out kinks in hitters' swings. You'd survive on sunflower seeds and Gatorade. Drive a Saturn. Sounds pretty cool...

Josh Bard

Relevant Stats: .200 BA, 0 HR; currently on DL

Reminds you of: Bill Bergen

OK, this comparison is a bit unfair - Bergen was maybe the worst hitter in MLB history, tallying a .170 batting average (and .194 OBP!!!) over nine seasons. Bard definitely isn't that bad. Then again, he has advantages Bergen never had. Imagine what Bergen could do if he worked with Rob Deer, Roving Hitting Instructor.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Relevant Stats: .179 BA, 1 HR

Reminds you of: Mario Mendoza

Lots of similarities here. Both are slick-fielding middle infielders - Cabrera recently turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history, Mendoza's nickname was Manos de Seda (Silk Hands, aka the second-greatest nickname ever) - who at times seem literally incapable of hitting a baseball.

Throwing Gas

Roy Halladay

Relevant Stats: 5 complete games, on pace for 257 IP

Reminds you of: Roy Halladay

Halladay threw nine complete games and 266 innings in 2003, and earned the Cy Young Award for his troubles. He's easily the most old-school pitcher going today, right? You get the feeling he'd fit right in with players in the late 1800s who threw 500 innings during a season and then worked a coal mine in the winter.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Relevant Stats: 8-0, 38 walks; on pace for 25 wins, 120 walks

Reminds you of: Carlos Zambrano

Zama-lama-dingdong went 16-7 in 2006, while walking 115. Not exactly a precise comparison to Dice-K's performance in 2008. That's because few pitchers in recent times come close to matching Dice-K's projected win and base on balls totals. For instance, Brandon Webb walked 119 batters in 2004 - and went 7-16.

Francisco Rodriguez

Relevant Stats: 21 saves, 2.45 ERA

Reminds you of: Mariano Rivera (2001 edition)

Mo notched 50 saves while posting an un-Mo-like 2.36 ERA in 2001. Rivera threw 80.2 innings that season, but K-Rod has only thrown 22 innings so far, meaning that his ERA might actually be artificially inflated. Scary to think he might get better as the season goes on.

Passing Gas

Fausto Carmona

Relevant Stats: 4-2, 38 walks; currently on disabled list

Reminds you of: Hi, I'm Rob Deer. I think I parked my car around here last night. Maybe you saw it? It's a bluish-gray Saturn Ion...

Whoops, looks like Rob Deer just roved into this post. Get out of here, Rob Deer! Go teach the Padres how to hit!

Hideki Okajima

Relevant Stats: 4 blown saves

Reminds you of: Shawn Chacon

Two charter members of the "We're Not Closers, But We Still Blow Saves" club. (Chacon blew seven saves in 2007.) It's a dubious distinction, like being being a member of the "I Hooked Up With Courtney Love - In 2008" club. Not that I would know.

I would.

What? I thought I told you to leave.

No, I'm not going.

Come on, man. Beat it.

Roy Oswalt

Relevant Stats: 85 hits allowed, 5.61 ERA

Reminds you of: Carlos Silva

No comparison to Carlos Silva is a good comparison. The Silva Fox gave up 246 hits in 2006 en route to a 5.94 ERA. Oswalt is on pace to give up 264 hits. Yeesh.

OK, that's it for this week's Hot or Not. Check back next week when -

Can I just say something? Kids, listen up. I'm Rob Deer, former big league slugger and current Roving Hitting Instructor. I'd like to talk to you about the choices we make. Early on, I chose to make baseball my life. And the game's been good to me, I'm very blessed. I got to travel and play the game I love. Along the way I made some money and lost some money. Were there women? One for every star in the sky. Why, there was a lady in Cincinnati who did things to me that will never be legal - not even in the distant future.

Of course I have stories like that. I'm Rob Deer.

The life of a Roving Hitting Instructor is simple, yet rewarding. I live on the road, I work where I'm needed. People don't always want me in town. They see a middle-aged man with a mustache, by himself, carrying a baseball bat, walking towards a Little League field and they think, "Uh oh." People are narrow-minded. I was too once. Dead red fastball hitter. Loved the longball, never wanted to nickel and dime with singles or bunts. Only the hard stuff. Sure, I made a living and got myself a career - but at what cost? I could've played another five or six seasons if I'd just been a little smarter.

But what's the use in regret? Without the choices I made, I wouldn't be where I am today - on the road, preaching the virtues of patience in the batters box and in life. This leads me to my next point - can I borrow $30?

See you next week...

Monday, May 26, 2008

That Old Gag - Week 9



The term, "That Old Gag" is generally used to explain a tired old joke that has lost its punch. I use the term in a similar fashion to explain some fantasy players.

Every season there are fantasy players who are shamelessly owned for no good reason. This is mostly due to their past exploits on the field or a small sample size of success that keeps fantasy owners coming back for more. The reality is these players simply aren't that good and don't deserve to be on your team... if you are serious about winning that it.

OF- Mark Teahen

In 2006 Teahen hit .290 with 18HR, 70R, 69RBI and 10SB in only 393 at bats. Teahen was pegged as an up and comer and excited some fantasy owners out there with his power/speed combo. 2007 was a down year for Teahen who at the time was coming off of shoulder surgery. He has brought those troubles into 2008 and looks like a shell of the guy that excited so many owners in 2006.

Teahen is what he is now. An outfielder with little speed, power and a guy who currently seems to be struggling in all facets of the game. Don't be that guy in your league who grabs him hoping he returns to his form of yesteryear.

3B- Chad Tracy

in 2005 Tracy was the man. He hit .308, with 27HR, 73R, and 80RBI. He could play 1B and 3B, making him more enticing for those who thought his young bat was the next big thing to come around at the hot corner.

2006 was a step backward for Tracy who hit 20HR with 91R and 80RBI, despite getting 94 more at bats than he had his previous season. He also saw his batting average plummet about 27 points, and while .281 is a respectable number, it shows a dramatic decline in value and production.

In 2007 Tracy bottomed out, due in part to a recurring knee issue and overall lack of production. His batting average again dropped nearly 20 points down to .264, with 7HR, 30R and 35RBI in only 227 at bats. Tracy now has had 2 straight down seasons, and doesn't seem to be developing into the player many projected him to be.

2008 sees Tracy coming back slowly from surgery and preparing to finally make his major league debut. The problem is, unlike seasons past, Tracy is now has a clear reserve behind Mark Reynolds and Conor Jackson, so there is no where for him to play and start. He will have to accept a bench role and hope that Reynolds can continue his May dive (1HR, 5RBI compared to 7HR, 24RBI in April) and be able to scrounge and scrap his way back into the line up.

3B- Hank Blalock

Hank The Tank has been tanking since the the end of the 2004 season. His numbers have been on the steady decline since then and while he did manage decent numbers in 2005 and 2006, all indications are that the regression in Hank's production are the norm and not the exception.

People go into drafts and even look at their FA wire and see Blalock and remember his past exploits rather than the reality of the situation. Blalock has lost his once fearsome power and doesn't do anything else well enough to cover up for that. His production continues to decline and the fact that he has been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome doesn't help either. Seriously how does a major league athlete get an ailment that only effects middle aged secretaries, IT guys and chubby computer programmers?

He's done, let some other sucker grab him and waste the DL... err roster spot.

OF- Austin Kearns

I used to really like Kearns when he was with Cincinnati. He was a young slugger in a good line up, in a great ball park who was developing into a legitimate major leaguer. Unfortunately, since his trade to Washington, Kearns' career has taken a turn for the worse.

In the season split between Cincy and Washington, Kearns hit 24HR with 84RBI, and showed that he might be ready to develop into a constant threat at the plate. Then in 2007 his numbers went downward and it seemed as if he could never get it going. He has continued his struggles this season to the tune of a batting average below the Mendoza Line and only 3HR.

He is on the DL because he had to get bone fragments removed from his elbow, which is probably a good thing because it gave The Nats and fantasy owners a reason to get him out of their line up. Keep him out of the line up and don't bother with him. If he is available in your league there is a reason for it.

C-Ramon Hernandez

Remember when he was good? I sort of do. He used to be a power and RBI threat behind the dish, but it is now clear that injuries and age (32) have started to take their toll on the once dangerous hitter. His 2007 season was poor because of injury and it looks like 2008 will be a similar story for Hernandez, sans the injury, but with an over all poor lack of production.

He isn't worth owning any more, especially since there always seems to be a few hot catchers around the league getting a shot and putting up good numbers.

3B- Melvin Mora

Has been on the severe decline since 2005 when he his 27HR with 88RBI. He mans the hot corner for he O's but has lost that pop that made him a dangerous middle of the order bat. He currently has 5HR and 24RBI and his .238 batting average hurts. It is certainly possible to find better production else where for 3B.

SP- Dontrelle Willis

At 26 Willis still has the opportunity to turn his career around, but right now he has been dreadful. Since his 22 win 2005 season, he has gone 22-27 and is currently sporting an ERA over 7.00 and a WHIP over 2.00, granted thats only in 6IP this season. While he could right himself it should be noted has has 11walks in those 6 innings and even struggled in his 2 rehab starts.

There is something wrong with Willis and he hasn't been a viable pitching option in over 2 seasons. If you own him, try to trade him and if you find find a trade sucker... I mean partner, just drop him and cut your loses while you still can. He is currently relegated to relief status and will be a while before he is trusted with a ball in the starting rotation. Considering how dreadful the Tigers' starting pitching has been, it says a lot that they do not trust him with the ball every 5 days.

Think I missed anyone or listed someone here prematurely? Please post your suggestions or comments.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Top Pick Ups Around The Diamond- Week 9

C- Miguel Olivo

Hitting .290, with 6HR, 11R, and 19RBI will get you noticed. The Royal's offense is sputtering and they need bats with some life in them in the line up and that is exactly what Olivo is providing right now. Olivo has his 16HR in each of the past two seasons, playing in one of the toughest hitter's parks in all of baseball, so the 6HR is no fluke, the power is legit.

His batting average is roughly 30-40 points higher than it should be, so expect that to come down a bit, as Olivo's season will have some ups and downs. Another problem he could run into is the fact that KC still has John Buck waiting in the wings to reclaim his starting role, despite the fact he has never lived up to his billing as a slugger.

FSE VERDICT- He will post numbers comparable, if not better than what he was doing with Florida. Of course, he will need to keep hitting to stay in the line up and a slump or two could cost him serous at bats. Get him if you don't have a limit of adds for the season, and are desperate for help at catcher.

1B- Lyle Overbay

Has been around for a while now, and for a few seasons was a hot name around draft time, but he has never really done anything to distinguish himself in fantasy. Of course, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. He manages to put up decent numbers almost every season with about 18HR and a batting average that hits .300 when he is healthy. On the other had, he has never driven in 100 RBI and really doesn't offer the type of power you'd like to see from a 1B.

FSE VERDICT- If your 1B is hurt of named "Carlo Delgado," Overbay could be a decent fit to fill the gap until your starter gets back or is euthanized. Don't go out of your way to add him, and if he is your starting 1B, you should probably look to add a power bat to make up for his lack of pop.

2B/3B/SS- Maicer Izturis

If you've read my previous articles then you know I like utility infielders for their versatility in fantasy. Izturis isn't of to a great start, but with Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick both on the DL the Angels are turning to Izturiz on an everyday basis to man in the middle infield.

Izturis can hit a bit and when all is said and done should finish the season at about .270 or .280 with 5 HR and 15-20 stolen bases if he can keep getting at bats. Good numbers for a utility infielder, which is what he is.

FSE VERDICT- As with many guys on this list, Izturis is only good if you have an injury and need a guy to fill in. He doesn't produce enough runs, or hit with enough power to be a viable addition for the rest of the season.

3B/2B/ SS- Ramon Vazquez

Came in to play 3B when Hank Blalock went down and hit so well, Blalock will move to 1B when he returns from the DL. The move makes sense as 1B has been a hole for Texas all season and this is a way for them to get a 1B without having to go outside of the organization.

If Vazquez were to blow his knee out tomorrow and be done for the season on May 28, this would still be considered a "career season" for him. He is hitting .351, with 2HR, 16R and 11RBI, and with Blalock moving, it looks like he will be the 3B going forward.

FSE VERDICT- All that being said he is still 31 going on 32 in August and has no track record of being this productive over the long haul. Someone will grab him in your league, and that doesn't mean it should be you. Don't bother to take a flier on him. Players are career utility infielders for a reason.

OF- Ryan Spilborghs

I like this guy a lot. He has been able to post solid numbers in limited at bats over the last few seasons, but has never gotten an everyday shot because Colorado is already has a stacked outfield. Well with Brad Hawpe and now Matt Holliday going down with injuries Spilborghs will see consistent at bats for at least the next 15 days.

He is a decent power/speed threat, can hit for average and knows how to draw a walk. He has the components to be a successful player, it is just a matter of that playing out when getting everyday at bats.

FSE VERDICT- If you have room on your roster, or are missing Hawpe or Holliday he is certainly worth a look. Stash him there if you like, and see if he keeps getting at bats during the course of the season.

OF- Joey Gathright

One of the fastest men in the big leagues, Gathright has been on the field inconsistently this season for the Royals. But, much like Miguel Olivo, Gathright will be seeing more playing time as the Royals are starved to get their offense going and want Gathright to provide a spark with his speed at the bottom of the line up.

Gathright has serious speed and even if he can't get his batting average up to a respectable .280-.290, he will still be good for 40 stolen bases. Right now he has stolen 13/15, and that is without playing on an everyday basis, and receiving inconsistent playing time.

FSE VERDICT- This is a classic, one tool player. If you need that tool then he is your man. If you don't he is worthless and not worth a look. I recently grabbed him in a league where I am hurting for stolen bases, so I will indeed practice what I preach.

OF- Andre Ethier

With Andruw Jones down with an injured career... I mean knee, the Dodgers can finally play the outfield they should have been playing all season. Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre and this guy, Andre Ethier. Either is a young player, who needs everyday at bats to get himself going again after a slow May. He has 4HR and 2SB on the season and an AVG at .288.

He had a very successful April and with everyday at bats he can certainly get his groove back and begin to post solid numbers again.

FSE VERDICT- I like him.