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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Top Pickups Around the Diamond- Week 8

C- Mike Napoli

We might really have something here. Napoli plays on a good offensive team and is getting the man's share of starts behind the plate. Surprisingly enough he leads the team in HR with 10, already matching his total from a season ago. While he is currently on pace to hit 35HR, it is doubtful he will be able to keep up his early run. Look for something closer to 25-30HR, still a very good total for a catcher.

He hit 6HR in April, but only batted a paltry .212. Thus far in May Napoli has 4HR and is hitting .324, with 12RBI. Don't expect a batting average like that for the rest of the season, his track record suggests he is more of a .250-.260hitter, but the power is no fluke and will be there at the end.

FSE VERDICT- I think I just talked myself into liking him. Go out there and get him, he'll have the power numbers by the end of the season to make him worth it.

1B- Dmitri Young

DA MEAT HOOK! An old favroite here at FSE, Young is on his way to play himself back into everyday at bats at 1B, while Nick Johnson is on the DL. He was the DH for a few days, while he tied to get his swing back, and on Tuesday was penciled into the 4hole in the line up.

Young had a bounce back season last year hitting .320 with 13HR and 74RBI. Credit the
Nats for taking a risk on in 2007, but do not expect that kind of production again in 2008. Dmitri will play decently enough, but he was hurt at the end of last season and was banged up early this season. The injuries will certainly hinder Young at the plate, as they are beginning to pile up quickly and with his large frame, and aging body (35 in October), Young will have a tougher and tougher time staying out on the field.

FSE VERDICT- We like Young the baseball player. We DO NOT recommend Young the fantasy baseball player. Keep an eye on Chris Duncan, who has been dropped in many leagues, and has more of an upside for the fantasy season going forward.

2B/3B/0F/SS?- Jerry Hairston

Interesting name here. Hairston was an underachiever for years, and over the last few seasons has found a niche as a utility man. Hairston is currently hitting .314 with 1HR and 4SB, more or less the MO of his career, with a batting average about 50 points higher than we are used to seeing.

Hairston won't hit for much power, and is certainly playing over his head right now, but at least he is playing, and that makes him a good stolen base threat. With both Alex Gonzalez and Jeff Keppinger on the DL, Hairston will get the starts at SS despite his defensive shortcomings. If isn't already eligible at SS in your league, he should be soon. I am a big fan of being able to have a guy on your roster who is eligible at so many positions, in case of off days, injury, or an anticipated day of rest for one of your regular starters.

FSE VERDICT- I don't want to overrate Hairston and make him seem better than he really is. Expect .270 with 7HR, 25SB and 50RBI if he actually continues to get starts at different spots in the line up. That being said with Keppinger and Gonzalez due back sooner or later, Hairston could see his role diminish if he is unable to keep up his current pace. Personally, I think he is worth an add in most leagues, if you are low on depth, or could use some stolen base help in the immediate future. Just don't expect him to be contributing this much come August of September.

3B- Troy Glaus

Remember when he was good? Glaus was once an elite slugger at 3B and was a lock for 35+HR and 95RBI. It looks like injuries have caught up to Glaus a bit and while he is no longer the elite slugger he once was, he is still productive and wield a dangerous bat.

Now in the NL with the St. Louis Cardinals, Glaus only has 2HR , but has managed a decent amount of RBIs so far knocking in 28, putting him on pace for 90. Not the triple digit RBI count we are use to seeing from him in the past, but still a serviceable amount for any 3B.

FSE VERDICT- I would take the risk on Glaus if he is available in your league. I think he is still getting his swing back after an injury plagued 2007. The power will comeback at some point and it might be that it takes him half of the season to get there, but it will happen.

SS- Cristian Guzman

Has hovered around that .300 make all season and looks reborn again playing with the
Nationals. He doesn't have the speed he once did early in his career, and for a few seasons he looked totally useless. However, last season (before he got hurt) and early this season Guzman looks reborn and seems as if he has regained his ability to handle the bat and be a productive player.

He is still only 30, and has scored 33Runs on the season, putting him on pace to score well over 100 this season. As an added bonus, he still might be able to go double digits in HR and SB, don't expect anything crazy, but certainly something serviceable enough in all leagues.

FSE VERDICT- Go out and get him if you need the help at SS or are hard up for Runs scored in your fantasy league.

OF- Jay Bruce

Stud center fielder and the jewel of the Reds' minor league organization. Bruce has 20/20 potential and most expect him to get the call for the major leagues in early June.

FSE VERDICT- I don't like rookie hitters and I don't like people picking them up before they are in the majors. You need players who are actually playing and putting up stats to be successful. Bruce might be able to help you in a few months, but until he is actually in the majors, I wouldn't give him any serous consideration.

OF- Jose Guillen

Similar to last season Guillen had a very slow April. There were reasons for for the slow start, one was the off season controversy of a pending 15 game suspension for purchasing steroids and HGH at various points throughout 2003- 2005. The suspension was overturned, but one could argue that the mental damage was already done to Guillen. Another reason for the slow start was that Guillen, admittedly, showed up to spring training out of shape and had to work his way into playing condition.

As the season has gone along April showers have bloomed and become May flowers for Jose who managed to become the AL's Player of the Week last week with 13RBI and 2HR. You might not like Jose Guillen the baseball player, but you have to like Jose Guillen the fantasy player.

FSE VERDICT- Guillen is a good outfield bat who will be available still in some leagues. He is definitely worth an add in most leagues, if he is still available. He might be a bit streaky, but in rotisserie leagues streaky doesn't matter, it all evens out in the end. In Head to Head leagues he might cause you a few extra week- to- week headaches so be weary of those up and down times.


OF- Matt Joyce

A developing minor league slugger has been called up to the majors by Detroit because, quite simply, there is no one else. He was getting his fair share of at bats as the DH and has now shifted to LF to in place of the oft injured Gary Sheffield. He has 4HR in only 30 at bats to go along with 5R, 6RBI and a .266average. He'll be 24 in August and still has plenty of growing and developing to do as both a hitter and major league player.

The numbers look impressive early on, and he could turn into a decent major league player. Again, I am never a big fan of rookies, but down the road I could see him being a perennial .250 with 25HR and 85RBI bat, especially playing around the caliber of players that will be in Detroit for the next few seasons.

FSE VERDICT- I have my reservations this season, but going forward I think he actually might develop into a decent fantasy player. (Note: I have no idea why I think this, I am just going with my gut.)

Quick Hits

OF- Ben Francisco

With Cleveland's offense struggling so badly they need a spark from anywhere, and Francisco is hoping to be just that. He has started 4 straight games and with a .372 batting average, is forcing the issue to be an everyday starter for the rest of the season. Go grab him if you need a quick fix, with season long production potential.

OF- Randy Winn

Always does just enough to remain on the fantasy radar. He is playing well this season and is a guy who can be a long term solution for teams in need of a decent bat. A .295average with 12HR and 20SB, are right on par with what he normally does, and should be expected again this season. He is a bit underrated, and should be available in your league as a good pick up if you need some speed.

2B- Mark Grudzielanek

Going into this season I felt that 2B was a remarkably deep position for fantasy, despite what many had believed. It is because of this that Grudzielanek doesn't get noticed in many leagues, but if you get the chance to look at his career stats, he is remarkably consistent. .3ooBA, 55RBI, 8HR, almost every season. Seeing the numbers I can't tell if those numbers are a good thing or a bad thing, but at least they are consistent.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hot or Not: Opposites...

The universe is filled with equal and opposing forces. Good and Evil. Yin and Yang. Hot and Not. Which side are your fantasy players on?

Returning to Form Hot

You knew they'd come around. And now you're being rewarded for your patience.

Ryan J. Braun

Stats over the last seven days: 6 HRs, 10 RBIs, .349 BA

This guy needs more friends

I like the trend of young guys signing long-term contracts with their clubs. I also like the trend of these guys having MySpace pages. How else would we know Braun's interests include, "Playing left field, hitting home runs and winning"? But only 290 friends, RJB? Even Yovani Gallardo has more friends.

Adam T. Dunn

Stats over the last seven days: 4 HRs, 9 RBIs, .263 BA

Nothing if not consistent

Check out Dunn's splits for the season. The guy hits for roughly the same (terrible) average in every situation. And somehow he'll still end up with 40 homers and 100 RBIs. It's safe to say there's nobody else like him playing today.

Alfonso G. Soriano

Stats over the last seven days: 7 HRs, 14 RBIs, .516 BA

The "G" stand for...

Guilleard. Now you know.

Returning to Form Cold

It seemed too good to be true. And you know what? It was.

Paul Bako

Stats over the last seven days: 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, .133 BA

When you hit like Paul Bako...

This is one of my favorite baseball articles ever. Jim Baker from espn.com was forced to watch the 2006 Royals - a legendarily bad offensive team that prominently featured Paul Bako - every day for a week. It wasn't pretty.

Jason Isringhausen

Stats over the last seven days: 0-1, 3 ER, 1 karate-chopped television

No Paul Bako, but...

In Isringhausen's case, the "too good to be true" refers to him being healthy, not effective. This isn't even his first punching-related injury - as a young Metropolitan, Isringhausen smashed a trash can in the dugout, breaking his wrist. He's also been sidelined with tuberculosis, which has an incidence rate of just 41 per 100,000 in the Americas.

Sidney Ponson

Stats over the last seven days: 0-0, 10.1 INN, 9 ER

The wisdom of crowds is BS

Tell me if this sounds good on paper - an overweight 32 year-old with a history of alcohol problems and high ERAs, throwing in a hitter-friendly park where pitchers routinely burn out during the scorching summers. It doesn't? Really? And yet, he was owned in 17% of Sportsline leagues just two weeks ago.

Special K (Good)

If strikeouts were vegetables, these guys would have exceeded their daily recommended allowance.

AJ Burnett

Stats over the last seven days: 1-1, 15 INN, 15 K

Getting better

Burnett's ERA has dropped more than two and a half points over the last month (7.27 to 4.71).

Ryan Dempster

Stats over the last seven days: 1-0, 14.1 INN, 17 K

Did you Know...

About the Tip O'Neill award? It's given out by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (did you know about that, too???) to the best Canadian ballplayer each year. Dempster won it in 2000. Larry Walker won the award nine times.

Rich Harden

Stats over the last seven days: 1-0, 10.2 INN, 13 K

Potential Tip O'Neill Award-winner?

The British Columbia native has looked strong since coming off the DL. And he's already on pace to shatter his average for innings pitched (36.2) over the past two seasons.

Special K (Bad)

Currently making Adam Dunn look like a contact hitter...

Wladimir Balentien

Stats over the last seven days: .182 BA, 11 K

Better as a Scrabble word?

Spelling "Wladimir" on a Scrabble board would earn you at least 14 points.

Evan Longoria

Stats over the last seven days: .296 BA, 11 K

He had them at "Hello."

Remember what I said about liking the trend of signing young players to long-term deals? Well, let's add a corollary to that: wait until they've had more than a hundred big league at-bats. Nevertheless, I'm sure the pride of Rio Hondo CC will turn it around soon enough.

Hanley Ramirez

Stats over the last seven days: .200 BA, 8 K

$70 million won't get you any closer to Hector El Father

Han-Ram may have the cash, but he's not in Hector El Father's video for Pa La Tumba, which features Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera.

The placebo effect strikes again

You may have already read this disturbing story about Jason Giambi and his most intimate performance-enhancer - a bright gold thong that he wears to break out of slumps. What's even worse is that other Yankees, including The Captain and Johnny Damon, have donned the thong when they themselves were slumping. My question is this: what about Giambi's performance over the past few seasons would suggest that these underwear have any positive impact?

Ok, that's it for this week's installment. Wishing you Hotness instead of Notness for the upcoming week. Later.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Top Pickups on The Mound - Week 7

Mike Mussina

The old man has been solid in his last 4 starts and is regaining the faith of fantasy owners everywhere. When you break down Moose's starts he really has only had 2 starts that were dreadful and both of those came against Boston.

Don't get me wrong the rest of his starts haven't exactly been Cy Young efforts of yesteryear, but they are solid efforts where he is able to keep his team in the game and leaves with a chance to win. His 7 inning 2 run effort against the White Sox is a reflection of his ceiling rather than what than his normal production. Expect box scores that look more like 5-6IP with 2-3ER on a semi-consistent basis for the rest of the season.

FSE VERDICT- You could do worse, and this would be going with the demon you know, rather than the demon you don't. Get him for now if you need a solid starter, but look to bail on him come August when he will probably start to break down, as is common with pitchers his age.

Aaron Laffey

Laffey is not considered a high-end prospect, rather he is a fringe guy who will have to continue to pitch well in order to keep his spot in the rotation. I actually think Laffey might be able to pull it off. He keeps his WHIP low and that is always a great indicator of a pitcher's success. He won't strike a ton of guys out, and unless the Indians figure their offensive issues out, he won't get a ton of run support. However the positive is that he won't hurt your ERA or WHIP and is still young enough at 23 to have some good upside potential.

FSE VERDICT- Grab him if you need him. He could be this season's version of Jeremy Guthrie, but with more wins.

Andrew Miller

The young Florida starter has been deemed the "Ace of The Future" since his 2006 debut with Detroit. The problem is the lefty has started his career like many young pitchers do, struggling. He had unsuccessful stints with the big club in Detroit in 2006 and 2007, before being dealt to the Marlins in the Miguel Cabrera trade.

He opened the 2008 season in Florida similar to what we had seen in Detroit. A young lefty with dynamite stuff, who was still struggling to find the consistency needed to get hitters out. He is currently sporting a bloated ERA and WHIP of 6.52 and 1.81 respectively.

What makes him one of the most added players now is that he has had two above average starts in a row. In his last two starts, Miller has combined for 13IP with 6Hits, 2ER, 3BB and 11K, enough to make any fantasy player take note.

FSE VERDICT- I am very skeptical of young pitchers who have not had at least a season or two on the major league level. That being said I find Miller a very good addition to any league right now. He will absolutely have some inconsistencies, so if you pick him up, be ready to deal with them. You should also be weary of the Marlins plans for him down the stretch. It has become common for teams to shut their young aces down early before their pitch count gets too high. Given the awful injury history of recent young Marlins starters, this is certainly a possibility in the second half.

Ryan Franklin

Jason Isringhausen's loss is his gain. There isn't a whole bunch to say here. He is closing and Izzy is not. If you need saves and he is still available in your league go out and grab him. He has shown over the last 2 seasons to be one of the most reliable set up arms in baseball.

Theoretically, the job is his and Russ Springer's to share; however, Franklin got the first call to close out a game on Saturday and there is no reason to see Card's manager Tony LaRussa do it any differently in the future. Ride him for saves while you can as sooner or later the job will go back to Izzy.

FSE VERDICT- Go get him now, but don't count on him closing for the rest of the season.

The Entire Brewer's Bullpen

Ned Yost announced Saturday that he was going with a bullpen by committee until Eric Gagne could get his groove back.

So on Sunday Brian Shouse came in to retire the final batter of the game and record his fifth career save. Okay no problem there. Then on Monday Guillermo Mota came in with two outs and the bases loaded to retire the only man he faced to record the second save of the post Gagne era. Makes sense to me, Mota has pitched well this season and deserved a shot at finishing a game. Finally, we get to Tuesday where the most unlikely candidate to close out a Brewer's game came in to record the save... Eric Gagne. This is like when your friend breaks up with a girl, and then goes on a few dates with other people only to show up at a wedding with the ex only a few weeks later. Way to play the field there Ned...

The only thing that was more surprising than seeing Gagne in to record the save, was that he actually managed to seal the deal. Gagne recorded the save, but looked ugly doing it. Protecting a two run lead Gagne gave up a hit and a walk, putting the tying runs on base and bringing the winning run up to the plate before closing the game out.

FSE VERDICT- Gagne looks to be back as the man anchoring the pen. We urge everyone strongly to keep an eye on this situation, however, Gagne getting the save opportunity is good for the his owners out there. The fact that he looked so bad doing it might be even more of a reason to deal him while he still has value.

Vicente Padilla

He is the Nicholas Cage of pitchers. He sucks, you know he sucks, and yet every-so-often he does something that makes you think he is still good.

FSE VERDICT- Let someone else rent Wickerman.

Jose Contreras

Jose has some really fascinating numbers this season.
He has allowed 1ER in each of his 3 wins.
He has allowed 4ER in each of hi 3 losses.
This does not take into account his 1 no decision, where he allowed 4ER.

Looking at the numbers you can say that at least he is consistent. Another positive is that he has pitched into the 7th inning in six of his seven starts, so he is staying out there and gives himself the chance to get a decision when he takes the mound.

The problem that arises is you don't know if he will the good Jose, or the bad Jose on the day that you have him going. The other problem is that its does not seem as if the Sox are scoring a ton of runs for him, in the games that the bad Jose is tossing in. You would have to figure that at some point he would give up 4 ER in a game and the White Sox could bail him out with some added run support, but that does not seem to be the case so far this season.

FSE VERDICT- Jose can be maddeningly inconsistent from season to season and even start to start. He looks solid in the early going this year, and in deeper leagues and AL only leagues he should be a good add. Hold off in smaller mixed leagues to see if either Jose or the White Sox offense can get into a better groove.

Fantasy Baseball Happy Recap - 5/14/08

Bat Of The Night: Carlos Quentin – 2/4, 1 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI

Quentin’s grand slam gave him ten homeruns on the season and pushed his RBI total to 34. Quentin now ranks in the top 5 in both HR and RBI and the 25 year old former elite prospect is blossoming into the 30 homer/100 RBI slugger that many have projected. Quentin’s production is not a fluke and he should continue to prosper hitting in a great hitter’s park in Chicago. We are witnessing the rise of future fantasy baseball masher…

Arm Of The Night: CC Sabathia – 9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K (CG, W)

I think it’s safe to say that Sabathia has put his rough start behind him. The big lefty has been dominant over his last 5 starts allowing only 6 ER over 36 1/3 innings during that span. Sabathia’s recent success is a product of rediscovering his control. In his first four starts, Sabathia walked 14 batters while only striking out 14 and allowed nearly 8 hits a game. Over his last 5 starts, CC has walked only eight batters while striking out 43 – over a K/inning. Wednesday night was clearly his finest outing of the season and Sabathia owners who stuck it out should get elite production from their contract year ace going forward.

Bottom Line: Matt Kemp – 0/5, 3 K

Tough night for Kemp who has been hitting well thus far in May and is a slugger to keep an eye on going forward.

Honorable Mentions

Top Five

Bats

1. Jay Payton – 1/4, 1 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI
2. Matt Stairs - 1/4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI
3. Juan Pierre – 3/5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 SB
4. Alfonso Soriano – 2/5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
5. Geovany Soto – 2/4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Arms

1. Micah Owins– 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (W)
2. Luke Hochevar – 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (W)
3. Todd Wellemeyer – 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (W)
4. Jose Contreras – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (W)
5. Mike Mussina – 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (W)

Bottom Five

Bats

1. Bill Hall – 0/4, 3 K
2. Jack Cust – 0/4, 3 K
3. Mike Cameron – 0/4, 3 K
4. Marcus Thames – 0/4, 3 K
5. Joey Votto – 0/5, 2 K

Arms

1. Brett Myers – 4.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K (L)
2. Jake Peavy– 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (L)
3. Jorge De La Rosa – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K (L)
4. Boof Bonser – 6 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (L)
5. Guillermo Mota – 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (BS, L)

Making A Case...

Matt Stairs

Stairs has quietly been putting up some nice numbers in Toronto. The man they call “professional hitter” is hitting over .300 and now has 6 homeruns on the season following last night’s grand slam. I don’t see him as a great everyday fantasy player, but he is a decent option for spot starts when the matchup warrants.

Closer Corner

- The Brewers closer carousel continues to turn as Guillermo Mota got the call last night and blew his first save of the season giving up 3 ER in the ninth against the Dodgers. Mota had successfully record the final out of Monday’s game with Gagne returning to the closer role and locking down the save in ugly fashion on Tuesday. Yost had said before the game that Gagne would be available in the ninth, but he turned to Mota instead with a 4-3 lead. Stay tuned…

- The save vultures were circling last night as Blaine Boyer, Scott Downs and even starter Jarrod Washburn notched saves. Downs has actually become a nice option out in Toronto, closing out games when BJ Ryan can’t go on back to back nights.

- George Sherrill now has 15 saves on the season. Like Jimmy Fallon we are pretty sure he is a fluke and keep expecting him to fade but then NBC goes and gives him the Late Late Show and we are forced to reevaluate our life’s decisions… what were we talking about? Whatever.

- Other Closers Locking Down Saves Last Night: Mariano Rivera (11), Brandon Lyon (11), Joakim Soria (10), Jose Valverde (10), Jon Rauch (8), Takashi Saito (6)

Fantasy Observations & Thoughts

- Lance Berkman and Chase Utley hit their 14th homeruns of the season while Ryan Howard hit number 8. The big guy has to get going eventually… he has to!

- Carlos Quentin, Matt Stairs and Jay Payton all hit grand slams last night.

- Big return for Angels’ ace John Lackey allowing 1 ER over 7 innings of work. Lackey took the no decision but certainly pitched well enough to win. He is a must start going forward.

- Jonathon Broxton earned his second win of the year, bouncing back after completely imploding on Sunday afternoon to the tune of 6 ER in 1/3 of an inning.

- Ted Lilly struck out 11 batters last night in 8-5 Cubs win over San Diego. Lilly has been pitching better of late but I wouldn’t expect an 11k performance again anytime soon.

- Remember Nick Swisher? No? He was that guy that hit 35 homers in 2006, stunk in 2007 and was supposed to benefit from a move to a hitter’s park in 2008. Well he hit homerun number four last night. The low homerun total looks right at home with Swish’s .207 batting average and 10 RBI.


Check out the Fantasy Baseball Happy Recap every weekday on Fantasy Sports Experience!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Pick Ups Around The Diamond- Week 7

We head back around the majors and look at the most added lists in popular fantasy leagues and determine if the player is for real or not.

C- Chris Iannetta-

Has more or less taken the starting role from incumbent Yorvit Torrealba by playing well while Torrealba has struggled. Iannetta is hitting .327 with 3HR 14RBI and 8Runs scored. To be honest I expected to start writing this, glance at the numbers and give quick, "don't go nuts" review, that was until of course, I actually looked at the numbers to see that there might be something here.

He has hit for a bit more power than one could have expected, but he produced batting averages well over .300 in parts of 2006 and 2007 while in the minors. Of course the thing I like to stress is that Iannetta knows how to draw a walk and has sported an OBP of well over .400 in that same time frame.

Iannetta will have his benefits; he is hot right now, plays for a good offensive team and is getting the majority of the playing time behind the plate. Another benefit is that he is only 25 and still growing as a hitter, while Torrealba is pushing 30, and has already really, topped out as an offensive player. A negative, however, will be that Torrealba, who helped the Rockies get to the World Series last season, lingers on the bench, waiting for an Iannetta slump, so he can reclaim his starting role.

FSE VERDICT- It is appealing, but hold off for now. Keep an eye on the situation and at the very least you could have the great heads up on a sleeper at catcher for next season.

C- Paul Bako

I avoided writing this for as long as I could, but I cannot ignore the hot Bako any more. I realize it's a great story and he is having a career season, and there are even websites pushing for his birth on the All-Star team. However lets realize threethings. 1) He is 35, 2) has never played this well before and 3) He is still Paul Bako.

FSE VERDICT- Nice story early on, but so was No Country For Old Men, and we all know how that ended. A lot of weird glances, confused, angry faces who feel like they were missing something when it was all over.

1B- Joey Votto

Cincinnati's young slugger started the season in a 'the hotter hand plays' platoon with Scott Hatteburg. Soon after though, and as April turned into May Votto's early season struggles ended and he took the step forward into being the everyday starter. He is now a lock to play just about everyday at first, and will put up some solid Kevin Youkilis type numbers in his first season. As an added bonus, based on his minor league numbers, he should even be good for about 10-15SB.

FSE VERDICT- Go get him.

1B- Carlos Delgado

Probably should have sold high after his 2HR game in April, but his May stats indicate there might still be something left in his old bat. So far in 10 May games Delgado has 11H, 2HR, 5RBI, a .306AVG and a .915OPS. A positive is that at very worst, it looks like Mets will continue to give Delgado the lion's share of at bats at first base. So, he will always have the opportunity to hit in productive spots no matter how badly he is slumping or struggling.

FSE VERDICT- You still should have sold high after the 2HR game.

2B/3B- Akinori Iwamura

Has been on a tear since the beginning of May with 18H, 6RBI, and 8Runs scored. He plays on a dynamic Ray's offense, and showed the ability last season to be able to steal a base when the situation calls for it. The fact that he can fill a decent utility role on your fantasy team won't hurt any either.

FSE VERDICT- A bit streaky, but a solid addition that can fill a few spots.

3B- Blake DeWitt

Playing over his head right now, but he is hot and quite frankly there is no one else in LA to take at bats away from him. He has always hit for decent average in his minor league career, he never did anything to separate himself or make him seem like anything special. However it was his ability to stay healthy this spring that helped him nail down the starting 3B job.

FSE VERDICT- If you are hard up for a 3B you could do worse.

SS- Stephen Drew

I have got to be honest I realize scouts and baseball people know a lot more about talent and upside than I do, but I am going with my gut. I don't like Drew all that much. He, at best will end up being serviceable, but right now he isn't even there yet. He has hit for decent power for a SS this season with 4HR already and 14RBI to go along with 21Runs. He plays on the dynamic D-Backs offense, so he should have some decent numbers by default. But please do not expect the All-Star top SS projections some keep predicting for him.

FSE VERDICT- You can play the upside game, but I'll play the reality game. He isn't worth it.

SS- Jeff Keppinger

Just broke his kneecap (5/13). See you in 4-6 weeks.

FSE VERDICT- Still better than Juan Uribe

OF- Garret Anderson

Was underrated for years and when he finally started getting fantasy love became brittle and injury ridden. In my opinion he has once again become underrated and is worth owning in most leagues. You must keep an eye on him and the injury list in your league if you own him, but he puts up numbers that can make it worth it, especially if he is a FA in your league.

Right now, he is on pace for 20HR and 89RBI, which aren't the All-Star numbers we remember from years past, but are as solid and consistent as you will find as FA in most leagues.

I like him a bit more than our next guy because of his history of being a consistent power threat and because he can hide in the DH's spot if he gets banged up at any point during the season.

FSE VERDICT- Is a fine addition if you have some banged up bodies in the outfield and need some offense.

OF- Mark Kotsay

Has hit over .300 just once in his career, doesn't hit for power, doesn't steal many bases, has a bad back, and yet because he played in Oakland and replaced Andrew Jones in Atlanta, people get confused and think he is good. He is off to a hot start in the ATL, but don't fall for it and think this is the start of something good and that he will be able to continue it throughout the season. Even if he keeps up his numbers he is still on pace for only 72R, 13 HR and 81RBI, to go along with a .300AVG. Keep in mind that is assuming everything breaks right, and his chronic back injuries of years don't flare up again.

FSE VERDICT- If you can't tell I have nothing nice to say about him.

OF- Carlos Gomez

He has shown tremendous speed already having 16SB on the season and has managed to be a spark plug on a rather otherwise stagnant Twins offense by scoring 21Runs and has even added a bit of pop with 2HR. The batting average is only at .268 so far, and actually think it will go down before it goes up further, but still the numbers across the board will be nothing to frown at.
He is still only 22 and from what people in the Twins organization say he is still raw as a player, but isa good listener and has grown in leaps and bounds sinse spring training began. He will continue to grow as a player throughout the course of this season, but don't be surprised if that doesn't show its greatest reflection on his production until next season.

FSE VERDICT- Like him a lot this season, if he is not already owned in your league. Love him in your 2009 draft.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Weekend Happy Recap - Week 6

Welcome to an express version of the Happy Recap. Let's take a look best and Jonathon Broxton... err... worst from this past weekend in fantasy baseball! Just missing the Top Five was the weekend hit leader, former Mets great Jeff Keppinger, who read the eulogy at my team's funeral Sunday after he buried us.

Bat Of The Weekend: Dan Uggla - 5/10, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI

Arm Of The Weekend: James Shields - 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (CG, W)

Bottom Line: Justin Speier - 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2 L)

Honorable Mentions

Top Five

Bats

1. Carlos Beltran - 5/11, 3 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI
2. Grady Sizemore - 5/10, 3 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI
3. Carlos Quentin - 6/13, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
4. Josh Hamilton - 7/14, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI
5. Ryan Braun - 7/13, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI

Arms

1. Brian Bannister - 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (W)
2. Bronson Arroyo - 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K (W)
3. Andrew Miller - 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K (W)
4. Ted Lilly - 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (W)
5. Chris Sampson - 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (W)

Relief Studs

Kerry Wood & Troy Percival - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2 Saves)

Bottom Five

Bats

1. Mark Reynolds - 0/10, 6 K
2. Geovany Soto - 0/11, 4 K
3. Fred Lewis - 1/14, 7 K
4. Chris Young - 1/10, 6 K
5. Manny Ramirez - 1/11, 4 K

Arms

1. Jonathon Broxton - 0.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (L)
2. Mike O'Connor - 3.1 IP, 6 H, 9 ER, 6 BB, 1 K (L)
3. Dustin McGowan - 3.2 IP, 9 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (L)
4. Tim Wakefield - 2.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (L)
5. Chad Qualls - 0.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (L)

Relief Duds 

Jonathon Broxton & Justin Speier

Hot or Not: The Season So Far...

Hey, I'm the new guy here at FSE. I'll be carrying the equipment bags onto the FSE team bus and writing the Hot or Not column once a week.

We haven't had a Hot or Not since Spring Training, so there's a lot to catch up on. Let's get to it...

Season-Long Hotness

The Sophia Lorens of Fantasy Baseball. They've started hot, and they'll most likely stay hot, even when they're old and making movies with Walter Matthau. (It's never too late to make Grumpier Old Men references, right?)

Chase Utley

What's not to like? He's on pace to break the record for home runs by a second baseman in a season (Davey Johnson and Rogers Hornsby both cranked 42; Utley's on pace for 56), has a .417 OBP and, according to his website, is a proud environmentalist and an avid supporter of the Pennsylvania chapter of the ASPCA.

Semi-Related Trivia

Who holds the NL record for most homers by a designated hitter? None other than Mr. Rocky Balboa Jim Thome, who put four balls in the seats for the Phils during interleague play in 2004.

Lance Berkman

For years, Lance Berkman has been the best hitter in baseball with a double chin - a proud title passed down from greats like Cecil Fielder and Rosie O'Donnell in A League of their Own. This season, though, Berkman has arguably been the best hitter, period.

Fun Fact

My brother Matt insists on calling Lance Berkman "The Flying White Dutchman." The nickname, of course, makes zero sense, but still...there's something catchy about it.

Brandon Webb

Brandon Webb eats innings for breakfast and induces ground ball outs for lunch. I'm not sure what he has for dinner, but I'll bet it's pitching-related and very good.

A Message for Hank Steinbrenner

Brandon Webb, currently the best pitcher in baseball, was 7-16 in his second full season. Young pitchers need time to develop. They are not thoroughbred horses. They will not automatically reach their full potential in two years. And you cannot euthanize them if they underperform.


Shoot me in the face hot

A special section dedicated to the high-performing players you could have had if you weren't too busy drafting vegan first basemen (more on him later).

Cliff Lee

Hi, I'm Cliff Lee. I was owned in just 21% of Sportsline Roto leagues during the first two weeks of this season. Now I'm the new Orel Hersheiser. That is all.

Born to be a ballplayer or a Civil War General

Cliff Lee's full name is Clifton Phifer Lee.

Ervin Santana

A bitter selection for anyone who counted on Santana last season, when he was 7-14 with an ERA of almost 6.

Depressing Fact

I had Ervin Santana last season.

Josh Hamilton

Was only a semi-sleeper at the beginning of the season, but few people could have expected him to lead the Majors in RBIs.

Obligatory "Josh Hamilton is a recovering substance abuser" reference

Can never decide whether I like or dislike Jeff Pearlman as a writer. Is he a legitimate Good Guy, or a self-important crybaby? This article about Hamilton furthers my ambivalence.


Captain of the cheerleading team hot

Sure, these players look great now, but there's no telling what'll happen over time. Maybe they stay hot, maybe they show up at the ten-year reunion with stretch marks and a tooth missing. Either way, you're intrigued.

Nate McLouth

Seems like the Pirates should have more players named Nate, doesn't it? Anyway, Nate's hitting 100 points better in the daytime than he is the nightime. Let's see how he does once pitchers get another look at him.

Nate News

Nate McLouth is the third most popular "Nate" on Google, behind only Nate Robinson and Nate Diaz, the MMA fighter.

Joe Saunders

Saunders, who's been pretty lucky all season, finally lost on Saturday night. I feel a 12-10, 4.50 ERA kind of season coming on.

Did You Know (with special guest writer Chris Berman)

Saunders' career record is 21-9. Only John "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" Candelaria had a better winning percentage after his first 40 starts with the Angels.

Edinson Volquez

Forget that Volquez has frontline starter kind of stuff. His nickname is "Voltron." His future is in film, specifically buddy movies with Shia Labeouf.

Where are they now?

Volquez, along with John Danks and Thomas Diamond, was one third of Texas' highly-touted "DVD" trio of pitching prospects. Danks and Volquez are both productive big-leaguers today. But only Thomas Diamond has a website.


A few things that would make the 2008 MLB season Hotter:

Bobby Cox managing games in a bathrobe. No good reason why.

More players blogging. (Check out the guest post from Morgan Ensberg. It's great that he loves reading "non-fiction." Just wish he was as big a fan of "getting hits.")

A late-night talk show hosted by John Kruk.


And now, on to the Not-so-Hots...

Temporarily chilly

Like a timid lover, these slow starters just need a little time and attention before they reveal their secret gardens of potential.

Aaron Harang

The big man has had no luck so far, going 1-5 with a 3.09 ERA. The strikeouts are still there, as is the awkward facial hair. He'll turn it around.

No Mets were harmed in this trade

As a minor leaguer, Harang was traded from the Rangers to the A's for Randy Velarde. Strange to think such a lopsided trade happened without Steve Philips being involved.

Alex Rodriguez

He'll be back to his old tricks soon - hitting moonshots when the Yanks are up 7-2, sunbathing on large rocks like a lizard - and it'll be like he was never gone at all.

Reason #1,354 it's getting harder to be a Yankee fan

In a recent interview, A-Rod's wife said that A-Rod passed out during the birth of their first child. The guy's like the anti-Jack Bauer.

Ryan Howard

He might strike out 300 times this season, he might hit 60 homers. My guess is he does both.

Weird

The character Ryan Howard from The Office has a longer Wikipedia entry than Ryan Howard the ballplayer.


Nearing hypothermia

They're not dead yet, but they're not looking so great either.

Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder is an interesting experiment. If he's able to turn it around, scouts will be prowling the streets of Williamsburg and Greenpoint looking for gaunt, smelly vegan power hitters.

Public Service Announcement

Just in case Prince has any more big lifestyle changes up his sleeve - vegan moms' breast milk may lack the vitamins and nutrients developing babies need.

The Colorado Rockies of Denver

I went to Denver back in November, just after the Rockies lost the World Series. There were signs all over town that said things like, "Thanks for a Great Season, Rockies!" and "It was a Great Run!". At the time I wondered if all that relentless positivity would help or hurt a developing team. I'm still wondering.

Things to do in Denver

Check out the Buckhorn Exchange, a crazy steak house on the outskirts of town that serves rattlesnake and yak and has a dining room that looks like the physical manifestation of Teddy Roosevelt's dreams.

Closing Pitchers

It's not your fault you drafted Jason Isringhausen. Really, it's not. A lot of guys drafted him. He'll be better, just stop focusing on it.

Nature of the beast

In case you didn't know, closers have little job security. Only eight pitchers have been their team's closer since 2005 or earlier - Mariano Rivera, Bobby Jenks, Joe Nathan, K-Rod, Huston Street, Chad Cordero, Isringhausen and Trevor Hoffman.


Barry Zito-esque

The worst of the worst.

And let's face it, there's only one player who could deserve such an insult...

Barry Zito

It's easy to be angry at Barry Zito. He earns $13 million a year and is an utter failure at his job. But before you jump to anger, consider this: there are other professionals who commit far more egregious sins every day. CEOs run companies into the ground and get huge buyout packages. Politicians break the very laws they put into effect. Doctors and lawyers show up to work drunk or high, and cause real, irreparable damage to people who trusted them.

The point is: who would you rather have on your fantasy baseball team? Barry Zito or Eliot Spitzer? I rest my case.

Something by somebody who's actually good at his job

Here's a very funny essay by Jack Handey (of Saturday Night Live fame). Also check out Handey's hilarious new book, What I'd Say to the Martians: And Other Veiled Threats.


Ok, that's it for this week's installment. Check back next week for more analysis and fewer words. Later.