Roto Imbeciles

Editor's Corner

October 3, 2011: Zack Greinke was 11-0 at home in 2011!

Zach Duke made a big impact in his debut with the Arizona D’Backs, hitting the first home run of his career and throwing seven shutout innings. But we should be used to Duke starting off well with his team. Back in 2005, in Duke’s first 6 GS he was 4-0. In 39 1/3 IP, he had 34 HA, an 0.92/1.12 ERA/WHIP, and a 29/10 K/BB. In fact the normally strike out-challenged Duke had 17 K’s in his first 2 GS. He would end that season 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA and a 58/23 K/BB in 84 2/3 IP. That season would net Duke a fifth place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. The Pirates must have thought that they had the next Tom Glavine on their hands. I would say he’s pitched more like Tom Arnold. But it wasn’t to be as his 48-74 career record will attest to. In 168 GS and 1041 IP, Duke has a 4.56/1.49 ERA/WHIP, 1269 HA, and a 537/282 K/BB. Duke was actually an All-Star in 2009 with a hot first half but quickly went back to being Zach Duke again! He went 11-16 with a 4.06/1.31, 231 HA, and a 106/49 K/BB in 213 IP. On July 15 the D’Backs removed Duke from the starting rotation and replaced him with my favorite game show host Barry Enright. I wanted to throw my lap top into the garbage when I saw that D’Backs’ GM Josh Towers signed Duke this past winter to a $4.25-mil contract with an option for 2012. I would hope that option for Mr. Towers would be to rid himself of Duke! It felt good to lop a $36 Adam Dunn off my $260-AL team a few minutes ago. Yes, just clicked the button and, voila, free agent. Dunn batted .159 on the season going 66 for 415 with 11 HR, 42 RBI, 36 R, a 177/75 K/BB and a terrible .569 OPS. This is the same guy that’s averaged a shade over 40 HR the past 7 seasons. Hopefully he just didn’t lose it overnight though it’s tough to think of any other answer. Dunn is only the second guy in major league history (Mark Reynolds is the other) to have a higher amount of K’s than batting avg. The veteran slugger can't be much worse moving forward, but the White Sox are still on the hook for $14 million next season and $15 million in 2013 and 2014. In a way I wonder why White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is out of a job and not the GM, Kenny Williams! Something interesting happened; I caddied for Ted Williams yesterday. No, not the Splendid Splinter or Teddy Ballgame. This guy was a stocky RH player and, the big difference was, this Ted Williams was alive! His golf game may have been deceased however! But it was something to talk about and, when I started the round, I was in my mid-50’s and, by the time we finished, I was in my late 60’s. We were at the 4 hour mark just getting off the thirteenth tee!

October 2, 2011: The only wisdom is knowing you know nothing!

Jerry Hairston, Jr. has seen a good amount of playing time at the hot corner down the stretch in place of McGehee, who batted .132/.203/.294 in September, but the Brewers have stood by the struggling McGehee pretty much all year. Hairston did bat .270 in 337 AB with 5 HR and 43 R. His .727 OPS was actually better than McGehee’s .626 OPS. At this point I believe that Jerry Hairston, Sr. could outhit McGehee! I might even put Scott Hairston in there but he’s probably hurt at the present time. Maybe even former LA Laker Happy Hairston! Ultimately, though, McGehee can't be stunned that he and his .223/.280/.346 batting line for the season are on the bench. He's expected to get the start in Game 2 against Daniel Hudson, who he is 5-for-5 against in his career. It appears this will be a "hot hand" situation. The Red Sox announced Friday that they would not exercise the two-year option on the contract of manager Terry Francona. In other words, Francona is officially out. The Red Sox front office released a statement late Friday afternoon, which read in part: "Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on. After taking time to reflect on Tito's sentiments, we agreed that it was best for the Red Sox not to exercise the option years on his contract." Francona went 744-552 (.574) over his 8 seasons as manager with the Red Sox, including two World Series titles (2004, 2007). There's already some buzz that he could land with the White Sox, but even if he doesn't, we figure it won't take him long to find a new home. Francona was the second winningest manager in Red Sox history behind Joe Cronin’s 1071. It didn’t help that the Red Sox SP’s had a 7.08 ERA in September. Something that I’ve been thinking about recently. The actor, Raymond Burr, passed away in the 90's and word of his closet homosexuality came out almost immediately. Go figure! I made a list of 5 Perry Mason "things:" 1. he had no idea that a wheelchair was in his future, 2. always the focused attorney, he never realized that his secretary, Della Street, was in love with him, 3. he had 20 black suits in his "closet", 4. didn't Perry's mother know that all androgynous names turn to female?, and 5. my wife thinks that Tim Lincecum is androgynous! Speaking of Perry Mason, we did get to the bottom of this mystery that’s been gnawing at me. Elvis Andrus wasn't the only Elvis ever to play in the majors. Elvis Pena played in 25 games for the Rockies and Brewers in 2001-2002. He was 12 for 49 (.245) with 6 R, 3 doubles, 7 RBI, 3 SB, a 7/7 K/BB, and a .651 OPS. Pena hung around the minors until 2006 finishing with a .268 BA in 4652 AB, 778 R, 26 HR, 402 RBI, 366 SB, an 851/635 K/BB, and a .715 OPS. I hope that you had him on your minor league fantasy team! I was always afraid of the Perry Mason music as a kid, Sunday night at 10:00 on Channel 2 opposite the long running Bonanza on Channel 4, a show about a 50 year old man with three 46 year old sons. The beginning of the Outer Limits also scared me! Those were the days way before VCR’s and any kind of video recording. You would even have to get up to change the channel with that annoying click of the knob!

October 1, 2011: To commit suicide in Buffalo is pretty redundant!

I know it’s the start of the playoffs and the youthful Matt Moore is going for the Rays, the first major league pitcher to have only 1 regular season start and then start a post-season game. We’ll keep you abreast of the action through the forum sections. I don’t know why I bring this up but I was thinking about an offer I received in my $360-NL league back in 2003. Sometimes towards the end of another long fantasy baseball season, it’s best just to ponder the simpler times! Another owner called me back in ‘03 and said that he would "give me" Brian L. Hunter for a cheap Ryan Klesko and a SP who's name escapes me. That owner mentioned to me that Hunter will definitely steal 40 bases in '03. Never mind that he hadn't played regularly in 3 seasons, this guy was going to steal 40 bases. I told that owner that if Hunter is a definite for 40 steals, you're not getting enough back for him and I wouldn't want to "rip you off!" I mentioned to that owner that he should keep him. He did and Hunter was released on July 27th of that year. With 0 SB and 98 AB. He did lead the AL in SB's in '97 (74) and '99 (44) and scored 114 R in '97 for the Tigers. He was a .264 hitter over 3347 career AB with 500 R and 260 SB. Brian L. Hunter is not to be confused with Brian R. Hunter, a 1B who played at the same time, who finished with 67 HR and a .234 BA in 1555 AB! A few of us fantasy baseball types were sitting around on Sunday night watching the former Mets and Astros SP, Mike Scott, dominate the Mets in the 1986 NLCS. This is a guy that came into the 1985 season with a lifetime record of 29-44. Before the '85 season, Scott was taught the split-finger fastball by Tigers' pitching coach, Roger Craig. Scott became an 18 game winner with the Astros that year and was rewarded with a 3-year $2 million deal. But, it's the 1986 season that Mike Scott became one of the best, if not the best SP, in the NL. In 275 IP that year (37 GS), Scott had a 2.22/0.92 ERA/WHIP, 182 HA, and a great 306/72 K/BB. He was accused of scuffing the ball that season but, like a great thief or, in this case, pitcher, was never caught doing so. It's his work in the NLCS vs the Mets in '86 that I most remember. In 18 IP that post-season, Scott had 2 GS, 2 CG, 1 shut out, 8 HA, 1 ER, a 19/1 K/BB, a 2-0 record (the only 2 Astros' wins) and an 0.50/0.50 ERA/WHIP. Has to remind you a little of Cliff Lee! He had 233 K in 247 2/3 IP in 1987, an 0.98 WHIP in 1988, and his only 20 win season in 1989. He was a 3 time All-Star ('86-'87, '89), won the Cy Young in '86 and was 2nd in the voting in '89. For his career, Scott was 124-108 in 2068 2/3 IP, 1858 HA, a 3.54/1.20, and a 1469/627 K/BB. Injuries became too much for Scott and he retired after the '91 season.

September 30, 2011: Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare!

Any owner who had Mike Napoli on a team was probably pretty competitive this fantasy baseball season. Or if they traded for Napoli early in the season, they’re probably patting themselves on the back right now. Napoli wasn't supposed to be a regular this season. He was a utility part, ready to plug in at catcher, first base or designated hitter to provide support for the big guns in the lineup. His profile was that of a power hitter who couldn't field well enough or get on base often enough to merit a regular place in the lineup. That profile was true defensively, but Napoli blew his offensive projections out of the water. Napoli was acquired by the Rangers in a deal for Frank Francisco days after the Angels traded him to Toronto for Vernon Wells. Wells, perhaps the most overpaid player in the history of baseball, turned in a season that was barely replacement level and the Angels catchers were even worse. They lost the division to the Rangers by 10 games, a number that Napoli might not have been able to make up on his own, but both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference peg him as being worth at least five wins this year. Napoli batted .320 on the season with a career high 30 HR, 75 RBI, 72 R, a respectable (for him) 85/58 K/BB, and a stout (for anyone) 1.045 OPS. Mike Napoli was a member in good standing of 2 of my fantasy teams battling for the money (I was out of the running in 2 other leagues). I started the Wednesday in first place in my 15 team mixed league, was tied during the evening and ended up coming in second by one point. Napoli hit 2 HR and drove in 3 as he did the night before, ending the season with 4 HR and 6 RBI over his last 2 games. Those 3 leagues were a combined 17 for 138 (.123) offensively for me and Napoli had my only 4 HR (2 each in 2 leagues). In my opinion, Mike Napoli had one of the best seasons in the AL, no matter the position. On July 4 the LA Dodgers purchased the contract of INF-OF Eugenio Velez from Triple-A Albuquerque. Velez, 29, was batting .339/.371/.463 with 2 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB and an .834 OPS over 235 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. When he was called up an article mentioned that because of his speed, he could be worth watching in NL-only but wouldn’t play enough for mixed leaguers to worry about. Well, Velez stayed with the Dodgers for the rest of the season even getting into 34 games. The problem with Velez was that, in 37 AB, he had 0 hits. That’s right, zero, zilch, nada! That's the most at bats in a hitless season by a non-pitcher, erasing the 0-for-35 mark Hal Finney set with Pittsburgh in 1936. Velez grounded out to second as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning against the D’Backs in the regular-season finale Wednesday night. He broke the record of 45 straight at-bats that belonged to Pittsburgh's Bill Bergen (1909), Dave Campbell of San Diego and St. Louis (1973) and Milwaukee's Craig Counsell this season. Velez, who hasn't had a hit in a major league game since May 2010, stayed in the game at second base, but did not bat again. He did score 5 R with an RBI and SB. That’s kind of like putting whipped cream on shit! Hopefully you weren’t tantalized with his speed! I actually picked Velez up in my $260-NL in 2009 and he helped me to a second place finish. On the last day of that season Velez went 3 for 5 with 2 R and 2 SB. For the Giants in 2008-2009, Velez had 26 SB (11 CS) in 560 AB. The longtime SF product was non-tendered after hitting .164 in 55 AB for them in 2010.

September 29, 2011: I have not failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work!

It’s a rare man that has talent in something. I mean one in a million talent. It could be anything. The only thing that is asked of you, and it’s a big thing, is hone that talent through practice and hard work. Because that talent, no matter what it is, could make you a lot of money one day! As we get older, we tend to take things for granted. If there’s one thing that you can take from this web site, it’s living one day at a time. You know already that none of us are promised tomorrow. My one talent, as a caddy, has been realized again recently after a 30 or so year hiatus. And, whatever you do, I would just ask that you give 100%. When Ben Sheets signed the one year deal for $10-mil from the A's my first thought was, "What the #&*% are these guys doing?" These pitchers entering their 30's that haven't pitched in a number of seasons don't suddenly get healthy and find the fountain of youth. Sheets' numbers in 20 GS before he was shut down were what should have been expected: 119 1/3 IP, a 4-9 record, a 4.53/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 123 HA, and a 84/43 K/BB. He did get rewarded for his "efforts" with $500,000 per start which is pretty good money in today's economy! It wasn't all adversity and frowns for Sheets throughout the 2000's. He was the best pitcher in baseball over a number of seasons with the Brewers and a frequent ace to my fantasy staffs. I remember one year in my $360-NL when I had BOTH Sheets and Jack Schmidt. That was fantasy heaven though short-lived. Sheets had a 2.70/0.98 ERA/WHIP in 237 IP, 201 HA, and a rather studly 264/32 K/BB. in 2004. He's only made 114 starts since! But he'll always have his 116/11 K/BB in 106 IP back in '06. Sheets, if he ever makes it back and that looks doubtful at this point, is best left for someone else's fantasy roster! The A’s have been able to continually develop productive arms from the system, a trait that has been the impetus behind the franchise’s greatest successes, and one that has helped to mask the other deficiencies in recent years particularly on the offensive end. However, the team has had increasing difficulty with keeping those players on the mound due to an ongoing cycle of injuries, and while ill-fated signings like those of Ben Sheets and Rich Harden were predictably painful, the most recent woes have afflicted young rotation anchors such as Brett Anderson. Gio Gonzalez has experienced steady growth, but Trevor Cahill has imploded after a strong first half to 2011, and his long-term outlook is cloudy. He is what he is a low strike out guy capable of the occasional great outing amongst a few clunkers! The A’s were very lucky this year with a reclamation project such as Brandon McCarthy. He has a 117/25 K/BB, 160 HA, and a 3.26/1.14 ERA/WHIP in 162 2/3 IP. All in all, a great season for the oft-injured McCarthy. Meanwhile, the minor league cupboards are bereft of pitching help at the upper levels, and the organizational avoidance of free agency puts the A’s in the precarious position of wondering where the innings will come from in 2012. We know they’re not coming from Ben Sheets. In this case hindsight is more than 20/20. I would wonder why a team in the A’s monetary situation would empty $10-mil of their own money on the oft-injured Sheets. They must have had bulging wallets or were reading tea leaves. I hear the Moneyball forum does allot for a medium (in Ben Sheets’ case, a large) to look into future pitching situations. Unfortunately, it only works about 25-30% of the time! But this latest fiasco could spell doom and gloom for Sheets and his career and a good one it was! Some will argue that Ben Sheets was dealt a bad break. But, I consider him to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Not surprising at all, this is what happens when you have all the talent in the world but don't work out and care about staying in shape. Ask any Brewer fan and they can tell you how much Ben really cared about working out and staying in shape-he is the posterboy for injuries because of that!

September 28, 2011: Another fantasy baseball season is coming to an end!

As for the Rays, they got yet another huge performance from "Big Game” James Shields. While he got off to a shaky start on Monday, the 29-year-old right-hander limited the first-place Yankees two runs over 8 2/3 innings in the victory, falling just one out short of his 12th complete game of the season. After posting a 5.18 ERA last season, Shields will finish the regular season with a shiny 2.84/1.04 ERA/WHIP. One of the few good moves I made this season was to draft Shields in 3 different leagues. While the Red Sox continue to make history with their stunning September collapse, the Rays continue to play good baseball with a 15-8 record this month. The Red Sox have been an awful 6-19 in September with 2 games remaining and the teams with identical 89-71 records. It’s the second-worst record in the majors behind the Minnesota Twins. It's also Boston's second worst September, behind a 4-18 mark in 1926. It seems like a lifetime ago that the baseball “experts” were predicting utter catastrophe for the Rays after the losses of Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Soriano among others. But the Rays have piece mealed together a passable offense around a good starting staff and career journeyman Kyle Farnsworth has come through with 24 SV, a 2.26/0.99 ERA/WHIP, and a 47/10 K/BB. Casey Kotchman has been a great find for the Rays at 1B with his .305 BA in 495 AB, 10 HR, 48 RBI, and a .799 OPS. And Desmond Jennings became the fourth fastest player to 10 HR and 20 SB (Gary Redus, Barry Bonds, and Chris Sabo are the others). Jennings looks to be a worthy replacement for Crawford. B.J Upton, after a slow start, is now “up” to .244 with 23 HR, 80 RBI, 81 R, 34 SB, and a .759 OPS. Should be a very interesting last couple days of the baseball season. Of course the Red Sox have been stuck with the anti-Shields in the person of John Lackey, who has 3 yrs left on his deal. Lackey has the highest ERA (6.41) of any Red Sox with over 150 IP and his 1.62 WHIP is enough to make you want to throw up in your mouth! After averaging 161 K’s over the last 8 seasons, Lackey is down to 108 in 2011. The Rays trailed by nine games after play on Sept. 3. The Red Sox had either stood atop the AL East or led the wild-card race every day since before play on May 24. This could be one of the biggest “chokes” in baseball history! After this was written, the Red Sox went on to defeat the Orioles 8-7 while the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3. They remain tied coming into this last day of the season! Chris freaking Sabo?

September 27, 2011: The Detroit Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1980!

Melky Cabrera will likely be shut down after collecting his 200th hit. He's just one base hit short. The Royals have already shut down fellow veterans Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur in order to play Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson, and Cabrera will clear the way for Mitch Maier. Cabrera is batting .304 with an .807 OPS, 18 HR, 87 RBI, 101 R, and 20 SB in what has been one of the more surprising seasons in baseball this year. Cabrera did go 0 for 4 on Sunday, staying at 199 H on the season. After spending 4 full seasons with the Yankees, where he was looking more like a career 4th OF, Cabrera had an unsuccessful stint with the Atlanta Braves in 2010. He batted .255 in 458 AB 4 HR, 42 RBI, 50 R, 7 SB and a .672 OPS. Coming into the season, Cabrera was one of those guys you weren't overly happy to have as your fourth or fifth outfielder in a 12-team mixed leagues. He wasn't going to kill you in any category, but he also wasn't going to be a big help. In fact, the best 5x5 numbers that he posted from '05-10 would lead you to predict a season of .280-13-73-75-13. In addition, his slash line of .267/.328/.379 from '05-10 was actually worse than the league average of .269/.337/.425. He just wasn't anything other than average. This year that has changed. Cabrera is two homers away from going 20/20, and he's also hitting a career best .305. Mind you, he'd only hit better than .275 once, and had never hit 15 homers or stolen 15 bases in a season. One of the reasons for that counting category growth is that he's posted a whopping 686 plate appearances, 158 more than he averaged from '05-10. His 44 doubles are 16 more than his previous career high set in 2009 in 485 AB. When a guy racks up 700 plate appearances he's going to have solid counting numbers. What to expect from Cabrera in 2012 is anybody’s guess. Don’t forget that even though he’s been around for awhile, Cabrera just turned 27 in August. Anyone who’s a reader of this site doesn’t have to be told that Greg Maddux was one of the greatest pitchers of our generation. And anyone that reads the site knows that I’m a big numbers guy. Because, after all, that’s all we have for baseball that’s quantifiable. And Maddux had some numbers in a career that spanned from 1990-2008 with 5008 1/3 IP, a 3371/999 K/BB, 4726 HA, and a 3.16/1.14 ERA/WHIP. He won 4 consecutive Cy Youngs (1992-1995), was an 8 time All-Star, an 18 time Gold Glove winner, a 2x 20 game winner and a 5x 19 game winner. But there were 2 seasons he had in the strike torn mid-90’s that caught my eye. These are 2 of the greatest seasons (1994-1995) put together by a pitcher in my lifetime as he went 35-8 in 53 GS, 20 CG, 6 shut outs, 411 IP, 297 HA, a 337/54 K/BB, and a 1.60/0.85 ERA/WHIP. Digest those numbers the next time you draft your fantasy staff!

September 26, 2011: Juan Carlos Oviedo is no Leo Nunez!

He's a guy that made Yankee RP, Ryne Duren, look like a control pitcher. A guy that legend has, threw 106 MPH. Of course, that was in the days before radar guns. A guy that was so wild, he regularly threw pitches into the stands. He couldn't find home plate with a GPS. And this isn't urban legend. There really was a guy named Steve Dalkowski and this is a cautionary tale of failed promise and dark longing! In Dalkowski's 1st pro season, on August 31, 1957 in the Appalacian League, he K'd 24 batters, walked 18 more, hit 4 batters and threw 6 wild pitches, losing the game, 8-4. The next year, in the Northern League, Dalkowski threw a one-hitter, striking out 15, walking 17, and losing 9-8. In 1960, in the California League, Dalkowski threw a 4-hitter, striking out 19 and losing 8-3! That 1960 season saw Dalkowski go 170 innings, with 105 HA, a 262/262 K/BB and a 5.14/2.16 ERA/WHIP. 262 walks is a minor league record for a season! In an extra-inning game in 1962, he struck out 27, walked 16 and threw 283 pitches. Under the tutelage of his minor league manager, the legendary Earl Weaver, Dalkowski seemed to find his way in 1962, going 160 IP, 117 HA, a 192/114 K/BB and a 3.04/1.44 ERA/WHIP. But, like the rest of his life, there was a sad ending! He was having a good spring training in 1963 and on his way to making the Baltimore Orioles, when he felt "something pop" in his left elbow while pitching vs the New York Yankees. He returned later that summer to the minors but his velocity was never the same. Dalkowski bounced around for a couple of seasons but was out of baseball by the age of 26! He was unable to find any gainful employment because of his raging alcoholism and spent most of his adult life as a migrant field laborer. He currently lives in his home town of New Britain, Connecticut, unable to remember much after the mid-'60's. Dalkowski did put up these numbers: in 236 games (152 GS), he had 38 CG, 995 IP, 682 HA, a 46-80 record, a 1396/1354 K/BB, and a 5.59/2.05 ERA/WHIP. He also allowed 37 HR. Dalkowski would only throw 24 innings at Triple-A over his career and had a 7.13/1.96 there. During his career, Dalkowski was throwing batting practice in Miami when Ted Williams stepped in to see what he could do against the fast-baller. Don't forget, Williams' eyes were so sharp that he could count the stitches on a baseball as it rotated toward the plate. Williams took one pitch saying that he never saw it and that Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher that he had ever seen! Williams also said that he would be damned if he ever faced Dalkowski again if he could help it!

September 25, 2011: "They say you're getting married, and it's the worst that could happen!"

To say Javier Vazquez pitched poorly through the first couple of months of the season would be an understatement. He was 3-6 with a 7.09 ERA. Vazquez (12-11) has lowered his ERA to 3.77 since. Vazquez, who ranks 28th all-time in career strikeouts (2,527) and is the leader among active pitchers, is scheduled to make one more start Tuesday when the Marlins face the Nationals. He said after that he plans to go home to his native Puerto Rico, but has not announced his plans for next season. Javier Vazquez has not formally announced this will be his last season pitching in the majors, but if it is, Vazquez is going out in style. He has allowed just one run in 36 IP (0.25 ERA), and has not allowed a run in his past 25 innings of work, a Marlins team record. He also won his fifth consecutive GS. Overall, in 2011, Vazquez has a 1.21 WHIP in 183 2/3 IP with 173 HA, and a 153/50 K/BB. Vazquez also twirled his first shutout since May of 2005 last Friday, holding the Nationals to just five hits while walking no one and striking out seven in the 3-0 win. His K/BB over his last 8 GS is a very stout 59/6. His last trip to the NL with the Braves in 2009 was like something out of a dream. And a good dream at that when he went 219 1/3 IP with a 15-10 mark, a 2.87/1.03 ERA/WHIP, 181 HA, and a stellar 238/44 K/BB. Probably the only guy better in the NL in 2nd half has been Clayton Kershaw who has 119 1/3 IP, a 1.58/0.95 ERA/WHIP, 136 Ks, and is 14-2 since June 20. He is probably going to win the NL Cy Young hardware. Kershaw is also winning the pitcher’s Triple Crown of W’s (20), K’s (242), and ERA (2.27). Twins placed INF Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the 15-day disabled list with strained oblique. It's simply a procedural move, as the Twins ruled Nishioka out for the season over a week ago. He wound up with a hideous .226/.278/.249 batting line in his first season in the states. You’re probably wondering why would put that insignificant piece of news on this blog. Nishioka is a guy that had a 2010 in the East to remember. And maybe forever, leading the Japanese league in BA (.346), R (121), and adding a .904 OPS, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 22 SB, and a 96/79 K/BB in 596 AB. Of course I drafted him in not 1, but 2, AL-only. Because, when push comes to shove, I’m always a sucker for a happy ending! (Just don’t tell my wife!) Nishioka being DL’d allowed me to pick up a guy in my no-trade AL, a league that I’ve been cashing the money 14 of 16 years. I was tied for 4th place at one point last night (I’m currently in sixth, 4 places pay). As you know, major league teams rarely DL guys in Sept because of the massive roster additions. I remember one year in that league my only 2 SP’s in Sept were Mark Buehrle and Jamie Moyer! I replaced Nishioka with Colby Rasmus, who’s having a terrible season in his own right. (I moved Aviles to SS and Cuddyer to COR to make the positioning work). This is the league where I drafted Matt Thornton and am second from the bottom in SV and right at the bottom in BA. Sept 26 will be a big day for me as I have Fister, Shields, Paulino, and hopefully, Haren going. I could pick up 2 points in WHIP and a point and a half in W’s. But it could also be my death knell!

September 24, 2011: "And when I die, and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born in a world to carry on, to carry on!"

On another front, maybe the Yankees aren't always good businessmen. After the 2006 season, a season in which Kei Igawa had a 14-9 record, a 2.97 ERA and 194 K's in his last season in Japan, the Yankees paid a $26-mil posting fee and added another $194 ($1 for every strike out), to have the exclusive negotiating rights to him. Who knows if anyone else even posted. I did hear that the Red Sox were also interested. Igawa received a 5-year/$20-mil deal to pitch here in the west for the tradition-rich Yankees. The problem was, early on, the Yankees realized what the rest of us were noticing. That Igawa just wasn't that good. He was sent to minor league camp for a tune-up and oil change but the engine still wasn't running right. After all, this guy was pretty good in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun featuring shorter clean-up hitters and even shorter parks! He was 86-60 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1174/395 K/BB in 1244 IP. He was a 3-time K leader ('02, '04, '06), an ERA leader ('03) and a wins leader ('03). But, sadly, Igawa would only, so far, pitch 16 games for the Yankees, going 2-4 in 71 2/3 IP, 89 HA, a 53/37 K/BB, and a 6.66/1.76 ERA/WHIP. 2011 was his 5th season at Triple-A where he's gone 36-25 in 533 IP, 532 HA, a 419/163 K/BB and a 3.83/1.30. He did have a 68/23 K/BB and a 4.32 ERA in 77 IP at Triple-A in 2010 and was paid $4-mil for 2011, the last year of his contract to do the same. This season, in 77 IP, Igawa had a 3.86/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 70 HA, and a 52/37 K/BB. The Yankees can now take that extra $194 and use it toward passage back to Japan, where Igawa could enjoy his twilight years in relative anonymity! The five-year saga is a story of a giant mistake of a contract and an overmatched pitcher, a huge organization digging in and a quiet, somewhat mysterious Japanese pitcher with a sense of honor and a durable love of the game. The Yankees made it pretty clear Igawa would never pitch again in the Bronx, but they were determined that he pitch somewhere for his $4-million-a-year salary. They tried to return him to Japan, too. Igawa refused to go, standing fast to his childhood dream of pitching in the American big leagues. Well that childhood dream is now over and a 5 year journey to find the mother lode can now be turned to a different page for both the Yankees and Igawa. Like Tinker to Evers to Chance, the saddest story ever told could be the one of Brien Taylor, the first overall pick by the Yankees in 1991, a quarter century after the Mets picked Steve Chilcott. Scott Boras called Taylor the greatest high school pitcher that he had ever seen in his life. In fact, in Taylor's senior year, he had a 213/28 K/BB in 88 IP and overall in his high school career, he was 29-6, a 1.25 ERA and 476 K's in 239 IP. Baseball America named Taylor the #2 prospect in baseball (behind Chipper Jones) before he had even thrown a pitch as a professional! He made his debut at Class-A in 1992 going 6-8, a 2.57 ERA, 187 K's and 121 HA in 161 IP. The kid was on his way! As a 21 year old at Double-A in 1993, Taylor was 13-7 with a 3.48/1.41 ERA/WHIP, a 150/102 K/BB and 127 HA in 163 IP. He did regress a bit but was at a young age for his level. Life, as Taylor knew it, ended for him on December 18, 1993, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder and torn labrum while defending his brother in a fight. Renowned surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe, called the injury one of the worst he had ever seen but that he would be able to pitch again. He tried coming back in 1995 but, with the loss of 8 MPH on his fastball and not being able to throw his curve for strikes, Taylor was never the same again! For the next 4 seasons, mostly in Class-A ball, Taylor managed 41 games (28 GS), 108 2/3 P, 107 HA, an 86/175 K/BB, and a 10.85/2.60 ERA/WHIP. He tried a comeback in 2000 in the Cleveland system but gave up 11 R and 9 BB in 2 2/3 IP. It was over for the kid who, and probably a million times over, wished he had that December night in 1993 to do over again.

September 23, 2011: As Forrest Gump's mother said, "Life is like a box of chocolates!"

You probably remember George Brunet as the flaky LHP in Jim Bouton's book, "Ball Four." That book was a revealing look at the players from the '69 expansion Seattle Pilots and, in it, Bouton revealed that Brunet never wore underwear! It was also later revealed on the web that, while playing in the Mexican League, Brunet married the madam of a local brothel. I remember Brunet as a guy that pitched 33 professional seasons (1953-1985) and the holder of the strike out record all-time (3175) in minor league ball (to go with his 921 major league strikeouts for a total of 4,096 strikeouts in professional baseball). He also holds the Mexican League record for most shut outs with 55. Some of you may remember Brunet as a serviceable major league pitcher. In his MLB career, Brunet was 69-93, pitching for mostly 2nd division teams, with a 3.62/1.32 ERA/WHIP, a 921/581 K/BB and 1303 HA in 1431 2/3 IP. He pitched in 324 games (213 GS), 39 CG, 15 shut outs and even 4 SV. In fact, Brunet did have some good seasons with the Angels in the '60s, ranking 6th all-time in ERA (3.13) and 4th in WHIP (1.20). A hard-luck pitcher, he led the AL in losses in 1967 (19) and '68 (17) despite good ERAs of 3.31 and 2.85. In 15 of his losses in 1967, his teammates scored two runs or less. In the US affiliated minors, Brunet went 112-115 with a 3.95/1.47 and 1018 BB with 1755 HA in 1890 IP and 342 games. By the time his US career was over in 1973, Brunet had pitched for 27 different teams! Talk about a pitching vagabond! Of course, he wasn't finished pitching yet, going 13 more seasons, until 1985, in the Mexican League. His record down south was 132-127 and he had 3 full seasons in that offensive environment with an ERA less than 2.00. In 1983, at the age of 48, Brunet had an ERA of 1.93! By the time he retired in 1985, at the age of 50, Brunet's overall record in organized baseball was 313-335. Unfortunately, Brunet passed away from a heart attack in 1991 at the age of 56. He was elected posthumously into the Mexican League Hall of Fame in 1993. Seth Greisinger really does interest me. I remember, back in 1998, when an owner in my straight draft AL (who's also the commissioner of my $360-NL), drafted Greisinger toward the end. I was trying to find that draft from 13 springs ago but my wife has a way of getting rid of my old fantasy stuff. Especially anything involving Seth Greisinger. I too thought that Greisinger may have a future in this business. But in 21 GS for the Tigers, he had a 5.12/1.46 ERA/WHIP and a 66/48 K/BB in 130 IP. He would only make 18 more starts in the majors. I knew that Greisinger went to Japan a number of years ago and just kind of forgot about him. A few weeks ago a friend of mine through fantasy baseball said that this guy was still pitching. I did some digging to check out his Japanese stats and found that Greisinger had a couple of years similar to the Rangers' Colby Lewis. You remember Lewis as a terrible pitcher with the Rangers, A's, and Tigers in the early part of the century. Lewis took a ferry (to the levee) to Japan and had 2 years of absolute and unmitigated bounty. In 2008-2009, Lewis was 26-17 in 354 1/3 IP with 307 HA, an amazing 369/46 K/BB, and a 2.82/1.00 ERA/WHIP. Then he came back to the states and helped Texas get to the World Series! Just for comparison, in 2007-2008, Greisinger's first 2 seasons in Japan, his record was 33-17 in 415 IP with 386 HA, a great 326/62 K/BB, and a 2.95/1.08 ERA/WHIP. A lot of similarities in the 2 yet Greisinger encountered the injury bug over the next few seasons and hasn't come back from that. So maybe his career wasn't such a failure as we all make it out to be! I just want to think of it as wrong place, wrong time!

September 22, 2011: I heard an ant conversing with a flea but dismissed it as small talk!

Fausto Carmona yielded three runs in six innings Tuesday to get the victory as the Indians topped the White Sox 4-3. Carmona got 12 groundball outs in winning for the first time since Aug. 17, also against the White Sox. He's now 7-15 with a 5.23/1.41 ERA/WHIP. The Indians are going to have a difficult decision to make on his $7 million option for 2012. Me personally I don’t think it’s a tough decision at all. And, by the way, if a team bowls Carmona over with an offer vis-à-vis Oliver Perez, Jeff Suppan, Barry Zito, and Carlos Silva good luck to that ballclub. We in baseball tend to remember the good times. Back in 2007, and as hard as this is to believe, Carmona was the runner-up in the AL Cy Young voting. He had a 19-8 record that bountiful season with a 3.06/1.21 ERA/WHIP, 199 HA, and a 137/61 K/BB in 215 IP. After that season, Carmona went through 2 seasons of degradation, both for him and especially his fantasy owners. Those years of darkness produced 246 IP, a 5.89/1.70 ERA/WHIP, 277 HA, and a scary 137/140 K/BB. He came back somewhat in 2010 with a 13-14 mark in 210 1/3 IP, 203 HA, 3.77/1.31 and a 124/72 K/BB. Drew Stubbs made history — not the kind of history you want to make. He struck out for the 200th time, joining Mark Reynolds as the only major leaguers to strike out 200 times in a season. Reynolds has done it three times, including a record 223 times in 2009. “It’s something he has to work on in the winter,” Reds manger Dusty Baker said. “We’ll give him a plan. You don’t sit him down to prevent. You’ve got to play through it. It’s been tough on him for the last month to six weeks.” But rethinking what he said, Baker gave Drew Stubbs the day off Wednesday to regroup. Stubbs is hitting just .176 (10-for-56) this month. Many fantasy owners expecting great things from Stubbs this year were left very disappointed. His HR are down from 22 last season to 15, RBI have gone from 77 to 43, BA from .255 to .244 and OPS from .771 to .684. He does have 92 R (up from 91) and 38 SB (up from 30). Stubbs is the poster boy for prospects who seem to be destined for greatness, but who lack the ability to actually hit at the level required for major league success. He is a good defensive CF but that doesn’t help in fantasy. Stubbs does supply good speed numbers and decent power numbers. If you roster Stubbs, make sure that you have others who can control your BA. Billy Koch didn't throw quite as hard as Dick Radatz or was as imposing on the mound, but he had some of the same early success as the big guy! I owned Koch in fantasy leagues both as a rookie with Toronto in 1999 and his only season with Oakland in 2002. That was his stand-out season recording 44 SV, with 11 W and 93 K in 93 2/3 IP. In fact, Koch had 144 SV during his first 4 seasons in the show (1999-2002). In 304 IP over those seasons, Koch had a 265/127 K/BB, 275 HA, and a 3.49/1.32 ERA/WHIP. But there would be no more bounty for Billy Koch. He drifted for 2 seasons throwing 102 innings with a 5.12/1.65 and 19 SV. When Koch was released by the Blue Jays on March 17, 2005, he was so upset with the team that he said, "I'm going to make Toronto pay every cent of my salary!" At the age of 30, Koch never appeared in the majors again.

September 21, 2011: Coco Crisp's real name is Covelli Loyce Crisp!

With the Red Sox playoff hopes continuing to hang in the balance, John Lackey turned in another stupefyingly bad performance on Monday against the Orioles, allowing eight runs on 11 hits and two walks in 4 1/3 IP of an 18-9 Boston victory. Yes, it's possible to take a no-decision on a night where your team scores 18 runs and there was no rain delay. Boston's $82.5 million man has now allowed at least four runs in nine of his past 11 starts, and is the owner of a 6.09 ERA in 75 1/3 innings since the All-Star break. Of course, that's nearly a full run better than his season mark of 6.49. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has doled out a surprising amount of awful contracts in recent seasons, but Lackey's takes the cake. It's hard to envision the soon-to-be 33-year-old righty surviving the entire 2012 season in Boston's rotation. In 2010 Lackey did improve his K/9 from 5.3 in his first 19 GS to 8.1 in his last 14 GS. Obviously, he's not worth using in any league and hasn’t been in quite a while. But that wasn’t always the case. He was a pretty good SP for the Angels, having a 19 W season, a 3.01/1.21 ERA/WHIP in 224 IP in ’07 and 389 total K’s in ’05-’06 in 426 2/3 IP. In fact, Lackey was 102-71 in 8 seasons with the Angels. You know that I’m not a big fan of giving long term deals to pitchers but on December 16, 2009, John Lackey signed a 5 yr/$82.5-mil deal with the Bosox. He gave them 14 W in 215 IP with a 4.40/1.42 ERA/WHIP, 233 HA, and a 156/72 K/BB in 2010. Not what the Red Sox had in mind but they would have gladly taken the same numbers in 2011. In 27 GS covering 154 IP, Lackey has a 6.49/1.63 ERA/WHIP,198 HA, and a 104/53 K/BB. I’m the proud owner of Lackey at $12 in my $260-AL and, yes, he’s been God-awful! Speaking of which, Brian Matusz allowed six runs on six hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings on Monday, falling to 1-8 as Baltimore dropped the second game of a doubleheader 18-9 in Boston. Something is not right with the 24-year-old lefty. Either he's pitching hurt, or has suffered one of the more dramatic erosions of skill you'll ever see. Now the owner of a staggeringly bad 10.68 ERA, Matusz has allowed 95 baserunners in 44 2/3 innings. That translates to an unfathomable 2.13 WHIP. Perhaps not since Chien-Ming Wang came unraveled for the Yankees in 2009 have we witnessed this poor of a performance from someone with legitimate expectations for their game. His last 2 GS have produced 3 IP, 11 ER and 11 HA. Needless to say, Matusz will be entering the most critical spring training of his career, including Little League, in February. Good things were expected from Matusz coming into this season. After all, as a rookie for the O’s in 2010, Matusz threw 175 2/3 innings with a 10-12 mark, a 4.30/1.35 ERA/WHIP, 173 HA, and a 143/63 K/BB. The one commonality of the 2, besides the fact they both stink this season, is that Lackey’s ERA (6.49) is the highest ERA for a Red Sox pitcher with 20 or more starts and that Matusz’s ERA (10.68) is the worst in history for any pitcher with more than 40 innings.

September 20, 2011: The pen is mightier than the sword and considerably easier to write with!

Chone Figgins has been bothering me lately. Just the fact that his season is such an utter and complete waste, yet he’s being paid handsomely for it! I think that Figgins should be giving some of his money to help feed the poor or find a cure for cancer. The Mariners will shut down Figgins for the remainder of the season due to ongoing soreness in his hip. Figgins has been nursing a right hip flexor strain since the beginning of August and can't seem to shake the soreness. His season ends with a horrendous .188 BA with 1 HR, 15 RBI, 24 R, 11 SB, a 42/21 K/BB and a God-awful .483 OPS. He'll likely enter next season as a back-up despite having $17 million left on his contract. This is one of the worst seasons in recent memory for a player with Figgins’ history! From 2004-2010, Figgins averaged 44 SB and 88 R a season. He scored 114 R with 101 BB and a .790 OPS as recently as 2009, his last year with the Angels. Figgins, who has two years remaining on a four-year, $36 million contract, hasn't played since suffering a hip flexor injury last month. The Mariners need to find a way to jettison him during the offseason, even it means eating some of his contract. For whatever reason, it hasn't worked in Seattle for Figgins, and the Mariners need to get more production out of third base. Figgins also has a vesting option for 2014 that kicks in if he gets 600 plate appearances in 2013! Napoleon Bonaparte is another guy that's been bothering me lately. If he were born 100 years later, he would have been a good middle infielder in the mold of an Eddie Stanky or Leo Durocher. I love the fact that like Pedro or Ichiro or Albert or even Manny, Napoleon was just known by his first name! Napoleon was a good strategist and very good with logistics who would have made a good manager after his playing days were over. But we're from a country that really doesn't take too kindly to dictators that want to take over the world. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba in 1813, escaped in 1814 (with El Duque), lost at Waterloo in 1815, and spent the last 6 years of his life in confinement by the British on the island of St. Helena. But he was often seen texting with Jamie Moyer! Call me sensitive, but I'm a little bit put-off by the fact that when Napoleon was done with a woman, he would just have her beheaded! Didn't anyone ever hear of divorce? Brian Dinkelman went 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI in Sunday's 6-5 loss to Cleveland. Coming off Saturday's 3-for-4 performance, the 27-year-old is batting .375 in 40 at-bats -- the only major league at-bats of his career. Dinkelman is a career .271 minor league hitter through six seasons. In other words, don't expect him to keep hitting .375 for the rest of the season. Dinkelman sounds like he should be best friends with Forrest Gump or, at the very least, be one of the guys sitting on the couch in the early part of the movie “Animal House.” “This is Achmed, Jud-dish, Brian Dinkelman, and Kenny!” He hit only .241 at Triple-A this season with a .636 OPS, a 93/45 K/BB, 54 R, 3 HR, 41 RBI, and 7 SB in 469 AB. Enjoy this little run of providence while it lasts, albeit, Dinkelman has a chance to make the Twins as a utility man in 2012. He’s played 7 games in the OF and 5 at 2B.

September 19, 2011: A prostitute with low self-esteem gives it away for free!

Despite never having an at bat above Double-A, the Twins recalled the 23-year-old Joe Benson. He is one of the top athletes in the minors with a splendid power-speed combination that is hard to match. The right-handed hitter missed a month after knee surgery and he's just getting back into the groove. He was named the Twins minor league player of the year in '10 and, while he hasn't been as good this year, he has all five tools at his disposal. Scouts said the same thing about Lastings Milledge a number of years back. The problem with Milledge is that he was never able to use his 5 tools at the same time! Depending on what the Twins do in the offseason, Benson could battle for a spot on the Opening Day roster in 2012. Joe Benson busted out with the best game of his young career Friday, going 4-for-4 with two doubles and a triple while scoring three runs in a loss to the Indians. His season at Double-A included a .285 BA in 400 AB with 16 HR, 67 RBI, 69 R, 13 SB, a 109/56 K/BB, and an .883 OPS. The Twins had the 2006 second-round pick repeat the level despite batting .251 in 374 AB with 23 HR, 49 RBI, 65 R, 14 SB, a 115/39 K/BB, and an .862 OPS in 2010. He doesn't project as a star and high strikeout rates are a potential red flag, but Benson does a lot of things well and looks like a solid regular. Athletically, he's prime meat: A right fielder's throwing arm with center field speed (Dan Gladden said during spring training that he thought Benson is faster than Ben Revere), he also has power. Rex Brothers, Colorado's supplemental first-round pick in 2009, has passed most of the tests presented to him since debuting last Sept. 6. But the Rockies aren't forgetting about the educational process just because he's pitching at key times. Brothers, a sandwich pick in the 2009 draft, made 18 appearances from June 20 through July 30. In those 18 outings, he allowed one run in 15 2/3 innings and struck out 25. He met up with a little adversity for a time but has seemingly righted the ship even getting his first major league SV on August 23 vs the Astros. Manager Jim Tracy on Brothers: “You’ve got to feed this guy a little rope. This is a special arm. This is a guy who, moving forward, could be a very, very significant piece to a very, very solid bullpen. So you have to expose him to things to see how he handles it. And part of seeing how you handle it is when it doesn’t work out the way you want, are you capable of bouncing back? Do you have a short enough memory that you can let go of yesterday?” With 53 K’s in his first 37 2/3 IP, you could be looking at the next Craig Kimbrel as a closer. He also K’d 45 in 28 minor league P before getting the call to the show on June 4. The LHP just has to work on getting his walks in check much the way Kimbrel had to! Kimbrel does have a rookie SV record 45 this season along with a 123/29 K/BB and 43 HA in 73 2/3 IP.

September 18, 2011: I think I need 7 days at the links of Utopia!

Aaron Cook is the winningest pitcher in Rockies history, leading manager Jim Tracy to give him this final opportunity in front of the hometown fans. Cook has an $12 million option next season that will not be picked up by the team. As it stands, it's unlikely the team would sign him as a free agent. Cook has said he has no plans to retire and is hoping to land with another team in the offseason. If the Rockies plan on picking up the contract for $12-mil on Cook, I will stop playing fantasy baseball forever and become an agent! And as hard as it is to believe that Aaron Cook is the winningest pitcher in Rockies’ history, he’s a guy that’s never had  100 K’s in a season (96 in 2008) or a WHIP below 1.34 (2007). He did win 16 games for the club in 2008 but did give up a whopping 236 H in 211 1/3 IP with a 96/48 K/BB. And his career K/BB of 548/406 in 1306 1/3 IP makes me just want to cut myself! Since the beginning of 2010, Cook has a 9-17 record with 264 HA, a 100/87 K/BB and a 5.37/1.61 ERA/WHIP. Ace indeed! Mariano Rivera earned his 601st career save Saturday against the Blue Jays, tying him with Trevor Hoffman for the all-time saves record. As efficient as ever, Rivera threw 15 pitches and struck out one in a perfect ninth inning. It's only a matter of time before he'll have the record all to himself. This is something that you’ll probably never see again. 600 SV, that is! Lee Smith is third all time with 478. Henry Sosa got off to a terrible start in 2011, posting a 10.41/2.40 ERA/WHIP in relief at Triple-A Fresno for the Giants -- he fared better in Double-A for SF and after the trade to Houston, but given his age (26), you have to take those results with a huge grain of salt. Sosa's skills have been fairly erratic, and while he looked great in Double-A this year, it's not wise to get too excited about a 26-year-old dominating at that level. He's yet to display an elite skill in the majors and is pretty much an average to slightly below average pitcher. He did end up 10-3 with a 4.53/1.49 ERA/WHIP across 2 levels of the minors in 2011 and hasn’t looked that great in 8 GS for the Astros. He currently is sporting a 33/20 K/BB in 43 2/3 IP with 40 HA and a 4.74/1.37 ERA/WHIP in his first major league action. Unlike Aaron Cook, at least there may be a little K upside as he gets his feet a little more wet. But Sosa is a guy best left for another fantasy owner.

September 17, 2011: We're good and tough, we're the Kelly's!

The biggest question is if ANY MLB team is going to get Yu Darvish. His Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters may not even post him. I would expect the Yankees and Red Sox and Rangers, who could all use pitching depth, to be frontrunners for the bidding. The second question is if Darvish comes to the MLB, can the Blue Jays afford to let any other AL team have him. Absolutely not. Dice-K Matsuzaka was ridiculous in his first season in MLB (15-12, 201 K’s in 204 2/3 IP), and you can expect the same or better from Darvish for a longer time because you know that whichever team gets him is going to do everything possible to keep him from getting injured. As long as the Yankees and Red Sox don't have consistently great 1-2-3 pitchers, the Jays will have a window to contend for the playoffs. If the Yankees get Darvish, that could potentially be the best 1-2 combo in MLB with Sabathia and Darvish. Though some, including me, would argue that the Phillies 1-2 of Halladay and Lee is pretty damned good! Now if the Red Sox get Darvish, that is Lester, Beckett, Bucholz, Darvish... potentially as good as the Phillies 1-2-3-4. If this happens, game over AL East, goodbye to the Jays playoff hopes. Now consider what Darvish could do for the Jays rotation. Romero-Darvish-Morrow is a potentially deadly playoff combination. Morrow hasn’t been great this year but his numbers aren’t consistent with his skills. Morrow would be a sneaky good value buy for 2012. I sense that if Darvish comes to the Jays it may push Morrow to do better. After all, there's a lot of hopes and expectations on Morrow right now, having Darvish will lessen the pressure on him. And, lest we forget, it did cost the Red Sox a total of $103.1-mil to procure the services of Matsuzaka. He had another season of bounty in 2008, going 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. But his one bugaboo has been the base on balls. As I always told my son when he was playing Little League, the most important pitch is “strike one.” As I always ask when talking about certain Japanese players, “What’s Japanese for you suck?” The Japanese leagues may be like the Pittsburgh Pirates. But, alas, Akinori Iwamura didn’t work out in the Iron City. I personally don’t believe in that “special pipe line” with the lord or Japanese officials for that matter. Because you just can’t measure the heart. But I do prefer a long string tied to 2 cans myself and, when I’m in a bind, I’ll call out for special favors and hope someone is listening! Darvish has had some remarkable stats in the East. At least that’s what we’re supposed to believe on paper. But a 92-36 career record is nothing to sneeze at! His 1.54 ERA in 2011 and 17-4 mark are real too. Let’s just hope the translation works out vis-à-vis the states.

September 16, 2011: A man can't be too careful in the choice of his enemies!

The Diamondbacks released INF Daryle Ward. He signed a minor league deal with Arizona in August and batted .318 with 2 HR, 18 RBI, and a .916 OPS in 85 AB. He also had a stout 9/22 K/BB with Double-A Mobile. The 36-year-old hasn't appeared in the big leagues since 2008 as a member of the Cubs when he batted .216 in 102 AB with 4 HR and 17 RBI. In 2009 and 2011, Ward played in the organizations of the Reds, White Sox, Nationals, and D’Backs. He spent 2010 playing independent ball batting .286 in 399 AB with an .806 OPS, 14 HR, 79 RBI, 54 R, and a 56/43 K/BB. He had a fantasy relevant season while playing for the Astros back in ’02 with 72 RBI and a .276 BA and in 2005 with the Pirates. But he’s always been what he is, a good $1 guy at the tail end of your draft. And now we don’t even have that anymore! I’d like to share a couple Oscar Wilde quotes when talking about Eliezer Alfonzo. “One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation.” “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo become the first player suspended twice for performance-enhancing drugs under the Major League Baseball testing program when the commissioner's office announced a 100-game penalty Wednesday. Alfonzo, a 32-year-old backup in his sixth big league season, was suspended for 50 games in April 2008 while a member of the San Francisco Giants. "I am surprised by this positive test," said Alfonzo. "I learned my lesson in 2008 and have not taken any prohibited substances since then. With the Union's help, I intend to fight this suspension and look forward to appearing before the arbitrator in the near future." Manny Ramirez retired in April rather than face a 100-game suspension following a second positive test. Baseball began testing with penalties in 2004. Under the current rules, a third violation would carry a lifetime ban. I speculated about a steroids issue vis-à-vis Alfonzo after a successful 94 AB with Colorado Springs in Triple-A. Now mind you, that league could make David Eckstein into Ryan Howard! Alfonzo flashed a 1.124 OPS in 94 AB with 12 HR, 37 RBI, and 21 R. Did I mention that he only had 94 AB? His major league career has been something about of a bad TV documentary. Since 2007 Alfonzo has had 66 base hits, 5 HR and 28 RBI in the show. And maybe that’s all we should say about Alfonzo! Brad Peacock made his first major league start Wednesday, and allowed only two hits in five scoreless against the Mets. But it was the Mets, he walked more than he struck out. He's as risky as any, and if the schedule holds he'll get the Phillies in Philadelphia next time out. That's probably an avoid. Peacock was 15-3 between Double and Triple-A this season with a 177/47 K/BB, 97 HA, and a 2.39/0.98 ERA/WHIP in 146 2/3 IP. Though he never posted an ERA under 4.15 prior to the '11 campaign, the 23-year-old has been one of the top pitchers in baseball. He was leading the Double-A Eastern League in wins, ERA, and strikeouts prior to his promotion to Triple-A. Once he hones his changeup, he could become a mainstay in the rotation, potentially as a #2 starter. I will be keeping an eye on Peacock in the spring of 2012.

September 15, 2011: Don't call me daughter, not fair to me!

Even though Mike Cameron is past his prime he had a great career. He is a class act 100%. I saw him sign autographs for a good 20 minutes after the Marlins took batting practice a few weeks ago. He kept saying he was late & had to get ready for the game, but every time a kid called for him to sign their ball Mike signed every single one of the kids balls for them. He also stops in the parking lot after the game & signs for whatever kid is out there waiting. Great guy, great career. He was best known for hitting four homers in a game in 2002 and for a frightening, face-to-face collision with a teammate in the outfield three seasons later. On May 2, 2002, with Seattle, Cameron became the 13th player in big league history to hit four home runs in a game. On Aug. 11, 2005, he was seriously injured when he collided face-to-face with Mets teammate Carlos Beltran in a game against the Padres. A month after the Padres' 2007 season came to a stunning end, they got another shock Wednesday when Cameron, their Gold Glove center fielder, was suspended for the first 25 games of next season after testing positive a second time for a banned stimulant. Cameron insists that it was tainted but did sit the first 25 games of the 2008 season. Cameron was a frequent member of my fantasy teams during his career and, in fact, over a 10 year period from 1999-2008, he averaged 21.8 HR and 23.9 SB per season. First off, let’s give Mike Leake a big pat on the back about beginning his major league career in 2010 without spending a day in the minors and being thrown right into the Reds rotation that season. And, in spite of leaping right from college to the majors, he showed some prosperity in the first half.  He had a 3.38/1.42 ERA/WHIP, a 6-1 record and 67 K in 101 IP. But he couldn’t keep up the bounty and had a 6.57/1.70 in the second half before being shut down in September of last year. Leake’s 2011 didn’t start out too well for the youngster. He had 5 HRA, a 7/9 K/BB, and 33 HA in 21 IP in spring traing but, because of injuries to others on the staff, Leake made the team. Then on April 18, Mike sprung a “leak” doing his best Winona Ryder impression. Leake was arrested after Macy’s department store loss prevention employees stopped the Reds pitcher today after they say he took $59.88 in property from the store. Leake makes around half a million bucks a year, by the way, and got a $2.7 million signing bonus in 2009, so your guess as to why he’s stealing T-shirts from Macy’s is as good a guess as mine. But after saying 5 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys, Leake continued in the rotation for the Reds. And, as you would know it, his season ended way better than last year ended and this year started! In fact, in his last 17 IP, Leake gave up 3 ER and 9 HA with an 8/2 K/BB. He posted a 3.33/1.14 ERAWHIP over 11 second-half starts. But, given that he's gone well past his innings total from last year, when he dealt with fatigue down the stretch, it's probably the wise move to shut him down. His season will conclude with a 12-9 record, 3.86/1.17 ERA/WHIP. After this story was written, this came out on Mike Cameron as sent to me by one of the bloggers: According to the Miami Herald, Mike Cameron was released by the Marlins following a verbal altercation with a flight attendant on the team's charter flight. The altercation did not turn physical, but the charter company filed a complaint. While the Marlins' front office believed they could not keep Cameron following the incident, he obviously didn't figure in their long-term plans.

September 14, 2011: Eddie Vedder has the best voice of any lead singer!

Mariano Rivera is three saves from breaking Trevor Hoffman's record of 601. Despite his years of brilliance pitching for the Yankees, Rivera is underappreciated. He is the rare athlete whose status as best ever at his position is unquestioned. "Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity." Those are the words of Plato but the ways of Mariano. Such is the simplicity of Rivera that he has reached the precipice of a major all-time record -- most career saves -- while spending his entire career with the famed New York Yankees and somehow been taken for granted. He is, at age 41 and at 599 saves, just three away from breaking the record held on a short lease arrangement by Trevor Hoffman. Rivera is something of an anachronism in these noisy, modern times, our Christy Mathewson. "The best ever. I keep saying the same thing over and over again, and it sounds repetitious every time I talk about Mo, but it's true," Jorge Posada recently told the team's website. "There's nobody [who's] ever going to get close to what he's been able to achieve, because there's nobody better. It's just that simple." Rivera came up as a SP way back in 1995 before settling into the ninth inning role the next season. Besides the 599 SV in 1036 games, Rivera has a 75-57 record, 1206 IP, a 2.22/1.00 ERA/WHIP. 932 HA, and a 1104/274 K/BB. If you think this couldn’t get any better, gawk at the first ballot Hall of Famer’s post-season mastery: he’s 8-1 in 94 games and 139 2/3 IP, 86 HA, an 0.71/0.77 ERA/WHIP, a 109/21 K/BB, and 42 SV. Some do believe that the SV is an overvalued and overhyped stat that has created a class of wealthy relievers. For example, Randy Myers, the LH closer for 6 teams from 1985-1998 has 347 SV, good for ninth all-time. Ninth on the all-time K list is Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, a pretty good pitcher in his own right! After Hoffman and Rivera, the only 3 closers with more than 400 SV all-time are Lee Smith (478), John Franco (424), and Billy Wagner (422). The active leader after Mo is Francisco Cordero, who’s 36 years old and has 322 SV. So, I have a feeling that the 600 SV club will be closed to the 2 members. First of all, you need to be on a good team for a lot of years and you need some incredible health. As Boston closer Jon Papelbon stated, “you have to have a manager that doesn’t abuse you and a lot of pieces have to fall into place.” Hall of Famer Goose Gossage sees the number being reached again. “The way guys are used today, one inning at a time, I absolutely see someone doing it.” Gossage goes on to say, “Kids are groomed in the minors to be closers. Had closers been used in my day the way they’re used now, there would be even more pitchers with 600 saves.” I never say never when talking about baseball records but, like Nolan Ryan’s K record, the 511 wins of Cy Young, and the 56 game hitting streak of Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, I just can’t see anyone ever getting 600 SV, at least in my lifetime! After this was written, Rivera recorded his 600th SV with a scoreless 9th vs the Mariners. Rivera has 41 SV and a 2.05/0.94 ERA/WHIP on the season.

September 13, 2011: There's a place in the world for the angry young man!

Shelley Duncan had his second two-homer game in four days last Wednesday versus the Tigers. Both were two-run shots, and they accounted for all four runs surrendered by Justin Verlander today. Duncan now has 9 HR and 34 RBI in 175 AB this season. Consistent he isn't, though: apart from his two big games this week, he has 1 HR and 3 RBI in the last month. But anytime a hitter can take a pitcher like Justin Verlander deep not once, but twice, I have to stand up (or in this case sit down) and take notice. Duncan came in just 2 for 11 (.182) with four strikeouts in his career against Tigers starter Verlander before connecting in the second for a 2-0 lead. Despite never being able to prove consistent at the major league level, he has always shown plenty of power potential. Fantasy owners looking for a cheap boost in that area might look to him while he continues to enjoy this power surge. With Travis Hafner on the shelf as usual, Duncan has started 7 of the last 8 games for the Tribe. He has 5 HR and 10 RBI during that time (including the 2 big games)! This is the general feeling of guys that I play fantasy baseball with concerning the career of Shelley Duncan: “I wondered what happened to this guy--- not only is he the older brother of megabust Chris Duncan, but he is the final piece of the trinity of Yankees' hitters who inexplicably went crazy in their first 100 at-bats and then disappeared--- following Kevin Maas and Shane Spencer. Obviously, Shelley Duncan sucks--- he's 31 and is nothing more than a journeyman--- but he's played pretty well lately, which is nice to see!” I will say this, that a lot of us would take being a journeyman the way that Duncan is. As a rookie back in ’07 for the Yankees, Duncan batted .257 in 74 AB with 7 HR, 17 RBI, 16 R, and an .883 OPS. He returned to the fantasy atlas in 2010 with the Indians by connecting on 11 HR with 36 RBI in 229 AB and a .231 BA. We, as fantasy owners, try to make these guys better than they really are. You know what you’re getting with a guy like Shelley Duncan and that should be enough for us! He makes a good $1 guy at the end of your AL-only draft. Shelley’s kid brother, Chris Duncan, hasn’t been in the majors since ‘09 with the Cards and after that a minor league stint with the Red Sox. He batted .188 in 85 AB with Pawtucket and was released on August 20, 2009. Next to Chris Duncan’s name for my league web site, it simply says “out of baseball.” That’s what it said next to Cory Lidle’s name after he lost his life in a plane crash! Rest assured, Chris is not dead (at the present time), he just must be mulling his future. Kind of like I’ve been doing, complete with the soul-searching! He did hit 43 HR for the Cards in 655 AB with an .885 OPS in ’06-’07. But injuries curtailed his effectiveness and he could only bat .191 in 262 AB for the Nationals’ Triple-A team in 2010 with 25 R, 7 HR, 27 RBI, and a .575 OPS. Baseball currently considers Chris Duncan physically unfit for employment. Surgically repaired neck and hips make him too great a risk. But to sports talk radio, the medium that once lampooned his outfield play and his family ties, Duncan represents a commodity. Duncan has no idea whether he will play again. Two hip operations in the last 14 months have branded him as porcelain within the industry, even to independent league teams. If he does catch on with a team next season feel free to throw a buck his way. But no more. And make sure that you have a liberal bench.

September 12, 2011: I hope tomorrow you'll find better things!

This was a note from the commissioner of my no-trade AL at the end of August: I mistakenly let the Cougars pick up Jerome Williams for Fuentes who was on the bereavement list. The move has been reversed and retro'd to the appropriate date. Williams is a free agent again. I was, at the time, saying to myself, “Who cares? This is Jerome Williams we’re talking about. I was in grade school when this guy was decent!” Well maybe I was wrong. Williams was brilliant against the Mariners last Wednesday, throwing eight innings of one-hit ball in a 3-1 Angels win at home. Williams' one hit allowed was a sixth inning home run off the bat of Trayvon Robinson, and actually had him in line to take the loss before the Angels put up a three spot in the eighth. He struck out five and walked one. Now 3-0 with a 3.51/1.05 ERA/WHIP, 23 HA, and 19/4 K/BB ratio through his first 25 2/3 innings (6 games, 3 GS) of work this season, Williams is well worth a flier in deeper mixed leagues. He has a great matchup lined up for his next time out, where he'll take on the A's in Oakland. The story of how Williams, a former first-round pick of the San Francisco Giants, essentially pitched himself out of baseball has been well-documented. The 1999 first-round pick has played in the Giants, Cubs, Twins, Nationals, Twins, Dodgers, Athletics and Angels organizations. But over the last 3½ seasons he has worked his way back, pitching in Taiwan, Mexico, Puerto Rico and two independent leagues while battling weight problems and a shoulder injury. Williams began the year pitching for the Lancaster Barnstormers in the independent Atlantic League, wondering if he would end up going back to Taiwan without ever getting another shot in the major leagues. Williams, the Hawaii native known for his puka-shell necklaces during his previous major league stops in San Francisco and Chicago, is wearing a pink glove to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer in 2001. He had it in his locker since he arrived in mid-August, but he hadn't felt comfortable using it because he had just been called up and didn't want to draw too much attention. Now, Wiiliams mentioned, he’s considering using the glove everyday! His last major league action was a 6 start stint for the Nationals in 2007 when he was 0-5 with a 7.20/1.73 ERA/WHIP in 30 IP. Please read the following stat line and see if you can guess who it belongs to: 2 GS, 15 IP, a 2-0 record, 2 QS, an 0.60/0.73 ERA/WHIP. 9 HA, and a 6/2 K/BB. Yes, I’m sure you know those are the stats so far belonging to Dodger LHP Dana Eveland. Why wouldn’t you know that? Eveland’s season of bounty (if you want to call it that) in the majors came with the A’s in 2008. Over 29 wonderful GS, Eveland fired up a 4.34/1.48 ERA/WHIP, 172 HA, and a 118/77 K/BB in 168 IP. Think about that when you’re making plans for your 2012 NL-only staff!

September 11, 2011: The Rabid Dog, a retrospective!

9/11 changed life as we know it as Americans. Kids under the age of fourteen probably don’t remember the old USA, but the rest of us know what was taken from us that day amounts to more than the tremendous loss of life—a loss of life that was in itself horrific in its proportions. The survivor tales are compelling even ten years later as we still struggle to take in the extent of the damage done to our country. I was caddying that day, obliviously looking into that cloudless sky we all now associate with 9/11. News spread over the greens that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and the first thought after the disbelief was the idea that some air traffic controller had made a colossal mistake. As news traveled—long after I stayed glued to my television all night, long after I got up after a few hours of sleep and expected to find statistics on how many had been rescued from the collapsed towers only to find there were no further survivors—I knew like every other American that life would never be the same. That night we congregated on our suburban street just to be near one another. Old Georges from the end of our cul-de-sac, a self-described “artiste” who emigrated to the United States as a young man, had painted a huge sign that he staked to his front lawn, stating his outrage in bold black letters: “BOMB THE BASTARDS.” The town police made him take it down—twice—but we all felt the kind of anger that simply wants to strike back. Today, ten years later, as we tighten security over “chatter” and take into custody those who are still trying to claim more innocent lives, I feel that same anger. I tell myself not to stoop to their level, that they are the ones consumed by hatred. But hatred is like the ebola virus—devastatingly destructive and highly contagious. Still, even when you know it’s all in the sickness, you just want to put a rabid dog down.

September 10, 2011: These country clubs are like oligarchies; the very few make rules for the majority!

In my $360-NL, owners are allowed to pick up a “free” guy for the September run. Let’s say that the player is anything but free as there is a steep cost attached to the pick-up. It’s a very deep league and usually there aren’t many “good” players to choose from. In fact, last year I took on the immortal Paul Janish. Yes, that’s how bad the pickings are. Most owners even pick up pitchers. I, of course, didn’t pick up anyone this season as I’ve been out of the money in that league since mid-June. I did notice that the owner in first place picked up Jeff Keppinger. I’m saying to myself, “Jeff freaking Keppinger!” But before we get all bent out of shape, let’s look under the hood at Keppinger. He brings with him a consistently elite contact rate, one that has risen to 96% this season. Keppinger posted a solid .352 on-base-percentage last season, but that has dropped to .319 this year, as he has drawn just 9 walks in 321 AB. He also has only 19 strike outs in that time! While his below average power and speed will certainly keep his home runs (6) and steals (0) in the single digits, he could still provide some value with a batting average that should remain close to the .300 mark (.299). He does have a .733 OPS. Keppinger didn't make his season debut until May 27 because of offseason surgery on his left foot, but posted a .307 average with four home runs in 43 games for Houston before being dispatched to the great west coast and the World Champion Giants. He is a lifetime .284 hitter in seven big league seasons with the Mets, Royals, Reds, Astros, and Giants. Keppinger makes a great $1 middle infielder at the end of your NL draft. Keppinger is the type of guy that doesn’t hurt you at all. I just wonder how much of a help he will be to that owner in the last 3 weeks of the season. When Val Pascucci stepped to the plate for the Mets in the eighth inning of the second game of a doubleheader it marked his first game in the majors since October 3, 2004. And the fact that Pascucci had a pinch single made the story even better. At least it wasn’t as bad as the case of John Lindsey, the long-time minor leaguer. Lindsey had spent 16 years in the minors without getting a taste of the majors. That all changed last Sept. The now 34-year-old earned his first call-up by leading the PCL with .356 batting average and .663 slugging percentage to go along with 25 home runs and 97 RBI. He ended his season going 1 for 12. Everyone knows the stories of guys like Lindsay and Chris Coste, Bryan LaHair, and Bobby Scales; long-time minor leaguers who finally got their chance in ‘The Show” after many years of minor league bus rides and flea bag hotels. But for every Lindsey or Coste or LaHair or Scales there are a hundred other stories of guys who persevere for years in the bushes with minimal major league service time, or none at all. Meet Valentino Pascucci. The Mets called Pascucci up from Triple-A on Tuesday, Sept 6. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2004 with the Montreal Expos getting 62 AB over 32 games and batting .177 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. He spent the 2005-2006 seasons in Japan and is the veteran of 2842 Triple-A AB with a .274 BA, 492 R, 159 HR, 569 RBI, 29 SB, an 817/526 K/BB, and a .901 OPS. Pascucci had two seperate trials with the Expos in ‘04, but was released following the season. After returning from the East, Pascucci has been in the organizations of the Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers, Padres, and Mets (3 times).

September 9, 2011: Hard to believe that Orlando Cabrera and Juan Pierre have 0 All-Star selections between them!

The other day, with the bases loaded in the top of the 11th and the O’s leading 5-4, up came Chris Davis with 2 down. The problem was that Davis had been up 5 times up to that point and was credited with 5 strike outs. I know that 4 strike outs in a game is the “golden sombrero,” but what would 6 K’s be? The golden sombrero and a half! Fortunately for Davis, on an 0-2 pitch, he grounded out to second. I was watching the A’s game and the announcer mentioned that Adam Rosales was mired in an 0 for 29 streak (he’s 4 for 51 on the season) and it got me to thinking of other bad streaks this year. We can talk about Adam Dunn’s .161 BA on the season, including an incredibly bad 3 for 81 vs LHP. How about Eugenio Velez’ 0 for 31 season for the Dodgers? We can also talk about Craig Counsell’s 0 for July in the midst of an 0 for 45 streak. That streak in interesting because it came just 1 AB from tying the record for most AB by an offensive player without a hit. Yes, back in 1909, Bill Bergen, a catcher, went 0 for 46. In 3,028 career at-bats, he hit 2 HR, had a .170 career BA, 138 R, 193 RBI, and 23 SB. In only one season did his average top .200. His career .194 on-base percentage means he didn’t walk much (a career 421/88 K/BB). His career .201 slugging percentage means he rarely hit for extra bases. That gave him a sickly .395 OPS. Perhaps his quirkiest statistic: he was never hit by a pitch. His name crops up whenever a baseline of offensive futility is needed. He does not have a line named after him like Mario Mendoza, whose paltry batting average made him synonymous with hitting .200. But Bergen is firmly installed in the history of futility. Bergen’s secret was playing at a time, that dreaded dead-ball era, when good defensive catchers were worth their weight in Teddy Roosevelt autographs. Bergen was a great defensive catcher. Bergen caught a relatively modest 941 games but ranks in the top 20 in career assists by a catcher with 1,444. He threw out 47.3 percent of runners attempting to steal. He once threw out six in one game, against St. Louis in 1909. Bergen began his career on a rather ignominious note with the Cincinnati Reds in 1901. A year earlier, his older brother Marty, a talented catcher for the Boston Beaneaters from 1896-99, had murdered his wife and 2 children with an ax and killed himself with a razor blade. Marty Bergen was considered far more talented than Bill, but his mental instability had been apparent his entire career. He often walked out on his team, berated his teammates and described paranoid visions of plots to kill him. Bill Bergen, by all accounts, had none of his brother’s demons and was a pleasant teammate. His ignominy was strictly of the baseball variety. Even though Bergen died in 1943 of heart disease at the age of 65, his offensive game was so bad that he lives on forever!

September 8, 2011: I don't know why, but I always look at the big picture with prospects!

Reds infield prospect Billy Hamilton has tallied 103 stolen bases in 135 games this year at Single-A Dayton. Hamilton is one of the fastest players in the sport and is a legitimate middle infield prospect for the Reds, but his plate discipline will have to improve as he moves to the higher ranks of the minor leagues. Hamilton was batting .215 after two months of the season, but he has worked hard to get his BA up to .278. He also has a league-leading 99 R. Also Hamilton has struck out 133 times in 134 games, so he still has some work to do on offense. But with his speed, he could be a dynamic leadoff hitter for the Reds one day. He has 3 HR, 50 RBI, 52 BB, and a .702 OPS. Hamilton has become a viable long-term fantasy keeper, especially in rotisserie formats. Others to garner 100 bags in the minors include Chris Morris (2001) with 111, Esix Snead (2000) 109, Marcus Lawton (1985) 111, Donell Nixon (’83-’84) 144, 102, Vince Coleman (’83-’84) 145, 100, Lenny Dykstra (1983) 105, Otis Nixon (1982) 107, Jeff Stone (1981) 123, Alan Wiggins (1980) 120, and Albert Hall (1980) 100. Aside from how much fun the early ’80s must’ve been in terms of base-stealing, this list is a bit of a mixed bag, isn’t it? The two most recent guys to get 100 steals, Morris and Snead, have 13 combined major league at-bats. All of them are by Snead (4 SB). Morris was out of baseball at age 25, never having gotten above Double-A ball but did amass 311 SB. Snead stole 507 bases in his minor league career and some might put that in the Crash Davis “dubious honor” category. Snead batted 3252 times in the minors but only had a .231 BA to show for it. Marcus Lawton (Matt’s brother), had 14 big league at-bats and stole 379 bases in the minors. Donell Nixon, who did it twice, is Otis’ brother. Donell managed 396 ABs in the big leagues over parts of four seasons and had 47 SB. He swiped another 453 bags in the minors. Big bro, who topped 100 in the minors the one time, played 17 seasons and swiped 620 career major league bags. He, Coleman and Dykstra had the most successful careers on this list. The others I haven’t mentioned — Stone, Wiggins, Hall — had big-league time, but only Wiggins was an every-day player in that trio. Stone would have 75 SB in the majors and another 525 in the minors. Hall had 33 SB for the Braves in 1987 and close to 400 SB over his minor league career. The story of Alan Wiggins is a sad one. Wiggins died in 1991 after years of excessive drug use. Wiggins set the existing Padres club record for stolen bases with 70 in 1984 (he had 66 in ’83), when he scored 106 R and had 75 BB as their leadoff hitter and led them into a World Series that Detroit won in five games. However, Wiggins’ career went downhill early in 1985 after he disappeared for the opener of a series at Dodger Stadium and drew a suspension that led to his admittance into a drug-rehabilitation center. It was the second time Wiggins spent time at a substance-abuse center. Wiggins finished the season batting .285 in 76 games with the Orioles. He averaged .251 in 71 games the next season and was released by Baltimore Sept. 29, 1987, after hitting .232 in 85 games. “Alan developed pneumonia just before Thanksgiving,” said Wood. “We thought he was over it, then he started coughing and we put him in the hospital.” It was then Wiggins learned he had lung cancer (it was also reported that he died of AIDS).

September 7, 2011: James Shields has 11 complete games this season!

The Brewers recalled the 24-year-old Taylor Green (a 25th round pick by the Brewers in 2005) who will likely share time at 3B for the remainder of the season and possibly into the postseason. He doesn't run very well, but his value is in his bat. Defensively, he can play both 3B and 2B where his arm and range are average at best. He may struggle against left-handed pitching in the majors because he hasn't been a consistent performer against lefties in the minors. Green is a career .291 with an .831 OPS in the minors. He did step up his game in 2011 at Triple-A, batting.336 in 420 AB with a career high 22 HR, 88 RBI, 74 R, a 72/55 K/BB, and a .996 OPS. Green is playing third base again on Monday for the Brewers as it appears Casey McGehee is falling into something of a timeshare and platoon. I did keep McGehee ($2) for his third and final year in my $260-NL. At least McGehee had some value with 2B eligibility. After McGehee’s breakout 2010 when he hit 23 HR with 104 RBI, 70 R, a 102/50 K/BB and an .803 OPS in 610 AB, he really regressed in 2011. McGehee is at .239 in 489 AB with only 12 HR (including 3 in one game), 65 RBI, 42 R, a 93/41 K/BB and a terrible .659 OPS. Taylor Green, by the way, is 6 for 12 in 5 games. It was interesting that the Brewers didn’t call up Mat Gamel when rosters expanded because the team didn't think they could find him enough at-bats to make it worthwhile. The Marlins purchased the contract of another 3B Matt Dominguez from Triple-A New Orleans. Dominguez was considered for the starting third base job during spring training, but the Marlins sent him back to the minors after he underwhelmed with the bat. In his first 17 AB this spring, Dominguez had 2 HR and 10 RBI but finished the spring 2 for 25. The 22-year-old is still considered the third baseman of the future, but he remains a work in progress offensively, batting .258 with a .743 OPS, 12 HR and 55 RBI over 325 AB at the Triple-A level this season. It's not known how much Dominguez will play down the stretch, but he is worth a flier in NL-only leagues. The Mariners recalled INF Alex Liddi from Triple-A Tacoma. Liddi is the first Italian-born major-leaguer since Reno Bertoia in 1953. The 23-year-old batted .258 with 30 HR and 104 RBI in 559 AB at the Triple-A level this season. He added 121 R, 5 SB, a 170/61 K/BB, and an .820 OPS. Liddi batted .281 in 502 AB at Double-A in 2010 with 15 HR, 92 RBI, 78 R, and an .829 OPS. But his 315/111 K/BB show that he’s still, like Dominguez, a work in progress. It's also not known how much he'll play down the stretch, as Kyle Seager and Chone Figgins also figure to get playing time at third base. Of these 3 third baseman, Taylor Green seems like the best bet for the rest of the year in single leagues. Liddi and Dominguez are guys to tuck away for the future.

September 6, 2011: Nothing seems as easy as it used to be!

Brandon McCarthy threw a complete game shutout against the Mariners on Saturday to improve to 8-7 on the year. He tied a career high with 10 strikeouts, and all three of the Mariners' hits were singles. The complete game was McCarthy's fourth of the year, and he has posted a strong 2011 after missing much of 2010 with a shoulder injury. In his last 2 starts, McCarthy has gone 17 IP, with 2 ER, 8 HA, and a 20/1 K/BB. In the 3 previous CG that McCarthy had thrown this season he took the loss in all of them. Since 1995, the only other Oakland pitchers with three complete-game losses in one season were Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, in 2003. The right-hander has very quietly been on a nice run of late, racking up seven wins over his last 10 starts. He has only allowed more than three earned runs three times over that stretch while posting an impressive 57/10 K/BB ratio. The signing of McCarthy by the A’s was one of the best and most under-the-radar deals made by a team this season. The oft-injured McCarthy had only thrown 372 2/3 innings coming into this season (never more than 101 2/3-2007) with a 20-24 record, a 4.56/1.36 ERA/WHIP, 366 HA, and a 251/142 K/BB. If McCarthy can just stay healthy, he makes a good keeper in AL-only for 2012 and a solid #4 or 5 SP in mixed leagues. From 2005-2008 Grady Sizemore was arguably the best fantasy stud in the AL. During those 4 seasons of providence, Sizemore averaged 639 AB, 180 H (.282), 41 doubles, 8 triples, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 116 R, and 29 SB. Injuries have made Sizemore just a shell of his former self. The Indians activated OF Grady Sizemore from the 15-day disabled list. Sizemore is batting leadoff and playing center field on Monday afternoon against the Tigers. He missed around six weeks due to a right knee contusion and surgery to repair a sports hernia. The 29-year-old has a .769 OPS, 10 HR and 29 RBI. Keep an eye on Sizemore these last few weeks of the season to see if there’s anything there for 2012. Since the beginning of 2010, Sizemore has played in only 95 major league games. James Shields narrowly missed his fifth shutout before settling for his 11th complete game Monday in a 5-1 victory over the Rangers. The Rays decided not to hold Elvis Andrus on first after a leadoff walk to start the ninth. He took second on fielder's indifference and then came around to score on a pair of groundouts. Still, it was another awesome performance from Shields. He allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out six. He's fanned 205 batters this season. If he had gotten the shutout, he would have been the first American Leaguer with five in a season since David Wells in 1998. His 11 CG are the most in the majors since the “Big Unit” Randy Johnson had 12 in 1999. That season, Johnson went 271 IP and had 364 K’s. One of the few good things I did this season was draft James Shields in both my AL leagues and my 15-team mixed league. Shields has 14 W’s, a 2.77/1.02 ERA/WHIP, 169 HA, and a 205/54 K/BB in 218 IP.

September 5, 2011: Go figure this, George Kottaras hit for the cycle on Saturday!

The lack of offense, defense and fundamentals that Tsuyoshi Nishioka has brought to the Twins in 2011 makes me cringe whenever anyone talks about him being "in the mix" for a job in 2012. If he's "in the mix," anywhere but Rochester or back in Japan, then Minnesota, we have a problem. The Twins made a mistake with Nishioka, and with all of their middle-infield judgments this season. Between the posting fee paid for the negotiating rights and the three-year deal he was given, Nishioka is costing the Twins about $14 million. Sometimes, you have to swallow pride and cut losses. But, as fantasy players, we’re all waiting for the next Ichiro Suzuki. Or even Hideki Matsui. But what we usually end up with is So Taguchi! Or, even worse, Kaz Matsui! Because, with all the potential and glistening stats that accompany them on their journey West, there’s just something that gets lost in the “translation.” And, believe me, I’m always a sucker for happy endings, but this is getting ridiculous. I did draft Nishioka #116 in my AL-only straight draft and actually spent the princely sum of $14 to own him in my $260-AL. It’s not that Nishioka let me down, it’s that I let myself down in trusting him. Nishioka offers little to the Twins but heartache. It's a sad, sad story because he arrived with high expectations and an interesting background. The broken leg suffered during the first week of the season didn't help, but the inconvenient truth is that it probably just kept us from watching more misplays. Is Japanese baseball that much of a step down from the majors? Here’s a guy, Nishioka, that won a batting title in 2010 for the Chiba Lotte Marines. And while that team may sound like a drink that you can purchase at your nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, I for one was enamored with the 206 H in 596 AB (.346), .904 OPS, 121 R, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 22 SB, and 96/79 K/BB in 144 games. Those are numbers that you can tell your grandkids about! But, the truth of the matter is, Nishioka just couldn’t get out of his own way here in the states. As of this writing, the 27 year old infielder is batting .228 in 215 AB with 19 RBI, 14 R, 2 SB, a 43/14 K/BB, and a .529 OPS. Those are stats that would make Juan Castro cringe! I could have had him if I said $2 in my $260-AL. Instead I let him go for a buck. Yes, Jeff Francoeur has been a surprise this season and, on Saturday, hit his 44th double of the season to tie the KC record of Jermaine Dye (1999). From 2006-2009, Francoeur played in 636 out of a possible 648 games. This year Frenchy has appeared in 136 of the team’s 141 games while batting .282 in 529 AB, 16 HR, 74 RBI, 66 R, a surprising 19 SB, and a 109/35 K/BB. Don’t forget that Francoeur is only 27 and may be in the Royals’ plans to go with their young prospects in 2012. I do have a feeling that you won’t be able to get him for a buck in AL-only!

September 4, 2011: Bengie Molina always ran like he had a piano on his back!

Ivan Nova for AL Rookie of the Year? Back in March you may have thought that question was craziness! I mean, Nova wasn’t even assured of traveling North with the team. And if he did make the squad, there was talk about pitching him in the pen. But he did make the opening day rotation with Bartolo Colon in the pen. An ineffective Nova was even sent down to Triple-A during July for 3 GS. The right-hander is now 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA since returning from the minors in late-July. In fact, the Yankees have won his last 13 GS. He’s been the Yankees’ only reliable SP of late except for Sabathia. Nova is presently 15-4 in 138 2/3 IP with a 3.89/1.34 ERA/WHIP, 139 HA, and an 85/47 K/BB. A look into his 2010 season at Triple-A showed the upside for the 24 year old Nova. In 145 IP, he had a 12-3 record with a 2.86/1.26 ERA/WHIP, 135 HA, and a 115/48 K/BB. He started 7 games for the Yankees in 2010 and in 42 IP had a 4.50/1.45, 44 HA and a 26/17 K/BB. He also had a 51% GB rate on the season. Seattle’s Michael Pineda may have something to say about the hardware. Or Jeremy Hellickson. Or even Mark Trumbo. Pineda is 9-8 on a bad Seattle team where wins are hard to come by. Just ask King Felix! In 159 IP, Pineda has a 3.74/1.09 ERA/WHIP, 122 HA, and a pretty damned good 163/52 K/BB. Pineda’s record stands at 9-9. After yesterday’s start vs the A’s, Pineda will start 2 more games. His previous season high for innings pitched was 139.1 innings between Triple-A and Double-A last season. He was shut down by the Rainiers because of a history of arm discomfort in previous seasons. The Mariners have said all year that Pineda’s workload would be closely monitored. He is considered a long-term No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez and started the season as the No. 2 prospect in the organization, behind second baseman Dustin Ackley. The Rays’ Hellickson is 11-10 in 155 1/3 IP with a 3.01/1.17, 126 HA, and a 106/56 K/BB. Hellickson had a stellar 49-16 record in the minors with 475 HA. A 634/137 K/BB, and a 2.71/1.06 ERA/WHIP in 580 1/3 IP. He’s the only SP in the history of baseball to pitch at least 6 innings in his first 3 GS and give up 3 H or less: 20 IP, 9 HA, (3-0), 18/3 K/BB, and a 1.35/0.60. Now that’s kicking some ass! We profiled Trumbo this past week and he’s at .254 in 460 AB with 24 HR, 73 RBI, 58 R, 8 SB, a 98/24 K/BB (something he has to work on) and a .769 OPS. The Angels are considering asking Trumbo to play third base and in the outfield in winter ball with first baseman, Kendrys Morales, returning next season. Worthy candidates all! I’ll tell you something, if Brett Lawrie had been in the majors for more than a month now, he’d be the odds-on favorite for the ROY. In his first 97 AB, the Canadian born Lawrie has a 1.072 OPS, 7 HR 20 RBI 15 R, 4 SB, 17 XBH, and a .330 BA. He came to the Blue Jays from the Brewers (Lawrie was the #16 overall pick on the 2008 draft) for Shaun Marcum. Lawrie had 4 HR during his recently ended 9 game hitting streak and is already emerging as a top fantasy third baseman. After this was written, Trumbo hit his first career grand slam vs the Twins to give him 25 HR.

September 3, 2011: "You want to talk about a bad day!"

Brandon Guyer has experienced a whirlwind year, from being traded by the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal to playing at the Triple-A level for the first time and then reaching the Majors. "It's been a roller coaster," he said. "But coming into the season, my main goals were to be consistent and to stay healthy. The healthy part really didn't work out -- I've had some bumps and bruises. Coming up and down, I just really tried to stay consistent, and I think that's what I did. That's why I'm back here." Guyer batted .312 with 14 HR, 61 RBI, 78 R, 16 SB, a 79/35 K/BB, and a .905 OPS in 388 AB at Triple-A Durham. On Wednesday, manager Joe Maddon allowed that Guyer will be in contention for a starting job in 2012, meaning that the remainder of this season is somewhat of an audition. He likely be used against left-handed pitching down the stretch, but he could get a long look in left field next season if the Rays trade B.J. Upton and move Desmond Jennings to center field. Cubs purchased the contract of 1B/OF Bryan LaHair from Triple-A Iowa. LaHair ripped up the Pacific Coast League en route to being named its MVP this season, posting a 1.077 OPS in 456 AB over 129 games. His 38 home runs led the entire minor leagues. However, that's what someone who has appeared in 653 career Triple-A games (123 HR, 453 RBI, .897 OPS) is supposed to do. Just two months shy of his 29th birthday, LaHair is a non-prospect who will have to make a big impression this month to work his way into the Cubs' 2012 plans. He drove in 109 runs to lead the PCL and batted .331 with a .664 slugging percentage and 1.070 OPS. He added 38 doubles and joined Mel Hall in 1982, as the only Iowa players to hit 30 doubles and 30 homers in a single season. He appeared in 45 games for the Mariners during the 2008 season, hitting .250 with three HR and 10 RBI in 136 AB. This was his only major league action. White Sox purchased the contract of RHP Addison Reed from Triple-A Charlotte. A third-round pick just last year, Reed cruised through the White Sox minor-league system this summer, posting a 1.26 ERA, microscopic 0.73 WHIP and eye-popping 111/14 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings across four levels of play. He could play a big role out of the White Sox bullpen down the stretch, will have a good chance at making the team out of spring training next March. His 111 K’s led all minor league RP. Reed, 22, who was selected in the third round of the 2010 draft, limited opponents to a .157 average.

September 2, 2011: I'd like to know how Bartolo Colon's lawsuit with Weight Watchers is going!

A couple of real speedsters may see the light of day in Septemebr for playoff-bound clubs in the AL. The Red Sox purchased the contract of outfielder Joey Gathright of the Yuma Scorpions and assigned him to Triple-A Pawtucket, according to a Sox team source. This will be Gathright's second stint with the Red Sox, following time with Boston at the end of the 2009 season. The speedy Gathright played in 17 games for the Sox at the end of 2009, going 5-for-16 with one stolen base and appearing in one ALDS game. He has not played in the majors since that stretch. After spending 2010 playing for the Orioles' Triple-A affiliate and with the independent league Long Island Ducks, Gathright, now 30, hit .347 for Yuma after signing with them on June 10, walking 40 times and stealing 20 bases in 61 games. Think pinch runner when rosters expand, for an extra tool in September. And, without equivocation, Joey Gathright is the fastest player I've ever seen going from first to third. That I will say and it's the truth. The problem is that he just didn't do it enough which is evidenced by the 1175 AB he got in the majors at the ripe "old" age of 30. And now on the other side of 30, he's not getting any faster. You know the old baseball axiom, "You can't steal first!" But he should supply the team with a pinch-runner for September (he probably won't be eligible for the post-season) and a little defense in the OF the way the similar Darnell McDonald has done for the past couple seasons. He's the guy that when you say (as I did in Little League), "A hit is as good as a walk," you're talking about Gathright. With only 38 XBH in his career (1 HR) he will not make anyone forget Curtis Granderson or even former Red Sox Mike Cameron. But he will provide a flare for the game and maybe even jump over a few cars in the process! Rangers purchased the contract of INF/OF Esteban German from Triple-A Round Rock. German, 33, has stolen 44 bases in 53 attempts at the Triple-A level this season to go along with a .301 BA and .388 OBP. The Rangers value his ability as a pinch-runner, which is why they included him on their postseason roster last year. He'll get an audition during September. German also had 7 HR, 56 RBI, 94 R, a 56/72 K/BB and a .799 OPS. It’s hard to believe the Rangers had Andres Blanco and Omar Quintanilla on their roster for a good part of the season and not German. The 33 year old has stolen 129 bases in the minors since the age of 31. A .278 hitter in 1005 major league AB, German is 1409 for 4718 (.299) in the minors with 903 R, 47 HR, 526 RBI, 459 SB, a 794/714 K/BB, and a .797 OPS.

September 1, 2011: George Herman Ruth could also have been one of the greatest pitchers of all-time!

Nick Johnson is hitting just .206 in 180 AB for Triple-A Columbus (Cleveland organization) this season. Johnson also has 6 HR, 13 RBI, 20 R, a 51/26 K/BB, and a .661 OPS. Originally signed as Matt LaPorta insurance, Johnson did not get the call to the big leagues on Monday when LaPorta was demoted. It's possible he'll be called up when rosters are expanded on Thursday, but the acquisition of Jim Thome has erased a lot of the need for Johnson in Cleveland. Johnson has not seen the light of day in the majors in 2011 after off-season surgery on his wrist. He was given the key to the city by the Yankees in 2010 but apparently locked himself out. All Johnson was asked to do was be the full-time DH and bat second in a loaded line-up. Johnson didn’t even need a glove! But as luck (or lack of it) would have it, Johnson would only play in 24 games for the Yankees due to the wrist injuries and batted just .167 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 12 R. He did have a 23/24 K/BB. But Johnson just can never stay on the field long enough to use his on-base gifts. He’s been on the DL 9 times in his 9 year career. He did have a 500 AB season in 2006 for the Nationals and did have 23 HR, 77 RBI, 100 R, a 99/110 K/BB, a .938 OPS and even managed to swipe 10 bags. Keep an eye on where he ends up for the 2012 season. He does have a 546/511 K/BB over his career! If I were to ask you what pitcher has the best winning pct. with 20 or more decisions you probably couldn’t come up with the answer. If I told you this pitcher was 23-2 lifetime with a .920 winning pct. you would still be hard-pressed for an answer. Give up? It’s none other than former Yankee and current Red Sox, Alfredo Aceves. Could Aceves actually be a good luck charm? He did go 10-1 for the Bronx Bombers when they won the World Series in 2009. Now Aceves is 9-1 for the Red Sox, who entered last night with the best record in the AL. In 215 career IP, Aceves has a 3.06/1.08 ERA/WHIP, 170 HA, a 147/62 K/BB, and 4 SV. He’s appeared in 102 games including 9 GS. Where would Aceves be if not for the bicycle accident in November that left him with a broken collarbone? There’s at least some chance he still would be pitching for the Yankees. Although they already had concerns about Aceves’ recovery from a back injury that hampered him for most of last season, the accident clinched the Yanks’ decision to non-tender him, making him a free agent and allowing the Red Sox to scoop him up and sign him in February to a split contract worth about $650,000 if he pitched in the majors, $200,000 if he pitched in the minors. He has done his best work out of the bullpen, going 8-0 with a 2.15 ERA and allowing only 46 hits and 19 walks in 67 innings. And so, the Red Sox put up with Aceves’ eccentricities. He often changes his delivery without notice, and earlier in the season, his improvisation led to a pair of balk calls. But I’m sure whatever the future holds for Aceves, the Red Sox are glad that they have him in the present!

July 26, 2011: Jose Altuve is my starting 2B in my $260-NL!

Aaron Harang has been pretty decent since coming off the DL in early July. He has allowed a total of seven earned runs in four starts since his activation. He probably should have four wins in that span, but the Padres continue to be a shaky offensive team. Contenders are looking at Harang as potentially a cheap acquisition, which moving to a contender would increase his fantasy appeal. But as of now, Harang remains at best a back-of-the-rotation fantasy arm. He is scheduled to pitch at home on Saturday against the Rockies. Harang lost to Colorado on the road May 14, but he is 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA in 10 road starts this season. Don’t forget that he pitches his home games at Petco, the best pitcher’s park in the NL. I’m a long time owner of Harang and this year is no exception. He’s part of my 15-team mixed league staff. But I do remember May 25, 2008, the day Harang says changed his career. That day, in an extra inning game, Harang was asked to go 4 IP in relief. He gave up 2 hits and had a 9/1 /BB while throwing 63 pitches between starts. His next 3 GS were 15 1/3 IP, 30 HA, 16 ER, and 4 HRA. He went on the DL after his July 8 start. He was an up and comer for the Reds in ’06-’07 going 32-17 in 69 GS. In 466 IP, Harang had a 434/108 K/BB, 455 HA, and a 3.75/1.21 ERA/WHIP. But he became Mr. Hyde from ’08-’10! In 75 GS, Harang had an 18-38 record in 458 1/3 IP, a 377/131 K/BB, 530 HA, and a 4.71/1.44 ERA/WHIP. Going to SD at the start of this season seems to be just what Harang needed. In 17 GS and 104 1/3 IP, Harang has a 9-2 record with a 3.45/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 102 HA, and a 72/34 K/BB. Keep an eye on where he may end up as Harang could lose value with a move to a hitter’s park. I don’t know which is more surprising, Emilio Bonifacio having a 23 game hitting streak going or playing 23 games in a row. I own Bonifacio and Cameron Maybin in both of my NL-only. During Bonifacio’s amazing streak, he has stolen 17 bases. Maybin has 9 SB in his last 8 games. I’ve gained 11 total points in SB the last 3 weeks between the 2 leagues. Now I’m getting calls about Maybin in my $360-NL. Maybin will be $32. I was offered Logan Morrison ($22) for Maybin but I need to think about that! Maybin was pulled from Sunday's game after suffering a left hip flexor injury. He's likely to sit out the Padres' next couple of contests as a precautionary measure.

July 25, 2011: Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life!

If we started a 40-team mixed league right now and held a straight draft with the requisite 23 players/team (14 offensive and 9 pitchers), you would have 920 total players selected (560 offensive and 360 pitchers). One guy who wouldn’t be selected would be Angel Berroa. Yesterday the D’Backs signed Berroa to a minor league contract. Berroa hasn't played in the big leagues since 2009, when he appeared for both New York teams. The former AL Rookie of the Year is now 33 and hasn't played anywhere yet this season. Berroa was actually a finalist for the 3B job for the 2009 Yankees that went to Cody Ransom while A-Rod missed the first 6 weeks of the season. Yes, you read it right, Berroa was a former AL Rookie of the Year back in ’03 for the Royals. He batted .287 in 567 AB with 17 HR, 73 RBI, 92 R, 21 SB, a 100/29 K/BB (this could have been a sign of trouble ahead), and a .773 OPS. But that would be as good as it would get for Berroa. He hit .270 in 608 AB in 2005 with 11 HR, 55 RBI, 68 R, 7 SB, a 108/18 K/BB and a .666 OPS. His last game action came with the Giants’ Triple-A team last season but he was cut after batting .205 with 1 HR and 8 RBI in 88 AB. That’s all you need to know about Berroa. By the way, the D’Backs released Wily Mo Pena yesterday. He must really suck! I guess by now you heard the news of the death of Amy Winehouse at the age of 27. Usually when someone of that age passes on, it’s a bit of a shock. But Winehouse just joins the “Dead at 27” club which includes Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain of the great band, Nirvana, and Jimi Hendrix. As my wife would say, “They all died of excess!” Reds recalled SS Paul Janish from Triple-A Louisville. Janish was demoted earlier this month after posting a woeful .227/.259/.271 batting line. He batted .256/.377/.372 in 43 at-bats for Louisville and has regained his roster spot by default with Zack Cosart's injury. Janish will share shortstop with Edgar Renteria in Cosart's absenceJanish, at least to me, will best be remembered as the guy in my $360-NL draft who went for $15 because that owner had one spot left for $15 and the guy who “wanted” him only had $14. It almost came to fisticuffs. Over Paul Janish. This was a note that was written to me from one of the readers after the draft took place: I leave the country for a couple of days and when I come back, all hell has broken loose. A fight over Paul Janish! Even in your $360 style league, Janish is worth a buck or 2 maybe 3 at the outside. It must have been tense in that room for a few minutes. I think he did better with Renteria anyway. He just does more. I like the story about Helton going for $20 after the bidding started at $20.That’s classic stuff. A $30 bidding war for Mc Louth had to be classic and you bringing up for a dollar Narveson and having him going for $14 is stuff of legend. The draft should have been filmed for viewing at next year’s draft. I would like to add that while your pitching is decent, your offense is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Aren’t Wilson Valdez, Emilio Bonifacio, Chris Denorfia, Melvin Mora, Wilson Ramos, and Geraldo Parra the same person? Not to forget about J.R Towles who’s worse then all of them. You’re going to need an Albert Pujols-type season from Cameron Maybin. Good luck with that! LOL. And Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ted Lilly better be Doc Halladay. By the way, your best pitcher so far is R.A. Dickey! That just about sums up my season in that league. And, for that matter, in all leagues!

July 24, 2011: Even deaf people can play things by ear!

ESPN's Buster Olney reports that there is "a big gap" between what what the Padres are asking for and what the Yankees are willing to part with in exchange for Mike Adams. We've been hearing for a while now that Adams being traded is less and less likely. Olney's colleague, Jerry Crasnick, reported Friday that the Padres were focused on moving Heath Bell, Chad Qualls, Aaron Harang and Ryan Ludwick, but not Adams. The setup man is under team control for one more year, but it's doubtful his value will ever be any higher. Adams signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract in the 2010 offseason and will not be available as a free agent until 2012. While Moorad sounds confident in his claim that Adams will stay a Padre, future offers may suit the price tag the Padres have placed on him, and his future in San Diego still, in my book, remains cloudy. Success didn’t come swiftly in Adams’ career, as it took seven years until he found a secure spot in the Padres ‘pen in 2008. The right-hander signed as an amateur free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001. After spending three seasons in the Brewers’ minor league system, the reliever got a shot in the show at age twenty-five, in 2004, and posted a 3.40/1.20 ERA/WHIP, and 2.79 K/BB. Before the 2005 season, the Brew Crew named Adams their closer to start the season, but only notched one save before being removed from the role and eventually the roster. I had kept him for $10 that season in my $360-NL and could have moved him early but, wrongly, decided to hold him! Despite owning a 2.4 BB/9 in 2004, his control ballooned to 6.8 BB/9 in 2005, justifying his demotion. But he’s been like a man possessed since he was named the Padres’ set-up man in 2008. In 214 IP, Adams has a 1.68/0.90 ERA/WHIP, 134 HA, and a great 237/59 K/BB. The move by the Blue Jays to release Jo Jo Reyes Saturday came a day after Reyes was lit up for eight runs in four innings by the Rangers in Toronto's 12-2 loss at Texas. Reyes has given up 15 runs and 18 hits in his last two starts. The 26-year-old made 20 starts for the Jays this season, going 5-8 record with 5.40/1.59 ERA/WHIP 140 HA, and a 64/35 K/BB in 110 IP. He joined Toronto last season in a trade with Atlanta. Reyes did have his good moments on the mound.  He suffered a hard-luck loss in Anaheim against Jered Weaver April 10 despite allowing three runs (one earned) over seven innings.  On May 3, he allowed just one run over six frames in Tampa Bay but got a no-decision in an eventual 3-2 loss and spun seven shutout innings May 20 at home against Houston but the Jays bullpen collapsed in a 5-2 loss.  Reyes got that first elusive win by going the distance at the Dome against the Indians in a 11-1 Jays romp May 30.  That prevented Reyes from a setting a major league record for most consecutive starts without a victory. His 28 straight winless starts ties Matt Keough (1978-1979) and Cliff Curtis (1910-1011). And, no, I don’t remember Curtis! Wil Ledezma was called up to take his place. Ledezma has made 34 relief appearances this season with Las Vegas with a 1-1 record and 4.63 ERA. The 30-year-old left-hander has appeared in 187 games in the majors, including 40 starts, over eight seasons with Detroit, Atlanta, San Diego, Arizona, Washington and Pittsburgh. Ledezma had a 63/18 K/BB this season in Triple-A. Keep Ledezma off the radar for fantasy purposes.

July 23, 2011: When you're making $23-mil/yr, how much is enough?

Long day, just getting home and ready to whip out a few stanzas for a blog. It was only about 105 degrees (heat index 110). I went 36 holes today at the club. My wife even called this afternoon to see if I was still alive. She talked to head golf pro Jim McGovern who came out to the fourteenth hole to see what was going up. I actually thought that he was the former assistant pro at Montammy, Frank Esposito. It was just a flashback, I’m sure. That’s 72 holes in 2 days. I don’t know how long I can keep up this pace but, four months ago, I started out as an out of shape and chubby 190 pounder. Now I’m an out of shape and skinny 165 pounder! What’s going on with Josh Reddick? The outfielder has a 1.102 OPS -- the highest on the team. For that matter, it's the highest of any full-time big league outfielder in the past month. Terry Francona has stood behind his struggling vets in the past. So it wasn't out of the question to imagine Francona keeping Drew in right despite his .223 batting average or his .630 OPS. Or his 4 HR. Or his 22 RBIs. We've seen Francona's patience rewarded, as veterans have increased their offense after getting the confidence of their manager.
Yet it is now obvious that Francona has seen exactly what we've seen. We see a right fielder who has shown no signs of turning his season around. A player nearing the end of his five-year, $70 million contract who seems to have retirement in mind. A guy who's gone a full calendar year without any kind of real production. All Reddick has done is bat .378 in 82 AB with 4 HR, 18 RBI, 20 R, and a 15/10 K/BB. The problem with Drew is that the signs have been there for most of the five years he’s been with the Red Sox. He never approached the production the they expected of him. He never came close to the 93- and 100-RBI production of his 2004 and 2006 seasons in Atlanta and Los Angeles. His RBI production with the Sox prior to this year: 64, 64, 68 and 68. He hit 76 home runs in his first four seasons, never more than 24. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Drew is a player who has had a very scattered offensive career, with no standout success. He might be a decent enough defensive player, but he was never the kind of offensive player who should have commanded $70 million. One might say he’s laughing all the way to the bank, but the stone-faced Georgian doesn’t seem to have much of a pulse as it is. Before his call-up to the majors, Reddick had a .230 BA, 14 HR, 36 RBI, 37 R, 4 SB, a 39/33 K/BB, and an .841 OPS in 191 AB. He is available in one of my AL-only leagues and I am going to investigate! After the very long day that I talked about the first story I saw on a web site was this report from Red Sox manager Terry Francona. The manager acknowledged Friday that Josh Reddick will get the majority of the playing time in right field over the struggling J.D. Drew for the time being. "He’s swinging the bat awfully well. It’s kind of hard not to play him," said Francona, who actually compared the situation to when Jed Lowrie supplanted Marco Scutaro at shortstop earlier this season. "I think Josh deserves to play. He’s given us such a lift in our lineup."

July 22, 2011: Barbie and Ken are not dolls, they're action figures!

He’s like the proverbial bad penny. He just always turns up. He was even the Opening Day 3B for the Yankees back in ’09 (A-Rod began the season on the DL) and on a lot of fantasy “experts” sleeper lists that season. Yet this guy has never had more than 79 AB in a major league season spread out over 8 seasons.  Reports out of Phoenix confirm that the Arizona Diamondbacks plan to call up Cody Ransom from Triple-A Reno. Ransom, 35, has been on a tear in Reno, batting .331 this season. His 26 home runs and 89 RBI are also both franchise records. He also has 28 doubles, 9 SB, and a 1.060 OPS. He's a versatile infielder, who can play second base, third base and shortstop. He'll take the roster spot of Stephen Drew, who fractured his right ankle on Wednesday night. Drew is due to have surgery and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Ransom’s had a fine minor league career with a .250 BA in 4945 AB, 807 R, 209 HR, 744 RBI, a 1388/580 K/BB, and a .775 OPS. In 219 games in the majors covering 304 AB, Ransom is a .227 batter with 9 HR, 39 RBI, and 58 R. He does need 31 hits to reach triple digits for his career. According to Buster Olney of, the Phillies would prefer to structure any of their offers for Astros' outfielder Hunter Pence around right-hander Vance Worley. Because they already played Astros GM Ed Wade for a sucker with J.A. Happ? Worley, 23, is enjoying a fantastic rookie season, but he hardly fits the profile of a centerpiece. The Phillies will need to do better than that to have any chance at getting a deal done. If I asked you what Phillies SP, over his last 6 GS, has a 4-0 record, an 0.94 ERA, and a 22/10 K/BB, how many of you would say Worley? Oh but it is the 23 year old who also sported a 50/12 K/BB and a 2.31/1.05 ERA/WHIP in 9 GS at Triple-A. He’s currently 5-1 in 9 GS with the Phils but his 24 BB’s in 54 1/3 IP tells me that his 2.15 ERA could be headed north! 27 year old Jesus Guzman has been knocking around for a long time with most of the time spent in the minors. He’s finally getting a little bit of a chance with SD and has 8 RBI over his last 2 starts. With Anthony Rizzo being dispatched to the minors yesterday, keep an eye on how the playing time between Guzman and the newly recalled Kyle Blanks plays out. Guzman is a .305 career batter in 3377 AB with 545 R, 108 HR, 579 RBI, a 627/344 K/BB, and an .853 OPS. He has also managed 75 AB over parts of 2 major league seasons (’09, ’11).

July 21, 2011: It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it!

The Giants acquired Jeff Keppinger from the Astros and he may just get all the time at second base with both Freddy Sanchez and Bill Hall laid up. But let’s look under the hood at Keppinger. He brings with him a consistently elite contact rate, one that has risen to 96% this season. Keppinger posted a solid .352 on-base-percentage last season, but that has dropped to .323 this year, as he has drawn just four walks in 163 at-bats. He also has only 7 strike outs in that time! While his below average power and speed will certainly keep his home runs (4) and steals (0) in the single digits, he could still provide some value with a batting average that should remain close to the .300 mark (.307). He does have a .756 OPS. Keppinger didn't make his season debut until May 27 because of offseason surgery on his left foot, but posted a .307 average with four home runs in 43 games for Houston. He is a lifetime .284 hitter in seven big league seasons with the Mets, Royals, Reds and Astros. Keppinger makes a great $1 middle infielder in your NL draft. Jose Altuve, listed at 5-7 (he may be more like 5-5), was leading all minor leaguers with a combined .389 batting average (139 for 357) when the Astros purchased his contract from Class AA Corpus Christi. He takes over for departed starting second baseman Keppinger, whom the Astros traded to the San Francisco Giants for minor league pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. Altuve was absolutely tearing it up in the minors this season.  He started out at Single-A Lancaster and batted .408/.451/.606 with five homers and 19 steals in what, admittedly, is a fantastic environment for hitters.  He hadn’t slowed too much following the move up to Double-A, though.  He was hitting .361/.388/.569 in 35 games for his new team. Some would like to see the 21 year old spend a few weeks in Triple-A but with the Astros wallowing with the worst record in baseball, they felt they needed an infusion of offense in the line-up right now. In NL-only leagues, Altuve is a must, and given the lack of excellent second base options out there, he's worth a shot in mixed leagues if you're in need of help at the position, but don't necessarily expect him to dominate. Altuve is a career .327 hitter in 1466 minor league AB with 117 SB and an .867 OPS. Adam Dunn is out of the lineup for the second straight day Wednesday. The Royals used Danny Duffy on Tuesday night and have Bruce Chen on the hill Wednesday, so this is an indication of Ozzie Guillen's lack of confidence against Dunn against southpaws. And it's tough to blame him. The high-price slugger is 2-for-64 (.031) with 29 strikeouts against left-hander pitching this season. Alexei Ramirez will serve as the designated hitter Wednesday while Omar Vizquel makes the start at shortstop. It’s hard to believe how far Dunn has fallen when the Pale Hose start the 44 year old Vizquel in front of him! Just to put the whole world in perspective and to make sure that people know the world is not flat, Jeff Karstens now has a 2.28/1.04 ERA/WHIP in 114 2/3 IP with 100 HA, and a 61/19 K/BB. Yes, I know, it’s all so hard to believe.

July 20, 2011: When you move a guy like Felix Hernandez, you have to get something for him!

Ryan Vogelsong pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings Monday in the Giants’ 5-0 win, the latest in a long line of pitchers to shut down the Dodgers offense this year. The difference between Vogelsong and the other pitchers is that despite not having a job deep into the offseason, Vogelsong flat-out didn’t want to wear the Dodgers uniform. In the late 1990s, Vogelsong was drafted (in the fifth round) and developed by the Giants. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti remembered Vogelsong from his days as the Giants’ assistant GM, remembered the potential, and wanted to sign him. Vogelsong never forgot what the Dodgers-Giants rivalry meant. Even though he was traded to the Pirates, blew out his elbow and missed a whole year, was totally ineffective the next four years, spent three years in Japan, and pitched (again ineffectively) for the Angels and Phillies’ Class AAA affiliates last year, he still considered himself a Giant at heart. Vogelsong started the year in the minors, was called up when Barry Zito went on the disabled list, went nine consecutive starts allowing two runs or fewer, was selected to the NL All-Star team by his manager, came into Monday with the lowest ERA in the league and left to a standing ovation from Giants fans after improving to 7-1 and lowering his ERA/WHIP to 2.02/1.19. He’s thrown 98 innings allowing 84 hits and a 75/33 K/BB. He also has 11 QS in 15 GS. Don’t forget the last time Vogelsong wore a major league uniform before this season was in 2006 with the Pirates when, in 38 IP, he had a 6.39/1.58 ERA/WHIP. I know that I said 2 months ago that this wouldn’t last. I also said the same thing a month ago. I’m just going to leave well enough alone and file it under one of those things, like the Casey Anthony verdict, that just can’t be explained. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates are "looking at" Orioles setup man Koji Uehara. He has registered a dominant 1.84/0.79 ERA/WHIP, .150 opponents’ batting average and 58/8 K/BB ratio in 44 innings this season for Baltimore. The oft-injured former SP has allowed only 23 hits in those 44 IP. The Orioles are said to be willing to deal the 36-year-old right-hander, and he should draw major interest as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. In Pittsburgh, Uehara would fill the eighth-inning role behind shutdown closer Joel Hanrahan. I drafted him as a rookie in 2009 but he could only make 12 starts with a 48/12 K/BB in 66 2/3 IP. He was made the O’s closer the next season and managed 13 SV. Uehara has a career 161/25 K/BB in 154 2/3 IP. He would help any bullpen down the stretch. Of course the big “if” is IF he can stay healthy.

July 19, 2011: Whenever Adam Dunn gets 2 hits in a game, it's like putting whipped cream on shit!

I’ve been noticing over the past 10 days or so that Royals’ SP, Felipe Paulino, has become a popular pick-up in AL-only. In fact, in my $260-AL this weekend, an owner spent a sizable $14 FAAB on Paulino in the only bid for the whole week. I was actually, albeit briefly, considering Felipe Paulino in my $260-AL. But that staff already includes 2 immortal KC SPs in Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen. This was coming off Sunday’s 7 inning, 4 ER, 7 HA, with an 8/1 K/BB appearance. It’s not saying a heck of a lot but Paulino has been KC’s best pitcher over the past 3 weeks. Over his last 4 GS, Paulino has 28 IP, 36 HA, a remarkable 32/5 K/BB, and a 4.82/1.46 ERA/WHIP. That's almost serviceable in AL-only and I would recommend giving him a try. As long as you have an easy escape route or a Plan-B in place! Over his career, Paulino is a God-awful 7-28 in 278 IP with a 5.47/1.55 ERA/WHIP, 322 HA, and a 254/110 K/BB. I've been waiting for any kind of incremental improvement from this guy for almost 4 years now and you may be seeing it. Sometimes it's good to get in the ground floor but that doesn't come without a lot of risk. Let's just call Paulino for now, high risk/high reward! This is a season where I wish the All-Star break was 7 days instead of 3. I am the proud owner of both Bartolo Colon and Joel Pineiro in the same $260-AL. Nothing rankles me more than after a long weekend of work and I come home to this stat line on one of my SPs. 1/3 IP, 7 ER, 4 HA, and 4 BB. Incidentally that equates to a 189.00/24.00 ERA/WHIP. Colon, earlier in this short week, had a start of 2/3 IP, 8 R (3 ER), 6 HA, and 2 BB. Putting that together with the stellar effort of Pineiro yesterday and that comes out to 1 IP, 16 runs (10 ER), 10 HA, and 6 BB. That's just as bad as it gets. The Tigers have interest in Baltimore right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, according to Jon Morosi of Detroit prefers Ubaldo Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda, but Guthrie makes for a nice backup plan. Though he didn't pitch well Thursday and has been up-and-down the last few weeks, Guthrie probably represents the O's best trade chip and there would surely be multiple interested parties if he's made available. Guthrie is 3-13 with a 4.45 ERA and is earning $5.75 million this season. He's eligible for arbitration next year and will then be a free agent. Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail may hesitate to move Guthrie, because he leads the beleaguered Baltimore staff in innings pitched. Guthrie is just 3-13 with a 4.45/1.35 ERA/WHIP ... (and) is earning $5.75 million this season. The 32-year-old is due for a raise in salary arbitration in 2012, after which he will become a free agent. My feeling is that the Orioles won’t be competitive in that division for a few years and should go with the younger pitchers and save their money! For that reason I didn’t like the Derrek Lee signing. Guthrie was “money” in 2010 with 11 Ws, a 3.83/1.16 ERA/WHIP, 193 HA, and a 119/50 K/BB in 209 1/3 IP. He’s 41-61 over his career with a 4.19 ERA in 935 2/3 IP.

July 18, 2011: Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't!

Blake Beavan offers a four-seam fastball in the 88-92 mph range, rarely topping 92, that he throws for strikes but doesn't always command well. He throws both a curveball and slider but I've seen the slider more in Tacoma. I do wonder if he's improved that pitch since I last saw him -- or his overall command -- which could explain his recent success. The curveball is a slow tumbler at 73-75 mph while the slider sits 78-82. He also throws a circle change (80-83 mph) that grades below average but is useful at times. None of the secondary offerings are consistently average or better, but he has had games where one of them is thrown to that level enough to get through a lineup three times. Beavan reminds me of Doug Fister a couple of years ago, discounted because he doesn't throw 96 MPH. Of course plenty of folks think Fister "will stop getting lucky" soon (they've been waiting for awhile now). Hopefully Beavan can become Doug Fister II. Of course it won't matter unless the offense can find a way to score three runs. With 6 2/3 IP of 3 ER ball yesterday, Beavan now has 20 IP with a 2.70/0.95 ERA/WHIP, 15 HA, and an 8/4 K/BB. Just remember Beavan had a very pedestrian 4.45/1.48 in 93 IP at Triple-A with a 64/20 K/BB. Doug Fister has been historically unlucky this season, as his 2.15 runs of support per game thus far is the lowest mark for any pitcher in a single season since 1972. Fister's 3-11 record is also a franchise worst for a pitcher with a sub-3.50 ERA (his ERA/WHIP sits at 3.18/1.17). He hasn't won any of his last eight starts despite giving up a total of 21 runs and averaging nearly eight innings per outing. He also has an 80/28 K/BB and 127 HA in 133 IP this season. It's a shame that Fister has been so unlucky so far this season, and it's really going to be a shame when his performance takes an inevitable backslide and his bottom line results really start to head south. Adam Dunn doubled and scored in Chicago's loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon. The extra-base hit was his first in five games, while the actual hit was just his fifth in 47 July at-bats (.106). As has been the case for some time now, there's just no way to sugarcoat how bad Dunn has been for the White Sox this season. His season triple slash rests at .160/.290/.302, he's batting just .124 since June 1 and is 2-for-64 (.031) on the year against lefties. Those numbers aren't just unacceptable for somebody making $12 million, they are unacceptable for anybody in the major leagues. And the worst $36 I ever spent! If you own him, you just have to stay the course and hope he can start to get hot. Nothing rankles me more than after a long weekend of work (see yesterday) I come home to this stat line on one of my SPs. 1/3 IP, 7 ER, 4 HA, and 4 BB. Incidentally that equates to a 189.00/24.00 ERA/WHIP. That takes about a week to get out from under. And that's provided you have good pitching Joel Pineiro, you suck! For the day in that league I pitched 7 1/3 innings good for 13 ER, 13 HA, and an 8/6 K/BB. That bought my day's ERA/WHIP down to a much more "manageable" 15.95/2.59. And you wonder why I pull my hair out!

July 17, 2011: I can screw up a wet dream!

Yesterday was a tough one and some unchartered territory for your friend George. I walked 45 holes as a caddy. I figured it out from tee to green that I walked 15,479 yards which, if my math is correct, computes to 8.79 miles. And that yardage is NOT counting the normal zig-zagging that a caddy does in the course of a “loop.” Plus I raked my share of sand traps (bunkers) today. It was so much that I had to Ben-Gay my shoulders when I got home. I could say this, I’m not suffering from lack of circulation in my legs! Being a .253 lifetime batter in 4098 AB, a player better bring something to the table for an owner to absorb the BA hit! And for a player who just 2 seasons ago seemed to be playing his last big league games, Corey Patterson has, once again, reinvented himself. After batting .215 for the Cubs in 2005 in 451 AB with 15 SB, Patterson, 26 at the time, needed a new address. He went to the O’s and averaged 41 SB and 70 R ion his 2 seasons there. But, after wearing out his welcome there, Patterson drifted to the Brewers and the Nationals in 2009, going 3 for 29 (.103) on the season with 2 SB and a 13/0 K/BB. A return to Baltimore was worked out for 2010 and Patterson batted .269 in 308 AB but more importantly stole 21 bases. This year Patterson took his box of balls and his much traveled lumber up to the North country, Toronto. There he’s batting .258 in 295 AB with 6 HR, 33 RBI, 42 R, 12 SB, a 62/14 K/BB (he was never one for the free pass as his 918/203 career will attest to) and a .685 OPS. Patterson, who hadn't started since Tuesday, drove in a pair of runs Sunday. Patterson has lost some playing time recently with Travis Snider back and Rajai Davis hitting well and the team wanting to get an extended look at Eric Thames. He's of some value in deeper formats with 42 runs scored and 12 stolen bases in just 80 games but may have a hard time getting into the lineup on a regular basis if Davis continues to play well. But Patterson does remain a good source of cheap speed for AL-only owners. C.C. Sabathia earned his MLB-leading 14th victory by tossing eight innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday.  Sabathia held the Jays to just three hits while striking out eight and walking three. The southpaw has allowed just one run over his last 32 innings, lowering his ERA from 3.25 to 2.64 in the process. He has won 11 out of his last 12 starts dating back to mid-May. He'll go for win No. 15 against the division-rival Rays next week. Sabathia now has 171 lifetime victories and will turn 31 in four days.

July 16, 2011: Miguel Batista may be stuck on 99 wins for eternity!

For a minute I forgot that Cliff Lee signed a deal with the Phillies because a Texas Ranger LHP just hurled his second consecutive complete game shut out! Derek Holland (8-4) failed to get out the first inning against the Marlins on July 2, but five days later tossed a four-hit shutout against the Athletics. He was just as dominant in the opener of this four-game series, setting down the first 15 batters he faced and finishing with eight strikeouts. "That's two in a row he's thrown the ball the way we know he's capable of throwing it," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If he can stay consistent like that, throwing the ball in the strike zone, I think he's going to be fine. He really did an outstanding job tonight." Holland is a guy that I have always liked. In fact, I picked him up in my no-trade AL in 2009. He wasn’t quite ready for prime-time as he was 8-13 in 138 1/3 IP with a 6.12/1.50 ERA/WHIP, 160 HA, and a 107/47 K/BB. He spent most of the 2010 season at Triple-A but still found time for 54 K’s in 57 1/3 IP and another 11 1/3 IP in the post-season. But it’s his last 2 GS that’s caught the attention of fantasy owners. Over 18 shut out IP, Holland has given up only 9 hits with a 15/3 K/BB. For the season Holland has a 90/42 K/BB, 125 HA, and a 4.32/1.41 ERA/WHIP in 118 2/3 IP. Holland, who matched his career-high win total set in 2009, has four career shutouts, three this season. The nine hits he has allowed his past two outings have all been singles. He is the first Ranger with back-to-back shutouts since Charlie Hough had a club-record three straight during the 1983 campaign. Holland has three shutouts in his last eight starts. That's one fewer than Andy Pettitte had in 479 career starts. Holland's rotation spot was very much in jeopardy before the last shutout against Oakland, and he's still a hard guy to trust given his history of inconsistency. The talent has always been there, though, and he might be putting it together just like Gio Gonzalez did last year. If you’re a Holland owner, you have to hold him for now. You could make the Holland owner in your league a “low-ball” offer but don’t go crazy just yet! Because Mr. Holland’s opus could turn into the Holland tunnel! If you thought that you saw Michael Martinez on a milk carton coming into the 2011 season, you may have had to check twice. Seeing as Martinez came into the Phillies' series finale against the Braves hitting .192, it seemed safe to say that the Citizens Bank Park crowd had yet to fall head-over-heals for him. In fact, I would say there were many who weren’t even sure who he was! But that was only until he fearlessly went head-over-heals into the photographer’s well and -- holy Derek Jeter! -- came up showing the baseball. That wasn’t the extent of the 28-year-old rookie’s fun, either. After going 4 for 5 and scoring twice in a 14-1 smashing of the Braves, Martinez finished the afternoon only 2,984 hits short of Jeter on the all-time list. Martinez is a Rule 5 player who the Phillies wouldn't give up on yet. He had a great game as did the other 2 young players in Brown and Mayberry. Francisco is toast and Ibanez won't be back next year unless he excepts a bench role for pennies compared to his 11.5 million contract this year. I’m not exactly sure what that means for Martinez vis-à-vis 2012, but he should enjoy his 15 minutes of fame while it’s still here! After the Phillies selected Martinez with the 30th overall pick in December 2010, this is what was said about him: Martinez, 28, batted .272/.312/.408 with 11 home runs and 56 RBI between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this past season. He can play multiple positions and has a good glove, but the only question is whether he will hit enough to justify a roster spot. After his 4 hit day on Sunday, Martinez is 19 for 83 (.229) with 11 R, 8 RBI, a 17/5 K/BB and a .559 OPS. I would leave Martinez on the free agent wire as his 4 hit game on Sunday will probably go down as the best game of his career and something that Martinez can tell his grandchildren about!

July 15, 2011: Emilio Bonifacio is the fastest guy in baseball!

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Brandon Allen was told he's being recalled from Triple-A Reno. Paul Goldschmidt fans may not be thrilled, but Allen could still represent an upgrade over Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady at first base. The 25-year-old is batting .306/.427/.579 with 18 homers and a 1.006 OPS in 305 AB at the Triple-A level this season. He has a 90/64 K/BB, 66 RBI, 75 R, and 7 SB. Playing in the PCL obviously helped, but lefty batters love Chase Field. Allen has shown a terrific eye at the plate, as his .427 on-base percentage indicates. He offers a possibility for solid slugging percentage and OPS as well in the long term. He is likely up to get playing time and is worth scooping up immediately in NL-only play and taking a speculative flier on in deeper mixed leagues given his long-term projections as a top prospect in the Arizona system. In 2 trails with the D’Backs, Allen is a .221 hitter in 149 AB with 5 HR, 20 RBI, 18 R, and a terrible 60/22 K/BB. Goldschmidt has enjoyed a fine season at Double-A, with a .311 BA in 315 AB, 26 HR, 81 RBI, 69 R, 7 SB, a nice 74/65 K/BB and a 1.061 OPS. He should see time in the desert before the season’s out. Alex Presley, who has three straight multi-hit performances and seven in 13 games since his recall, will be hard to sit down once Jose Tabata returns.  Look for the Pirates to give Presley time in right field when Tabata returns. He could spot start in left, too, depending on Tabata's health (Presley has played left exclusively for the Bucs thus far). The left-handed hitting Presley raked at Triple-A, hitting .336 -- including a .348 mark against southpaws. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the adjustments opposing pitchers will surely make, but he heads into the post All-Star break with a .365 batting average in 52 at-bats. As good as Presley has been so far, I'm not yet sure he's not a part-time player in the end, and I don't think the Pirates should necessarily wait for his hot streak to end before making a move that would reduce his playing time. They might get left out in the cold if that happens. If the Pirates acquired a guy like Carlos Pena, I'd send out Tabata, Garrett Jones and Pena against most righties, and use Presley as a fourth outfielder who plays a lot. I think that's an upgrade, and it would give the Pirates some good pinch-hitting options. Because this is a season where the Pirates are finally looking like buyers at the trade deadline and not sellers. I would say that they definitely need to upgrade at the corner infield spots. The Pirates head into the post All-Star break one game behind the Cardinals and the Brewers in the NL-Central at 47-43.

July 14, 2011: Jose Cano can help the Astros right now!

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Adam McCalvy of that Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford will share the closer's role. Interesting. We assumed that K-Rod would immediately move into a set-up role, but that's apparently not the case. He likely won't finish enough games for his $17.5 million option to vest, but the situation could be a bit of a distraction as the Brewers contend for a playoff spot. We're still guessing Axford closes more games, but both pitchers figure to lose fantasy value if Roenicke sticks with this plan. "I talked to John [Axford] and I told him not to worry about it. I told him roles will be dictated by games and by [manager] Ron [Roenicke]." In other words, K-Rod does have a chance to close some games in Milwaukee, but outright taking the role from John Axford isn't likely, especially since Rodriguez's $17.5 million option kicks in if he finishes 21 more games this year. All things considered, fantasy owners should hold onto Rodriguez in mixed leagues until we see how this begins to play out over the next couple of weeks. K-Rod was gone from the time that he bitch-slapped his father-in-law last season and got suspended for the rest of the season. Rodriguez did put together a good season in the Mets surprise 46-45 record this season with 23 SV and  3.16/1.41 ERA/WHIP, 44 HA, and a 46/16 K/BB. At the age of 29 K-Rod now has 291 career SV, including a record 62 for the Angels in 2008. Axford is still the best bet to lead the Milwaukee bullpen in saves from here on out, and could fend off a closing platoon with Rodriguez entirely, especially since Axford is carrying a 1.29 ERA since May 22 and hasn't blown a save since April 18. With that said, it's not crazy to think that the Brewers may give K-Rod some save chances here and there to keep him happy. I just picked up the Mets RP, Bobby Parnell in my $360-NL and he appears to be first in line to take over as closer for the Mets, and should be added immediately in all formats. It remains to be seen how the hard-thrower will respond to his first gig as a closer, but his 2.92 ERA and 30/9 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 IP are positive indicators that he'll have some success. The Dodgers are trying to solve their LF problems this year before the return of Jerry Sands by acquiring Juan Rivera from the Blue Jays. Rivera, who was batting .243/.305/.360 with six HRs in 275 plate appearances on the season, was DFA’d by the Blue Jays last week. At 33, it appears Rivera’s best mediocre days are behind him, but the Dodgers are hoping he can still hit lefties like he has been in 2011. Rivera was batting .327/.400/.509 with two HRs in 65 PAs against left-handed pitching in 2011. To be honest, I don’t understand why the Dodgers made this move. Regardless of the fringe player the Dodgers might give up or the money they might give the Blue Jays, trading for a mediocre veteran player when you are 11 games behind in the NL West and going nowhere makes very little sense to me. Rivera did bat .333 vs LHP in 2009 and .351 in 2006, his only 2 fantasy relevant seasons!

July 13, 2011: Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo, now don't tell me there's nothing to do!

Last night we witnessed the first of the 82 All-Star games in the desert. One thing I didn’t know is that Eric Karros has the most HR in LA Dodger history. When Brian Wilson read the line-ups for the NL, my wife thought that he was Joaquin Phoenix. And, it’s fitting. As the game is being played in Phoenix! I actually thought that give Wilson a piece of a shoe-fly pie and a straw hat and he would pass for an Amish person. I also noticed that Monday night’s HR derby champion Robinson Cano was batting eighth for the AL squad. In June, Cliff Lee drove in more runs than ER allowed. He’s the first pitcher to do that in a month since Doc Gooden for the Mets in 1985. Of course Lee went 1-2-3 in the top of the third. Adrian Gonzalez has the most hits by a Boston Red Sox in history at the All-Star break with 128 and Jered Weaver is the first Angel to start a mid-summer classic since Mark Langston in 1995. After going 5 up and 5 down, Lee gave up a solo HR to Gonzalez as part of 3 straight hits to make it 1-0 AL. Gonzalez is having a remarkable season for the Bosox with a .354 BA in 362 AB, 17 HR, 77 RBI, 64 R, and a 1.005 OPS. Speaking of great seasons, Jose Bautista makes a great play in foul territory on a pop-up by McCann. This is a guy that played on 4 different teams in 2004 (Balt, TB, KC, Pitt) to become the leading vote getter at over 7.4-mil for the 2011 game. In his first 1754 AB, Bautista hit 59 HR. Over his last 868 AB, Bautista has hit 85. This season he has 31 HR, 65 RBI, 73 R, 5 SB, a 54/74 K/BB, and a 1.170 OPS. Prince Fielder hit a 3-R HR off C.J Wilson to make it 3-1 NL after 4. Fielder led the NL in RBI’s with 72. He also hit 5 HR on just 5 swings as part of the HR derby! He became the first Brewer ever to hit a HR in an All-Star game. The biggest surprise of this game to me is that Lance Berkman is leading the NL with 24 HR. Another surprise is that after missing the early part of this season on the DL, Jair Jurrjens leads the NL in both wins (12) and ERA (1.87). The Angels Jordan Walden was also clocked in triple digits for the AL. The final score in last night’s extravaganza was 5-1 with Fielder’s 3-R HR off Wilson the big blow. Starting pitcher Roy Halladay threw two perfect innings Tuesday in the All-Star Game. Halladay threw just 19 pitches, 14 of them for strikes, in his best All-Star appearance to date. He entered with an 8.10 ERA (7 R, 6 ER in 6 2/3 IP) in his five appearances. Tyler Clippard, who came on after Cliff Lee ran afoul, got the W and Brian Wilson tacked on the SV. The other big news of the night involved a trade between two NL clubs. Brewers acquired RHP Francisco Rodriguez and cash from the Mets for two players to be named. The Brewers are expected to move Rodriguez and his 291 career saves into a setup role, so this doesn't really hurt John Axford's value at all. Since K-Rod's $17.5 million vesting option would kick in with 55 games finished, the Brewers have plenty of financial incentive to keep Rodriguez in the eighth inning. Mixed leaguers may want to just go ahead and drop him.

July 12, 2011: Pippa Middleton is the hottest woman that ever lived!

The silence is deafening!  The All-Star Break is a blessing and a curse. It’s the moment of summer when there are no cheers, no jeers, no boasts, no brags, no heights of victory, and no depths of defeat. And that can be fairly depressing for sports junkies who need their daily adrenaline fix. But look on the bright side.  It’s the perfect moment in time to hire an airplane to fly over the beach with your marriage proposal, take the kids to the Bronx or San Diego Zoo, have the grandchildren spend a few days, or just catch up on whatever’s been taped on the DVR. After all, the silence won’t last for long. Heath Bell was a popular man during the All-Star Game media festivites. He figures to be traded by the last-place Padres before the July 31 deadline and the Phillies are a logical destination. The San Diego closer said he'd be willing to serve as a setup man for a contending team this season, but will seek a closing job in free agency this winter. Bell, 33, has a 2.43/1.19 ERA/WHIP with 26 saves this season. He is an All-Star for the third straight year. Bell has 59 SV in his last 60 chances including 9 SV in his last 9 IP. Bell averaged 45 SV for the Padres in 2009-2010 with a 165/52 K/BB in 139 2/3 IP. Bell acknowledged the trade rumors surrounding him on Monday, saying he would definitely move to a setup role if traded to winning team. Such a trade would kill his fantasy value. The Cardinals could certainly use him, and would likely employ him as closer, but they are unlikely to acquire Bell, because doing so would likely require parting with one of Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez, a non-starter for a 33-year-old stopper heading for free agency. The Phillies make a lot of sense and appear motivated to make a move. Also in the mix are the Angels, Yankees and Rangers, amongst others. The problem is that if Bell goes to a place and is made the set-up man, he loses a lot of value in fantasy circles. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of, Derek Jeter will not attend the All-Star Game because of "emotional and physical exhaustion" from his pursuit of 3,000 hits. One source close to Jeter speculated that he may have reversed course if he had reached 3,000 hits earlier last week and had time to "decompress." However, he did not have that luxury. While there's a case to be made that he should have at least attended the festivities, it doesn't matter much from the perspective of the game. Asdrubal Cabrera, who many thought deserved to win the balloting in the first place, is now starting at shortstop for the American LeagueCabrera is having a great season with the Indians going 105 for 358 (.293) with 14 HR, 51 RBI, 55 R, 12 SB, a 66/23 K/BB, and an .836 OPS. He truly deserves to be the starting AL shortstop in the All-Star game.

July 11, 2011: Another baseball season is half way done!

When I got home from work last evening I received an e-mail from one of my fellow owners in my $260-AL. He wanted to give me Trevor Cahill ($1) for Felix Hernandez ($42) AND James Shields ($18). He mentioned to me that I could build my staff around Cahill next season. I know that in 127 IP this season, Cahill has a 3.12/1.29 ERA/WHIP, 113 HA, and a 91/51 K/BB. Those are good numbers but, in good conscience, I can’t deal both for Cahill as it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the league. I got back to the other owner and said that it would take Cahill and a hitter to pry King Felix from my team. Of course I haven’t heard back from him yet! Mr. Happy Face, Emilio Bonifacio, has put a happy face on plenty of NL-only owners since 80 year old Jack McKeon has returned to steer the Marlins’ ship on June 20. Since that date, Bonifacio is 23 for 69 (.333) in 18 games with 12 SB, 13 R, and an 11/9 K/BB. That includes 5 SB and 5 R in his last 3 games. For the season, the versatile Bonifacio (starts at 2B, SS, 3B, OF) is hitting .285 in 270 AB with 16 SB and 37 R. In yesterday’s game Bonifacio had three hits, extending his career-best hitting streak to 12 games. He stole three bases and scored twice. But I might be prone to call Emilio Bonifacio an American hero! On May 1, 2011, Emilio Bonifacio hit a home run, and Osama bin Laden's death was announced to the world by President Obama. I think that one has to do with the other. In 1103 major league AB, Bonifacio has exactly one HR hit over the fence. And that came at Cincinnati off Nick Masset in the eighth inning of the May 1 game. But I remember something more amazing about Bonifacio. I kept him in my $360-NL for $10 in 2009 not knowing what to expect but knowing that he was named the starting third baseman by the Marlins. On April 6, 2009 (Opening Day) all Bonifacio did was go 4 for 5 with 4 R, 1 HR (inside the park), 2 RBI, and 3 SB. Over his first 5 games of the 2009 season he went 14 for 24 (.583) with 5 RBI, 9 R, and 4 SB. I was already dusting off his Hall of Fame plaque! He was even named the NL player of the week for his efforts. But, as things have a way of happening in fantasy baseball for me, Bonifacio went 11 for 69 (.159) over the rest of the month with a 22/4 K/BB, 0 RBI, and 7 R. So I have to take his recent hot streak with a grain of salt. No, make that a pound of salt! He did finish that season with a fantasy useful 21 SB and 72 R.

July 10, 2011: I am not young enough to know everything!

Derek Jeter reached 3,000 hits in style Saturday against the Rays, going 5-for-5 with a home run to reach the historic milestone and a go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory. We're not sure you can write it up any better. Jeter singled in the first for hit No. 2,999 and smacked a no-doubter over the left field fence in the third inning to become the 28th player in baseball history to reach 3,000 hits. Oh, but he wasn't finished. Jeter also doubled in the fifth, singled in the sixth and pushed the Yankees ahead for good with a single through the drawn-in Tampa Bay infield in the bottom of the eighth. It was an incredible day for "The Captain," one that pushed his batting average up from .257 to .270 for the season. He might not be the player he used to be, but you can't say he doesn't have a flair for the dramatic. I was on the golf course while all this was going on, caddying for the Pizzones and the Spanos on my second 18 holes. By the way, Lou Spano is like someone out of the Sopranos. Kelly Pizzone got the news of Jeter’s 3000th via blackberry. She mentioned to me that it was a HR. She asked me if I followed baseball (true story). I asked her a trivia of the only other guy ever to have a HR for his 3000th hit. She said Mr. October, Reggie Jackson who, by the way, had 2584 hits. I mentioned that it was Wade Boggs and she told me that Boggs tried to hit on her once. You just can't make this stuff up! Angels recalled OF Mike Trout from Double-A Arkansas. As previously reported, Trout will make his major-league debut in center field on Friday evening, drawing the start in place of Peter Bourjos, who could be placed on the disabled list as early as this afternoon. Arguably the game's top prospect with only Washington's Bryce Harper pushing him for the title, Trout possesses a rare combination of power and speed, and should immediately be considered one of baseball's fastest players. His power, while quite real, may not immediately transfer to the American League West and its stable of pitcher-friendly parks, but that should not stop you from taking an immediate flier in all formats. Trout will become the first teenager to reach the major leagues since Justin Upton in 2007 when he starts in center field for the Angels on Friday. Trout is 30 days shy of his 20th birthday, while Upton was 23 days shy of his 20th birthday when he debuted for the Diamondbacks on August 2, 2007. There's a very good chance another teenager, Harper (who doesn't turn 19 until October), makes his major-league debut in 2012. As an 18 year old at A-Ball in 2010, Trout batted .341 in 508 AB with 10 HR, 58 RBI, 106 R, 56 SB, an 85/73 K/BB and a .918 OPS. Moving up to Double-A this season, Trout was a .324 hitter in 290 AB with 12 doubles, 11 triples, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 28 SB, 69 R, a 61/38 K/BB and a .944 OPS. Mike Trout went 0-for-3 as the Angels' No. 9 hitter in his major league debut Friday. Trout flied out in the second, grounded out in the fifth and lined to center in the seventh. He's expected to start the remaining two games this weekend before the Angels make any decisions on his future.

July 9, 2011: If dog food is 99 cents a can, is that almost $7.00 in dog money?

When we last checked in on Mark Trumbo back in March, he was coming off a season at Triple-A where he led all the minor leagues in HR with 36. Trumbo added 122 RBI, 103 R, a .299 BA in 532 AB, a 126/58 K/BB and a .941 OPS. Back then we didn’t know how his playing time would shake out with Kendrys Morales only supposed to miss the first month of the season. But when Morales’ broken leg from his GS celebration last year didn’t quite cut the mustard and he was deemed lost for the year, Trumbo “stepped” in to take over the job at 1B. And not that this rookie season hasn’t been without it’s ups and downs for Trumbo, but he does have a .253 BA in 285 AB, 14 HR (leads the Angels), 37 RBI, 31 R, a surprising 8 SB, a 63/15 K/BB and a .750 OPS after 81 games (including 6 in the OF). It's the time of the season when those rebuilding teams in keeper leagues are looking for next year's talent on the cheap. Certainly one of the names you should be hearing about is Trumbo. I wouldn’t say that he makes a great keeper but he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the second half of the season. The second half will tell a lot about Trumbo: if pitchers beat him to the adjustment punch and he starts striking out with more frequency, his BA and eye would continue to slip and frustration could set in. And that’s what it’s all about for these young hitter, making the necessary adjustments the second and third time through the league. But I will say that he has been helpful in AL-only leagues as your third corner infielder. Trumbo needs to work on being more selective at the plate as his K/BB ratio shows. Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, has been impressed with Trumbo’s raw power. "He's got as much raw power as anybody I've seen step into the batter's box, including guys like (Mike) Piazza, Vlad (Guerrero)," Scioscia said recently. "I saw (Jose) Canseco and (Mark) McGwire and they were obviously special guys. Trumbo is right there with them. He hits the ball hard as high and that keep going as far as anyone I've seen." When you combine the upside of Kyle Seager with the downside of Chone Figgins, the call-up seems to be a no-brainer. But this is a 23 year old guy with all of 12 games at the Triple-A level. Albeit, they’re a Hall of Fame 12 games, with a .455 BA in 55 AB 2 HR, 12 RBI, 16 R, a 6/5 K/BB and a 1.173 OPS. Seager had been hitting .312 at Double-A, with 83 hits in just 66 games played. He was showcasing some nice talent at second base, and with the biggest asset in the system getting promoted (Ackley), Seager finally got his chance. Ackley and Seager were actually teammates at North Carolina. Seager was the second baseman for the Tar Heels, a position that the Mariners groomed Ackley to take over in the major leagues. Now, it seems like Ackley will be the second baseman for many years to come, and the thought process evolves into how Seattle can use Seager. Seager is a lifetime .329 hitter in 1039 AB with 21 HR, 145 RBI, 193 R, 26 SB (20 CS), a 159/124 K/BB, and an .875 OPS. Seager is a fundamentally-sound infielder with natural swing mechanics and instincts for hitting. He led the High-A California League in BA in '10 and has continued his hot hitting well into '11. Not only does he hit for a high BA, but he puts bat to ball consistently and has enough patience to draw walks and get on base. He needs to keep his BA up to maximize his value as the LH hitting Seager is more of a doubles hitter able to utilize the whole field. Seager had a tough task in his major league debut, going up against Jered Weaver. Seager took an 0 for 4 with 2 strike outs.

July 8, 2011: Josh Collmenter does it with smoke and mirrors!

In Michael Cuddyer’s 11th season with the Twins he was voted as their lone All-Star selection.  Manager Ron Gardenhire has had nothing but positive things to say about Cuddyer’s leadership, toughness, and versatility (47 starts in RF, 21 at 1B, and 13 at 2B). In his career with the Twins he has played every position besides catcher and shortstop. His starts at 1B have helped the Twins deal with injuries to Justin Morneau, and his starts at 2B helped them with Nishioka’s broken leg. Cuddyer leads the Twins with 13 HR to go along with 40 RBI, 40 R, 7 SB, a 46/32 K/BB, and an .846 OPS. He’s hitting .294 in 296 AB. Without Cuddyer’s production, versatility and most importantly ability to stay on the field, the Twins 2011 season would be a lost cause. Cuddyer is a free agent this season and has made it clear that he wants to stay in Minnesota.  With an already high payroll, and Delmon Young, Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Cuddyer, the Twins have one too many OF’s and will have some touch decisions to make in the off-season or possibly the trading deadline. The ninth overall pick in the 1997 draft by Minnesota, Cuddyer has been the company man, that’s for sure. He’s had seasons of 109 RBI (2006), 32 HR (2009), 102 R (2006), and in 2009-2010, Cuddyer totaled 186 R. Over his long career with the Twins, Cuddyer is 1043 for 3839 (.272) with 134 HR, 550 RBI, 576 R, a 756/395 K/BB, and a .797 OPS. I also picked him #77 overall in my AL straight draft league. Jonathan Papelbon squeaked through a dismal outing on Tuesday en route to his 18th save, giving up two earned runs on four hits and a walk. Entering the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead, Papelbon quickly surrendered a single and a two-run homer. Later, with two outs and runners on first and second, Toronto's John McDonald singled to left field, but Edwin Encarnacion was thrown out at home on a questionable call to end the game. On the replay, it showed that Encarnacion was actually safe! Despite converting 18 of 19 save opportunities, Papelbon owns an unimpressive 4.01 ERA, while batters are hitting .259 against him. If he does not rebound in the second half, it will be interesting how the World Series-chasing Red Sox respond. Keep in mind that heir-apparent Daniel Bard tossed another shutout inning Tuesday, adding to his 16 1/3 scoreless innings streakBard was a SP in the minors and, in fact, his last season as a SP in 2007, Bard posted a 7.08/2.05 ERAWHIP and a 47/78 K/BB in 75 IP at High-A Ball. This season Bard has given up just 23 H in 41 IP with a 2.20/0.83 ERA/WHIP and a 40/11 K/BB. On their face Bard's numbers are exceptional.  When you realize the impact of his season opening four runs in one-third of an inning on those numbers you really get a sense of how dominant he has been.

July 7, 2011: Curiosity killed the cat but for awhile, I was a suspect!

In my opinion, Casey Anthony is a murderess and got away with the crime. I think that the next thing she should do is play a round of golf with O.J. Simpson. The very least punishment that should have been given to Miss Anthony is that she should have spent her formative years behind bars. Her own lawyer, Jose Baez, called Casey Anthony a "slut." I would say this: DON'T INSULT SLUTS! But Baez is now a celebrity and the next William Jennings Bryan or Johnnie Cochran. Or even Ben Matlock! I'm sure that he and the family are already cashing in on this travesty through book deals and Made-for-TV movie offers about the story. At least we had the "white man's verdict" after the O.J exoneration. And, as my wife asked that fateful night that pre-empted the Knicks NBA Championship finals, “Which way is the Bronco headed?” When I drafted Ben Zobrist 60th in my mixed league draft, friends were on me like white on rice asking me why I took this guy so early! Well there were 105 guys kept on rosters from last year but I guess I could see their point. A little! This guy under-achieved in most every offensive category in 2010. reports Zobrist would like to point out that his 2010 season wasn't all bad despite battling a neck injury and suffering that drop-off in offensive production. "I had a down hitting year, [but] everything else, I felt like I did well," he said. "I did really well defensively. I ran the bases really well. I did all the other facets of the game that I could've done better than I've done them before." Manager Joe Maddon believes the remedy for getting Zobrist back on track is simplicity and health. "He's an experimenter and he just needs to get back to doing what he had done well the year before and the year before that," Maddon said. "It's one of those things where you think-that-I-think-that-you-think-that-I-think kind of stuff, and that kind of messed him up. You just got to simplify it again." Zobrist said he "seriously underestimated" a sore neck he dealt with going into spring training last season. He said he couldn't fully turn his head at the plate and his mechanics were off because he started to pull his head out as he swung. "It probably started getting better midseason," Zobrist said, "but at that point, I had these habits that I was in as a hitter that I just had a hard time getting out of the rest of the season. On top of that, I was pressing, because I wasn't hitting like I wanted to hit."  Zobrist had 0 HR in 2010 in his first 146 AB. This was after hitting 27 HR in 2009. I’ll grudgingly give Zobrist a mulligan for 2010. But, don’t forget, Zobrist batted just .181 in 249 AB in the 2nd half. Zobrist is one of the final 5 candidates for the last spot on the AL All-Star team. He does have 41 XBH this season with 40 RBI, 54 R, a 65/42 K/BB, and an .808 OPS in 316 AB. Though I will say this, Zobrist collected 7 of his 9 HR and 25 RBI in April including an amazing 4 game streak where he drove in 16 runs. On April 28, Zobrist sat atop the AL with 23 RBI despite batting just .236. If you can get him for your AL on the cheap, I would explore it. I see Zobrist having a big second half for the Rays. I had to share this from my friend Tom, a frequent contributor to the site. His son, Bobby, had a Little League World Series game on Tuesday night. I spoke with Tom earlier today and asked him about the game. Tom’s son’s team won 26-0 which made me wonder why there isn’t a mercy rule. But Tom did go on to say that his team didn’t score in the first inning. The whole thing led me to believe that Jeff Suppan was the SP for the losers!

July 6, 2011: A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal!

Long term, Mat Gamel is viewed as a potential replacement for Prince Fielder, and perhaps it is a longshot that the Brewers would insert Gamel and his shaky glove at 3B in a pennant race. But for what it's worth, Gamel had been showing an improved contact rate (84%) in Triple-A and has whiffed only twice in 19 at-bats since his June 28 call-up. I have Casey McGehee in my $260-NL for $2 (for the third and final season) and last season I just plugged him in to the 2B position for the season. He rewarded me with 23 HR, 104 RBI, 70 R, a .285 BA and an .803 OPS in 610 AB. He's certainly not looking like the same hitter in 2011 with a .221 BA in 307 AB, 4 HR, 33 RBI, a 53/22 K/BB, and a terrible .578 OPS. McGehee has basically been borderline useless this season. He might be a good buy low candidate but I wouldn't give him away if I own him because you'd never get what he's worth. I'm really not sure about Gamel who's starting to look like a Quad-A player. His only real exposure to major league pitching came in 2009 when, in 128 AB, hit ,242 with 5 HR, 20 RBI, a 54/18 K/BB, and a .758 OPS. He's 3 for 19 since being called up by the Brewers but did show some bounty at Triple-A with a .321 BA in 293 AB, 18 HR, 58 RBI, 54 R, a 48/25 K/BB, and a .957 OPS. He'll be 26 years old at the end of the month and may be getting his last chance in the Beer City. The Brew Crew have tried him even in a utility role but if McGehee keeps wetting the bed, Gamel may be given one last long look at the hot corner. McGehee has been given chances and I don't see the team waiting much longer on him. He did go 2 for 4 today with 2 R so maybe he'll feel the pressure of someone pushing him. Miguel Batista somehow managed to post a 2.01 ERA through the end of May despite awful peripherals. But, it finally caught up to him, as he allowed 10 runs in seven June innings while pushing his ERA up to 4.60, his WHIP to 1.57 and his K/BB ratio to 16/19 in 29 1/3 IP. He was released by the Cardinals on June 22. The Mets signed RHP Miguel Batista to a minor league contract; assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo. He won't be of much help to the Mets and could struggle to climb out of their minor league system. I can’t get too excited about this signing by the Mets even though it’s close to free and given that he’s a big fancy author, he may add some color to the clubhouse. If he throws a few lights out extended spring or simulated games or whatever, sure, he may actually come to New York, but I would bet you dollars to donuts that the next time we post about the guy, it will be “The Mets release Miguel Batista.” Batista did have 31 SV for the Blue Jays back in 2005. Over the next 2 seasons with the D’Backs and the Mariners, Batista was 27-19 but that came with a 4.44/1.53 ERA/WHIP, 440 HA, and a 243/169 K/BB in 399 1/3 IP. It all came crashing down in 2008 with Seattle. Batista was 4-14 with a 6.26/1.86 ERA/WHIP in 115 IP, 135 HA and a 73/79 K/BB. He’s been fantasy useless for some time now and may have thrown his last major league pitch. Over his career Batista has a 4.51/1.49, a 1199/852 K/BB, and 1941 HA in 1873 IP. He added 41 SV in 614 games (239 GS) with a 99-112 record.

July 5, 2011: Cats are smarter than dogs; you can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow!

Just when things were going better in my $260-AL and I actually climbed above 3 teams, John Lackey goes out and throws another dud. I only have 9 healthy pitchers (8 of them SP) and left Lackey in. In 2 1/3 IP, he gave up 7 ER and 9 H for a 27.00/3.86 ERA/WHIP. And even those of you who don’t know baseball have to know that he sucks! If you were in a $260 mixed league and drafted for a total of $6: Phil Humber, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm, Kyle Lohse, Jason Vargas, and Bartolo Colon, you would be sitting on top of a lot of pitching categories. Add two $15 closers and a cheap FAAB on Ryan Vogelsong, and you would have the best pitching in your league. But who’s to know? Vogelsong, by the way, was named by his manager Bruce Bochy as one of the pitchers on the NL All-Star staff. Yes, let’s give Vogelsong kudos for not having pitched in the majors from 2007-2010, but after all, he is 6-1 in 84 1/3 IP, with 70 HA, a 68/27 K/BB and a very helpful 2.13/1.15 ERA/WHIP. Everybody hates people who can do whatever they want. Just the other day, a guy on the golf course said he hated the Jesuits because they could kill people. But, of course, that’s if they didn’t like that particular person. Talk about never getting past the middle ages. Now, I know “The Inquisition” first hand because, unlike a Jesuit, I’m married. But, let’s face it, I’m a hater like anyone else when it comes to people who have free license to make their own rules. Isn’t that what gives us that lilt in the step when we see a mug shot of a filthy rich movie star that’s just been tagged for a DWI? Don’t you want Lindsay Lohan to be guilty of shop-lifting? Don’t you want to believe that Tom Cruise has a few screws loose because he jumped on Oprah’s couch? Would you shed a tear if Donald Trump’s wife left him for a younger man? It’s our guilty pleasure, our best revenge, and, most importantly, a way of validating that the rules we play by really do matter. After all, look what happens to those who color outside the lines…I’m pretty sure some of those medieval Jesuits found themselves in the hot—really hot—seat when it came time to pay the piper. Yesterday, I told my wife I had no karma. I see all these good things happening for others yet I feel that I can't catch a break. She told me there’s no such thing as bad karma; I’m just full of self-pity. My wife says that everyone has good luck; it’s all a matter of degree. It’s easy to see how much good luck you actually have, she told me; all you have to do is just look around and see how many people are worse off than you are. My wife is the one with the great imagination, so she can imagine all kinds of cataclysmic events, personal misfortunes, and unforeseen tragedies. If she gets into a car accident because someone ran a red light, it could have been worse—she could have been decapitated like Jayne Mansfield. If the house catches fire because she forgot she left the steaks under the broiler and went to Shop-Rite, at least we don’t live in California where they get those forest fires that last for days on end. When I ask, “What about all the people who are better off than we are?” she just shakes her head and walks away. Obviously, I’m too lost in self-pity to get the point.

July 4, 2011: Never advise anyone to go to war or to marry!

Baseball might just as well have been born on the Fourth of July. It is the mark of every kid’s independence from babyhood as hitting off the tee gives way to Little League. The most American of all games—our national pastime—is forever connected to the essentials of our holiday weekend: hot dogs and summertime games, whether in the backyard or at the ballpark. The one-in-the-sameness of baseball and America is not debatable; it’s no accident that the Little Leaguers march in every town’s Memorial Day parade or that one best-selling company named their hot dogs “Ball Park Franks.” This Fourth of July we have a lot to be thankful for; the American fight against terrorism has a small victory, so drop in at the Ball Park and have a frank, or just stay home and have a Ball Park frank fresh off the barbeque. I wasn’t at Safeco on Saturday night, and by now, you’ve surely heard of San Diego’s 1-0 win thanks to a three-ball walk to Cameron Maybin in the fifth inning. Maybin, of course, came around to score the game’s only run, and we were left to wonder just exactly how he was awarded first base without anybody noticing he’d only taken three balls. Home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi, Fister, Mariners catcher Josh Bard and manager Eric Wedge were all oblivious as Maybin took a 2-2 pitch up in the zone, then tossed his bat aside and jogged to first base. The scoreboard operator apparently had the count at 3-2 so, naturally, Cuzzi thought that he had the count wrong. “The catcher didn’t react, the dugout didn’t react, so he thought he had the wrong count. Do we feel bad? Absolutely. We count the pitches and it was just one of those things that gets away with you with the scoreboard having the 3-2 count up there and then nothing being said by anybody, he thought he had the wrong count.” A video review of the at-bat by official scorer Dan Peterson confirmed the count should have been 3-2 when Maybin walked. Fister, who threw 114 pitches, also struck out seven and walked one while earning his ninth loss of the year. Fister lost his fourth straight decision on Saturday but a few of those losses have come by no fault of his own. He has posted a 2.68 ERA over that span with 27 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. He would likely have more wins if he was on a team that would allot him with some more run support but as long as he is pitching like this, continue to view the 27-year-old as a low-end fantasy SP. His next start is scheduled for Thursday against the Angels. In two starts against Los Angeles this season, Fister is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Of course, the 3 ball “walk” is consistent with the luck Fister has had throughout his career. He has a career 3.74 ERA but only a 12-27 record to show for it! In 17 GS in 2011, Fister has a 3.02/1.16 ERA/WHIP, 114 HA, and a 77/25 K/BB in 119 1/3 IP.

July 3, 2011: Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed!

Juan Nicasio baffled the Royals on Friday evening, allowing just three hits in eight scoreless innings of work in Colorado's 9-0 victory at home. Nicasio struck out four and walked two in the finest start of his (so far) solid rookie season. He got the Royals to hit into 16 groundouts. With his pitch count at 111, the rookie righty was pulled in the ninth. Now the owner of a 4.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 30/10 K/BB ratio, he should get the Braves in Atlanta his next time out. Nicasio improved to 3-0 at Coors Field, lowering his ERA to 2.08 at the hitter friendly park. With Roy Oswalt ($57) out until at least August, I picked up Nicasio as a possible keeper for next year in my $360-NL. Don’t forget, Nicasio has never pitched at Triple-A. After 56 2/3 IP at Double-A this season, Nicasio was 5-1 with a 2.22/1.02 ERA/WHIP, 48 HA, and a 63/10 K/BB. He was 12-10 at High-A in 2010 with a 3.91/1.22 ERA/WHIP, 186 HA, and a 171/31 K/BB in 177 1/3 IP. Nicasio has been a pleasant surprise for the Rockies since being called up from Double-A Tulsa in late May. What was billed as an audition has pretty much turned into a permanent spot in the rotation. With plenty of movement on all his pitches, Nicasio has been difficult for the opposition to hit this season. He also boasts a fastball that hovers around 94 mph. He’s made 7 starts for the Rockies and has a 4.10/1.25 ERA/WHIP in 41 2/3 IP, 42 HA, and a 30/10 K/BB. Nicasio turns 25 years old at the end of August and is worth an add in your NL-only. Padres prospect outfielder Donavan Tate, the No. 3 overall pick in 2009, has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a drug of abuse. Tate hasn't done much to sway the opinion of those who believe the Padres' first-round picks are cursed. The 20-year-old has played just 43 professional games since being drafted No. 3 overall in 2009. He has been limited to just 17 games this season due to knee and shoulder injuries batting .294 in 68 AB with 13 R, 7 RBI, 7 SB, an 18/8 K/BB and an .839 OPS. Tate is a great athlete and projects as an eventual big league starting center fielder, but the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft has had trouble avoiding injuries. The 20 year old has underwent sports hernia surgery, sustained a broken jaw in an ATV accident and missed the start of the 2010 season due to a sprained left shoulder. And now this drug suspension.

July 2, 2011: Last night for dinner my wife made six thick thistle sticks!

Ramon Ortiz is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take Carlos Zambrano's (back) spot in the rotation next Tuesday. Ortiz has done a decent job while at Iowa, posting a 4.44 ERA and 79/20 K/BB ratio over 95 1/3 frames. Now 38, he'll be making his first start in the majors since May of last season when he was with the Dodgers. He made the Dodgers out of spring training in 2010 but, not surprisingly, was released in May. Ortiz was the owner of a 6.30/1.63 ERA/WHIP in 30 IP with 33 HA and a 21/16 K/BB. Ortiz spent the 2010 season with three different organizations — the Dodgers, Mets and Rays. On January 19, 2007, Ortiz signed with the Minnesota Twins for a one-year deal worth $3.1 million dollars. He was slated to be the #3 SP behind Johan Santana and Boof Bonser and ahead of Sidney Ponson and Carlos Silva. But things didn’t work out well for Ortiz and he was moved to the bullpen and eventually west to Colorado. I can’t see where Ortiz is going to help the Cubs as he’s 85-82 over his career with a 4.93/1.42 ERA/WHIP over 1389 2/3 IP, 1501 HA, and an 862/478 K/BB. He’s better left on the waiver wire. How many times have you been lied to by a phone recording? You know the drill: “Thank you for calling the blah blah blah…” As if any of us had a choice. “Your call is very important to us…” That opening pitch, delivered by the cheeriest liar on the planet, has done more to raise blood pressure than a three-pack-a-day smoking habit, more to cause splitting headaches than a first-grader’s birthday bash, and more to induce contemplation what can be done with sharp objects than a round with the IRS. Ready to retire from one job—who the hell in this economy can afford to go fishing—my wife called the New Jersey State Division of Pensions. After telling her that her call was very important to them and sending her through twenty minutes worth of menu choices, Ms. Recording finally came clean: “Due to high volume, we cannot take your call right now.” Hey…at least they wished her a good day before hanging up. This was the news about Melvin Mora on the web on Thursday afternoon. Diamondbacks released 3B Melvin Mora. With Ryan Roberts' emergence, Mora's playing time has been spotty, and he hasn't hit all year, sporting a .520 OPS. It's entirely possible that we might have seen the last of the 39-year-old. I had Melvin Mora coming into this season in my $360-NL for $8. My friend, Pat, suggested that I keep him but I mentioned that I could get him back for less. And even with the news that Mora would be the starting 3B for the D'Backs, I got him back for $4. For the season, Mora gave me a .228 BA in 127 AB with o HR, 16 RBI, 5 R, and an atrocious 24/2 K/BB. Actually, over the past 10 games, Mora became scarcer than a nurse at a Richard Speck book signing, going 0 for 2 with a K. I entered a H2H mixed league back in 2004 with unlimited pick-ups. It was actually a lot of fun and, in the first week of the season, I picked up Melvin Mora. He hit .340 that season with 27 HR, 104 RBI, 111 R, 11 SB, 65 BB, and a .973 OPS. Those were good days with Mora and I won that league going away! But now all I have to say to Melvin Mora is, "Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!"

July 1, 2011: My cat's favorite player is Coco Crisp!

Ryan Franklin got hit hard again on Tuesday, giving up two runs on three hits in only one-third of an inning. Taking the mound to start the eighth inning with a 6-0 lead, Franklin got the first out on a hard shot to left field before surrendering a home run, a single, and an RBI double. And that was all Cardinals manager Tony La Russa needed to see. Opponents are now hitting 44-for-120 (.367) against Franklin this season, while the struggling reliever carries an 8.46 ERA and 1.84 WHIP. He has now surrendered 11 earned runs on 18 hits in his last six appearances. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the Cardinals "may be closer to a decision" regarding struggling reliever Ryan Franklin. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa acknowledged considering "creative" alternatives to address the situation, so it's possible he could be placed on the disabled list or designated for assignment. According to Strauss, a decision is expected before the club leaves Thursday for Tampa Bay. From 2008-2010, as the Cardinals’ closer, Franklin averaged 27 SV per season and had a 1.92 ERA in ’09 and a 1.03 WHIP in ’10. Franklin made 94 GS for the Mariners from 2003-2005 coming out with a 23-44 record, a 296/184 K/BB, 635 HA, and a 4.49/1.36 ERA/WHIP in 603 IP. But right now, he’s totally useless out of the pen. About an hour after this was written, I saw this on the web: Cardinals released RHP Ryan Franklin. Franklin began the season firmly entrenched as St. Louis' closer, but he blew a save on Opening Day and it's been all downhill since. The 38-year-old right-hander allowed nine home runs and 44 total hits in just 27 2/3 innings this season. He could decide to simply retire. I may not even have had Jason Varitek in my starting line-up in my $260-AL if I had more than 2 healthy catchers available. But, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good! Varitek homered twice Thursday against the Phillies. Dustin Pedroia and Varitek, probably hitting consecutively for the first time since Pedroia was a rookie, went back-to-back in the eighth inning off Drew Carpenter. The Red Sox had Pedroia batting fourth for the first time this year and Varitek batting fifth for the first time this year. Obviously, it worked out just fine. Varitek is hitting .309 with five homers and 16 RBI in 81 at-bats since the beginning of May. The overall season hasn’t been a total bust for Varitek as he’s up to .248 in 117 AB with 5 HR, 17 RBI, 18 R, and a 33/13 K/BB. My only other member of the Bosox on my $260-AL, Mike Cameron, wasn’t as lucky today. Red Sox designated OF Mike Cameron for assignment. Assuming they don't find a trade partner, the Red Sox will be responsible for the remainder of $7.25 million salary for this season. While Cameron didn't live up to his contract in Boston, he shouldn't have any problem finding work once he's available at the league minimum. His departure is good news for Josh Reddick, who should have an increased role moving forward. His days as a fantasy contributor appear in the rear-view mirror as Cameron is batting .149 in 91 AB with 3 HR, 9 RBI, and 9 R. From 1999-2008 Cameron averaged 22 HR and 24 SB per season. By the way, I do have Cameron in my starting line-up for this week.


June 30, 2011: Ryan's Hope was the best soap opera of all time!

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it crash to the earth, does it make a sound? Why can’t one see the forest through the trees? If a cat is dumb enough to scamper up a tree, why does it take the occupants of an entire fire truck to get it down? Trees have been at the root of many philosophical issues, but none more challenging than the problem that arises when they grow so tall that the DirectTV satellite signal can’t get through. Yes, because of the trees, I will be forced to return to Cablevision, the company that once cared so little for my business that it refused to carry the YES network. They say the only constant is change, but switching television carriers is a little like getting traded after half a career with the same team. Very unpleasant, somewhat disturbing, and kind of offensive---all because of trees. It's too bad that the name, Jason Bay, isn't respected more in trade circles. I know, I know, it has to do with a little thing called 5 yr/$66-mil owed to the Canadian. If they could somehow unload Bay, the Mets will have some money toward keeping the one player that has been there for them all season, and that's Jose Reyes. Jose Reyes' MVP-level campaign continued Tuesday, as he went 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, a triple, a stolen base and three runs scored in New York's 14-3 win over the Tigers. As trade winds swirl around him, Reyes continues to dominate. Reyes, for the season, is now 117 for 335 (.349) with 64 R, 29 SB, 15 triples, a 26/26 K/BB, and a .922 OPS. Reyes seems to be the guy that the Mets would want to build on! And he just turned 28 years old this month. Buster Olney of hears that no team has called the Mets about the availability of Jose Reyes. Of course, the important word here is "yet." The Mets have indicated that trading Reyes isn't a foregone conclusion, but the better he plays, the higher his price tag will be this winter. While a trade would be unpopular among most Mets' fans, Sandy Alderson wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't listen to offers in the coming weeks. With the Mets’ financial turmoil, they may just not be able to afford the 9 figure asking price of Jose Reyes. An interesting milestone for Reyes last night was that he played in his 1000th major league game and now has 98 triples and 360 stolen bases. The only other player with that many triples and steals through his first 1,000 games, since 1898, when the modern stolen base rule was enacted, was Hall of Famer Ty Cobb, who had 106 triples and 391 steals. That’s damn good company! From 2005-2008, Reyes averaged 158 games per season but had played in 169 games between ’09-’10. He’s played in 76 of the Mets’ 79 games this season missing 3 games because of the death of his grandmother.

June 29, 2011: The problem is the girl of my dreams is just that...a dream!

Now that gay marriages are being sanctioned in NYC, I’m having a little problem with the multi-talented actor, Neil Patrick Harris, announcing that he’s engaged to his long-time boyfriend and is just looking to set a wedding date. And, believe me, I know that it is none of my business! It was one of the toughest days of my life many years ago when I found out that the Doogie Howser star was gay! My opinion is that all marriages are “gay!” I mean, a man forsakes all other women for the rest of his life and exchanges jewelry. Now that’s gay! I would never make it in prison. Not all prospects are gold-plated blue-chippers. Occasionally, the ones that impress us the most once they arrive are the complete surprises, like they have come from the land of misfit toys. The D'backs have a couple of them in Collin Cowgill and Paul Goldschmidt. Their minor-league numbers are becoming just too good to ignore, regardless if the scouts have some bones to pick with them. This combo is reportedly going to be contributing in the majors for fantasy owners, sooner than later. At Goldschmidt's and Cowgill's positions, the needs are far more significant. Juan Miranda is not fooling anyone at first base, hitting just .231, and Gerardo Parra (.275 with four homers and six steals) continues to look like nothing more than a reserve outfielder. We’ve gone over Goldschmidt but the 5’9” Cowgill has really come on this season in his first go-round at Triple-A. The fifth round pick of the D’Backs in 2008 is batting .363 in 303 AB with 12 HR, 52 RBI, 74 R, a 44/39 K/BB, 24 SB (2 CS), and a 1.015 OPS. Kirk Gibson has already come out and said, "I don't know if I can see Pena in the OF." The end of the D’Backs playing in AL parks in almost done and Pena, while he has 2 HR, is also sporting an 11/0 K/BB in his first 23 AB. A blast from the past, Lorenzo Charles, was killed on Monday in an accident while driving a company bus in Raleigh. I remember Charles from the winning dunk in the 1983 Championship game giving the underdog N.C. State over the University of Houston. Charles grabbed the short 30 footer from teammate Derek Whittenburg and put it through the hoop to seal the deal for Coach Jim Valvano. Former teammate, Thurl Bailey mentioned that now Jimmy V finally found someone to hug. Lorenzo Charles was 47 years old. When you start approaching names like Ted Williams, you know your career has been relevant. At the age of 37, Johnny Damon, with 2651 hits, is only 3 behind the Splendid Splinter. If Damon were to retire today, I would say that he’s not a Hall of Famer. Just another very good ballplayer, in the mold of Billy Buckner, Dave Parker, and Al Oliver, who were just a couple seasons short on counting stats. These types of guys need all the numbers that they can get. Damon has only made 2 All-Star teams in his career but, with Willie Mays and Paul Molitor, is one of 3 players to amass 2500 career hits, 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers, and 300 SB. It’s been a good run for Damon who still has some gas left in the tank!


June 28, 2011: Anchor Steam is the best beer made in the USA!

Matt Joyce entered the month of June on top of the world with a .370 BA and regular playing time with the Rays. Things couldn't have been going better for him. But he woke up one morning and realized that he was Matt Joyce and that he shouldn't be doing this! If there was ever a time to sell high on a guy, it was Matt Joyce during the first week of June. This month has been forgettable for Joyce as he's only 8 for 62 (.129) on the month with 1 HR and lowering his OPS by 160 points. Now you have to hold him and hopes he builds his trade value again. This is a career .275 hitter in almost 2000 AB in the minors. A useful player, yes, vs RHP, but an .080 hitter vs LHP in 2010. Some guys just get exposed with too much PT and Joyce would seem to be one of them. And to expect anything more from him would just be foolhardy.Before the 2011 season started, I thought that Alburquerque was a city in New Mexico. But, to my surprise, I find out that he’s a pretty good middle-reliever/set-up guy for the Detroit Tigers. And now even I’m a believer. I picked him up last week in my $260-AL and he rewarded me with 2 Ws. In 27 2/3 IP, Alburquerque has a 46/19 K/BB, 5 Ws, 12 HA, and a 1.95/1.12 ERA/WHIP. Al Alburquerque won in relief for the second time in four games, tossing 1 1/3 innings of shutout ball Sunday against the Diamondbacks and running his scoreless streak to 14 innings in 13 appearances. Alburquerque has pitched well at the right times this season, racking up five wins against only one loss. The rookie reliever is quietly putting together a standout season with a 1.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Even more impressively, opponents are hitting only .126 against him. He was only 4.98/1.49 at Triple-A in 2010 but after throwing 4 scoreless innings in 2011 at Triple-A with 8 K’s, Alburquerque was called up to the big club. Keep an eye on Alburquerque if an injury were to happen to current closer Jose Valverde. 22 year old 3B Lonnie Chisenhall is the Indians #1 prospect and nothing he did this spring should change Cleveland’s mind. Chisenhall went 13 for 26 with 7 R, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 5 RBI, a 7/3 K/BB, and a 1.452 OPS. He has yet to spend a day at Triple-A but last year, in Double-A, Chisenhall hit .278 in 460 AB with 17 HR, 84 RBI, 81 R, a 77/46 K/BB and an .801 OPS. You may see Chisenhall in the majors by the end of June to delay his free agency by a year. He has never put up standout numbers in the minors. Solid, but not standout. I wrote this about Chisenhall at the end of spring training this year. On Monday the Indians purchased the contract of 3B Lonnie Chisenhall from Triple-A Columbus. Jordan Bastian of's hunch was right on the money. Chisenhall will make his major league debut Monday night against the Diamondbacks, starting at third base and batting seventh against Ian Kennedy. The 22-year-old was batting .265/.352/.427 with seven HR and 44 RBI over his first 290 plate appearances at the Triple-A level this season. He figures to take over at the starting third baseman right away in Cleveland, so he's worth grabbing in AL-only and even some deeper mixed formats.

June 27, 2011: The Statue of Liberty is the tallest woman that ever lived!

I remember 2 things about Jeremy Giambi. Of course he’s the younger brother of the Rockies’ Jason Giambi. The second is the famous “slide” or in this case, “the non-slide!” In that game, with the A's holding a 2-0 series lead in the 2001 AL-Division Series, and returning home to Oakland, Terence Long hit a double with a man on first. Shane Spencer made an errant throw home, missing not only 1, but 2 cut-off men. But Derek Jeter cut off the throw, scooped to the catcher, Jorge Posada, and when runner Jeremy Giambi failed to slide, he was out at the plate. The A's went on to lose Game Three 1-0, as well as Games Four and Five, with Giambi's non-slide being blamed for the defeat. It became a big question. No not as big as “Who shot J.R?” but a lot of people asked why Jeremy Giambi didn’t slide. Rather than embrace destiny, the A’s became its footnote. The play came to be known as “The Flip.” It’s been replayed on many “Best of” shows and filled many slots on many top-10 lists of baseball plays. It hurts every time, and part of me, no matter how inconceivable, hopes that this time, Jeremy’ll slide. But he never does. Jeremy Giambi did come out after his Major league career was over and admitted his steroid use. "It's something I did," Giambi said at the time. "I apologize. I made a mistake. I moved on. I kind of want it in the past." Jeremy Giambi declined to be specific about his steroid use. He told the newspaper he wants to come clean about steroids and hopes others will do the same. "They're not good for you," the younger Giambi said. "I think we need to reach out and let teenagers know they're not good for your body and not good for your health." Giambi hit .263 in 1417 AB over his career with an .807 OPS, 52 HR, 209 RBI, 219 R, and a 356/251 K/BB. Luke Hochevar may be the #1 SP by default in KC with a career record of 19-32, a 5.60/1.46 ERA/WHIP, 431 HA and a 259/134 K/BB in 387 2/3 IP coming into 2011. Not what you’d expect for a guy with that pedigree. After all, he was the #1 overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft. Toward the end of July, 2009 I picked Hochevar up in my no-trade AL-only. One of the other owners e-mailed me and ranted, “Are you crazy? What, are you trying to purposely lose?” That first GS on July 25 for my team went better than I thought. He went 7 IP of 2 ER ball good enough for a W and a 13/0 K/BB. That owner got back to me and mentioned that I was a genius and he was wrong about Hochevar. Yes, and his next 9 GS for my team went like this: 49 1/3 IP, an 0-7 record, 72 HA a 44/17 K/BB (which wasn’t bad) and an 8.57/1.80 (which was bad). Now it’s September and I’m out of the money for only the second time in that long-running league. Well, on September 18, Hochevar hurled the only SHO of his career, a 3 hitter with a 5/1 K/BB. It was kind of like putting whipped cream on s**t! Of course he went back to being the Luke Hochevar that we’ve come to love! 21 ER and 24 HA in 14 IP. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get up in the morning. And man do I know! This year I actually had to keep Hochevar in my $260-AL for $3 (my team had no real keepers). I got sick of putting him in my line-up and benched him 2 weeks ago! Luke Hochevar allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings on Sunday, improving to 5-8 in the Royals' 6-3 win over the Cubs. He struck out five. Today was the first time in five June starts that Hochevar failed to complete at least six innings of work. Now the owner of a 4.96 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, he'll get the Rockies in Colorado next weekend. It might be best to keep him benched for that tilt, though it's never easy to predict which Hochevar will show up on any given day.

June 26, 2011: My dog's favorite TV show is "Bones!"

Daric Barton knew before Tuesday's game there was a good chance he was going to be demoted. The first baseman said, "I decided my own fate. I haven't done anything this year. I haven't produced." Perhaps some time working on his stroke and regaining his confidence at Triple-A Sacramento might benefit Barton, who is hitting .212 with a terrible (for any position) .592 OPS. He said he hasn't felt comfortable at the plate all year. Barton has not hit a homer in his first 65 games as a first baseman, the longest season-opening streak since Al Oliver went homerless in all 101 games he played there for the Giants and Phillies in 1984. I drafted Barton into 2 AL-only leagues this season, paying $10 for his services in my $260-AL and drafting him #125 (Alex Gordon went #126) in my straight-draft AL. Barton seemed to come into his own in 2010. We knew that power would never be his game but he did hit 10 HR, with 57 RBI, 79 R, 7 SB, a 102/110 K/BB, a .798 OPS and a .273 BA in 556 AB. Fast forward to 2011: with 67 games under his belt, Barton had yet to homer and has 21 RBI, 27 R and a 47/39 K/BB. You have to go all the way back to 1922 to find the record for most games played at first base in a single without a HR. Charlie (Jolly Cholly) Grimm played 154 games at first for the Pirates that season and had no HR. He did have 28 doubles, 13 triples, 76 RBI, and only 15 K’s in 593 AB. Grimm had a pretty good career for himself with a .290 BA in 7917 AB, 79 HR, 1078 RBI, 908 R, a 410/578 K/BB, and a .738 OPS. CC Sabathia hurled eight innings of one-run ball in an 8-3 win over the Rockies on Saturday afternoon. Sabathia is now the first pitcher in MLB to reach 10 wins this season. The big southpaw allowed seven hits while fanning nine and walking one. He held the Rockies scoreless until the top of the eighth. He had allowed 14 runs over his last three starts combined, so this was nice to see, especially against a pretty tough offense. Assuming the Yankees don't skip Brian Gordon in the rotation, Sabathia lines up to start against the Mets next Friday. With 167 wins, Sabathia has a chance to get to 300. Don’t forget he doesn’t turn 31 until July 20 and has been very durable during the first 10 seasons of his career with an average of 213 IP per season. From 2007-2010, Sabathia averaged 240 IP per season and another 77 1/3 total innings in the post-season during that time. He also averaged 19 wins/season during those 4 seasons. If he pitches another 7 ½ seasons, or until he’s 38, Sabathia would have to average just under 18 wins per season to reach 300.

June 25, 2011: I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV!

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and over and expecting different results. Just like what I did in my $260-AL this season by drafting Adam Dunn and keeping him in my line-up. Instead of doing what I should have done and put him on the block at the first sign of trouble! But how is an owner supposed to know such things? After all this is a guy who’s hit at least 38 HR in the last 7 seasons and was going to a hitter’s park in the AL? I may go the George Costanza (from Seinfeld) route. Things were going so bad in George’s life that he decided to do everything the opposite of what he would normally do! George would have traded Roy Oswalt for Jason Marquis. By the way, I did spend $57 on Oswalt in my $360-NL. I’ve decided, from now on, just to go for cheap SP’s in an auction and load up on hitting. I also spent $40 on Ted Lilly in the same league so, as you can see, I wasted $97 on two pitchers who’ve been big-time under-achievers. Once Costanza decided to do the “opposite,” things started turning around in his life for the better. That’s what I’m going to do in fantasy baseball for the rest of the year. Because what I’m doing hasn’t been working out this year so far! Oswalt will likely miss one start and the potential is there for him to sidelined much longer. Oswalt said he has been dealing with back pain all season. "I feel it when I sit down and I stand up, when I walk, pitch, sleep," Oswalt said. He has been receiving cortisone shots this season to deal with the pain but will not continue that treatment moving forward. "You only get so many shots," he said. "After you get so many of them, stuff starts breaking off, so I don't want that to happen." Oswalt has thrown just 69 1/3 innings this season with 4 W, a 3.38/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 72 HA, and a 41/18 K/BB. And, yes, this is the same guy who in 12 GS for the Phillies in 2010 went 82 2/3 IP, 53 HA, a 73/21 K/BB, and a 1.74/0.90 ERA/WHIP. But there goes the story of my life, a day late and a dollar short! Adam Dunn’s slump has been so bad, he doesn’t answer his phone because he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. He’s frustrated, and booing White Sox fans are beyond impatient. “I know how frustrated they are because my family is frustrated, everyone,’’ said Dunn, who was given a day off against Cubs lefty Doug Davis on Wednesday. “I don’t even answer my phone anymore because I don’t want to hear what’s wrong with this and that. It’s frustrating. I can’t even put it into words. “I’ve never been through anything like this in my life. It’s the most frustrating thing that’s ever happened to me.’’ After signing a four-year, $56 million deal in the off-season, Dunn has fallen well short of expectations with a .175 average and seven homers. It is sad. Just like it’s sad that batting coaches, who make less than five-percent of Dunn’s salary get fired when guys like Dunn hit .175 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs and 91 strikeouts in the first 64 games. Just like it’s sad that some people spend $10,000 on a pair of season tickets (to watch Dunn hit .175 with seven home runs, 29 RBIs and 91 strikeouts in the first 64 games.) And, to top it off, Alfonso Soriano is insulting Cub fans by saying that the White Sox fans are acting like the Northsiders by booing Dunn every time he comes to the plate and that he doesn’t deserve such treatment. I think that’s exactly what he does deserve! Dunn has been a disgrace this season and now I’m stuck with him because no one will give me what I should get for him. Which is a swift kick in the ass!

June 24, 2011: Justin Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball recently!

On Wednesday night Chris Heisey did something that not even Rafael Palmeiro has ever done. Palmeiro, who’s career ended with the steroid disgrace, hit 569 career HR, 1835 RBI, 1663 R, and 3020 H, but never hit 3 HR in one game. Heisey and the Reds themselves were going through a slump. Since June 5, they’ve had only one game in which they brought home more than two runs. Heisey himself was hitting only .173 since June 12. The Reds are two game behind the Brewers in the chase for the top spot in the NL Central, and they need to come out of this inter-league play series in decent shape. Their 10-2 win over the Yankees is a good way to get back on track. Heisey began his day with a leadoff homerun, the first (leadoff) of his career, and ended it by taking a curtain call while the 41,367 fans at the Great American Ball Park chanted his name, after finishing with three home runs. He is only the third Reds player (Pete Rose and Jay Bruce are the others) to hit three home runs from the lead-off spot. On the season Heisey is 35 for 128 (.273) with 8 HR, 28 RBI, 22 R, 3 SB, a 33/10 K/BB, and an .835 OPS. Heisey has 16 career HR but it is not the least amount of career HR for a 3-homer game. That record belongs to Merv Connors. He was a star of the minor leagues. From 1934 to 1953, he played eighteen seasons and over 2100 games in the minor leagues. He appeared for 18 different clubs in 14 different leagues. He is one of three American players to hit 400 career home runs in the minors. Buzz Arlett (432) and Nick Cullop (420) were the others. In the majors, Connors hit eight career home runs in 52 major league games (1937-1938). In 1938, he had a three-home run game for the White Sox. He has the fewest home runs of any player who had three in a single major league game. Phillies SP, Cliff Lee is up to his old tricks. At one point this season Lee looked like he was struggling compared to the other aces on the Phillies. That isn't the case anymore. Lee has been one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. On Wednesday, June 22, Lee threw his second straight complete-game shutout. He has yielded just one earned run in his last four starts, a span totaling 33 innings. He is currently riding a 23-inning scoreless streak. It’s hard to believe that as recently as 2007, Cliff Lee was sent to the minors by the Indians with a 6.29/1.52 ERA/WHIP in 97 1/3 IP and a 66/36 K/BB. Since that time, Lee has a 650/120 K/BB and a Cy Young trophy for his 22-3 season in 2008. Lee was brought back in large part because of his incredible postseason performances. Lee carried the Phillies to the World Series in 2009 and the Texas Rangers to the World Series in 2010. Phillies fans have loved Lee ever since he came here in 2009, and his return generated more excitement than any free-agent signing in recent memory. Even when he was struggling early in the season, nobody worried and everyone figured Lee would click eventually. Not only is Lee clicking, but he's thrown his hat in the Cy Young race along with teammates Roy (Doc) Halladay and Cole Hamels.

June 23, 2011: If I were my own father I would have made something of my life!

Chad Cordero announced his retirement from baseball on Monday. Cordero recently joined the St. Paul Saints of the independent Northern League after being released by the Blue Jays last month. He led the National League with 47 saves in 2005, when he made his lone All-Star appearance. Chad Cordero was the 20th pick by the Montreal Expos in the 2003 draft out of Cal State Fullerton. He put together a pretty decent career for himself before a torn shoulder labrum ended his effectiveness. Cordero would shock the baseball world by saving 47 games in 2005 as the upstart Nats made waves in the NL East, holding on to first place deeper in the season than anyone thought possible. Cordero would save 128 games total for the Washington Nationals in six seasons as the Nats' closer, walking 117 (3.28 K/9) and striking out 298 (8.08 K/9) in 305 games and 320 2/3 IP in which he was (20-17) overall. A torn labrum suffered during the 2008 season effectively ended his career with the Washington Nationals. Then D.C. GM Jim Bowden made the mistake of announcing that the Nats would non-tender the reliever on the radio before ever telling the pitcher himself. The Chief, as he was known, took it personally, and left the Washington Nationals, signing with Seattle as a free agent in March of 2009, but he never would regain the stuff that he had when he first came up with the Expos and eventually became the Nationals' first closer. He went to the Mariners and appeared in 9 games for the club in 2010 with a 6.52/1.63 ERA/WHIP and a 6/5 K/BB in 9 2/3 IP. The Blue Jays signed him this spring but he was released in May after having 17 2/3 IP with an 8.66/1.81 ERA/WHIP, 23 HA, and a 7/9 K/BB. Cordero turned 29 years old in March. You might say that Drew Stubbs is taking up where he left off last season. He leads the majors with 99 K’s in 302 AB (.258) with 10 HR, 21 SB, and 51 R. Drew Stubbs was moved from leadoff down to the No. 6 spot for the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader. Stubbs is hitting 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts over the previous four games. Fred Lewis is hitting in the leadoff spot in the first game of the doubleheader, but Reds manager Dusty Baker plans to have Stubbs back in his old spot for the second game. He did add, though, that Stubbs could hit lower in the order again over the following six interleague games in AL parks. "Just relieving a little pressure for him," Baker said of Stubbs. "Freddy has been swinging the bat well." Last season, Stubbs first as a regular, he had 168 K’s in 514 AB (.255) with 22 HR, 30 SB, and 91 R. Stubbs is better in fantasy baseball than real baseball but he does have his uses with his speed. He just needs to be more selective because all those strike outs will make him a BA risk. And the difference between a good player and a star! Madison Bumgarner was blasted for eight runs on nine hits in 1/3 of an inning in Tuesday's 9-2 loss to the Twins. Bumgarner gave up hits to the first eight hitters he faced, finally retiring Minnesota pitcher Carl Pavano on a strikeout. He entered the game with a 3.21 ERA and watched it balloon all the way to 4.06. It was the first time that he'd given up more than three runs in a start since mid-April. He'll look to get back on track against the Indians this weekend. Bumgarner was hitting 94 mph on the radar gun but was simply leaving balls up and over the middle of the plate in the shellacking at the hands of the Twins. For the season Bumgarner is 3-9 in 84 1/3 IP with a 4.06/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 93 HA, and a 66/24 K/BB. He also did something that I never saw before in all the games that I watched. The first 8 batters for the Twins went single, double, single, double, single, double, single, double before the K of Pavano. He gave up a double to the tenth batter he faced before being removed. Mercifully! Now might be a good time to buy low on Bumgarner from a disgruntled owner.

June 22, 2011: A small Puerto Rican is called a "speck!"

Jack McKeon worked his magic in 2003 by leading the Marlins to the World Series championship over the New York Yankees. Now, managing in his fifth decade, he believes there's no reason why he can't get his team to respond one more time. He wasted no time demonstrating his authority, benching All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for being late to a team meeting. McKeon, at 80, was hired back as the manager of the Marlins on an interim basis. But, I would guess, that at the age of 80, we’d all be living on an interim basis! The first time he managed a major league game, way back on April 6, 1973, five future big league managers (Lou Piniella, Bobby Valentine, Frank Robinson, Hal McRae and Cookie Rojas) played in it. The youngest player in McKeon's lineup that day (John Mayberry) is now 62 years old. And Mayberry's son is a part-time OF for the Phillies His fellow managers back then included Walter Alston, Ralph Houk, Gene Mauch and Leo Durocher. And not a single player on the roster of the Marlins team McKeon managed Monday night had made his debut yet -- on Planet Earth. Just 22 days ago, the Marlins rolled into June at nine games over .500 (31-22). They had a better record than the Red Sox, the Braves, the Brewers or the Yankees. Three weeks later, the Fish are nine games under .500 (32-41). Their manager (Edwin Rodriguez) quit and went home. And they've done something no team in the history of baseball had ever done: Over their past 20 games, they've gone 1-19. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team had ever gone through a 20-game stretch that bad after being nine games or more over .500 when that streak began. College football's Joe Paterno not withstanding, Connie Mack was 87 years old during his last season managing the Philadelphia A's. It helped that he owned the team. Mack had a record of 3,582–3,814 (.484) when he retired at age 87. His 50-year tenure (1901-1950) as Athletics manager is the most ever for a coach or manager with the same team in North American professional sports. He won nine pennants and appeared in eight World Series winning 5. He was widely praised in the newspapers for his intelligent and innovative managing, which earned him the nickname "the Tall Tactician". He valued intelligence and "baseball smarts", always looking for educated players. He traded away the very talented Shoeless Joe Jackson because of bad attitude and unintelligent play. Mack looked for seven things in a young player: physical ability, intelligence, courage, disposition, will power, general alertness, and personal habits. Mack also looked for players with quiet and disciplined personal lives, having seen many players destroy themselves and their teams through heavy drinking in his playing days. Mack himself never drank; before the 1910 World Series he asked all his players to "take the pledge" not to drink during the Series. Mack's strength as a manager was finding the best players, teaching them well, and letting them play. "He did not believe that baseball revolved around managerial strategy." He was "one of the first managers to work on repositioning his fielders" during the game, often directing the outfielders to move left or right, play shallow or deep, by waving his scorecard from the bench. After he became well-known for doing this, he often passed his instructions to the fielders by way of other players, and simply waved his scorecard as a feint. I would say that McKeon will not make it to the age of 87 as manager of the Marlins. McKeon has already done some good things like batting Logan Morrison second in the order and benching Hanley Ramirez for being late. Mack died on February 8, 1956 at the age of 93.

June 21, 2011: A fat Asian person is called a "chunk!"

In my $360-NL I’ll have to make a decision pretty soon involving Jason Marquis pretty soon. I have him in the spot of Hong-Chih Kuo who just came back from the DL. According to league rules, I have 14 days to make a decision. In that league I don’t really need the closer as I’m second in SVs with J.J. Putz and Brian Wilson. Bit if Kuo does indeed become the closer for the Dodgers, I could trade a $29 Brian Wilson ($34 in 2012) for a much needed hitter. I actually drafted Brian Wilson at $9 and have held him at $14, $19, $24, and this year’s $29. But he’s getting a little expensive. Marquis, who I’ve owned in that league 2 different times in 2011 has 6 W in 66 2/3 IP, a 3.92/1.44 ERA/WHIP, 77 HA, and a 36/19 K/BB. It’s about what you’d expect from Marquis. You definitely can’t expect the shut out every time out. But, yes, Marquis threw his fourth career shut out on April 29 vs the Giants with 5 HA and a 7/0 K/BB. Or is he the Marquis who in his next start threw 5 IP with 6 ER, 10 HA and a 2/2 K/BB? You just take a chance every time out with a guy like Marquis. It’s kind of like playing Russian Roulette, only 5 of the chambers are loaded and one is empty. The best that I ever did with a pitcher of the ilk of Marquis is back in 1997 when, in April, I acquired Tim Belcher (Royals) for Dwight Gooden (Yankees). All Belcher did in his first 5 GS for me was give up 3 ER in 41 IP with an 18/12 K/BB, 27 HA, and an 0.66/0.95 ERA/WHIP. In fact Belcher had a 25 consecutive inning scoreless streak to his credit! I was in heaven for those 5 starts but, like anything else, my providence was short-lived. Over the course of his next 19 2/3 IP, Belcher gave up 20 ER and 36 H. Belcher would end up going 146-140 over his career with a 4.16/1.34 ERA/WHIP, 2423 HA, and a 1519/860 K/BB in 2442 2/3 IP. I’ll hold Marquis for at least one more start. Belcher’s career reminded me of another SP that was a member of many fantasy teams of mine over the years. His name was Kevin Tapani and he, unfortunately, anchored a few of my AL staffs and later as a 19-game winner with the Cubs in 1998. Over his career, Tapani was 143-125 for the Mets, Twins, Dodgers, White Sox and Cubs with a 4.35/1.31 ERA/WHIP, 2407 HA, and a 1482/554 K/BB in 2265 IP. All fantasy staffs have guys like Belcher and Tapani eating innings. And, Jason Marquis, while we’re at it!

June 20, 2011: After receiving 19 decisions in 2010, Tyler Clippard has 0 in 2011!

Even if the Reds don't develop any crisis in the outfield, they may have to give the 24-year-old Dave Sappelt a look at some point. Sappelt jumped from Class A Lynchburg to Double-A Carolina and finished the season at Triple-A Louisville. In 89 games at Carolina, his .361 average led the Southern League and set a new club record. In 133 games combined, he batted .342 with a .395 on-base percentage and was named the organization's Minor League hitter of the year. A speedy 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, Sappelt stole 25 bases last season but was also caught 18 times. The organization wants him to work on improving his base-stealing technique and continue his progress of becoming more consistent as a hitter. In A-Ball in 2009, Sappelt had 47 SB but had 22 CS and hit .281 in 552 AB. Keep an eye on the 24 yr old OF especially if you’re in need of cheap speed. Sappelt opened some eyes around Reds’ camp this spring by hitting .564 in 39 AB with 11 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, and a 2/2 K/BB. This former ninth round pick of the 2008 draft has continued his largess into the season hitting .350 in 123 AB with 5 HR, 16 RBI, a 17/11 K/BB, and a .984 OPS. Nate Schierholtz has started 13 of the Giants' 17 games in June.  His production at the plate a .260 BA in 154 AB with 4 HR, 20 RBI, 18 R, 4 SB, a 25/8 K/BB, and a .708 OPS isn't anything special, but Schierholtz is considered the team's best defensive outfielder and has provided numerous big late-inning hits. The 27-year-old is worth rostering in deeper NL-only leagues. This is quite a change from last season for Schierholtz, when he was more of a late-inning defensive replacement and started just one of the final 65 regular-season games. "I've always believed in myself that I could play every day. It's all I knew coming up through the minors," said Schierholtz, who's far removed from his prospect days, when he was the right fielder of the future. He's the Giants' longest-standing position player, having first surfaced in the majors in 2007 and has a total of 853 AB with a .268 BA, 13 HR, 81 RBI, 106 R, 14 SB, a 148/49 K/BB, and a .713 OPS. Since May 22, Michael Morse is on a tear. He has 26 R, a .359 BA, 11 HR, and 31 RBI. He leads the league in HR/RBI since that date. Johnny Damon continues on with his great career but did accomplish something rare indeed on Saturday. Damon, with an opposite-field bloop double to left in the first, became just the 11th player all-time to have 500 doubles, 100 triples, 200 homers and 2,500 hits. All of the other players accomplishing the feat — George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount — are in baseball's Hall of Fame. "When you talk about deserving the Hall of Fame, absolutely, that kind of performance deserves not only top consideration, but acception," manager Joe Maddon said. Damon now has 2646 career hits. For the season he’s at .277 in 271 AB with 8 HR, 33 RBI, 33 R, 7 SB, a 35/18 /BB, and a .752 OPS.

June 19, 2011: Happy Father's Day to all you fathers across America!

I can’t believe that I’m writing this at the expense of Chris Coghlan. Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez plans to platoon DeWayne Wise and Emilio Bonifacio in center field following the demotion of Coghlan. It's what we assumed, though since Wise swings left-handed and Bonifacio is a switch-hitter, it won't be a strict platoon. Wise started on Friday and figures to see a bit more playing time in center, with Bonifacio still getting some at-bats at other positions. "We all know what kind of hitter he is. He can help us here. But he’s here because of his defense,’’ Rodriguez said of Wise. "... I think we need that experienced fielder out there, and I think he’ll be the guy. Not a lot of rope for the 26 year old Coghlan with his .230 BA, .664 OPS, 5 HR, 22 RBI, 33 R, 7 SB, and a 49/22 K/BB. At first the Marlins dropped Coghlan in the order for a few games but I guess tired of the BA and the fact that he was 6 for 32 in his last 10 games. This is the same guy that won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009 and led the NL in base hits after the All-Star break that season. He hit .321 that season with 84 R, 9 HR, and 53 BB. But after last years' pie throwing celebration that left Coghlan disabled, he hasn't been the same. That's why I always say that teams should hire professional pie throwers. Because some things are left to the professionals. But that's another story. In the meantime, Dewayne Wise and Emilio Bonifacio will patrol CF. That actually helps me as I own Bonifacio in 2 NL leagues. But if the Marlins are smart, they won't let Coghlan languish at Triple-A for too long! When we last checked in on Rays’ SP Jeremy Hellickson, he became the first pitcher in history to pitch at least 6 innings in his first 3 GS and give up 3 H or less. Those 3 starts produced a 3-0 record in 20 IP, 9 HA, an 18/3 K/BB, and a 1.35/0.60 ERA/WHIP. He did show some bounty last year as well between High-A and Triple-A combining to go 12-3 in 119 1/3 IP, with a 2.72/1.21 ERA/WHIP, 107 HA, and a 127/37 K/BB. He hasn’t looked as good in his first full season in the bigs but still is the owner of a 3.03/1.16, 59 HA, and a 52/31 K/BB in 77 1/3 IP. The former fourth rounder by the Rays in the 2005 draft has a 49-16 record over his minor league career with a 2.71/1.06, 475 HA, and a 634/137 K/BB in 580 1/3 IP. His manager, Joe Maddon, has been impressed with the youngster. "As he matures, I think his curveball will mature," Maddon said. "I like his poise. I like the way he handles himself. All of that makes you feel great for his future."

June 18, 2011: The only test that I ever studied for was a urine test!

Some other owners seem to forget that I know a little about baseball just like they do. I don’t know if it’s a lack of respect but and, I don’t know about you, but I hate when an owner tries to “educate” you of what you should do and why it would be in “my best interests” to do a certain trade. Take my $360-NL for example, where prices are skewed because of the higher team salary. I have Ted Lilly on my team for $40 ($45 in 2012) and was offered by and owner a “real good keeper” for next year for Mr. Lilly. That “keeper” turned out to be none other than Dustin Moseley who would be $10 next year. I just responded that I have absolutely no interest in Moseley and that the trade probably wouldn’t go through anyway. I thought that the discussion with that owner was over! Kaput! Done! But to my general dismay, that same owner offered me the “best” offer that I would get for Lilly in a $15 (for next season) Travis Wood. I told that owner that since I wouldn’t keep Wood at that price, I wasn’t going to trade Lilly. Now, mind you, this other owner has lost a 20 some odd point lead in that league and is now 3 points out of first. I got home from another grueling day of work to this following e-mail from the other owner: “George, with Wood at 10 and Lilly at 40, I (sic) do not agree with you, but thats (sic) what this game is all about.  this works if you want keepers.  no one else would give you more for lilly (sic) on the bad dodger team, in my opinion.” I told him thanks for the offer but I’m moving on. To paraphrase the next e-mail: “George I don’t understand you. You yourself said that you wouldn’t get a better offer for Wood and Wood has a chance to be another Jordan Zimmerman (sic). The trade is a no-brainer for you. If you’re not doing the trade because you don’t think it’s fair or it wouldn’t go through, your (sic) wrong.” There was more to the e-mail but I was getting sick by that point and just deleted it! Just to make sure that I was doing the right thing, I checked out the kind of season that Travis Wood was having. And, I know, that he found some bounty, particularly early in 2010, having 17 GS, a 3.51/1.09 ERA/WHIP, 85 HA, and a very impressive 86/26 K/BB. But deep down I thought he was a little too smoke and mirrors for me. In 15 GS this season, the 24 year old LHP has 86 1/3 IP, a 5.11/1.52 ERA/WHIP, 98 HA, and an unimpressive 59/33 K/BB. Just not my kind of keeper. And, while I’m ranting, I don’t agree with the guys on the site that said Jeter is not really hurt but wants to get his 3000 hit vs the Mets at Citi Field in early July. That, in my opinion is utter BS. Jeter is the last guy who wants out of the line-up. In fact, over his 15 full seasons in Yankee Pinstripes coming into this season, Jeter has averaged a shade over 152 games per! I know his GB% has gone way up over the last couple seasons and his LD rate has gone way down but, don’t forget, he played the toughest position (except catcher) on the diamond over his long and great career. And while I think 4000 hits is probably out of the question, he should end up in the top 10 all-time in the hits department. But it seems that with the rest of the world all we want to know is “what have you done for me lately?”

June 17, 2011: Sometimes it's best not to wake up in the morning after a 2 for 37 night in one of my NL-only!

Brian Gordon has officially been named the Yankees starter for Thursday's game against the Rangers. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Gordon was signed Tuesday after opting out of his deal with the Phillies. The Yankees are his sixth organization and he's found recent success with the development of a cutter. Gordon has generally pitched out of the bullpen, but has the stamina and durability to start. He has a clean delivery and excellent command of a four pitch arsenal. He precisely locates his fastball and comands his secondary pitches well. He has rather ordinary stuff and can be hittable. Gordon has a career 3.09 ERA and has K’d 7.7/9 IP over his career. He's posted a nifty 1.14/0.83 ERA/WHIP, 39 HA, and 56/7 K/BB ratio over 55 1/3 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. But, as a 32-year-old with marginal stuff and zero major league starts to his name, he's not a recommended play against the Rangers. If you’re scratching your head over the name, join the club. He’s a former minor league OF who, in 2006, once hit 3 HR in a Triple-A game, back in 2004. Converted to a pitcher in 2007, Gordon’s only major league time came in a Texas Rangers’ uniform in September 2008. He appeared in 3 games out of the pen with 4 IP, 1 ER, 4 HA, and a 1/0 K/BB. Stranger things have happened and if you can pick him up for this one GS against the Rangers in your AL, I would take the chance. Especially if you need the W’s. Don’t forget that, even though Gordon is 32, his arm is much younger! In his Yankees debut, Brian Gordon gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings Thursday against the Rangers. Gordon held his own, but with seven hits allowed, three walks and two hit batters, he let a lot of Rangers reach base. Two caught stealings, one in the first and one for his lone out in the sixth, helped him a bunch. Gordon will stay in the rotation after this one, but he's not a great play in AL-only leagues. He also had 3 K’s. Nick Blackburn pitched eight scoreless innings as part of the Twins' 1-0 victory over the White Sox on Thursday. Blackburn struck out just one, but he got 17 outs on the ground today. It's the fourth time in 14 starts this season that he's managed to avoid giving up a homer. In those outings, he has a 0.66 ERA. Blackburn has been better than advertised this season with 91 IP, 6 W, a 3.16/1.32 ERA/WHIP. 96 HA, and a 47/24 K/BB. He also has 8 QS and is good to use in your AL-only. Coming into this season, in his 3 full seasons as a SP for the Twins, Blackburn has 658 HA in 560 IP, with a 262/120 K/BB, and a 4.44/1.39 ERA/WHIP.

June 16, 2011: Eleanor Roosevelt was the ugliest woman that ever lived!

“To be or not to be?” After the death of his father, feeling particularly morose, Hamlet contemplates that question as he wonders whether life still holds any allure for him. Hamlet decided to live; not that he had anything against oblivion, but he didn’t want to take a chance that death might be a kind of state where he might “sleep, perchance to dream.” Aye, there’s the rub as old Shakespeare points out. Charlie Sheen gave rise to the same question as he pondered the future not only of his sit-com but also of his career. His ego also dismissed the dangers of oblivion because…well, because he’s Charlie Sheen and a star as bright as his couldn’t possibly go dark. After all, what others perceive as career-suicide is actually “winning.” At this time of year, as the roto-enthusiast contemplates whether or not his team will “be” or “not be” contenders in the upcoming months—whether or not they will be “winning”, there is a healthy fear of what Hamlet and Charlie so easily dismissed. Will my team have the staying power to go all the way? Or will it pass out of existence into oblivion? Dare I dream? And that’s the problem I face with my $260-NL team. Am I in it or should I play for next season? After all, in the 5 years of the league, I have won the league twice and came in second twice. I do have Jay Bruce and Prince Fielder who have belted 36 of my 63 team HR. My starting staff includes #2 and #3 SPs in Wandy Rodriguez, Ryan Dempster, Anibal Sanchez, Chad Billingsley, and Jonathan Sanchez. I did get 13 scoreless IP on Monday night from Dempster and Rodriguez and still lost a point in the standings. Josh Collmenter, who I FAAB’d for $8 has been a find with a 1.27/0.847 ERA/WHIP in 28 1/3 IP. And Kimbrel and Salas have combined for 27 SV. I just got Maybin back and “won” an FAAB on Charlie Blackmon for $12. I need Jimmy Rollins, Casey McGehee, Omar Infante, and Carlos Ruiz to wake up a bit and for Orlando Hudson, Dexter Fowler, and Brandon Belt to return from the DL. Claudio Vargas announced his retirement from baseball this week. Vargas was working in the Rockies' organization on a minor league contract, where he had a 11.08 ERA at the Triple-A level. He had a 4.83 ERA in 217 career major league games. Any time you see an 11.08/2.42 ERA/WHIP next to a pitcher's name in 26 IP at Triple-A, you know the end is near. Unfortunately, the player always seems to be the last to know! I did need a pitcher in an NL league in 2009 and picked up Vargas who rewarded me with 41 1/3 IP out of the pen for the Brewers. His numbers included a 1.74/0.97 ERA/WHIP, only 25 HA, and a 30/15 K/BB. Too bad for Vargas that the bounty he found in 2009 was very rare indeed. He finishes up with a 48-40 record in 217 games (114 GS), 764 2/3 IP, 1 SV, a 4.83/1.43 ERA/WHIP, 801 HA, and a 544/294 ERA/WHIP. In '06-'07 for the D'Backs and Brewers, Vargas did go 23-16 in 302 IP with 338 HA, a 230/106 K/BB, and a 4.95/1.47 ERA/WHIP.

June 15, 2011: Kyle Drabek is no chip off the old block, at least so far!

Logic suggests that the KC front office will attempt to trade Clint Robinson before his value completely disappears. We wouldn't be shocked to see him make his first MLB appearance in late 2011 with another team. He’s a first baseman in KC which was like being the back-up to Cal Ripken in Baltimore. With the call-up of Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, Billy Butler still in the fold, and Kila Ka’ahiue biding his time at Triple-A, Robinson’s best shot for fantasy largess may very well be in another venue. And it’s not from lack of trying as Robinson is enjoying some bounty again this year. Let’s go back in time to 2010 when Robinson won the Texas League Triple Crown. He batted .335 with 29 HR, 98 RBI, and a 1.035 OPS in Double-A. Robinson took up right where he left off this season at Triple-A batting .356 in 225 AB with 17 HR, 50 RBI, 47 R, a 38/31 K/BB, and a 1.085 OPS. During a 12-game hitting streak, Robinson is batting .396 (19 for 48) with six homers and 16 RBIs. I’d say that the 26 year old Robinson is almost ready for the majors. He’ll just have to bide his time like so many others. I just saw a report on the web about Livan Hernandez and would like to share it with the readers of the forum section. He's actually been a little fantasy useful for NL-only these past 2 seasons while pitching for the Nationals. But after reading this report, I'm not sure what his future holds. It's always interesting, also, that when you see a players' name on a web site and the news isn't baseball related, it usually isn't good news! Hernandez is being investigated in a federal money-laundering case. Hernandez is suspected of being a "straw buyer" for Angel Ayala-Vazquez, according to a high-ranking law enforcement source. A straw buyer purchases items for others in their own name, allowing the proceeds from illegal activities such as drug trafficking to be hidden. Right now Livan Hernandez is in his element, leading the NL in GS (14), losses (8), and $20 bills laundered (countless). Over his career, Hernandez has a 169-171 record to show for 3035 1/3 IP, an 1880/1032 K/BB, 3338 HA, and a 4.38/1.44 ERA/WHIP. You might even say that he's been on the lower end of mediocrity. I picked him up in the first week of the 2010 season in my $360-NL and, while he started out good, he actually didn't kill me throughout the season as much as I thought he would! He's actually a 2-time NL all-star for the Expos/Nationals in 2004-2005 when he combined for 70 GS (26-25), 501 1/3 IP, a 333/167 K/BB, 502 HA, and a 3.79/1.33 ERA/WHIP. His best year was actually a year earlier in 2003 when he was 15-10 in 233 1/3 IP, a 3.20/1.21 ERA/WHIP, 225 HA, and a 178/57 K/BB. I actually bought up his name at the end of my $360-NL draft this year for a buck but another owner got me off the hook and said $2. In his 14 GS this season, Hernandez is 3-8 with a 4.15/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 86 HA, and a 51/28 K/BB in 89 IP. Hopefully the whole involvement with this Puerto Rican drug ring is a mistake and that it's really Alfredo Simon that's the kingpin. But the evidence is pointing at Hernandez and hopefully it won't derail his career!

June 14, 2011: Claudio Vargas announces his retirement from baseball!

Can we call Orlando Cabrera a mercenary, going to the highest bidder every season but seemingly leading his new team to the post-season every season? Is it just a coincidence that Orlando Cabrera has been to the playoff the last 4 seasons with 4 different teams? Yeah, really, the Angels, White Sox, Twins and the Reds. He hasn't made a World Series with any of these teams but in the 4 division series, Cabrera is 8 for 49 (.163), with 2 R, 1 RBI, and a 9/3 K/BB. And when the Indians got off to a great start this season, coinciding with Cabrera's hot start, it looked like he would make it 5 playoff for 5 teams in 5 seasons. The jury is still out there but recently Eric Hinske made the post-season with 4 different teams from 2007-2010, including the World Series with the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees from 2007-2009 and the Division series with the Braves in 2010. As the 36 year old Cabrera stands on the precipice of becoming the 260th or 265th, or whatever it is, player with 2000 career hits, we should be applauding a good clubhouse guy and a pretty darned good career. He won 2 Gold Gloves for his work at SS with the 2001 Expos and the 2007 Angels and is a career .273 batter in 7323 AB. With that bounty goes 969 R, a .711 OPS, a 717/503 K/BB, 120 HR, 831 RBI, and 211 SB. I own Cabrera in my $260-AL and he's been in my line-up every week. Much like he has in real baseball for his teams. From 2001-2009, Cabrera averaged 156 games and 615 AB with 171 H, and 38 doubles. Editor’s note: on Sunday, Cabrera did get his 2000th career hit and also added a SB for his troubles! Prince Fielder continued to punish the ball, and in a timely fashion, on Sunday, hitting the go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning of Milwaukee's 4-3 win over the Cardinals, which completed a three-game sweep. Fielder has been simply ridiculous this month, batting .411 with eight home runs and 16 RBI, bringing his season totals to 19 and 58, respectively. He is well on his way to the National League's Player of the Month award. The Brew Crew is now ½ game ahead of the Cards in the NL-Central and, at 24-8, have the best record in baseball since May 9. As we know, Fielder is in a contract year. He’s looking for a Ryan Howard-type contract of well over $100-mil and the Brewers have already stated that they’re not going to go that high. They may have to rethink that stance especially if they reach the post-season. The 27 year old Fielder now has 211 career HR. In 236 AB this season, besides the 19 HR and 58 RBI, Fielder is hitting .305 in 236 AB with 39 R, a 31/37 K/BB and a 1.042 OPS. From 2007-2009 Fielder averaged 43 HR and 121 RBI which made his 2010 season of .261, 32 HR and 83 RBI in 578 AB all the more confusing. I did keep Fielder in my $260-NL for $38 for the third season (that’s the maximum allowed in this league) and he hasn’t disappointed.

June 13, 2011: If you're going to fire me, please tell me on the phone and don't make me come in for a meeting!

Craig Counsell is like the Energizer bunny. He just keeps going…and going…and going! When Counsell signed for a fifth year with the Brewers back in December, I was asking myself, “What the heck are they doing?” He’s given them the best years of his life and now it should be time to put the 40 year old LH hitter out to pasture. He was coming off a .285 season in ’09 in 404 AB (only his fifth 400 AB season) with 61 R when he batted .250 in 2010 in 204 AB with 21 R. So you can see that the end was near! But Friday night vs the Cards, Counsell had 3 H and 3 R with a double, a triple, and a walk. He got the start because he’s a .464 lifetime batter vs Cards’ SP Kyle Lohse. Counsell may even be up for more PT at SS for the Brew Crew if we’re to listen to the manager, Ron Roenicke. "It all comes down to who's playing well," Roenicke said. "We have some spots in the lineup that, if guys are playing well, I'm going to get them in more often. Center field is one. Shortstop may become one. It's not that we're saying, 'This guy's got the job no matter what.' It's whoever's kind of playing well. Starting SS Yuniesky Betancourt is hitting only .230 in209 AB with 3 HR, 20 RBI, 18 R, a 26/8 K/BB and a moribund .596 OPS. Counsell is a 2-time World Series winner with the Marlins in ’97 and the D’Backs in ’01 and, believe it or not, has 1197 H in 4656 AB (.257) with 41 HR, 384 RBI, 639 R, 103 SB, and a 652/581 K/BB. This is the last news that I coud find on Hank Blalock. It came at the end of June, 2010. Rays designated DH Hank Blalock for assignment. The Rays needed to make a roster move with Gabe Kapler expected to return from the disabled list on Wednesday, so Blalock gets the boot. Blalock batted .254/.319/.349 with one home run and seven RBI in 63 at-bats with the Rays. He'll drum up some interest somewhere, but he's not of much use in the field. You know you’ve fallen far when you are DFA’d to make room for Gabe Kapler! I just can't figure out Hank Blalock. He put together some good years for the Rangers averaging 29 homers from '03-'05. He added 25 more for them in 2009 while batting .234. He's only 30 years old but doesn't look to have a job heading into the 2011 season. It seems that he could help a team as a platoon player. With Mark Teixeira back in the early/mid 2000's, they were supposed to lead the Rangers to the promised land. The Rangers went to their first World Series in 2010 but Teixeira and Blalock were no where to be found. Injuries have played a part in Blalock’s fall to the dark side! 22 HR and 71 RBI in 466 AB in ’07-’08 set him back. But he did hit .285 during that troubled time. Of course Blalock was released by the Rays at the end of June 2010 having batted 63 times with a HR, 7 RBI, and 8 R. I just never thought that at the age of 30, he'd be looking for a job. His Triple-A numbers with the Rays were fruitful, a .349 BA in 109 AB with 4 HR, 24 RBI, 18 R, and a .910 OPS. In his last full season in 2009, as I’ve pointed out, he batted .234 in 462 AB with 25 HR, 66 RBI, 62 R, a 108/26 K/BB, and a .734 OPS.

June 12, 2011: Have you noticed that there are a lot of injuries in baseball this season?

It seems hard to believe, but Scott Kazmir led the AL in strikeouts in 2007 (239) and had a 3.49 ERA with nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings as recently as 2008. Since then he has a 5.42 ERA in 54 starts and now he seems incapable of even getting Triple-A hitters out despite still being just 27 years old. Kazmir coughed up six runs in 3.2 innings on Thursday night, walking five batters and plunking three more, giving him a 15.15/2.49 ERA/WHIP and 13/17 K/BB ratio in four GS (0-4) and 13 2/3 IP at Triple-A. The Angels will have a decision to make on Kazmir as he's on the last year of the 3 yr/$28.5-mil deal he signed on May 14, 2008. He's scheduled to make $12-mil in 2011 with a $2.5-mil buy-out in 2012. That means, if the Angels cut Kazmir, they'll be on the hook for $14.5-mil. Unless the Angels want to turn him into a LH relief specialist, but to me, it looks like Kazmir is toast! By the way, Zambrano won only 10 more games in the majors to end up with a career 45-44 W/L, a 529/404 K/BB, 669 HA, and a 4.64/1.52 ERA/WHIP in 706 1/3 IP. V. Zambrano ended up in 2007 with a very Kazmir-like 10.17/2.35 ERA/WHIP in 23 IP. I'd like to know what the Pirates have done with the real Jeff Karstens. The 2011 version is not the Karstens we have come to know and love. Hard to believe but in 64 1/3 IP, Karstens has a 2.94/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 62 HA, and a 44/12 K/BB. That gives him career numbers of a 4.73/1.40 ERA/WHIP, 446 HA, and a 212/117 K/BB in 403 2/3 IP. His lifetime record is 15-31. In spite of his sudden providence this season, I would probably stay away from him in all but the very deepest of leagues. And, yes, he has been pitching well of late but, to me, he can't be trusted over time. Of course I said the same thing about Phil Humber about a month ago. And, in his last 2 GS, Karstens has 14 IP with 1 ER, 8 HA, and a 4/1 K/BB. I would just chalk it up to a pitcher on a hot streak and leave it at that. Because if you really think too much about it, you can drive yourself crazy! But having said all that, stranger things have happened than a pitcher suddenly finding himself at the age of 28. Humber is a case in point but, with these types, as quickly as it comes, so it goes quickly!

June 11, 2011: My dogs favorite TV show is "Bones!"

Brett Cecil was knocked around for eight runs on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings Wednesday in his latest start with Triple-A Las Vegas. Disappointing, especially after he allowed one run and struck out six in a complete game victory last Thursday. "He’s gradually building up arm strength, that’s the first sign and he’s doing that," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "When a player shows you he’s ready to come to the big leagues, he’s handling the level he’s at fairly routinely. So while it’s a work in progress, the body of work going forward has improved." Cecil now has a 6.04/1.55 ERA/WHIP, 70 HA and a 44/18 K/BB over 9 GS and 56 2/3 IP since being demoted to the minors. He obviously still has some work to do. When I needed a SP because of injuries to my AL staff in 2009, I reached for Toronto LH Brett Cecil. His numbers at Triple-A weren’t the best but I just had a feeling. And after a great start, I felt my pick was justified. But Cecil couldn’t sustain any largess and finished with a 5.30/1.65 ERA/WHIP in 93 1/3 IP, 116 HA, and a 69/38 K/BB. In 228 1/3 career minor league innings, Cecil has a 228/73 K/BB. I left Cecil for other owners in 2010 but may have been a year early. He won 15 games and had a 117/54 K/BB in 172 2/3 IP with 175 HA and a 4.22/1.33. Not bad pitching in that very tough AL-East. Only 9 pitchers in the AL had more victories than Cecil’s 15 and in 16 of his 28 GS, he held the opposition to 2 ER or less. Of course you have to take the good with the bad. Cecil had a 4.64/1.48 in the 2nd half with 42 K’s in 76 IP. That included a 6.92 ERA in 26 IP in September. Jermaine Mitchell, the Oakland A’s farmhand at Double-A Midland is leading the league in triples with 13 and BA at .373 in 220 AB. It took Jermaine Mitchell two-and-a-half seasons before he finally reached Double-A. With the way he is currently playing for the Midland Rockhounds, it won’t take him nearly that long to leave Double-A behind. The Oakland A’s 2006 fifth-round pick has revived a once-promising career and is suddenly a prospect on the rise. The 26 year old also has 10 HR, 40 RBI, 59 R, 11 SB (10 CS), a 49/48 K/BB and a 1.159 OPS. He is starting to attract the attention of many and should be monitored in the case of a promotion. He has only 11 AB at Triple-A to date and his career minor league numbers include a .283 BA in 2097 AB with 364 R, 44 HR, 249 RBI, 113 SB, a 565/342 K/BB, and an .815 OPS. As I mentioned on the site, Trent Oeltjen is back with the Dodgers. Oeltjen’s minor league numbers are awe-inspiring but he's yet to translate that "Down Under" bounty into major league largess. I have to admit that after his first 5 games in the majors, from Aug. 6-Aug. 11, 2009, I had to look up if the Hall of Fame minimum was 10 years or 10 games. My arms were tired from patting myself on the back. I picked up Oeltjen before that first game in one of my NL-only leagues and he rewarded my faith and trust by going 12 for 24 over those 5 wonderful games with 2 doubles, a triple, 3 HR, and 3 RBI. Just to show that I was one of the great fantasy minds of the decade, he stole 2 bases! Of course, over the rest of the month, Oeltjen was 5 for 44 with an RBI. I still think that he can be useful to the big league club. The Dodgers have had a carousel of players out there in LF this season including Jerry Sands who, as you said, was recently dispatched, not to Down Under, but close enough! If given the chance, Oeltjen could be a real find in the OF for LA. I would monitor Oeltjen in NL-only since the Dodgers have also rid themselves of Jay Gibbons and Tony Gwynn may not be far behind! Oeltjen batted .339 at Triple-A with 8 HR, 34 RBI, 33 R, 7 SB, a 50/25 K/BB, and a 1.012 OPS.

June 10, 2011: It takes 2 Polish utility infielders to write a blog!

David Ortiz is a 6-time All-Star. He’s a guy, in his 4 best seasons with the Red Sox from 2004-2007 averaged 44 HR, 135 RBI, 111 R, 102 BB, and 42 doubles. He was also 697 for 2290 (.304). But around April 2010, Ortiz wasn’t feeling the love of Red Sox nation. In fact, many were calling for his job coming off a .238 season in ’09 and an injury-riddled season in ’08. Lesser men would have given up the ship. Big Papi hit 1 HR, 4 RBI, with a 20/7 K/BB and a .143 BA in 56 AB that April. But he righted the ship in May belting 10 HR. It kind of reminded me of an Oscar acceptance speech by Sally Field. “I haven't had an orthodox career, and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!” 2011 has been a rebirth, of sorts, for the 35 year old Ortiz. He’s appeared in 59 of the team’s first 61 games and is hitting .323 in 220 AB, with 15 HR, 34 RBI, 37 R, a 25/25 K/BB, and a .999 OPS. I think Ortiz himself would quote Mark Twain when he said, “Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated!” Often times guys are prospects seemingly since the “turn of the century.” I’ve been hearing about Jemile Weeks for some time and the 24 year old switch-hitting 2B finally got the call up from Oakland with the injury to Mark Ellis. He was batting .321 at Triple-A with 3 HR, 22 RBI, 30 R, 10 SB, a 32/29 K/BB, and an .863 OPS. And while he doesn’t have the upside of his brother Rickie, Jemile does have good speed and solid on-base skills. He is an athletic and wiry strong infielder who has been victimized by injuries in the past few seasons (hip and leg), but he projects to a top-of-the-order hitter with a wide range of talents. His quick swing gives him the chance for moderate pop. His defense needs work, particularly his footwork, but he has excellent quickness and a strong enough arm. Weeks has been healthy in '11 and has been able to showcase his tools. He is a career .286/.372/.420 hitter in the minors since he was selected in the first round of the '08 draft. He’s played in 2 games for the A’s, going 0 for 4 as a lead-off hitter in his first game and 2 for 3 with 2 R while batting ninth in his second. He may be dispatched to the minors when Ellis is healthy but is a guy to keep an eye on in all AL-only and deeper mixed leagues. Toward the end of last season, I asked myself if 2010 was the first sign of baseball mortality for Ichiro Suzuki. Yes, he’s been great in his 10 years in the states, hitting .331 in 6779 AB with 1047 R, 383 SB, and 2244 H. In fact, in each of those 10 seasons, Suzuki has at least 206 H and 26 SB. But last year he had a career low 74 R in 162 games on a terrible offensive Seattle team. His current .256 average is 75 points below his career average, which is either proof that Ichiro is finally starting to slip at age 37, or that even he is not immune to the malaise currently affecting just about every Mariners hitter. Don’t forget, Suzuki is now 37, so this overall decline in value is somewhat expected, even though he has continued to defy expectations during his amazing career. He currently has 30 R, 20 RBI, 14 SB, a 19/21 K/BB and a .609 OPS in 258 AB. If there is such a thing as buying low on Ichiro, this may be that time!

June 9, 2011: Adam Dunn couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle right now!

I’d like to catch up on former #1 overall pick Tim Beckham by the Rays. There are plenty of indicators to suggest that Tim Beckham hasn't shown enough progress since the Rays made the shortstop the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Certainly one was Buster Posey, whom the Rays passed over at the time and who led the Giants to the World Series title this past fall — while Beckham toiled in Port Charlotte in the instructional league. And perhaps most telling is Beckham's own performance in his 2½ pro seasons no higher than Class A — a .263 average with minimal power (12 HR), a pedestrian .703 OPS and defense in need of improvement (81 errors in 277 games). He’s had a 235/96 K/BB in his past 2 seasons (2009-2010). But as the No. 1 overall pick in a draft that also included current big-leaguers Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Brian Matusz (Orioles), Gordon Beckham (White Sox), Ike Davis (Mets) and Daniel Schlereth (Diamondbacks) and a host of advanced prospects, Beckham is expected to be more than good. And actually, for the pick not to be considered a mistake, probably great. "Beckham was supposed to be a potential five-tool shortstop, or at least a four-tool shortstop with average speed," Callis said. "But after three pro seasons, it's pretty evident he won't be a shortstop because he has fringy speed and isn't athletic enough to stay there long-term. And that presents a problem, because the best fit will be third base, and he hasn't shown he can hit enough to be a regular there." In his first season at Double-A this season he’s at .294 in 218 AB, 4 HR, 34 RBI, 43 R, 4 SB, a 48/18 K/BB, and a .774 OPS. In his last 107 AB, Beckham has a 24/7 K/BB something that he has to work on for any continued success. The Indians, for now, look to be by-passing Lonnie Chisenhall. They are expected to promote infielder Cord Phelps from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday. Phelps is batting .299 with an .879 OPS, 7 HR, and 40 RBI over his first 55 games at the Triple-A level this season. The 24-year-old doesn't have much in the way of pop or speed, but has a solid approach at the plate. While he has primarily played shortstop and second base in the minors, the Indians could view him as alternative to the struggling Jack Hannahan at third base. Phelps hit .308 in 2010 between AA/AAA with 8 HR, 54 RBI, 66 R and a 68/39 K/BB in 442 AB. Indians manager Manny Acta said Wednesday that Cord Phelps will get the majority of the playing time at second base against right-handed pitching. Orlando Cabrera started the season hot, but is batting just .150 over his last 60 at-bats. Phelps will be on the strong side of the platoon, so he is worth a flier in AL-only leagues. Of course, both players may eventually be pushed aside once the Indians deem Jason Kipnis ready for the big leagues. If you need infield help in your AL, there are probably worse options than Phelps. The Mariners can used the power and have recalled 1B Mike Carp from Triple-A Tacoma. And why not? Carp entered Tuesday's action with a .353 BA and a 1.078 OPS in 224 AB to go along with a PCL leading 19 HR and 58 RBI. 16 of his homers have come since May 1. Sure, those numbers were accomplished in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but the Mariners can use the pop anywhere they can get it. Go ahead and pick him up in AL-only leagues. A name that will likely illicit yawns from most of your fellow owners, Carp hasn't distinguished himself in 91 previous MLB AB, during which he's hit .264 with one HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, and an 18/12 K/BB.

June 8, 2011: Lonnie Chisenhall should be within the Indians within 2 weeks!

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that Dee Gordon will be the regular shortstop. That's what we like to hear. Dee Gordon is batting leadoff for Tuesday night's game against the Phillies. Interesting. Gordon had 18 walks in 222 plate appearances with Triple-A Albuquerque before getting called up Monday, so he's likely at the top of the lineup more for his speed than his on-base ability. It's not yet known if the Dodgers will let him run free, but those in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues should take the gamble. The 23-year-old swiped 166 bases over 374 minor league games.  Rafael Furcal is currently on the disabled list with an oblique injury, so we should get a sneak preview for about the next month or so. Gordon, 23, hasn't shown much power in the minors, but has plus-speed and plays quality defense at the shortstop position. Gordon bypassed High-A in '10 and held his own in Double-A. He is among the most athletic prospects in baseball and his plus-plus speed makes him a threat to steal whenever he is on base. The left-handed hitter stole 73 bases in '09 and racked up 53 SB in '10. Gordon uses a short swing to hit line drives to the gaps. This season at Triple-A. Gordon is hitting .315 in 200 AB with 18 RBI, 34 R, 22 SB, a 30/14 K/BB, and a .731 OPS. While he's a must-add in NL-only leagues, mixed-leaguers should absolutely file this name away for the future. Jonny Venters, whose name sounds like an action hero, burst on the scene last year with 93 K's and 61 HA in 83 IP and a 1.95/1.20 ERA/WHIP.  Venters hasn't allowed a run since May 8. Venters has been absolutely tremendous this year in a setup role for the Braves, boasting a 0.50/0.76 ERA/WHIP, and 35/11 K/BB ratio through his first 35 2/3 innings. He has allowed only 16 H and has added 4 W. We'll have to wait and see how the 26-year-old left-hander reacts to such a heavy workload. But right now you have to say that Venters is the best set-up man in baseball! Jason Isringhausen has a remarkable 2.84/1.16 ERA/WHIP in 24 relief appearances this season. The Mets signed Izzy to a minor league contract this winter without much expectations. But he has blown away all his critics and has provided a steady presence at the back end of the New York bullpen. What is it with these veterans that have missed seasons, guys like Bartolo Colon and Ryan Vogelsong and Izzy having fantasy useful seasons? The veteran right-hander has 17 strikeouts in 19 innings. Izzy was a pretty good closer during his time in Oakland and, later, St. Louis. In fact, from 200-2007, Isringhausen averaged 34 SV/season with a 59/26 K/BB. Way back when Isringhausen was part of Generation-K with Bill Pulsipher and Paul Wilson. Both of those gentlemen are long out of the game.

June 7, 2011: For my $260-AL team, there ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough!

The Rockies could be considering a demotion to Triple-A for Dexter Fowler. Fowler has been losing more playing time recently and has been dropped in the batting order, with manager Jim Tracy saying the outfielder's offense, or lack thereof, has "become a concern." Fowler has struck out 66 times in 210 at-bats this season and is hitting only .226 since May 1. The Rockies could promote Charlie Blackmon, who is batting .342/.396/.576 with 10 HR and 12 SB at Triple-A Colorado Springs, to replace Fowler on the roster, though it would likely be Eric Young Jr. or possibly Carlos Gonzalez replacing him in center field. The Rox prefer to keep CarGo in left, though, in order to save his legs. The soon to be 25 year old Blackmon also has 49 RBI, 49 R, and a 34/19 K/BB. Danny Espinosa batted .306 with five homers and 11 RBI over his final 11 games last month but he has struggled so far in June as the Nationals have not been putting up too many runs of late. His recent hitting woes have dropped his batting average to .214 on the year, but his .443 slugging percentage is still pretty decent. The 24-year-old is developing into a power hitter right before fantasy owner's eyes, but keep him mind that even the best hitters go through slumps from time to time. Hopefully he will be able to get back on track during Week 10 (June 6-12) with San Francisco and San Diego on the schedule, so continue to view Espinosa as a low-end fantasy 2B. After 5 major league games, I was dusting off Danny Espinosa's HOF plaque. Because the Major League Baseball Committee may just waive the 5 year waiting period or even the 10 year playing period! Espinosa was 9 for 16 (.563) with 3 HR and 10 RBI. And I don't think that anyone ever led their league in RBI while only playing in September. That just can't happen. He was on pace for 56 RBI in September and 17 HR. This was a guy that every NL league owner was stepping over each other in order to get him. Well, his next 13 games were like Pablo Sandoval falling down. THUD! Espinosa was 5 for 50 (.100) with 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, and a 17/3 K/BB. There goes the RBI crown! He did have 22 HR and 25 SB in 2010 between Double-A and Triple-A. Espinosa is presently at .219 in 196 AB while appearing in all 59 games for the Nats. He has 10 HR, 33 RBI, 29 R, 4 SB, a 49/20 K/BB, and a .774 OPS. I do own him in my 15-team mixed league and he’s been in my starting line-up every week so far. Giants purchased the contract of RHP Ryan Vogelsong from Triple-A Fresno. The 33-year-old Vogelsong is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2006 and will replace the injured Barry Zito in the rotation. He pitched well in spring training and has been lights-out in his first two starts at Triple-A, giving up just two earned runs while striking out 17 over 11 1/3 innings. Even if your NL is 40 teams deep and you can play 30 guys, Vogelsong is a tough guy to recommend. Coming into this season, he has a 10-22 career mark in 315 IP, with a 5.86/1.59 ERA/WHIP, 347 HA, and a 216/154 K/BB. I would leave the possibility of Vogelsong to another owner. This is what I said after Vogelsong was called up on April 17. Who could have figured this bounty? I would compare Vogelsong’s  bit of providence with the 54 HR season of Bautista in 2010. I would also put Bartolo Colon in that category. Vogelsong’s season stats include 53 2/3 IP, a 4-1 record, a 1.68/1.04 ERA/WHIP, 42 HA. And a 42/14 K/BB. He’s had 5 QS in his last 6 GS. I would also like to say this: if you can, please sell high on Vogelsong. Because when he comes back to earth, and he will, it’s going to be ugly. Hopefully I won’t have to write another retraction in a couple months. But, honestly, I just don’t understand it!

June 6, 2011: Who the hell is Ryan Vogelsong? And why are people saying those things about him?

After batting just .159 with zero homers in April, Carlos Pena has started to pick up the pace of late and now has 8 HR with 26 RBI. His .363 OBP is above his career mark and while he is batting .222, he has raised his average nicely over the last few weeks. Patient fantasy owners have to be happy with his recent production and he should continue to get better as the weather heats up, and when Aramis Ramirez starts protecting him with some power power in the lineup. With games at Cincinnati and Philadelphia, both notorious hitter parks, due up in Week 10 (June 6-12), consider getting Pena active in larger fantasy formats. He’s been active for my 15-team mixed league the whole season, a league that I’m, by the way, in first place. When we last checked in with Pena, he batted .196 in 484 AB for TB with 28 HR and 84 RBI. From 2007-2009 Pena averaged 39 HR, 108 RBI and 89 R. We’ve been talking about the Scott Cousins take-out of Buster Posey on the site. This has nothing to do when skill meets preparation, this is just pure physics. It was like back in high school, during football practice, when 220 lb. Chuck Benjamin came barreling at my 115 lb. body from 30 yards out at a full gallop with just a blocking dummy between us. No matter what, that was never going to work. He knocked me 30 yards into a chain link fence. I got back for the next go-round yelling to Coach Roberts, “Coach I can do it!” After one more shot the coach motioned for 180 lb. Pete Rella to take over! And of course, let's not even compare Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside. In the lexicon of major league baseball, one's a thoroughbred and the other is a $10,000 claimer. If I'm Mr. Cousins, I would check out the old EF Hutton commercials and practice looking over my shoulder. Because when Brian Sabean talks, people listen. Or something like that! Not only is the GM making it tough for Cousins, the Giant fans will make it impossible for him to get into the batter's box. But, if he happens to, his helmet better be steel reinforced! Cousins had this to say about the incident. “I hope and believe that Mr. Sabean’s comments were made in the heat of the moment and are based more on his fondness for Buster Posey than on any animosity towards me,” he said in the statement. “This situation is still an open wound for many, including myself. As I have stated previously, nobody outside of Buster feels worse about his injury than I do.” Although he’s a San Francisco native, Cousins has received death threats since the play. Still, it doesn’t sound like he’d do anything differently. “I do believe, however, that the play was clean and totally within the rules of the game,” he said. “Explaining over and over that I would never intentionally hurt another player for any reason won’t change the minds of those who doubt my sincerity or intent. I have a responsibility to myself, my teammates, and my organization to play the game hard. This is what has gotten me to the big leagues, and hopefully this is what will keep me here.” Cousins is hitting only .156 in 45 AB with 1 HR and 4 RBI. He has a 17/5 K/BB. Meanwhile, Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench has put the blame on Posey, citing a mistake on the part of Giants catcher that abruptly ended his season. According to 14-time All-Star and two-time NL MVP Bench, regarded as the best offensive and defensive catcher of the 1970s, Posey “put himself in such a bad position” before Cousins rammed into him. Bench, 63, indicated in an interview with the Tulsa World that he teaches catchers to move off the plate before a close play to give runner the option of sliding instead of colliding. “Buster is laying in front of home plate, and it’s like having a disabled car in the middle of a four-lane highway. You’re just going to get smacked,” said Bench. If that chain link fence wasn’t there, I’d still be rolling!

June 5, 2011: Justin Turner was named NL Rookie of the month for May!

Andrew Miller can opt out of his contract with the Red Sox if he's not in the major leagues by June 15. Miller would make $1.2 million this season if he reaches the majors. The 26-year-old left-hander has a 2.47/1.27 ERA/WHIP over nine starts and one relief appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket this season, despite a shaky 39/34 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings. He has only 26 HA. While the Red Sox are using him as a starter right now, he could eventually be considered as a replacement for the injured Rich Hill. The former 2006 first round pick of the Tigers has been a big disappointment in the majors. Miller was the sixth overall pick before Clayton Kershaw (7), Drew Stubbs (8), Tim Lincecum (10), Max Scherzer (11), and an Kennedy (21). In 294 1/3 IP, Miller is 15-26 with a 5.84/1.74 ERA/WHIP 337 HA, and a 238/174 K/BB. Astros released 2B Bill Hall. Well, that's one way to free up some playing time for a glut of middle infielders. Hall has had a terrible year, batting just .224/.272/.340 with two home runs over 140 at-bats, but it's still surprising that the Astros decided to eat the remainder of his $3 million salary for 2011, as well as the $250,000 buyout on his mutual option for 2012. He'll catch on as a reserve somewhere else. Jeff Keppinger should be used as the primary second baseman going forward. Hall came out of nowhere in 2006, a guy with 32 HR in parts of 4 seasons with the Brewers, to hit 35 HR with 85 RBI, 101 R, a .270 BA in 537 AB, a .900 OPS and a career high 63 BB’s. Hall hasn’t been able to replicate that success but did have 18 HR in 344 AB (.247) with the Red Sox. He’s a .249 career hitter in 3287 AB with a .746 OPS, 124 HR, 438 RBI, 442 R, and a 956/278 K/BB. Since a 4 for 4 day on May 24 Hall is 0 for 12 with a 6/0 K/BB. Keep an eye on where he ends up and the role given to him. I do have him in my $260 NL for $8. In that league, and I don’t like this rule, you can keep the guy if he’s traded to the AL or picked up by an AL team. Hall is now on my reserve. Fernando Salas notched his 10th save with a scoreless ninth inning Tuesday. He allowed a bloop double on a ball that was misplayed by Colby Rasmus, but it was another relatively easy save for the right-hander. Salas has now converted all 10 of 11 save chances this season while posting a 1.82/1.05 ERA/WHIP, 19 HA, and a 25/7 K/BB ratio over 24 2/3 innings. Not bad for a guy that didn't even crack the Opening Day roster. He's the clear ninth inning man in the St. Louis bullpen right now. But in the Cardinals’ world a bad game or 2 could mean a new closer! I do have Salas in my $260-NL for $2 and have utilized him as my second closer behind Kimbrel of the Braves (I did draft Contreras but he spent a month on the DL).

June 4, 2011: The altar boy sat on a block of ice after mass because the priest liked a cold one after services!

When I heard about this "platoon" for the M's, I thought about 2 things. How much did the M's want to rid themselves of Bradley to play these 2? And are Peguero and Wilson a law firm? Peguero, at 6'5" and 250+ pounds can hit the ball far. That's on the rare occasion that he makes contact. He has 4 HR (including 2 on Thursday night) and 12 RBI among his 12 H in 63 AB (.190). He also is holding on to a .656 OPS. You also have to be put off by his 23/3 K/BB which is a little worse than his 34/9 K/BB in 103 AB in Triple-A this season. Before Thursday’s game, Peguero was 0 for 14 since May 24 with 10 K’s. Still, he may be worth picking up in deep AL-only just on the power potential. Mike Wilson has been playing sparingly, mostly against LHP. He's 4 for 24 with 3 RBI and a 6/1 K/BB. I will say this, I would rather have a platoon of these 2 at any time than having Bradley on my team. Call me jaded but I really stand for the good of the game (I did learn about heroes too late in life) and just couldn't stand watching Bradley's "antics" anymore! To me, Milton Bradley is the anti-Christ! The M’s did make a move after the game on Thursday. They optioned outfielder Michael Saunders to Triple-A Tacoma. Saunders was embarrassing himself, having hit .168/.223/.248 with 45 strikeouts in 137 at-bats. Given that he's 24 now and he has 548 major league at-bats to his credit, he might be running out of opportunities in Seattle. That he's a capable center fielder and an excellent left fielder can only take him so far. Those 548 AB are spread out over 191 games. He has a .203 BA, with 12 HR, 44 RBI, 56 R, 14 SB, and a 149/51 K/BB. The Mariners called Halman up from Triple-A Tacoma following Thursday's game, replacing Michael Saunders on the roster, the Seattle Times reports. The M's went with Halman over Mike Carp for the promotion because Halman can back up Franklin Gutierrez in center field. Halman missed 48 games this year with a broken hand, but was hitting .257/.350/.457 in nine games since returning. The minor league power hitter, Halman, was 4 for 29 (.138) for the M’s in 2010 with an 11/1 K/BB and 0 HR. Halman is a career .247 hitter in the minors in 2060 AB with a .795 OPS, 350 R, 116 HR, 320 RBI, 100 SB, and a not-too-good 725/147 K/BB. In his only full season at Triple-A (2010), Halman batted .243 in 424 AB with an .854 OPS, 82 R, 33 HR, 80 RBI, 15 SB, and a 169/37 K/BB. I still think that he’s worth a pick-up in deep AL-only. This situation with Saunders wasn't fair to him, or the team. Now, he gets to work things out away from the demanding eyes of big league fans. Gets to polish his skills before giving the majors another go. This move is unrelated to the left field situation and Carlos Peguero. We've been telling you the past few days -- including last night -- that Saunders would be gone the minute the team felt Halman was ready. That's because Carp can't play center. So, the only guy capable of duplicating the real reason Saunders was still here -- his center field defense -- is Halman.

June 3, 2011: It's hard to make chicken salad out of chicken shit! 

Brent Lillibridge doesn’t seem to be the same player he was at any time in his career. The owner of a .194 career BA with 3 HR, 27 RBI, 37 R, and 13 SB in 273 AB with the Braves and the White Sox, Lillibridge wasn’t even assured of making the White Sox roster out of spring. And it was obvious at my $260-AL draft, when I got Lillibridge in the 13th round of the reserve draft for ($2) that not many fantasy owners thought so either! Now he’s making his way toward being a nice $2 keeper for me in that league for next season. Lillibridge, who has contributed numerous big hits and big plays in the field this season, barely resembles the player he was last season, even though he had his share of clutch pinch hits in 2010. ‘‘When I’m up there, I’m not playing with fear,’’ said Lillibridge, whose new approach to hitting after he 
almost didn’t make the team out of spring training has helped him hit six HR and drive in 11 runs in a utility role. ‘‘In the past I just wanted to look good. I wanted to have good at-bats rather than hit the ball hard. Now I go up wanting to hit the ball really hard up the middle if it’s around the plate.’’ He’s also at .308 in 65 AB with 15 R and 5 SB. He shouldn’t be a free agent in any deep AL-only! Mike Pelfrey was tagged for seven runs and 10 hits in five innings by the Pirates on Thursday. Pelfrey would have been 5-for-5 in quality starts last month if not for a rough seventh inning in a game against the Yankees. After a terrible April, Pelfrey went 35 IP in May with a 3.09/1.06 ERA/WHIP, 28 HA, and an 18/9 /BB. Still, he's awfully far from being an ace. And this was the Opening Day SP for the Mets in 2011! As modest as his strikeout rate is, he's going to get rocked like this from time to time. From 2008-2010, in 96 GS for the Mets, Pelfrey has given up 635 H in 589 IP with a 330/198 K/BB. Last year Pelfrey torpedoed fantasy owners from June 30-August 4. In those 7 starts of adversity he went 30 IP, giving up 62 H with a 14/16 K/BB, and a 9.00/2.60 ERA/WHIP. He did finish strong going 7 IP in his last 5 GS with a 2.27/1.01 ERA/WHIP. Still, I would stay away from the Mets “ace” unless it’s a deep NL-only. Just a little shout out to Toronto Blue Jay OF, Jose Bautista who was named the American League Player of the Month for the month of May. Bautista hit .360 (31-for-86) with four doubles, 11 home runs and 23 RBIs in the month. Sometimes I do stupid things in fantasy. I guess we all do, but the great ones have a way of making it right. 2 nights ago in my $360-NL, I was going to pick up Xavier Paul and put Cameron Maybin on my DL. Instead, I waited until last night and picked up teammate and 3B, Josh Harrison. Xavier Paul went 4-for-5 with a triple, two steals and three runs scored Thursday against the Mets. Paul, who hit just .220 with three RBI in 41 at-bats in his first five weeks with the Pirates, has six hits (in 7 AB) and three RBI the last two days. With Jose Tabata struggling mightily against right-handers, one could argue the Pirates should be giving Paul more time in left field. Still, since they're really not a contender, despite their decent start, they're likely better off keeping Tabata in his full-time role. Those 2 SB by Paul would have gotten me 1 ½ points in that league. If we only had a crystal ball!

June 2, 2011: I used to think that "Farewell to Arms" was a movie about a guy with no limbs!

Jake Fox spoke with Orioles manager Buck Showalter over the weekend about his role on the team. Fox isn't happy with the limited playing time he's received thus far. He's hit .188 in 19 games, including 12 starts. For the season he also has 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, and a 7/3 K/BB in 48 AB. "I think my role is still very unclear," Fox said. "They are not seeing me perform the way they want me to and I think that has kept him from putting me in the lineup more. Obviously with the number of at-bats I've had it is going to take me a few games to get back in a rhythm. We had this conversation, and [I said] I feel like I'm still the same guy I was this spring. Nothing has changed. I'm still putting the ball in play, my timing isn't quite there, my pitch recognition isn't quite there." Fox wasn't able to take advantage of Derek Lee's DL stint and there's a chance Fox could lose his roster spot when Lee is activated as soon as this weekend. Fox made a name for himself this spring when he hit 10 of the O’s 42 HR (second in the AL) and added 7 doubles, 15 RBI, 15 R, 59 TB, a 14/2 K/BB and a 1.122 OPS. Fox makes a good second C in 2 catcher AL-only but that’s it! Fox said Wednesday that the Orioles are attempting to trade him. Fox was designated for assignment Wednesday to make room for the return of Brian Matusz. The 28-year-old has struggled to the tune of a .188/.250/.396 batting line over 52 plate appearances this season, but has 20 homers over 519 major league plate appearances. He could be fantasy relevant depending upon where he lands. John Danks and the White Sox were none too pleased with home-run leader Jose Bautista’s reaction to popping out to shortstop in the fourth inning Sunday. Bautista slammed his bat to the artificial turf about halfway down the first-base line. He and Danks exchanged words as Bautista passed him on his way to the Blue Jays’ dugout. “I just told him to run the bases,’’ Danks said. “He’s out there acting like a f---ing clown. He’s a good player. He’s had a great year and a half, no doubt. He’s been one of the best hitters in the league. He’s out there acting like he’s Babe Ruth or something. It’s horses---, I think.’’ No, just the way he was acting,’’ Danks said. “He ran halfway down the line and stopped and spiked his bat. I get it; he’s upset at himself. I threw him a 3-1 fastball he missed, and I threw him another heater. Like I said, he’s a good hitter. He’s had a great couple of years, but he isn’t that good to act like he needs to be hitting every ball out of the ballpark. “That’s the way I feel. You know, I have pride — I really do. I have had a pretty crappy year at this point, but I have pride still. I’m not going to let him go out there and show me up like that.’’ Bautista said his baserunning “should not be [Danks’] concern anyways. I was upset at missing a pitch, at myself,’’ Bautista said. ‘‘If he took it the wrong way, I’m sorry. I’m not here to make him feel good. It really doesn’t matter to me what he thought. What I’m not going to allow is when I’m running by him, him yelling at me again, so I yelled back at him.’’It's like a heavyweight match, Jose Bautista vs John Danks. Don't forget that Danks is 0-8 and may be feeling quite a bit frustrated. I saw the highlights and it just seemed that Bautista put his head down and slammed his bat to the turf. It didn't seem, at least to me, that Bautista was trying to show up Danks, who might have been upset because the Jays had a big lead. Danks' season has been a nightmare so far. Besides the 0-8 record, Danks has a 5.25/1.51 ERA/WHIP, a 46/25 K/BB, and 81 HA in 70 1/3 IP. Danks has really been one of the best LHP in the AL from 2008-2010. In our straight AL-only, Danks was pick #57. In those 3 years of bounty, Danks went 608 1/3 IP, with 40 W's, 555 HA, a 470/200 K/BB, and a 3.61/1.24 ERA/WHIP. Bautista, by the way, has been the MVP in the AL this young season. There’s a chance that Danks will be moved to the pen but this should be a great time to buy low on him!

June 1, 2011: "All pitchers are liars or crybabies!"

If you put this line for Jo-Jo Reyes from Sunday it would not only stand out like a sore thumb but it would be like Tiny Tim singing in a barbershop quartet! 9 IP, 1 ER, 8 HA, and a 4/4 K/BB isn't a great great line, but it does get the "monkey" off the back of Reyes. He had gone 28 consecutive GS without a W next to his name. In fact, his last W was on June 13, 2008 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. In those 28 winless starts, Reyes had an 0-13 record with a 6.59 ERA. If someone happened to pick him up in an AL-only for that GS, pat yourself on the back, even treat yourself to a nice dinner, but please use any escape plan you can with him. Reyes actually also had a good start on May 20 vs Houston. He went 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 HA, and a 7/1 K/BB. Those 7 K's are a season high but the bullpen let Reyes down in that tilt. Reyes currently is the holder of a 4.15/1.52 ERA/WHIP, 73 HA, and a 41/19 K/BB in 60 2/3 IP. From April 14, 1992 to May 1, 1994, Anthony Young—as a Met and later a Cub—made 27 consecutive starts without a win. He made 13 quality starts among those 27, but his teams went 4–23 in those games. Despite posting a respectable 3.89 ERA for his career, he finished with a record of 15 wins and 48 losses for a winning percentage of .238. When you think about it, it really is an astounding accomplishment considering the sheer probability stacked against such a streak. And in Young's defense, it obviously required a lot of help from his teammates -- if you want to call it that -- to break the 82-year-old record. In fact, Young didn't even pitch all that poorly during the stretch, posting a 4.36 ERA in that span. In an '09 Daily News interview, Young recalled, 'Everything that could happen, happened. It was just destiny, I guess.' At one point during the streak, Young converted 12 straight saves and threw 23.2 straight scoreless innings subbing for closer John Franco; yet the streak lived. Brutal. To his credit, Young never got down about the ridiculously bad luck or the anomaly that it produced. Instead he embraces the memories and keepsakes from the streak, saying that it's 'what he's known for'. Young ended up pitching a few more years with the Cubs and Houston before calling it a career. He did have 15 SV for the Mets in 1992 with a 2-14 mark and a 64/31 K/BB in 121 IP. The bad luck continued in ’93 as Young was 1-16 with a 3.77/1.45 ERA/WHIP, in 100 1/3 IP, 103 HA, and a 62/42 K/BB. He had a career 1.39 WHIP and 471 HA in 460 IP. Then there’s the story of Ubaldo Jimenez who, on July 8, 2010, had a 15-1 record. There were even people talking about an outside shot at 30 wins. Well, Jimenez didn’t even win 20, ending up 19-8 in 221 2/3 IP, with 164 HA, a 214/92 K/BB, and a 2.88/1.16 ERA/WHIP. Not only is Jimenez much more hittable in 2011, his control has been awful. In 9 GS and 50 2/3 IP, Jimenez is 0-5 with 47 HA, a 5.86/1.52 ERA/WHIP, and a 45/30 K/BB. His last W was on September 17 and Jimenez has now gone 12 starts without a win. Hard to believe! My advice would be to buy low, buy low, and buy low!

May 31, 2011: Paul Goldschmidt will be the starting 1B for the D'Backs at some point in 2011!

Dodgers purchased the contract of RHP Josh Lindblom from Double-A Chattanooga. Lindblom, 23 (24 in 2 weeks), has registered a 2.96 ERA and 33/11 K/BB ratio over 24 1/3 innings this season at the Double-A level. He'll pitch in middle relief for the Dodgers. Josh Lindblom had a season to forget in his first full year at AAA in 2010. In 95 innings he had a 6.54 ERA and a 1.84 WHIP with 84 strike outs and 32 walks. He gave up a whopping 143 hits. That can't be an accident, either. Maybe he caught too much of the plate in an effort to keep his walks down. Whatever it was, the experiment didn't work out too well. And I think it was when Lindblom was a starter that he saw a lot of his adversity! The 6'5" 245 lb. Lindblom is better suited for relief work. It was a real regression from 2009 when he had 96 1/3 innings between AA/AAA. He had a 3.83/1.19 ERAWHIP with an 82/26 K/BB ratio. In 2011 he was sent for more seasoning but the Dodgers must feel that the right handed Lindblom can help their depleted pen with Jansen headed to the D.L. There's no need to, at this point, pick him up even in N.L. leagues unless you have a deep bench. As hard as I try, it's tough to get past the 6.54/1.84 ERA/WHIP from last season. Those are numbers that always stay in the back of your mind and I wasn't sure that I wanted to give Lindblom a breakfast ball for the 2011 season. But, now that he's safely tucked away in the bullpen, he did work his butt off in Triple-A this season for 24 1/3 IP, 7 SV, a 2.96/1.36 ERA/WHIP, 22 HA, and a 33/11 K/BB. Like you say, I believe he will be in middle relief for now but if he can throw some strikes, you never know! I would monitor Lindblom for now but I wouldn't rush to go pick him unless you play in a very deep NL-only. I've had Martin Prado in my $360-NL for the past 2 seasons, last year at $11 and this year at $16. He did hit .307 in 599 AB last season, missing much of September in a time where I needed him to come in third place instead of fourth. He did score 100 R with 58 XBH and an .810 OPS. I agree that he's an under the radar guy, not great at any one category, but helpful in four offensive categories. He is up to 7 HR on the season with 32 R and 32 RBI and has a .280 BA to show for 232 AB. Plus he's started 55 of the first 56 games for the Braves and has appeared 12 times as a 3B and 50 more times in the OF. He's a complimentary player but, as my friend Dan used to say, if you have 14 Martin Prados on your team, you win a few championships. He's a career .304 hitter in 1610 AB.

May 30, 2011: Bryce Harper is the best 18 year old hitter since Ted Williams!

Twins purchased the contract of LHP Chuck James from Triple-A Rochester. The 29-year-old lefty will take Joe Nathan's place on the Twins' 25-man roster after elbow inflammation sent him to the disabled list on Saturday. James has been very effective in 28 2/3 innings of work for Rochester this season, posting a 1.57 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. He last appeared in the major leagues in 2008 as a member of the Braves until yesterday when he retired the only batter he faced. James wasn’t always a mop-up man. He found some bounty with the Braves in 48 GS (55 games) in 2006-2007. James was 22-14 in 280 1/3 IP and gave up 265 H, a 207/105 K/BB, and a 4.05/1.32 ERA/WHIP. Injuries and ineffectiveness have curtailed him since but you may want to keep an eye on James from a distance, of course. Allen Craig is going to keep playing second base and may even become a regular at the position this year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. What started as kind of an experiment to get his bat in the lineup when Skip Schumacher was injured has now turned into a real opportunity for Craig to get everyday playing time. Craig's fantasy owners can't complain, as his numbers coming from second base have more value than they do if he were only an outfielder. "He could be a second baseman and with his offense be a big benefit to the club," manager Tony La Russa said. Craig, for his part, is working on turning double plays even on his days off. Craig is at .321 in 84 AB on the season with 3 HR, 17 RBI, 11 R, 4 SB, an 18/11 K/BB, and a .910 OPS. In one game leagues, Craig is eligible at 2B, 3B, the OF and 1B. Craig makes a good MID INF in your NL-only. While he was once a highly-regarded prospect, the 25-year old Chris Nelson seems to be living off this previous status and his offense-friendly PCL surroundings. The .310 BA after 197 AB looks impressive, along with 5 HR, 40 RBI, and 35 R, but Nelson does have a 34/10 K/BB and 2 SB in 5 attempts for the offensively rewarding Colorado Springs team. He does have an .838 OPS. Nelson did spend time with the Rockies in 2010, utilized mainly as a PR and defensive replacement and, in 25 AB, hit .280 with 7 R, 1 SB, and a 4/1 K/BB. The Rockies have been making some changes on their roster so keep an eye if Nelson gets the call. I would say he would at least give the same numbers as current second baseman Jonathan Herrera. If R.A. Dickey (foot) is unable to start Tuesday, the Mets are likely to call up Chris Schwinden from Triple-A Buffalo to fill in. Schwinden was poised to pitch only a couple innings Friday for Buffalo before being pulled, but after the game was rained out, he isn't scheduled to pitch Saturday, indicating he's the Mets' guy if Dickey isn't ready. A 22nd-round pick in 2008, Schwinden pitched poorly last year at Double-A, but he's been terrific since getting bumped up to Triple-A early this season, posting a 2.36 ERA in eight starts while striking out nearly a batter per inning. In 48 2/3 IP, Schwinden has an overall 2.22/0.97 ERA/WHIP, 33 HA, and a 46/14 K/BB. The 24 year old RHP may have some initial success if he’s called on to start a la Dillon Gee!

May 29, 2011: Sean O'Sullivan does not belong in a major league rotation!

The Red Sox promoted the 24-year-old Josh Reddick from Triple-A and he should earn enough at bats to be a factor in the near-term. Reddick has accumulated 121 AB with Boston in '09 and '10, hitting .182 with 3 HR. He is an athletic outfielder who overcame a slow start to the '10 season and was on fire after the All Star break. He also began the '11 with similar success before slowing down recently. Reddick owns a variety of skills, including moderate bat speed and power to go along with good speed and outfield range. He needs to add more loft to his swing to take advantage of his power potential, but he can hit lefties and righties well. While he can be a free swinger with an aggressive approach, he's become much more selective in the '11 season with a 33/26 K/BB. Defensively, Reddick possesses solid CF range with ample speed and instincts. His arm is also strong and accurate. He has hit .281/.333/.502 in the minors. In 2011, at Triple-A, Reddick was at .248 in 165 AB with 12 HR, 29 RBI, 33 R, 4 SB, and an .871 OPS. In his first two games with the Red Sox, Reddick is 4 for 8 with 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB, and a 2/1 K/BB. Before his call to the Sox in ’10, Reddick finished the Triple-A season with 17 HR, 63 RBI, and a .754 OPS. I would see if he’s available in your AL-only. When a fellow owner and my good friend, Pat, of my $360-NL picked up Justin Turner on May 9, I said to myself, “What the hell is he doing?” After all, he was a 26 year old journeyman who had 2 RBI in 40 AB at Triple-A and a major league career consisting of 4 for 35 .114 with 3 R, 3 RBI, and a 6/5 K/BB. When David Wright went on the DL on May 17, it opened up a little bit of a window for Turner. After 2 weeks, Pat phoned me to say that Turner has done everything he could ask for from a pick-up. Sometimes they work out as long as they hit right away. But as quickly as you can say, “Brad Emaus” it could all be taken away from you! He’s presently at .329 in 79 AB with 1 HR, 18 RBI, 8 R, 1 SB, and a 10/6 K/BB while playing 12 games at 2B and 11 games at 3B. Turner went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI single in Friday's loss to the Phillies. Turner had a chance in the ninth inning for his fifth hit, but lined out to third base. He entered Friday's game with just one hit in his last 16 at-bats, so this was nice to see. Still, it's tough to count on him outside of NL-only leagues Some, like my friend Pat, would say that Turner is the perfect NL pick-up.

May 28, 2011: "Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical!"

This is as big a loss as a team, trying to defend a World Championship, can have. After all, this is the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year who, like you say, was asked to hit clean-up in a line-up filled with veterans down the stretch last year. The Giants placed Posey on the disabled list with a fractured bone in his lower left leg, according to the team's official Twitter page. The extent of Posey's injury, and the plan for his recovery, have not yet been announced, but the team needed to place Posey on the DL to open up a spot for his replacement, Chris Stewart. Expect another update on Posey's status when a more concrete diagnosis is announced. The Giants should be excited to have the catching tandem of Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart on board. Whiteside sounds like he could have been a Civil War general and has only 5 H to show for his 27 AB this season. He has 7 career HR in 292 AB. Stewart is a .250 hitter in 10 minor league seasons and is 9 for 48 (.188) in parts of 4 major league seasons with the White Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Padres. I read that the Giants are checking in on the availability of Pudge Rodriguez from the Nationals. I would wonder if the Giants would consider picking up the phone and giving Bengie Molina a call. The Giant pitchers raved about Molina’s work behind the plate in his time with the club. Plus he also made the World Series as the Rangers’ catcher last season. By the way, Posey had just started hitting a bit after a sluggish start and was up to .284 in 162 AB with 4 HR, 21 RBI, 17 R, 3 SB, a 30/18 K/BB and a .757 OPS. This was after hitting .305 in 406 AB in 2010 with 18 HR and 67 RBI. Some guys are a lot tougher to replace than others! Let’s see if the Giants can bounce back from this. Wilson Valdez had the most bizarre game of his career on Wednesday night, going 3-for-6 while picking up the win as the Phillies downed the Reds in 19 innings at home. With the Phillies already having used Roy Halladay, Michael Stutes, Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, J.C. Romero, David Herndon and Danys Baez (who threw 73 pitches in the longest relief outing of his career), manager Charlie Manuel called on his journeyman utility player to pitch the 19th inning. After getting Joey Votto to fly out 395 feet to dead center, he hit Scott Rolen with a pitch before getting both Jay Bruce and Carlos Fisher (yes, the Reds reliever) to fly out. The Phillies would finally end the game in the bottom half of the inning. Valdez was hitting roughly 90 on the radar gun, while showing some surprising movement on his fastball. Valdez is the first position player to earn a win since Colorado's Brent Mayne did so against the Braves on August 22, 2000. He now has as many wins as Chris Carpenter and one more win than John Danks. Baseball is a strange, strange sport. And who can forget that great hurler, Brent Mayne? He also caught a few games in his career as a hobby! But he did amass 951 H, a .263 BA, 359 R, 38 HR, 403 RBI, and a .680 OPS when he wasn't pitching. He did give up a hit and a walk in that 1 IP. It's funny how fickle wins can actually be! Valdez now has more W's in my $360-NL than Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course Valdez's win won't count toward my stats. But anytime you can throw 90 MPH with a little movement you could always be on call for that type of game. And, I know that Hall of Famer, Wade Boggs had his knuckle ball. Valdez said he hadn't pitched since a 2002 backyard game in his native Dominican Republic but needed just 10 pitches to get through the Reds' Nos. 3-6 hitters. And in closing I would like to say that Valdez could follow the opposite trajectory of the career of George Herman Ruth who was one of the great pitchers early in his career who later became known as a pretty fair country hardball player! Valdez could go from one of the great utility infielders of our time to one of the great mop-up guys. And just think, the Phillies could be playing in the stadium known as the "House that Valdez Built!"

May 27, 2011: It just doesn't sound right: "Willie, Mickey, and Russell Branyan!"

Next to the expression, "the true three outcome hitter" in the dictionary, is a picture of Russell Branyan! Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinnati, Seattle, Tampa, Philly, St.Louis, Arizona, and now Anaheim, Branyan sure has seen the sights that America has to offer. He reminds me of one of those 1940s and 50's minor league power hitters that never really gets a shot. But Branyan has gotten chances, many chances, for the ability that he has to occasionally get a hold of one and launch one into another zip code. It’s fitting because he’s played in so many! And he has done so 189 times in 2869 AB in a career that started fittingly with an 0 for 4 and 2 Ks for Cleveland in 1998. And, like a man, he will take the slow and lonely walk back to the dugout with the bat on his shoulder. He's done that an unbelievable 1097 times and has taken the free pass down to 1B another 392 times. It’s a wonder that he ever gets his bat on the ball. Amazingly, in 636 AB for the Mariners the last 2 seasons (he also played for the Indians which doesn't count for this exercise), Branyan has 46 HR of his 152 H. Safeco, in Seattle, is like hitting it out of Yellowstone! Yes, he's an all-or-nothing guy who, if ever able to play a full season and get AB, could put up 50 HR and break the all-time K record. He might even go for Nolan Ryan’s K record for a pitcher! Obviously and for selfish reasons, I wished he had stayed in the AL. He would have been a nice guy to have for 2 bucks in a league where I really don’t have much. But sometimes you just have to turn lemons into lemonade. His experience with the D’Backs in 2011 didn’t go over too well. He was signed by the club in then early part of spring and showed some real bounty during spring training. Branyan was 24 for 56 (.429) with a 1.260 OPS, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 14 R, and an 8/6 K/BB. That largess led this blogger to believe that he would at least be the LH part of a platoon at 1B for Arizona. But Branyanb would only receive 62 AB with a .210 BA, 1 HR, and 2 RBI. He was released on May 21 and signed by the Angels on May 26. He did make the last out in his first game for his new team. The Angels were trailing 4-0 and down to their final out before Mark Trumbo connected on a three-run homer. Branyan then pinch-hit for Peter Bourjos, but flew out to deep center field to end the game. Branyan, who had just a part-time role with Arizona before his release, has had recent success in the American League (25 homers between two AL teams in 2010 and 31 home runs with Seattle in 2009), but exactly how much playing time he'll get with the Angels is still a question. If you're looking for power in your AL-only, give Branyan a try. 

 May 26, 2011: It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!

Rubby De La Rosa was veritable unknown last spring (2010), a skinny kid from the Dominican Republic. He started the season at Class-A Great Lakes. Only De La Rosa exploded upon the scene, dominating at Great Lakes and then at Double-A Chattanooga. He was a combined 7-2 with a 2.37/1.13 ERA/WHIP, 87 HA, and a 94/38 K/BB in 110 1/3 IP. De La Rosa was selected the Dodger minor league pitcher of the year and started the 2011 season at Double-A. When De La Rosa was first coming up, this is what pitching coach Rick Honeycutt had to say: "Yeah, he's got a lot of positives. A plus arm, 'pitchability.' A little wild with the fastball at times, but he always came back. The changeup is filthy. If I had that, I wouldn't throw anything else. But he can throw 97 [mph]. The one thing is throwing consistently for strikes. But a 20-year-old won't have everything figured out." This spring wasn’t bad either for the now 22 year old De La Rosa. He had 19 2/3 IP, 10 HA, 5 ER (2.29), and an impressive 16/3 K/BB. His Double-A numbers at Chattanooga was 42 IP, a 2.92/1.23 ERA/WHIP, 30 HA, and a 52/19 K/BB. He had always been a SP in the minors but, like you say, the Dodgers will initially throw him in middle-relief. I can see him getting a shot at the ninth inning role if others (like Jansen and Guerrier) keep under-achieving. De La Rosa came into his first major league game vs the Astros in the eighth inning of a one run game and set them down 1-2-3 with 2 strike outs. Javy Guerra picked up his first major league save with a 1-2-3 ninth and 1 K and now has a 4/2 K/BB over 5 IP. Guerra held a 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 15/5 K/BB ratio over 17 innings for Chattanooga. The former fourth-round pick also had 3 SV. Daniel Descalso delivered the game-winning hit Tuesday for the second game in a row. More importantly, Descalso is playing every day, usually at the hot corner. He has started the last eight games at third base, and may even have something to say about the position when David Freese returns from the DL. Descalso has seven hits and three RBI in his last three games, and he's up to 17 RBI for the year, even though he's a part-time player with a modest .239/.311/.359 batting line. He'll remain useful in NL-only leagues until David Freese gets back. Descalso is currently at 1 HR, 17 RBI, 15 R, 2 SB, and a 17/12 K/BB. 2010 was his first full season at Triple-A and he batted .282 in 468 AB with 9 HR, 71 RBI, 86 R, 8 SB, a 48/47 K/BB and a .771 OPS. Descalso makes a good short term pick-up (and maybe more) in your NL-only. Tigers purchased the contract of LHP Andy Oliver from Triple-A Toledo. As expected, Oliver is going to take Phil Coke's place in the rotation while he is on the disabled list. One of the Tigers' top prospects, Oliver is a hard-throwing lefty, but has had some control issues in the past. He has been pitching well at Toledo (AAA) this season, posting a 3.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in 51 2/3 innings over nine starts. He did walk 20. He did not fare well during a five-start cup of coffee for the Tigers last year, but is worth a look in AL-only leagues. In 22 IP for the Tigers in 2010, Oliver went 0-4 with a 7.36/1.77 ERA/WHIP, 26 HA, and an 18/13 K/BB. He should be kept benched against the Red Sox on Saturday, however. The 23 year old LHP is a former second round pick of the Tigers in 2009 out of Oklahoma State.

May 25, 2011: Brian Fuentes is on pace to lose 23.625 games this season!

With 3B a black hole all season and the Rockies offense struggling, COL is considering the promotion of the 28-year old Josh Fields, who has re-surfaced with AAA Colorado Springs. Fields is apparently healthy and putting up some of his best numbers anywhere in a long time--as noted by his current .381 BA and a 1.130 OPS. That includes a mildly intriguing 77% ct%. Fields still has some power as suggested by his 7 HR to date. He’s also thrown in 33 RBI, 42 R, 5 SB, and 16 walks. Fields is hitting .436 with a homer and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games. But his 67% ct% and .234 BA in 713 career MLB AB are cautionary. Plus his overall major league K/BB rate of 235/69 is enough to make me throw up in my mouth! The RHB's persistent struggles vs. MLB RHPs suggest that he'd likely be on the light side of a platoon, and that he's still a flyer at best. Fields did have a few months of bounty with the White Sox back in ’07. But that now seems like a lifetime ago. He batted .244 on 373 AB with 23 HR, 67 RBI, 54 R, but with a 125/35 K/BB and a not so bad .789 OPS. Logic suggests that the KC front office will attempt to trade Clint Robinson before his value completely disappears. We wouldn't be shocked to see him make his first MLB appearance in late 2011 with another team. He’s a first baseman in KC which was like being the back-up to Cal Ripken in Baltimore. With the surprise call-up of Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler still in the fold, and Kila Ka’ahiue biding his time at Triple-A, Robinson’s best shot for fantasy largess may very well be in another venue. And it’s not from lack of trying as Robinson is enjoying some bounty again this year. Let’s go back in time to 2010 when Robinson won the Texas League Triple Crown. He batted .335 with 29 HR, 98 RBI, and a 1.035 OPS in Double-A. Robinson took up right where he left off this season at Triple-A batting .355 in 169 AB with 11 HR, 32 RBI, 33 R, a 32/23 K/BB, and a 1.062 OPS. I’d say that the 26 year old Robinson is almost ready for the majors. He’ll just have to bide his time like so many others. Aaron Crow escaped an eighth-inning jam on Friday by striking out St. Louis' Matt Holliday and that was his 17th scoreless outing in 18 appearances. Crow has allowed just two runs to score over 23 2/3 innings entering Saturday. That is an ERA/WHIP of 0.76/1.10 with a 2-0 record and a 24/9 . For now, Crow should be viewed as a RP option in deeper fantasy formats that value true middle men. Crow was overlooked by KC as a starter with the injuries to Chen and Davies in their rotation, instead turning to Nathan Adcock and Daniel Duffy. "That's fine with me," Crow said. "I've had a lot of success out of the bullpen, so I don't see why we should change it. The starting pitching has done pretty well, so I think we've got the rotation set." Crow was originally the ninth pick by the Nationals in the 2008 draft but they couldn’t agree on a contract. Crow was the 12th pick by KC in the 2009 draft with eyes on keeping him as a SP. But right now those plans are on hold as he’s been a stalwart out of the Royals pen. I have Rafael Soriano on the DL in my no-trade AL and Crow is on a short list to replace him! I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching over that one.

May 24, 2011: Rainy days and Tuesdays always get me down!

I received something in the mail yesterday from my old job and it did look official. Much to my wife’s credit, she waited until I got home at 7:00 in the evening to have me see what was in the envelope. She even waited until I got safely in the bathroom with the door locked to collect my thoughts and do a little soul searching. If you didn’t already know, I was at that job for 21 years, the last 10 of which were in a full time capacity. My wife thought that after these few months, that the club “wised up” and sent me a little severance package. To my wife’s and my surprise, it was an advertisement for a retirement deal. So either the club thought I (A) still worked there or (B) was actually retired. To the contrary, after going 36 holes each day for the past 3 days, I’m starting to know what real work is. Of course, at my age, the end could be near at any time! When did Curtis Granderson become the Yankees go-to guy? He’s second in the majors with 16 HR and has 34 RBI, 32 R, 4 SB, a .942 OPS, and a .263 BA in 171 AB. With Teixeira not yet going, the slow start (now hitting a bit) A-Rod, and the disappointment of Swisher, Jeter, and Posada, “The Grandy Man” has become the man in the #2 spot. He’s seeing a lot of fastballs in that spot hitting in front of Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Cano, on the inside part of the plate. With that short LF porch in Yankees Stadium I’m surprised that pitchers don’t go more off-speed and outside to Granderson. One day they’ll all learn! In the meantime, Granderson is more than halfway to his career high of 30 HR in 2009 for the Tigers. His average the last 2 seasons (2009-2010) is only .248. He did enjoy a season of bounty in 2007 when he hit .302 in 612 AB with 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 HR, 74 RBI, 122 R, 26 SB, and a .909 OPS. That’s what I call a great fantasy season! Seventy two hours ago, I would venture to say a good portion of Tribe fans had no idea who Ezequiel Carrera was. That has certainly changed, as the rookie centerfielder entered last night’s fray in his major league debut as a pinch-hitter in a pressure packed eighth inning situation. He took the first pitch from Nick Masset down the first base line with him and with a little stretch of the basepath and Carrera’s killer speed, the Indians had an infield hit, a run, and the lead, one that proved to hold up for a 5-4 victory in the first installment of the 2011 Battle of Ohio. Acquired as part of the Russell Branyan deal a season ago, Carrera will be taking Travis Hafner's place on the Indians' 25-man roster after he landed on the disabled list with a strained right oblique on Friday. Carrera was hitting a solid .317 to go along with a .401 on-base percentage through his first 166 plate appearances for Columbus, and could be worth a look in deeper AL-only leagues, as he figures to receive a decent number of at-bats with the Tribe being absolutely decimated by injury at the moment. He also has 2 HR, 17 RBI, 33 R, 15 SB, and a 29/19 K/BB. His minor league career hasn’t seen a lot of largess. In Triple-A in 2010, Carrera hit .281 over 388 AB, with 1 HR, 38 RBI, 45 R, 20 SB, a .693 OPS, and a 68/33 K/BB.

May 23. 2011: Mike Stanton hit a HR the other day and I realized that I don't go that far on vacation!

Veteran Jason Giambi shouldn't have been in the Rockies' starting lineup Thursday night against the Phillies, but hot-hitting first baseman Todd Helton came up with a sore back after sliding into home plate on Wednesday and was unable to go when the lineup was filled out on a rainy Thursday afternoon in the Philadelphia area. That’s when Giambi became a one-man wrecking crew. And thus began The Night of the Giambino. Giambi slugged a three-run homer to deep right field in the first inning, a two-run shot in the third, and then added another two-run bomb in the fifth inning. The 40-year-old tied his career-high with seven RBI and became the second-oldest player to launch three home runs in a single game. Stan Musial accomplished the feat at the ripe old age of 41. Giambi entered the game having not managed a hit since April 10. And what did Giambi do the next day? Of course he hit another HR, and now, of his 8 H, 5 of them are HR. He also has 12 RBI and a .216 BA in 37 AB, Todd Helton looked to be just about finished in 2010. I had drafted him for $36 in my $360-NL only to watch him struggle for 27 XBH, 8 HR, and 37 RBI in 398 AB with a .256 BA (he’s a career .324 hitter in 7028 AB). He missed most of the month of July. But this year has been a different story for Helton. He’s currently at .313 in 128 AB with 6 HR, 20 RBI, a 16/10 K/BB, and a .906 OPS. Helton hasn’t hit 20 HR since 2005 and, since then, has managed only 68. If you own him in your NL, now may be the time to sell “high” on him before the inevitable back injuries start to take their toll. Joe Mather went 4-for-6 with a three-run homer and a go-ahead double in the top of the 12th to lead the Braves to a 5-4 win over the Angels on Saturday. Mather probably wouldn't have been in the lineup if not for Jason Heyward's injury, but he really took advantage with his best day as a major leaguer. The four RBI tonight matched his total from his previous 64 at-bats combined. Mather probably won't be worth adding in NL-only leagues unless Heyward goes on the DL tomorrow. Mather took the fantasy world by storm with the Cards in 2008 hitting 8 HR in 133 AB with 20 R, 18 RBI, and a .777 OPS. He hasn’t seen any fantasy largess since the past 3 games with a 7 for 12 line. Overall Mather is 13 for 33 (.394) with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, a 10/2 K/BB, and a 1.025 OPS. Feel free to pick him up for the week  with the news that Atlanta is considering placing Heyward on the DL. Heyward has had issues with his right shoulder dating back to spring training, and it's recently become worse to the point that he's missed a handful of games. It shouldn't be anything that will keep him out long, but it might be wise to sit him out for a couple weeks and hopefully put the injury in the past.

May 22, 2011: I'm 56 today and they say that it's the new 55!

Yes, I know, I’ve made another year and it seems that all the reports of the world coming to an end last night are completely exaggerated. I guess that eventually the people who forecast such doom and gloom will be correct. I just hope that it’s not too soon! Royals lefty prospect Danny Duffy (3.00/1.11 ERA/WHIP, 43/10 K/BB, 30 HA in 36 innings at Triple-A) is slated for a spot start on Wednesday against the Rangers. If he performs well, Duffy could stick in the rotation and is worth consideration in mixed leagues despite sharing a last name with disappointing former Pirate Chris DuffyDanny Duffy was drafted in the third round in 2007 from high school in Lompoc, California. He pitched very well at the Low-A and High-A levels in '08 and '09, with sharp command of rapidly improving stuff. However, in the spring of 2010 he walked away from baseball, needing to reassess his priorities in life. He returned in the summer and picked up where he left off, finishing the year with seven strong starts in Double-A. Duffy doesn't do this with smoke-and-mirrors: his fastball is consistently in the low-90s and often reaches higher, up to 96-97 on his best days. He works with a curveball, changeup, and occasional slider, all solid pitches with the changeup drawing the best reviews. Although his control isn't always perfect, it is unusually good for a young power pitcher and he isn't just a thrower: he knows how to pitch.
Although Duffy has just 14 starts in the high minors to his credit, he's been very successful with a 84/19 K/BB in 75 2/3 IP and a 2.97/1.15 ERA/WHIP combined between Double-A and Triple-A. As with any young pitcher, he may need some adjustment time to get used to the majors, but he has the stuff and command to be a number two starter if all goes well. Danny’s debut didn’t go as well as he would have liked Wednesday night with 4 IP, 2 ER, 4 HA, and a 4/6 K/BB. Chris Duffy was given a non-roster invite to the Phillies' spring camp in 2010, but he failed to make the big league roster and hit just .243 with a .306 on-base percentage and a .361 slugging percentage over 346 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. He added 5 HR, 34 RBI, 47 R, 12 SB, and a 99/25 K/BB. At the age of 30, he could struggle to find another gig. Duffy could never recapture the success, much like Zach Duke, of his rookie campaign with the Bucs in 2005. That season Duffy hit .341 in 126 AB with 1 HR, 9 RBI, 22 R, 2 SB, a 22/7 K/BB and an .805 OPS. Given the starting CF job in 2006, Duffy did steal 26 bags (only 1 CS), but batted .255 in 314 AB with 2 HR, 18 RBI, 46 R, a 71/19 K/BB and a .635 OPS. He batted 241 times (.249) for the Pirates the following season and received 32 AB (.125) with the Brewers in ’09. He is currently out of baseball. These are the “fabulous Duffy boys.” They should make a movie about them and maybe even star Jeff and Beau Bridges. Maybe they can even get Michelle Pfeiffer as the female lead!

May 21, 2011: It's always tough when your team scores 17 R and your SP doesn't get the W!

This next bit is something I wrote about right around Thanksgiving. Yes, I still had a job and things were looking about the same for me. I actually, at the time, was a lot like Sean Burroughs who hadn’t hung his shingle out in almost 5 years. Just plodding along, minding my own business, trying to stay under the radar. This was a weird signing: Burroughs was signed to a minor-league deal by the D'Backs yesterday. Yes, that Sean Burroughs who hasn't played in the majors since a 4 for 21 (.190) gig with the Rays in 2006. After being optioned by the club to Triple-A, Burroughs went 28 for 131 (.214) and was released on June 22, 2006. He gave it the old college try and signed with the Mariners organization in 2007. He played 4 games at Tacoma (AAA) and was released in June after going 2 for 12. He, believe it or not, just turned 30 in September. Burroughs is reunited with Kevin Towers who signed him in 1998 for what was at that time the largest amateur signing bonus ($2.1-mil). He was the 9th overall pick of that draft and started the 2002 season as the 3B for the Padres. I'll always remember the bidding war on Burroughs that spring in my $360-NL when he ended up going for $35. I just stayed on the sidelines and was, of course, the first to congratulate the "winner." Burroughs, the son of former AL MVP, Jeff Burroughs, hit .271 with 11 RBI in 192 AB that season and spent a good part of the season in the minors. He did have some "salad" days with the Padres, accumulating 1040 AB in ‘03-'04 with a .292 BA, 50 doubles, 9 triples, 9 HR, 105 RBI, 138 R, 12 SB, a 127/75 K/BB and a .724 OPS. I guess that you might say that he took his salad to go! If Burroughs notches another AB in the majors, I will look for another profession! Maybe. Fast forward to tonight! Well I may have to be looking for another profession. Sean Burroughs’ contract was purchased by the D’Backs as the team placed Melvin Mora on the bereavement list. In 70 AB at Triple-A Burroughs has a .386 BA with 1 HR, 15 RBI, 12 R, a 6/6 K/BB, and a 1.005 OPS. Dustin Ackley was the second overall pick in the June 2009 draft behind Stephen Strasburg. Other first rounders from that draft who’ve spent some time in the majors include Mike Minor (#7), Mike Leake (8), Drew Storen (10), Aaron Crow (12), and Alex White (15). Not coincidentally all are pitchers. Mike Leake made the Reds roster in 2010 without ever spending a day in the minors (he has since been demoted to Triple-A last week). Incidentally pick #58, Andrew Oliver, has made a few starts with the Tigers. Fifth round picks Brandon Belt (147) and Louis Coleman (152, Royals) have also seen some time in the show. A guy that I do like a lot and who has had some minor league success, Paul Goldschmidt, was the #246 pick by the D’Backs. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and you never know how a guy will develop but it’s hard to believe that 146 players were selected before Belt who made the Giants this spring and was the starting 1B. As I pointed out in the Editor’s Corner, Dustin Ackley, who was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League this past fall is hitting .272 in 169 AB with 6 HR, 6 SB, 27 R, 21 RBI, a damn good 25/33 K/BB, a .389 OBP, and an .821 OPS. Those are good numbers for the young Ackley and, in time, he should prove to be a viable major leaguer.  But I also did read this about Ackley: The Mariners want Dustin Ackley to improve his defense before they consider calling him up. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Time hears that Ackley's defensive issues are "more of a concern than (his) potential to gain Super Two status and reach arbitration a year early." Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Monday that Ackley would likely be promoted "sooner rather than later," but it appears no call-up is imminent. I’m not sure but isn’t 2B a new position for Ackley? I thought he was an OF/1B in college, though I may be wrong. Either way, when Ackley gets the call up to the offensively-challenged Mariners, he should be here to stay!

May 20, 2011: Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded!

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid!” That’s Raymond Chandler’s definition of a hero. And, while my wife says that I’ve been obsessing too much about this whole hero business, this next guy could fit the mold. And maybe Raymond Chandler had Tony Campana in mind when he made that quote. Campana hasn't made any of the Cubs top prospect lists, and probably never will, but I can't help rooting for the undersized underdog who is all about hustle and hard work. Cubs' “prospect” Campana is bound and determined to beat the odds. Campana has been a fighter since childhood when he was diagnosed with cancer (Hodgkin's lymphoma) at age 7. Campana went through an excruciating six months of chemotherapy in which he battled being sick on a daily basis, constant tests and doctor visits and losing his hair. After 10 years of being in remission and frequent check-ups, Campana was pronounced cured. At the ripe old age of 18, Campana had already dealt with more adversity than many do over the course of a lifetime. But the latest news out of Cubs’ camp is that the Cubs are calling up Campana to take the roster spot of Tyler Colvin. Campana is hitting .342 at Triple-A in 120 AB, with 9 RBI, 27 R, 8 SB, a 23/6 K/BB, and an .825 OPS. He is a thirteenth round draft pick by the Cubs in 2008 who has never hit a professional HR over the fence (he had an inside-the-park in last year’s playoffs). It just makes sense that he will probably hit 10 HR in Wrigley. But the 5’8” (maybe) 160 lb Campana is more known for speed. At Double-A in 2010 he was 156 for 489 (.319) with 76 R, 39 RBI, 48 SB (20 CS), an 82/44 K/BB, and a .763 OPS. Campana is a career .303 hitter in 1178 minor league AB with 144 SB. He compares to former Cub and current Ray, Sam Fuld. Campana isn’t projected for a lot of PT in the crowded Cub OF but, you never know, he’s beaten the odds before. I will keep an eye on him and for NL-only in need of speed, he may make a sneaky good pick-up. Campana did hit a double in his only AB on Tuesday with an RBI and a R as a defensive replacement for Alfonso Soriano. On Wednesday, Campana again pinch running stole a base and scored a run. I just wanted to mention something that happened yesterday. It was kind of a good thing. Remember, in the matter of months, I went from making 6 figures to making 6 figures, with the decimal point in front of the last 2! The golf professional at the club that I caddy at is a fellow named Jim McGovern. He’s a good guy and a great asset to the club. McGovern was a member of the PGA Tour from 1991–1998. His career year was 1993 when he won once, had two other top-10 finishes, earned $587,495 and finished 27th on the money list. Jim called me aside today (I thought that I could be in trouble). But he took me by surprise and mentioned that my work was first rate and that the membership loved me! He was talking about me taking a job at another club if I was interested. But there’s no tipping at that club and it’s over 45 minutes from my house. It really meant a lot to me to hear those nice words from the winner of the 1993 Shell Houston Open. By the way McGovern was the low qualifier in the sectional qualifier for the US Open with a 68 at a course he never played before in driving rain and 50 degree weather. In fact, every time I hear the story it get 5 degrees cooler! I really would like to hitch my star to Jim McGovern’s wagon, but we’ll see if there’s a new chapter in my life. For now I just want to keep taking it “one day at a time.” Kind of like Valerie Bertinelli!

May 19, 2011: Paul Konerko has put together a pretty good career for himself!

This was part of an exchange on the web site at the end of April: If Frenchy Francoeur hits over .300 this season I will give you my share of the site, Geek. He actually did hit .293 in 2007 with 105 rbi's and a career high 42 walks for Atlanta. But, like you say, it didn't take real long for pitchers to catch on that this guy swung at everything. Even this year, he has 16 K's and 7 bb's which is actually an improvement. He's a good hitter and can actually run a bit if he can just stop swinging at pitches outside the zone. Maybe there are professional people he can see for that problem. And for that reason alone I hope he does hit .300. But I agree that this bountiful start of Francoeur could be met with a 4 for 52 somewhere down the road. This may be the perfect time to see if you can get something of use for Frenchy before the inevitable downturn. That being said, in my $260-AL, when the owner said $1, I wish that I had blurted out $2. Francoeur did go for $1 in that league which is turning out to be a very fortuitous buy. He did go with pick #134 in my AL-straight draft. The Royals have nothing to lose by throwing Francoeur out there every day. All of their great prospects are pitchers, infielders, and catchers. And don't forget that Francoeur is still just 27 years old. I think in dog year's, though, Francoeur is seemingly pushing 70. I'd like to reel off the impressive stats for Francoeur so far this young season. He's 31 for 94 (.330) with 5 HR, 19 RBI, 16 R, 3 SB, a 16/7 K/BB, and a .965 OPS. I, of course, don't expect it to last, but please enjoy this providence. That was back in April. Currently Francoeur is at .285 in 158 AB with 8 HR, 26 RBI, 22 R, 4 SB, a 31/11 K/BB (which isn’t bad for him), and an .871 OPS. He hit his last HR on May 4. Francoeur has some speed and is a good defensive OF with a plus arm but his career high in SB was the 8 that he had in 2010 with the Mets and Rangers. If you sold high on Francoeur on April 29 when we suggested it, you did good for yourself. Jorge Vazquez, a guy that I've been following since the Yankees signed him out of the Mexican League in 2010, has been doing pretty well in his time in the Yankees’ system. In 293 AB in Triple-A that season, Vazquez hit .270 with an .840 OPS and 18 HR. This year in Triple-A Vazquez is at .303 in 152 AB with 16 HR, 41 RBI, 27 R, a 44/9 K/BB, and a .971 OPS. If there weren't so many guaranteed contracts on the Yankees, Vazquez could have made the club out of spring. While the Yankees were last in the AL in spring BA (.253) Vazquez was 14 for 34 (.412) with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 6 R, an 11/1 K/BB and a 1.209 OPS. My feeling is the Yankees would like to see Vazquez be less of a free swinger and buy into the Yankees' way of working the count. And with a season 55/10 K/BB (including spring), Vazquez still has work to do. But I have no doubt that in the DH spot right now, he could be as productive or more so than Posada, at a fraction of the cost. Vazquez turned 29 years old in March and depending on what the Yankees do with Posada, you may see Vazquez in Pinstripes this summer. Especially if their lack of clutch hitting continues.

May 18, 2011: Even Napoleon had his Watergate!

Dustin Ackley was named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League this past year after leading the prospect-packed group in batting average (.424), on-base percentage (.581) and slugging percentage (.758). The M's will non-tender Jose Lopez on Thursday and could move Chone Figgins back to third base if Ackley is deemed ready for full-time duty next spring. This was the report from the Mariners’ camp in January. It did look, at the time, that Ackley was going to open the season as the starting 2B for the team. But the M’s felt that Ackley needed some time in Triple-A even after a spring of a .269 BA in 26 AB with an .864 OPS, 6 R, 3 RBI, 1 SB, and an 8/8 K/BB. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Monday that Dustin Ackley will be promoted "sooner rather than later." Ackley has posted a healthy .280 BA in 164 AB with 6 HR, 6 SB, 27 R and 21 RBI through 40 games this year at Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners need all the offense they can get and the promising 23-year-old second baseman can certainly help. Ackley also has an impressive 25/33 K/BB, a .399 OBP, and an .844 OPS. He certainly will be an offensive upgrade over Jack Wilson/Brendan Ryan for a team that’s 13th in the AL (ahead of the Twins) in BA (.226), R (144), OPS (.627), and HR (23). He shouldn’t be a free agent in any AL-only! Cubs optioned OF Tyler Colvin to Triple-A Iowa. This move is long overdue. Colvin wasn't getting regular playing time and it showed with his pathetic .113/.191/.258 batting line over 68 plate appearances (7 for 62). He's much better off playing everyday in the minor leagues, where he'll have a chance to find his swing. And I know that Colvin belted 20 HR in 358 AB last year with a .254 BA, 60 R, 56 RBI, and an .812 OPS as a rookie. I had Colvin in my $260-NL that I won and he was in my line-up for much of the second half. But I wasn’t a fan of the 100/30 K/BB and .312 OBP. There just wasn’t room for Colvin in the Cubs OF this year with Reed Johnson playing well and the Cubs stuck paying $13.5-mil to Fukudome in the last year of that 4 yr/$48-mil deal. Fukudome has only 4 XBH (all doubles) on the season but is hitting .326 in 95 AB. I do like his .802 OPS, .434 OBP, and 19/18 K/BB. Plus he’s a good defender in RF. The Cubs called up veteran journeyman Luis Montanez who was hitting .378 at Triple-A in 135 AB with 5 HR, 39 RBI, 23 R, a 22/13 K/BB and a 1.040 OPS. He should be available to pinch-hit and get the occasional start in the OF. My friend in my $360-NL just traded for Colvin as a keeper ($15) for next season. I’m not completely sold on Colvin, however.

May 17, 2011: Half the lies they tell about me aren't true!

Starting again at third base with Mark Teahen hurting and Brent Morel slumping, Vizquel went 2-for-3 with a run scored in Sunday's win over the A's. While Vizquel isn't going to approach the 344 at-bats he got last year, he could be in line for a significant chunk of playing time at third base in the near future while the Sox either get Morel on track or decide to call upon someone else. Vizquel also moved past Hall of Famer George Sisler into #46 with 2813 career hits. Omar Vizquel, starting third baseman? Why not? The White Sox picked Brent Morel for his glove, but he hasn't hit at all and Vizquel is just as good defensively. Of course, Vizquel doesn't figure to hit either, but he's at .349 in 43 AB after last night. He'd have minimal fantasy value even if he does begin to play four or five times per week, but it's something the White Sox need to be considering. Vizquel also has 4 R, 5 RBI, 1 SB, a 2/2 K/BB, and a .775 OPS. The future Hall of Famer turned 44 years old in April and can still play the game in limited time. There are far worse pick-ups in your AL-only than Vizquel. By the way, Vizquel has 1418 career R, 401 SB, and 941 RBI in 10,306 AB. He’s a 3-time All-Star and an 11-time Gold Glove winner. Boston Red Sox RP Rich Hill has thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings in which he has allowed two hits and a walk while fanning six. Left-handed hitters are just 1-for-6 off him, while righties are 1-for-9. His fastball has been hitting 94-96 mph. There was a time, back in ’07, that Rich Hill was considered one of the up and coming LHP in the NL. That season, for the Cubs, Hill had 195 IP over 32 GS with a 3.92/1.19 ERA/WHIP, 170 HA, and a 183/63 K/BB. But the next 3 seasons weren’t very bountiful for Hill as injuries and a big decrease in velocity relegated him to 81 1/3 IP. Hill has been good with Boston but remember it’s a small sample size. If you need K’s and, if your league includes holds, Hill may be a guy that you want to investigate. I actually was going to put a $5 FAAB bid in my $260-AL league last night for Hill and sub him in for Lackey but I decided to give Lackey one more week! We were talking about former Colorado RP (among other teams) Steve Reed the other day and I was wondering if his 833 games pitched without making a start was a record. I did find other pitchers who appeared in more games without a GS. John Franco, of the Mets and Reds, pitched in 1119 games without ever making a start. Trevor Hoffman had 1035 games and 0 GS with a record 856 games finished. Another RP of note, Lee Smtih had 1022 games but did start 6 and finished 802 games. Those are the RPs of note that I could come up with in terms of games pitched and starts. By the way, Jesse Orosco has a record 1252 games but did make 4 starts early in his career. Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter had 661 games, all in relief, and 512 games finished. Mariano Rivera has the second most games finished of all time with 844 and is also second in career SV with 572, or 29 behind Hoffman. Rollie Fingers had a surprising 37 GS but did have 114 W, 341 SV, 944 games and 709 games finished. The guy that revolutionized the modern SV, Dennis Eckersley spent the first 60% of his career as a SP. He did win 197 games and had 361 GS of his 1071 games (577 games finished). Eck finished with a 3.50/1.16 ERA/WHIP and a 2401/738 K/BB in 3285 2/3 IP. If anyone else could chime in with some RPs that I didn’t mention, please do so.

May 16, 2011: If you ask me anything I don't know, I'm not going to answer!

Pirates pitching prospect Tim Alderson has been thriving in a relief role at Double-A Altoona this season, posting a 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and an 22/6 K/BB over 21 1/3 innings. The Pirates decided to move the formerly highly thought of prospect to the bullpen this season after he suffered a precipitous drop in velocity and confidence last year. So far, so good. "There are some mechanical things that he's starting to take hold of and own," Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark said. "He's having fun again competing, which always helps. As far as has there been a noticeable change in 'stuff'? No. But it is playing better because he's believing in it and having fun doing it." Alderson could be promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis shortly. The former #22 overall pick in the 2007 draft was so bad at High-A and Double-A in 2010 with an 11-9 record. But that came with a 6.03/1.55 ERA/WHIP, 159 HA, and an 84/40 K/BB in 128 1/3 IP. Out of answers to why his velocity dropped, Tim Alderson chose questions. Where do you go when there's nowhere to go? What do you try when you've tried everything? Alderson decided to go back to the beginning, where everything made sense, where everyone knew who he once was and what he could still be. Alderson went back to his high school coach who told Alderson that he was a better pitcher when he was 15 years old! That had to hurt to hear! He was put on a long toss program, with distances of up to 350 feet and feels that he can now “throw again.” It had to be a little humiliating for the former first rounder to be demoted to Single-A in 2010 with a 5.62 ERA in 17 GS and a .307 BA against him. Shifted to the bullpen in April of this year, Alderson may be finally getting comfortable on the hill. He does have youth on his side having turned 22 in November. Rockies manager Jim Tracy is fully aware of how dominant Rex Brothers has been at Triple-A, but he indicated that a call-up isn't imminent. The team's 2009 first-round pick, Brothers has a decent 2.79/1.34 ERA/WHIP, but he has a 35/8 K/BB in 19 1/3 innings (16.5 K/9). "We're well aware of that," Tracy said. "I have a machine (computer) sitting right here. I don't just use it to help decorate the office. I see where that left-hander is averaging close to two strikeouts an inning. This kid hasn't fallen off his bicycle yet. So if he's going to end up falling off his bike, you'd rather have him fall off his bike in Triple-A." Matt Daley, who has a 0.77 ERA and 12/2 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings, is another candidate for a call-up. Felipe Paulino and Franklin Morales need to turn things around in a hurry in order to avoid being replaced. Paulino, as was pointed out last week, has been awful. He’s at a 6.94/2.06 ERA/WHIP in 11 2/3 IP with 18 HA, and an 11/6 K/BB. Both are blessed with blazing fastballs but have never fully harnessed their control. Brothers allowed only 34 H in 60 IP with 7 SV, a 70/37 K/BB and a 3.15/1.18 at High-A and Double-A in 2010. Keep an eye on Brothers. He has 105 Ks in 79 1/3 IP in 2010-2011.

May 15, 2011: The Cleveland Indians have the best record in the AL!

The 25-year-old LHP, Scott Elbert, has appeared in the majors in each of the past three seasons, but has never been able to firmly cement his status on the Dodgers staff. Elbert's raw stuff is quite good, but his lack of control has left his future in doubt. He had an interesting '10 campaign - he was demoted to Triple-A from the majors and left his minor league team for four months for "personal reasons." He returned in the AFL and pitched well. Elbert pitches off his plus 89-94 mph fastball and complements it with a solid-average curveball and change-up. He keeps the ball down and can be very stingy against left-handed hitters. He may be best as a reliever because he isn't particularly efficient with his pitches. Elbert needs to repeat his release point more consistently which should alleviate any command concerns. He has a career 3.46 ERA, 5.0 Ctl, and 10.4 Dom in the minors and a 6.84 ERA in the majors. Elbert has been recalled from AAA-Albuquerque to take Kuo's roster spot -- and hopefully to replace him as the prominent lefty coming out of the Dodger pen. Ironically, Elbert has had his own anxiety disorder issues, resulting in a time-out last summer that was similar to Kuo's now. Just a quick update on Craig Kimbrel. He has 18 2/3 IP,9 SV, a 2.41/1.12 ERA/WHIP, 12 HA, and a 30/9 K/BB. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he has no immediate plans to remove Kimbrel from his closer role. Kimbrel has blown three of his last seven save chances, but Gonzalez doesn't want to show any lost confidence in the right-hander. "When you’re dealing with athletes and young athletes you can scar them, you can hurt them, you can make them lose confidence," Gonzalez said. "That’s the fine line about making decisions or making knee jerk reactions about something. You can lose them forever, in extreme cases, in any sport." He has the potential to be an elite closer, and the only reason a switch might be made is because Jonny Venters (0.83 ERA, 0.69 WHIP) is also a lights-out reliever. Padres 1B prospect Anthony Rizzo hit .400 with seven homers and 30 RBI in 22 Triple-A games in April. The performance made Rizzo the Padres' Minor League Offensive Player of the Month. Acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, Rizzo looks to be on the fast track to the bigs. But at age 21, Rizzo will be handled carefully. He’s currently at .377 in 130 AB with 10 HR, 43 RBI, and a 1.155 OPS.

May 14, 2011: A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore!

Milton Bradley’s not a good guy and he can blame his childhood or his mother called him an imbecile or whatever, but it doesn't make up for the kind of behavior on the field that he shows or the type of clubhouse cancer that he is! I don't want to hear that it's Milton being Milton and it's not any kind of intensity, it's a form of psychoses. This guy should probably be in a mental ward somewhere but because he has a little talent and a 3 yr/$30-mil contract, he still has a job. At least until today. His contract that Bradley signed after the 2008 season, called for payouts of $7-mil ('09), $11-mil ('10) and $12-mil ('11) respectively. He did have a moment in the sun with the Rangers in 2008 as he led the AL in OPS at 1.036. But the Rangers were smart enough not to offer him anything more than a one-year deal so he signed that 3 yr deal with the Cubs. If I were a team signing Milton Bradley, given his long history of anger management issues and violent outbursts, I'd have to put an out-clause in the deal. His time in Seattle, in which he was paid handsomely for, consists of 101 games, 345 AB, 40 R, 72 H (.209), 10 HR, 42 RBI, and a 106/41 K/BB. By the way, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out! Oh, in case you didn’t hear the news, Mariners designated OF Milton Bradley for assignment. It had looked like Bradley dodged a bullet after Ryan Langerhans was designated for assignment in order to make room for Mike Wilson. But, the M's weren't done there, as they also brought up Carlos Peguero and sent Bradley packing. He simply wasn't worth the headache anymore with a .218/.313/.356 batting line on the season. Someone will probably be willing to take a shot on him, but it's entirely possible Bradley's days as a starter are over. And maybe his MLB career is over. Sergio Romo has given up only one run and 4 hits over his first 9 2/3 innings this season. He's also struck out 15 and walked just one while posting an 0.93/0.52 ERA/WHIP. The Giants have limited Romo's exposure to left-handed batters, and he's dominated right-handed hitters this year just as he has throughout his career. With a 2.51 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 10.2 K/9 rate in his career, Romo has been one of the better setup men in the NL over the last four seasons. His career K/BB rate with SF is 159/34. Kendrys Morales was drafted #41 in my straight draft-AL. In fact, the owner of Morales called me about a week ago or 10 days ago and said that he was thinking about dropping him. I talked him out of it, thinking that I was doing him a favor and now this news. Morales traveled to Colorado for a second opinion and the decision was made to shut it down for the rest of the season. Morales suffered the injury celebrating a walk-off home run (grand slam) on May 29 last year. Morales was leading the team with 11 homers, 39 RBIs and a .290 average at the time of the injury. And now he won't be back for the rest of this season and the beginning of next season could be in doubt. If only Morales had struck out in that AB instead of a HR, he may still be playing. 2009 was his break-out season with the Angels going 173 for 566 (.306) with 34 HR, 108 RBI, 86 R, a 117/46 K/BB, and a .927 OPS. This injury to Morales reminds me of another injury in 2010. Chris Coghlan had a torn miniscus in his knee after delivering a pie to the face of teammate Wes Helms after a game-winning hit.

May 13, 2011: To look at Jake Westbrook's season stats makes me want to throw up in my mouth!

Trevor Cahill continues to make "fantasy experts" look positively silly. He entered the season as an obvious regression candidate after posting a 2.97 ERA last year, but you wouldn't know it by what we've seen so far. After tossing seven innings of one-run ball against the Rangers on Monday night, the 23-year-old right-hander is now 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA over his first eight starts. Cahill is going about things a bit differently this season. He already has 45 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings (7.54 K/9) after fanning just 118 over 196 2/3 innings (5.40 K/9) last season. He has already struck out seven batters or more four times this season after doing so just three times for the entire 2010 season. Last season, also, Cahill had a 56% GB rate which bodes well for him as he pitches in Oakland, the home of a noted pitcher’s park. In his first 2 seasons with the A’s, Cahill had a 208/135 K/BB over 375 1/3 IP. Randy Wolf has the makings of a two-start week in Fantasy Week 7 (May 16-22) with a game at Los Angeles on Monday and a date with the Rockies the following Sunday. Wolf was a wreck against the Dodgers in one start, a loss, last year (5 IP, 4 ER, 7 hits, and a 4/3 K/BB) but was considerably better in two starts against the Rockies (1-0, 13 2/3 IP, 12 HA, 5 ER, and a 10/0 K/BB). No one should feel very comfortable starting Wolf as anything more than a low-end option in standard mixed leagues at this point. Wolf had a nice season for the Dodgers in 2009 with a 3.23/1.10 ERA/WHIP in 214 1/3 IP, 178 HA, and a 160/58 K/BB. In 2010 with the Brewers, Wolf had a career high 213 HA and 87 BBs. From April 8-April 30 of this year, Wolf had 5 GS of 33 2/3 IP (3-1), a 1.07/0.89 ERA/WHIP, 22 HA, and a 28/8 K/BB. Of course he was on my bench in my 15-team mixed league. Since installing him in my line-up for his last 2 GS, Wolf has gone 8 1/3 IP, an 11.88/2.64 ERA/WHIP, 19 HA, and a 3/3 K/BB. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to even look at the stats! Or get up in the morning for that matter! Reds pitching coach Bryan Price is blaming poor mechanics for Aroldis Chapman's struggles, saying the left-hander's arm slot is getting too low. "His arm slot gets too low," Price said. "He gets across the ball. He's pulling a lot of balls inside to right-handed hitters." The Reds maintain that Chapman, who has walked eight batters in his last three outings, is fine physically, and they are not considering optioning him to Triple-A. "I think the first part is a slight mechanical adjustment," Price said. "The second part is that when he's out there, he's pitching with his confidence. When you struggle a while, you start to question yourself a little bit. I don't know that he's there, but I know it's a typical response." For the season Chapman has 12 2/3 IP, 2 W, a 4.26/1.74 ERA/WHIP, 6 HA, and a 15/16 K/BB. Yes he’s hard to hit but the walks are killing him!

May 12, 2011: John Lackey's last 2 GS: 10 2/3 IP, a 2/8 K/BB, 17 ER, and 19 HA!

Garrett Jones continues to benefit from his right field platoon Monday, going 2-for-3 with a double high off of the Clemente Wall. Jones holds a composite line of .299/.419/.571 with six homers and 13 RBI in 77 at-bats against RHP. He has one hit in 11 at-bats against LHP. He’s also added 2 SB and has a 22/16 K/BB. Jones burst on to the scene as a 28 year old in 2009, fresh off 77 AB with the Twins in ’07. All Jones did with the Bucs in ’09 is go 92 for 314 (.293), with 21 HR, 44 RBI, 45 R, 10 SB, a 76/40 K/BB, and a .940 OPS. Fantasy “experts” expected a regression in 2010 but it was more like a deep depression. Jones batted .247 in 592 AB with 21 HR, 86 RBI, 64 R, 7 SB, a 123/53 K/BB, and a not so awe-inspiring .723 OPS. I kept Jones in my 15-team mixed league last year and, in my $360-NL over the winter, I was offered Jones and Scott Rolen for Martin Prado and Chris Coghlan. That was an offer I politely declined! Pirates’ teammate Ryan Doumit started his second straight game behind the plate Monday for the first time in a month. Doumit continued on his offensive roll with a three-hit night against the Dodgers. On Sunday he hit a three-run dinger batting right-handed and he followed that up with a multi-hit performance against Chad Billingsley on Monday night. His last 3 starts include 6 for 11 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. For the season, Doumit is at .295 in 61 AB with 3 HR, 13 RBI, a 10/7 K/BB and an .876 OPS. The Pirates tried the whole off-season to move Doumit but were unable to despite their willingness to eat a “big chunk” of his $5.1-mil salary. Though he's been injury-prone in the past and has his defensive issues, Doumit certainly has the ability to be an above-average hitting catcher that can also fill in at first base and in the outfield. There hasn’t been a whole lot to embrace with a franchise that's endured 18 consecutive losing seasons, a stretch of futility unmatched in U.S. professional sports. But after climbing to .500 on Sunday (the latest in a season a Pittsburgh team has reached that plateau since June 11, 2005 when it was 30-30) the Pirates of new manager Clint Hurdle advanced to 18-17 with Monday night's victory over the Dodgers. Maybe part of the reason for the fan’s resentment is the 3 yr/$11.5-mil deal signed by Doumit in December 2008. The 30-year-old hit .318 with 15 home runs and drove in 69 runs in 431 at-bats that season after beating out former starter Ronny Paulino early in the season. But injuries and ineffectiveness have curtailed his efforts until this season. And you know what they say that sometimes the best trades are the ones that you don’t make! Just something for you to think about. 2011 is the first time since 1999 that both the Pirates and the Royals were above .500 at the same time after 35 games! 

May 11, 2011: Sergio Santos has not given up a run this year in 15 IP!

The Orioles had planned on keeping Zach Britton in Triple-A to delay his service time clock, but an injury to Brian Matusz forced their hand. Matusz is due back in a few weeks, but Britton's glowing surface stats (including a 5-2 record) may mean someone else will get bumped from the BAL rotation. He has 43 IP over 7 GS with a 2.93/1.16 ERA/WHIP, 34 HA, and a 24/16 K/BB. That said, there's no guarantee Britton will stick in the majors all season, especially if his command issues begin to catch up to him. If you are in a single-season league, his 2011 value may never be higher than it is right nowBritton does have a good low 90’s sinking fastball, a good slider and is working on a change-up. A key for Britton is that he induces GB’s and he was 10-7 with a 2.70/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 139 HA, and a 124/51 K/BB in 153 1/3 IP between AA/AAA. Like you I’m not a fan of the command or the fact that the LHP Britton pitches in a very unforgiving AL-East. I do expect some regression from Mr. Britton. And I'm not saying a complete reversal of fortune but Britton is walking a fine line between competence and getting killed! Should the Desmond Jennings watch be on? Jennings' ultra-patient / almost passive approach in April--he either struck out or walked in almost 39% of his PA -- didn't help his ct% and BA. But it certainly didn't hurt his bb% or speed, which are ultimately what the Rays will expect out of Jennings eventually in their lead-off spot later this season. And since his BA hit rock-bottom (.243) on April 28, Jennings has stepped up both his aggressiveness and game, as suggested by his recent contact and the nine-game hitting streak he carried into May 9 action. His running game is intact, he's again showing enough pop to keep defenders honest, and he's healthy to-date. If Jennings can maintain some consistency for the rest of the month and Sam Fuld continues to turn into a pumpkin, his projected June MLB ETA will become a reality. As we’ve mentioned on the site, since April 24, Fuld is just 5 for 51 with 5 R and 0 SB. Fuld was a marvelous AL-only pick-up early as he had 10 SB in the first 3 weeks of the season but none since. Jennings does have 26 R, 3 HR, and 8 SB at Triple-A and is hitting .462 so far in May. Wily Mo Pena is putting on a power show, now leading in the minors in HR (12) while batting .374 over his first 99 AB at AAA Reno. While he's obviously being helped by his offense-friendly PCL environment, Pena has legit, plus-plus power. Along with health, Pena's problem has always been contact, and he's again having issues vs. RHP, as suggested by 20 Ks in 75 AB (73%), and only four BBs. In short, while he could be useful, he's likely the same--or similar--high power / low BA player we've seen previously at the MLB level. Don’t forget, this is the same guy who had 51 career major league HR at the age of 23. I don’t see Pena getting the call to the D’Backs OF soon as he’s not on the 40-man roster and the team would have to jettison a player to accommodate him.

May 10, 2011: Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not after you!

Rockies manager Jim Tracy indicated that Felipe Paulino's roster spot is in danger. No surprise here, as Paulino picked up his third loss Saturday while watching his ERA rise to 7.59 and WHIP to 2.16 over 10 2/3 innings. Paulino is out of options, so he would need to clear waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A. I actually liked Paulino coming into the 2010 season and drafted him as a reserve in 2 different leagues. But, I guess, it’s hard to like a guy with a career 6-24 record, a 5.92/1.63 ERA/WHIP, 261 HA, and a 198/95 K/BB in 219 IP in MLB. With those numbers Colorado is hardly the place for a pitcher to be resurrecting his career! His Triple-A career isn’t something out of a Charles Dickens book either as Paulino has 35 1/3 IP with a 30/24 K/BB, 31 HA, and a 3.06/1.56. He’s best left on the waiver wire in your leagues! The Astros placed OF Jason Bourgeois on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique. The speedster injured the area during Saturday's game. It seems unlikely that we'll see him before the end of the month, which is a shame because he was on his way to earning second base eligibility. Joe Inglett has taken Bourgeois' spot on the roster. The injury to Bourgeois couldn’t have come at a worse time as he started 7 of the last 8 Houston games and went 14 for 27 during that time with 4 R and 7 SB. Bourgeois was hitting .407 on the season in 54 AB with 9 R, 12 SB, and a 4/3 /BB. Anyone that picked up Bourgeois in their NL-only should be patting themselves on the back. Lauded for his potential Gold Glove defense, Jose Iglesias is still a work in progress at the plate, as his .253/.278/.253 batting line at Triple-A this season can attest. He had 4 RBI, 11 R, and 2 SB down on the farm. But it’s his 17/2 K/BB that looks like a pin-up picture of Rosanne Barr! Just 21 years old, he'll serve in a backup role behind Jed Lowrie while Marco Scutaro is on the disabled list. He was signed in July, ’09 by the Bosox to a 4 yr/$8.2-mil deal. Iglesias missed 2 months of the 2010 season with a fractured finger after getting hit by a pitch. He ended 2010 between A-Ball (40 AB) and Double-A (221 AB) with a .295 BA with 20 RBI, 37 R, 7 SB, and a 57/15 K/BB. I’d like to see him work the count better and he strikes out way too much for a guy that’s yet to hit a professional HR in 348 AB. Iglesias was hitting .253 with a .278 on-base percentage in 24 games for Pawtucket without an extra-base hit. But he had improved in recent days, going 11 of 36 before his call-up. “I thought it went very well the first month. It’s a very good level of competition,’’ Iglesias said. “One of the things I learned was getting prepared every day, on a day-in, day-out basis. The biggest adjustment for me is being prepared every at-bat, recognizing pitches and learning the strike zone. Just not giving at-bats away. I feel like I’ve made good progress this season.’’ Said Red Sox manager Terry Francona: “Triple A was a little bit of an adjustment for him. Coming here, if we wanted him to play every day, that might be a little bit of a stretch right now.’’

May 9, 2011: I call myself an idiot-savant; my wife says that I'm half right!

With the call-up by the Royals of the #3 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Eric Hosmer, who debuted Friday night with 2 walks, 2 K’s and a SB, the question might be who were the 2 players who were selected before Hosmer? Well #2 you’ve heard of. It’s Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates who’s at .212 this season in 99 AB with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 9 R, a 34/8 K/BB, and a .561 OPS. He came up to the Pirates in June of 2010 and finished with 16 HR, 64 RBI, and a .256 BA in 347 AB. He also had a none-too-appealing 119/37 K/BB. Which brings us to the #1 overall pick of that draft. There are plenty of indicators to suggest that Tim Beckham hasn't shown enough progress since the Rays made the shortstop the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft. Certainly one was Buster Posey, whom the Rays passed over at the time and who led the Giants to the World Series title this past fall — while Beckham toiled in Port Charlotte in the instructional league. And perhaps most telling is Beckham's own performance in his 2½ pro seasons no higher than Class A — a .263 average with minimal power (12 HR), a pedestrian .703 OPS and defense in need of improvement (81 errors in 277 games). He’s had a 235/96 K/BB in his past 2 seasons. But as the No. 1 overall pick in a draft that also included current big-leaguers Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Brian Matusz (Orioles), Gordon Beckham (White Sox), Ike Davis (Mets) and Daniel Schlereth (Diamondbacks) and a host of advanced prospects, Beckham is expected to be more than good. And actually, for the pick not to be considered a mistake, probably great. "Beckham was supposed to be a potential five-tool shortstop, or at least a four-tool shortstop with average speed," Callis said. "But after three pro seasons, it's pretty evident he won't be a shortstop because he has fringy speed and isn't athletic enough to stay there long-term. And that presents a problem, because the best fit will be third base, and he hasn't shown he can hit enough to be a regular there." In his first season at Double-A this season he’s at .288 in 111 AB, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 22 R, 2 SB, a 24/14 K/BB, and a .766 OPS. Considered by most to be the best pitching prospect in baseball, 20 year old Julio Teheran made his major league debut Saturday against the Phillies. It was only a spot start, as the Braves needed an arm having to play a doubleheader earlier this week. Teheran posted a 1.80/1.10 ERA/WHIP, 25 HA, and 25/8 K/BB in 30 IP over his first five starts with Triple-A Gwinnett this season. Last season, across 3 levels, Teheran had a 2.59/1.04 ERA/WHIP, 108 HA, and a 159/40 K/BB in 142 2/3 IP over 24 GS. Teheran allowed three earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in his MLB debut Saturday against the Phillies. Teheran struck out only one batter and threw just 51 of his 86 pitches for strikes. The 20-year-old has excellent stuff and has enjoyed success at every level of the minor leagues, but it may take a while for him to truly start lighting up big league scoreboards. It's certainly notable that Atlanta showed it was willing to promote him this early, but part of the reasoning was that it was hit turn to start that day. Mike Minor is probably higher in the pecking order for a call-up the next time around. But we surely haven’t seen the last of Julio Teheran!

May 8, 2011: Sam Fuld is 3 for his last 46!

The KC Royals called up one of their much heralded prospects the other day in Eric Hosmer. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft. As a senior in H.S. the LH hitting 1B had 11 HR, 27 RBI, 49 R, and 14 SB. He proved to be a blue-chip prospect in 2010 with a season, between High-A and Double-A, of 20 HR, 86 RBI, 87 R, 14 SB, 72 XBH, a .977 OPS, a 66/59 K/BB and a .338 BA in 520 AB. He may have been feeling the effects of the long season, hitting only .203 in the AFL, a league known for its offense, with a .575 OPS.  This guy can play some defense and has pretty good foot speed for a big guy. He had it going on in Triple-A this season with a .439 BA in 98 AB, with 3 HR, 15 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB, a 16/19 K/BB, and a 1.168 OPS. It hasn’t always been this easy for Hosmer. He had that breakout 2010 after hitting .241 in A and High-A ball in '09 over 377 AB with 6 HR and 59 RBI. 2010 was a different story for Hosmer, of course. I'm anxious to see what the 21 year old Hosmer can do in his first go-round vs major league pitchers. The casualty of this call-up was 1B Kila Ka’aihue. He was a big sleeper coming into 2011 but it just hasn't worked out so far. He's done all he can in the minors, that's for sure, but maybe a little time on the farm will awaken his bat. Ka'aihue leaves us with a .195 BA in 82 AB with 2 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, a 26/12 K/BB, and a .612 OPS. His overall minor league numbers are good with a .266 BA in 3360 AB, 555 R, 154 HR, 598 RBI, a 689/673 K/BB and an .852 OPS. He could just never translate that success, so far, to the majors. Between AA/AAA in 2008, Ka'aihue did hit 37 HR, 100 RBI, 91 R, 104 BB, and a .314 BA in only 401 AB and he had a 1.066 OPS in Triple-A in 2010. Ka’aihue may need a change of organization to find any success especially if Hosmer produces like scouts say! Ka’aihue’s numbers in the majors sit at a .216 BA in 283 AB with 11 HR, 32 RBI, 32 R, and a 77/39 K/BB. With Thursday's surprise recall of the elite first-base prospect Hosmer, Billy Butler will now likely start almost exclusively at designated hitter. Since signing a 2 yr/$12-mil contract with the Giants before the ’10 season, Mark DeRosa has been plagued by wrist problems. He batted .194 in 2010 and was shut down after only 26 games before having season-ending surgery on his left wrist. He was 6 for 18 this season before landing on the DL because of continued pain in that wrist. DeRosa is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday and says that he won’t need any rehab games. With Pablo Sandoval out for up to 6 weeks with a fractured wrist and Miguel Tejada hitting .196, DeRosa may be just what the Giants need. From 2006-2009 DeRosa averaged 511 AB with 17 HR, 78 RBI, and 81 R. He also batted .281 in that time. If he’s available in your NL, make a small FAAB.

May 7, 2011: Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have a 117/14 K/BB between them!

I came across a pretty amazing stat recently. When leading by 3 or more runs in a game, Tim Hudson’s lifetime record is 134-2. And then he goes out Wednesday night in the second game of a doubleheader vs the Brewers and pitches a 1-H shut out to complete the sweep. Although the shutout was the 12th of his career, it was his first since May 2, 2008. The only man to reach base against him this evening was Rickie Weeks, who doubled in the fourth and walked in the ninth. The dominating outing lowers Hudson's ERA to 2.86 and WHIP to 0.95.  Hudson has actually been pretty good over his career which began with the A’s back in ’99. After 6 seasons in Oakland, where he averaged a shade over 15 W a year and 150 strike outs, he was traded to the Braves in Decmber 2004. During his first 3 seasons with Atlanta, Hudson averaged 14 W per year until missing the last 2 months of ’08 and most of ’09. He did start 7 games for the Braves in ’09 and, in 42 1/3 IP, had a 3.61/1.47 ERA/WHIP, 49 HA, and a 30/13 K/BB. The Braves must have seen enough from Hudson and in November of that year, signed him to a 3 yr/$28-mil deal. And so far it’s paid off as he went 228 2/3 IP in 2010 with 17 W, a 2.83/1.15, 189 HA, and a 139/74 K/BB. He’s never been a big strike out pitcher but with his GB ways, he can be counted on to help in the other 3 categories. The 3-time All-Star boasts a 2.86/0.95 ERA/WHIP, 40 HA, and a 26/8 K/BB in 50 1/3 IP over 7 GS in 2011. Hudson is like a fine wine that keeps on getting better with age! You may expect a little regression as his .253 BABIP was the majors’ third lowest in 2010. Over his 13 year career, Hudson is 169-89 in 2338 2/3 IP, with a 1567/714 K/BB, 2187 HA, and a 3.41/1.24 ERA/WHIP. Eric Chavez was diagnosed with a small fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot. In other words, he broke his left pinkie toe. Chavez suffered the injury while legging out a triple during Thursday's game against the Tigers. It's not yet clear how much time he'll need to miss, but I’m honestly surprised it's taken him this long to avoid injury. Chavez was only able to play in 64 games over the last 3 seasons while being paid handsomely by the Oakland A’s. A first-round pick in 1996, Chavez became a cornerstone as the A's made five postseason appearances over a seven-year span beginning in 2000. His 230 homers rank sixth in franchise history. He ranks second in Oakland history in doubles (282) and fourth in RBIs (787) and runs (730). Chavez's six consecutive Gold Gloves at third base from 2001-06 are surpassed only by Baltimore's Brooks Robinson, who won 16 straight from 1960-75. The six-yr/$66-mil deal Chavez signed in March 2004 was the richest in franchise history, a fact magnified in following years as back, shoulder, forearm and neck injuries kept him sidelined. He signed a $1.5-mil base salary with the Yankees in February and batted .405 this spring in 42 AB. So far, in 17 games for the Yankees, Chavez is 10 for 33 (.303) with 5 R, 6 RBI, a 3/6 K/BB, and an .834 OPS. When rostering Chavez, always have a Plan-B and even a Plan-C readily available. This is the latest update on Chavez: Yankees placed 3B Eric Chavez on the 15-day disabled list with a broken bone in his left foot. Chavez suffered a small fracture of his fifth metatarsal on Thursday and is going to be out for over a month while in recovery mode. The situation will likely mean more playing time at the hot corner for Alex Rodriguez, which is both a good and bad thing for fantasy owners. I worry that A-Rod may get hurt or simply worn down.

May 6, 2011: This year James Loney has been like a refugee from a rumage sale!

The silver lining is that in Yovani Gallardo’s case, his velocity appears to be just fine. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged 92.94 mph on his fastball last night, which is actually higher than his average velocity from last season. He has averaged right around 92 mph over his first seven starts. Gallardo's strikeouts are down this season (6.53 K/9 compared to 9.73 K/9 last season), although he fanned 22 batters over his last 21 1/3 innings. The interesting part for me is that his swinging strike percentage is down significantly (7.1 percent compared to 8.6 percent for his career) and has never been considered elite in the first place. I'm hoping this is just a situation where his unlucky batting average on balls in play is the main culprit, but it's clearly not the only reason for his struggles. Since his April 5 two-hit shut out of the Braves, Gallardo has 5 GS, 26 1/3 IP, 44 HA, a 24/12 K/BB and a God-awful 8.89/2.13 ERA/WHIP. In all 5 of those GS, Gallardo has given up at least 4 ER. Now might be a good time to buy low on Gallardo while his owner is still upset! He’s throwing a lot of pitches over his last few starts and going to a lot of 3-2 counts. In his last 2 seasons Gallardo has 404 K’s in 370 2/3 IP, and 27 W. He’s also given up 328 H and, worse yet, 169 BB. His second half last year could have been a precursor to this season when he had a 5.77/1.53 ERA/WHIP in 73 IP. Opposing hitters batted .291 vs Gallardo during that time! It’s hard to say that when you trade a guy that’s been 30-35% of your team’s offense the past 5 seasons, that you got the better end of the trade. But that could be what’s happening with SD. The club felt that they had to trade Adrian Gonzalez for financial purposes and one of the prospects they received from the Red Sox was 21 year old 1B, Anthony Rizzo. He’s currently tearing up Triple-A with a .402 BA in 107 AB, 9 HR, 39 RBI, 26 R, 4 SB, a 21/11 K/BB and a 1.215 OPS. In 2010, between A/AA, Rizzo batted .260 in 531 AB with 25 HR, 100 RBI, 92 R, 10 SB, 42 doubles, and a 132/61 K/BB. That included an .815 OPS and 20 HR in 414 AB in Double-A. Keep an eye out for him in NL-only as he may be making his major league debut before the summer is over. When looking at Brandon Beachy coming into your 2011 drafts, it's that "top prospect" label that throws a wrench in everything. Beachy wasn't one. He wasn't even a sort-of prospect before last season, when he suddenly became Greg Maddux of the minor leagues with a 1.73 ERA between Double- and Triple-A. No one really heard much about him until after the ’10 All-Star break.  Granted, he was a reliever for part of the season, but he was just as effective when moved to the starting rotation. And when he didn't embarrass himself in three major-league starts last September, the scouts had to acknowledge he might be a viable option in the Braves rotation. Still he had to get past top prospect Mike Minor this spring and the Braves thought enough of Beachy to send Minor packing to the minors. Beachy did start 13 games in 2010 and, in 120 IP, had a 1.00 WHIP, 92 HA, and a pretty good 148/28 K/BB. Part of the problem this year has been that he only has 1 W to show for his 6 GS for the Braves, thanks to poor run support and some bad luck. But in his last 3 GS, Beachy has 19 IP with only 8 HA, and a 19/3 K/BB. For the season he has an 0.99 WHIP in 36 1/3 IP. I would be an investor at this point.

May 5, 2011: Brandon Beachy may just be NL Rookie of the Year so far!

I might be that idiot that you guys are talking about that spent $25 on Dempster. I'm also the same idiot that spent $24 on Chad Billingsley in the same league to go with holdovers Jonathan Sanchez, Anibal Sanchez, and Wandy Rodriguez. So I know Dickens' statement in A Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!" Dempster, at least so far, has only seen the worst of times. He hasn't given up less than 4 ER in any of his 6 GS, giving up 4 twice, 5 and 6 once each, and 7 twice. Hard to believe he's the same guy who had 208 K's, 15 W, and a 3.85 ERA in 215 1/3 IP in 2010. Or, should I say, it's hard to believe that I'm the same fantasy owner in that league! By the way, both my 5.07 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in that league is good for one point each! I am writing this before the, ironically, Dempster/Billingsley match-up. Of course the real drama is not if Dempster can get out of the second inning but if Andre Ethier can keep his hitting streak alive. It has now reached 28 games or exactly half of Joe DiMaggio. He just broke a tie with Duke Snider and Joe “Ducky” Medwick for second place on the all-time Dodger hitting streak. Medwick was the last NL player to have a Triple Crown season back in '37. He hit 31 HR, had 154 RBI and batted .374. He also had 237 H, 111 R, 56 doubles, 10 triples, a 50/41 K/BB, and a 1.056 OPS. A little Medwick history shows that he holds the major league record for consecutive seasons with 40 or more doubles, set from 1933 through 1939. He was a 10-time All-Star in 17 major league seasons and ended up with a .324 BA, 2471 H, 205 HR, and 1383 RBI. It's good company for Ethier as he goes for the Dodger record of 31 consecutive games hit by Willie Davis. Well we now know how the game turned out for all parties mentioned. Ryan Dempster shook off some early control woes to limit the Dodgers to one run in seven innings on Tuesday. Dempster, who gave up seven runs in one-third of an inning last time out, walked the first two batters he faced on eight pitches, suggesting another horrible meltdown might be on the way. However, he recovered in tremendous fashion, going the entire rest of his outing without another walk. He struck out five and lowered his ERA from 9.58 to 8.05. NL-only leaguers who benched him will want him active for his next start. Chad Billingsley yielded one run in seven innings and struck out eight Tuesday against the Cubs. As has been a problem throughout his career, Billingsley didn't get much help tonight, as the Dodgers scored just one run in the game. That gave Billingsley his fourth no-decision in his last five starts. He's 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA. And Andre Ethier had 1 hit in 4 AB to extend his hit streak to 29 games. Shelby Miller, who turned 20 after the 2010 season, was named the Cardinals' Minor League pitcher of the year for his superb first full professional season. In 24 starts at Class A Quad Cities, he went 7-5 with a 3.62/1.25 ERA/WHIP and a marvelous 140/33 K/BB in 104 1/3 innings pitched. He capped the year with a brilliant showing in Quad Cities' playoff opener. He pitched seven innings in a 4-0 win, striking out 13 against one walk and two hits. Miller needs to work on his curveball before the team promotes him to Double-A Springfield, according to Class A Palm Beach pitching coach Dennis Martinez. Miller is lighting it up in Class A with 42 strikeouts in 28 innings. Miller is reluctant to throw the curveball when trailing in the count because he has had limited success with it, and the team has played a number of close games. If Miller progresses at the rate he’s going, his ETA for the Cards could be the middle of the 2012 season. Keeper leagues take note!

May 4, 2011: My foreign policy is mostly domestic!

Josh Johnson's bounty shouldn't be a surprise to any fantasy owner. In 61 GS the past 2 seasons, Johnson has a 377/106 K/BB in 392 2/3 IP, with 339 HA, and a 2.80/1.13 ERA. Of course he's been even better so far on this young season with 41 IP over 6 GS (6 QS), with an 0.88/0.71 ERA/WHIP, 18 HA, and a 39/11 K/BB. Any fantasy owner that's lucky enough to own Johnson has really reaped the benefits of a great season, that's for sure. He did fade a bit in August 2010 and was shut down in Sept. That's my only proviso on Johnson is his injury risk! His 209 IP in 2009 were his career high as were his 15 W. He's certainly a Cy Young candidate every year if he can just avoid the injury bug. In your leagues, just ride him out because he's a legit #1 SP in the NL. Miguel Olivo become something of an iron man for the Mariners, reports Olivo caught on Sunday against the Red Sox for his seventh straight game, including six straight days. Manager Eric Wedge had planned for him to take off Sunday originally. "I guess I lied to you guys," Wedge told reporters after penciling in Olivo again. "With the day off last Monday and again tomorrow, he wanted it. He's earned it. So we got him back in there. He's playing with energy and life." Olivo has played every day and has done well for the Mariners. Olivo has been batting cleanup for the team and has gone 8 for 24 (.333) with seven runs scored, four RBI and two homers since moving to the No. 4 spot around a week ago. Olivo is happy to work every day and has become a solid start in mixed fantasy leagues at a thin position.  Olivo is what he is, a guy that doesn’t believe in the free pass as evidenced by his career .282 OBP and his 825/130 K/BB in 2963 AB. Over the last 5 seasons Olivo has averaged 16 HR and 56 RBI which are good numbers for a catcher. You could do worse in your AL-only. Dodgers optioned RHP Kenley Jansen to Triple-A Albuquerque. Though he's struck out a whopping 22 batters over 13 1/3 innings -- good for a 14.9 K/9 mark -- he's also walked eight and allowed 11 runs. Despite the disappointing start, Jansen should be back up with the Dodgers before long and we still think he'll be a force in their bullpen. He was just too good of a reliever at the end of the '10 season. Jansen, who was a catcher in the Dodger organization from 2005-2008, had a 41/15 K/BB in 27 IP for the big club in 2010. He was greedy with the hits giving up 12, with an 0.67 WHIP, and 4 SV. The Dodgers also activated Hong Chi Kuo form the D.L. He didn't fare to well in rehab allowing 6 hits and a walk and 3 runs in 2 1/3 innings. He may eventually get the closer job from Broxton but not off Sunday’s numbers of 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 2 HA, and a 1/1 K/BB. For the season Kuo is at a 5/5 K/BB after going 73/18 with an unbelievable 29 HA in 60 IP. Of course I kept Kuo for $10 in my $360-NL. That actually became a good thing because when I reserved Kuo, I picked up Jason Marquis, who’s been my best pitcher. But you know that too shall pass!

May 3, 2011: Not that any day isn't but today is an especially good day to be an American!

At the end of the past week, my wife said something interesting. It was only 3 words (no, not those 3 words) but got me to thinking. She told me, “Don’t insult heroes!” This must’ve been a direct result of when we were driving on a very windy day last week and there was a garbage pail in the middle of the road. I told my wife that I would like to be a “hero” and move the pail so no one hit it. But my wife told me to keep driving, that someone else would get it. And then at the supermarket, I have to take the shopping carts that are left by people in the parking spaces and put them where they belong. My wife tells me that they pay people to do that job! And it’s prophetic that on a weekend when our own Navy Seals stormed a Pakistani compound and killed the reviled Osama Bin-Laden, that I was never a hero. It all goes back to the day in seventh grade English class when our teacher, Frank DeCarlo, asked us what we wanted to be doing when we were 30. First of all, from a 12 year old’s perspective, 30 seems like a lifetime away. I was the only kid in the class without an answer to that query. I think back now and say to myself that I should have said that I wanted to be a hero! Maybe my life wouldn’t have taken all these twists and turns, some good and some not-so-good. I’ve been relegated to caddying at a country club where I worked as a kid back in the early 70’s. Most of them are long gone but I did caddy for a guy named Gabe DiLorenzo in 3 club championships. He’s 93 now, mind as sharp as a tack and, on the Men’s Opening Day for the club, he remembered me. He said, “Georgie, help me to the locker room!” It was back at this club that I met a real hero, a 32 year old caddy named Jeff Walsh, a former marine (no such thing as a former marine) and real good guy who spent 6 months in a military hospital after almost getting his knee blown off! This young man has actually taught me a lot about humility in the short 2 months that I’ve known him. As I was walking 36 holes on Sunday, carrying 2 bags the whole way, I had time to think about this whole hero thing. And then Monday morning we hear the waited news of the death of Bin-Laden at the hands of the real heroes. Because that Sunday afternoon when I was out on my second “loop,” one of the guys I was caddying for kept getting mad at his erratic play (he had a 115 with cheating) and I reminded him that he was lucky to be living the dream of having money to provide for his family and having a dope like me to carry his golf bag. He looked at me funny but knew I was talking about this thing called “perspective.” Because back on August 9, 2000, when I had two SP’s in my AL-only go on national TV in different games by the names of Jamie Moyer and Kevin Appier, I knew or thought I knew the depths of dispair. These two warriors who were hailed by the announcers as stalwarts and gamers for staying the course could only muster 7 1/3 IP between them. By the way, they combined for 20 HA, 21 ER, a 4/8 K/BB, 190 pitches and 5 HRA. I remember throwing the remote at the TV and more than once. But now I just put it all in perspective. I’m actually in last place in two of my 5 leagues. But, you know what? I’m not going to sweat it. I’m going to hope that injured guys become “uninjured” and that slumping guys start hitting/pitching. Because, when all is said and done, it’s about the fun of it! And, if the truth be told, I’m as far from a hero as humanly possible. Just ask my wife! But it doesn’t mean that I’ll stop trying!

May 2, 2011: The old Busch Stadium held in the heat pretty well!

The Minnesota Twins called up OF Rene Tosoni to take the roster space created when they placed Delmon Young on 15-day DL. The 24-year-old Tosoni missed most of the 2010 season with a torn labrum playing 52 games and hitting .270 in 185 AB. But in 2009 Tosoni was the MVP of the Futures Games and had a solid season of production, hitting .274/.364/.460 with 25 doubles and 15 home runs. Tosoni is a solid defensive player and runs reasonably well despite not having plus speed. He has some nice athleticism and can play all three OF spots, though he is a bit of a stretch in CF. Tosoni isn't a guy with tons of standout tools, but he does everything reasonably well and has the potential to be solid 4th OF. For now he will fill in for Delmon Young, but don't look for that type of production. He also hit .286 in 28 Spring Training games with the Twins. Tosoni got a hit in his first big league at-bat, lacing a single into right field in the third inning off Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson. He also added his first RBI with a single in the seventh inning and finished 2-for-4 in Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader. In his first foray into Triple-A in 2011, Tosoni batted .286 in 70 AB with 3 HR and 16 RBI, 7 R, 2 SB, and a 12/5 K/BB. In 302 games overall in the minors, Tosoni is 305 for 1073 (.284) with an .821 OPS, 182 R, 27 HR, 165 RBI, 29 SB (18 CS) and a 243/128 K/BB. He was a 36th round pick by the Twins in the 2005 draft. Brandon League earned his seventh save of the season Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Red Sox. League is now seven-for-seven in save opportunities this season and is sporting a 2.45 ERA and 0.91 WHIP through 11 innings of work. With David Aardsma (hip) still rehabbing at Triple-A Tacoma, the 28-year-old League continues to carry major value in fantasy leagues. League needed just seven pitches, throwing five for strikes. He has worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings over his past six appearances. Sometimes it’s all about opportunity! League had 9 W and 6 SV in 2010 with a 3.42/1.19 ERA/WHIP, 67 HA, and a 56/27 K/BB in 79 IP. League was drafted #169 in my straight draft-AL while I took Matt Thornton (currently 0 SV) with pick #53. Thornton’s great season consists of 8 1/3 IP, an 8.64/2.52 ERA/WHIP, 15 HA, a 10/6 K/BB, and 4 BS. Not my best pick ever! Alex White held the Tigers to two runs over six innings Saturday in his major league debut. White left to a 2-2 tie after throwing 109 pitches and striking out four batters. The righty looked shaky at times but sharp at others and is likely to draw a couple more starts while Carlos Carrasco recovers from an elbow injury. White, 22, deserves monitoring in AL-only leagues. Aside from the two long balls (he gave up HR’s to Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Raburn in the fourth inning), the first-round selection (15th overall pick) in the 2009 MLB draft kept the ball on the ground and registered 11 groundball outs compared to three flyouts. White has the opportunity to stick in the rotation with injuries to Carrasco and Mitch Talbot. Fantasy owners should consider him a decent SP option in AL-only formats, especially keeper leagues, if he earns another start. Keep an eye on this one. He thrives with his explosive, 87-95 mph groundball-inducing fastball to set up a hard slider that gets swings and misses. Both his heater and slider are dominant offerings. White mixes in a solid-average change-of-pace offering with splitter-like action. Pitch efficiency and command need to be enhanced in order for him to sit atop the Indians rotation. In other words, White needs to work on improving his ancillary pitches! With his hot start in '11, White may have quieted those who believe the bullpen is his best option. White had 4 GS at Triple-A this season before getting the call and, in 23 2/3 IP, held a 1.90/1.01 ERA/WHIP, 19 HA, and a 28/5 K/BB.

May 1, 2011: Sam "May Day" Malone was the best RP in Boston Red Sox history!

The particulars of D.B. Cooper's clever airborne crime and daredevil getaway have been pondered, picked over and recapitulated for three decades now. In 1971, D.B. Cooper hijacked and threatened to blow up an airliner, extorted $200,000 from its owner, Northwest Orient, then leaped from the airborne 727 with 21 pounds of $20 bills strapped to his torso. He was never seen again—dead or alive. The crime was perfect if he lived, perfectly crazy if he didn't. Another D. Cooper has surfaced, this one a young 1B/DH in the Blue Jays organization. The Blue Jays will call up first base prospect David Cooper before Friday's game. Cooper, 24, was selected in the first round of the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft and has climbed steadily through the Jays' farm system. He is currently batting .395/.438/.617 with two home runs and 19 RBI through 89 plate appearances at Triple-A Las Vegas. The Blue Jays will give him looks at first base and DH. Cooper showed solid power in the past and hit a career high 20 home runs in 2010, but he's failed to hit for much in the way of average. In 2009 Cooper hit .258/.340/.389 and in 2010 he hit .257/.327/.442 - not exactly what you would expect from a former 1st rounder. This year, however, Cooper is off to a very fast start, going 32-for-81 with 12 doubles, 2 home runs, 19 RBI, and a 6/7 K/BB and posting an OPS of 1.055. With Travis Snider being sent to Triple-A by the big club, Cooper should see some time. If your AL-only team needs a boost of power, fell free to give Cooper a try. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Travis Snider was sent down mainly to make adjustments with his swing. Anthopoulos added that Snider had already been working on the changes at the major league level, but with a .181/.277/.265 batting line over his first 95 plate appearances, they simply couldn't wait any longer. The GM said Snider needs to get back on track so that he's "not a 7-8-9-hole bat." Hopefully the adjustment can be made, because Snider is too talented to be underachieving like this. And, hopefully, we’ll be seeing this Cooper again! The Angels recalled the 22-year-old infielder Alexi Amarista to provide insurance until Maicer Izturis is healthy. Amarista is a terrific athlete in a small package, 5'8" 150 pounds. The left-handed hitter has progressed rapidly through the minors and has batted at least .309 in every season as a pro. Amarista can be a tough out because of his ability to make easy contact and he could become a leadoff hitter if he becomes more selective at the plate. Amarista has a lifetime 173/141 K/BB. He uses the whole field in his approach and has enough strength for gap power. Power isn't his game and likely never will - career high of 5 HR in '10 and a total of 18 HR, 193 RBI, and 269 R. Amarista is a good, aggressive base runner, but his instincts are a tad behind. Amarista has 104 SB in the minors but has been caught 54 times! He possesses a good glove at 2B and an average arm is likely to keep him at that position. He has some experience at SS and CF as well. Amarista has hit everywhere he's been, attested to by a .325 BA and an .842 OPS in 1700+ minor league AB -- and again now by his spot atop all PCL hitters with a .455 BA after 55 AB. Amarista has never been considered a premium prospect, mostly due to his 5'8" stature, average patience and gap power--and while his speed results in good SB totals, he still gets caught too often. He’s a lifetime .425 hitter at Triple-A in 120 AB. I have a feeling that if the Angels give this kid a chance, he will surprise and should be added to AL-only rosters for teams with a mid inf opening. He went 1 for 3 with the Angels on Tuesday night with 3 RBI and followed that up with a 1 for 2 night on Wednesday. With Maicer Izturis apparently back, there may not be a lot of time for Amarista but I would keep an eye on him. If he’s still with the team this weekend, I may put in a small FAAB bid on him and put him in the place of Jack Wilson.

April 30, 2011: Jeff Francoeur is over .300 for the season and we all know that can't happen!

Antonio Bastardo gave up a homer to Chris Young Wednesday night for the first run he’s given up all season. Bastardo has worked his way into a setup role for Ryan Madson while Jose Contreras is sidelined. He had a streak of 9 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season. He has an excellent 16/4 K/BB ratio in 10 1/3 innings, with an 0.87/0.77 ERA/WHIP and only 4 HA thus far and has been proving he can get both lefties and righties out which should mean plenty of work for the lefty. LH hitters are just 1 for 15 against Bastardo with 7 strike outs. Bastardo does have a history of arm problems so he'll have to be managed carefully if the Phillies want to keep him healthy. But he’s a guy to keep an eye on for some vulture saves especially against a team loaded with left handed hitters. At Triple-A in 2010, Bastardo had a 33/6 K/BB in 20 IP and in 18 2/3 IP with the Phils went 26/9 in 18 2/3 IP. There’s no doubt that Bastardo is having a fine season but SV opps are likely to be sporadic and match-up dependent. Still, with the nagative comments that Phillies management made about Ryan Madson’s ninth inning work over his career, Bastardo could elbow his way into more meaningful work. Ryan Dempster suffered through an epic meltdown Thursday, giving up seven runs in one-third of an inning against the Diamondbacks. It was 4-0 after four batters, as cleanup man Stephen Drew hit a grand slam in the first. Dempster then got Miguel Montero to ground out, but he walked the next three batters and gave up a pair of singles before finally being removed. Dempster's velocity never reached 90 mph during his first inning beating Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. But Dempster says nothing is physically wrong. "I feel good," he said. Dempster has now allowed 33 earned runs in 31 IP for the season. He's struck out 29, but with nine homers and 16 walks allowed, he can't blame his luck. If he gets his slider back, he will turn it around. However, he's lost right now and he can't be used in fantasy leagues. My ERA/WHIP in the $260-NL that I own Dempster in now sits at 5.38/1.51 and, yes, I’m in last place in both categories. By the way, this was the shortest GS of Dempster’s 266 start career. Dempster was, at one time, the closer for the Cubs, averaging 28 SV/season from 2005-2007. Put back in the starting rotation in 2008, Dempster has a 567/227 K/BB, 568 HA, and a 3.49/1.28 ERA/WHIP since. But if he can’t get his velocity back, he won’t approach those numbers in 2011. I would bench him, if you can, in your NL-only and he shouldn’t be used in mixed leagues right now. Bryce Harper just turned 18 years old in November but he’s hitting down in A-Ball like someone a few years older. He’s currently 20 for 62 (.323) with 5 HR, 18 RBI, 14 R, 4 SB, a 17/11 K/BB and a 1.070 OPS. He may get a few AB in Triple-A before the season is over and may even be a Sept call-up with the Nationals.

April 29, 2011: Ben Zobrist leads the AL in RBI with 25!

Carl Everett, another baseball bad boy and outcast, got arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after putting a gun to his wife's head. If I were his wife I may have wanted him to pull the trigger! These guys never learn. Everett — who spent 14 seasons in the major leagues, hit 202 home runs and was a two-time All-Star — has problems with alcohol and is suffering from depression about the end of his career, his attorney said. "Not to make excuses, but Mr. Everett is going through alcohol issues coming out of professional baseball," lawyer Grady Irvin Jr. told Heinrich. "He needs counseling, without doubt, and we have a plan to get him help." Linda Everett said it was important for her husband to get out of jail because "we have three children, and totally, Carl has six kids — five here and a young kid in Dallas. He needs help to be a father to his children." During an argument, Everett pointed a silver handgun at his wife's head and then pressed it against the side of her head, a sheriff's office report states. When his wife tried calling 911, he broke the phone. Everett did the same thing when his wife tried calling 911 from another phone, the report states. In 1999 for the Astros, Everett had 25 HR, 108 RBI, 86 R, 27 SB, a .325 BA, and a .962 OPS. He followed that up in 2000 for the Red Sox with 34 HR, 108 RBI, 82 R, 11 SB, a .300 BA, and a .954 OPS. Against what I thought was right, the Mariners signed Everett to a $4-mil deal the previous off-season but released him in July after he hit .227 in 308 AB with 11 HR, 33 RBI, and 37 R. He hasn’t appeared on the big league scene since! Should I be saying at this point in time, “Why the hell did I spend $57 on Roy Oswalt in my $360-NL. I mean, after he came over from the Astros to the Phillies, Oswalt had 12 GS, 82 2/3 IP, only 53 HA, a 73/21 K/BB, and a 1.74/0.90 ERA/WHIP. He seemed like money in the bank! He started out 3-0 but only completed 6 IP in each of his first 4 GS, leaving one with a balky back. In his last GS, Oswalt lasted just 3 innings and then left the team to attend to a personal family issue. Oswalt went home to Mississippi to check on the devastating storms that struck the area of his family and home. "There has been a tremendous amount of tornado activity near Roy's home in Mississippi resulting in several tragic deaths and significant devastation to the area," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. "Because of this, Roy is concerned about his family's well-being. He has chosen to take time to make sure there wasn't significant damage to his home, but more importantly, to make certain that his wife and children are OK. It is almost a year to the day that his parents' home was destroyed by a tornado, which has heightened his concern about the current situation. We are hopeful that he will rejoin the team for his next start, but will take that day by day." Amaro also said that the back spasms that plagued Oswalt two starts ago did not factor in his poor outing Tuesday. Hopefully his family and home are OK and he will be a ble to make his next start. Oswalt’s been pretty durable over his career, making at least 30 GS for the past 7 seasons. Overall, he’s 153-84 in 2042 IP, with a 3.18/1.18 ERA/WHIP, 1939 HA, and a 1687/474 K/BB. If you try to move him now, you will only get nickels on the dollar. The best thing to do now, in your NL-only, is to hold on and hope for the best. As is my bent, I always hope for the best but expect the worst!

April 28, 2011: HOLDS are a meaningless stat in baseball!

It seems that every Red Sox starter is finding a groove except Clay Buchholz, who has allowed six homers and is walking 6.2 batters per nine innings. He allowed just nine homers all season in 2010 while averaging 3.5 walks per nine. "It seemed like I never gave up home runs last season," Buchholz said. "I don't think it's one of those things. I think I need to do a better job of keeping the ball down. That would help." Cutting down on the walks would help Buchholz to go deeper in games -- he hasn't made it to the sixth inning in three of his last 4 starts. In his 5 GS, he’s gone 27 IP with a 5.33/1.85 ERA/WHIP, 34 HA, and a 15/16 K/BB. Outwardly his 2010 season looked great with a 2.33/1.21 and 142 HA in 173 2/3 IP. In fact he finished second in the AL in ERA and made his first All-Star team. He missed almost a month of 2010 with a strained hamstring he sustained while running the bases. But there were chinks on the armor as his K/BB wasn’t the best at 120/67. In fact, his K/9 has gone down the past 4 seasons. His .263 BABIP was the AL’s third lowest mark and one that’s likely to regress. And his mediocre K rate and other peripherals suggest that his ERA could rise by as much as a run and a half. I have to admit that I was staying away from Buchholz in drafts this season. He did go #19 in my AL-straight draft (Haren went #20, Scherzer #21). He was kept in my $260-AL for $12. If I owned him in my AL I would hope for a run of decent starts and then try to get something that I need for him! Before his 12 H and 4 ER in 6 2/3 IP (a season high) outing vs the O’s on Tuesday night, Buchholz had a 5-2 record in 8 GS, a 3.17 ERA and his only 2 CG shut outs of his career against Baltimore. That includes a no-hitter in his first GS back on Sept 1, 2007. Tread carefully with Buchholz! As expected Xavier Paul didn’t make it through waivers and is now a Pirate, following in the footsteps of some of the great Dodgers, Andy LaRoche and Delwyn Young. The Pirates generally pick near the top of the waiver list so this sounds like Paul didn’t get that far down the list. Sad to see him be lost for nothing if you’re a Dodger fan, though I’ll admit that neither Young nor LaRoche really worked out there. Like you say, Bowker and Pearce may be similar but I think that Paul has a bit more upside. He’s just never gotten regular AB’s in the majors. I wonder if that’s the end of Garrett Jones’ stay in Pittsburgh as Paul is also a LH hitter! Paul last cracked a Baseball America handbook prior to the 2010 season, at which point he was rated a couple of spots ahead of Sands at 23rd among Dodgers prospects.  B.A. praised Paul's raw talent, but said he doesn't have enough power to compensate for his strikeouts.  He's a good defender with plus speed. Like you say, the Pirates have a glut of guys that can play the OF, though one of them will be gone when Paul reports. With Tabata and McCutchen entrenched in 2 of the OF spots, it’s hard to see Paul having a lot of value.

April 27, 2011: The best hitter in my church league was Kevin Eucharist!

An injury to Jose Contreras has resulted in the promotion of the 24-year-old, Michael C. Stutes, from Triple-A. Stutes, a strong and durable reliever, was originally a starter upon his selection in the 11th round of the '08 draft. The Phillies converted him to the bullpen in '10, and he has found a niche. He throws harder in short stints and can get his fastball into the 88-94 mph range. His slider may be his best pitch and he's able to register strikeouts with it. He also uses an average curveball and changeup in his arsenal. Because of his pitch inefficiency, Stutes will likely stay in the bullpen He should be thrown into late-game situations while pitching out of the pen. He was impressive in spring training and gave up two earned runs in 10 innings while striking out 14 with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year. His great spring saw the RH Stutes go 11 IP, 4 HA, 1 ER, and a 14/2 K/BB. Stutes’ career minor league numbers include a 22-11 record in 291 2/3 IP, 240 HA, a 3.36/1.27 ERA/WHIP, and a 272/131 K/BB. He opened enough eyes this spring for the Phillies to put himself on the map and is a guy that I would try to invest him for your deep NL-only. All some guys need is the chance. I have a feeling that Stutes will be in the SV mix for the Phillies before long so please keep an eye on him. Jose Bautista continued to be impossible to retire against the Rangers on Monday night, going 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks in a 6-4 Blue Jays victory. He walked 2 more times on Tuesday giving him 6 walks in the past 3 games. Bautista has now reached base an absurd 17 times in his past five games, hitting 4 HR in the process. Forget one-year wonder, it's now an actual possibility that Bautista is emerging as the best hitter in the American League. It sounds preposterous, but the numbers are simply too staggering to ignore. He’s started 2011 with a .364 BA in 69 AB, 8 HR, 11 RBI, 22 R, 2 SB, a 16/23 K/BB and a 1.305 OPS. I know, I can’t explain it either. As we all know, Bautista came into the 2010 season with a .238 career BA and 59 HR in 1754 AB. All he did in 2010 is a .260 BA in 569 AB with 54 HR, 124 RBI, 109 R, 9 SB, a 116/100 K/BB, and a .988 OPS. He’s been even better this year! Jered Weaver was fantastic Monday, tossing a complete game shutout against the A's. Weaver allowed just seven hits and had a 10/1 K/BB in yet another dominant performance. He's now 6-0 with a 0.99/0.79 ERA/WHIP,  and a 49/10 K/BB ratio over six starts this season.  He is also the first pitcher in baseball history to have 6 W as early as April 25. We’ll know in his next few GS if it was wise to have Weaver pitch the ninth inning in a 5-0 game. He threw 114 pitches which is right at his average for 2011. Last season Weaver averaged 108 pitches/game. He came into his own in 2010 leading the AL in K’s with 233 against 54 BB in 224 1/3 IP. Weaver had a 3.01/1.07 ERA/WHIP and 187 HA. Weaver and Danny Haren make a great 1-2 for the Angels, if only they can start hitting. Currently the Angels are hitting .250 with a .713 OPS. The pitching, as you might expect, has been good with a 3.02/1.19 ERA/WHIP in 217 2/3 IP. I still have the Angels battling the Rangers for the AL-West crown. They are presently 2 games behind Texas.

April 26, 2011: Jerry Sands could be this year's version of Jason Heyward!

Jonathan Papelbon is trying to put the “misery” of last season behind him. He had a 8 blown SV and a career worst 3.90 ERA as the Red Sox failed to make the post-season, coming in third in the AL-East. It’s been a different story for Papelbon in 2011 as he’s a perfect 5 for 5 in SV and has an 11/2 K/BB in 8 1/3 IP. The Red Sox, who lost 10 of their first 12 games are now 10-11 and Papelbon is a big reason why. Papelbon was originally a SP in the Red Sox chain and even had a 153/43 K/BB in the Florida State League in 2004. He had 129 2/3 IP with 97 HA and a 2.64/1.08 ERA/WHIP. Between AA/AAA the next season, Papelbon went 115 2/3 IP with a 110/26 K/BB, 80 HA and a 2.59/0.92 ERA/WHIP. He became the team’s closer in 2006 and, in the last 5 season has averaged a shade under 38 SV/season. He did go for $32 in my $260-AL. Otis Nixon shares the single game stolen base Major League record with 6 on June 16, 1991. He also holds the Atlanta Braves single season record for stolen bases with 72 in 1991. In 1982, Nixon stole 107 bases in a combined season between the AA level Nashville Sounds and the AAA level Columbus Clippers. In the minor leagues, Nixon led the league twice in stolen bases (1980 in theSouth Atlantic League with 67 & 1983 in the International League with 94), runs scored (1980 in the South Atlantic League with 124 & 1983 in the International League with 129, hits (162 in 1983 in the International League), at bats (557 in 1983 in the International League) and walks (57 in 1979 in the Appalachian League, 113 in 1980 in the South Atlantic League and 110 in 1981 in the Southern League). He started out as an infielder but was switched to outfield in 1983 due to his superior speed and his penchant for making errors (56 in 127 games in 1981 at shortstop for the Nashville Sounds). Nixon was only one of 2 men to have at least 50 SB with 4 different teams (Juan Pierre is the other) with the Expos (50) in 1990, Braves (72) 1991, Rangers (50) 1995, and the Blue Jays (54) 1996. Nixon stole 620 bases, had a 694/585 K/BB, a .270 BA in 5115 AB, 878 R, 1379 H, 11 HR, 318 RBI, and a .658 OPS. Nixon was somewhat of a late bloomer as he accrued only 650 major league AB before the age of 30. Nixon battled a cocaine habit for much of his career. He was arrested on drug charges in 1987 while a member of the Cleveland Indians organization. Nixon failed a drug test in September 1991 and was suspended for 60 days, which caused Nixon to miss the 1991 World Series. Nixon ended the 1992 World Series by making an out trying to bunt his way on base, the only time in baseball history that a Series ended on a bunt. The placement of Angel Pagan on the disabled list has resulted in the promotion of the 27-year-old LH hitter, Jason Pridie, who last appeared in the majors in '09. Pridie earned four AB with the Twins over 11 games between '08 and '09 and is now in his third organization. He was a second round pick of the Rays in '02, but has never developed into the power/speed player many expected of him. Pridie displays plenty of athleticism and outstanding defense, but his approach has held him back from adding value with the bat. He has very good speed which enhances his CF range and defense while his strong arm is also an asset. To play in the Mets’ OF between Jason Bay and Carlos Beltran, you need to be able to get the ball! Pridie's plate discipline and free-swinging ways have hindered his BA, though he has the strength for moderate pop. His prospect status may be long gone, but he could find a role off the bench. He is a career .275/.319/.422 hitter in the minors. Pridie has started his first 3 games for the Mets and the Mets are 3-0. On Sunday, he hit his first major-league HR and is now 2 for 11. As long as they keep winning, the Mets will run him out there until Pagan comes back. In your deep NL-only, you may want to investigate.

April 25, 2011: Juan Pierre has 50 or more SB in a season for 4 different teams!

Kevin Kouzmanoff homered and drove in four runs Saturday as the A's exploded for nine runs in a rout of the Mariners. Kouzmanoff had an RBI single in the fourth and then completely broke the game open with a three-run homer off rookie Josh Lueke in the sixth. It's worth noting that both of his homers this year have come off mediocre middle relievers, but at least it's a start. He's now hitting .226 with 9 RBI, 6 R, and 13 K in 59 AB. I don’t know what’s more surprising, the HR or the fact that the A’s scored 9 R in a game! Maybe he'll even draw his first walk of the season before much longer. (Ask an you shall receive. He did garner his first BB last night). His 4 full seasons in the majors include a 435/106 K/BB. Kouzmanoff did enter the majors with a bang, hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw on Sept 2, 2006 off Texas SP Edinson Volquez. I’m the owner of Kouzmanoff in my $260-AL but he shouldn’t be used in mixed league. My AL team is so bad that I have to use him! Ryan Roberts has started 8 consecutive games for the D’Backs at 3B for the injured Melvin Mora and it may be tough to get him out of the line-up when all is said and done. Roberts had only 66 AB for ARI in 2010 and did not seem to factor much into the Diamondbacks' plans in 2011. Roberts did, however, see 305 AB with ARI in 2009, and he displayed decent walk and contact rates. Thus, there are some skills there, and due to Mora's slow start and injury problems it would not be surprising for Roberts to continue to chip away at Mora's playing time. After all, Mora is 39 years old and has produced mediocre stats for the past two seasons, so a continued hot streak by Roberts could certainly keep Mora on the bench for a little while. I could have kept Mora for $8 in my $360-NL but ended up throwing him back and buying him for $4 in the draft with the news that he was the D’Backs starting 3B. But that seems like a lifetime ago and is a story for another day! Roberts is stroking it at .320 in 50 AB with 4 HR, 13 RBI, 9 R, 2 SB, and an 9/10 K/BB. Darren Oliver, like Old Man River, just seems to be chugging along! Every season is the same, a handful of W’s a good ERA/WHIP and 60 or so K’s. In fact, in his past 5 seasons, the LH Oliver has 352 IP, a 3.07/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 309 HA, and a 289/97 K/BB. It’s hard to remember back to when Oliver was a bad SP. In his second go-round with Texas in 2000-2001, Oliver had a 13-20 record, a 153/107 K/BB, 340 HA, and a 6.60/1.71 ERA/WHIP in 262 IP. It’s like he’s a completely different man nowadays! Darren Oliver earned his first save of the season Saturday in the Rangers' 3-1 win over the Royals. The 40-year-old veteran struck out one and walked zero in a perfect ninth inning. Oliver is expected to see the majority of save opportunities in Texas while Neftali Feliz recovers from shoulder inflammation. So far, so good. That was game #602 for Oliver and only his fourth SV. He had 2 as a rookie in 1994 and 1 in 2010. He’ll be in his mid-60’s by the time he reaches double figures. Currently Oliver has allowed only 4 H in 9 1/3 IP with 2 ER and a 5/0 K/BB.

April 24, 2011: What's the Easter Bunny's favorite music?--Hip Hop!

Rick Ankiel has started the first 18 games for the Nationals in CF. He’s 15 for 68 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 3 SB (his career high is 4), a 13/8 K/BB and a .597 OPS. According to Ken Rosenthal of, the Nationals are seeking an upgrade over Ankiel for center field. The Nationals traded Nyjer Morgan to the Brewers at the end of spring training and while they certainly had their reasons at the time, Ankiel just doesn't profile as an everyday player. Roger Bernadina is a possibility, but the Nationals aren't convinced that he can play center field. Meanwhile, Jerry Hairston Jr. is off to a slow start with the bat. There's nothing out there to suggest that the teams are actually talking, but Rosenthal writes that "in a perfect world," the Nationals would be able to acquire Rays center fielder B.J. Upton, who comes from the same part of Virginia as Ryan Zimmerman. Upton is off to a slow start but would be an upgrade over Ankiel in CF. For you history buffs, Ankiel came up through the St.Louis system as a SP. He had some success during the regular season of 2000 with an 11-7 record on 30 GS, 175 IP, 137 HA, a 3.50/1.30 ERA/WHIP, and a 194/90 K/BB. But in the post-season of that year Ankiel summoned up the ghost of Steve Blass and in 3 GS, went 4 IP, 5 HA, 7 ER, and a 5/11 K/BB. He had a 7.13/2.08 and a 27/25 K/BB in 24 IP in 2001 and it was back to the minors for Ankiel. He worked hard in his transition to the OF and made it back to the majors in 2007 with 11 HR, 39 RBI and a .285 BA in 172 AB. He followed it up with 25 HR, 71 RBI, and 65 R in 413 AB. With St.Louis, Kansas City, and Atlanta in 2009-2010, Ankiel could only hit .232 with a .298 OBP in 583 AB. On December 20, 2010, he signed a 1 yr/$1.5-mil deal with Washington. He’s a mediocre option in NL-only but I wouldn’t chase after him in mixed leagues! How do you figure some games? There are times in life when things are just too obvious! I mean, on Friday night the scheduled SP’s for the D’Backs/Mets game were Joe Saunders and Mike Pelfrey. In 2011 the 2 have combined for 7 GS, 32 1/3 IP, an 0-4 record, 29 ER, 52 HA, and a 15/20 K/BB. For those of you that don’t want to take the time to figure out the ratios, that comes out to an 8.07/2.23 ERA/WHIP. Those are numbers that would make Jeff Suppan proud! Well, of course, the Saunders/Pelfrey duo combined for 13 IP, 1 W, 2 ER, 7 HA, and an 8/5 K/BB. That’s a 1.38/0.92 ERA/WHIP! And as much as you think you know about this sport of baseball, there’s always a few things, like the 120 day jail term for Lindsey Lohan, the continued popularity of rap “music,” and the thought process behind why Felipe Lopez doesn’t want to hustle down to first base, there are always things that keep you up at night scratching your head! Another thing that I don’t really understand is why Brett Tomko is still drawing a major-league salary. He was called up by the Rangers this week after going 11 2/3 IP at Triple-A, to the tune of a 6.35 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB. He spent 2010 in the minors and, in 62 2/3 IP, Tomko had a 7.18/1.72 ERA/WHIP, 92 HA, and a 50/16 K/BB. Tomko has pitched for 9 teams in the majors and has a 100-102 career record in 1798 1/3 IP, a 4.65/1.37, 1883 HA, and a 1195/572 K/BB. There’s no need to keep an eye on Tomko at this point!

April 23, 2011: If I'm not here tomorrow, rest assured that I'm dead!

Taylor Teagarden, the long time back-up and third catcher for the Rangers was recalled from Triple-A. Teagarden was in 28 games for the Rangers last season. He held a batting average of .155 with four home runs and six runs batted in. The strike out has always been his problem and he did K 34 times in 71 AB last year for Texas. He spent most of 2010 at Double-A and ended up hitting .230 in 226 AB with 30 R, 5 HR, 34 RBI, a 90/27 K/BB and a .667 OPS. Teagarden looked like he would have a better career going by now. Back in ’07 between AA/AAA, Teagarden hit 27 HR, 83 RBI, 94 R, and batted .310 in only 394 AB. In fact, he was called up to the majors in 2008 and batted .319 for the Rangers in 47 AB with 6 HR and 17 RBI. He did K 19 times however. His major league career consists of a .218 BA in 356 AB with 16 HR, 47 RBI, 46 R, a 717 OPS and a terrible 129/27 K/BB. In his six games while in the minors this season, Teagarden was 7-for-18, an average of .389 over six games. He had 2 HR and 4 RBIHe probably won’t see too many starts for Texas unless injuries strike but his presence will allow the Rangers to use Mike Napoli as a DH and back-up at 1B without fear of having no catcher left in case of injury or pinch-hitting. Napoli did hit 26 HR in 453 AB for the Angels in 2010 and already has 3 HR, 5 RBI, and 6 R in only 27 AB, with a 3/7 K/BB and a 1.145 OPS. James Loney is like a guy in Colorado or Texas. His home/road splits are pretty severe! He has 1244 P.A. at home with a .265 BA and .701 OPS. In 1259 P.A. on the road, he has a .303 BA and an .845 OPS. A team like TB that needs a first baseman could buy low on Loney. He’s a tough one to figure out. You know, he'll be 27 in a couple weeks and you would think he'd be entering his prime. He came up with a bang in 2007 with a .331 BA, 15 HR, 67 RBI, and a .920 OPS in only 344 AB. A year ago at this time Texas could have used his services until they found Mitch Moreland down the stretch. It does seem like Loney's LA days are numbered. I feel that Jerry Sands will eventually move to first. The only thing is that Loney's contract is $4.875-mil for this year which is a lot to pay for what Loney has bought to the table since the 2nd half of last year. That bit of adversity came in at .224 with 5 HR, 32 RBI, and 23 R in 277 AB. It's hard to believe that from the ages of 22 to 26, Loney has lost more than 100 points of slugging! It's also hard to get excited about him when you can't even count on the .300 BA or 15 HR. 2011 has been a continuation of struggles for Loney. He's 13 for 76 (.171) with 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R, and a 13/2 K/BB. It's hard to even recommend buying low on Loney in NL-only as he could be out of the NL in the next few weeks. Depending on where he ends up, he could have a little value.

April 22, 2011: An optimist is an Ethiopian in a dinner jacket!

Angels designated INF Brandon Wood for assignment. The Angels activated Erick Aybar from the disabled list Wednesday, so Wood gets the boot. The former top prospect has a .168 batting average over his first 493 major league plate appearances to go along with an ugly 153/13 K/BB ratio, so he has no business being on a big-league roster right now. He did hit .242 this spring with 4 hr, 13 RBI, and a 16/3 K/BB in 66 AB. It will be interesting to see if another team takes a chance on him. In 2005 at Double-A, Wood had 51 doubles, 43 HR, 115 RBI, and 109 R in 536 AB while batting .321. Wood has 161 career minor league HR but that largess never translated to the majors as he’s just 78 for 464 (.168) with 11 HR, 33 RBI, 40 R, and 5 SB. He turned 26 years old in March. Time may be running out for this one-time uber-prospect! Wood should draw some interest on the waiver wire, despite his .168/.197/.259 batting line in the big leagues. The Orioles might not be a fit as they reportedly have no interest in him, but he'd make some sense for teams like the Astros, Pirates, Mariners and Dodgers. The latest report that I have on Wood is from USA Today. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Brandon Wood has "zero chance" of clearing waivers. Nightengale reports that Wood is currently drawing interest from a number of teams, including the Pirates. The former first-round pick has a lousy .168 batting average in the big leagues, but has plenty of power potential and is a capable defender at either shortstop or third base. He's still only 26 years old, so somebody will take the chance. The Cleveland Indians have the AL’s best record at 12-5 and part of the reason for that is the great work of closer Chris Perez. He’s presently 6 for 6 in SV opps having given up 2 H in 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER, and a 4/2 K/BB. (Since this was published, Chris Perez blew his first SV vs the Royals last night.) He was traded to the Indians from the Cardinals with RP Jess Todd for Mark DeRosa in July, ’09, and became the Indians closer on the trade of Kerry Wood to the Yankees on July 31, 2010. He finished the season with 23 SV, 63 IP, 40 HA, a 61/28 K/BB, and a 1.71/1.08 ERA/WHIP. I wonder if the Cardinals regret trading Perez as their own closer situation is up in the air! Yes, I did say that Brad Emaus would be the next Dan Uggla. It was funny too how their minor league numbers compared to each other. I also mentioned in passing that Pablo Sandoval would be the NL Player of the Month for Sept 2010. So, what do I know? I guess the Mets couldn't stomach Emaus' .162 start in 37 AB with 1 RBI, 2 R, and a 9/4 K/BB. And 2 for his last 17 was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I did call that Emaus would be the Met starting 2B after the Rule-5 Draft but now it looks like he'll be returned to the Blue Jays. Other teams could hold the Mets up a bit, knowing that they want to shed salary. I'm just not sure how much Reyes can expect on a new contract this winter. I really don't see him as a $100-mil player but it's not my money. Teams would have to make sure that they can get a full season from the 27 year old also. I think the Mets malaise offensively has taken its hold on not only guys like Reyes and Pagan but Wright as well. It's a long season but, at this point, it looks like a longer season for the Amazins!

April 21, 2011: I'm actually a lesbian trapped in a man's body!

Angel Pagan has reached base just 3 times in his last 25 plate appearances. Pagan was selected early in fantasy drafts this season after a fantastic 2010 campaign, but he's off to a slow start and has looked lost at the plate recently. The center fielder is batting just .175 on the season in 63 AB with 1 HR and six RBI. He does have four SB, 7 R, and an 8/8 K/BB. I don't think it's time to bail on him! He does at least hold value with his speed. I can't see him floundering into May. And I believe that the team has been so bad that Pagan feels he has to do too much instead of just relax. That’s part of the pressure of playing on a big market team like the Mets! I did trade Pagan in a purge of trading 7 or 8 good keepers in my $260-NL league in order to assure 1st place. I also traded for Pagan in my 15-team mixed league for a 16th round pick and did have Pagan on my roster as one of my 7 keepers. Unfortunately, I'm 146 for 738 (.198) in that league and Pagan isn't my only under-achiever. I also have Uribe, Carlos Pena, Dunn, Austin Jackson, Werth, McLouth, and Venable, all hitting around or below the Mendoza Line. In fact, Mario Mendoza himself might be the best hitter on my team right now! Just for good measure, I'm also last in OBP at .297. The guys directly above me in those ratio categories are now at .239 and .310 respectively. I know that early in the season Mets' manager Terry Collins said that the Mets would be aggressive on the base paths which is good news for Pagan. After having 37 SB in 2010, Pagan has 4 so far in '11. Of course the old adage is that you can't steal first! I'm sure that he won't be hitting .175 all season with a .540 OPS either. I believe that now would be a good time to acquire Pagan before he rights the ship! Not only did he bat .290 in 2010 in 579 AB, he also batted .306 in 343 AB in 2009 with 14 SB and 54 R. So there is some history of good hitting and speed. I would love to re-acquire him from my lifelong friend, Stork, but I'm sure he's thinking along the same lines as me! Just a feeling that Pagan wakes up over the next few games. I had proposed a trade on the site this winter, a trade for real baseball, not fantasy, of Jose Reyes to the Red Sox for SP Jon Lester. At the time I thought that it was a trade to fill a need for both clubs. The Red Sox had just signed Carl Crawford and traded for Adrian Gonzalez and I thought that they could use the top of the order SS in Reyes. That way the team could make Marco Scutaro a utility guy. And the Mets certainly could have used a legitimate #1 SP for their rotation in a guy like Lester. They ended up trotting out the over-matched Mike Pelfrey for Opening Day! I think that Mets’ fans are still trying to get over that! Of course it would have taken guts by both teams to do such a high profile trade. But now with the emergence of the ultra-hot Jed Lowrie at short for the Sox, they may have been fortuitous in not doing anything. Lowrie is presently 16 for 31 (.516) with 2 HR, 9 RBI, 8 R, and a 3/2 K/BB. At this rate, he’s going to make Red Sox Nation forget Nomar Garciaparra! Though, as hard as it is to cultivate a great SP like Lester, who had 225 K's each of the last 2 seasons, I feel it is equally as hard to get a SS capable of big SB numbers while scoring over 110 R/season. Before a couple of injury-plagued seasons, Reyes averaged 64.5 SB and 113 R in 4 seasons from 2005-2008. And, he's started the 2011 season on fire. The Mets would do themselves proud getting a legit #1 SP for Reyes. I agree with you that his value will never be higher and the cash-strapped Mets won't go to the $100-mil+ that it would take to keep him.

April 20, 2011: Nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters to me!

Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist is also getting far too much attention in fantasy leagues. He did a fine job filling in for Stephen Drew while Drew was sidelined by an abdominal strain, but that's all over. Bloomquist has a .266/.318/.340 career big league batting line and his playing time going forward is going to come in waves. He's an attractive option because he has eligibility at a range of positions, but even the worst players can have nice 12-game stretches. Remember, it's only April 20. But you do get excited about a guy that has 5 SB in his first 5 games. Bloomquist only had 8 SB in 2010 in 83 games but from 2004-2009, he averaged 14.8 SB/season. In his first 12 games of 2011, Bloomquist has a .316 BA in 57 AB with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 7 SB, and a 5/2 K/BB. In trying to ne a “nice guy” I mentioned to the commissioner of my $360-NL that Bloomquist was still available for his last OF spot. And, as Leo Durocher once said, “Nice guys finish last!” Bloomquist shouldn’t be available in NL-only but, if he’s out there, pick him up while he’s still playing. Eduardo Sanchez has fanned eight of the first nine major league hitters that he's faced. An electric start for the 22-year-old youngster, who was called up on April 13. He posted a strong 1.67 ERA and 31/12 K/BB ratio across 27 IP last year at the Triple-A level and is now mowing batters down with ease in the majors. Sanchez probably won't get consideration for the ninth inning this season because of his inexperience, but he's an intriguing talent. This spring Sanchez went 7 IP, with 3 ER, 7 HA, and a 7/2 K/BB. He will, for now, operate in a middle relief role and should be on all NL-only radars. Mitchell Boggs has so far out-performed his past numbers. It seems like a mirage, but he's also new to the bullpen. He could be next in line. Boggs has been fantastic this season and has a closer-like arsenal with a high-90s fastball. He should be the first choice, but it's hard to make assumptions about a roster formed by unpredictable skipper Tony LaRussa. Miguel Batista, for instance, might also get ninth inning looks. Jason Motte is another name worth monitoring. Sanchez, as we said, is an intriguing talent, but LaRussa tends to shy away from youth. Sometimes you just have to go with the hot guy until something better comes along! Boggs ahould have been picked up in all NL formats by now, and keep an eye on his role for mixed leagues. In his first year as a full-time RP last season, Boggs appeared in 61 games, good for 67 1/3 IP, a 3.61/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 60 HA, and a 52/27 K/BB. The walks are a little worrisome as, between 2008-2010, Boggs gave out 82 free passes in 159 1/3 IP. I don’t want to say that he’s seen the light, but in 9 IP in 2011, Boggs has given up 2 ER and 3 H with a 12/3 K/BB. He’s been unscored on in his last 5 1/3 IP with 1 HA and an 8/1 K/BB. I think that one more Ryan Franklin melt-down (or sooner) Boggs may be given the reins to the ninth inning.

April 19, 2011: I'm a man of means by no means; king of the road!

Pirates SP Rudy Owens continued to pitch well for Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, reports Owens, one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, moved to 2-0 for Indianapolis with the W Saturday. Owens has allowed just two runs over 13 1/3 IP thus far. "He continues to do what he does -- command his fastball to both sides of the plate, mix his curveball and changeup, get ahead of hitters and keep guys off balance," said director of player development Kyle Stark, who was present for Owens' first start. "He has not shown any fear with Triple-A hitters at this point. He has had an encouraging start." Owens is definitely a candidate for a mid-season call up by the Pirates, especially the way he's been pitching at Triple-A thus far. "He is very effective," Indianapolis infielder Brian Friday said of Owens. "He knows how to pitch. He mixes things up and throws for strikes. Any guy that can do that is tough. He is impressive." When he gets to the Pirates, he'll have some sleeper appeal in NL-only leagues. Until then, however, he only has long-term fantasy appeal. This is his first foray at Triple-A. He spent 2010 in Double-A where, in 150 IP, Owens was 12-6 with a 2.46/0.98 ERA/WHIP, 124 HA, and a 132 /24 K/BB. The LH was even better between A and High-A in 2009 with an 11-2 record, a 2.10/0.94, 100 HA, and a 113/17 K/BB in 124 IP. His total minor league K/BB, including this year is 315/63. Owens has won back-to-back minor league pitcher of the year awards for the Pirates. He remains on my bench in my 15-team mixed league, a league that my team, as we speak, is 132 for 685 (.193). By the way, the owner above me is hitting .238. Maybe I shouldn’t have concentrated on pitching so much with King Felix (first overall pick), Haren, Hamels, Shields, Derek Lowe, and Aaron Harang as my SP. Josh Collmenter made a rise through the Diamondbacks' system last season, pitching well in High- and Double-A before scuffling at Triple-A at the end of the year. It wasn't enough to earn him a spot among their top 30 prospects, however, at least not according to Baseball America. He allowed one earned run while striking out seven over six innings in his first start for Reno this season. With Aaron Heilman headed to the disabled list, the Astros opted to recall the 25-year-old righty from Triple-A. In his major league debut against SF on Sunday, Collmenter received the W in extra innings with 2 IP of perfect relief with 2 K’s. He was a SP in the minors and across 3 levels in 2010, Collmenter was 14-6 in 152 IP, with 136 HA, a 133/51 K/BB, and a 3.38/1.23 ERA/WHIP. He uses a deceptive delivery and high arm slot that allow his 86-90 mph fastball to play up. Collmenter generally has high-quality command and control of three offerings, but he may not have the natural stuff to last in a starting rotation in the Majors. His changeup is an above average pitch and he can battle left-handed hitters with it. As a flyball pitcher, Collmenter has little room for error, particularly with a low K rate. I would keep an eye on him from a distance for now. By the way, as you know I picked up Jack Wilson in my AL-straight draft league. He was also my best keeper this season on my ill-fated $260-AL team for $1. Since I’ve picked up Wilson he’s 0 for 14 with 1 R and 1 SB. But what else could I expect?

April 18, 2011: Just a guess but my fantasy season is going pretty badly so far!

Dave Sappelt went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double as Triple-A Louisville's leadoff man on Wednesday. Sappelt, one of March's biggest surprises when he hit .564 with three homers in 39 at-bats for the Reds, has kept it going in April, starting off at .350 in 10 games for Louisville. Even if the Reds don't develop any crisis in the outfield, they may have to give the 24-year-old a look at some point. Sappelt jumped from Class A Lynchburg to Double-A Carolina and finished the season at Triple-A Louisville. In 89 games at Carolina, his .361 average led the Southern League and set a new club record. In 133 games combined, he batted .342 with a .395 on-base percentage and was named the organization's Minor League hitter of the year. A speedy 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, Sappelt stole 25 bases last season but was also caught 18 times. The organization wants him to work on improving his base-stealing technique and continue his progress of becoming more consistent as a hitter. In A-Ball in 2009, Sappelt had 47 SB but had 22 CS and hit .281 in 552 AB. Keep an eye on the 24 yr old OF especially if you’re in need of cheap speed. Desperate for a middle infielder in your deep National League only fantasy league? There is nothing wrong with picking up Angel Sanchez as long as you temper your expectations, because chances are the bloom will fall off this fantasy rose very soon. After batting .277 in 253 AB for Houston in 2010, Sanchez has been more than a capable fill-in for Clint Barmes. Starting all 14 games for the Astros so far, Sanchez is at .322 in 59 AB with 1 HR (his first major league), 9 RBI, 11 R, and a 10/4 K/BB. Though his time as a fantasy stalwart may be winding down as he’s 2 for 16 over his last 4 games. Jim Hoey is expected to be promoted by the Twins soon. He'll either replace Jeff Manship or Alex Burnett on the roster. Hoey, who was acquired in the J.J. Hardy deal over the offseason, has a 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 8/1 K/BB ratio over 6 2/3 innings at Triple-A. He could be used in a setup role with Joe Nathan moving to less pressurized innings. I always waited for Hoey to fulfill his closer-of-the-future label but it was never to be. Hoey hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2007. He split 2010 with Double-A and Triple-A and posted a 3.25/1.33 ERA/WHIP in 52 2/3 IP, allowed 36 H, and a 70/34 K/BB. His major league career could make you sick. In 35 games and 34 1/3 IP, Hoey has an 8.13/1.81, 39 HA, and a 24/23 K/BB. The 28 year old RHP is running out of chances but, if you need a set-up type, I have a feeling that you can do worse than Hoey. Giants purchased the contract of RHP Ryan Vogelsong from Triple-A Fresno. The 33-year-old Vogelsong is back in the big leagues for the first time since 2006 and will replace the injured Barry Zito in the rotation. He pitched well in spring training and has been lights-out in his first two starts at Triple-A, giving up just two earned runs while striking out 17 over 11 1/3 innings. Even if your NL is 40 teams deep and you can play 30 guys, Vogelsong is a tough guy to recommend. He has a 10-22 career mark in 315 IP, with a 5.86/1.59 ERA/WHIP, 347 HA, and a 216/154 K/BB. I would leave the possibility of Vogelsong to another owner.

April 17, 2011: "A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives!"

When you’re a lifetime .248 hitter in 2867 minor league AB as a good fielding SS what else can you do? Of course, you become a member of the White Sox bullpen. And for Sergio Santos, the time may be near for a try as the team’s closer. His first foray into pitching went over like a lead balloon over 3 minor league levels in ’09. He did K 30 in 28 2/3 IP but flashed an 8.16 ERA and an 0-3 record. He did well as a rookie with the Sox in 2010, in 51 2/3 IP with a 2.96/1.54 ERA/WHIP, 53 HA, and a 56/26 K/BB. 2011 has shown a little more prosperity for Santos as he remains unscored upon in 82/3 IP with 5 HA, and an 11/4 K/BB. As the White Sox game reached extra innings vs the A’s on Wednesday, a “friend” of mine got on the site and alerted me about the bullpen meltdown and Thornton’s part in the festivities. And I also hear that my friend broke the news of the Kennedy assassination to Rose Kennedy. Because some people like to live vicariously through other people’s misery. But I deserve whatever torment I get with Thornton. If I simply drafted Mariano Rivera in that straight draft AL-only of mine, I would be in the driver's seat. I drafted Thornton #53 (the 2nd "closer" taken). Rivera went at #58. Ironically, John Danks went #57. Danks's bullpen stuck him with a no-decision after a fantastic start Wednesday against the Athletics. Danks went eight innings, allowing only one run on five hits and striking out seven. While we're at it on closers, I could have taken Brian Fuentes who went #198 in the same league (I did draft Grant Balfour in 2 other leagues). All Fuentes has done is go 6 2/3 IP with 5 SV, 2 ER, 4 HA, and a 6/1 K/BB. And he'll be in that spot until the brittle Andrew Bailey comes back. That was until a meltdown of epic proportions. After blowing a save by allowing a solo homer in the ninth, Brian Fuentes gave up five runs -- four earned -- in the 10th Friday to take a loss to the Tigers. It was pretty surprising to see Fuentes sent back out against the right-handed-heavy Detroit lineup. In his defense, things could have gone a whole lot better for him. The bottom of the 10th started with a Daric Barton error, and the A's opted to have him intentionally walk Jhonny Peralta before any runs scored and then later Miguel Cabrera after two runs were already in. The inning exploded from there, and the Tigers ended up taking an 8-1 lead. Fuentes should remain the clear favorite for saves in Oakland with Andrew Bailey out, though we're guessing it'd be Grant Balfour who gets the call if there's a ninth-inning lead Saturday. Matt Thornton has been part of a total bullpen collapse for the White Sox. I saw an interview with Ozzie Guillen after the game on Wednesday and he looked inconsolable. All he kept saying is that he has no one to give the ball to in the 9th inning! The bullpen has given up 22 ER in 36 2/3 IP, with 7 HRA, and a 31/14 K/BB. The worst stat is 6 blown SV in 7 OPPS. Matt Thornton, a guy that I loved enough to make him the 2nd closer off the board has been brutal. In 4 2/3 P, he has an 0-2 record, 3 BS, 10 R (4 ER), 11 HA, and a 3/4 K/BB. What you were so politely trying to say before, Abbie, was 1 IP, 3 HA, and 2 BB today for Thornton. And, like Ozzie Guillen, I'm inconsolable! But should the question be, is Matt Thornton just not built for he ninth inning? Last season, in 60 2/3 IP, Thornton saved a career high 8 games. Held batters to a .191 BA, with a 2.67 ERA. He also led AL RP in K’s with 81. Thornton didn't give up a run in 15 2/3 IP in the ninth inning last season. In those final frames, he struck out 24, walked three and gave up four hits. My feeling is that Thornton is built for the final 3 outs. His career with Chicago is based off these pressure situations.

April 16, 2011: She's my best friend's girlfriend and she used to be mine!

This is always one of the toughest things to do for a fantasy owner. It’s when you have to put in your starting line-up for the week before the Monday’s games and you have a guy on your bench that only had 1 AB for the season until that point. What are you going to do? Of course you’re going to leave him on your bench! Who knows when any particular guy is going to have a career week? Especially when there’s no data to back it! Colorado Rockies 2B, Jonathan Herrera went 2-for-4 with a double, run scored, walk and two stolen bases Wednesday, April 13, against the New York Mets. Herrera has hit safely in his past five games, going 9-for-18 (.500) with eight walks and four steals during the impressive span. Of course he’s been on my bench in my $260-NL the whole week. And why not? He hadn’t played in 6 consecutive games until April 8 and had received only 1 AB for the season up to that point! He also sports 7 R and 3 doubles. Like the Rockies, you may have no choice but to ride this hot streak out. And enjoy the SB as he only had 3 coming into this season in 283 AB. He is out of the starting line-up for the first game of Thursday’s double-header vs the Mets. Herrera had started the last five games at second base and hit safely in all of them, so his spot in the lineup looks pretty secure right now. Jose Lopez will start the first game of the doubleheader, but Herrera should be back for the second game. And Herrera came back in with a bang! Jonathan Herrera went 2-for-5 and hit his second major league home run -- a three-run shot off Taylor Buchholz -- as the Rockies beat the Mets 9-4 in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader. The Rockies swept the four-game series in Citi Field. Herrera, who didn't play the first game, entered the day with one homer in 302 major league at-bats. He's been hot this season, though, going 11-for-24 with 3 doubles and a 2/8 K/BB, and he already has four steals after swiping just two bases in 76 games last year. The Rockies are going to have to stick with him at second base and sit Jose Lopez, at least until he cools off. Rod Barajas hit a two-run bomb in the fourth inning of the Dodgers loss to the Giants on Wednesday. It is his third home run of the year. He won't give you much average, but the potential for 15 or so home runs puts him on the radar for NL-only leaguers in need of a catcher. Barajas is who he is and makes no apologies for it. A lifetime .238 hitter with 112 career HR. This season the 35 year old backstop is 8 for 38 (.211) with 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, and a 13/2 K/BB. And when all is said and done, this is the Rod Barajas you’re going to get. A .230-.240 BA along with some cheap power. And for a catcher, he makes a good low cost investment for your fantasy team.

April 15, 2011: Manny Ramirez can never be called the smartest guy that ever lived!

Chipper Jones tagged Randy Choate for a solo home run in the ninth inning on Wednesday, driving in the Braves' lone run in their loss to the MarlinsThe homer was Jones' first of the season, and upped his average to .310. It was also Jones’ career RBI #1500, the third switch hitter to accomplish that feat (Murray and Mantle are the others). He's not about to turn into the Jones of old, but looks to set to post a better average than the combined .265 he hit in 2009 and 2010. Jones said he hasn't been walking much lately because he is seeing the ball well and expanding the zone a bit, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien. "It goes through stretches where I'm feeling good at the plate, and I feel like I can hit more pitches when I'm feeling good," Jones said. "So I may expand the strike zone a hair, but I'm also taking advantage of people coming at me. If I'm not feeling good, you'll see me probably a hair more passive, probably drawing more walks." He is hitting .370 (20-for-54) with eight doubles, one home run and nine RBIs in his last 15 games dating back to last year. Joe Blanton has certainly struggled more with runners on base this year. The opposition is batting .500 (9 for 18) with three walks when runners are on base against Blanton, as opposed to hitting .296 (8 for 27) with no walks and seven strikeouts with the bases empty. Hopefully, (Phillies pitching coach) Dubee and Blanton get on the same page and fix the right-hander's issues. Blanton seems to think that his problems stem from working out of the stretch. Dubee feels that the problem with Blanton is that he’s just allowing innings to snowball. Slow starts are nothing new for Blanton. He had a 7.11 ERA through eight starts in 2009 and a 7.28 ERA in his first eight starts last year. The fact he is pitching for a top contender gives Blanton some fantasy appeal, but he is nothing more than a low-end option. His next scheduled start is for Sunday against the Marlins. He went 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in two starts against Florida last season. Blanton is a big guy. Some may even say that he has more chins than an Asian phonebook! He did have one good season of bounty, in his last year with the A’s in ’07. Blanton went a career high 230 IP with 14 W, a 3.95/1.22 ERA/WHIP, 240 HA, and a 140/40 K/BB. 2 years later, Blanton had a 4.05/1.32 for the Phillies with 198 HA and a career high 163 K’s (59 BB) in 195 1/3 IP. In fact, Blanton’s 3 best seasons are 2005. 2007, and 2009, 3 odd years. Maybe 2011 will continue the trend. Blanton remains glued to my bench in my 15-team mixed league but does have a spot in my $260-NL rotation.

April 14, 2011: The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain!

Sam Fuld fell a single shy of a cycle on Monday night against the Red Sox, as he scored three runs and drove in four in a 16-5 Tampa Bay victory. Fuld could have had his cycle in the ninth inning, but opted not to pull up at first base after ripping his second double. He also continued to play a mean left field, as he made a number of excellent defensive plays. It's hard to get excited about Fuld's fantasy prospects — his home run tonight was just the second of his 106-game career — but he's at least worth keeping an eye on in AL-only formats, as the playing time should be there. IN the last 2 days, Fuld was picked up in my no-trade AL as a free agent and was purchased for $6 FAAB in my $260-AL. And after having just 2 SB in his first 98 major league games (with the Cubs), Fuld now has 6 SB with the Rays in 2011. He is also hitting .313 in 32 AB with 5 R, 4 doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI and a 3/3 K/BB. His career K/BB is 21/26. Replacing Drew Stubbs in center field and in the leadoff spot, Chris Heisey hit a two-run homer Monday as part of the Reds' 3-2 win. Heisey has started just three games, but he's driven in seven runs in his 15 at-bats. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him back in the lineup on Tuesday, perhaps in right field in place of the struggling Jay Bruce. Heisey hit the game-winning homer in Monday's 3-2 win over the Padres. He also had a big catch in the Padres' two-run first inning, when they had the bases loaded and no outs, preventing a much bigger inning. Heisey came close to hitting another homer in the first inning, flying out to the wall in center field. He got the start in center field in place of the slumping Drew Stubbs. He's played well in multiple games when he's gotten spot starts. We've surmised in the past that Heisey could replace Gomes eventually, but it's also possible that he could displace Stubbs. Right now, as far as fourth OF go, Heisey is as good as they come. In 201 AB for the Reds in 2010, Heisey hit .254 with 8 HR, 21 RBI, and 33 R. He’ll have to work on his 57/16 K/BB but would be a defensive improvement over Gomes in LF and possibly even an offensive improvement over Stubbs in CF. He shouldn’t be a free agent in your deep NL-only. This was some news on Jason Motte in February. Motte is working on his sinker. "There were even times last year, that I'd throw it, and I'd baby it and it would be at 90(mph), 91 (mph) and it'd work," Motte said. "You'd get a guy to to roll over. But you go and you look and it's like, 'That was terrible.' It worked. It was effective at the time. But still, I was babying it. If I give up a hit on it, I want to be something that I put all my effort into it." He's been toying with a sinker since 2007, while converting from catcher at High-A. Certainly, the effective use of a sinker would be a good addition to the setup man's arsenal. He could be St. Louis' closer of the future. His spring, though, with the new sinker was nothing to write home about. In 9 1/3 IP, he had 13 HA, 10 ER, a 6/4 K/BB and 2 HBP. Motte earned a hold Monday, retiring all four batters he faced in his first clean performance of the season. In three appearances so far this year, Motte still has not struck out a batter, which is curious considering he has struck out over a batter an inning in his career. He'll continue to pitch in the late innings for the Cardinals, but if he doesn't get his strikeout rate up he may be relegated to lower-leverage appearances. Add in the fact that Mitchell Boggs K’d all 3 batters he faced Monday and Ryan Franklin’s 3 blown SV and it’s hard to see which way LaRussa will lean in the next SV situation. I’d say the job still belongs to Franklin but it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on!

April 13, 2011: As the ancient Greeks once said, "Count no man lucky until he's dead!"

I did some digging on Preston Mattingly and didn't realize that he was the 31st overall pick (by the Dodgers) in the 2006 amateur draft. So the scouts must have seen something besides being the son of a great player, Don Mattingly. His minor league numbers don't scream out for a future in the majors however. In 1544 AB between Rookie, A-Ball, and High-A, Mattingly is a lifetime .232 hitter with 184 R, 20 HR, 146 RBI, 67 SB (25 CS), a .609 OPS, and an alarming 467/88 K/BB. He did hit .258 in High-A in 2009 as a 21 year old in 454 AB with 59 R, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 25 SB (13 CS), a 150/35 K/BB and a .647 OPS. The K's are just way too much for a non-power hitter like Preston. He was bought down by injuries in 2010 and batted just .218 in 165 AB with 2 HR 17 RBI, 24 R, 8 SB, and a 51/6 K/BB. In a touch of irony, Preston was traded to the Indians on September 26, 2010 one week after his father was named to replace Joe Torre as the Dodger manager for the 2011 season. Preston Mattingly is still young enough and, I'll assume, athletic enough to give up on the dream. He may just have to hit the batting cages every day to try to recreate what I'm sure his father had taught him growing up. How to stay back on the ball and go the other way! Though, I don't hold out much hope on Donnie Baseball's kid. I saw that he did sign with the Dodgers the other day and can only hope he finds some hitting nirvana in his father’s organization. If Donnie Ballgame were my father, I may have made something of my own life! Mike Leake was pounded for six runs in 4 2/3 innings by the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Leake pitched well against the Astros in his first start, but this was a tougher assignment and he looked more like the pitcher who finished the spring with a 7.29 ERA. That ERA came with a 7/9 K/BB, 5 HRA, and 33 HA in 21 IP. Leake probably won't remain in the rotation if the Reds get Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey back at the end of the month as hoped. First off, let’s give Mike Leake a big pat on the back about never spending a day (so far) in the minors and being thrown right into the Reds rotation to begin 2010. And, in spite of leaping right from college to the majors, he showed some prosperity in the first half.  He had a 3.38/1.42 ERA/WHIP, a 6-1 record and 67 K in 101 IP. But he couldn’t keep up the bounty and had a 6.57/1.70 in the second half before being shut down in September. Keep an eye on Indians minor league INF, Cord Phelps. 2008 third-round pick Phelps hit a pair of homers Sunday for Triple-A Columbus. Phelps is another one of the Indians' minor leaguers potentially in the mix for playing time at second or third as the year goes on. He's 8-for-17 with 4 extra-base hits, 7 RBI, 4 R and a 2/4 K/BB for the Clippers. The 24 year old Phelps hit .308 between AA/AAA in 2010 with 8 HR, 54 RBI, 66 R, and a 68/39 K/BB in 442 AB. Don’t forget about Phelps in your AL-only, especially keeper leagues.

April 12, 2011: Think about this: Sam Fuld has 5 SB in 2011!

Russell Martin went 2-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI in a 9-4 win over the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. Martin connected for a three-run shot in the fourth and added a solo blast in the seventh. It was his second career multi-homer game and his first since August 15, 2007 against the Astros. The 28-year-old backstop looks rejuvenated early on in the season and is well worth using in all formats right now. Martin is currently 9 for 30 (.300) with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 5 R and a 5/1 K/BB, and is making me eat my words over a $13 buy for him by the commissioner in my $260-AL league. I got it into my head that with the 12 HR, 79 RBI, and .249 BA over his last 836 AB (’09-’10), Martin could be on the downside. At least so far in 2011, I couldn’t be more wrong. He found fantasy nirvana for his owners in 2007-2008 with a .286 BA in 1093 AB, 32 HR, 157 RBI, 174 R, 39 SB, and a 172/157 K/BB. The smart Russell Martin owner may want to “sell high” on him. You may just want to look into purchasing Martin if the price isn’t too prohibitive because, by the looks of him so far, he’s far from done! And I will do what I do best and that’s eat a lot of humble pie! And, speaking of humble pie, here’s another one for you! The first guy that I bought up in my $360-NL was Chris Narveson for $1. I do it every year just to be a little bit of a wise ass and to draw some money out of the draft. I thought I pulled the wool over everyone's eyes when Narveson ended getting caught up in a bidding war and went for $14. Incidentally, the owner that "wisely" spent the $14 is in first place in that league as I sit in 11th out of 13 teams. And, of course, right now Narveson would be my best pitcher. And he's a guy that I have to admit has been on my radar since he was in the Cardinals organization back in the middle part of the decade. But injuries always seemed to get the better of him and, when he resurfaced with the Brewers in 2009, he was on my radar again. Kind of like an old girlfriend (especially after she meets another guy). He had a 46/16 K/BB in '09 with a 3.83/1.30 ERA/WHIP in 47 IP for the Brewers. I drafted him in my $260-NL for $2 and he ended up on Stork's great team for the 2011 season. He made 28 starts for the Brew Crew in '10 (37 games total) with 167 2/3 IP, a 4.99/1.38, 172 HA, and a 137/59 K/BB. His 2nd half WHIP was more bountiful (1.26) and his other numbers incrementally got better as the season went on. But when I look at 2 GS in 2011, 13 IP, a 0.00/1.00 ERA/WHIP, 9 HA, and a 14/4 K/BB, I'll be left to wonder if I didn't "outsmart" myself. Because sometimes I'm not as good as I think I am or as bad as my teams are doing this year! But it's finding that gray area that has become a bit of a nuisance! When I handed in my keepers for my $260-AL team, the terrible squad that I inherited, where the best keeper was Jack Wilson for $1, I was asked why I didn’t keep Vinnie Mazzaro the SP from KC. After all, I had no real keepers and Mazzaro was “only” $5. He did have 18 GS (24 games) for Oakland in 2010 with 122 1/3 IP, 127 HA, a 4.27/1.45 ERA/WHIP and a 79/50 K/BB. I have to admit that for a very brief time, I even thought about keeping him! But I decided that even I wasn’t that desperate. I saw him through spring and that came out to a 6.06 ERA and a 10/7 K/BB in 16 1/3 IP. And then today, I read this. Vin Mazzaro gave up five runs and walked seven in 2 1/3 innings for Triple-A Omaha on Sunday. Mazzaro is supposed to be the Royals' fifth starter, and the plan was for him to join the rotation on Saturday. However, such an ugly outing could change that. Just 29 of his 63 pitches yesterday were strikes, and he also hit a batter. If the Royals bypass Mazzaro, then Sean O'Sullivan likely would move into the rotation. That last sentence just about says it all!

April 11, 2011: Todd Helton is out again with a balky back!

John Lackey won Friday despite yielding six runs in five innings to the Yankees. Lackey has had two really tough assignments out of the gate, pitching in Texas and then facing the Yankees at Fenway. Still, that 15.58 ERA is ugly no matter how one looks at it. He's given up runs in nine of the 10 innings in which he's pitched. In those 8 2/3 IP, Lackey has given up 17 H and 4 BB. That’s a WHIP in the stratosphere! In 2010 Lackey did improve his K/9 from 5.3 in his first 19 GS to 8.1 in his last 14 GS.  Obviously, he's not worth using in mixed leagues at the moment. But that wasn’t always the case. He was a pretty good SP for the Angels, having a 19 W season, a 3.01/1.21 ERA/WHIP in 224 IP in ’07 and 389 total K’s in ’05-’06 in 426 2/3 IP. In fact, Lackey was 102-71 in 8 seasons with the Angels. You know that I’m not a big fan of giving long term deals to pitchers but on December 16, 2009, John Lackey signed a 5 yr/$82.5-mil deal with the Bosox. He gave them 14 W in 215 IP with a 4.40/1.42 ERA/WHIP, 233 HA, and a 156/72 K/BB. Not what the Red Sox had in mind. Cubs recalled RHP Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs need an extra arm in their pen now that James Russell is moving to the starting rotation. Stevens, 27, has a bloated 6.53 ERA over 29 major league appearances, including a 6.11/1.80 ERA/WHIP and 15/10 K/BB ratio over 17 2/3 innings last season. He didn’t pitch in the majors last season after July 23. I used to love Jeff Stevens. It always seemed like he had the stuff but it could never translate to the majors. At Triple-A in 2009, Stevens gave up 35 H in 57 2/3 IP with a 61/25 K/BB. But his 7.11/1.80 for the Cubs that season left a lot to be desired. Maybe he’ll get it someday but, at 27, time is getting short. As Yogi Berra so astutely said, “It’s getting late out there early!” And for Stevens, truer words were never spoken. Jason Marquis fanned nine while allowing three runs in six innings Sunday versus the Mets. That's his high strikeout game since 2004 and just the third time he's reached nine in his career. It helped that Marquis was able to fan opposing starts Chris Young three times. Marquis has a 3.65 ERA after two starts. He's still not recommended in NL-only leagues. Next to the expression “innings-eater” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Marquis. He spent most of 2010 on the shelf but from 2004-2009, Marquis averaged 32 GS, 196 1/3 IP, 13 W, and 108 K per season. Washington signed Marquis to a 2 yr/$15-mil deal after his 15-13 2009 season in which he had a 115/80 K/BB, 218 HA, and a 4.04/1.38 ERA/WHIP in a career high 216 IP for the Rockies. In fact, Colorado left him off the playoff roster that season as he lost his starting spot at the end of September. I’m still scratching my head over that contract. At least it wasn’t for 5 years!

April 10, 2011: The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco!

Mark Buehrle surrendered five runs over five innings in a no-decision Wednesday against the Royals. Buehrle has a 7.36 ERA after two starts, both of which have come against offenses that projected to be among the AL's weakest (he faced the Indians last week). He also has just two strikeouts in 11 innings. With the way his strikeout rate has diminshed in recent years, it's possible that he's in for a real decline. Over his last 5 seasons, Buehrle has 1047 1/3 IP and has given up 1163 H. He’s a 4-time All-Star and a 2-time Gold Glove winner who pitched a no-hitter in April, ’07 and a perfect game on July 23, 2009. That game will be remembered for the great catch at the wall by DeWayne Wise in the 9th inning! If you have Buehrle for a buck, maybe $2, I can live with that! Call Buehrle a younger version (most are) of Jamie Moyer. He’s a command pitcher who relies on finesse and location and not velocity. Buehrle does have 148 career W’s and has logged at least 201 IP the last 10 seasons. Pete Orr made his first start of the season at second base Wednesday night against the Mets. Wilson Valdez got most of the night off (he appeared in the late innings). Orr, 31, has a .261/.288/.336 batting line over 557 major league plate appearances, so we weren’t expecting too much. But, batting 7th in the Phillies order, Orr smacked 2 H in 3 AB with 2 R. He’s a guy that in parts of 5 major league seasons has never really been fantasy relevant! In 519 AB spread out over 347 games, Orr has a .261 BA with 3 HR, 35 RBI, 80 R, 13 SB, a 98/19 K/BB, and a .623 OPS. for Atlanta and Washington. He spent the 2010 season in Triple-A and, in 489 AB, batted .264 with 12 HR, 45 RBI, 63 R, 25 SB, a 90/34 K/BB and a .762 OPS. For fantasy purposes it’s safe to stay away from Orr. His only month of bounty may have come in his first month in the majors, April ’05, when Orr batted .289 in 45 AB with 9 R. All this talk about the talented Drew Storen, and it's this relative no-name who appears to have the edge in the Nats' closer-by-committee setup. Sean Burnett has the team's 2 SV (as of Thursday), and it's not like this came from nowhere. The lefty had a 1.14 WHIP in 2010, followed it up with a good spring and has 4 scoreless innings in 2011 with a 3/0 K/BB and 3 HA. Burnett had a second straight uneventful save opportunity, but it's also worth noting that Drew Storen looked terrific in two perfect innings on Thursday, striking out three while flashing upper 90s heat and a devastating slider. Storen also threw a hitless inning on Friday and now has a 1.59 ERA. Though Burnett is the closer right now, we still like Storen over the long haul this season. What’s odd is, Storen is owned in 94 percent of ESPN leagues, Burnett only 12 percentBurnett gave up 52 H in 63 IP in 2010 with a 62/20 K/BB and a 2.14 ERA. If he can get past the bias of “lefthandedness,” you may be seeing the new closer for the Nationals, at least in the short-term. An owner in my $360-NL made what I would call the most astute buy of the draft by purchasing Burnett for $1.

April 9, 2011: You can see a lot by observing!

An executive who used to work with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told John Harper of the New York Daily News that he wouldn't be surprised if Mike Pelfrey is traded this season. "He's not a No. 1," the executive said. "He doesn't have a pitch to put hitters away, and he may not get better than he is right now. I think Sandy is going to be looking down the road there, knowing (Scott) Boras will be looking for big money for Pelfrey in a couple of years, and knowing the value might not be there." Pelfrey is making $3.925 million this season and remains under team control through 2013. Hard to say if there's anything there, but Jayson Stark of has heard similar things from other executives around baseball. Of course, Pelfrey will have to make some serious improvements from his first two starts for the Mets to get anything substantial in return. You've got to be a little concerned that Pelfrey's shoulder issues have cropped up again, though he was able to mostly pitch through them last season. Pelfrey, of course, was named the Mets Opening Day SP in what turns out to be a cruel April Fool’s joke played by the Mets. After 2 GS in 2011, Pelfrey has 6 1/3 IP, a 15.63/2.68 ERA/WHIP, 11 ER, 12 HA, and a 3/5 K/BB. In 96 GS from 2008-2010, Pelfrey had given up 635 H in 589 IP with a 330/198 K/BB. Pelfrey did win 15 games for the Mets in 2010 but in 7 GS, from June 30-August 4, Pelfrey went 30 IP, with 62 HA, a 14/16 K/BB, and a 9.00/2.60 ERA/WHIP. He did finish the season strong and that’s when the Mets should have looked to get something for him! He went at least 7 innings in his last 5 GS in September, going 35 2/3 IP, 26 HA, a 19/10 K/BB, and a 2.27/1.01 ERA/WHIP. I’m sure the Mets, as well as fantasy owners want to know, who is the real Mike Pelfrey? If you want, you may make the Pelfrey owner in your NL-only a low ball offer on him. I’m sure his owner is as exasperated as the Mets! To call Wilson Valdez’s 4 for 4 day with 3 R and 3 RBI on Thursday a career day would be an understatement. Coming into this season the well-traveled Valdez was a .240 hitter in 675 AB with 5 HR, 62 RBI, 77 R, 11 SB and a 96/43 K/BB. He has spent time with the White Sox, Mariners, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, and now the Phillies. I wasn't totally surprised that, unlike Paul Janish, after I belted out the name Wilson Valdez in the draft room of my $360-NL draft (I bought him up before Janish), that nary a sound was heard (not even a mouse). The story of the 33 year old Valdez wasn’t always fraught with bad hitting! He had a season of bounty at Triple-A in 2006 hitting .297 in 528 AB with 94 R, 6 HR, 53 RBI, and 26 SB. He was hitting .343 in 361 AB at Triple-A in 2007 when he was called up by the Dodgers. He felt a change of scenery was in order and spent the 2008 season in Japan and Korea. I wonder if he met Colby Lewis in his travels? He came back to the States in '09 for a 41 game stint with the Mets in 2009 before moving to the Phillies before the 2010 season. With injuries to Rollins and Utley last season, Valdez received a career high 333 AB and hit .258 with 4 HR, 35 RBI, 37 R, 7 SB, and a 43/21 K/BB. Valdez is now 9 for 21 on the young season with 4 R, 5 RBI, and 1 SB. In fact, the NL batting title could come down to the last day of the season between Janish and Valdez. Teddy Ballgame must be turning over in his grave. Or, wherever he is! Right now I'm glad I threw the $1 out for Valdez and, if Utley makes it back someday, it may be the saddest day of my life!

April 8, 2011: Brian Wilson's beard is sweeter than even the most perfect honey!

After sitting out the whole 2010 season Jermaine Dye has decided to retire from baseball at the age of 37. Dye had a terrific first half in 2009, but after fading all of the way to .179 after the All-Star break, he failed to attract much interest as a free agent after the season. Unwilling to settle for a $10 million paycut, he ended up going unsigned last year.  He talked about coming back this year, but again, there wasn’t a lot of interest and he didn’t seem interested in signing a minor league contract. Now apparently finished, Dye ends a 14-year career with a .274/.338/.488 line, 325 homers and 1,072 RBI.  A two-time All-Star, he had his best season in 2006, when he hit .315/.385/.622 with 44 homers and 120 RBI for the White Sox.  That earned him a fifth-place finish in the AL MVP balloting.  He never topped 35 homers outside of 2006, but he had back-to-back seasons of 119 and 118 RBI for the Royals in 1999 and 2000. Dye was the World Series MVP in ’05 as the White Sox swept the Astros in 4 games. Dye hit 1 HR, 3 RBI and was 7 for 16 (.438). Dye also played for the Braves, Royals and A’s and added 984 R in 6487 AB. Alexi Ogando tossed six shutout innings in a win over the Mariners Tuesday, striking out four while allowing just two hits and two walks. It was the first start of his major league career and he made it count, baffling Seattle's lineup. In fact, it was the first start of his professional career. There was only one damper on the night. Ogando suffered a blister on his right index finger during the sixth inning, which the team checked on before deciding to let him finish the frame. He was lifted after that having tossed 90 pitches. We'll update you on his status when it becomes available. He was drafted as an OF in 2002 and didn’t play in the states from 2005-2009. Ogando resurfaced in 2010 with a new name as a RP and gave the Rangers 41 2/3 IP, with a 39/16 K/BB, 31 HA and a 1.30/1.13 ERA/WHIP. He also had a 42/11 K/BB in 30 2/3 IP between Double-A and Triple-A. He shouldn’t be available in your AL-only but if guys weren’t paying attention don’t make the same mistake! I really wanted to get Aaron Harang in my $360-NL with my last pitching spot but when the bidding went up to $10, I dropped out. I believe he'll have better numbers pitching half his games in SD. Because, when you look ay it, even a mediocre pitcher in SD becomes fantasy relevant! He did get the "all important" QS last night with 6 IP of 1 ER ball, 6 HA, a 6/2 K/BB, and a W. Harang is, unfortunately, on my bench in my 15-team mixed league. Whether it's a coincidence or not, his career has never been the same since a 4 IP relief stint on May 25, 2008 when he gave up 2 H and had a 9/1 K/BB. He also threw 63 pitches in that game between starts. His next 3 GS produced 15 1/3 IP, 30 HA, 16 ER and 4 HRA. He went on the DL after his July 8 start that season. His last 3 seasons, like Abbie said, show an 18-38 record, 458 1/3 IP, a 377/131 K/BB, 530 HA, and a 4.71/1.44 ERA/WHIP in 75 GS. The 2 seasons before that ('06-'07), Harang had 69 GS, 466 IP, a 434/108 K/BB, 455 HA, and a 3.75/1.21 ERA/WHIP. And this is pitching half his games in Cincinnati! Maybe that 4 inning relief stint back in '08 had an effect on Harang. It sure looks that way! If you can get Harang at a low cost or if he's a free agent in your league (he shouldn't be), you could investigate. I do think that you can get some fantasy usefulness out of the soon-to-be 33 year old in 2011.

April 7, 2011: Closer Brian Wilson got a little beat up in his first appearance of the season!

Newly appointed closer Jordan Walden did not have to wait long to earn his first save of the season, nailing it down against the Rays on Tuesday. He threw 10 of 13 pitches for strikes. He struck out 1 and retired the winless Rays (0-4) 1-2-3 with 1 K. With solid pitching and good hitting, the Angels should give Walden plenty of save opportunities for the remainder of the year. This is why you draft skills and not roles. Rodney was taken #86 in my straight AL-draft while Walden was taken #216. That same owner also had the foresight to take Alexi Ogando at #217. Those are 2 skilled arms and I let them both slide in that draft. Walden was drafted in my $260-AL for $1 but before you go patting that owner on the back, consider that he also drafted Kazmir ($2), Vargas ($3), Matsuzaka ($3), and Freddy Garcia ($2). So maybe it is true about a broken clock being right twice in the same day. And no excuse for me to overlook Jordan Walden in all my leagues! I wasn't sure if Walden was going to make it after a 2009 season in Double-A that saw him go 60 IP, a 5.25/1.68 ERA/WHIP, and a 57/29 K/BB. That was his first season as a RP. In 2008, he had 27 GS and 156 1/3 IP, with a 2.76/1.14 ERA/WHIP, 122 HA, and a 141/56 K/BB as a 20 year old between A-Ball and High-A. So there is a history of bounty. He took the league by storm last September with 23 K's in 15 1/3 IP while adding a SV and a 2.35 ERA. In 2011, he had 6 K in 3 1/3 IP with 1 HA and 1 BB. I have a sneaking feeling that Walden will keep the job and will be kicking myself in the ass for overlooking him. I don't know what that means for Fernando Rodney but, like you say, it could lead to his eventual release or banishment to the bushes! And then there was the closer-in-waiting that got away! The Pittsburgh Pirates released Craig Hansen yesterday. Hansen pitched 6.1 innings for the Pirates.  He had a nerve disorder in his neck that limited his abilities, mainly the ability to throw strikes.  (24 walks and 12 strikeouts.)  His numbers from last year were favorable, albeit limited as he threw only 16 innings. Reports were that Hansen was sitting at 88-89 miles per hour at Bradenton. In fact Hanson, who was involved in the Jason Bay trade from the Pirates to the Red Sox, appeared in only 17 games the past 2 seasons because of his condition. Over his major league career, Hansen has 93 2/3 IP, 3 SV, a 6.34/1.72 ERA/WHIP, 98 HA, and a 70/63 K/BB. He may head back to the minors where in 145 2/3 IP, Hansen has 4 SV, a 2.78/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 127 HA, and a 134/75 K/BB. He was the 26th pick in the first round of the 2005 draft by the Red Sox. There’s a lot to be said when the Pirates release you, especially a pitcher! This once and future closer should be well off your radar!

April 6, 2011: She makes a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot!

About once every season there’s a little blurb about relief pitcher Matt Anderson and you say to yourself that you’ve heard of this guy! Baseball fans sure should have heard of Anderson. After all, he was the overall #1 draft pick by the Tigers back in 1997 and later, for one summer, became the closer for Detroit. In 2001, Anderson had 22 SV a 4.82/1.32 ERA/WHIP, 56 HA and a 52/18 K/BB in 56 IP for the Tigers. But that’s the only baseball providence that Anderson was to find. Early in the 2002 season, Anderson tore a muscle in his right armpit and, after topping 100 MPH earlier in his career, he was barely able to reach 90. He did bounce around between the majors and the minors until 2005. All he could manage at the major league level after ’01 was 44 1/3 IP, 3 SV, 61 HA, a 25/28 K/BB and a 7.92/2.01 ERA/WHIP. His minor league numbers weren’t much better. In 56 games, Anderson amassed 2 SV, 67 1/3 IP, 76 HA, a 65/45 K/BB and a 7.08/1.80 ERA/WHIP. Some guys could ask, “What if?” But not Anderson. Matt Anderson tried again this spring with the Phillies but it just wasn’t meant to be. This past Saturday, the Phillies released Anderson and all the pomp and circumstance that was there at the turn of the century was left behind! I wish him well in his next journey in life. As you probably read by now, Paul Janish caused quite a stir at my $360-NL draft the other night. An owner with just his SS spot to fill and $14 left bought up Janish for $1. It went all around the table with every owner turning their cups over. That was until the last possible owner said “$2.” This owner had some money left and, apparently, wasn’t going to let Janish go for a buck. The original owner then bid his whole $14 for Janish. What does the 2nd owner do? He bids $15, shutting out the first owner. It was something out of the movie “Animal House.” There was plenty of bad feeling but the original owner did end up with a $2 Edgar Renteria which, in my opinion, was the guy to go after anyway. In most of 3 seasons with the Reds, Janish is a .226 hitter in 536 AB with 64 R, 7 HR, 47 RBI, and 3 SB. Yes he does have the “starting” SS job with the Reds and is already 4 for 9 on the young season with 1 R and 1 RBI. But $15? Come on! I will agree that Janish makes a good $1 guy as your last MID inf but that’s it. Tampa Bay OF Johnny Damon was scratched from Sunday's lineup against the Orioles, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Damon is dealing with a tight right calf. He's day to day. Damon thinks his issue could be related to the turf in Tampa Bay. "I woke up at 7 this morning and my right calf felt tight,'' he said. "I don’t know what it was from. Maybe it's from the turf, I don't know.'' Signed to man left field, the Rays better hope their home field is not the problem. "Right now I'm saying no, I hope it's not an issue ongoing,'' Damon said. "And it better not be an issue ongoing. I think I'm stuck out there in leftfield; I think Manny (Ramirez) is happy swinging the lumber (as the DH).'' Damon has 2571 career hits as he makes his run toward the magical 3000 hit mark. He’s played at least 141 games the past 15 seasons. I am an owner of Damon in my 15 team mixed league and in my $260-AL for $8.

April 5, 2011: The pen is indeed mightier than the sword!

You can tell a lot about a guy when he’s called up to the majors for the first time and starts off 1 for 33. I had picked Lucas Duda up in my $360-NL the day he got the call and may have been more perturbed than Duda himself over this inauspicious beginning. But Duda kept working on his game and Mets manager at the time, Jerry Manuel, kept throwing him out there. He finished out the 2010 season with the Mets at .202 (17 for 84) with 4 HR, 13 RBI, 11 R, a 22/6 K/BB and a .673 OPS. He wasn’t even on the Mets or fantasy owner’s radar heading into the 2010 season. But a .304 BA across Double-A (161 AB) and Triple-A (264 AB) with 23 HR, 87 RBI, 74 R, 40 doubles, and an 84/60 K/BB changed all that! He was ticketed to start 2011 in Triple-A but the uncertainty surrounding Carlos Beltran and the late injury and subsequent DL of Jason Bay gave Duda a spot on the big squad. He was given chances in spring training getting a team high 71 AB with a .254 BA, 6 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, and a 14/7 K/BB. He did go for $1 in both of my NL which is a good buy. In fact, in my $360 NL, at the end of the draft an owner bought up Jay Gibbons for $1 and another owner went to $2 on Gibbons. That rankled the first owner who only had $1 left. I was moderating the draft and suggested to the second owner that with his last $1 he should investigate Duda. So both owners were happy with a $1 Gibbons and a $1 Duda. I would personally opt for Duda no questions asked. Keep an eye on what happens to him when/if Jason Bay comes off the DL. Because, as it stands right now, I have a feeling that the Mets realize 4 yr/$66-mil spent on Bay wasn’t the way to go! Brennan Boesch went 4-for-4 with four runs and four RBI in the Tigers' first win of the season. Tigers manager Jim Leyland made room for Boesch at DH by starting Victor Martinez at catcher. The move paid off, as Boesch smacked his first home run of the year to help pace Detroit's victory. His quick start helps erase last season's collapse, when he hit .163 in his final 68 games and 221 AB. He primarily will battle fellow left fielder Ryan Raburn for playing time in 2011. Last year, after he was called up by the Tigers, Boesch hit .342 with 12 HR and 49 RBI before the All-Star Break. I had picked him up in my no-trade AL and when talks came about on a possible AL ROY for Boesch, I felt like a genius. But that’s usually short-lived as Boesch crashed and burned in the 2nd half. The LF job for Detroit was supposed to be given to the RH hitting Raburn. Keep an eye on this situation as it could either result in a platoon situation, or AB at the expense of RF, Magglio Ordonez. Any comparisons to Boesch being the latter day version of Kevin Maas may be greatly exaggerated! Red Sox manager Terry Francona feels that Jarrod Saltalamacchia has lost his patience at the plate. Saltalamacchia is now 0-for-10 with five strikeouts in a brutal start to the season. If it gets any worse, perhaps Jason Varitek will begin getting more looks. "The one thing he does so well is work the count and swing at strikes,’’ Francona said of Salty. "He’s anxious right now swinging at a lot of first-pitch strikes. He needs to relax and do what he can do and not try to get it all back in one at-bat.’’ Besides having a the longest last name in baseball history and being a pain-in-the ass to put into onto the AL draft page, Salty really hasn’t done much with his chances so far in the majors. In parts of 4 seasons, he is a .248 hitter in 813 AB with 23 HR, 95 RBI, 102 R, and a 251/78 K/BB. There’s still time for the 25 year old Saltalamacchia (26 in May) but he better start putting together some good games or the veteran Varitek, who I put in my $260-AL line-up for this week will start stealing some time. I still like him as a #2 catcher in mixed leagues until further notice!

April 4, 2011: Rainy days and Mondays always get me down!

Chris Tillman held the Rays hitless over six innings Saturday in an eventual 3-1 Orioles win. Tillman was pulled after throwing 101 pitches and exited to a tie score, so he saw no "win" in the stellar debut outing. The right-hander had a decent spring and looked fantastic Saturday against a tough Tampa Bay lineup. He finished with five strikeouts against three walks. It was the right move taking the kid out by Showalter as you can ruin a young kid’s arm leaving him in to throw 140 or so pitches on the off-chance of a no-hitter. It hasn’t been all bounty for Tillman, who’ll turn 23 in two weeks. Coming into this season, Tillman had a lifetime major league mark of 4-10 in 118 2/3 IP with 128 HA, a 5.61/1.54 ERA/WHIP, and a 70/55 K/BB. His Triple-A work from 2009-2010 was much more bountiful. In 218 IP, Tillman had a 3.06/1.20 ERA/WHIP, a 19-13 record, 205 HA, and a 193/56 K/BB. There’s a lot of talent in that right arm of Tillman’s. RH hitters smacked Tillman around last year also to the tune of a .940 OPS. His minor league largess didn’t accompany him to the show. His spring training consisted of 18 1/3 IP, 20 HA, 8 ER, and a 10/9 K/BB. He will have his ups and downs, especially in the tough AL-East, but is a guy to keep an eye on particularly in keeper leagues. Teammate Zach Britton has a good low 90’s fastball and a solid slider to get plenty of groundballs. The O’s were happy to send him down to Triple-A, possibly to delay his arbitration/free agent clock! In 26 GS between Double-A (87 IP) and Triple-A (66 1/3 IP), Britton had a 10-7 record, a 2.70/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 139 HA, and a 124/51 K/BB in those 153 1/3 IP. But when Brian Matusz injured his back, Britton was summoned to the show. And it wasn’t undeserved as he was their best pitcher this spring. In 20 IP, the 23 year old Britton had 22 HA, 3 ER, and a 13/5 K/BB. A 3rd Baltimore SP, 25 year old Jake Arrieta has been named the #4 SP by the club. Arrieta’s spring wasn’t anything to put in a time capsule as he went 18 2/3 IP, 22 HA, 12 ER, an uninspiring 5 HRA, and a 14/7 K/BB. He put up bountiful numbers at Triple-A in 2010 covering 73 IP, a 1.85/1.12 ERA/WHIP, 48 HA, and a 64/34 K/BB. Called up to the big club in June, Arrieta went 100 1/3 IP, a 4.66/1.54, 106 HA, and a 52/48 K/BB.  Arrieta was scheduled to undergo elbow surgery in September but, after getting a 2nd opinion, it was decided that surgery wasn’t required. That thinking doesn’t always work out but, for now, he’s been OK with rest and by saying 20 Our Fathers and 20 Hail Marys! He can be picked up in deeper AL-only for now but I would stay away in mixed formats.

April 3, 2011: I always wanted to share a repast with a group of cannibals!

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said David Hernandez will be the primary setup man for J.J. Putz this season. Juan Gutierrez, Sam Demel and Aaron Heilman were others that could have been considered for the role, but Hernandez is the best choice. He tossed a scoreless inning Friday, touching 97 MPH on the radar gun a few times. "Just based upon his stuff," Gibson said. "He can overpower people!” Hernandez, 25, posted a sparkling 1.05 WHIP and 79/18 K/BB ratio over 57 1/3 innings this year at the Triple-A level. He's been used as a starter in the past, but the Diamondbacks seem likely to use him as a long reliever at first. He was traded with RP Kam Mickolio for the popular, yet strike out-prone, Mark Reynolds. He hit .198 in 499 AB with 79 R, 32 HR, 85 RBI, and 7 SB. Paired with Mickolio, who has also shown some promise in the minors, the D'Backs got a nice package for Reynolds. As a starter in the Orioles organization, Hernandez had 488 Ks in 432 IP from 2006-2008. Hernandez went completely undrafted in my $360-NL and remains on the list of free agent pitchers for now. I did draft Hernandez onto my $260-NL team (along with pen mate, Sam Demel). I still think that J.J. Putz for $20 by ne was the best buy of the $360-NL draft on Friday night. Health is always an issue with Putz. By the way, with his strike out totals, if Mark Reynolds were a pitcher he’d be worth $30. As it was, he went for $21 in my $260-AL and was taken with pick #64 in my straight AL-draft. Reynolds has “enjoyed” a 638/223 K/BB in the last 3 seasons, including a record 223 K’s in 2009. He seemed like a star in the making after that season when he hit 44 HR, 102 RBI, 98 R, 24 SB, 78 BB, and a .260 BA in 578 AB. That put Reynolds in the upper-tier of 3B heading into the spring of 2010. But lemonade turned to lemons for Reynolds and his fantasy owners as the .198 BA is just a fantasy killer. The upside for Reynolds in Baltimore could be another 40 HR and a .240 BA. But the downside could be a killer as well! It would seem from his short history in the bigs, J.P. Arencibia is a guy who likes to get things done in a big way right off the "bat!" I mean to say, in his major league debut on August 7, 2010, Arencibia was 4 for 5 with a double, 2 HR, and 3 RBI. He couldn't stand that opening game prosperity and went 1 for 30 the rest of the season including a trip to the minors. In Triple-A in 2010, the 25 year old Arencibia belted 32 HR, 85 RBI, with a .301 BA and a .985 OPS. His spring wasn't anything to take pictures over and send them to your family either! he was 10 for 62 (.161) with 1 HR, 5 RBI, and a 19/7 K/BB. His OPS was an anemic .492. So what does the 25 year old do on Opening Day batting out of the #9 spot? He goes 3 for 5 with 2 R, 2 HR, and 5 RBI. Yes, Arencibia just loves first days. Make sure you trade for him at the All-Star break and then trade him after the first game! In my opinion, if you can live with a low BA from Arencibia, he will be a top-5 C in AL-only in terms of power.

April 2, 2011: All my drafts are over and I can live again!

Last night I participated in my fourth draft in the last 8 nights, the Rainbow League, a $360-NL. I didn’t have a great team coming into the 13 owner draft, maybe the third worst! I did come into the draft with Martin Prado ($16), Alex Gonzalez ($10), Omar Infante ($6), and Mike Morse ($10) as my hitters. Nothing great but affordable and there is some multi-position eligibility with Infante and Prado which is always useful in a draft. I decided to throw back Melvin Mora ($8) but after seeing the keeper lists earlier this week, I may have made a mistake. Aramis Ramirez, Polanco, Chipper, Freese, and Jose Lopez are the “best” 3B available, although if I have to, I can move Prado from 2B to 3B. The pitchers I chose were SF closer Brian Wilson ($29), SPs Ubaldo Jimenez ($25), R.A. Dickey ($10), and Jake Westbrook ($10), and potential closer Hong-Chih Kuo ($10). If Wilson started the season on the active roster, I probably don’t keep Kuo. I did throw Sergio Romo ($10) and Tyler Clippard ($10) back into the draft. I came into the draft the same as the night before, not a great team but some money to spend. The first guy bought up was Halladay and he went for a league record (for pitchers) $77. I was in on him until $70 but other owners were going to stop at nothing to get him. Cliff Lee came up shortly after and went for $66. I was in on him too, until the low 60’s. Toward the end of the first round I was in on the bidding for Roy Oswalt and ended up with him for $57. Two picks later, I got Ted Lilly for $40. I later added J.J Putz for what I thought was a bargain at $20. I still hadn’t bought my first offensive player but that changed soon with Raul Ibanez for $38. A few picks later I added Cameron Maybin for $27. The rest of my hitters were catchers Towles ($2) and Ramos ($1), COR guys Mora, who I did get back for $4, and Polanco ($22), 2B Wilson Valdez ($1), Geraldo Parra ($4) in my utility spot and OFs Bonifacio ($4) and Denorfia ($1). I didn’t do a great job with offense as I spent $117 on the 3 pitchers early. I rounded out my staff with Luke Gregerson ($1). I think my pitching is as good as any in the league but my offense is definitely from hunger. I should contend in all 5 pitching categories and hope to accumulate at least 25 points in the 5 hitting categories. Starting Opening Day 0 for 13 won’t help my BA all that much. Some funny/strange sidelights to the draft included an owner bidding $15 on Johan Santana and then hearing crickets. The same happened when another owner bought up Todd Helton for $20. I never heard that draft room so quiet. And he looked like the most surprised guy in America getting stuck with Helton for that price. As has become my style to bring up my first player at $1 and watch what happens, I bought up Chris Narveson and there was actually a small bidding war on him that ended at $14. Toward the end of the draft there was a bidding war between a few owners with money left for Rick Ankiel that also culminated in a $14 buy. There was a spirited bidding war pitting the 2 owners with the most money in the latter stages of the draft over Nate McLouth that seemed like it went on for days and ended up garnering $30 for the “winner.” Both owners looked like they were about to cry during this war. And, mark my words, there was no winner there. Just a lot of bad feelings. And speaking of bad feelings who would have ever thought that the name of Paul Janish would be tantamount to threats and trying to find out “where another owner lived?” One owner had one spot left for a SS and $14 to spend and bought up Janish for a buck as his last guy. Another owner, who was in his first draft in this league, took him to the cleaners bidding $15. And, as you might expect, the first owner didn’t like this one bit. All over Paul Janish! Ramon Hernandez who normally would go for $3 or $4 in this draft, went for $8, coming off his 4 for 5 opener with a game winning HR. On the flip side, Houston closer, Brandon Lyon, only bought in a check for $9. I guess that’s what 6 hard hit singles in the 9th inning will do because I have a feeling if he went 1-2-3 with a couple Ks, the bid may have been closer to $20. All in all this was a good draft for all and a draft that I look forward to every year!

April 1, 2011: March came in like a lion and went out like a lion and that's no April Fools!

I did have another draft last night in the Kirby Puckett AL-only ($260). I'm new to that league and when the commissioner e-mailed me my team, he did mention that the team had no keepers. I did keep Podsednik ($6), Kendall ($1), and Jack Wilson ($1) along with Pineiro ($6), Mitre ($2), Outman ($1), and Hochevar ($3). It's definitely the worst team that I've ever had and maybe ever seen. You may be asking why Mitre is on the team in an AL-only when he's in the NL. When keepers were put in, Mitre was still a Yankee. I never liked this rule but, in this league, you keep the guys if they go to the NL for the rest of that season. Another owner is trying to disallow my "keeping" of Mitre and a league vote may be taken. If he looked at my team he must be scared and think that I have a #1 SP in him. Podsednik, Pineiro, and Kendall are all starting the season on the DL, Outman is in the minors making my best hitter Wilson and my best pitcher Hochevar. The team wasn’t always this God-awful mind you! When I got the team at the beginning of spring training, I had Marcum ($5), Saunders ($5-he stinks), Carlos Pena ($17), Russell Branyan ($2), Putz ($10), and Wigginton ($1). The problem with those guys is, unfortunately, they’re all in the NL and can’t be kept. If they were traded to the NL during this season, of course their stats would stay! Nothing was said about Mitre at the draft and I wonder now if that’s a good thing. My team coming in was so bad that I was like an afterthought. I knew I had to spend on a stud guy early and right in the first round I secured Felix Hernandez for $42. Pitching was expensive in the early going as Sabathia went for $39, Lester for $37, Price for $37 and Haren for $39. I was in the bidding on all but Price which I believe I went up to $27 for. I didn’t get another player until the third round when I bought my first offensive guy, Adam Dunn, at $36. Right after Dunn, I secured SS Alexei Ramirez at $25 (Jeter went for $31). Teixeira ($41), Adrian Gonzalez ($42), Hamilton ($39), Longoria ($45), Ichiro ($37), A-Rod ($44), and Choo ($35) all went for more than I was willing to go. Unbelievably, Mariano Rivera went for ($40), Papelbon ($32), and Valverde ($26). I never saw closers go for so much in any $260 league! I filled out my team with OF Bobby Abreu ($20), Johnny Damon ($8), Nick Markakis ($24), and later on in the draft, Melky Cabrera ($3). I added Tsuyoshi Nishioka as my 2B for $14 and my COR guys were taken very late by me in Kouzmanoff ($3) and Barton ($10). I added DH Hideki Matsui ($4) and my last pick was catcher Yorvit Torrealba ($5). The commissioner also wanted Torrealba but I mentioned to him that I could go to $11. He still had 3 spots to fill! I came in with a God-awful staff and, after King Felix, I didn’t do much to help myself. This staff was so bad that Jeff Suppan would have been my #1 SP! I got James Shields for $18 and John Lackey for $12 as my other SP and added Slowey ($4), Balfour ($1), and Soriano ($6). I kept Josh Outman on my reserve team and added, in order, Orlando Cabrera, Lastings Milledge, Bruce Chen, Mark Teahen, Bartolo Colon, Mike Cameron, Chris Dickerson, Jason Varitek, Elliot Johnson, Don Kelly, Jason Frasor, Rick VandenHurk, Brent Lillibridge, and Casey Kotchman. Not my best work ever and if I avoid the cellar, I’ll consider it a minor success! And maybe even a moral victory! Tonight I have my $360-NL draft where the prices are really skewed. We’ll talk more about that later.

March 31, 2011: Kevin Slowey will be a useful fantasy player before the season is over!

What’s gotten into George Kottaras? He’s a guy that came into this spring, in parts of 3 major league seasons with a .213 BA in 310 AB, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 40 R, a .698 OPS, and a 71/44 K/BB. With the injury issues of top Brewer catcher, Jon Lucroy, Kottaras has gotten a good look from Milwaukee behind the plate this spring. All he’s done is go 22 for 60 (.367) with 11 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, and a 14/2 K/BB. He looks to be the starting C for the team going into the season. I could have kept him at $2 in my $260-NL but threw him back into the draft. I actually got him with one of  my reserve picks and put him in the starting line-up for the banged-up J.R. Towles. Kottaras will be 28 in May and maybe this is the season where he matures into a hitter. You know, some catchers are late bloomers and I would recommend spending your last buck on him in 2-C NL-only. By the way, teammate Erick Almonte won the last spot on the bench and is currently 32 for 77 (.416) with 15 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, and a 1.074 OPS. Jose Ceda of the Marlins was at one time considered a great prospect as a RP who could touch 100+ MPH with his fast ball. But weight issue and injuries have set the 24 year old back time after time. In fact, he reported to the Marlin camp at close to 300 lbs on his 6’4” frame and the team held him out of team practices for a week as a punishment. Before being dispatched to the minors on March 11, Ceda did go 2/3 IP and, true to form, had a 2/3 K/BB, 1 ER, and 2 HA. He had a 51/21 K/BB across 2 levels last season (A/AA) in 39 1/3 IP with 24 HA and a 2.06/1.14 ERA/WHIP. Keep an eye on him as we may not have heard the last of him! I had him as a reserve in ’09 in my $260-NL and he never got off my bench the whole season! There’s an epidemic of overpaid, under-talented SPs going around at training camps this spring. Of course, Silva and Perez and their $12-mil deals were summarily dismissed by the Cubs and Mets respectively. I’d like to talk about a guy that not only has a $12-mil deal for 2011, there’s a club option of $13.5-mil in 2012 or a $2.5-mil buyout. When you read his name, you’ll be pretty sure which way the club is leaning. Scott Kazmir was the 15th overall pick (by the Mets) in the 2002 draft. The team traded Kazmir to TB for Victor Zambrano in, at the time, one of the worst deals in Mets’ history. While Zambrano had a 529/404 K/BB for his career with a 4.64/1.52 ERA/WHIP, Kazmir was making something of his life. While he was never a control artist, Kazmir would go on to strike out 239 batters (with 89 walks) in 2007 and form 2005-2008 averaged 186 Ks/season in 173 IP/season. Once he got out west with the Angels, things just haven’t been so prosperous. In 2010, Kazmir hurt fantasy teams, in 150 IP he gave up 158 H, a 93/79 K/BB to go along with a 5.94/1.58 ERA/WHIP. And I guess because the team owes him big money, he’s “won” the #5 job for the Angels. This spring has been more of the same with 21 2/3 IP, 26 HA, 16 ER, and a 10/13 K/BB. That equates to a 6.65/1.83 ERA/WHIP. If you didn’t know this already, stay away. Stay far away!

March 30, 2011: What a surprise, Justin Duchscherer is starting the season on the DL!

A few on the site have been asking about former SP turned RP, Tom Wilhelmsen. I’ll have to admit that come Spring Training there are always a few guys that I don’t know much about. What I dug up on Wilhelmsen is interesting. He didn't pitch professionally from 2004-2009. In 2003, pitching in Rookie ball and A-ball, Wilhelmsen had 17 GS (as a 19 year old) with 92 IP, 83 HA, a 2.84/1.24 ERA/WHIP, a 5-6 record, and a 67/31 K/BB. He was suspended for the 2004 season for testing positive for marijuana multiple times and left pro baseball in 2005. He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners prior to the 2010 season. The 27 year old Wilhelmsen had 12 GS over 3 levels in 2010 with 74 IP, a 7-1 record, a 2.55/0.95 ERA/WHIP, 51 HA, and a 73/19 K/BB. The 7th round draft pick in 2002 by the Brewers has pitched 10 innings in the spring with an 11/5 K/BB, 7 HA, and 3 ER. I can see him starting the season in Triple-A because he's never pitched above A-ball. But somehow he still is hanging in there with the big club! I did read that he throws 97 MPH which means something. I'm just not sure what! It feels like Mike Morse has been around forever, but he only showed power starting in 2009, when he smacked 3 HR in 52 AB, then followed up in 2010 with 15 in 266, 11 in the second half. That’s a 30-HR year in full-time AB, and the Nats have said he’ll open the year as the regular LF. Don’t bet the mortgage payment on that kind of power, and be mindful that he struggles a little more against RHPs, so extra PT will affect his BA adversely. This spring Morse came to camp as a back-up at all 4 COR spots without any line to regular AB. But he’s opened some eyes by going 24 for 66 (.364) with 9 HR, 18 RBI, 14 R, and a 1.249 OPS. You bet he’ll be kept for ($10) on my $360-NL squad. Along with Infante ($6), Prado ($16), and Alex Gonzalez ($10) as hitters and the pitchers being Brian Wilson ($29), Kuo ($10), Dickey ($10), Westbrook ($10), and Ubaldo Jimenez ($25). Like Wilhemsen, another guy that I really wasn’t too familiar with is SD OF, Cedric Hunter. For some reason I keep thinking that his name is Cedric Turner and even wrote him down as such. But, with the injury to Eric Patterson, it looks like Turner, er Hunter, has made the Padres, at least for the short term. He has a career .350 OBP in 590 minor league games. Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010 the 23 year old Hunter batted .287 in 541 AB with 7 HR, 64 RBI, 76 R, 14 SB and a very good 44/47 K/BB. This spring has seen bounty for Hunter. In 26 AB, he’s hitting .385 with 6 R, 1 HR, 10 RBI,, 1 SB, and a 3/4 K/BB. He’ll probably head back to Triple-A when Patterson is ready but keep an eye on him.  From a distance for now! Samuel Deduno has earned a spot in the Padres' season-opening bullpen. The Friars claimed Deduno off waivers from the Rockies this winter and were impressed by him this spring. He has enjoyed great success in the minor leagues and could turn into a reliable setup man for San Diego. Deduno has thrown 7 innings this spring with 8 HA, 5 ER, 2 HRA, and a 12/4 K/BB. He spent most of the 2010 season across 2 levels (A/AAA) and in 47 IP had a 3.83/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 38 HA, and a 49/23 K/BB. The 27 year old Deduno also had 2 2/3 IP with the Rockies last season. You could probably leave Deduno on the waiver wire in your NL leagues.

 March 29, 2011: Jake Fox hit his 10th spring HR yesterday!

Marco Estrada turned in another solid outing against the White Sox on Sunday, allowing seven hits and two runs in six innings while striking out four. This was the news out of Brewer camp. The owner of a 1.88 ERA through 14 1/3 innings with 3 ER, 13 HA and an 8/4 K/BB, he looks primed to net himself a start or two while Zack Greinke is on the disabled list. However, he's not currently worth monitoring in NL-only leagues. History tells us to kind of just “stay away” from Estrada at your draft but feel free to say some good things about him at your draft. Like his fondness for cats and how he loves to pull people out of burning buildings. But, as a fantasy SP on your roster, you may rather have a feline! In 31 1/3 IP over 3 cups of coffee with Washington and Milwaukee, Estrada has an 8.04/1.66 ERA/WHIP, 37 HA, and a 32/15 K/BB. I love the kid Julio Teheran from the Braves. He had a 159/40 K/BB in 142 2/3 IP over 24 GS, 108 HA and a 2.59/1.04 between Single-A and Double-A. His time may not come until the middle of 2012 or later but he's on the fast track. Only injuries could ruin him. The Braves didn’t push the 20 year old Teheran this spring as he pitched 3 scoreless innings with 3 HA, 1 K, and 1 SV. He should be on all fantasy radars particularly in keeper leagues. Tim Collins has earned a spot in the Royals' bullpen. The maybe 5-foot-7 reliever was informed of the decision this weekend. Collins has great velocity and should do quite well in a setup role for Kansas City. In 10 1/3 IP this spring, Collins has 1 SV, 10 HA, 3 ER, and a 12/5 K/BB. He had some great numbers between Double-A and Triple-A. In 71 1/3 IP, the left handed reliever had 6 SV, a 2.02/0.94 ERA/WHIP, 40 HA, and a 108/27 K/BB. I would compare Collins to the Braves Craig Kimbrel albeit a smaller version. If you have reserve spots in your AL, Collins would make a good selection. I have some decisions to make before noon today concerning my $360-NL on which 10 (or less) guys that I’ll be keeping. I’m still working on a couple of deals so the complexion of the team could change. As of right now, I’m going in with 4 hitters and 4 pitchers. The hitters include Omar Infante ($6), Alex Gonzalez ($10), Martin Prado ($16), and Mike Morse ($10). I didn’t say that it was a good team. My pitchers, as of now, are Ubaldo Jimenez ($25), Brian Wilson ($29), R.A. Dickey ($10), and Jake Westbrook ($10). Guys on the bubble who I may just throw back are Hong-Chih Kuo ($10), Melvin Mora ($8), and Tyler Clippard ($10). At this time tomorrow I will know!

March 28, 2011: Ivan Nova could be a "shining star" for the Yankees!

I've come to the conclusion that sometimes life just isn't fair! And no one ever said that life IS fair. And, believe me, I know. It just takes one of the "bosses" to spin a perception on you that may not only be false but detrimental to any future endeavors. Maybe Almonte is in that boat. Because here's a guy that's done everything that management has asked this spring yet still may be on the outside looking in. I know it's down to the wire for the 33 year old long time Yankee farmhand who hasn't had a taste of the major since 2003. But there's something to be said for the gung-ho attitude, the "old college try," the "never say die" mentality. Because if Almonte didn't have that, he wouldn't have gotten this far. Almonte is fighting INF Luis Cruz and utility guy Edwin Maysonet for the final spot on the roster. Each has his own value to a team. But if there is justice in the world, Almonte will get the 25th spot. One thing that I've learned over the last few months is, no matter how good you think you are, there's always someone who's as good or better. All Almonte has done this spring is go 30 for 68 (.441) with 13 R, 5 doubles, 3 HR and 13 RBI. I’m finding out all this stuff about perception and performance a little too late in life. But maybe it’s not too late for Erick Almonte. Because the biggest lesson could be that it’s not tough to get something. The tough part is holding onto it! Justin Verlander could be the best SP in the AL. It's really an impressive body of work when you look at the long-term trends. Verlander has improved his home-run rate in each of the last four seasons, while his walk rate seems to have stabilized just below the 3.0 BB/9IP mark. The underlying numbers regressed slightly from his 269-strikeout campaign in 2009, but there's not much here to explain the drop in his ADP from last season (44.1 to 65.9). Verlander has quietly improved his effectiveness against hitters from both sides of the plate in each of the last two seasons. At 28, he's still in his prime and the workload isn't alarming just yet (1,064.1 innings). Verlander’s spring has been impeccable as well with 28 IP, 3 ER, 21 HA, and a 23/2 K/BB. I would say that Verlander is ready for the season to start and that he should be one of the first SPs off the board in mixed leagues. In his last 2 seasons with the Tigers, Verlander is 37-18 with a 488/134 K/BB in 464 1/3 IP. He’s fantasy gold! The Mariners have a 22 year old RHP who’s looking to become another Verlander by the name of Michael Pineda. He’s more mountain than kid checking in at 6’7” and 260 lbs. Last year, in his first foray into the upper minors (AA/AAA), Pineda made 25 GS covering 139 1/3 IP with an 11-4 record, a 3.36/1.11 ERA/WHIP, 121 HA, and a 154/34 K/BB. It’s hard to say if the M’s will move his free agency up a year by not waiting until June to call him up. Like the SF Giants did with Buster Posey in 2010. But he’s pitched well enough to earn a job out of camp with 17 IP, 14 HA, 4 ER, and a 15/6 K/BB. He’s a guy to look at in your AL-only to round out your staff. I would stay in the $6-$7 range!

March 27, 2011: "90% of the game is half-mental!"

The Yankees added Chris Dickerson to their OF mix on Friday and all it cost them to add the talented yet oft-injured OF was Sergio Mitre who was out of options and probably not going to make the club. Dickerson came up to the Reds at the end of August in 2008. I had been a big believer of his minor league career and picked up Dickerson in my $360-NL. Dickerson hit .304 in 102 AB with 6 HR, 15 RBI, 20 R, 5 SB, and a 1.011 OPS. I thought I was really on to the next great power/speed guy in the NL and kept Dickerson for $10 in ’09. Between a couple of stints on the DL, Dickerson never found the prosperity he had in that brief time the previous season. He batted .275 in 255 AB with 2 HR, 15 RBI, 31 R, and 11 SB. The keeping of Dickerson and all the hopes and dreams that went with it brings back the memory of a very similar situation in 1995. A 28 year old OF came up to the Red Sox on Sept 1st of that year by the name of Dwayne Hosey. I immediately went out and picked him up in one of my AL leagues at the time. All Hosey did for me was go 23 for 68 (.338) with 20 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 6 SB, a 1.026 OPS and a 16/8 K/BB. Do you see the similarities with Dickerson. And, believe me, after that 2005 season, I could have gotten a lot for Hosey. But I kept him, I think for also $10. Well, things didn’t end up to happily for yours truly as Hosey went 17 for 78 (.218) in ’96 with 13 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 6 SB, and a 17/7 K/BB. By the way, Hosey never appeared in the majors again. Moral of the story: be careful what you wish for! It didn't take long for Dickerson to get hurt. In his first game with the club he tweaked his hamstring after going 3 for 3 and is doubtful for Opening Day. There are plenty of guys that make a tidy little career as a 4th or 5th OF in the majors. Some can steal a base like the aforementioned Chris Dickerson or hit the ball out of the park like Laynce Nix, but what exactly does Ryan Langerhans do well that could translate to fantasy success? Yes, he does play good defense but that “only” helps a real team. Fantasy baseball is such a hedonisitic sport of highs and lows that we’ve come not to value defense as we should but look for every edge offensively. And to look at Langerhans past history offensively would take a great deal of patience and maybe even a little compassion. Because you’d be looking at a guy that’s never had more than 4 SB in a season (2010) and has 30 career HR in  1186 AB. He really isn’t even that good of a hitter with a .228 career BA. You wouldn’t know that by the spring he’s having as he’s 15 for 47 (.319), 7 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 SB, but a 15/2 K/BB. He’ll be hard-pressed to even hit .250 for the M’s and my advice is if Langerhans name comes up at your AL-draft, make sure you’re in another room getting a cold drink! Ivan DeJesus Jr. is expected to make the Dodgers' Opening Day roster and start at second base until Casey Blake (back) returns. DeJesus, who has never appeared in a major league game, got off to a slow start this spring but has 11 hits in his last 23 at-bats. He missed nearly all of the 2009 season with a broken leg but came back strong last season, hitting .296/.335/.405 with seven homers at Triple-A. With Juan Uribe handling third with Blake out, DeJesus evidently is in line for most of the playing time at second base over Jamey Carroll. When I first heard about Ivan DeJesus 3 springs ago, I thought it was his father trying to make a comeback. The elder DeJesus was a marvel at SS but not as much with the stick as his .254 BA in 4602 AB will attest. Let’s hope the son makes him proud. I wouldn’t mind seeing DeJesus in a little more than a subordinate role with the club even after Blake resurfaces. For the spring, the younger DeJesus is 17 for 51 (.333) with 8 R and 3 RBI.

March 26, 2011: Jake Fox now has 9 HR this spring and may not even make the team!

Darwin Barney has made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster and could still start at second base, the Associated Press reports. It's worth noting that one part of his competition at second base, Blake DeWitt, is starting to take grounders at third base, as if to prepare for a utility role. Okay, I know what you’re going to ask. Who the hell is Darwin Barney? I tried also to come up with some famous Barney’s. There’s former SP and Brooklyn Dodger, Rex Barney, footballer Lem, the investment firm of Smith Barney. Of course you have Deputy Barney Fife, Barney Rubble, and Barney the dinosaur. But Darwin Barney doesn’t belong in that group! The 25 year old middle infielder did find some bounty at Triple-A this past season with a .299 BA in 479 AB, 2 HR, 49 RBI, 72 R, 11 SB, and a 52/23 K/BB. Called up for the first time in the show, Barney tasted 79 AB with the Cubbies. He hit .241 with 12 R and 2 RBI and a 12/6 K/BB. Why would those numbers lead you to believe that this guy could not only make the team but maybe be the Cubs 2B? For years I though that Chris Denorfia was Chris Denofria and had him on my cheat sheets as such! He was really just a fantasy afterthought entering the spring of 2010. Injuries had kept him to 208 AB in the majors with 3 HR, 19 RBI, and a.279 BA. And a trip to the Padres Triple-A team during the spring of 2010 was a reality! And it wasn’t that this guy couldn’t hit. He had minor league seasons of .317 (2005) and ,249 (2006). All he needed, like so many others was a chance. After hitting .306 in 121 AB for Portland (AAA) and with injuries to the SD OF, Denorfia got the call. He hit .271 in 284 AB for the Padres with 9 HR, 36 RBI, 41 R, 8 SB, a .767 OPS and a 51/27 K/BB. And for the first time in the spring of 2011, Denorfia doesn’t have to worry about a demotion. He’s the #4 OF for the Padres and, if this spring is any indication, the 30 year old Denorfia may get more playing time then has been projected. He’s currently 19 for 45 (.422) with 12 R, a 3/3 K/BB, 1 HR, 8 RBI, and 4 SB. I’ll put $1 on him in both of my NL-only and may even go to $2 or $3 in my $360-NL. I know that you’ve heard this about the player holding out for a $5-mil major league deal in the off-season, only to get no calls and only minor league deals! So what does this player do? He sits out the season of course. Then, the following year, he signs a minor league deal. And, for Braden Looper, it’s art imitating life. Looper has had, what some would say, 2 different lives as a player. First as a RP and closer. He had 85 SV form ’03-’05 and from 1999-2006, appeared in at least 60 games each season. In fact, Looper appeared in 572 games before he made his first start. That’s where we get into the next part of his career, SP. From ’07-’09, Looper made 97 GS, 568 2/3 IP, a 38-33 record, a 295/160 K/BB, 625 HA, and a 4.76/1.38. Maybe, with those numbers, if he had Barry Zito’s agent, he could have gotten a $126-mil deal. His spring hasn’t been too prosperous with 12 2/3 IP, 20 HA, 14 ER, and an 8/3 K/BB. At least if he sits out again, he won’t have to go too far. He lives in Chicago and it’s there that he can talk about his 72 career W and his 103 career SV! Braden Looper retired from baseball yesterday at the age of 36 and will go home to his rocker and think about what could have been.

March 25, 2011: Brad Emaus could be the Mets' starting 2B on Opening Day 2011!

Dontrelle Willis signed a 3 yr/$29-mil contract with the Tigers in December of 2007. When Willis signed the deal, this is what his agent had to say, "The deal still allows him to be a free agent again when he's 28 years old. If everything goes well and his body holds up, he probably has his two big contracts ahead of him." I’ll say this, Nostradamus the agent’s not! But he did bamboozle the Tigers into this deal and for that he should be rewarded for the great service to his client with a gold watch! Since that contract, Willis has 123 1/3 IP, a 3-9 record, an 82/119 K/BB, 127 HA, and a 6.86/1.99 ERA/WHIP. It’s not that Willis was always bad! No, he’s a former Rookie of the Year (2003) and a runner-up in the NL Cy Young voting (2005). That season of harvest saw Willis win 22 games with a 2.63/1.14, 213 HA, and a 170/55 K/BB in 236 1/3 IP. The luster started to wear off the next season with a 3.87/1.42 a 160/83 K/BB and 234 HA in 223 1/3 IP. The wheels really started to fall of in 2007 when the one-time Marlin ace could muster only a 5.17 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP in 205 1/3 IP with 241 HA. The Tigers released him and he’s bounced from Arizona to San Fran and now to the Reds. This spring has been a continuation of the nightmare for Willis with 14 R (10 ER) in 9 2/3 IP, 10 HA, and an 8/8 K/BB. I mentioned this about a year ago, but I’d like to mention it again, stick a fork in the “D-Train.” At least now teams are paying him minor league money. KC manager Ned Yost has announced that Kila La’aihue will see more time at 1B than Billy Butler this season. Simply put, Yost prefers Ka'aihue's range and athleticism over Butler's. "Kila has definitely done a better job at first base," said Yost. "So he’ll probably play there a little more. How much more? I don’t know, but it won’t be a 50-50 split." Butler may see most of his time at designated hitter, but it likely won't have much of an impact on him from a fantasy perspective, because he'll still play first base enough to keep his eligibility at the position. Ka’aihue has found some prosperity this spring going 19 for 46 (.413) with 5 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, and a 10/3 K/BB. It hasn’t been an easy road for the 27 year old Ka’aihue. He’s a .266 career minor league hitter in 3360 AB with 555 R, 154 HR, 598 RBI, a 689/673 K/BB, and an .852 OPS. He came on my fantasy radar with his 2008 season between Double and Triple-A with 37 HR, 100 RBI, 91 R, 104 BB, and a .314 BA in 401 AB. In his first full season at Triple-A in ‘09 he regressed a bit with a .252 BA and 17 HR but he still had 83 R and 102 BB. After hitting .322 in 323 AB with 24 HR, 78 RBI, 67 R, and a 69/88 K/BB at Triple-A in 2010, Ka’aihue finally got 180 AB with the Royals. He’s worth a small investment in AL-only and may have some value in mixed leagues as well. Especially in leagues that use OBA as a category. Now we know! The Marlins have sent Matt Dominguez to the minors yesterday. Dominguez was given every chance to be the Opening Day 3B for the Marlins but, after a hot start, he was 2 for his last 25. He ended the spring 8 for 42 (.190) with 2 HR and 10 RBI. Now the Marlins can do something foolhardy like sign Pedro Feliz to a contract to play 3B until Dominguez is ready. Feliz has a major league high .308 OBA (2004) and his trademark defense is no longer what it was. Oh, and Feliz had a .535 OPS in 2010 with 5 HR in 409 AB.

March 24, 2011: Smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer!

Scott Baker has been named the fifth starter by manager Ron Gardenhire, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Kevin Slowey will move to the bullpen. Even though he was the last pitcher named to the rotation, it's not hard to envision Baker moving ahead of Nick Blackburn in the rotation to become the No. 3 or No. 4 starter. Baker was a member of my championship AL-only team last year and contributed a 12-9 record, a 4.49/1.35 ERA/WHIP, 186 HA, and a 148/43 K/BB in 170 1/3 IP. In fact in his 4 seasons in the Twins’ rotation, Baker has a 553/162 K/BB in 113 GS covering 686 1/3 IP. Blackburn was named to the rotation early but his work (in his 3 seasons in the rotation) consists of  658 HA in 560 IP with a 262/120 K/BB and a 4.44/1.39. Kevin Slowey has a career 361/79 K/BB in 473 1/3 IP featuring a 1.28 WHIP! An $8 or $9 investment in Baker in your AL-only on draft day would be a good idea. Melky Cabrera is having some exhibition season batting average wise. The batting average (.500) leads the Cactus League and is likely unsustainable. I think the last .400 hitter in the majors was Teddy Ballgame back in ’41. However, it looks like his hot hitting has earned him an everyday job over the likes of Lorenzo Cain, and manager Ned Yost said Cabrera would probably slot fifth in the Royals' projected lineup. This spring, Cabrera is 22 for 44 with 16 R, 1 HR, 13 RBI, and 2 SB. This is from a guy that’s never had more than 13 SB (2007), 13 HR (2009), a .274 BA (2009), 75 R (2006, as a 21 year old rookie), or 73 RBI (2007). Not terrible numbers but so much more was expected of Cabrera. The usually stout CF has shed 20 lbs during the off-season but my feeling is, down the road, and maybe sooner rather than later, Cabrera will be replaced in CF by Lorenzo Cain. Cabrera has to get off to a good start and for $4 in your AL, you may find a little profit. As things stand now, Cabrera is scheduled to bat 5th in the Royals’ order. I got a little bit of a sick feeling when I heard that because of Jason Donald’s hand injury, Jack Hannahan is being considered by the Indians to be their Opening Day 3B. Yes, Hannahan is a good defensive player but is a lifetime .224 hitter in 856 AB with 16 HR, 90 RBI, 91 R, a 242/107 K/BB and a .658 OPS. This has been a prosperous spring for Hannahan, batting .350 in 40 AB with 7 R, 4 RBI, 1 SB, and a 9/7 K/BB. He didn’t play in the majors in 2010 and his one season as a starter with the Athletics in 2008 produced a .218 BA in 436 AB with 9 HR, 47 RBI, 48 R, and a 131/55 K/BB. Hannahan played with 2 organizations at Triple-A last season to the tune of 9 HR, 45 RBI, 47 R, 3 SB an 82/51 K/BB and a .237 BA in 334 AB. The 31 year old Hannahan would be only a placeholder anyway for Lonnie Chisenhall who will probably be called up by the Tribe in June due to arbitration/FA considerations. If you must, no more than a buck should be invested on Hannahan in your AL, for your last COR spot!

March 23, 2011: It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it!

After his run to greatness back in 2006 and 2007, J.J. Putz has been battling some injuries. He was healthy for the most part in 2010 but was behind the inferior Bobby Jenks. If I knew about the Putz injury and possible DL stint to open the season, I would have kept Juan Gutierrez in my $260-NL for $2. But I kept Bobby Parnell instead for the same 2 bucks. Parnell may have lost his set-up job to the ancient Jason Isringhausen. I would think that Gutierrez, given his perfect 13 for 13 last season after the Qualls trade will get the first crack. He's given up 9 hits, 7 ER and a 4/2 K/BB in 6 2/3 IP. So, it hasn't been a bountiful spring for Gutierrez. Still, SV's are SV's and if he gets the job, he will be worth a few bucks (more in NL-only). One guy I have liked in that pen is Sam Demel. He was 2 for 2 in SV for the D'Backs last season and had a 28/9 K/BB in 28 2/3 IP at Triple-A. Due to a couple of terrible outings, Demel had a 5.35/1.46 ERA/WHIP for the D'Backs. This spring has been a little more prosperous for Demel. In 7 2/3 IP, Demel has 7 HA, 2 ER, and an 8/1 K/BB. I will put $1 on him in my upcoming NL drafts. Coming into today, the Diamondbacks ranked 29th (out of 30) in spring ERA with 5.79. David Hernandez has the best pure stuff in the pen. The former Oriole SP has 2 HA and 1 ER in 8 IP with a 7/5 K/BB. He's had some success with K's in the minors but it hasn't yet carried over to the majors. In 3 minor league seasons from 2006-2008, when David Hernandez was a SP in the O's organization, he had 488 K's in 432 IP. Keep an eye, also, on Kam Mickolio who, with Hernandez, came from the O's in the Mark Reynolds trade. Mickolio has 7 1/3 IP with 8 HA, 5 ER, and a 10/6 K/BB. I think that Gutierrez gets the first dibs even though he has the lowest upside in the pen! And while Gutierrez may get the first chance to close games if Putz is out, given his 15 SV last year, his history shows he does not have the skills to hold the role for long. Demel and Hernandez remain the more intriguing pitchers from a skills perspective! Given a guy with the injury history of Putz, the more uncertainty that surrounds him, the more I will be putting Hernandez and Demel on my watch list. Gutierrez’s 15 SV in 2010 came with an 0-6 record and a 5.08 ERA in 56 2/3 IP. Rubby De La Rosa was veritable unknown last spring, a skinny kid from the Dominican Republic. He started the season at Class-A Great Lakes. Only De La Rosa exploded upon the scene, dominating at Great Lakes and then at double-A Chattanooga. He was a combined 7-2 with a 2.37/1.13 ERA/WHIP, 87 HA, and a 94/38 K/BB in 110 1/3 IP. De La Rosa was selected the Dodger minor league pitcher of the year and will probably start the 2011 season at Triple-A. He will get 2 more starts this spring however. When De La Rosa was first coming up, this is what pitching coach Rick Honeycutt had to say: "Yeah, he's got a lot of positives. A plus arm, 'pitchability.' A little wild with the fastball at times, but he always came back. The changeup is filthy. If I had that, I wouldn't throw anything else. But he can throw 97 [mph]. The one thing is throwing consistently for strikes. But a 20-year-old won't have everything figured out." For the spring De La Rosa has 10 IP, 4 HA, 2 ER, and a 7/3 K/BB.

March 22, 2011: I accept chaos; I'm just not sure that chaos accepts me! 

As you’ve probably heard, the Mets released Luis Castillo the other day and will eat some $6-mil left on his contract. It was probably the right move but I’m always looking for happier endings from these types! I've been thinking about this. Where else can you get a major league ready 2B with another team (in the division) paying the freight while you pay the minimum salary? For a little over $400,000 the Phillies get a guy that can cover for Utley while he's out. Utley may be out for awhile but that’s like finding the missing 18 minutes of the Watergate Tapes! And don't forget, a lifetime ago, this guy was a 3-time Gold Glove winner and a 3-time All-Star for Florida. Just 2 seasons ago for the Mets, Castillo had 77 R, 20 SB, and a .302 BA in 486 AB. He has career numbers of 1001 R, 1889 H, 370 SB, and a .290 BA in 6510 AB. So say what you want about Luis Castillo, but this guy has had a pretty good career. Unfortunately for him, he'll always be remembered for his part in the futility that has found the Mets team. It doesn't really take away from the numbers he has put up because the numbers don't lie. It’s kind of like forensic evidence. And he may be getting another chance in a Phillies uniform. Back in 2000, Castillo was the talk of Florida with a .334 BA, 180 H, a league leading 62 SB, and 101 R. He was even part of the 2003 Florida Marlins team that defeated the Yankees in the World Series. Yes, fans will remember the .235 BA of 2010 or the .245 BA in 2008 for the Mets. The dropped pop-up off the bat of A-Rod in a subway series will come up as well! I'll try to remember the good times with Castillo though, as the years go by, it's gets harder! It seemed like a lifetime ago when Oliver Perez was good. And make no mistake about it, he was one of the up and coming stars of the NL. Back in 2004, as a 22 year old for the Pirates, Perez had a 2.98/1.15 ERA/WHIP in 196 IP with 145 HA and a 239/81 K/BB. He would never repeat that great season but in 2007-2008, Perez did have a 25-17 record for the Mets with 354 K's in 371 IP. The Mets did try to get Perez a gig this spring but it just wasn't to be. In 9 2/3 IP, Perez gave up 13 H, 9 ER, 2 HRA, and a 6/8 K/BB. But don't feel sorry for Perez. He made his own bed and will be paid a handsome $12-mil to stay away from the club. You could see it happening with only 4 appearances after July 24, 2010. And after Sept 6th, Perez only appeared in the last game of the season and, fittingly, walked in the winning run for the Nationals in the 14th inning! I can't see, at this point, another team taking a chance on the enigmatic Perez but, for the league minimum, you never know. It was ironic that on Sunday, the guy he was battling with for the LH specialist job and 2nd LHP out of the Mets pen, Mike O'Connor, was knocked around. Good luck Oliver and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out! And, by the way, I will forgive you if you’ve never heard of Mike O’Connor. After all, in 2 stints with the Nationals including 21 GS, O’Connor has a lifetime 5.45/1.43 ERA/WHIP, 107 HA and a 63/56 K/BB in 114 IP. Hey, the Mets just released a guy like that! O’Connor last appeared in the bigs in 2008 and finished with a 13.00/2.44 ERA/WHIP in 9 IP. In 70 2/3 IP for the Mets Triple-A team in 2010, he had a 2.67/1.16, 65 HA, and a 70/17 K/BB in 70 2/3 IP. This spring O’Connor has 4 2/3 IP, with 7 HA, 3 ER, and a 5/1 K/BB. Unless your NL has a 25 man bench and he’s the last player left, I would stay away!

March 21, 2011: You just never know how the past is going to turn out!

The 2005 draft produced some solid major leaguers. Justin Upton was the #1 pick. At #4, Ryan Zimmerman, and at #5, Ryan Braun. As we move down the list at #7, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen at #11 and Jay Bruce at #12. All pretty good players and, definitely, fantasy producers. That’s what makes the case of the #2 pick, Alex Gordon, so strange. This kid was given the keys to the city by KC, the starting 3B as a 23 year old back in 2007. He played 151 games that season with a .247 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 60 R, and 14 SB. Not too bad but KC was expecting more. In 2008, Gordon batted .280 in 493 AB with 16 HR, 59 RBI, 72 R, and 9 SB. But that was a s good as it was to get for Gordon. Over the last 2 seasons, Gordon was 90 for 406 (.222) with a .684 OPS, 14 HR and 42 RBI. He’s had a real good spring in 2011 for the Royals and will more than likely be named the starting LF for the club. He’s 15 for 43 (.375) with 10 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, an 12/11 K/BB, and 1 SB. KC fans are getting sick of waiting for this kid who was supposed to be having a career like Zimmerman by now. But not half as sick as fantasy owners! The Royals have more OF than extras for the movie The Ten Commandments. And, I’ll tell you, Melky Cabrera has been God-like with a .488 BA in 41 AB, with 15 R, 1 HR, 12 RBI, a 6/4 K/BB, and 2 SB. As good as Cabrera has been, that’s how bad Jeff Francoeur has been. He’s currently at the body weight of David Eckstein (.133) with 6 H in 45 AB. He’s also flashing the following stats: 1 HR, 6 RBI, and 3 R. This guy looked like a perennial All-Star as a 22 and 23 year old for the Braves. He played in 162 games in each season in 2006 and 2007 with 48 HR and 208 RBI. He will start the season in RF with the Royals with Cabrera in CF and the aforementioned Alex Gordon in LF. KC has Mitch Maier, Gregor Blanco, and Lorenzo Cain in the mix as back-ups. But the guy that interests me is 26 year old Jarrod Dyson. He got his first cup of coffee in the majors in 2010 and responded with 9 SB in 57 AB with 11 R, I HR, 5 RBI, and a .211 BA. Currently this spring Dyson has 7 SB (0 CS) in 28 AB with 4 R, 4 RBI, a .393 BA and a 2/3 K/BB. But there doesn’t seem to be room on the team for the speedster. He did have 24 SB, 50 R, and a .299 BA across 4 levels of the minors last season. I’m sure that fantasy owners would like to see what the LH hitting Dyson could do given regular AB from the lead-off spot. Don’t forget about Dyson completely as he could resurface during the season. And check the waiver wire to see if the Royals release Francoeur!

March 20, 2010: My Butler in the Southeast Region is looking pretty good!

Jake Fox hit two more HR on Thursday, bringing his spring-leading total to seven. Coming into camp, Fox was fighting for the backup catching job with Craig Tatum. But with both Tatum and Derrek Lee fighting injures, Fox has found 50 AB so far and made them count, hitting .340. He has 11 R, 7 HR, 12 RBI, and a 7/1 K/BB. Fox has never had more than 216 AB in a season, but has shown good power skills at the MLB level, FB% of 47%. His versatility has value for the Orioles; his primary position (C) has value for you. Fox played 19 games at C, 10 at 1B, 4 at 3B, 13 in the OF and 25 more at DH. He won't be a secret with a March like this and his AB will still be limited assuming Lee is back by Opening Day, but at 28, there's a bit of upside here. He hit .217 for the O’s in 2010 with 7 HR, 22 RBI, 21 R, but a disconcerting 49/8 K/BB. Giants GM Brian Sabean has reversed course, saying that Brandon Belt may force his way onto the team's Opening Day roster. In that situation, Belt would play first base and hit seventh in the order. Belt has held his own, though not excelled, so far this spring: 13-for-48 (.271) with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R, 5 doubles, 2 SB, and a 10/4 K/BB. But it has been enough that Sabean has opened the door for Belt to seize the job during the final two weeks of the Cactus League. He was otherwordly across 3 levels in 2010 (only 48 AB in Triple-A) with a .351 BA in 493 AB, 43 doubles, 10 triples, 23 HR, 112 RBI, 99 R, 22 SB, a 99/93 K/BB and a 1.075 OPS. If given the chance Belt could make a nice $8 investment in your NL-only. You know that I've always liked the 23 year old 155 lb, Eduardo Nunez. Since he was a kid I've always dreamed of him putting on the pinstripes and getting out there and playing SS. But, at the rate that Derek Jeter is still going, Nunez may retire first! At Triple-A in 2010, Nunez hit. 289 in 464 AB with a .721 OPS, 4 HR, 50 RBI, 55 R, 23 SB, and a 60/32 K/BB. He also had 5 SB in 50 AB for the Yankees with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 12 R, and a 2/3 K/BB. Of course you purchase Nunez in your leagues for the steals. I have a feeling, also, that he starts the season in Triple-A just to get him everyday AB. Being behind the guys you mention doesn't allot for much playing time unless A-Rod is the DH. Cano has averaged 160 games the past 4 seasons and Jeter has averaged 155 games in his last 7 seasons. Ramiro Pena is a guy that can play once a week or a couple games here and there for defense. I do like Nunez' potential but he doesn't project to be a star. If you have a deep bench in your AL, draft Nunez for $1. And hope for about 8-10 steals.

March 19, 2011: Lazy day, just right for a walk in the rain!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Prospect comes up in September and does well, is handed a job for the next season, doesn’t do as well, and becomes a journeyman bouncing from organization to organization. Such has become the case of the 29 year old Jeremy Reed. At the end of 2004, Reed was promoted by the Mariners and hit a sizzling .397 in 58 AB with 11 R and 3 SB. Handed a job for the 2004 season, Reed batted just .254 in 488 AB with 3 HR, 45 RBI, 61 R, and 12 SB (11 CS). Over the next 3 seasons the M’s would give Reed 515 AB with 8 HR and 48 RBI. The Mets kept Reed on for the whole of 2009 when he could amass just 161 AB in 126 games. And, let me say this, if spring training stats were the only criteria for the Hall of Fame, Reed would be first ballot. He was 27 for 64 (.422) with the Mets in the spring of ’09 with 12 R, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 8 BB, and 3 SB. With Toronto in the spring of ’10, Reed went 22 for 51 (.431) with 9 R, 10 RBI, and 3 SB. He’s continued that act this spring with Milwaukee going 19 for 51 (.373) with 10 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, and 1 SB. But it remains to be seen if Reed can capture a bench spot! Keep an eye on him in NL leagues as he could be a good $1 guy for the end of your squad. Another prospect in the day was Josh Barfield who accumulated 539 AB as a rookie with SD in ’06. Barfield hit .280 with 72 R, 13 HR, 58 RBI, and 21 SB. It looked like a long career was ahead for Barfield. Traded to Cleveland that off-season, Barfield hit only .243 in 420 AB with 53 R, 3 HR, 50 RBI, and 14 SB. He’s only gotten 53 major league AB over the next 2 seasons but is now in the driver’s seat for the starting 2B job for the Phillies with Utley facing uncertainty! This spring has been bountiful for the 28 year old Barfield as he’s 11 for 28 (.393) with 6 R and 3 RBI. If he can show that he can play a little defense, the job could be his. His main competition is career journeyman Wilson Valdez who filled in at 2B and SS lat season due to injuries and received a career high 333 AB with 37 R, 4 HR, 35 RBI, and 7 SB. See how this battle plays out before plunking down your last $1 on either for your MI spot in the NL. One of my favorite RP of the 2000’s called it a career yesterday. Scot Shields who spent his entire career in the Angels’ organization announced his retirement at the age of 35. He only threw 63 2/3 innings the past 2 seasons because of injury. He retires with a lifetime 3.18/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 589 HA, and a 631/278 K/BB in 697 IP. In 2005-2006, Shields was at the top of his game winning 17, with a 182/61 K/BB, 136 HA, and a 2.81/1.10 in 179 1/3 IP. As a guy that was owned by me in AL-only, Shields will be missed.

March 18, 2011: Fantasy baseball is a many splendored thing!

On Wednesday night, Ivan Nova hurled 6 hitless innings vs the Baltimore Orioles. He only threw 59 pitches and allowed two baserunners via a hit by pitch and an error. He actually had to go down to the bullpen to throw 15 more pitches! That gives him 14 IP, 8 HA, 2 ER, and a 7/2 K/BB on the spring in his battle for one of the 2 open Yankee rotation spots. A look into his 2010 season at Triple-A shows some upside for the 24 year old Nova. In 145 IP, he had a 12-3 record with a 2.86/1.26 ERA/WHIP, 135 HA, and a 115/48 K/BB. He started 7 games for the Yankees and in 42 IP had a 4.50/1.45, 44 HA and a 26/17 K/BB. He also had a 51% GB rate on the season. I know that I will take a flier on Nova in one of my AL-only. He makes a little bit of a sleeper, especially with the Yankees’ offense behind him. If he doesn’t make the rotation (and I see no reason why he won’t, except he has options left), and you have some bench space, he still makes a great reserve pick. Because I just can’t see Colon/Garcia lasting all year in the Yankee rotation. Brad Eldred is back in a camp, this time with the SF Giants. In the spring of 2010 for the Rockies, Eldred was 10 for 19 with 7 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI, a 6/2 K/BB, 1 SB, and a 1.992 OPS. Still, behind Todd Helton, Eldred got a one-way ticket to Triple-A Colorado Springs. The funny thing is that Eldred, more that likely, would have out-produced Helton in 2010. He’s a .264 lifetime hitter in 3004 minor league AB with 465 R, 204 HR, 638 RBI, 52 SB, a 913/238 K/BB and an .867 OPS. He’s spent most of the last 6 seasons at Triple-A. His major league career consists of 260 AB with a .204 BA, a .678 OPS, 15 HR, 33 RBI, and a 103/16 K/BB. I did pick him up in my $360-NL when he was called up by the Rockies in ’10 but he would get just 24 AB with 4 R, 1 HR, and 3 RBI. 3 of his hits were in his first game! Those numbers won’t evoke memories of Steve Bilko, the larger-than-life 1B who terrorized PCL pitchers while playing for the Los Angeles Angels in the 1950’s. Generously listed at 240 lbs, Bilko, from 1955-1957 AVERAGED 163 games, 585 AB, 126 R, 193 H, 49 HR, 143 RBI, a 120/96 K/BB, a .330 BA, and a 1.058 OPS. He won the Triple Crown in 1956 with 55 HR, 164 RBI, and a .360 BA. Bilko hit 313 HR in his minor league career! In 2009 Scott Feldman had a 17-8 record with the Rangers. He had some good luck that season as his overall stats were mediocre. In 189 2/3 IP, Feldman had a 4.08/1.28 ERA/WHIP, 178 HA, and 113/65 K/BB. He had some bad luck in 2010, a season that saw him go 7-11 with a 5.48/1.60 in 141 1/3 IP, 181 HA and a 75/45 K/BB. The good news for the Rangers is Feldman probably won’t start the season on the active roster due to knee surgery in the off-season. The bad news is that the Rangers are stuck with him, at least through 2012. He has a $4.4-mil deal with the club this year and a $6.5-mil dela with the club for 2012. The team holds a $9.25-mil option on him in 2013 with a $600,000 buyout. Which way do you think the Rangers are leaning? I would recommend to stay away from Feldman in all leagues.

March 17, 2011: It's a good day for a baked potato and a 6-pack of beer!

My favorite game show host, Barry Enright, looks like he’s going to come out on top in the race for the #5 SP in Arizona. Presently, he’s thrown 12 innings with 9 HA, 3 ER, a 6/2 K/BB, and a .209 BAA. The 25 year old Enright has never pitched in Triple-A, though he does have a 346/92 K/BB in 429 IP in his minor league career. He ended up with 17 GS for the D’Backs in 2010 and had a decent 3.91/1.27 ERA/WHIP and a 49/29 K/BB in 99 IP. His last 5 GS in September looked like a pin-up picture of Rosanne Barr with 25 2/3 IP, an 8.06/1.56, 32 HA, a 12/8 K/BB and an 0-5 record. Let’s hope that was from the long season. A $2 bid for Enright in your NL-only will be plenty. Ian Snell was an NL All-Star in 2007 while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had him for $6 in the 2nd year of a 3 year commitment in my $260-NL. That memorable '07 season for Snell, he had a 177/68 K/BB and a tidy 3.76/1.33 ERA/WHIP. Never mind that he was a bit of a sociopath. And he couldn't handle adversity. And was a little on the immature side. Ian Snell was going places. By the way, some of my best friends are sociopaths. Since that '07 season, Snell has pitched 355 2/3 innings with a 14-31 record, a 5.31/1.70, 409 HA, and a 250/197 K/BB. He was sent to Triple-A by the Mariners in June with an 0-5 record, and a 6.41/1.84 in 46 1/3 IP. This while pitching half his games in the best pitcher's park in the AL. Snell recently signed a minor-league deal with the St.Louis Cardinals. This is an organization known for working with lost pitching causes. See Jeff Suppan, Brad Penny, Joel Pineiro, and Kyle Lohse, just to name a few! But none of this was to be as Ian Snell retired from baseball on Tuesday after the Cardinals asked him to report to the minor leagues. I guess that some things just aren’t meant to be. This has been a pretty good battle between 2 talented young arms, 26 year old LH Jonny Venters and 21 year old (22 in May) Craig Kimbrel. Venters has been lights out this spring with just 1 HA in 7 IP, 0 ER, and a 4/1 K/BB. After a slow start, Kimbrel has really stepped it up with a 1-2-3 day today that included striking out the side. Kimbrel has 6 HA in 6 1/3 IP, 4 ER, and an 8/3 K/BB. Kimbrel had a 123/53 K/BB between Triple-A and the majors last season that included 40 K's in 20 2/3 IP in Atlanta. He had a 1.62 ERA in 55 2/3 IP at Triple-A including 23 SV. Jonny Venters, whose name sounds like an action hero, burst on the scene last year with 93 K's in 83 IP and a 1.95/1.20 ERA/WHIP. I've heard that both will get SV chances early on. I can't see it going that way for the entire season and my feeling is that Kimbrel, being a RHP, will win out eventually. I guess you can say it's a good problem to have for the Braves. I would recommend on holding both closers and you may even have to keep both. I have Kimbrel in my $260-NL for $5 and he will be on my keeper list which has to be given in this Friday.

March 16, 2011: Jonny Venters sounds like an Old West character or a cartoon Superhero!

I hear what everyone else hears. Ryan Madson can’t pitch the 9th inning. “He’s great in the 8th but has mental breakdowns in the 9th.” While some of that may be true, Brad Lidge hasn’t been Mr. Consistent for the Phillies either in the closers’ role the past couple seasons. I actually love the back of the Phillies pen with their power arms. But I do look at spring numbers, probably more than anyone, as an indication of what we can expect for the season. I know that Lidge had the perfect 48 for 48 in the championship season but this spring he's anything but perfect. Some might say that he is his old self. In 5 IP, he has 8 HA, 5 ER, a 4/2 K/BB and a .348 BAA. Of course there's a lot of time to right the ship but those numbers are telling so far. And now Lidge is slowed with a sore right biceps tendon which sounds like it could be painful. Madson has had a great spring in 6 IP. He has 4 HA, 2 ER, and an 11/2 K/BB. I know of his 9th inning problems over the years but he did have 10 SV in 2009 for an ineffective Lidge. In fact, in his last 4 seasons, Madson's K/BB rate is 252/81 which isn't too shabby. I did draft Madson onto my mixed league team for a bench spot and am hoping he will see the light of day in the 9th. Jose Contreras did vulture 4 SV in 2010 and has 5 IP this spring with 4 HA, 1 ER, and a 5/0 K/BB. The guy that I've always liked is Antonio Bastardo. He's a little behind the others with a sore elbow but has 4 hitless IP with 0 ER, and a 6/2 K/BB. He projects out to be a LH specialist in time but he does possess a power arm like the others. I'm sure that if Lidge struggles in the regular season the Phillies won't hesitate to give the job to Madson. He has looked otherworldly this spring! Others are calling for the Phillies to replace Lidge with a closer from outside the organization! We’ll see if anything happens before Opening Day, but I don’t see it! Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland stated that SS, Cale Iorg, has a bright future in the majors if his hitting progresses. That’s like saying O.J. Simpson would be an upstanding member of the community if he didn’t murder 2 people. Iorg, the son of former major leaguer Garth and the nephew of former major leaguer Dane, has a lifetime minor league BA of .228 with a .641 OPS in 1396 AB. Last year at 2 levels (mostly Double-A, 66 AB at Triple-A), Iorg hit .215 in 493 AB with 11 HR, 42 RBI, 57 R, and 12 SB. But the damage was done with a 149/19 K/BB and a .598 OPS. So I’ll go out on a limb and say, yes, his hitting needs to improve. But his fielding is major league but that doesn’t help us in the fantasy game! This spring for the Tigers, Iorg is 5 for 18 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, a 3/0 K/BB, and an .889 OPS. Sources say that Mets manager. Terry Collins is set to name Luis Hernandez as his starting 2B. The source goes on to say that Luis Castillo should be cut, Brad Emaus doesn’t have a major league quality skill set and that Daniel Murphy isn’t strong enough defensively. You might remember Hernandez as the guy that fouled a ball off his foot and broke it in September 2010. On the very next pitch, Hernandez hit a HR, one of 3 major league HR he’s hit in 265 AB. He’s a lifetime .245 hitter. Last year between Double and Triple-A, Hernandez hit .290 in 414 AB with 3 HR, 44 RBI, 53 R, 6 SB, and a 62/26 K/BB. You may take him as your last guy in NL-only for $1 and that’s IF he has the job.

March 15, 2011: Beware the Ides of March!

Dallas Braden will get a lot of attention due to the perfect game he threw last season, along with his 3.50 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. But he isn't a rotation anchor. His K/9 the last three years: 5.1, 5.3, 5.3. He added a two-seam fastball to his arsenal last season, but with an average fastball velocity of 87 MPH, he'll need to keep coming up with new pitches to keep hitters off balance. That's not something you want to bet on happening. Braden signed a 1 yr/$3.35-mil deal with the A’s for the 2011 season. His spring numbers so far are like something out of a horror movie. In 10 2/3 IP, Braden has given up 20 hits, 17 R (12 ER), and a 7/4 K/BB. Last spring Braden had a 5.91 ERA and went on to a season of a 3.50/1.16 ERA/WHIP, 180 HA, and a 113/43 K/BB in 192 2/3 IP. That represents the very best for Braden and I would expect a regression in 2011. I would draft Braden as your #4 SP in AL-only or, in an auction, cut a check for around $8. 22 year old Andrew Lambo of the Pirates has skeletons in his closet. He’s tested positive twice for a banned substance and served a 50 game suspension starting on May 10, 2010. Baseball America rated Lambo as the Dodgers’ 7th best prospect heading into the spring of 2010. He started the season in Double-A with a .342 BA, 2 HR and 13 RBI at the time of his suspension. In a trade with the Pirates that could be classified as highway robbery, Lambo and SP James McDonald were acquired from the Dodgers for RP Octavio Dotel on July 31. Dodger fans, and rightfully so, were up in arms over the trade. It didn’t help that Dotel had 7 BB in his first 5 2/3 IP for the Dodgers who dismissed Dotel to the Rockies on Sept. 18.  Lambo has been sent to minor league camp by the Pirates after going 4 for 16 with 2 R, 3 RBI, a 4/1 K/BB and 1 SB in his first major league camp. He hit .272 in Double-A in 272 AB with 6 HR and 35 RBI. He may be back in Pittsburgh toward the end of 2011 but his ETA is probably sometime in 2012. 22 year old 3B Lonnie Chisenhall is the Indians #1 prospect and nothing he’s done this spring should change Cleveland’s mind. He’s currently 11 for 23 with 5 R, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 4 RBI, a 7/2 K/BB, and a 1.452 OPS. He has yet to spend a day at Triple-A but last year, in Double-A, Chisenhall hit .278 in 460 AB with 17 HR, 84 RBI, 81 R, a 77/46 K/BB and an .801 OPS. You may see Chisenhall in the majors by the end of June to delay his free agency by a year. He has never put up standout numbers in the minors. Solid, but not standout. Keeper leagues or AL leagues with a deep bench should take notice.

March 14, 2011: Josh Thole is at .469 this spring in 32 AB!

Yesterday was a tough physical day for yours truly. I played 7 games of half-court basketball with other gentlemen (mostly Asians) ranging in age from 43-61. Unfortunately, I’m at the high end of that. The last 2 times I played, a 240 lb Asian guy wanted to rip my head off the rest of my body with his bare hands and, in my very last game, I played 5 on 5 full court with my son and 8 other college aged kids. During that game, one of the boys dunked on me. I was the only one getting back on defense. Who would have “thunk” it? Yesterday there was a guy that was an RN at a local hospital. I told him if I went down you can perform CPR but, please, no mouth-to-mouth. The next time I play, I will rent a crash cart equipped with a defibulator! When I saw that a guy from the Milwaukee Brewers named Erick Almonte was ripping it up this spring to the tune of 17 for 39 (.436) with 3 HR and 9 RBI, I had to check if it was the same Erick Almonte that played in the Yankees system from 1997-2004. The 165 lb. Almonte that was a SS who became the 230 lb. Almonte who was playing 1B for the Brew Crew. Opening Day 2003 is a memorable game for all the wrong reasons. That’s the game when Derek Jeter dislocated his left shoulder by sliding into third base and Ken Huckaby’s catching gear just two-and-a-half innings into the new season. I remember watching that game at the batting cages while watching my youngest son hit like Jeter. The Captain spent 42 days on the disabled list, and his replacement at shortstop was a player that Baseball America considered the team’s 24th best prospect: Erick Almonte. He made a great first impression, going 2-for-5 with a homer in his first big league start two days later. It all went downhill from there though, Almonte mustered just a .260/.321/.350 batting line in 111 plate appearances in Jeter’s stead, and he hasn’t appeared in the majors since that season. That would be his only major league HR that counted. The Yankees signed Almonte as a 19-year-old free agent out of the Dominican Republic fifteen years ago last month, and although his tenure in pinstripes was forgettable, he’ll always be the guy the Yankees turned to when Jeter hit the shelf. That’s gotta count for something, right? In his minor league career, Almonte has a .274 BA in 4427 AB with 644 R, a .757 OPS, 108 HR, 631 RBI, 98 SB, and a 1004/514 K/BB. Michael C. Stutes is a guy that even a baseball guy, a guy that blogs baseball for a living hasn’t heard much about. He must’ve been in the Witness Protection Program. And it would be a shame if a guy like Danys Baez makes the club because he has 1 yr/$2.75-mil left on his contract, guaranteed. When I first saw the name Michael C. Stutes, I thought about the actor that used to be on the cable hit, Six Feet Under, or the guy that plays the assassin in the HBO series, Dexter. But it does look like this Michael C. Stutes is the real deal. The former SP had a 7-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A last season with a 3.42/1.32 ERA/WHIP, 57 HA, and a 79/44 K/BB. Of course the walks are a bit worrisome but this spring he has 9 IP with 3 HA, 1 ER, and a 9/1 K/BB. So while I’m from the faith that you can teach “old dogs” new tricks, it remains to be seen if the 24 year old Stutes makes an impact in the majors this season. But he has been referred to as “the star of the spring” so far and, in my line of work, like Almonte stepping in for Jeter, that has to count for something!

March 13, 2011: Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining!

The Marlins knew that Matt Dominguez had the glove to play 3B, but they wondered if he could hit. In his first nine spring games, he has hit .318 in 22 AB with 2 HR and 10 RBIs. Obviously this is not the kind of production we can expect from Dominguez over the long run. But a fast start is precisely what he needed to show the team he wouldn't be overwhelmed by major league pitching, giving them the excuse they need to put his glove on the field. He spent the 2010 season at Double-A where he hit .252 in 504 AB. He added 14 HR, 81 RBI, 61 R, 34 doubles, a 96/56 K/BB and a .744 OPS. If Dominguez does indeed get the job for the Marlins, don’t expect a high BA, but you’ll see some good plays at 3B. Dominguez will likely hit 8th in the batting order. I would put a $2 or $3 bid in NL-only. Can you name the veteran player that has these gaudy stats? 15 for 26 (.577), 4 doubles, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 R and a 3/3 K/BB. Don’t be surprised but it’s none other than the Cubs’ Marlon Byrd. I get a little nervous, though, when I googled Byrd and he was ranked one spot higher than the former Blue Jay, Rance Mulliniks, on the all-time best hitter’s list and two spots behind Johhny Grubb! Byrd was a good prospect for the Phillies and was 4th in the NL ROY voting in 2003. He batted .303 in 495 AB with 86 R and 11 SB. The next 3 seasons with the Phils and Nationals, Byrd accumulated only 772 AB with 12 HR and 77 RBI. He found his way back to Triple-A in July, 2006. He resurrected his career with a 3 year stint in Texas and had a great season in 2009 belting 20 HR and 89 RBI. He signed a 3 yr/$15-mil deal with the Cubs after that season and made his first All-Star team in 2010. On my pricing list taking the averages of 6 trusted sources and 6 mock auctions, Byrd grades out to $13.3. I would gladly extend that bid to $15 in NL-only. I wouldn’t go North of that bid, however, and if you can get him for less, you will see a profit! I’ll have to admit that coming into the 2011 spring training games, I didn’t know much about the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter. I had heard of his but wasn’t even sure of what position he played on the diamond. And now he’s in the battle for the last roster spot on the Cards. Who knows, the way that manager Tony LaRussa likes to use his entire roster, you may have a $1 sleeper on your hands at 3B in your NL-only. He’s presently at .429 in 28 AB with 6 R, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 SB, 6 RBI, and an 0/4 K/BB. The 25-year old Carpenter hit .316 in 396 AB at Double-A last season with an .899 OPS He added 76 R with 12 HR, 53 RBI, and an 88/64 K/BB. Don’t forget about him in your NL and if your league has a liberal bench, don’t be afraid to add him!

March 12, 2011: This is no country for old men and, believe me, I know!

Conor Jackson is currently 2 for 26 with 1 R and 1 RBI for a BA of .077. Following this 2-for-26 start, I think it is fair to question my assumption that he had regained his strength and perhaps need to acknowledge that he may never regain the form he had earlier in his career. “A Player whose Contract is terminated by a Club under paragraph 7(b)(2) of the Uniform Player’s Contract for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability shall be entitled to receive termination pay from the Club in an amount equal to thirty (30) days’ payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract, if the termination occurs during spring training but on or before the 16th day prior to start of the championship season. If the termination occurs during spring training, but subsequent to the 16th day prior to the start of the championship season, the Player’s termination pay shall be in an amount equal to forty-five (45) days’ payment at the rate stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract.” This is why March 15th is such an important date for the A’s in regards to Jackson’s contract. Jackson needs to put it together and he needs to put it together quickly. If he proves that he can hit, the A’s need to just deal with his $3.2M contract and realize they’re possibly overpaying – we can’t keep being “cute” with contracts. If the A’s feel that Jackson isn’t worth $3.2 and can’t play anymore at a level that contributes to the big league club, and feel that somehow Matt Carson is a better alternative, they need to cut Jackson loose period. The A’s could terminate him like they did with Jack Cust last year and sign him to a lesser contract. From 2006-2008 with the D’Backs, Jackson looked like a good one hitting .292 in 1440 AB, 218 R, 86 doubles, 42 HR, 214 RBI, and a 184/166 K/BB. He even threw in 10 SB in 2008. But maybe the former 2003 first rounder still hasn’t recovered from Valley Fever that caused him to miss most of the 2009 season. The next few days are very important for Jackson! Sometimes one man’s misfortune is another man’s bounty. Former top prospect, Andy LaRoche is presently 10 for 26 with 6 R, 3 HR, and 7 RBI. Baseball America rated LaRoche as the 19th best prospect in baseball before both the ’06 and ’07 seasons. His Triple-A numbers were awe-inspiring as well with a .310 BA in 590 AB, 125 R, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 7 SB, and an 88/101 K/BB. And he has the pedigree, being the son of former major league P, Dave LaRoche and the brother of current Nationals’ 1B, Adam. But all Andy can show for 4 seasons in the show is a .224 BA in 1087 AB with 22 HR, 108 RBI, and a .641 OPS. Still LaRoche is just 27 and if he keeps raking the way he has this spring, the A’s may have to find room for him on the 40 man roster! He did beat out Jose Bautista for the Pirates’ 3B job in 2009 but hit just .258 in 150 games and 524 AB with 64 R, 12 HR, and 64 RBI. But maybe there could be a happy ending here for both guys. And you know I’m a sucker for happy endings. My wife would say that I’m half right!

March 11, 2011: Sometimes common sense isn't so common!

Jon Garland hasn't missed a start in nine seasons, but he is expected to open the season on the disabled list. He has made at least 32 starts in every season since 2002, and at least 191 2/3 IP. "I always hold out hope, but the Vegas odds aren't looking too good right now," said Garland. The 31-year-old right-hander was told that he didn't suffer a major or minor tear of the muscle, but something in between. Still, he'll try to stay active enough to retain the strength he's built so far during spring training. I’m not sure if the news is all that bad for the Dodgers. I mean, Garland’s contract includes a 2012 club option for $8-mil if Garland pitches 190 or more innings in 2011. That’s a number he’s reached every year for the last 9 seasons. And only 2 of those 9 seasons have been a real help to fantasy owners. There was his 18 W season of 2005 which included a 3.50/1.17 ERA/WHIP, 212 HA, and a 115/47 K/BB in 221 IP. Believe it or not, those 115 K’s were a career high until his one season of providence in SD, when he blew by that number with 136 K’s. He also had a career high of 87 walks but settled on a 14-12 season in 200 IP with a 3.47/1.32 ERA/WHIP and 176 HA. Just have to love pitching half your games in SD where a mediocre pitcher becomes a good pitcher! The Dodgers will likely look to John Ely or Tim Redding to fill his spot in the rotation. If spring training stats counted, both Ely and Redding would be in the running for the NL Cy Young award. Ely has 2 HA in 6 IP with a 7/0 K/BB while Redding has 6 HA in 8 IP with a 4/2 K/BB. Neither has allowed an ER. Redding has been just as good as a Triple-A pitcher in his career. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since the ’09 season with the Mets and has a career record of 37-57, with a 4.95/1.49 ERA/WHIP, 889 HA, and a 552/337 K/BB in 822 1/3 IP. With Garland out for the beginning of the season, the Dodgers could turn to the veteran Redding. He did have an 83/22 K/BB at triple-A last season. Just don’t buy into this largess that Redding has found this spring and leave him alone in your NL fantasy leagues. Next to the expression “no value” in the dictionary is a picture of Redding. A couple of the Phillies have had good springs to date. One is 2010 NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay. In 11 IP, Halladay is unscored upon with 7 HA, and a 7/3 K/BB. Don’t be afraid to invest full price on Doc. Ben Francisco looks like he’ll be the starting RF in Philly given the injury to Dominic Brown and immediately becomes a sleeper. He’s currently 10 for 29 (.345), with 7 R, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 7 RBI, a 4/2 K/BB, and 2 SB. Believe it or not, Bartolo Colon came into yesterday leading all pitchers with 12 K’s. He has thrown 9 innings with 8 HA, 3 ER, and a 12/1 K/BB. Colon hasn’t pitched in the majors since July of ’09!

March 10, 2011: Joe Blanton is the second highest paid #5 SP in baseball!

Every time my wife takes a day off from her job as a High School teacher, I know that it’s going to be a very long 8 hours for yours truly. Usually a list as long as Randy Johnson’s leg full of errands to run and places to go is involved in the day. And today was no different. I do appreciate the guys that got on and blogged in my absence. I just got back to civilization. No day off for my wife would be complete without a trip to the Apple Store or more likely, the “Genius Bar.” This is a group of men and women who help with all kinds of computer problems. Of course, while we’re out for one errand, somehow 3 or 4 more become morphed in. It’s kind of like the 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon! I found out to be a member of the “Genius Bar” and IQ of 160 is needed. Mine of 159 just feel short but I had to take the test twice to add up to that! I have been on record as saying this, and you can look it up on this site, the signing of Zach Duke by the Diamondbacks for $4.25-mil was the worst signing of this off-season. It was almost as bad as the Astros picking up Brian Moehler’s $3-mil option for 2010. Like every team in baseball was going to get into a bidding war for Moehler. Duke started his career like he was going to be the next Tom Glavine. Duke had 17 K’s in his first two major league starts and, after 6 GS, Duke had 39 1/3 IP, 34 HA, an 0.92/1.12 ERA/WHIP, a 29/10 K/BB and a 4-0 record. He even finished 5th in the NL ROY voting for 2005. Things haven’t been looking up for Duke since and, even moreso, his fantasy owners. In 159 IP in 2010, Duke was tattooed to the tune of a 5.72/1.65, 212 HA, and a 96/51 K/BB. His career record is 45-70 in 964 1/3 IP, with a 4.54/1.48 ERA/WHIP, 1168 HA, and a 505/263 K/BB. His only season since ’05 of fantasy relevance was 2009 when Duke was even named an NL all-star. This spring he’s still the same old Zach Duke that we have come to know and love! 16 HA and 7 ER in 7 IP. What makes me totally want to throw up in my mouth is the fact that Duke’s contract is guaranteed. I have a feeling that he will either slide over to the bullpen or, indeed, be released. I remember that in the last 2 seasons there was 2 large contracts, Gary Sheffield’s $14-mil and Geoff Jenkins’ $8-mil that were eaten by the Tigers and the Phillies respectively. Other contracts that could be eaten this spring are the $12-mil by the Mets on Oliver Perez and the $6-mil on Luis Castillo. Carlos Silva (Cubs) still has a one year left for $13.5-mil, Aaron Rowand (Giants), 2 years and $24-mil, Milton Bradley (Mariners), 1 yr/$12-mil, and Ryan Doumit (Pirates) at 1 yr/$5.6-mil are other candidates for buy-outs. The Washington Nationals are looking at a few guys having great springs so far. Danny Espinosa, the young 2B, is hitting .455 in 22 AB with 5 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI, and 1 SB. Mike Morse is hitting .435 in 23 AB with 5 R, 3 HR and 6 RBI. On the pitching end, Jason Marquis has been unscored on in 7 IP with 3 HA and a 4/1 K/BB while RP Todd Coffey has given up 1 H and 0 ER in 4 IP with 6 K. The Nationals could be a little bit of a sleeper in the NL-East.

March 9, 2011: Hey, I can see my house from here!

Who is Eric Hosmer and why are fantasy owners saying such nice things about him? Hosmer was the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft by the Royals. The LH hitting 1B hit .470 as a senior in H.S. with 11 HR, 27 RBI, 49 R, and 14 SB. His first year as a pro, in A-Ball, and High-A was something Hosmer may want to forget. That tear he hit .241 with 6 HR and 59 RBI over 377 AB. He proved to be a blue-chip prospect in 2010 with a season, between High-A and Double-A, of 20 HR, 86 RBI, 87 R, 14 SB, 72 XBH, a .977 OPS, a 66/59 K/BB and a .338 BA in 520 AB. He may have been feeling the effects of the long season, hitting only .203 in the AFL, a league known for its offense with a .575 OPS. This spring, Hosmer is 6 for 13 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. He’s even thrown in a SB. This guy can play some defense and has pretty good foot speed for a big guy. He should start the season at Double-A and advance to Triple-A in Late June. You may see Hosmer in a KC uniform in September. He’s a guy to tuck away in keeper leagues and deep AL-only. Nick Johnson had off-season surgery on his wrist. Stop me if you heard that one before. In his 9 year career, Nick Johnson has been on the DL exactly 9 times. He’s missed most of 3 full seasons and has only one 500 AB season to show for it all. Yes, he does have his good points. Like a .401 career OBP, and a 546/511 K/BB. He also has a career .844 OPS which isn’t bad for a non-power hitter (91 career HR). Before the 2010 season, Johnson was given the keys to the city by the New York Yankees. But, apparently, Johnson got locked out. All Johnson was asked to do was to be the team DH, bat 2nd, get on base, and score a lot of runs in that great offensive line-up. Easy, right? Not so fast! Johnson last 24 games and 72 AB. He did have a 23/24 K/BB, 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 12 R. His problem, as always, is that he makes Carlos Beltran look like an everyday player! Johnson signed a minor league deal with the Indians for $750,000 but, surprise, may not be ready for opening day. Don’t be fooled into bidding more than $1 on Nick Johnson in your AL-only. Another 1B, Freddie Freeman has already been given the starting job by the Braves. He made it up for 24 AB in September with 1 HR but an 8/0 K/BB. The 21 year old Freeman played a full season at Triple-A in 2010 and had a .319 BA in 461 AB. He added 18 HR and 88 RBI, 73 R, 6 SB, an 84/43 K/BB, and an .899 OPS. Freeman would make a good 3rd COR guy in mixed leagues but may struggle to hit 20 HR in his first full major league season. He probably will also hit toward the bottom of the order at least in the beginning of the season. I will make a $9 or $10 bid in my NL-only where he’s not being kept. Freeman is 11 for 24 this spring with 3 doubles and 4 RBI.

March 8, 2011: Carlos Silva has given up 13 H and 14 R in 3 1/3 IP!

Today was a bad day. Well, you know, I’m not sick or anything, just the type of day when I realize that staring at the same 4 walls all day and trying to come up with ideas is not always a good thing. I’m kind of like Youngblood Hawk, or Ethan Hawke, or former Braves bonus baby, Bob “Hawk” Taylor, or even former Atlanta Hawk, Sweet Lou Hudson. You know what I mean and it’s hard to explain, “a man without a country.” It’s the type of Monday where you open up your AOL to the sound of “you’ve got mail” and someone says, “Ha ha ha, you probably thought I wanted to be your friend, but I don’t!” Usually at this time of year, I’m getting ready to head back to work. But now I have more time to do what I love and that’s to talk fantasy baseball. When I look at Brett Gardner I can’t help but think of the uncanny resemblance he has to the actor George Eads, who plays Nick Stokes on the long-running CSI TV series. But I will say this, that Gardner is probably two or three steps faster than Eads! Gardner’s minor league numbers include a .289 BA and a .772 OPS. In his first season as a regular for the Yankees, the home grown Gardner batted .277 and owned a .759 OPS. He also added 79 BB and 7 triples. Gardner could also put this on his resume, being the only player in baseball to have at least 45 SB (47), 95 R (97), and a .379 OBP. But when you look at his season on the whole do you heed the warning signs? He only hit .230 in the 2nd half and his contact rate was 11% worse than in the first half! But it doesn’t take a CSI team to know that Gardner’s value lies in his legs. Right now he’s locked in as the Yankees’ LF and there’s been talk about eventually moving him to the leadoff spot. In my AL leagues, I’ll be looking to cut a check of $20-$22 for Gardner. If he goes for much more, I will be the first to congratulate that owner! The Yankees have also been rumored to have Astros’ SP, Brett Myers, on their radar. Myers had a career best ERA (3.14) in 2010 in 223 2/3 IP. This is coming off a 2009 season where Myers threw only 70 2/3 innings. I wonder if the Astros could be a little worried about the jump in IP for the oft-injured Myers? He added a 1.25 WHIP, a 180/66 K/BB and 212 HA. So, yes, his season was a success. In Myers’ first 32 GS, he pitched at least 6 innings falling short in his last GS of the season vs the Reds with 5 2/3 IP of 8 run ball. Myers did have some success for the Phillies in 2005-2006 with 413 1/3 IP, a 397/131 K/BB, 387 HA, and a 3.81/1.25 ERA/WHIP. It seems like Myers has been around forever but he just turned 30 years old in August. He would be a good get for any staff, real or fantasy!

March 7, 2011: Charlie Sheen is an imbecile!

After the first week of June, 2010 Nate McLouth was batting .176 in 170 AB with 46 K for the Atlanta Braves. He then missed some time with a concussion and was sent to the minors for a month on July 27. For the 2010 season, McLouth hit .190 in 242 AB. At least in September he showed that he still had a pulse although I bet that coaches had to put a mirror under his nose to see if he was still breathing. That month, McLouth batted .275, with an .894 OPS, 3 HR and 3 SB and has been told to proceed as if he’s the starting CF for the Braves in 2011. Once upon a time, McLouth looked like a real up-and-comer. At the age of 26 in 2008, McLouth hit .276 in 597 AB with 26 HR, 94 RBI, 113 R, 23 SB, and he found time to lead the NL with 46 doubles. In ’09 he had 20 HR and 19 SB, which still can’t explain falling off the cliff in 2010. That debacle included a .378 OPS vs LHP. I did draft McLouth in my mixed league as my 5th OF so maybe I did give him a mulligan for 2010. If you can get him in your NL for under $8, it may prove to be a worthy investment. One interesting stat on McLouth is that in his H.S. career he stole 179 bases and was thrown out once. I wonder if that C was Yadier Molina! McLouth is 6 for 13 this spring with an 0/5 K/BB. It’s not everyday that you can buy a guy in your AL-only for $1 that played 4 games at 3B, 10 at 1B, 13 in the OF, 19 at C, and another 25 at DH. But that’s exactly what you can get Jake Fox for! Yes, in leagues that I play in (20 game eligibity) he is only eligible for now at DH. But in 2 catcher AL, with 1 game eligibity once the season starts, he becomes invaluable. In 428 career AB, Fox has 18 HR and 67 RBI. Don’t forget about him in your AL-only. Brandon Beachy is a guy that I’ll be keeping an eye on in my NL leagues. He pitched at Double-A and Triple-A last season to the tune of 120 IP, a 5-1 record, 2 SV, a 1.73/1.00 ERA/WHIP, 92 HA and a 148/28 K/BB. This spring Beachy has a 7/0 K/BB and 4 HA in 5 IP. He’ll have to beat out another quality youngster in Mike Minor for the Atlanta Braves #5 rotation spot. On September 26, Beachy had 9 K in 5 IP vs the Nationals. Beachy has a nice four pitch mix, throws strikes, and has plus command. Don’t fall asleep when/if his name comes up in your NL. Maybe you can steal him for a buck. Jack Cust is a good low risk/low cost (1 yr/$2.5-mil) signing by the Mariners. He did hit a career high ,272 in ’10 but that came with a career low 13 HR and 52 RBI. Still, for a power-starved team like the M’s, who finished last in the AL in BA (.236), R (513), HR (101), and OBP (.298), Cust could be a useful part in the middle of the line-up. Over his 4 full seasons, this true 3-outcome hitter has a .247 BA in 1738 AB, 97 HR, 281 RBI, 276 R, and a 673/377 K/BB. From 2007-2009, Cust’s OBP were .412. .375, and .356. If your AL counts OBP, Cust becomes that much more valuable!

March 6, 2011: 8th grade was the best 3 years of my life!

When talking about the battle for the Cards #5 spot in their rotation, I would be remiss in saying that I’m not rooting for a certain guy. Selfishly I would hope the job goes to Lance Lynn because I just acquired him for $6 in my $360-NL. He did have a rather high 4.77/1.38 ERA/WHIP in Triple-A with 164 HA, and a 141/62 K/BB. That high ERA could be attributed to some real terrible starts earlier in the season. He had a 3.21 ERA over his last 8 GS including a 17 K game in the Triple-A playoffs. He'd probably be a decent #3 SP eventually. Kyle McClellan had a career year in 2010 and seems to get a little better each season. While I see a little regression in 2011, McClellan would make a fine #5 starter for the Cards and I have to make him the prohibitive favorite at this point. He had a 2.27/1.08 ERA/WHIP in 75 1/3 IP of relief. He also had a pretty good 60/23 K/BB. We don't often hear about another Triple-A SP from '10, Brandon Dickson. Pitching coach Dave Duncan has been impressed with Dickson’s early work. The 26 year old was 11-8 with a 3.23/1.40, 180 HA, and a 137/53 K/BB. I like this stat by Dickson, a 2.06 GB/FB ratio. I've also heard the names of Brian Tallet, Miguel Batista, and P.J. Walters thrown in but those would have to be considered desperate measures. But you know the old saying sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures! After a career year in 2008 for the Cards, the team succumbed to fan pressure to keep Kyle Lohse in St. Louis. He was signed to a 4 yr/$41-mil deal after that season of divine providence where all the stars were aligned! What's worse with this deal is that it includes a full no-trade clause. So the Cards are on the hook for $11.875-mil/yr over the next 2 seasons. Let's say this, since his deal, Lohse is 10-18 in 209 2/3 IP, with 254 HA, a 131/71 K/BB and a 5.54/1.55. I'd like to go on record to mention that the Cards rotation would be better with McClellan, Lynn, or Dickson in the #4 and 5 spots. But the Cards are stuck with Lohse. Lohse is a guy with only one season where his ERA was under 4.00 (2008) and his WHIP was under 1.30 (2003). His career numbers could make Mother Teresa start swearing, from the grave of course. He’s 88-98 with a 4.79/1.43, 1767 HA and a 984/485 K/BB in 1573 2/3 IP. I think McClellan has the in for the #5 spot but a lot can happen between now and Opening Day. And I’m not sure why the Cards would want to mess with a successful part of their pen in McClellan. It was also assumed that when Adam Wainwright went down, the Cards would look outside the organization for SP help. The names Kevin Millwood and Joe Blanton were rumored to be on the move but, as of now, nothing has happened.  After he was roughed up by the Cubs this week, to the tune of 5 H, 2 BB, and 4 R in 2/3 IP, Tanner Scheppers underwent a precautionary MRI on his back. During that game, the normally hard thrower (upper 90’s), could only reach 88-91 MPH with his fast ball. The 3rd time may be the charm for Scheppers as he was drafted by the O’s in the 29th round in 2005, the Pirates in the 2nd round of 2008, before settling on the Rangers in the 1st round of 2009. He proved mortal in Triple-A with a 5.48/1.62 ERA/WHIP, 82 HA, and a 71/30 K/BB in 69 IP. With the possible move of Feliz to the rotation, I wonder if the Rangers are considering Scheppers for the closer’s job. My feeling is that he will be ticketed for Triple-A to start the season and maybe even stretched out in case the Rangers need another SP. Keeper leagues should be paying attention!

March 5, 2011: Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors!

With starting C Jason Castro undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus, the only other C on the roster are J.R. Towles and Humberto Quintero. Neither one shows much promise, but Towles at least as the potential to step up with league average power and the potential of some walks (6% walk rate in 2009 and 10% in 2008). Quintero brings very little to the table. He’s a .232 career hitter in 813 AB with 13 HR, 69 RBI, 58 R, and a 182/31 K/BB. Both players have the distinction of consistently returning negative rotisserie value year after year, with Quintero never having a walk rate over 5% since 2004. But in 2007 Towles did return some value in limited playing time with a 117 BPV. He is still young at 27 and might yet produce some power numbers with increased ABs. Over 3 levels in the minors in 2007, Towles hit .287 in 349 AB with an .840 OPS, 66 R, 11 HR, 62 RBI, 14 SB, and a 57/39 K/BB. He was on the fast track to the majors as one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Called up to the majors in September of that year, Towles had an 8 RBI games vs the Cards on Sept 20 with 3 doubles, a HR, and 3 R. Since that season of bounty, Towles is just 38 for 241 (.158) in the majors with 7 HR, 27 RBI, 20 R, and a 68/21 K/BB. Keep an eye on him and if you can get him for $1 in your NL-only, I would recommend it. The Dodgers 2010 player of the year, Jerry Sands, is another on the fast track to the majors. But, unlike Towles, Sands may be the real deal! From age 22 1/2 to age 23, Sands had a .395 on-base percentage and .586 slugging percentage with 35 homers in 590 plate appearances combined at Single-A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga. In Double-A, Sands posted a .360/.529 with 17 homers in 303 plate appearances. For the season Sands added 93 RBI, 102 R 28 doubles, 18 SB (in 20 att.), a .290 BA and a .960 OPS to those 35 HR. He compares to Andre Ethier around the same age with more power and a worse OBP. Though there is almost zero chance Sands would start 2011 in the majors after only a half-season in Double-A - because Ned Colletti teams give veterans first crack in April - how Sands develops this year, against the background of how the Dodger major-league outfield shapes up, could speed up his timetable. He is also a potential understudy to James Loney. Keep an eye on where Sands ends up this spring but a $1 or $2 bid and a liberal bench should turn a little profit in your NL. If it’s a keeper league, by all means, invest!

March 4, 2011: Earnest and humble wins the day for Juan Castro!

My personal feeling about Cameron Maybin is that maybe he was rushed to the majors by the Tigers as a 20 year old in 2007 and that it stunted his growth. It did work for the Braves and Heyward at the same age in 2010 so I'm not 100% sure if I buy that! Maybin was the 10th overall selection in the 2005 first-year player draft by the Detroit Tigers. I remember against the Yankees and Roger Clemens, Maybin hit his first major league HR in just his 6th AB. That would be his only bounty in Detroit as he was shipped to Florida as part of the Miguel Cabrera trade. After spending the season in the minors, Maybin was called up in September '08. I thought he found providence as he went 16 for 32 with 9 R and 4 SB. But his last 2 seasons have been a little bit of a black hole and, even at the young age of 23 (24 on April 4), Maybin may find himself at the crossroads. I'm not ready to call him a bust but I would like to see him take the bull by the horns in SD. They've all but handed him the CF job. But I've heard that song before. Tread carefully here and please don't reach for him. A conservative bid may find its way to fantasy gold! Florida took two RP, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica for Maybin. He does have a .306 BA and a .393 OBP in 418 minor league games. But that largess hasn’t translated to the majors where he’s K’d in 31% of his AB and has a .246 BA with 13 HR, 45 RBI, 93 R, and 19 SB in 548 AB. It’s time to put up or shut up for Maybin! If Maybin fails, a guy the Padres may want to look at is long time organizational guy, Luis Durango. He does one thing well and that’s run like the wind. It’s almost like the law is chasing him! Although his success rate on steals needs improvement (he’s 78 for 111 in ’09-’10), the diminutive switch-hitter is the definition of a slap-hitter, as he's utterly devoid of power. He has 3 HR in his pro career and I’m wondering if they’re all of the inside-the park variety. With the addition of Maybin in San Diego, Durango likely will start the year in Triple-A, but there's always the possibility that Maybin will struggle again, so Durango is a name to at least keep in mind in single-league formats. Durango's decent minor league walk rates might not translate to the big leagues -- pitchers have nothing to fear by throwing him a strike -- so he's little more than a dirt-cheap NL-only steals sleeper. Durango has 59 AB in the majors with a .305 BA, 11 R, 7 SB and a 7/4 K/BB. He spent the 2010 season in Triple-A and, in his first go-round there hit .300 in 363 AB, 42 R, 24 RBI, 34 SB, and a 59/45 K/BB. Keep an eye on Durango’s destination to start the ’11 season but I would still put $1 on him in NL-only! As of Wednesday, Durango is 3 for 3 this spring with 2 R, 1 BB, and 3 SB.

March 3, 2011: Chase Headley is the best 3B in the NL-West!

He is who he is, a guy that you can get for a couple bucks and he’ll turn a small profit. But I’m not sure that who he is, is who he wanted to be. I’m sure that by now, at the age of 31, Ryan Spilborghs wanted more from his career. Maybe even being a starting OF for the Rockies. But Spilborghs was born RH meaning that he sees most of his time vs LHP. In fact, he’s never had more than 352 AB in any season. Or hit more than 11 HR. Or drove in more than 51 runs. But don’t feel sorry for Spilborghs. He’s living the dream that ever kid playing sandlot ball wants to do. He’s a major leaguer. And he hasn’t been half bad at what he does! As for Ryan Spilborghs, he typically displays league average power, but his contact rate dropped for the third straight year in 2010, down to 76%. He hasn't excelled against left-handers the past two seasons either, as he has hit just .243/.350/.417 against them in 300 at-bats. I was surprised this off-season that his name wasn’t mentioned more given that the Dodgers and the Phillies needed a RH hitting OF. But the Dodgers signed Marcus Thames and the Phils went with their own Ben Francisco. So Spilborghs, a guy that is what he is and maybe wants more for himself, stays with the Rockies, the only organization he has known and does what he does. Gives the guys ahead of him a break and goes about his business quietly. In his 4 healthy seasons with KC, Carlos Beltran averaged 25 HR, 104 RBI, 109 R, and 34 SB, playing in the relative anonymity of a bad ballclub. On June 24, 2004 Beltran was traded to Houston and finished the season with 38 HR, 104 RBI, 121 R, 42 SB, and a .913 OPS. But it was during the playoffs that season that “a star was born.” Beltran hit .435 in the NLDS and the NLCS in 46 AB with 8 HR, 14 RBI, 21 R, and 6 SB. He parlayed that prosperity into a 7 yr/$119-mil deal with the Mets. And it hasn’t been all bad either with the club. From 2006-2008, Beltran averaged 34 HR, 113 RBI, 112 R, and 22 SB for his new club. It’s just the past couple of injury plagued seasons that we remember. A couple of seasons where Beltran has only 528 AB, 17 HR 75 RBI, 14 SB, and a .295 BA. Not bad but not what the Mets paid for! This spring, in an attempt to save his knees, Beltran has been moved out of CF to the unfamiliar spaces of RF. If he proves healthy and with the cash situation involving Mets ownership, Beltran may be on the move. A $15 bid in your NL-only should cover all the ills. Because that’s what it come down to for Beltran. Just a shot of this player who turns 34 on April 24. A shell of his former self.

March 2, 2011: My cat's favorite pitcher of all time was Jim "Kitty" Kaat!

Jordan Schafer has been unable to get his career back on track after serving a suspension for HGH use in 2008, and as the years pass, he seems to be regressing. He served a 50 game suspension even though he never tested positive for HGH or was it proven that he purchased HGH. In 2010, he posted only .200/.254/.253 rates in 52 games in Triple-A. But he'll get an opportunity to claim a reserve role with the Braves this spring, with the team perhaps figuring that his struggles were more a result of the wrist surgery he had in September 2009. Schafer will need to open eyes in camp simply to make the team, and he'll need to be a standout to be even an NL-only option. His minor league career consists of a .258 BA, .742 OPS, 39 HR, 210 RBI, 232 R, 78 SB (46 CS), and a 432/174 K/BB. He was the 107th overall pick by the Braves in 2005. He was given the keys to the city by the Braves in 2009 and opened the season as the starting CF. He hit a HR in his first major league AB off Brett Myers and after his first 5 games, Schafer was hitting .421 in 19 AB with 2 HR, 6 R, 3 RBI, and a 4/3 K/BB. But after going just 16 for 101 (.158) in May, Schafer was optioned back to the minors on June 2. Schafer has basically become an afterthought in the Braves plans. With a good spring and given his ability to play all 3 OF positions, Schafer will be given the chance to make the club. But, as we all know, defense doesn’t count for fantasy purposes and I would just leave him off to the side for now! But don’t completely forget about him. Jody Gerut announced his retirement from the game. Gerut, 33, originally broke in with the Indians back in 2003 after being a second round pick of the Rockies in 1998. He hit .279/.336/.494 with 22 homers and 33 doubles in 525 plate appearances as a rookie, but followed it up with a disappointing .252/.334/.405 season in 2004. Gerut bounced from the Indians to the Cubs to the Pirates before being out of the game completely in 2006 and 2007. After signing a minor league contract with the Padres in 2008, Gerut resurfaced with a .296/.351/.494 season. He also spent time with the Brewers and is a career .262/.325/.433 hitter with 59 homers in just under 2,000 plate appearances. Gerut hit for the cycle last May, and he also hit the first homerun in CitiField history (as the game's first batter). Gerut mentioned to reporters that he “lost his desire” for the game. It’s hard for me, as a non-baseball player, to share the feelings of lost desire to play a kid’s game. I guess with all the injuries that Gerut has suffered, it can happen. And I hope he invested his money well!

March 1, 2011: Rod Barajas has more chins than an Asian phonebook!
Woody Allen once said, “The lion and the lamb might lie down together but the lamb’s not getting any sleep.” Yet, March, the month for lions and lambs, tells a different story. The month roars in on big cat feet but somehow before the passage of the new moon, the lamb has sufficiently tamed the beast into the mildness of spring. It all goes to show that nothing stops the passage of time, the inevitability of age, and the optimism of the human heart. Only in March can you sit in your armchair, glance out the window to the snow-covered backyard, and then turn your gaze on the pitchers and batters and fielders, flipping down their shades as they shag fly balls, taking batting practice in shorts, and gearing up for a long hot summer. As P.B. Shelley, one of the dead white poets, once wrote, “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” Since I started playing fantasy baseball and especially more as the years have gone on, March has become my favorite month of the year. It’s not just the 6 or 7 fantasy drafts, but you have March Madness and the days just seem to get longer. It’s a good time of year but seems to go by so fast. More so as you get older. Duke Snider left us Sunday. He had 407 HR and 1333 RBI over his career with a .295 BA. With Brooklyn from 1953-1957, Snider averaged 41 HR, 117 RBI, 116 R and a 1.025 OPS. After that last year as a franchise in Brooklyn, 1957, Snider, at the age of 31, only had three more seasons of at least 300 AB and never more than 23 HR. Injuries did him in and after playing for the Mets in ’63 and the Giants in ’64, Snider called it a career. In 1955 Snider had 42 HR, 136 RBI, 126 R, a .309 BA and a 1.050 OPS yet finished 2nd in the MVP voting to teammate Roy Campanella. One voter left Snider off the ballot entirely. He was elected to the HOF in 1980. Duke Snider, “The Silver Fox” dead at 84. Another Dodger, Hiroki Kuroda says that he prefers throwing to fat catchers because it makes him feel like he has a bigger target to work with in the strike zone. You just can’t make this stuff up! I guess, in a way, it’s a back-handed compliment to 255 pound catcher, Rod Barajas. Kuroda never saw a baseball player so big while in Japan. Kuroda signed a 1 yr/$12-mil deal with the Dodgers, $8-mil this year and the other $4-mil in deferred payments. In 497 IP in the states, Kuroda has a 3.60/1.18 ERA/WHIP, 471 HA, and a 362/114 K/BB. He had career bests in IP (196 1/3), W (11), ERA/WHIP (3.39/1.16) and K (159) in 2010. I have him for $24 in my $360-NL and will have to make a decision on him in the coming weeks. In a more traditional $260-NL, if you can get Kuroda for $13 or $14, you would have made yourself a good deal.

February 28, 2011: "Especially Willie, Mickey, and the Duke!"
When I drafted Ben Zobrist 60th in my mixed league draft, friends were on me like white on rice asking me why I took this guy so early! Well there were 105 guys kept on rosters from last year but I guess I could see their point. A little! This guy under-achieved in most every offensive category in 2010. reports Zobrist would like to point out that his 2010 season wasn't all bad despite battling a neck injury and suffering that drop-off in offensive production. "I had a down hitting year, [but] everything else, I felt like I did well," he said. "I did really well defensively. I ran the bases really well. I did all the other facets of the game that I could've done better than I've done them before." Manager Joe Maddon believes the remedy for getting Zobrist back on track is simplicity and health. "He's an experimenter and he just needs to get back to doing what he had done well the year before and the year before that," Maddon said. "It's one of those things where you think-that-I-think-that-you-think-that-I-think kind of stuff, and that kind of messed him up. You just got to simplify it again." Zobrist said he "seriously underestimated" a sore neck he dealt with going into spring training last season. He said he couldn't fully turn his head at the plate and his mechanics were off because he started to pull his head out as he swung. "It probably started getting better midseason," Zobrist said, "but at that point, I had these habits that I was in as a hitter that I just had a hard time getting out of the rest of the season. On top of that, I was pressing, because I wasn't hitting like I wanted to hit."  Zobrist had 0 HR in 2010 in his first 146 AB. This was after hitting 27 HR in 2009. I’ll grudgingly give Zobrist a mulligan for 2010. But, don’t forget, Zobrist batted just .181 in 249 AB in the 2nd half. He is seemingly healthy and getting closer to where he wants to be. Zobrist is going to be a regular to the lineup, whether it is in right field, at second base or first base -- a new position he is learning this spring. And he does have that 2B eligibility heading into 2011. If Zobrist returns to the .297 hitter that popped a career-high 27 homers in 2009, then he is going to end up delivering great results for fantasy owners. Consider Zobrist is nice mid-round fantasy pick in mixed leagues and a value pick in AL-only. Let’s just call his 2008 season what it is, an outlier. It’s safe to say that the 37 HR, 113 RBI, 104 R, .299 BA, and .963 OPS will never happen again. He was serviceable on ’09 with 22 HR and 97 RBI but his 2010 season left a lot to be desired. In my $360-NL for $25, Ludwick’s owner is throwing him back in the pool. And, in my mixed league draft, Ludwick was the #251 player selected. That’s after 105 players were already kept. A recent report from the North County Times indicated that Ludwick gained eight pounds of muscle during the winter. Is that what everyone is excited about? His ADP in the past 2 weeks has gone up 24.7%! Didn’t they see what he did in SD in 2010? Lineup placement will lock him into the heart of the Padres' lineup now that Adrian Gonzalez in Boston, so RBI opportunities should be plentiful for Ludwick in his first full campaign in San Diego. After carrying an .827 OPS through 77 games with the Cards last season, Ludwick struggled with the Padres in their postseason push, hitting just .211/.301/.330 in 209 AB and ultimately battling a calf injury throughout the final two months of the season. As the Park Indices from the Bill James Handbook point out, Petco hasn't been nearly as tough on right-handed power hitters as it has been on lefties over the last three seasons (it actually plays reasonably close to neutral for right-handed home runs). Ludwick could deliver something in the .260-.265 range with 20-25 homers and 90-plus RBI despite his home park. Don’t fall asleep when his name comes up in NL-only. If you can get him for the right price, he should give you a little bit of a profit.


February 27, 2011: The names Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez just kind of roll off the tongue!

Some women claim that they were born to breed. When they are pregnant, they absolutely glow; they never have morning sickness; they assume an air of  knowing calmness that reminds one of the Madonna—the one that was supposedly a virgin, not the one who sang “Like a virgin.” Others…not so much. They refer to gestation as “the worst nine months of my life,” plagued by fatigue, back pain, nausea, and sciatica. Some might attribute the difference in these two attitudes to perspective and mindset, but come on, we have to acknowledge the truth: there’s no fighting body chemistry. If anyone should ask, how is baseball like pregnancy, you can guess at the answer: much of the good and bad of it boils down to body chemistry. Just ask Justin Duchscherer. There are 3 things that we can expect in our lives, death, taxes, and the invariable injury to Duchscherer. He already has soreness in his surgically-repaired left hip and will miss the next few days. Never mind that he’s already had 2 surgeries on his right hip. That’s another story! Duchscherer has made only 32 GS in his career. From ’04-’06 for Oakland, Duchscherer averaged 57 games out of the pen, had 14 SV’s over that time and a 195/60 K/BB. A 2.80/1.11 and 204 HA in 237 2/3 IP shows that he’s a good pitcher when he’s healthy! He had 22 GS in 2008 with a career high 141 2/3 IP. That bounty led to a 2.54/1.00 ERA/WHIP. Of course he missed the whole 2009 season. If he can get out there, he’ll give you quality. You just have to be wary of the note that comes on the package, “handle with care.” Pedro Beato was picked by the Mets in the 2nd round of this year’s Rule-5 draft. The #32 overall pick by the Orioles in the 2006 draft, the 24 year old Beato’s stock has dropped and he is now a RP. As a Rule-5, Beato has to make the Mets or returned to the Orioles. Frankie Rodriguez has taken the youngster under his wing. But if I were Beato’s wife, girlfriend, or even father-in-law, I would advise a little police protection. Beato had 59 2/3 IP in Double-A in 2010 with 16 SV, a 2.11/1.14, 49 HA, and a 50/19 K/BB. Some reports have Beato getting a good shot to make the team. He may be a guy to keep an eye on but from a distance for now. Don’t forget to check out the NL-only mock draft on the site as it is posted. It was a lot of fun and should give you a little bit of an idea of where guys are being taken. I’ll be back tomorrow with more fantasy information!

February 26, 2011: Manny Mota was the greatest pinch-hitter of all time!
We’ve talked about this on the site over the months but I’ve been reading a lot on the subject of the Dodger closer, Jonathan Broxton on the Dodger site. And this next sentence has more to do with Joel Hanrahan being named the closer by the Pirates than about Broxton’s hold on the job. Yes, closers from terrible teams do get SV’s. I harken back to the 2004 season with the Rockies when Shawn Chacon had 35 SV. Of course that came with a 1-9 record, a 7.11/1.95 ERA/WHIP and a 52/52 K/BB. Over the rest of his career, Chacon would have 1 more save and has been out of baseball since 2008 for bitch-slapping Houston GM Ed Wade. It seems like Mr. Wade, and in a “polite” way I might add, was just trying to persuade Mr. Chacon to pitch a little better! I had him as my 2nd closer in an expert NL-only league that year and did come in the money with a win in the SV’s category. But the ugliest 35 SV’s you’ll ever see! Broxton fell apart in the second half last season, posting a 7.13 ERA and 2.13 WHIP while walking more than he struck out. His velocity was down at the end of the season, which had people wondering if he was pitching hurt. He still has elite closer stuff, though, so as long as he’s healthy, he should be the ninth-inning man. For now! He is scheduled to make $7-mil for 2011 which makes it near impossible for the Dodgers to move him. I’m not a fan of giving closer’s big money deals. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that hindsight is a wonderful thing and is usually 20/20! See Frankie Rodriguez of the Mets who was also involved in the bitch-slapping of another human, much like the erstwhile Chacon. The Mets went so far to try to void the rest of K-Rod’s contract but the MLBPA stepped in and said the Mets could suspend him, no pay, for the rest of ’10, but after careful rehab and saying 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys, Rodriguez would be good to go in 2011. Broxton’s understudies, Kuo and Jansen, were otherworldly giving up a total of 41 hits in 87 IP, with a 114/33 K/BB. Kuo had a 1.20/0.78 ERA/WHIP while Jansen was at 0.67/1.00. As I’ve said on this very site, this country is about forgiving, if not so much forgetting. Broxton will be given a clean slate to start 2011. And, a short leash to match. I’m just not sure that I’m ready to take that leap of faith that Broxton’s 2nd half was a matter of overuse. I’m not ready to give a mulligan on 2010 to him just yet. Because the Broxton of the 1960’s, Dick Radatz, had 3 seasons of undeniable bounty and went by the wayside! Yes, they tried to make him a pitcher and he came up with a bum wing. In these situations of the heart I’ve come to expect the worst but hope for the best. Whether you call him Craig Allen or Allen Craig depends on who you think that he might be related to, Marty Allen or Daniel Craig. Let’s see: why don’t we check 2 snapshot photos. 1. Marty Allen in a tuxedo, sweating profusely, with brillo hair sticking out in every direction or 2. Daniel Craig, as James Bond, coming out of the ocean in that blue bathing suit with that spectacular torso. The eyes, steel blue or bug-style can tell a lot about a man’s family tree. Let’s call him, for sake of looks, Allen Craig. And a guy that you should keep an eye on to close out your NL-only for a buck. He’s expected to see time at 3B for the Cardinals while David Freese is hurt. Freese is not the most healthy guy in the world giving Ben Sheets and Rich Harden a run for their money. Craig was a .320 hitter in Triple-A with 14 HR and 81 RBI with a .938 OPS. His time with the Cards wasn’t as bountiful but the 26 year old had 4 HR, 18 RBI, and a .710 OPS in 114 AB. He may actually come out of spring as the starting 3B for the Cards who can also play 1B and both COR OF spots. I’m just saying, don’t forget about him.

February 25, 2011: Chad Durbin is holding out for a major league deal!
Why should teachers have tenure? Why can’t we just lay off a thousand firefighters? What’s wrong with company guys who just don’t get it when their entire division gets the axe? Don’t these people know how that the bottom line is always the almighty dollar? That money makes the world go round? Isn’t the reality that the rich get richer and the poor can suck up the tax deficit? Well, I have a few queries in response to all those questions. What ever happened to company loyalty? What ever became of looking after employees because you realized there were families standing behind each one of them? When did people who actually considered the plight of others become idiots? Hard times make for hard people. I got the call from my boss at my real job yesterday for a meeting. I’ve come to expect the worst in life and hope for the best. As many of you know I’ve been working at a Jewish golf club for the last 21 years. That’s as long as I’ve been doing fantasy baseball. But I knew this call to a meeting wasn’t going to end well. It was either me going to work for their overseas office in Jerusalem or I would be terminated effective immediately. I was closer with the latter that a job which has been part of the club since it was established in 1959 has been eliminated. My job. A job I made better. Now it looks like fantasy baseball is in my future again and for the good. But this too shall pass! Another one-time up and comer was also the 1st overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft. Luke Hochevar may be the #1 SP by default in KC with a career record of 19-32, a 5.60/1.46 ERA/WHIP, 431 HA and a 259/134 K/BB in 387 2/3 IP. Not what you’d expect for a guy with that pedigree. Toward the end of July, 2009 I picked Hochevar up in my no-trade AL-only. One of the other owners e-mailed me and ranted, “Are you crazy? What, are you trying to purposely lose?” That first GS on July 25 for my team went better than I thought. He went 7 IP of 2 ER ball good enough for a W and a 13/0 K/BB. That owner got back to me and mentioned that I was a genius and he was wrong about Hochevar. Yes, and his next 9 GS for my team went like this: 49 1/3 IP, an 0-7 record, 72 HA a 44/17 K/BB (which wasn’t bad) and an 8.57/1.80 (which was bad). Now it’s September and I’m out of the money for only the 2nd time in that long-running league. Well, on September 18, Hochevar hurled the only SHO of his career, a 3 hitter with a 5/1 K/BB. It was kind of like putting whipped cream on s**t! Of course he went back to being the Luke Hochevar that we’ve come to love! 21 ER and 24 HA in 14 IP. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get up in the morning. And man do I know!

February 24, 2011: The Royal Wedding will take place on Abbey Road!
Following the free-agent departure of Carl Crawford to the Boston Red Sox, it was widely assumed that Jennings would step in immediately in left field. However, things changed when the Rays signed veteran outfielder Johnny Damon late in the offseason. Manny Ramirez was also thrown into the mix at DH. Now Jennings is in a position where he won't be handed an opening day job, and he will have to impress the team to make the club out of spring training. Injuries have prevented the 24-year-old from fully capitalizing on his impressive array of tools. Plagued by a wrist injury early last season, Jennings had an underwhelming season at the plate, registering a .278 batting average and a .755 OPS at Triple-A Durham with a 67/47 K/BB. But those moderate numbers hide the improvements he showed from June on, as he showed more of his top prospect skills. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound outfielder has never had difficulty getting on-base (.384 career on-base percentage in the minors) and SB have been his calling card. Jennings, who was successful on 37 of 41 stolen base attempts at Durham in 2010, has the wheels and base stealing skills to compete for the AL crown if given the chance. If Jennings can earn an everyday gig sometime this year, he's capable of putting together a season similar to what Austin Jackson did as a rookie with the Detroit Tigers last year (.293, 103 R, 27 SB). What makes Jennings so intriguing is that he has the upside and talent to dwarf what Jackson did by stealing more bases and putting up double figures in home runs. No one is going to make Rays fans forget Carl Crawford right off the bat, but Jennings has the upside to eventually help Tampa Bay move past its former franchise player. While the signings of Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez will limit his at-bats early this season, Jennings has a chance to be a true impact player on both sides of the ball. He's a plus defender in center field, his eventual long-term home, and his speed should allow him to put up 30-40 SB right off the bat. A wrist injury hampered the 24-year-old last year, but he'll have enough pop to keep pitchers honest. A long career as a leadoff man awaits. Jennings did find his way into 17 games for the Rays in September and hit .190 in 21 AB with 5 R and 2 SB. His Triple-A career consists of a .288 BA in 513 AB with 105 R, 6 HR, 53 RBI, 52 SB (6 CS), a .790 OPS and an 82/66 K/BB.

February 23, 2011: Everyone is bright until they open their mouths!
When I needed a SP because of injuries to my AL staff in 2009, I reached for Toronto LH Brett Cecil. His numbers at Triple-A weren’t the best but I just had a feeling. And after a great start, I felt my pick was justified. But Cecil couldn’t sustain any largess and finished with a 5.30/1.65 ERA/WHIP in 93 1/3 IP, 116 HA, and a 69/38 K/BB. In 228 1/3 career minor league innings, Cecil has a 228/73 K/BB. I left Cecil for other owners in 2010 but may have been a year early. He won 15 games and had a 117/54 K/BB in 172 2/3 IP with 175 HA and a 4.22/1.33. Not bad pitching in that very tough AL-East. Only 9 pitchers in the AL had more victories than Cecil’s 15 and in 16 of his 28 GS, he held the opposition to 2 ER or less. Of course you have to take the good with the bad. Cecil had a 4.64/1.48 in the 2nd half with 42 K’s in 76 IP. That included a 6.92 ERA in 26 IP in September. He makes a decent #3 SP behind Morrow and Romero but nobody’s been predicting a break-out season for Cecil in 2011. This may be as good as it gets for him. Do bid on him for ’11 but use his 2010 season, minus the W’s, as the baseline. Given his minor league prosperity, you may see an uptick in strike outs but a 4.20/1.30 may be the best ERA/WHIP that you’ll see from Cecil. Some people claim that Kevin Maas, thrust into the limelight of the Big Apple from a small-town background, couldn’t live up to the clamor for a hero that rose to a roar in Yankee Stadium in the early 1990s. Well, that can’t be true. If Maas fell on his face it wasn’t because of the pressure to be the long-awaited hero. After all, the days of the Babe pointing to a spot in the bleachers, or the Mick limping around the bases because of that nasty abscess, or the Splendid Splinter signing up to fight against fascism and the Nazis—those days are long gone. A seven-year-old might still idolize Derek Jeter, but by the time he turns ten, he’s well over it. No, there is, no doubt, another cause at the root of Kevin Maas’s fall from grace. In 1990, Maas hit 12 HR in his first 30 games and finished with 21 in 254 AB. Of course he never saw that kind of bounty again and finished with 65 HR in 1248 AB. Much the same can be said for Chris Davis the Texas Ranger corner guy. The start of his major league career was also like the “Natural,” Roy Hobbs. Davis hit 10 HR in his first 25 games and finished with 17 HR and 55 RBI, with an .879 OPS in 295 AB. He did hit 21 HR in 2009, in 391 AB, but the BA dipped to .238 and, after starting the ’10 season as the Rangers’ 1B, Davis was dispatched to Triple-A with a .188 BA and a .556 OPS in 48 AB. He also K’d 17 times! And what puzzles me about his overall ’10 season in Texas is 1 HR in 120 AB. He’s still young, 25 in a few weeks, but may need a change of venue. The Rangers are committed to Beltre at 3B and Moreland at 1B. Maybe a fresh start in the NL will revitalize the kid that harkened back memories to another rising star that flamed out quickly by the name of Kevin Maas! 

February 22, 2011: Kevin Slowey is still available in my mixed league draft!
He's a bit of a wild card, Bud Norris is, and I have a feeling if the Astros had more major league ready SP, Norris would be in the pen. I will go with the predictions also, if he were to stay in the rotation all season, that Norris could get upwards to 190 K's. I think that, down the road, Norris could be looking at a career as a closer especially if he can't get his secondary pitches over for strikes. His bugaboo, of course, is the walk. In 209 1/3 IP in the majors, Norris does have 102 BB's. He'll be no help to a fantasy rotation if he keeps up those figures. But I have a feeling about this kid and in a good way. So, by all means, draft Norris as a #3 or, more likely #4 SP on your NL staff. On August 14, Norris did K 14 batters vs the Pirates (yes, it counts) for the most in Minute Maid Park history. So, while he’ll show #1 starter stuff in some games, he still remain very inconsistent! If you play in the rare 4X4 NL that doesn’t count K’s, Norris shouldn’t be drafted! On the surface, it was a tale of two halves for Norris last season. He had an ugly 5.41 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in the 1H, due to an inflated 41% hit rate. As his H% normalized in the 2H, so too did his surface stats: 4.32 ERA, 1.38 WHIP. Even more promising was his evolution from a flyball pitcher to a groundball one. He increased his GB% by 10% from the 1H to the 2H. We know his strike out skills are legit, as shown by his 9.3/9 IP. Keeping the ball down and harnessing his control are the two things to look from Norris this spring. There's a lot of profit potential here. He does have his upside but you’ll have to take the leap of faith. Because if you’re risk adverse, you may want no part of Bud Norris! One guy that you will want to keep an eye on this spring is Aneury Rodriguez, the 9th pick in December’s Rule 5 draft by these same Astros. Rodriguez posted a 2.06 ERA in 43 2/3 IP in the Dominican Winter League with a 37/12 K/BB. He just turned 23 in December but is already a 6 year minor league vet. In 712 IP, Rodriguez has a 41-43 record with a 4.56/1.37 ERA/WHIP, 720 HA, and a 626/254 K/BB. In 17 GS at Triple-A in 2010, Rodriguez had a 3.80/1.35 in 113 2/3 IP with 104 HA and a 94/49 K/BB. If he doesn’t make it as a SP this spring the Astros will probably still keep him for the pen. An old favorite of mine will also be throwing his cap into the ring for a rotation spot with the ‘stros. And he has thrown 1777 innings in the minors, has a 122-79 minor league record and has pitched all or parts of 12 seasons at Triple-A. He’s enjoyed a 1466/512 K/BB, 1668 HA, and a 3.46/1.23. Of course you figured out by now that it’s Nelson Figueroa who tied his major league career high with 93 IP in 2010 (he had 93 IP with the Brewers back in ’02). He had a nice 3.29 ERA and 73 K’s. My best memory of Figueroa was when, as a member of my $360-NL team in ’09, he went out on the last day of the season and pitched a CG, 4-H SHO vs these Astros with a 7/0 K/BB. I really needed that game to try to come in the money in that league but came up a point short. But I loved Figueroa for the effort and will always have a soft spot in my heart for him

February 21, 2011: Winter is back in a big way in the Northeast!
After 5 major league games, I was dusting off Danny Espinosa's HOF plaque. Because the Major League Baseball Committee may just waive the 5 year waiting period or even the 10 year playing period! Espinosa was 9 for 16 (.563) with 3 HR and 10 RBI. And I don't think that anyone ever led their league in RBI while only playing in September. That just can't happen. He was on pace for 56 RBI in September and 17 HR. This was a guy that every NL league owner was stepping over each other in order to get him. Well, his next 13 games were like Pablo Sandoval falling down. THUD! Espinosa was 5 for 50 (.100) with 5 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, and a 17/3 K/BB. There goes the RBI crown! Speaking of the '11 season, anytime that you can get a guy with a lot of potential either cheap or late in the draft, you owe it to yourself to investigate. He did have 22 HR and 25 SB in 2010 between Double-A and Triple-A. And on a team like the Nationals, this guy will be given every chance to stay in the line-up. Of course if the Royals had traded Greinke to the Nationals like they wanted to (Greinke refused the deal), Espinosa would be in the AL right now. So, you just never know! But the new season and the call of position players to spring training always has a romantic quality when speaking of a guy like Espinosa, who just wants to impress management with his wares! Kosuke Fukudome has come to this startling revelation, that he would like to stay in the U.S. after his contract is up. That contract, 4 yr/$48-mil, comes to an end after this season. He even bought a 3 bedroom condo on the Northside and his first choice is to stay in the Windy City, home of Second City TV and the band, The Association! But even Fukudome has to realize that he’ll never see those riches again, at least in this country. And, for that reason, I hope he invested his money well, maybe like the Wilpons or Timmy Teufel. Because the one thing you can say about Fukudome is that he’s been consistent throughout his time in the States. But that’s not always a good thing! He will take a walk, averaging 79 free passes in his 3 full seasons with 11 HR, 52 RBI, and 67 R. And if he were making “only” $2.5-mil/yr. we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Yes, I hope Fukudome invested his money well! Much like Jack Ruby for his killing of Lee Harvey Oswald, the band Ace for their one hit, “How Long,” and actor David James Elliot for the hit TV show JAG, Chris Shelton will be remembered for one thing. Those wonderful first 13 games of the 2006 season. During that bountiful time, Shelton was 24 for 51 (.471), 9 HR, 17 RBI, 12 R, but a foreboding 16/0 K/BB. And, as the saying goes, Shelton should have quit while he was ahead! Over the next 15 games, Shelton was 6 for 49 (.122) with 1 HR, 3 RBI, but a “much better” 12/1 K/BB. Unless Shelton discovers a cure for cancer, he will always be remembered for that fortnight. In the spring of ’09, Shelton batted .460 in 50 AB with a 1.254 OPS but was summarily dismissed by the M’s to Triple-A. He resurfaced in July to a .231 BA in 26 AB before being dispatched again, never to be heard from on the major league level. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Mets after managing only a .249 BA and 10 HR in 285 AB at Triple-A in 2010. As Rick said in the movie Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have it, we’d lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.” In a way, that’s the story of Chris Shelton who’ll always have those 2 weeks and something to tell his grandkids!

February 20, 2011: Hey Carrie Anne what's your game now can anybody play?
In Vegas there are odds on everything. I would say the odds on Harden not making it through the first day of camp would have been about 8 to 5. He just can't stay on the hill and lately, when he does, he walks the planet. It's like every guy he's facing is Eddie Gaedel. I wouldn't count on Harden doing much for the A's in '11 and when/if he's able to pitch, it will probably be in long relief. You would figure that the A's would learn a lesson from that terrible waste of $10-mil that they bestowed on Ben Sheets in 2010. I think the deal is “only” for $1.5-mil but it still doesn’t make it right! And Harden now transcends the whole day-to-day speak. When speaking of Harden, we like to now say that he’s week-to-week! These pitchers just don't start getting healthy as they approach their 30's. But GM’s do remember his 25 GS of bounty back in ’08 that featured a 10-2 mark, a 2.07/1.06 ERA/WHIP, 96 HA, and a 171/67 K/BB in 148 IP. Let’s put that season in a time capsule and bury it for posterity! For a guy that was 13-4 with a 3.73/1.24 ERA/WHIP, Tommy Hunter doesn't get much respect. 2 or 3 times during the World Series, I actually mistook him for Colby Lewis. His K rate isn't the best with 68 in 128 IP. Fortunately, he's not a big believer in the free pass as he's walked 66 batters in 240 IP over the previous 2 seasons. It is looking more and more like the Rangers are going to commit to Feliz in the rotation. I, for one, don’t agree with the move of putting the reigning AL ROY with the record for most rookie SV at 40 in the rotation. That could still leave room for Hunter because Brandon Webb is promised a spot. But please read the Harden post again and learn something! I think Hunter will get the position but I'd like to see him K more guys and show some more moxie in a big situation. That's where a guy like Colby Lewis has it all over him. Hunter is a lot, to watch, like Fausto Carmona of the Indians. The difference is that Carmona throws a little harder down in the zone to induce more GB. Kind of like Chien-Ming Wang in his hey day (which I think was a Tuesday)! Sometimes managers will use the method of giving a guy a kick in the pants by telling him, in this case Hunter, that he’ll have to work to get his spot in the rotation assured. I really have no use for Francisco Rodriguez as a man and if this is true what I read about his $17.5-mil option kicking in at 55 games finished, I would make sure that he doesn't reach it. It’s not like the Mets are going to be battling for a playoff spot in September. $17.5-mil is a lot of money for a team going through financial upheavel and it would be good business both from a money standpoint and a fan-base standpoint, as well, to let him walk. Don't sell Kevin Millwood short and call him the 4th best SP on the Yankees. He might be the 2nd best SP on the Yankees right now behind Sabathia. But, please, don't give in to his demands of $4-$5-mil/yr. To me, it takes a lot of chutzpah to ask for that kind of money coming off a 4-16 record and  a 5.10/1.51 in 190 2/3 IP. What sickens me even more is his last 5 seasons where he’s given up 1079 hits in 945 2/3 IP with a 660/305 K/BB and a 4.67/1.46 ERA/WHIP. No one else will go that high to secure the services of Millwood and you know how I feel about teams bidding against themselves!

February 19, 2011: Fresh out of clover, mortgage up to here!
After Curtis Granderson's unbelievable 2007 season with Detroit, I drafted him 12th in my AL-only the following spring. Because, at the age of 27, this guy, I felt at the time, should be entering his prime. That '07 bounty included 38 doubles, 23 triples, 23 HR (that's 84 XBH from a lead off hitter), a .302 BA 74 RBI, 122 R, and a .909 OPS. And his ’08 season wasn’t a total waste of time either. He did go 26 two-baggers, 13 triples, 22 HR 112 R, and a .280 BA. Yes, he does K a bit as his 141/ 52 K/BB from 2007 will attest to! In fact, in his 5 full major league seasons, the Grandy Man has a 683/314 K/BB. I like him bouncing back from his 2010 season to get closer to 30 HR in Yankee Stadium, one of the best in the majors for a LH hitter, and close to 105-110 R, up from the 76 he had last season when injuries bedeviled him. But in his 4 full seasons with Detroit, Granderson averaged 24 HR, 104 R, 16 SB and, more importantly 598 AB, Because, you might be blessed with 5 categories but you can't teach health! I did draft him in our AL mock draft at #39 which I felt was a little late. It is good to see the guys involved in this mock exercise were a touch fearful of his injuries from the '10 season. Rios went at #29 and Ellsbury at #35 which seems about right to me. Upton (#38) went right before Granderson. I think that's a pretty good barometer of where these guys will go in an AL-only. My feeling is all 3 of these guys, especially Rios, should come off the board a little before Granderson. Though, I will be targeting him in AL leagues this season, you can be sure of that! I would keep the auction bidding to the low 20’s. Granderson seems to be the kind of guys that owners chase. I would stay around $23. I go back a long way, you all know, and I was reminded of that when I drafted Will Venable at pick #120 in my mixed league draft. I remember his father, Max Venable who played for the Giants, Angels, Reds and Expos in a career from 1979 thru 1991. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as the “elder” Venable was a .241 hitter in 1397 AB. His son did a little better in what I’ll call a “breakout” year at the age of 27. Will hit .245 but it’s the power/speed combo that piqued my interest. 13 HR and 29 SB in 392 AB can do that to a fantasy owner! To compare, in 563 AB, Jose Reyes had 11 HR and 30 SB. And, don’t forget, only 15 players in the NL had 20 or more SB. I really wanted to take Andres Torres with that pick but he was swallowed up at #116 and my second choice, Logan Morrison, followed suit at #118. Now it’s at the point in the draft where I have to fill positions. I still need a SS and the best available are Ryan Theriot, Miguel Tejada, Juan Uribe, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Bartlett, Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy, and Alcides Escobar. I’ll narrow that list down as I get closer to my next pick. Be sure to check out the new lay-out in the AL and NL pricing pages. It’s less of a hassle to switch players as they change leagues. I am also working on a better pitcher’s page as that layout has really been giving me a hard time!

February 18, 2011: I've been to Canaan and I won't rest until I go back again!
Cleveland, Milwaukee, San Diego, Cincinnati, Seattle, Tampa, Philly, St.Louis and now Arizona, Branyan sure has seen the sights that America has to offer. He reminds me of one of those 1940s and 50's minor league power hitters that never really gets a shot. But Branyan has gotten chances, many chances, for the ability that he has to occasionally get a hold of one and launch one into another zip code. It’s fitting because he’s played in so many! And he has done so 189 times in 2807 AB in a career that started with an 0 for 4 and 2 Ks for Cleveland in 1998. And, like a man, he will take the slow and lonely walk back to the dugout with the bat on his shoulder. He's done that an unbelievable 1077 times and has taken the free pass down to 1B another 385 times. It’s a wonder that he ever gets his bat on the ball. Amazingly, in 636 AB for the Mariners the last 2 seasons (he also played for the Indians which doesn't count for this exercise), Branyan has 46 HR of his 152 H. Safeco, in Seattle, is like hitting it out of Yellowstone! Yes, he's an all-or-nothing guy who, if ever able to play a full season and get AB, could put up 50 HR and break the all-time K record. He might even go for Nolan Ryan’s K record for a pitcher! Obviously and for selfish reasons, I wished he had stayed in the AL. he would have been a nice guy to have for 2 bucks in a league where I really don’t have much. But sometimes you just have to turn lemons into lemonade. But he should be a great and cheap source of power for your NL-only. Just make sure, if you draft Branyan, that you draft some BA guys! When I went to bed last night around 11:30, it was still 3 picks to me in my mixed league. I get up every morning around 3 or 3:30 to take the dog out. When I came in there was an e-mail from the league that came at 2:07 AM saying that pick #89 was up and my picks of #90 and #91 were up next. It was 3:45 already and was glad that I didn’t keep the league waiting. I went back to sleep for awhile and got up at 6:30 hoping that the guy before me didn’t pick too long ago. Good, he hadn’t picked yet! I was logging in our recently completed AL mock draft on the site so I had the computer on for awhile. At 9:00, and still on deck, I had to go out for about a half hour. I get back and still I’m on deck. Finally, at 10:14, the guy before me takes Gavin Floyd. I mean 8 hours and 7 minutes for Gavin Floyd or 1.23 hours per win Floyd had last year. At 10:35 my picks were in. I went with the closer, Chris Perez. It was between Perez, Huston Street and Joel Hanrahan. I had a lot of time to think about it. My picks for hitters were between Torii Hunter, Andres Torres, and Raul Ibanez. I even threw Alfonso Soriano and Chris Coghlan into the mix. I’m changing over the pricing pages on the site, while putting in the AL-mock draft and waiting on this draft. I noticed the name, Mike Napoli, 1B-C. I never take a catcher before the end. Last year in this league my catchers were Rod Barajas and A.J. Pierzynski. Napoli has averaged 22 HR/season for the past 3 seasons including a career high 26 HR in 453 AB last season. He’s a lot like Branyan, striking out 137 times, but with better position eligibility!

February 17, 2011: You have to know better than to bitch-slap the GM of the club that's paying your salary!
I did catch a break in the Kirby Puckett League. That’s the league where I was given a team with no keepers. Well, I’m on my way as Scott Podsednik, who I have for $6, signed a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. With the arrival of Juan Rivera from the Angels in the Vernon Wells trade, the Jays seem to be just about filled up in the OF. Rajai Davis will be patrolling CF and it looks like management will give Travis Snider a shot in RF. Plus veteran, Corey Patterson is still in the wings. A little known fact is that in the past 2 seasons, only two players have hit at least .295 and have at least 30 SB. Of course you guessed Podsednik but the other is the “lesser” known Carl Crawford. From 2006-2008, Podsednik batted .256 with 64 SB! Still I’m surprised that Podsednik had to settle for a minor league deal. Big news on the web is that the Pirates announced that their closer for the 2011 season will be Joel Hanrahan. He does have experience, if you want to call 20 career SV’s a lot of 9th inning work. But he does have a 265/102 K/BB the last 3 seasons in 218 IP and was one of only 3 RP in 2010 to K more than 100 batters. And closers from terrible teams do get SV’s. I harken back to the 2004 season with the Rockies when Shawn Chacon had 35 SV. Of course that came with a 1-9 record, a 7.11/1.95 ERA/WHIP and a 52/52 K/BB. Over the rest of his career, Chacon would have 1 more save and has been out of baseball since 2008 for bitch-slapping Houston GM Ed Wade. It seems like Mr. Wade, and in a “polite” way was just trying to persuade Chacon to pitch a little better! Aaron Harang has been a bit of an enigma these past 3 seasons. Leading into this time of adversity, Harang was one of the best SP in the NL in 2006-2007. He had a workhorse like 69 GS and 466 IP with a 32-17 record, a 434/108 K/BB, 455 HA, and a 3.75/1.21 ERA/WHIP. But then something happened on the way to the forum and Harang has been a completely different SP. It just came out this week that Harang blames his failures on a 4 inning relief outing on May 25, 2008 in which he threw 63 pitches between starts good for a 9/1 K/BB, 2 HA, and 0 ER. His next 3 outings were like something from a Lindsey Lohan movie as he went 15 1/3 IP, 30 HA, 16 ER and 4 HRA before going mercifully on the DL after his July 8 start. His last 3 seasons have been anything but prosperous with an 18-38 mark in 75 GS, 458 !/3 IP, a 377/131 K/BB, 530 HA, and a 4.71/1.44. he is getting a fresh start going to Petco Park, a haven for pitchers, especially in comparison to the bandbox he was pitching in Cincy for the past 8 seasons. Spend the extra buck on Harang in your NL drafts but don’t get too cocky. A $5 or $6 bid would bring back $8 in profit!

February 16, 2011: Orlando Cabrera will be playing for his 6th different team in the last 5 years!
I wonder when Albert Pujols was a kid, if he didn’t say to people, when I get older I want to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes the greatest right handed hitter that ever lived.” Because, in my lifetime, he’s the greatest RH hitter I’ve seen and maybe he is indeed the best of all time. Pujols is the first player in MLB history to hit at least 30 HR in his first 10 seasons. And after those 10 seasons, Pujols has 408 HR, a .331 BA, a .426 OBP, a .624 SLG, and a 1.050 OPS. He’s a 2 time Gold Glove winner (’06, ’10), a 6 time Silver Slugger winner, and a 9 time All-Star. Not bad for this 13th round draft pick by the Cards in 1999. It’s been reported that Pujols is looking for a 10 yr/$300-mil contract. The last report that I read has the Cards and Pujols “not being in the same ballpark” in terms of money or years. The deadline to agree on a contract is today. I’m not sure if the MLBPA is pressuring Pujols to hold out for every last dollar but manager La Russa seems to think so! And Pujols did say that as a 10 and 5 guy, he will block a trade to any club and test the market after the 2011 season if he doesn’t sign an extension. Pujols is like George Brett and Cal Ripken, and Tony Gwynn in that they should spent their entire careers in the same organization. The next few hours will tell a lot! And you know that some major league team will pony up that $30-mil. I was looking through my old Pujols notes from a few years back and came across this interesting tidbit. In the first 8 GS of Fernando Valenzuela’s career (he had relieved in 10 games the year before), he was 8-0 with an 0.50 ERA. In those 8 games he pitched 5 shut outs, 8 CG (72 IP), a 68/17 K/BB and 43 HA. That’s some first impression! Let’s go over the catchers in the NL. This is a position where I rarely DON’T wait until the end of a draft, even in 2 C leagues. There really are only 2 good fantasy C’s in the NL, Brian McCann ($21) and Buster Posey ($20). After that, Geovany Soto goes for a little more than I’d like to spend ($15) and Miguel Montero ($14). John Buck ($11) had career highs across the board last season and that was due to the increase in AB to 409. He did hit 20 HR, 66 RBI and a .281 BA but a 111/16 K/BB tells me that the BA is not sustainable. I’ll stay away, thank you. The guy I do like, and I have him for $2 in my $260-NL is Carlos Ruiz ($10). He hit .321 with 40 RBI in 218 AB in the 2nd half of ’10. Yadier Molina is ($10) and the only thing that you can say about him is that he doesn’t kill you. And he’s had a total of 17 SB the past 2 seasons! Chris Iannetta ($8) showed promise in ’08-’09 with 34 HR and 117 RBI in 622 RBI but regressed last year (.197, 9 HR, 27 RBI) and his playing time suffered. Iannetta has a clear path to the starting job this season and could be a bit of a fantasy sleeper in NL-only. Doumit ($7), Hundley ($6), Hernandez, Barajas, Thole and Snyder ($5), Lucroy and Pudge Rodriguez ($4), Wilson Ramos ($3), Jason Castro, Ronny Paulino, and David Ross ($2) and Dioner Navarro ($1) round out an uninspiring bunch!

February 15, 2011: I don't want to end up in a Siberian gulag for talking bad about anyone!
I think Dodger fans were expecting bigger things from Loney by now because of the way he broke in back in ’07. 15 homers in 344 AB with a .331 average and a .920 OPS is a lot to get excited about. It just goes to show what a small sample size will do, not that 344 AB is real small. Loney did hit 4 HR, 5 triples and 6 doubles in 104 AB with the big club in ’06, with 20 R after hitting .380 in 366 AB at Triple-A that season. Just a feeling that Loney surprises this year. Another feeling that it will be easier to play for the former first baseman Don Mattingly then it was for Loney in the past! And when Loney came up it looked like he may be a Mattingly-lite but now the Dodger faithful are just hopeful for a Mark Grace-lite! To pay $8 MM for LaRoche or $4.875 for Loney, I don’t think there’s a choice. LaRoche is more of a mercenary, a gun for hire, and not a very good one considering he hasn’t been in the post-season since 2005. LaRoche did have a chance to sign a 2-yr deal with the eventual World Champion Giants but ended up taking a one-yr deal with an option form the D’Backs. I know, some things just can’t be explained. I feel the same about Barajas and Uribe as Loney. These guys will be a little better than what the Dodger fans have come to believe. Loney’s run of bad luck began in July with a .224 average and 23 runs scored in the 2nd half and was exacerbated by the guys around him becoming impotent as well. Don’t forget that Loney did hit .308 with an .820 OPS with RISP. I will try to snatch Loney in at least one NL-only league in 2011. This, however, is a huge year for Loney. Another season like ’10 and Loney will more than likely be non-tendered by the club. His BA and power numbers have dropped every year since 2007. It’s all a little strange being that Loney won’t turn 27 until May and should be entering his prime years. Carlos Marmol signed a 3 year extension with the Cubs worth around $20-mil. He had 38 SV in 2010 with an incredible 138 K’s in 77 2/3 IP. That’s a 15.99 K/9 rate! Marmol’s bugaboo has been the walk. In 308 1/3 IP over the past 4 seasons, Marmol has a 441/193 K/BB and 164 HA. Not many guys put the ball in play off Marmol. We touched a bit yesterday on auction prices for NL 3B. Today I’d like to touch on AL SS. Not a strong position by any means. Jeter ($23), Alexei Ramirez ($22) and Andrus ($21) lead the pack. If you don’t get one of these players early in your AL the next group looks like this: Asdrubal Cabrera ($14), Nishioka ($14), Scutaro ($13), Yunel Escobar ($12), Erick Aybar ($12), Pennington ($11), Peralta ($11), Hardy ($11), and Alcides Escobar ($10). After that it’s a bunch of questions like Lowrie and Orlando Cabrera ($8), and Alexi Casilla and Reid Brignac ($6).If you’re without a SS in your AL league at this point, good luck! The remainders include Jason Donald ($4), Brendan Ryan ($3), Cesar Izturis and Ramon Santiago ($2) and Brandon Wood and Jack Wilson ($1). Brignac, Alcides Escobar, and Nishioka could be good buys at these prices. Maybe tomorrow we’ll run down another position and what those players should run in auctions.

February 14, 2011: I did ask Sammy Gervacio to be my Valentine today!
In November, 2006, Alfonso Soriano signed an 8 yr/$136-mil contract to play for the Cubs. With that signing the Cubs felt they had the missing piece to a winning team. Soriano was coming off a pretty good season in ’06 with the Washington Nationals, a season that saw him have 41 SB and a .905 OPS, and career highs of 46 HR, a .345 OBP, and 67 BB’s. He accomplished the rare 40/40 season, 40 HR and 40 SB that was made popular by Jose Canseco. Mickey Mantle once said that if he knew 40/40 was so rare, he would have done it every season! Soriano also put together 3 other seasons of 30/30 (2002, 2003 with the NYY, and 2005 with Tex). So, at quick glance, this looked like a decent deal for the Cubs. Yes, it seemed high at the time, but not that off-beat considering some of the other contracts of the time like Michael Young and Barry Zito. The Cubs did make the post-season in Soriano’s first 2 seasons there but were eliminated in the NLDS both seasons with Soriano going 3 for 28 (.107) and zeroes across the board in R, HR, and RBI to go along with an 8/1 K/BB. But the last 2 seasons with the Cubs has shown what an albatross of a contract this has become. Soriano, in ’09-‘10’ has a 241/85 K/BB, 14 SB, 131 R, 44 HR, 134 RBI, a .250 BA in 973 AB, and a .770 OPS. Not what you want from your guy that’s still owed $72-mil until 2014 or until Soriano is 38. This is a player who was a 7-time All-Star and 4-time Silver Slugger winner. Maybe something could be worked out with the Rangers for Michael Young. Two bad contracts with the Cubs picking up some of Soriano’s salary. Just an idea! And Soriano did enjoy 2 fine seasons (’04-’05) in Arlington. I dropped a $9 Chris Johnson early in the season in my $260-NL only. He never enjoyed the kind of success in the minors that he had with the Astros in 2010. In 341 AB with the big club, Johnson hit .308 with 11 HR and 52 RBI. I have to say that I'm not a fan of the 91/15 K/BB. That was on the heels of 9 walks in 149 AB at Triple-A. He did have a big second half in the NL with 11 HR and 44 RBI in just 70 games. I would proceed with a little caution. Yes, he would go for more than $9 in a standard $260-NL league. But if you could procure something for him, I would consider it! I think the only reason that Johnson has been considered a prospect in the Houston system is that the Astros just never had someone else at the position. And, while I think the power may be coming, I'd be willing to be that he won't see a .300 BA again. Not with that K/BB ratio. I would pay for 18 HR and a .270 BA. Johnson is a .282 hitter in 634 AB at Triple-A where he has a .780 OPS, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 2 SB, and a 138/35 K/BB. He’s slated to be the starting 3B for the Astros in 2011 and for that reason he should go for around $15. Other comparable NL 3B include Scott Rolen ($14), Chase Headley ($13), Pedro Alvarez ($17), Casey McGehee ($18), Pablo Sandoval ($17), Ian Stewart ($14), and Placido Polanco ($14). For a bargain basement price, you could look at Casey Blake ($8), Chipper Jones ($10), David Freese ($10), and Jose Lopez ($8). The expensive tier of NL 3B includes Aramis Ramirez ($20), Ryan Zimmerman ($30), and David Wright ($33).

February 13, 2011: And he shall be Levon and he shall be a good man!
“He had a great year and a great comeback, but there were times where we watched the game and I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hoped he would get hurt,” Buehrle said. “Everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.” This is a direct quote from animal rights activist Mark Buehrle in regards to Michael Vick that Vick would get injured in an NFL game. In a way, Buehrle is sinking to Vick’s level. He finds some satisfaction in another person’s pain or misfortune. However, on another level, Beuhrle is absolutely correct. The karma of the universe demands retribution and Vick is just the guy to pay it! Dogs are like people. It’s always the negative influence that prevails over the positive. With his wife Jamie and the team, Buehrle started a program called Sox for Strays, which hosts animal rescue groups during the baseball season at U. S. Cellular Field. The Buehrles also made news in December when they paid the vet bills and, through Facebook, found a home for a dog found in St. Louis with an arrow stuck in its stomach. Buehrle is on the last year of his contract with the White Sox, one that will pay him $14-mil. A little history shows that Buehrle is a 4-time All-Star, a 2-time Gold Glove winner and has pitched a no-hitter in April ’07 and a perfect game on July 23, 2009. In a way, he’s kind of like Barry Zito, with less K’s, in that Buehrle has made at least 30 GS for the past 10 seasons. Zito has made at least 32 GS the past 10 seasons. In 2010, Buehrle had his highest ERA/WHIP of 4.28/1.40 except for the 2006 season when he was at 4.99/1.45. You might even call Buehrle a younger version (most people are) of Jamie Moyer. He’s a command pitcher who relies more on finesse than velocity. He has reached 201 IP in all 10 seasons as a SP for the Pale Hose and there’s a lot to be said for that! I have read, also, that the Southsiders wouldn’t mind moving him given the severity of his contract. Though, keep in mind, Buehrle will be tough to move. He’s 148-110 in his career with a 3.85/1.28 (both better than Pettitte), 2389 HA, and a 1287/519 K/BB in 2271 1/3 IP. I spend from $5-$7 on him in AL-only. Elijah Dukes says he was blackballed by MLB because he alleges that players would smuggle drugs on chartered flights and would use them in their hotel rooms after the flights. Dukes also found trouble early this winter for failing to pay not 1, but 2 women child support. Dukes seemingly had the Nationals’ RF job sewn up coming into the spring of 2010. But halfway through spring training, on March 17, Dukes was released by the team in a move that was termed “a baseball decision.” This was in spite of the fact that Dukes was 25 at the time and scheduled to make only $440,000 for 2010. Teammates did grumble at the time that Dukes just wasn’t a “reliable” teammate. If it’s indeed over for Dukes he finishes with a .242 BA in 824 AB with 31 HR, 123 RBI, 113 R, 18 SB (with 18 CS), and a 197/129 K/BB. He did show some bounty in ’08 with 13 HR, 48 RBI, 44 R, and 13 SB in 276 AB. But, as you know, some people can’t stand prosperity. The last thing I’ve read about Dukes is he’s embarking on a new career as rapper “Fly Eli.”

February 12, 2011: Tyler Clippard had 19 decisions (11-8) as a set-up RP in 2010!
I'm not sure why the Twins would move Francisco Liriano. He just avoided arbitration with the Twins, signing a 1 yr/$4.3-mil deal. That’s fairly affordable for a guy with the potential and skills of Liriano. He's not eligible for free agency, I believe, until after the 2012 season. The Twins aren't financially motivated to move their best upside SP. As far as I know he hasn’t requested a trade. But he would sure look good in the Yankees rotation. It would move Hughes and Burnett back to #s 3 and 4 in the Yankee rotation. I'm not as in love with the home/road splits. Pitching in the friendly confines of Minny, Liriano had a 3.11/1/18 ERA/WHIP while on the road his ratios sat at 4.25/1.39. That may be nitpicking and his numbers vs LH batters were off-the-charts good. They batted .218 vs the LH Liriano with a .517 OPS, 0 HR, and a 52/4 K/BB. Are we talking LH specialist down the road? I remember, after closer Joe Nathan went down, there was talk of moving Liriano into the closer’s role. From what I've read, Liriano is looking to cash out on a 3 year deal for about $39-mil. That's a lot to give to the injury prone Liriano who enjoyed a 12-3 season in '06 with a 2.16/1.00 ERA/WHIP. He also had a 144/32 K/BB and 89 HA in 121 IP. But that was before TJ surgery. He missed the entire '07 season and was just 11-17 the next 2 seasons with a 189/97 K/BB, a 5.12/1.50 ERA/WHIP, and 221 HA in 212 2/3 IP. The '10 season was his first season of prosperity since the surgery. If the Yankees could get him without giving up Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, or Jesus Montero they can explore giving up guys like minor league SP's Adam Warren and David Phelps, C Austin Romine, and INF Eduardo Nunez. If the Twins would accept a package like that I would consider it from the Yankees end. The Yankees do need a SP and I can't see them waiting until the deadline until they make a move. Joe Blanton and Fausto Carmona may also be available to the Yankees for the right package! Ross Ohlendorf is a Princeton graduate who may be the perfect example of the axiom, "It's not who you know but what you know!" Pittsburgh is the only team in baseball that can have a pitcher with a 1-11 record and a 4.07 ERA. I thought that the Pirates offer of $1.4-mil was more than generous to the former NY Yankee. But maybe the arbitors were looking at his season of prosperity of 2009 when he won 11 games with a 3.92/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 165 HA, and a 109/53 K/BB in 176 2/3 IP. I would almost want to give Ohlendorf a mulligan on the '10 season because he did suffer through back and shoulder injuries. Maybe Ohlendorf's "defense team" pointed out that his K rate rose from 5.6 K/9 IP in '09 to 6.6 K/9 IP in '10. Of course, I would have pointed out from the Pirates perspective, that his walk rate also went up from 2.7 BB in '09 to 3.7 BB in '10. Is Ohlendorf worth $2-mil in 2011? I would say not but I will say that in my $360-NL I will try to secure his services for the price of $1. Anybody that wants to go higher, I will be the first to congratulate him! And Pittsburgh looks like they will improve on their 57-105 record from last year. Yeah, I think they'll go 62-100! The Pirates haven't had a winning baseball season since the 1992 season. Some of their regulars included SS Jay Bell, CF Andy VanSlyke, LF Barry Bonds, 3B Jeff King, 2B Jose Lind, and 1B Orlando Merced. That just makes me want to throw up in my mouth!

February 11, 2011: I love what you did to the place!
The United States is in a financial crisis. But I know of an American making $18.5-mil/yr who was told to take some time off. That was during the crunch time at his job. The post-season! And if you want to hear something that would make a baseball fan sick, Barry Zito still has $64.5-mil left on his contract with the Giants. That includes a $7-mil buyout. It also includes a $19-mil salary for 2012 and a $20-mil salary for 2013. For Barry Zito, success was found at a young age. He was a Cy Young winner at 24 and the future was looking bright. In fact, after his Cy Young season, Zito had already thrown 535 innings. But, even before he signed that massive and misguided deal with the Giants, there were some chinks in the armor. His last 3 seasons for the A's, from 2004-2006, Zito had 662 1/3 IP, 612 HA, a 485/269 K/BB and a 4.05/1.33 ERA/WHIP. Those aren't terrible AL numbers but what were the Giants looking at to give him a 7 yr/$126-mil deal? It made no sense at the time and it makes less sense now. This is a guy that couldn't crack any of the World Champion Giants’ post-season rosters. And they're not just going to summarily dismiss him. It's just too much money to eat. No, they will just throw him out there as the #5 SP every 5th day (he's made at least 32 starts for the past 10 seasons) and hope for the best. The only way to ever trade Zito would be to a team like the Yankees, and that's provided he's pitching well, and to pick up at least half the salary. If Zito pitches badly, there's no way the Giants can trade him. They may have to, in that case, think about terminating him. Since joining the Giants, he's 40-57 in 768 IP with a 555/350 K/BB, 731 HA and a 4.45/1.41 ERA/WHIP. Not a good return on your investment, especially pitching in the easier NL in a pitcher's park. Zito was 1-10 with a 5.19 ERA over his final 15 GS. I actually had Zito in a couple of NL only leagues and was looking good on July 16, when he was 8-4 with a 3.51 ERA. Please read the prior sentence to see how he finished up. This could go down as the worst contract in history both in terms of length and, moreso, in money! Granted, you could say that Zito is the best #5 SP in baseball. And he’s only making $16-mil more than the next best! Well, my mixed league draft begins this Saturday, February 12th. After some careful soul-searching, and unless I have a change of heart, I decided that I have to go with the SP. I know that guys like Braun, Crawford, and especially Gonzalez are tempting but I have to play it smart. Like the Yankees, I need a SP and my first pick will either be Lincecum or King Felix. My staff last year included the likes of Cole Hamels, who I kept for this season, John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, Barry Zito, and Jason Hammel. No, not a great staff for mixed league purposes. I find in any fantasy league that you play in, you need 2 aces. Especially with so little real good SP available in this draft. I have the requisite power/speed coming in. I will add offense later in the draft. Don't forget, after I pick 1st, I don't get another round of picks until #30 and #31. All those SP will be gone by then! If anyone has a choice between Felix Hernandez and Tim Lincecum I will take all advice and opinions.

February 10, 2011: Hold me closer, tiny dancer!
Some bloggers on the web site are stating that the remaining 3 years on Michael Young’s contract will look better than Beltre’s contract. This is probably more of a knock on Beltre than a boost to Young’s ego! I hear what they're saying about Beltre's 2 great seasons being in a contract year. He did regale us at Boston in 2010 with 44 doubles, 28 HR, 102 RBI, 84 R and a .321 BA in 589 AB. Beltre won't be 32 years old until April and already has 1889 career hits with 278 HR and 1008 RBI. Those are good numbers for a guy of that age. He could have more then 2700 hits at the of his contract. His one season of bounty occured back in 2004 with the Dodgers. He hit an NL leading 48 HR, had 121 RBI, 104 R, 200 H, and batted .334 in 598 AB. He signed a 5 year deal with the Mariners and would hit only .266 in 2823 AB with 372 R, 103 HR, and 396 RBI. But, if you're looking for a silver lining, Beltre did steal 49 bases. Hopefully the 5 year deal in the more hitter friendly Arlington will be the tonic that Beltre needs! But it’s a great point that Beltre has really had only two great seasons. And what a coincidence that they both just happened to occur, as has been said, in contract years. The 34 year old Young is a compiler, no doubt, but I don't see him continuing that kind of prosperity as he reaches his mid/late 30's. Great career and Young may benefit from a move to Colorado to play second base. But that even seems like a dream now for Young as the Rangers aren’t looking to give him away. I would say that the rangers just don’t have a back-up plan in place for Young at the present time. Young has formally requested a trade from the team feeling that he’s been disrespected by the club. After all, he is the all-time hits leader of the franchise with 1848 and has a .300 BA in 6157 AB. I gave in my keepers this past weekend for the Nuke LaLoosh slow-draft mixed league. The only mixed league that I will probably play in this season unless, of course, my son gets me in another H2H league at the last minute again! It’s always funny in fantasy leagues when the commissioner gives a deadline to have your keepers in by and one or more owners invariably are late. To me it’s just inconsiderate to the other owners. In this mixed league, owners are spaced out all over the world, but still! The draft could start this Saturday, the owners in the league are voting on it. My keepers are COR men Adam Dunn, Jose Bautista (who can be moved to the OF), and Carlos Pena. I don’t think that I’ve ever come into a draft with so much power. Hopefully, Bautista’s outburst wasn’t something more sinister! My “speed” guys are Angel Pagan, Austin Jackson and Ian Kinsler. Jackson has already proclaimed 40 steals in ’11 but I’ll be happy with 30 and a good BA. Kinsler just has to stay healthy for once! I only kept one pitcher, Cole Hamels, the #4 SP for the Phillies. I also have the 1st pick in the draft and should (if I’m smart) go for a SP. Most of the good SP’s were kept and the only top guys available are Felix Hernandez, Yovani Gallardo, Chris Carpenter, Tim Lincecum, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Since I have the 1st pick and won’t be taking another guy(s) for 30 more picks, I may have to scoop up one of these SP’s who may not be available when I pick again. Of course there are some worthy offensive guys like Carl Crawford, Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Howard (I really don’t need another 1B), Robinson Cano, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, and Carlos Gonzalez. Anyone of those would be interesting 1st picks as all will be gone on my next selection. I will need to do some soul-searching but will inevitably decide what’s right. Any advice will be welcome!

February 9, 2011: I'm an avid catamaran sailor and I can my own homemade jams, apricot!
One of my all-time favorites, Justin Ruggiano has been cut by his long time organization, the Rays. Originally a Dodger draft pick, he's spent the last 4 seasons in Triple-A for the Rays. Maybe a team like the Mets or even the Dodgers, who are collecting spare parts, could be a good landing spot for Ruggiano. The Mets did recently sign the more versatile Willie Harris and released the similar Jason Pridie. So a deal to the Mets may be moot! Ruggiano is, after all a RH hitter who is capable of playing all 3 OF positions. His problem has been the strike out. His 129 K’s in 457 AB in Triple-A in 2010 is an indication of that. He did have 15 homers, 70 rbi’s, 77 runs, 24 stolen bases, and a .287 averageRuggiano would make a fine 24th or 25th man in the majors but is starting to get a little long in the tooth. He’ll turn 29 in April. Ruggiano was a 25th round pick by the Dodgers in 2004. He advanced with them as high as Double-A before going to the Rays (then the Devil Rays) before the 2007 season. In 4 Triple-A seasons, Ruggiano is 480 for 1667 (.288), an .829 OPS, 61 HR, 266 RBI, 275 R, 93 SB, and a 504/168 K/BB. And, like I said, it’s that last ratio that has kept him down on the farm! In 52 major league games with the Rays, Ruggiano has hit .200 in 90 AB with 2 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R, 2 SB,  and a 32/5 K/BB. You never know, maybe he’ll be a late bloomer like Casey Blake or Raul Ibanez. When Ibanez was entering his age 30 season for KC in 2002, he had 757 AB, a .254 BA, 27 HR and 112 RBI to show for parts of 6 seasons in the majors. He looked at the time like he was on his way to career journeyman status. And then something clicked. Ibanez, in his second season with KC hit .294 that season in 497 AB with 24 HR, 103 RBI, and an .883 OPS. Over these last 9 seasons, Ibanez has averaged 95 RBI, 84 R, 163 H, 23 HR, and a .288 BA in 5095 AB. After hitting a career high 34 HR for the Phillies in 2009, Ibanez hit only 16 in 2010. He did hit .305 in the second half of ’10 with 10 HR and 46 RBI in 295 AB. With the loss of Jayson Werth to that monster and misguided contract in free agency, the Phillies will expect a lot of the 38 year old (39 in June) Ibanez in 2011. I’ve been an owner of Ibanez in fantasy leagues over the past 10 seasons. Last year was no exception as I spent $45 for the services of Ibanez in my $360-NL. He always seems to go for a little less than he should in conventional $260 leagues.

February 8, 2011: So Christina Aguilera sang the wrong words, it's still the National Anthem, isn't it?
When I was a kid, I was the one in Little League that would yell. “A hit is as good as a walk!” Coaches would just look as if to say, “Who the hell is this kid.” That was in the years before I became a sabermetrician. When my son played, and he even pitched occasionally, the first think I told him is that the most important pitch is strike one. Yes, Ron Mahay has had his share of free passes but he always understood the importance of strike one! And Mahay always reminded me of the kid on the sandlot that would bring the bases just so he can pitch an inning. That’s all he ever wanted, just to pitch an inning! Every day, every single day! Kind of like a guy who’s appeared in 514 games and has thrown 568 innings. First off, I’d like to get archive footage of Mahay’s 3 major league starts. And I can never fully trust a man with one less career save (4) than Matt Guerrier. That being said, and across the many miles of land he’s covered from Boston to Oakland, down to Florida, to the North side of Chicago, to 4 1/2 years in Texas, to Atlanta, to KC, to Minny and back to the west coast, Mahay has done what he’s always done. Get them out one hitter at a time, one inning at a time. And at 39, he held LH hitters to a .219 BA and a .520 OPS. Every team needs a guy like Ron Mahay and, for that, I like the signing. But if Elbert is the better man during spring training, I would implore management to cut the itinerant Mahay loose and let him get on with his life. You know, the way he lives it, one minute at a time and one day at a time! The Dodger management would have to have their collective heads examined, or one at a time, to dispatch Kenley Jansen to the here-after. Here’s a guy that did everything management asked him to do and in some fairly big spots. And I would like to add that there’s some affinity there. 12 hits in 27 IP and 41 K’s! Situational LH, like Mahay, can last forever. Just ask Ron Villone! If Mahay pitches until he’s 46, he may have pitched in every organization. But let’s see what the other guy, Elbert, has come spring. Yes, he left the team high and dry to do 4 1/2 months of soul-searching. But he came back a little more humbled and, for some guys, that’s the way to get the most out of them! In fact, the last time I checked, Mahay has pants older then Elbert. I’d like to give Elbert a little bit of a mulligan on 2010. Let’s just pretend the whole year never happened. Kind of like that whole season on Dallas when Patrick Duffy decided to come back to the show and the whole season was a dream. Because Larry Hagman was such a fun guy to work with. I think the Dodgers should also make Elbert watch that entire season of Dallas. It’s only fair! And I agree with anyone that says, “Let the better man win this spring.”

February 7, 2011: How bad is the California economy? Even the hookers are taking IOU's!
Alfredo Aceves had an amazing season for the suddenly pitching-poor Yankees in 2009. In 84 IP, Aceves had a 3.54/1.01 ERA/WHIP a 69/16 K/BB, and 69 HA. The amazing part about the season is his 10-1 record. I agree that any time a mid RP goes on a run like that, especially the wins total, that it's more often than not a fluke. Aceves did have a good run with the Yankees and is now a free agent. I hear the Red Sox are interested. In parts of 3 seasons for the Bronx Bombers, Aceves has put up these numbers: 126 IP, an 87/30 K/BB, and a 3.21/1.06 ERA/WHIP. He also has an uncanny 14-1 career record and 2 career SV's. Something interesting and it has to do a little with Aceves. And I've never seen anything like this in all my years of doing this! On May 12, 2010, Tyler Clippard picked up his major league leading 7th victory. That's 1/5th of the way through the season and a middle reliever was leading the majors in wins. That has never happened and I'd be willing to place a bet on it! In fact, from May 6-May 12, Clippard won 4 of the 5 games the Nationals played (he lost the other). He ended up with an 11-8 mark, 1 SV, a 3.07/1.21 ERA/WHIP, a 112/41 K/BB and 69 HA in 91 IP. I have him in my $360-NL for $10 and am just holding onto him until a decision is made on a closer for the Nationals. I do have a feeling that Drew Storen will be named and am worried a bit about the 78 games and 91 IP for Clippard in 2010. But it was a season to remember for the 26 year old RH Clippard. By the way, wasn't Aceves a SP in the Mexican League. If the Yankees had held him would he have been much worse then what they have? That whole rotation situation is a mess! Then we have the strange case of Aaron Small the quintessential journeyman. In fact, next to the word journeyman in the dictionary is a picture of Aaron Small. He was basically a career minor leaguer who was 94-102 in 446 games (248 GS), 1654 IP, 1816 HA, a 1027/534 K/BB, and a 4.42/1.42 ERA/WHIP. He spent 12 seasons at Triple-A! When Small was called up to the Yankees in July 2005 for what was going to become a fairy-tale 1/2 season for him, he had a 121/101 K/BB, 215 2/3 IP, 267 HA and a 5.55/1.71 ERA/WHIP to show for his work up to that point in the majors. He was, of course, 10-0 the rest of the way, including a 5-0 mark in September when he also pitched his only career shut out at Oakland on Sept 3. He made 15 major league starts and 9 were during his unbelievable campaign.  In 76 IP, Small had a 3.20/1.25, 71 HA, and a 37/24 K/BB. You might just say that Small was in the right place at the right time. And, of course, he was out of baseball after getting cut by the Mariners in the spring of ’07. Roy Face, who’s been profiled on this site, was a 3-time All-Star who was 18-1 during the ’59 season with the Pirates. An 18-1 season for a RP is just beyond belief! He had 93 1/3 IP over 57 games with a 69/25 K/BB, 91 HA, and a 2.70/1.24. He had 104 W and 193 SV in his 16 year career covering 848 games.

February 6, 2011: When did the Green Bay Packers become America's team?
I look out the window and view the wide expanse of whiteness iced over with dirt and soot. It is pitted with splashes of yellow where many a dog fully expressed my opinion of the quantity of snow that has inundated not just my neighborhood but also my life. It swells up into molehills and mountains where snow plows backed up load after load at corners and cul-de-sacs and dead ends. I drive cautiously on roads and pull aside to allow oncoming speeders to pass; clearly they are oblivious to the fact that the street has lost half its width to the piled up snow banks on either edge. I watch the icicles lengthen and scrape off my car. And then I think of the super bowl and smile. It’s like that first inkling of a crocus peeking through the soil with its promise of spring. Every sports enthusiast looks forward to the Super Bowl as the Greatest of American Sports determines the Greatest American Sports Team; the only fear is that the game could be a blowout and fall short of the tremendous anticipation, hype and hep. But for people who don’t know a first down on the field from a first up at the plate, the Super Bowl is that first indication that the first warm wafts of Spring are on the way; they might not know that pitchers and catchers will report in a mere few weeks, but they can smell it in the air. Hard to believe that back in 2001 Baseball America had Milledge listed as the best 16-year-old baseball player in the country. It’s equally hard to believe that just a decade later, Milledge is settling for a minor league deal with the White Sox and is probably lucky to get an invite to spring training. In the 2003 amateur draft, Milledge fell to the Mets with the #12 pick due to “problems” in high school. You know, kid stuff involving hormones and the opposite sex! He debuted with the Mets in 2006 but his time with the Mets went over like a lead pipe to the head! He was sent packing to the nation’s capital after 350 AB. There he enjoyed his only season of some prosperity in 2008, hitting 268 in 523 AB, 14 HR, 61 RBI, and 24 SB. He was sent to the minors early the next season and was eventually traded to the Pirates. In 2010 Milledge hit .277 in 379 AB with 4 HR and 5 SB. I was a little surprised that the Pirates non-tendered Milledge as he would have only earned about $500,000 and won’t be 26 until April. It’s always a bad sign, at least to me, when the Pirates don’t want you. Especially a young upside OF, a former 5-tool guy who never used all 5 on the same day. I do like the signing by the White Sox. It looks like Pierre, Rios and Quentin are slated for full time duty but, like Andruw Jones last year, Milledge could see time vs. LHP which he batted .320 with a .926 OPS last year. Plus he can play all 3 OF positions. You just have to hope that he doesn’t take the Carl Everett path to retirement. He is certainly heading in that direction!

February 5, 2011: The Yankees did sign Eric Chavez to a minor league contract!
I know, a lot of Yankee fans are thinking that the season is lost! No Andy Pettitte! Boo-hoo. As Bluto said in the movie Animal House, "When the going gets tough, we get going!" The free agent starting pitching that still available looks like a fair Double-A staff. Doug Davis, Jeremy Bonderman, "retired" pitchers Pedro Martinez and Jarrod Washburn, and Kevin Millwood, who, by the way, is asking for a contract between $4 and $5-mil. That's for his 4-16 record, 5.10/1.51 ERA/WHIP, 132/65 K/BB, and 223 HA in 190 2/3 IP. Millwood must be thinking this is the Braves circa 1999 or 2002. He did put together a 3.67/1.34 season with the Rangers in '09 accompanied by 123 K's and 13 wins. But that followed 2 seasons of 341 1/3 IP, 433 HA, a 280/116 K/BB, and a 5.12/1.61 ERA/WHIP. That, to me, is a little on the putrid side. If Millwood would lower his demands to say $1.5-mil, the Yankees should take a chance. Millwood has a 159-137 career record with a 1940/779 K/BB. But we're here to talk about Pettitte. If he's indeed toast, Pettitte ends up 240-138 (.635), a 3.88/1.36, 2251/962 K/BB, and 3185 HA in 3055 1/3 IP. His 19 post-season wins are the most all-time. Pettitte went 11-3 with a 3.28/1.27, 123 HA in 129 IP and a 101/41 K/BB in 2010. He was a 3-time All-Star and a 5-time top 10 Cy Young candidate. I think he just falls a little short of the Hall of Fame though some may disagree! Quick, can you name the SP who for the past 2 seasons has put up the following stats? Here’s a clue: this former 28th round pick has won back-to-back awards as the Pirates’ minor league pitcher of the year. He has a 23-8 record between Single-A and Double-A and 274 IP. He’s added a 2.30/0.96 ERA/WHIP, 224 HA, and a 245/40 K/BB. That’s almost Cliff Lee-like! Partly because he plays in the Pirate organization, Rudy Owens has been flying under the radar. But, just the other day, Pirates president Frank Coonelly stated that if Owens is one of the top 3 pitchers coming out of spring training he will break camp with the club. These are the 8 pitchers in Pirate camp looking for 5 spots: Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia, James McDonald, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, and Scott Olsen. Owens may be the best pitcher already. This staff harkens memories of the couch scene in the beginning of the Animal House movie where Flounder and Pinto are summarily and consistency brought back to this couch to sit with “Achmed” and “Jud-dish.” And while I was never able to get past the roving eyeballs of Thomas Hulce or the girth and merriment of Stephen Furst’s “This is great,” I see a lot of similarities with the Pirates staff. 7 guys and James McDonald lounging on a couch at the frat house waiting to meet friends, 30 years before facebook. Keep a roving eye on Rudy Owens this spring!

February 4, 2011: Ron Mahay has been around since before there was dirt on the mound!
He got up 104 times with the Nationals in 2010 and produced 15 hits. He struck out 43 times. And we're not talking about a pitcher here, we're talking about a major league hitter, Justin Maxwell. He also had a 58% contact rate. Yes, he swung and missed a lot. He had TJ surgery near the end of last season as well. If he's ready to start the season, he could compete for a back-up OF role with the Yankees, who just traded for him.. You know why? Because he's fast. He has power. He's a great athlete. And he takes walks. For his major league career, Maxwell has batted 219 times and has struck out 83 times. He's also a .201 hitter. But he does have 9 HR, 26 RBI, 34 R, 11 SB, and 38 BB. Weird stat for Maxwell is that he’s had 3 career grand slams in 4 bases loaded AB’s. Justin Maxwell once looked like a promising prospect, hitting 27 HR with 35 SB at Single-A in ’07. I'm not only going to give him a mulligan the 2010 season, I'm going to let him hit another ball for his whole career! How about that? I think it's a good low risk signing by the Yankees because, like me, maybe the Yankees feel that one of these years the light will go on for Maxwell and he will become a major league player. And, if not, Maxwell makes a great starting OF in Triple-A. I will also be looking at him as an end-game flyer in my AL-only leagues.  It may be the other way around as Jonny Venters has gotten more ink than Craig Kimbrel as far as the open closer’s job in Atlanta is concerned. Venters is 26 years old and had a tidy 93/39 K/BB in 83 IP. I would like to see Venters lower the walks by 15%. And he's a workhorse! He also held batters to a .204 BAA. The LH former SP could work his way into a more prominent role. In the NLDS, Venters went 5 1/3 innings with an 8/0 K/BB, 7 HA and 0 ER. He had a 312/194 K/BB in 422 2/3 IP, 421 HA and a 4.11/1.46 ERA/WHIP in 71 GS (94 games) in the minors. I picked Kimbrel up in my $260-NL for, I believe, $5 or $6. I'm hoping that the Braves will see their way clear to give the job to the 22 year old RH. Kimbrel posted an 0.44/1.21 ERA/WHIP in 20 2/3 IP with a 40/16 K/BB and 9 HA. Kimbrel is an exciting arm but he's no sure thing. The 16 walks in 20 2/3 IP could give you that idea! Kimbrel walked 35 in 55 2/3 IP at Triple-A so he will have to work on his control. He only gave up 28 hits with 83 K's and a 1.62/1.13 ERA/WHIP. In 3 minor league seasons, Kimbrel has a 242/95 K/BB in 151 IP with a 1.85/1.12 and only 74 HA. So, while he keeps the hits down keep an eye on Kimbrel this spring concerning his control issues. Because major league hitters will learn to lay-off the pitches outside the zone no matter how good his fastball is. It should be a good competition for the closers' job come spring.

February 3, 2011: Think about this; Kyle Davies will make more than $3-mil in 2011!
If I'm R.A. Dickey, with the Mets' financial woes, I would make sure that it's a certified check. I'll say this, there are 2 guys on the Mets who deserve payment in 2011 for their great and selfless work for the club in 2010 and that's Angel Pagan and R.A Dickey. Do I think it's a lot of guaranteed money for Dickey after what amounts to only 5 months of success in his whole major league career? Yes, I do, but don't forget, when Santana went down, Dickey was the best pitcher on the team. His 2.84/1.19 ERA/WHIP will attest to that. And all it took was a little velocity on his knuckleball. Go figure! Dickey comes into this season as the Mets #2 SP behind Pelfrey. I do own Dickey for $10 in my $360-NL and have to think about keeping him. I also just gave up a 16th round pick in my slow draft mixed league for Angel Pagan, who will be part of my 2011 team. Pagan's 37 SB were 2nd in the NL (behind Bourn) and he had 80 R, 69 RBI and a .290 BA in 579 AB. At this late stage in Dickey's career, I'm glad he could see a nice pay-day. Though, with knuckleballers, they can go on forever! A pitcher that I thought the Yankees would go after is James Shields of the Rays. Even after Matt Garza was sent to the Cubs, the Yankees should have investigated ways to pry Shields form the Rays’ clutches. He’s become the Ricky Nolasco of the AL. Nolasco has a 4.4 K/BB rate in his last 3 seasons while his ERA has been all over the place.  During his 5 seasons in Tampa, Shields has an 802/217 K/BB. Nolasco’s career K/BB is 638/180. Shields joins 7 other pitchers who have thrown at least 200 innings during the last 4 years and 6 others who have at least 160 K’s during that time. While setting a career high with 187 K’s in 2010, Shields had a career worst 5.18/1.46 ERA/WHIP. He’s also given up 485 hits in 423 IP the past 2 seasons, a number that will have to come down in 2011 if he’s to have success. It was also a little unlucky that the ball found itself over the wall 34 times while Shields was pitching in 2010. The tendency for owners come draft day is to remember the bad and what went wrong as opposed to the things he does well. Like limit walks, and strike people out. He’s averaged 13 wins, a 4.17/1.26 ERA/WHIP, and 175 K’s the last 4 seasons. Don’t be afraid to invest.

February 2, 2011: Can't we all just get along?
I just can't figure out Hank Blalock. He put together some good years for the Rangers averaging 29 homers from '03-'05. He added 25 more for them in 2009 while batting .234. He's only 30 years old but doesn't look to have a job heading into the 2011 season. It seems that he could help a team as a platoon player. With Mark Teixeira back in the early/mid 2000's, they were supposed to lead the Rangers to the promised land. The Rangers went to their first World Series in 2010 but Teixeira and Blalock were no where to be found. Injuries have played a part in Blalock’s fall to the dark side! 22 HR and 71 RBI in 466 AB in ’07-’08 set him back. But he did hit .285 during that troubled time. Of course Blalock was released by the Rays at the end of June 2010 having batted 63 times with a HR, 7 RBI, and 8 R. I just never thought that at the age of 30, he'd be looking for a job. His Triple-A numbers with the Rays were fruitful, a .349 BA in 109 AB with 4 HR, 24 RBI, 18 R, and a .910 OPS. I was sure that his foray into the minors would be a good impetus toward a season of bounty with the Rays. And he was handed the keys to the kingdom, the starting DH job vs RHP. I really don't know what happened to him. His last full season in 2009, as I’ve point out, he batted .234 in 462 AB with 25 HR, 66 RBI, 62 R, a 108/26 K/BB, and a .734 OPS. He may catch on with another AL team in need of a DH but I wouldn't hold my breath. As some of you might know, I was given an AL-only team in a 10-team $260 league a few days ago. It's called the Kirby Puckett League. I’ve actually never seen a team with 0 good keepers. Yes, the team does have a $2 Russell Branyan and a $6 Scott Podsednik, but the last time I looked, those guys weren’t signed. I could go in with a $6 Joel Piniero. He did have 10 W’s and a 3.84/1.24 ERA/WHIP in 2010 in 152 IP. Or a $1 Jason Kendall who did have 12 steals. But word is that he may not be ready for the start of the season. Unfortunately, my best keepers are J.J.Putz ($10), Shaun Marcum ($5), Ty Wigginton ($1), and Joe Saunders ($5). The problem there is, if you didn’t read above, these are NL guys now and this league is AL-only. Andy Pettitte for $11 may be good but he won’t do me any good if he’s at home in Texas. Ramon Castro, Doug Fister, Vinnie Mazzaro, Mark Kotsay, and Cesar Izturis, all at $5, are garbage. And the league keeps 15 guys and drafts 15 bench guys. I could try to trade Bobby Abreu ($25), Adam Jones and Torii Hunter, both $23 or Juan Rivera ($15), but I don't see a lot of interest in those guys at the price. I have my work cut out for me as this could be some of my greatest work ever!

February 1, 2011: Rod Barajas has 1 career triple, in 2004 with Texas!
Ryan Raburn seemingly came out of nowhere in 2009 to hit 16 HR and 45 RBI in just 261 AB. And when injuries struck the Tiger OF in 2010, Raburn hit .280 with 15 HR and 62 RBI in 371 AB. His platoon splits weren’t bad either as he hit .273 vs RHP and .295 vs LHP. But it’s his work in the 2nd half of the season that caught my eye. In 254 AB, Raburn slugged 13 HR, 46 RBI, hit .311, with 40 R and an .884 OPS. On January 12 of this year, Raburn signed a 2 yr/$3.4-mil deal to stay with Detroit.  If Raburn can find his way to 500+ AB’s, he could be a sneaky source of power. I know that this is nitpicking but I’d like to see Raburn cut down on the K’s and try to walk more. His 92/27 K/BB from 2010 is not something to be proud of. GM Dave Dombrowski has already stated that Raburn should be the “primary guy” in LF this season. Raburn also played 18 games at 2B in 2010 making him eligible there in some leagues. With the uncertainty of current 2B, Carlos Guillen, Raburn may see time there as well! I don’t even know how to start this next post. I mean this guy hasn’t played in the majors since 2004 and before that it was 1998. Marc Kroon was signed to a minor league deal by the World Champion Giants and for those who don’t know him, he’s a hard throwing RP who can’t find home plate with a GPS. So why even waste time and mention this guy. After all, Kroon will go undrafted in 99.9% of leagues in 2011 and, probably, rightfully so. But I saw something in this guy during the Bush administration (Bush, Sr.). And he was clocked at 101 MPH in 2008. I don’t mean with a car either, I’m talking about Kroon’s fastball. Maybe he took a page out of Colby Lewis’ book after spending the past 6 seasons in Japan. During that time, Kroon had 177 SV, 220 HA, a 2.68/1.14 ERA/WHIP and a 417/129 K/BB in 305 1/3 IP. These are great numbers pitching in those smaller parks. His major league resume, though, may make you want to throw up in your mouth! In 26 2/3 IP, Kroon has a 7.43/2.06 ERA/WHIP, a 23/26 K/BB, 29 HA and is still looking for his first major league win. But he’s the kind of under-the-radar guy that I will be following in the spring. And you can bet that he will be on at least one of my teams in 2011. A guy that I probably will be staying away from is Twin SP Nick Blackburn. In his 3 full seasons in the starting rotation for the Twins,  Blackburn has allowed 658 hits in 560 IP with a 262/120 K/BB and a 4.44/1.39. I will let someone else troll those waters. The battle is on for the #4 and #5 spots in the Twins' rotation between Blackburn, Brian Duensing and Kevin Slowey. The other 2, I will be keeping an eye on. And you should too!

January 31, 2011: Danica Patrick is the hottest woman that ever lived!
I was reading over some of the posts in the forum section today and was sickened by what I saw. Someone posted that the St.Louis SP, Kyle Lohse is scheduled to make $10-mil in 2011. And I don’t know why this guy has escaped my wrath but somehow he has. Kyle Lohse had a 7.25 ERA over his last 9 GS of  2010. In 2008, Lohse signed a late off-season deal with the Cards for $4.25-mil and 1 year. That season Lohse produced his best season at 15-6, a 3.78/1.30 ERA/WHIP, a 119/49 K/BB and 211 HA in 200 IP. His lowest ERA prior to that season of “bounty” for Lohse sat at 4.18, a season in which he had 86 ‘s in 178 2/3 IP. He did have a 1.27 WHIP a lifetime ago for the Twins, back in ’03 when he also had a career high 130 K’s. But that’s as good as it gets with Lohse. After the 2008 season the Cards signed Lohse to a 4 yr/$41-mil deal when no one else was knocking at his door! Since Lohse signed that Oliver Perez-like deal, he has given the Cards a 10-18 record in 209 2/3 P, 254 HA, a 131/71 K/BB and a 5.54/1.55. And the worst part of this contract is that it includes a full no-trade clause. Lohse will make $11.875-mil for each of the next 2 seasons. Ouch! Troy Glaus is a 4-time All-Star and a 2-time Silver Slugger winner. He was a World Series stalwart back in 2002, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, to the tune of a .385 BA in 26 AB with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, and a 1.313 OPS. Glaus has 320 career HR and an .847 OPS. So, all in all, it’s been a pretty good career for Glaus. So when I heard the news that Glaus is electing to sit out the first part of the 2011 season, you could have knocked me over with a feather. The first thing I thought of, of course, was that Glaus didn’t receive the deal that he wanted. Or the playing time! Glaus’ agent stated, “Troy had opportunities to sign with more than one club this off-season and each time he was presented with a particular opportunity, he weighed it against spending more time with his wife and family.” He went on to say, “After a good deal of thought and discussion in each instance, he decided to pass on playing.” Some sites report that Glaus will sit out the whole season. By June 19 of 2010, Glaus, while playing as the Braves first baseman, had 14 HR and was among the league leaders with 55 RBI (28 RBI in May). At that point, I did tell a poster to sell high on Glaus. From that day until he went on the DL in mid-August with a sore knee, Glaus had 2 HR, 15 RBI, and a .174 BA in 155 AB. That poster got back to me and said that he should have listened to me. But, as we say in fantasy, a day late and a dollar short just doesn’t cut it. Words to live by!

January 30, 2011: Baseball is the only major sport that appears backwards in a mirror!
Today, one of the readers and bloggers of the facebook portion of rotoimbeciles, Mike Moskowitz, sent in this blog concerning the Yankees. He seems to be a very passionate Yankees fan and sees the troubles that could lay ahead for the Yankees if they don’t get themselves another starter. Give it a read. After I saw a headline today saying "Freddy Garcia prefers Yankees" from Yahoo Sports, I jokingly said to JoJo "I hope they don't prefer him." Joe then informed me that they are seriously considering signing him to a minor league deal. What the hell is the matter with Brian Cashman? This team is already aging and clearly our number one priority coming into this offseason should have been and (until Cliff Lee went to Philly) was, STARTING PITCHING! We are banking on the fact Hughes will be as good as he was last year, AJ will miraculously be fixed, Nova will be able to get through the 5th inning unlike last year, and SERGIO MITRE IS OUR #4 STARTER! Sure, signing Andruw Jones is nice, he's a better defensive Marcus Thames, and sure signing Soriano is great to strengthen up the bullpen. The only problem matter how many RBIs Jones produces and however dominant innings 8 and 9 are for us, our 3-5 starters won't be able to get them the ball with any sort of a lead. I understand the #1 priority was Cliff Lee, but once that fell through, I feel like Cash sort of went in another direction. I understand the free agent market isn't the best...but does he really think having any combination of: Nova, Mitre, Garcia, or Colon is going to be any type of effective? Not only do we have to rely on one of them every five days, we have to choose 2! Sure, Colon and Garcia were great pitchers...back in '04! This is ridiculous that Brian Cashman has not signed someone who is just a few injuries removed from Cy Young talks about 2-4 years ago..Brandon Webb, Justin Duchscherer, Jeremy Bonderman, Chris Young (before the Mets signed him)..and they're still young(er) than Colon and Garcia. Yankee fans, do you honestly feel comfortable with Nova, Mitre, Garcia or Colon in a big series against Boston? I know I don't and so Cashman needs to make a move now. Either sign one of the aforementioned free agents or make a trade. You have to give a little to get a little. Trade one of these catching products...we have 4 very good PROSPECTS..why can't we get someone like Gavin Floyd who is a proven American League young starter. I'm tired of people waiting for Pettitte to come back. Listen, i love Andy Dandy, I really hope he comes back, but if he doesn't we're absolutely screwed as of now. To Mr. Cashman: make a big move now or kiss your job goodbye after this offseason when the Yankees get their ass kicked by Boston.

January 29, 2011:  Get the facts first; you can distort them later!
The single longest tenured Ranger, who helped his team to its first World Series in franchise history in 2010, Michael Young has been the offensive model of consistency throughout his career. In fact, from 2003-2007, Young averaged 212 hits per season and never hit less than .306. Defensively, he’s moved around some, coming up as a second baseman where he averaged 156 games played in ’02-’03, and then moving to short stop, where he averaged 154 games from ’04-’08. Once again asked to move, this time to third base, Young appeared in 155 games last season. Young is the quintessential “team” player, going where he’s needed and doing what he’s asked. So what does management do in return? Nothing short of handing Young the toughest off-season of his career. They sign Adrian Beltre to a 5 yr/$85-mil deal to play third base for the Rangers this year. And, to add insult to injury, the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli to back up at 1B, C, and DH. Napoli hit 26 HR in 453 AB with the Angels last season. Team president Nolan Ryan has stated that Young will be the Rangers DH on opening day and will play 80% of his games there. Ryan further states that other 20% will be divided between 2B, 1B, and 3B. But we all know that actions speak louder than words. And the actions of management in the off-season are clearly yelling as loudly as an umpire, “You’re out!” Young, Napoli, and Beltre together bear out another well-known cliché: two’s company but three’s a crowd. There doesn’t seem to be enough room on the diamond for Young to continue his previous performance. Young is a lifetime .300 hitter in 6157 AB with 918 R, 158 HR, and 811 RBI. It’s not very often that a player steals 68 bases (in 75 attempts) in a season and then, 2 years later, finds himself being released by 4 teams. It takes a special man to make that transpire! And a guy with a lot of Sampsonite. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Willy Taveras. For Colorado in 2008, Taveras had 68 SB, 64 R, and a .251 BA in 479 AB. Since then he’s had a .554 OPS including 2010 when he was a member of the Nationals, Phillies, Braves, and Rangers organizations. He received 35 major league AB with 7 R, 4 RBI, and 1 SB. Taveras was signed to a minor league deal by the Rockies last week. Taveras burst on the scene back in 2005 with the Astros to bat .291 in 592 AB with 82 R and 34 SB. But, part of the problem is that Taveras has no power (8 career HR) and is prone to the strike out. He K’d 103 times as a rookie and “boasts” a  390/136 K/BB in 2412 AB. If he gets a sniff of playing time with the Rockies in their crowded OF, Taveras would be worth a nominal bid. He just turned 29 on Christmas.

January 28, 2011: Jeff Fisher is out as Titans head coach after 16 seasons!
There’s an old baseball adage that you’ve got to be a pretty good pitcher to lose 20 games because they have to keep giving you the ball. A twenty game loser: it takes a special talent to enter that elite group of pitchers who may be doing a little damage to your fantasy team! Although a few Hall of Fame pitchers have achieved this milestone, for the most part, 20 game losers have become a rarity. Like 300 game winners, the dodo bird, the pet rock, and hula hoops, 20 game losers are becoming extinct. It has to be the advent of the 5-man rotation. When baseball’s last 20 game loser, Mike Maroth, retired this week, that bit of news caused hardly a ripple. But maybe it would be best to take a closer look at that anomaly called the 20 game loser. When Maroth lost 21 games for the Tigers in 2003, it had been 23 years since a similar fiasco. Brian Kingman of the A’s achieved that “feat” in 1980. Maroth’s “best” years were spent with the Tigers. From 2003-2005, Maroth had 100 GS for Detroit. The LHP didn’t do a heck of a lot with them going 34-48, with 713 HA in 619 1/3 IP, a 4.90/1.41 ERA/WHIP and a 310/160 K/BB. Back in the days of the 4-man rotation, over the past 50 years there have been 2 teams that have had two 20 game losers. The 1962 Mets boasted Al Jackson (8-20) and Roger Craig (10-24) while the ’73 White Sox had Wilbur Wood (24-20) and Stan Bahnsen (18-21). The ’73 Sox had 2 pitchers who had 83 decisions between them! Hall of Famer, Phil Niekro had two 20 loss seasons, going 16-20 in 1977 and 21-20 in 1979. That ’77 season for Niekro saw him have a 262/164 K/BB and a 4.03/1.45 in 330 1/3 IP. In “79 Niekro was better with a 208/113 K/BB and a 3.39/1.24 in 342 IP. Wilbur Wood also lost 20 games (16-20) in 1975. When Wood was 24-20 in ’73, he made 48 starts and threw 359 1/3 innings. Bobo Newsom had the distinction of being a 3-time loser. Of 20 games, that is! And for 3 different teams, the ’34 St.Louis Browns, the ’41 Detroit Tigers and the ’45 Philadelphia A’s. Newsom was 211-222 over his long career with a 3.98/1.46 ERA/WHIP, and a 2082/1732 K/BB in 3759 1/3 IP. He played for 9 teams, including the Washington Senators 4 different times (’35-’37, ’42-’43, ’46-’47, and 1952). He also played for the Browns 3 times (1935, ’38-’39, and ’43). So if the 20 game loser was a high school student, he’d be on the 6 year plan, if he were a newlywed, his wife has already done the deed with the best man, and if he were Santa, he’d be on workman’s comp from a bad experience with a chimney. Mike Maroth is in good company

January 27, 2011: Jason Lane is in my ears and in my eyes!
“Greed…is good.” According to corporate raider, Gordon Gecko, greed is the motivating factor in human behavior. In examining the dynamics of baseball, one would be forced to agree. But what exactly is greed good for?  First glance reveals that greed allows fat-cat agents to negotiate outrageous contracts not only for the big stars but also for the slightly-better-than-mediocre player who is up for free agency. After all, what a particular talent for throwing or hitting might yield depends on what the market will allow, and we all know that a free-market is at the heart of a capitalist society. Do you remember Jody Reed? He was a little better than marginal middle infielder who played with a number of teams in the '80's and '90's. He played 6 seasons with the Boston Red Sox hitting .280 with a .357 OBP. He even led the AL with 45 doubles in 1990 utilizing the Green Monster at Fenway. Reed signed with the Dodgers in 1993 for $2.5-mil and hit .276 in 445 AB. The Dodgers seemed to like Reed so after the season the club offered him a 3 yr/$7.8-mil deal. On the advice of his brother-in-law agent, Reed turned down the deal. Jose Offerman was the Dodger SS at the time and between the 37 errors and his penchant for late throws to the second baseman, Reed may have been in fear for his life. The Dodgers ended up trading young SP Pedro Martinez to the Expos for 2B Delino DeShields. After Reed's "gaffe," he played with Milwaukee (.271) in 1994, 2 seasons in SD and, for $675,000, 52 games with the Tigers in 1997 batting .196. In the final 4 seasons of Reed's career, he earned $2,875,000. By not signing the Dodger offer Reed lost almost $5-mil. He finished his career with 1231 H, 566 R, 392 RBI, and a .270 BA. After the 200 season, Juan Gonzalez was offered an 8 yr/$148-mil deal by the Tigers. Never known as the smartest man in the world, Gonzalez rejected the offer. This is a guy that was married 4 times before his 30th birthday. Apparently, he didn't like the cavernous dimensions of Comerica Park. Gonzalez played 5 more seasons on three 1-yr contracts and one 2-yr deal earning a total of just over $38-mil. Another "smart guy" was Nomar Garciaparra, who in 2003, rejected the Red Sox 4 yr/$60-mil offer. Garciaparra felt he was worth as much as A-Rod and Jeter but no one else thought so. He signed a one-year deal with the Cubs in 2005 for $8-mil. Between 2005 and his last season in 2009, Garciaparra earned just over $33-mil. Believe me, I’m not messing with the Great American Way. However, I think that greed might be good for another less obvious reason: those insatiable ball players who are holding out for the contract of the century often find themselves priced out of their own market, and forced to accept a less lucrative deal because the clock has run out. They learn that the knife of greed can cut both ways and teach a golden lesson in the bargain: sometimes the market just ain’t there.

January 26, 2011: Money can't buy poverty!
It's never too early to start preparing for your fantasy baseball season. I've already researched AL and NL-only pricing for a $260, 10 category league and have been involved in 2 mock NL-only auctions. And, through those mock auctions, I've noticed a real dearth in NL catchers that do something. Don't forget that single leagues, at least the ones I play in, require 2 backstops. Usually the best thing you could say about your 2nd C in a single league is that he doesn't hurt you. Or that he doesn't get up to bat that much! Or even likes to sleep in every morning. Well, you get the point. I took the average dollars of my 5 NL sources and this is how the catching stacked up. In a tie for #1, both Brian McCann and Buster Posey averaged out at $17.8. I have a feeling that in keeper leagues, Posey will be unavailable for your draft. he did hit an unbelievable 16 HR and 56 RBI with a .307 BA in 296 AB in the 2nd half of 2010. While I don't think that even Posey can keep up that pace, he should provide good numbers from the catching position. McCann has averaged 21 HR and 89 RBI over the last 5 seasons. His BA was at a 5 year low .269 but he still provides steady power production across the board. At #3, we have Geovany Soto ($14). Injuries limited him again, this time to 322 AB. He did hit 17 HR, 53 RBI and had a .280 BA. I would like to spend $14 on more of a sure thing. If you could get him for $9 or even $10 in your league, it could turn a profit. Miguel Montero ($12.4) had a breakout season in 2009 with 16 HR, 59 RBI, 61 R, and a .294 BA in 425 AB. A torn meniscus kept Montero's AB total to 297 in 2010, a season in which he hit 9 HR with 43 RBI. A return to health and a $10 bid could turn into a small profit. #5, John Buck ($10.8) parlayed a career season with the Blue Jays into a 3 yr/$18-mil deal with the Marlins. His career highs of 20 HR and 66 RBI were helped by a career high 409 AB. He also hit a career best .281 with an unsustainable .409 BA vs LHP. I'll probably stay away from him unless the bidding stays low! My favorite NL catcher who I have in my $260-NL for $2 is #6 on this list, Carlos Ruiz ($10.4). Ruiz had 40 RBI and a .321 BA in 218 AB during the 2nd half of 2010. I will be in on the bidding for him in all other NL leagues that I'm in. The top-15 NL catchers round out this way: #7, Yadier Molina ($10). he had 62 RBI in 2010 and 17 SB the last 2 seasons. #8. Ryan Doumit ($7.4) who's averaged 12 HR the last 4 seasons. He goes into the season without a starting job. #9. Chris Iannetta ($7.2) has never been able to duplicate numbers from his 2008 career season of 18 HR, 65 RBI, and a .264 BA. He does have a starting job, or so it seems, and may be a good buy at around $4 or $5. #10. Ramon Hernandez ($6.4): the best thing that you can say about Hernandez is he doesn't hurt you. He hit .297 with 48 RBI in 313 AB in 2010. #11. Ryan Hanigan ($5.6), #12. Josh Thole ($5.2), #13. Nick Hundley ($5), #14. Rod Barajas ($4.9), and #15. Chris Snyder ($4.6). If I can't get Ruiz as one of my catchers, I'll try to spend no more than $5 on both my catchers. I could end up with guys like Snyder and Thole. But weaving your way through the mess known as NL catchers is one of your jobs come draft day!

January 25, 2011: The pen is mightier than the sword and considerably easier to write with!
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse! What is he still doing on the team? I'm talking about Oliver Perez. Right now Oliver Perez should be vending at Citi Field. he should be mowing the grass and shoveling the snow out of the stands. he should be working at Shake Shack. He should walk into the Wilpons' office and say, "I feel like I'm stealing money from you. Give me something to do. Since I can't pitch anymore." Oliver Perez is the poster child for everything that's wrong with guaranteed money and the current collective bargaining agreement. He hasn't produced $12 million of value in his entire career much less in his stint with the Mets. His last 2 seasons with the Mets have produced 112 1/3 IP, 123 HA, a 99/100 K/BB and a 6.81/1.99 ERA/WHIP. He should just come to camp enthused and ready to pitch. And prove he belongs on the major league roster! Gil Meche realized something that Perez hasn't realized yet. And every Mets fan realizes it! Meche couldn't pitch so he left $12-mil on the table. The Mets wish that Perez would do the same. Perez did have a couple seasons of bounty. As a 22 year old, in 2004, he did K 239 batters in 196 IP with a 2.98/1.15 ERA/WHIP. He did also win 15 games for the Mets in 2007 with 174 K's and a 3.56 ERA in 177 IP. But the bad times have been far more plentiful for Perez. By the way, the erratic left-hander has a 31/29 K/BB in 37 2/3 IP in the Mexican Winter League. Manny Ramirez has always been more focused when someone was standing on second or third. His 1830 career RBI's will attest to that. Hard to dispute Manny Ramirez as a good hitter, drugs or no drugs, women's hormones or no women's hormones. This guy is just a great hitter, maybe one of the top 5 RH hitters of all-time. The juice didn't make him any more of a clutch hitter. Ramirez is a lifetime .313 hitter with 555 HR and counting. He could be the steal of the off-season signing a $2-mil deal with the Rays. Ramirez just has to remain motivated and coming back to the AL-East just may be the tonic he needs. He'll be replacing the consortium of DH's from the Rays' 2010 season including Willy Aybar, Rocco Baldelli, Dan Johnson, and Brad Hawpe. That alone is an upgrade. As a DH over his career, Ramirez has a .311, 71 HR, 233 RBI, and a .413 OBA in 1160 AB.

January 24, 2011: It's so cold out that you can fry an egg on the windshield!
You don't see this very often but one day after agreeing to a 1 yr/$2.3-mil deal with Detroit Armando Galarraga was designated for assignment by the team. What can we say about Galarraga that hasn't been said already? I mean, after all, when his career is over, no matter what else he accomplishes, Galarraga will always be remembered for that 28-out "perfect game" or as it has come to be known as the "imperfect game." Reverse psychology is not just a myth dramatized in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer when Tom gets his crew of friends to whitewash a fence by portraying the task as the epitome of fun. It holds true for many who, in attempting to avoid a pitfall, opt for the opposite and, in the process, inadvertently and ironically fall into the very pit they were hoping to avoid. Take the case of umpire Mike Joyce. After 26 straight outs and a perfect game on the line, who wants to be the umpire that called that last out, conferred admission into the exclusive club reserved for perfection, and then had to contend with the backlash of fans and sportscasters who keep showing how the base runner was really out! No, better to err on the side that lacks notoriety and call the runner safe. And so, a move that should keep an umpire out of the spotlight—after all, no one can contest a perfect game when no perfect game was pitched—actually threw him into the glare that verbally fried him to a crisp. In his efforts to remain “impartial” and oblivious to the history of the game in handling each play as a distinct and isolated call, he set heads shaking with the line that will follow him into retirement, “How could you miss that one?” Well, the answer is obvious. It was just a matter of reverse psychology. Galarraga also threw 7 innings, 3 HA, 0 ER, and an 8/0 K/BB on August 20 vs the same Cleveland Indians. In fact, if he pitched every game vs the Tribe, he would be a HOFer! He's a low strike out guy who gives up his share of fly balls. In the right park, he would be better served. The Pirates and the D'Backs have some interest. He may also be serviceable in one of those cavernous NL-West parks. I received an interesting e-mail a number of days ago. It was entitled "Baseball Card of the Week," a 1978 Topps card featuring rookie shortstops of the time. Paul Molitor, the HOFer, and Alan Trammell, close to a HOFer are on the card. There's Mickey Klutts, the NY Yankees rookie who later played for the Oakland A's. He hit 5 HR in 46 AB in 1981, the year of the strike. The 4th rookie SS is U.L. Washington of the KC Royals. I think he was the guy that constantly had the toothpick in his mouth. And, as in this card from a lifetime ago, a constant scowl on his face. Like a guy in a street gang!

January 23, 2011: If I had myself as a father, I would have made something of my life!
After a 2007 season spent mostly in the minor leagues, Colby Lewis visited Japan’s version of the Fountain of Lourdes. At the time he left, he gave journeymen a bad name. He would walk into a restaurant and get booed. And he couldn’t get a job as the second string goalie on a dart team. But his 2 seasons in the East were a revelation to all involved. He saw success like he never had before! In his 2 seasons of bounty there, Lewis had a 2.82/0.99 ERA/WHIP and an incredible 369/46 K/BB in 354 1/3 IP. Lewis is now a hero back in the states returning to the Texas Rangers who just happened to reach the World Series this year. His strike out rate carried over with 196 K’s in 201 IP. He did walk 65 batters and gave up 174 hits for a 3.72/1.19 ERA/WHIP. I would consider the season an unqualified success back in the land of the free and the home of the brave! I did suggest to Oliver Perez’s agent that his client make the same sojourn. He hasn’t gotten back to me. Because I’m sure that the Mets would pay passage AND give Perez the requisite meal money! This brings us to the story of Kameron Loe, a 20th round pick by the same Rangers in the 2002 draft. Loe worked his way through the system quickly and debuted as a RP in 2005 with some success. Moved to the starting rotation in 2006, Loe started 38 games (with 5 relief appearances) good for 214 1/3 IP, a 9-17 record, a 5.54/1.61, 267 HA, and a 102/78 K/BB. He had a little success out of the bullpen in ’08 but it became apparent that he wasn’t in the Rangers’ plans. He took his wares to the East to start a new life. He signed with the Fukuoka Hawks but would appear in only 5 games for them, spending most of the season in the Japanese minor league. He would pitch to a 6.33/1.78 with the Hawks in 27 IP, an 18/12 K/BB and 36 HA. Again, Loe was packing his bags. With nowhere else to go, Loe signed a minor-league, under-the-radar deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. He would start 10 games at Nashville with a 3.16 ERA. Loe was called up to the parent club on June 1. The best thing about this as far as the Brewers were concerned is that it ended Jeff Suppan’s tenure there. He had signed a 4 yr/$42-mil deal with the Brew Crew in December of ’06. This is the story for another day! But, there was a rub. The 6’7” Loe owns a 7 foot boa constrictor named Angel. He was told by the Brewers that the team would not allow the snake into the clubhouse. Even though teams have been letting that type of person into the clubhouse for years. Loe appeared in 41 of the next 79 games the team played and finished the season with a 2.78/1.19, 54 HA, and a 46/15 K/BB in 58 1/3 IP. A $1 buy in your NL-only may be a good idea. His ground ball ways and newfound K rate makes him an interesting sleeper. By the way, on Friday, he avoided arbitration and signed a 1 yr/$1.25-mil deal

January 22, 2011: Frank Tanana threw 90 MPH in the '70's and 70 MPH in the '90's!
Aaron Rowand is a nice guy. Some would even call him a good guy. He plays hard. He hustles all the time. He runs into walls. He dives a lot! He’s the kind of guy that you would want for a friend. After his 2007 season with the Phillies, Rowand signed a 5 yr/$60-mil contract with the SF Giants. Like the 7 yr/$126-mil deal for Barry Zito signed in December ’06, the Rowand contract is proving to be a millstone around the Giants’ neck. The team did prove one thing in 2010, however, that you can win a championship having bad contracts. In fact, Zito wasn’t even invited to join any of the post-season rosters! Rowand is still due $24-mil for the 2011 and 2012 seasons and will prove to be a very tough guy to trade. During his 3 seasons with the Giants, Rowand is a .257 hitter in 1379 AB with 39 HR, 168 RBI, and 160 R. Don’t forget that his 2 career seasons (’04 with the White Sox, ’07 with the Phillies) both occurred in hitter’s parks. He did hit .309 in 612 AB for the Phillies with 27 HR, 89 RBI, 105 R, and an .873 OPS. Except for the BA (he hit .310 in ’04) all those numbers represent career highs. But, like I said, he’s a nice guy. And a rich guy! By the way, in his 4 seasons with the Giants, Zito has a 40-57 record with an ERA never below 4.03 (and as high as 5.15) or a WHIP better than 1.34 (with a high of 1.60). And to think, no one was bidding against the Giants. Ian Snell was an NL All-Star in 2007 while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had him for $6 in the 2nd year of a 3 year commitment in my $260-NL. That memorable '07 season for Snell, he had a 177/68 K/BB and a tidy 3.76/1.33 ERA/WHIP. Never mind that he was a bit of a sociopath. And he couldn't handle adversity. And was a little on the immature side. Ian Snell was going places. By the way, some of my best friends are sociopaths. Since that '07 season, Snell has pitched 355 2/3 innings with a 14-31 record, a 5.31/1.70, 409 HA, and a 250/197 K/BB. He was sent to Triple-A by the Mariners in June with an 0-5 record, and a 6.41/1.84 in 46 1/3 IP. This while pitching half his games in the best pitcher's park in the AL. Snell recently signed a minor-league deal with the St.Louis Cardinals. This is an organization known for working with lost pitching causes. See Jeff Suppan, Brad Penny, Joel Pineiro, and Kyle Lohse, just to name a few! Hey, you never know, I may throw a buck his way in my $360-NL. The problem is that when I bring up a guy for a buck in that league, someone invariably will say $2. But, as you know, I'm a real sucker for reclamation projects. And happy endings!

January 21, 2011: Defense + good clubhouse guy = no fantasy points!
As far as the Mets are concerned, it’s never too early for an April Fool’s joke. The franchise, over the past few seasons, has become somewhat of a laughingstock so, why not? Met manager Terry Collins has already named his Opening Day starter, Mike Pelfrey. Yes, the 27 year old is the senior member of the staff. And, yes he won 15 games for the club in 2010. And, on top of that, Johan Santana is going to be out until at least June. But, looking under the hood, Pelfrey just doesn’t seem to have the mental make-up or the stats to assume the mantle of leadership. Maybe the Mets are just giving him a pat on the back to build his confidence coming into the season. In 96 GS over the past 3 seasons, Pelfrey has given up 635 hits in 589 IP with a 330/198 K/BB. He has a 4.31 career ERA but, in the middle of 2010, Pelfrey ran into a wall of adversity. In 7 GS from June 30 to August 4, Pelfrey went 30 IP, with 62 HA, a 14/16 K/BB, and a 9.00/2.00 ERA/WHIP. These numbers could push even the sanest man over the edge! He did finish the season strong as he went at least 7 innings in his last 5 GS, going 35 2/3 IP, 26 HA, a 19/10 K/BB and a 2.27/1.01. Coming into the 2010 season, Jose Bautista’s career highs were 75 R, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 68 BB, a .757 OPS, 53 XBH, and 6 SB. So, of course we all expected his 2010 season. That included 109 R, 54 HR, 124 RBI, 100 BB, a .995 OPS, 92 XBH, and 9 SB. Yeah, I almost predicted that to perfection. NOT! Do guys, at the age of 29, suddenly triple their previous career high in HR? Without help? It’s just all so hard to fathom. I do have him in my mixed league and he will be one of my 7 keepers. Bautista became only the 4th player to hit 50 HR, 35 doubles, have 100 BB, 100 R, and 120 RBI in the same season. The others are Babe Ruth (twice), Hack Wilson and Luis Gonzalez. Bautista is hoping to parlay this season of bounty into a $10.5-mil arbitration payout. The Blue Jays are being a bit more pragmatic offering $7.6-mil. It will be interesting to see which way this goes! Does anyone remember Odalis Perez? He hurled for 4 teams from 1998-2008 when he was released by the Nationals before the ’09 season. He enjoyed one of the best seasons for a pitcher in the 2000’s with a 3.00/0.99 ERA/WHIP, 15 W, 182 HA, and a 155/38 K/BB in 222 1/3 IP for the Dodgers in ’02. And while he did enjoy 4 fruitful seasons on the West Coast, nothing could compare to the windfall of ’02. You may remember him with the Royals in ‘06-’07. In 263 2/3 IP, Perez gave up 347 hits, a 145/81 K/BB and a 5.87/1.62 over 58 games (46 GS). Perez is close to a deal in Korea for $300,000 with an additional $150,000 available in incentives. Some things are just better left alone.

January 20, 2011: I've never been a fan of all the tattoos on Jon Rauch, the tallest major-league pitcher ever!
Seattle, the city that bought us grunge music, Frazier Crane, and Starbuck’s Coffee now brings us another chapter of interest in the continuing saga of Milton Bradley. I mean, some people don’t even deserve a seat at the table! My feeling on Bradley is that he just can’t seem to get out of his own way. He has to start acting age appropriate, situation appropriate, and, most importantly, life appropriate. If you haven’t heard the latest, Bradley was arrested on a felony charge of making a criminal threat to a woman. Bradley seems to find trouble wherever he goes even while getting chance after chance! He’s played for 8 teams now in 11 seasons and seems to have worn out his welcome in every city in the United States and Canada. In 2008, Bradley led the AL with a 1.036 OPS while playing for Texas. That season also saw career highs in BA (.321), OBP (.431), HR (22), RBI (77), R (78) and BB (80). He even made his only All-Star team. After the season, Bradley signed a 3-yr/$30-mil deal with the Cubs. I was screaming at the radio when I heard of the signing. The sheer stupidity of a multi-year deal with a guy like Bradley. And, I’m sure that his arrival led to Lou Piniella’s taking leave of not only his own senses but of the game of baseball as well! If I were signing a guy like Bradley, I’d have to put an out-clause in the deal, given his history of anger management issues. I don’t really know the severity of these latest allegations concerning Bradley but the Mariners, I’m sure, will be looking at every way to get out of that last year and $12-mil worth. It’s not that easy to do, just ask the Mets and Frankie Rodriguez. The Cubs did a brilliant thing and jettisoned the malcontent Bradley to the M’s at the beginning of ‘10 for another terrible contract in Carlos Silva. The M’s signed him to a 4 yr/$48-mil deal after the 2007 season. For their troubles, and considerable money, the Mariners received 34 GS, 183 2/3 IP, a 5-18 record, 254 HA, a 79/43 K/BB and a 6.81/1.62 ERA/WHIP. This is the same guy that walked ONLY 9 batters in 188 1/3 IP for the Twins in 2005 and AVERAGED 28 walks in 193 1/3 IP in his 4 seasons there. Silva did find his own fantasy relevance with the Cubs in 2010 with 10 wins, 80 K’s, and a 1.27 WHIP in 113 IP. An irregular heartbeat slowed Silva down in July but at least you could say he has heart, something Bradley wouldn’t know about!

January 19, 2011: The Yankees just wish that Andy Pettitte would make a decision about his future!
Like the singer, Donovan, said back in the late 60's, "Must be the season of the witch!" Well, I'll tell you, this has been the off-season of the RP. Over the last 4 off-seasons, RP's have averaged 9 multi year deals/season. This year, with the A's signing of Brian Fuentes to a 2-year deal, that number is up to 17! Fuentes, from 2005-2010, has averaged 30 1/2 SV per season. He led the AL in SV with 48 in 2009 with the Angels. He's a 4 time All-Star with a 573/223 K/BB over 525 IP and has accrued 187 SV. He gives the A's a deep bullpen. To go along with fellow LHP's Brelow and Blevins, the A's also have RH closer Andrew Bailey, Mike Wuertz, Brad Ziegler, and the newly signed Grant Balfour. This could be the best bullpen in the AL. From the best bullpen to the worst starting rotation, the KC Royals avoided arbitration and signed Kyle Davies to a 1 yr/$3.2-mil deal. This was for a season that included a 5.34/1.56 ERA/WHIP in 32 GS in 2010. He also allowed a .283 BAA, a 126/80 K/BB, and had 206 HA in 183 2/3 IP. I'd like to go on record to say that's a bad contract given to Davies by the Royals. In 306 2/3 IP in '09-'10, Davies has a 5.31/1.55. I will be staying far away in my AL-only draft. The Royals also got the news of Gil Meche's retirement. Meche leaves $12-mil on the table in the last year of his 5 yr/$55-mil signed with the Royals in 2007. I'm sure that Meche could see it coming and KC probably wishes he made this decision after the '08 season. His last 2 seasons consisted of 190 2/3 IP, 209 HA, a 136/96 K/BB and a 5.29/1.60 ERA/WHIP. This is why I don't like giving long term contracts to pitchers! Meche did have a season of relevance in '08 when I owned him in my no-trade AL-only winning 14 games with 183 K's. The Royals weren't done with all this news. They did sign Bruce Chen, a very poor man's Jamie Moyer, to a 1 yr/$2-mil deal. It was a year of firsts for Chen in 2010 recording his first SV on April 26 and his first career shut out in his last GS of the season, a 2 hitter with a 7/2 K/BB vs the Rays. Overall, Chen was 12-7 in 140 1/3 IP with a 4.17/1.38 and a 98/57 K/BB. You might say that Chen was the "ace" of the staff with 11 W in 23 GS, while the rest of the rotation had 35 W in 139 GS. Yeah, a little reminiscent of Carlton's 27 W's for the Phillies! His only other fantasy relevant season was with the Orioles in 2005 when, in 197 1/3 IP, Chen was 13-10 with a 3.83/1.27 ERA/WHIP, 187 HA, and a 133/63 K/BB. After not playing in the majors at all in 2008, he was 1-6 in 62 1/3 IP for KC in '09 with a 5.78/1.59. Please see my advice concerning Kyle Davies!

January 18, 2011: Thank God it's Tuesday!
In some kind of karmic synchronicity with the spirit of Martin Luther King’s quest for true liberation of the oppressed and downtrodden, I had a dream of my own: that my son would finally go back to college after a month of bumming around the house. I’m not trying to be sacrilegious or even disrespectful of the greatness of Dr. King, but I finally figured out why they call it the empty nest: it’s because once all the chicks are gone, there’s finally room for parents to spread their wings. Like many other parents of college-age offspring, I had to hear him alternately claim that he was truly an adult and therefore not subject to house rules, and beg for money three or four times a day because he’s only a kid who has to get an education before he makes his own way in the world. Talk about social injustice. His apartment—the one he shares with three other boys—looked like it had been ransacked by the CIA looking for a micro-chip; the only constant was the clutter. Free-range dust bunnies roamed at will and the kitchen evoked the gag reflex; we won’t mention the bathroom out of consideration for the squeamish. After the books were bought, the place fumigated, and the financial support established, things began looking up as we hit the road to head home to the quiet refuge where our patient dog and long-suffering cat awaited; we’d be there three hours past their dinnertime, but they’d be no recriminations. Just gratitude. Because dogs and cats know that things can always be worse. What if their owners never returned? Our cat, Ed, is smart enough to know that Rocky the dog can’t use the can opener. Our dog Rocky is smart enough to know that, despite his oath to never violate the people rules, eventually nature would call and he’d die of shame before starvation. Being free of the children lets the mind contemplate all kinds of anomalies. For example, as I crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge on the way home and read the “No toll” sign overhead, I had to ask myself: Why is it that no one ever pays to come into Jersey? Better yet, why is it everyone has to pay to get out of Jersey? There’s got to be something to it. Now that the kids are gone, maybe I’ll kick back with a beer and give it some thought. 

January 17, 2011: The Jets beat the Patriots, the Jets beat the Patriots!
I'm sure that you can't wait for the 10th season of American Idol coming to you on Wednesday night. It seems like it's been hyped for about the last 6 months. And it's good to see that Ryan Seacrest is still hosting. I've always enjoyed the looks of one of the new judge's, Aerosmith's own, Steven Tyler. A guy that could have at one time been the American Idol is Andruw Jones. It looks like the NY Yankees are making a strong push in an attempt to get his autograph on the dotted line. By the time you read this that could become a reality. As long as Jones knows what his role is, I like the signing. He can DH or play the OF vs LHP. Jones had a .931 OPS vs LHP in the second half of 2010. And he's a damn sight better defender that Marcus Thames, who went to the Ray Charles School for Fielding! Jones was on a Hall of Fame path right until the age of 30. He did belt 19 HR in 278 AB for the White Sox in '10. He also batted .283 overall in the 2nd half. Because, as we know, Jones reached the fork in the road of his career a number of years ago. Frequent poster, Robert Klein, who you all know as Stork, mentioned that the only fork that should involve Andruw Jones is the one to stick in him. Stork obviously feels that he's done. I would say that if Jones stays away from the fork at the dinner table, he could add a few years to his career. With 407 HR in his career, Jones could be making a case for not making it to the HOF with 500+ HR's. You could also look at the cases of Bonds (762), Sheffield (509), and Sosa (609) when they become eligible for enshrinement. Even with an admission and an apology, the negatives have not swayed the voters to put Mark McGwire in to the Hall. In fact, in this, his 5th year on the ballot, McGwire received 19.8% of the vote. This was the first year that McGwire had dipped below 20%. He did have 583 HR, 1414 RBI, and a .394 OBA over his career. He also was a 12-time All-Star and his 10.61 AB per HR is the best in major league history. McGwire was also the first player to have 30+ HR's in his first 4 full seasons. Between the ages of 36-40, Barry Bonds AVERAGED 51.6 HR/season including the record 73 in 2001. It was posted a number of months ago that Bonds would like to come back as the Giant hitting coach. He would probably have to go the McGwire route and admit to steroid use. The 73 HR in 2001 is the only season that Bonds hit more than 49! Bonds' increased chest, hat, and shoe size are all well documented in the infamous book, "Game of Shadows." His head got to be the size of the state of Delaware by the time his career was over!

January 16, 2011: My dog's favorite TV show is "Bones!"
I almost did it today. Almost put 2010 by the date but stopped myself at the last second. Thank you for the support on the Facebook site of rotoimbeciles and for some of you coming over to the web site. We're celebrating a year in business this week and, at the rate we're moving, in another couple days, I'll have more friends on Facebook than subscribers to the site. That would scare me a bit and something else that spooks me is the fact that I now have 87 friends on Facebook. I've never even met that many people in my life. And on both sites, some of you are holding a bad 1st half of 2010 against Trevor Hoffman. I just don't think that one bad half at the age of 43 after a long career should keep Hoffman from being a first ballot HOFer. Some are even saying that a lot of Hoffman's SV are bogus and that he wasn't a dominating pitcher. Like I've said, Hoffman had 3 pitches, slow, slower and slowest, but still wound up with 1133 K's in 1089 1/3 IP while giving up 846 hits. Bruce Sutter revolutionized the split-fingered pitches and garner 300 SV and a 2.83/1.14 ERA/WHIP over his HOF career. Hoffman's career ERA/WHIP, at 2.87/1.06 is eerily similar to Sutter. Plus he had 301 more SV! Who can forget Willie Mays flailing at the ball and falling in a vain attempt to make a catch in the 1973 World Series? Or that Mickey Mantle spent his last 2 injury-wracked seasons playing 1B for the Yankees and batting .241. The biggest example of hanging out way after the party's over is Steve Carlton. Some now call it the "Steve Carlton path to retirement!" In fact, from 1985-1988, Steve Carlton toured the country with stops from the end of his Philly tour and layovers in San Fran, Cleveland, the South Side of Chicago, and Minnesota, land of 10,000 Lakes! During those years of soul-searching and meditative reflection, Carlton had a 16-37 record in 430 IP with a 264/230 K/BB, 465 HA, and a 5.21/1.62 ERA/WHIP. It was so bad for Carlton during those years that, ironically, the media didn't even want to talk to him! Carlton ended up with 329 W's and 4136 K's in 5217 1/3 IP and was a 10-time All-Star. He entered the HOF in 1994, his first year of eligibility!

January 15, 2011: A shrimp on the barbie is worth two in the sea!
As you already know, the Yankees came away with former closer, now set-up man, Rafael Soriano. He'll be getting closer money and then some to set-up for Mariano Rivera and the Bronx Bombers, 3 yr/$35-mil. Soriano can opt out after the first 2 years for a $1.5-mil buy-out. His fantasy value takes a big hit. He saved 45 games for the Rays last season with a 1.73/0.81 ERA/WHIP, 36 HA, and a 57/14 K/BB in 62 1/3 IP. Another former Ray, Grant Balfour, will be pocketing $8.1-mil over the next 2 seasons to set-up Oakland A's closer, Andrew Bailey. He's coming off a season in which he went 55 1/3 IP, with a 2.28/1.08, 43 HA, and a 56/17 K/BB. He missed a month in 2010 with an intercostal strain, which sounded like he had to go far to get it! After all, the 33 year old RP is from Australia. You know, the land down under, where women glow and men plunder! I asked Balfour, "Do you speak-a my language?" He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich. Balfour's only other season of prosperity came in 2008 when, in 58 1/3 IP, he was 6-2 with 4 SV, a 1.54/0.90 ERA/WHIP, 28 HA, and an 82/24 K/BB. I found out an interesting fact that I wasn't aware of today. Bobby Abreu is the only player in baseball history with 5 seasons of 40 doubles, 20 HR, and 20 SB. He also has 5 straight 20 SB seasons and 2010 ended a 7 year string of 100+ RBI. He has a .296 BA over 7626 AB with 857 XBH, an .886 OPS, 372 SB, 1358 R, and a 1650/1341 K/BB. It's been a pretty bountiful run for Mr. Abreu! Ian Snell signed a minor-league deal with the Cardinals, the place where pitchers of all kind go to drink the magic potion concocted by pitching coach Dave Duncan. Hey, it's worked for Jeff Suppan, Joel Pineiro, and Kyle Lohse to name a few. Let's see what happens with the 2007 All-Star, Snell. He threw 208 innings that season with a 3.76/1.33, 209 HA, and a 177/68 K/BB. It's been one thing after another since from ineffectiveness to wildness to just plain hotheadness. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, Snell is 14-27 with a 5.31/1.70 ERA/WHIP in 355 2/3 IP, 409 HA and a 250/197 K/BB. A good low risk signing for St.Louis. It's not often a team spends a guaranteed $2-mil and gets their #1 SP. But that's exactly what the KC Royals did yesterday with their signing of Jeff Francis, who could make another $2-mil in incentives. Francis had a 36/6 K/BB after the All-Star break in 41 1/3 IP. Things were going well for Francis and the Colorado Rockies in 2007 when he won 17 games with 165 K's and a 4.22/1.38 in 215 1/3 IP. But it's been one injury on top of the other culminating in a missed 2009 season. Francis ended up with 104 1/3 IP for the Rockies in 2010 with a 5.00/1.36 ERA/WHIP and a 67/23 K/BB. Francis could start on opening day for the Royals with the other KC SP's including Hochevar (4.81/1.43), Davies (5.34/1.56), O'Sullivan (5.49/1.45), and Mazzaro (4.27/1.45). Certainly one of the worst, if not the worst, rotations in the league!

January 14, 2011: When you get to the fork in the road, take it!
Something interesting that I just heard. Adrian Gonzalez had 27 fly outs in SD that would be either HR's or base hits in Boston. Just something to think about for those of you in AL-only. And, don't forget, Gonzalez averaged a shade over 32 HR in his 5 full seasons at Petco Park. By the way, the worst hitter's park in baseball. I love all the off-season proclamations that ballplayers have, whether it's that they lost 20 lbs, or put on 25 lbs. of muscle, or the most common, "I'm in the best shape of my life." This one was a bit of a new declaration, "I'm going to steal at least 30 bases this year." This statement was made by the Reds new OF, Fred Lewis. Never mind that Lewis turned 30 years old in December and that his career high in steals is his 21 SB for the Giants in '08. Last year for Toronto, Lewis had 17 SB in 428 AB with 70 R and a .736 OPS. By all means, cut a small check for Lewis at your NL draft. Maybe $4 or $5. Because there's nothing like cheap speed! But temper your expectations to around 15. Anything more than that would just be gravy! .215, .190, .222! No, those are not the measurements of Livan Hernandez, they're the batting averages of new Pittsburgh Pirates 1B, LH hitting Lyle Overbay for the past 3 seasons vs LHP. Not very pretty, yet the Pirates have stated that Overbay will be the everyday 1B because they value his defense. Overbay's BA has plummeted the past 3 seasons as well culminating in a .243 BA in 2010. He did flash his best power, during the 2nd half, that he had in years. Over 243 AB, Overbay belted 12 HR and plated 38. If you could get him in your NL for a bid of around $7, you've done good for yourself. If another owner pays more then $10 for him, be the first to congratulate him. If Matt Maloney went form CIN to SD, he'd be Clayton Richard. Maloney has good command but, as more of a fly ball pitcher, he could be dangerous in Cincy. In 14 games (9 GS) and 61 1/3 IP over the last 2 seasons for the Reds, Maloney is 4-6 with a 4.26/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 63 HA, and a 41/13 K/BB. His Triple-A season may be the reason to keep him on your radar. In 134 2/3 IP (23 GS), he went 10-7 with a 3.34/1.19, 132 HA, and a 104/28 K/BB. With Arroyo, Cueto, Travis Wood, Volquez, Bailey, and Leake in the fold, the LH Maloney needs a change of venue. Keep a close eye on this situation. In the right park you could have a real sleeper on your hands.

January 13, 2011: In fantasy baseball, one man's garbage is another man's treasure!
I'm up to 73 friends on Facebook and I'm going to take a couple days off from making any new friends. It is starting to scare me a little bit. I just need to take the time to do a little bit of soul-searching! Also, on Facebook is up to 37 members and I really appreciate all the posting on the site. When you say that someone is the greatest of all-time at what they do, that's saying a lot about a person. When Ted Williams was young he said that one day he wanted to walk down the street and have people say, "There goes the greatest hitter that ever lived." I'm not sure if Hoffman set out to be the all-time SV leader (he has 601). Those kinds of things just happen. In fact, SV's were few and far between into his late 20's. And with the precision of someone carrying out a hit on a world leader and with his 3 pitches, slow, slower, and slowest, Hoffman compiled SV over the years and, like the Energizer Bunny, just kept going and going and going. He even had a resurgence of sorts in 2009, at the age of 42, with 37 SV, a 1.83/0.91 ERA/WHIP and a 48/14 K/BB in 54 IP. Like everything else in life, it had to come to an end at some point. With the SV's and his career 2.87/1.06 we should see him in Cooperstown in 5 years time. Now Hoffman retires to the "safety" and "sanctity" of the SD front office where, I for one, wish him years of success. And, if he's lucky and the stars are aligned, he may just be fortunate enough to find another Trevor Hoffman. His parents must be so proud! My dear friend, Peter Joyce a.k.a. wheezing fatties wrote a nice blog today in the forum section. The "other" Ted Williams, the Ohio homeless man whose smooth radio voice made him an Internet sensation, had to do some quick talking to LA police when officers were called in to answer complaints of an argument Monday night in a hotel. My concern would be if all this sudden celebrity gets so overwhelming, could it threaten his sobriety? I would also wonder if his nickname is "The Splendid Splinter" or "Teddy Ballgame!" I guess, in a way, you can call this whole story poetic justice. Pete did say that the bottom line is a deadbeat dad + kids who are only looking at getting some of his money and fame = bad news! Williams did end up fathering 9 children and ended up on the streets. Me personally, I would have been pitching a tent under the Brooklyn Bridge after 5 kids! I obviously don't know much about the man but I'll be sure that there are 4 or 5 sides to the whole argument of the other night. A wise man once told me that there are 3 sides to every story: my side, your side, and the real side! I wish Williams well and success but, from the kid's angle, it could be just a little too late. Of course, when/if the money starts to roll in, they could always turn the other cheek. You know what, it's funny the way those things work out! And, Pete, that's a wonderful mathematical equation that you presented to us.

January 12, 2011: The French are always there when they need us!
I'm still not too sure yet with all this new technology. By the time you learn something new and different, 14 newer and more improved things have been invented. I really do miss pencil and paper by candlelight next to my abacus. I also can't understand that with everything so new and improved, why my computer was down all morning and into the early afternoon. Yes, 5 hours without! Maybe it's time to upgrade the computer as well. I'm up to 62 friends on Facebook and now that I've expanded to that site, I have to be paying attention. And by the time I get used to this, the country will be on to the next great thing! Yesterday, Kris Benson announced to the world to stick a fork in him, he's done. I assume that he's still with his wife, Anna. She's hot stuff! I remember when Kris Benson was a Met, Anna said that she would sleep with the whole team if she found out that Kris slept with another woman. That gives a whole new meaning to the term, "ballclub." One thing that I can say about Kris Benson is that he knew when to hang up the cleats. His last 2 seasons in the majors ('09-'10) consisted of 11 games (5 GS), 36 1/3 IP, 51 HA, a 19/18 K/BB, and a 7.18/1.90 ERA/WHIP. He didn't pitch in the majors after April. If his major league stats weren't enough to convince Benson to quit, his Triple-A numbers would make a hooker blush. Over 22 1/3 IP, Benson had an 8.87/2.01, 34 HA, and a 14/11 K/BB. Benson was a former #1 overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1996. He had a 70-75 record over his career with a 4.42/1.39 ERA/WHIP. Benson did enjoy prosperity once, in 2000, with the Pirates, compiling 184 K in 217 IP, both career highs. He also had 10 W (which is like 16 for any other NL club), a career best ERA at 3.86 and a 1.35 WHIP. I agree with this decision by Benson and I would hope that it's okay with Anna. I'm sure that she's gone through some of those millions her husband made! If we're to believe reports on the web, the Mets are interested in David Bush, who's spent the last 5 seasons with the Brewers. And, in 4 of those seasons, he made at least 29 starts. His ERA has fluctuated from a low of 4.18 in 2008 all the way to 6.38 in 2009. He's had a 1.14 WHIP twice (2006, 2008), but 2010 was a nightmare with a 1.51. If the Mets can get Bush for what they guaranteed Chris Capuano ($1.5-mil), they should go ahead and sign him. Though, he did walk a career high 65 in 174 1/3 IP this past season.

January 11, 2011: Casey Blake had a .663 OPS vs RHP in 2010!
Thank God for wakes and funerals! How would we ever catch up with old friends and see people who played such a vital role in our younger years before falling off the face of the earth? I went to a wake yesterday and spoke with a guy who on our last encounter threatened to kill me if he ever saw me again; it’s a good thing he was only eight at the time. The years somehow changed us from sworn mortal enemies to long-lost friends as we laughed within the permissible parameters determined by a funeral parlor. The years melt away as if the distant past was only yesterday…because actually it was. Yet all the living in between gives a perspective that lets you know you can’t really go home again. After all, gone is gone. Yes…there’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel your own mortality. One guy who must be feeling his own mortality, or armageddon, from a baseball sense is Jorge Julio. The soon to be 32 year old RP re-signed with the Pirates, kind of baseball's own graveyard for pitchers, to a minor-league deal. Julio played Independent baseball in 2010. He last surfaced in the major leagues in 2009 with those very same Pirates and the results were anything but to "die" for! In 17 1/3 IP, Julio had a 7.79/1.75 ERA/WHIP and a 13/15 K/BB. Those numbers were terrible even for Pittsburgh to stomach. He went to Triple-A and could only muster a 6.11 ERA in 28 IP. Julio did enjoy some prosperity in Baltimore some years ago. From 2002-2004, Julio averaged 28 SV per season. He went to the Shawn Chacon school of SV's by going 0-7, with a 4.38/1.54 while collecting 36 SV in 2003. Chacon, you might remember, had one of the worst seasons ever for a closer. While he did save 35 games for the Rockies in 2004, Chacon also had a 7.11/1.95 ERA/WHIP, a 1-9 record, and a 52/52 K/BB. Chacon did enjoy some bountiful times in the majors along with a lot more adverse times! Baseball teams tend to remember the good times while overlooking the bad. He did put up a good half season in 2005 with the Yankees with 12 GS and 79 IP, 66 HA, a 40/30 K/BB, a 2.85/1.22, and a 7-3 record. Of course, Chacon met up with his own baseball mortality in June, 2008, when he took Astros' GM, Ed Wade, to task for yelling at him. After Chacon physically attacked Wade, he had to be peeled off him by teammates. Wade may have been pleading with Chacon to give him more than a 5.04/1.51 ERA/WHIP in 85 2/3 IP. Maybe Wade should have said, "Please!" Chacon hasn't been heard form since and is currently out of professional baseball.

January 10, 2011: Why do still waters run deep?
In his first 3 major league GS this August, Jeremy Hellickson did something that no other SP had ever done. He gave up 3 hits or less while pitching 6 innings or more in each of his first 3 starts! He got the call from Triple-A and debuted on August 2 with 7 IP of 3 H ball. Over those first 3 GS, Hellickson went 20 IP, allowing 9 H, an 18/3 K/BB and a 1.35/0.60 ERA/WHIP. He pitched in relief in September to keep his innings down but definitely looked ready for the show. At Triple-A in 2010, Hellickson had a 12-3 record in 21 GS and 117 2/3 IP, 103 HA, a 2.45/1.17, and a 123/35 K/BB. In 580 1/3 IP, the 23 year old pitcher has a 2.71/1.06 ERA/WHIP, 475 HA, and a 634/137 K/BB. He can also put a 49-16 minor league record on his resume! The Rays dispatched Matt Garza to the north side of Chicago to open up a spot for the former 4th round pick in the 2005 draft by the Rays. Today, the only constant is change. Life continues to accelerate at a break-neck pace and technology ensures that everything new today will be old tomorrow. Scientist and philosophers state with certainty that we can't even imagine the world that is just a decade away, and we take the news with nonchalance, because change is just a fact of life. However, if you're old enough to remember a world without computers, you might not be as comfortable with the idea that change is the new constant. For example, I saw the eight-track give way to the cassette and felt the waste of plastic and machinery. I was just fine with my television when the VCR came along; no sooner had I learned to rewind the movie without watching everything in reverse when the CD player threw me for a loop. I'm not quite old enough to have managed math with an abacus, but I did use a slide rule for physics, and the revolution from the calculator to the "hand-held computer" was another kick in the ass! Texting was a hurdle I breached because my job, that essential for survival, required it. I still don't know how people keep all their apps straight. You hear all the time that change is great, that it's a sign of progress, that efficiency is its by-product, that the next great thing has to be greater than the last great thing. But change is hard. It keeps us off-balance and prone to error. Yet, maybe it's all for the best. They say that when depression hits, life encroaches, or fate slaps you in the face, the cure-all is to learn something new. Learning keeps us young and flexible. And humble! I remember when bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and the Goo Goo Dolls appeared on the scene in the late 80's/early 90's, I said to myself that these bands will never make it. No one can listen to that music. I sounded like every parent of every friend that I never wanted to sound like when I was a kid. Then I realized I had become them! Incidentally, those became three of my favorite bands. It's just a matter of giving all what's new a chance. I've got to go. There's a new app on my phone I'm trying to learn!

January 9, 2011: Danica Patrick is much hotter than Ed Kirkpatrick!
Yesterday was a tough one for your friend George. I joined Facebook. Yeah, got through the sign-in and questions. I thought for a second that I was at Motor Vehicles. Even made 25 friends. I must owe them money. I even thought some were dead. Imagine, people I went to High School with wanting to befriend me after close to 40 years. Now that I am closer to the end than the beginning, I have to wonder if there is an afterlife in Facebook. Or if we're just all worm food! The clergy would want you to believe the former, it's called business, but I'm still on the fence and leaning toward the latter. I also had to pick a fantasy playoff football roster using a $32 cap. The only way to win there is to guess right on who's playing in the Super Bowl. The only wild-card team with a little bit of a chance is the New Orleans Saints. So I do have Drew Brees ($5), Reggie Bush (3), and Lance Moore (3) on my roster. It's a 9 man team using 2 RB, 3 WR, 2 QB, and 2 K. My son is a big Jet fan and wanted me to take Mark Sanchez. He reminded me that this is the worst Colt team since 2002. There are 100's of guys entered and I figure that my $50 is another tax deductible donation. Ryne Duren played 3 full seasons with the Yankees (1958-1960), in which time he threw 201 1/3 innings with 250 K and 43 SV. In fact when we look under the hood at Duren's career, his premier season may have been 1958 when he led the AL with 20 SV in 75 2/3 IP, 40 HA, an 87/43 K/BB and a 2.02/1.10 ERA/WHIP. That's when a SV was a SV! Guys just didn't come out and pitch the 9th inning like today. Like I've said, Dick Radatz hurled 157 relief innings in 1964 and struck out 181 guys! Goose Gossage had 3 seasons of over 130 relief IP. And from 1974-1977, Rollie Fingers averaged 128 relief IP per season. One of the greatest relief years all-time was 1959 when Roy Face was 18-1 for the Pirates, but would "only" throw 93 1/3 innings. The next year he amped it up for a career high 114 2/3 IP. Duren was known as much for his 20/200 vision in his left eye, 20/70 in his right, then he was for his blazing fastball. He would, more often than not, come out of the bullpen and throw at least one warm-up pitch to the backstop on a fly. Whether he did it on purpose or not made him all the more intimidating. Alcoholism shortened his career and he wrote about his problems in his books, "I Can See Clearly Now" and "The Comeback." He also helped many players battle their addictions over the years. Ryne Duren, a rich man's Steve Dalkowski, is dead at 81.

January 8, 2011: I just can't get over my cat's food consumption!
The Northsiders of Chicago acquired Matt Garza from the Rays today in their attempt to keep pace with the Brewers who have added Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum. Garza a 15 game winner who also pitched a no-hitter in 2010, has been profiled on the site. Garza should squeeze in behind Ryan Dempster as the #2 SP in the Cub rotation. I am very high on one of the prospects the Rays received in the trade, a SP named Chris Archer, who breezed through 2 levels in 2010 (Single-A and Double-A). Archer had a 15-3 record in 142 1/3 IP, a 2.34/1.17 ERA/WHIP, 102 HA, and a 149/65 K/BB. He just turned 22 at the end of September and is someone to keep an eye on even if he begins the 2011 season at Triple-A. He seemed to add velocity to his fastball in 2010 able to dial it back to the mid-90's. For his minor league career, Archer has a 449/257 K/BB in 444 1/3 IP with a 3.67/1.37 and 352 HA. Archer could make an impact by the second half of 2011. In 62 1/3 IP in 2010 Rafael Soriano recorded an AL leading 45 SV. And I was lucky to get him at #93 in my 13-team AL-only draft. But because of his exorbitant salary demands, and the fact that Scott Boras is his agent, Soriano is still on the outside looking in! His gaudy numbers included a 1.73/0.80 ERA/WHIP, 36 HA, and a 57/14 K/BB. In fact, taking away 2008 when he missed most of the season with injuries, his last 4 full seasons include a 294/77 K/BB in 270 IP with a remarkable 180 HA, and a 2.53/0.95. Boras has stated that Soriano would be open to serving in a set-up role with the Yankees but, of course, at closer's salary. The Yankees don't seem to be interested in paying closer money to the oft-injured Soriano. He's also a Type-A free agent which means the club that signs him would have to surrender a first round draft pick! If teams wait long enough, someone may catch themselves a bargain. When you look back on the totality of Tim Redding's career, what will you want to talk about? It certainly won't be his 37-57 career record up to this point. Or the 4.95/1.49 ERA/WHIP or even the 552/337 K/BB. No, when we look back fondly on Redding's career, we can talk about his career season of 2003 with Houston. That season, he was 10-14 in 176 IP with 179 HA, a 116/65 K/BB and a 3.68/1.39. Or we can talk about his one career CG vs the Giants on July 24, 2008. Redding lost that one, of course, 1-0 in 8 IP. Tim Redding signed a minor-league deal with the LA Dodgers the one team that has an excess of pitching. He did enjoy some bounty at Triple-A in 2010 with a 2.89/1.14, 102 HA, and an 83/22 K/BB in 109 IP. Maybe if the stars are, it just won't happen......why, Tim, why?

January 7, 2011: 90% of the off-season is half over!
I applaud Eric Chavez's stick-to-itiveness, I really do! That never-say-die attitude. And the Oakland club's seemingly undying loyalty to their fallen soldier. Of course it helps when you have $12.5-mil coming your way (the final year of a 5-yr deal) or just over $112,000 per AB. I do hope that he makes it back but odds are getting longer with each lost season. If he proves healthy in tryouts that have been set up for him, by all means, give him a low-ball deal and hope he makes it out of camp in one piece. Since July 26, 2007, Chavez has appeared in but 64 games. He has just 3 HR in 230 AB over the past 3 seasons. Chavez has also undergone 2 back surgeries and 3 shoulder surgeries and has recently dealt with a bulging disc in his neck. His body must look like a road map of Texas! At this point, it's not a matter of "if he'll get hurt" it's "when." He was a 6-time Gold Glove winner and from 2000-2005, Chavez hit at least 26 HR and had at least 77 RBI and 87 R. Yes, the 10th overall pick by the A's in the 1996 draft was good once. I just can't remember when! Another guy on the outside looking in, as of now, is the also oft-injured Brad Penny. Over his first 9 GS for the Cardinals in 2010, Penny had a 3.23/1.29 ERA/WHIP and a 35/9 K/BB. Unfortunately, those were his only 9 GS for the club as a strained right lat sidelined him from May on. He's had only two 200 inning seasons ('01, Fla.-'07, LAD) in his career. He did enjoy some prosperity in 2006-2007 going 32-13 with a 283/127 K/BB in 397 IP. Like many, he's an effective SP when not on the DL. Reports have the Tigers interested in Penny. His one AL experience with Boston was an unmitigated disaster with a 5.61/1.53 over 131 2/3 IP and 24 GS. He does have a career 3.99/1.33 in the NL and will turn 33 years old in May. Sticking with the theme of oft-injured players, I do take my hat off to the Mets signing of Chris Capuano to a guaranteed 1 yr/$1.5-mil deal. This is a guy that's a survivor of not one but two TJ surgeries. In 24 games (9 GS) in 2010, Capuano went 66 innings with a 3.95/1.30, 65 HA, and a 54/21 K/BB. Like all these guys, Capuano did enjoy his share of bounty. Back in '05-'06, he went 29-24 in 440 1/3 IP, with a 350/138 K/BB, 441 HA, and a 4.01/1.31 ERA/WHIP. Milwaukee felt that Capuano was expendable after trading for both Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum. He could make an extra $3-mil if he makes 32 GS and pitches 200 innings, something he hasn't done since 2006.

January 6, 2011: Rafael Palmeiro received only 11% of the vote in the HOF election!
Like a lot of hard throwing relievers of yore, Jon Broxton may not be able to last over the long haul. The hardest throwing RP of the 1960's was a guy named Dick "The Monster" Radatz who had 3 of the greatest seasons for a RP ever. Pitching for the Red Sox, Radatz K'd a relief record 181 batters over 157 IP in 1964. He had 29 SV and 16 W with a 2.29 ERA. In his rookie season (1962), Radatz led the AL with 24 SV, and relief wins (9). He went 15-6 in '63 with 25 SV and a 1.97 ERA. He became the first ever to record consecutive 20 SV seasons. But all that largess was short-lived as Radatz was hurt toward the end of the 1965 season and, though he recorded 9 W and 24 SV that season, he was never the same again. Billy Koch didn't throw quite as hard as Radatz but he also had some of the same early success as the big guy! I owned Koch in fantasy leagues both as a rookie with Toronto in 1999 and his only season with Oakland in 2002. That was his stand-out season recording 44 SV, with 11 W and 93 K in 93 2/3 IP. In fact, Koch had 144 SV during his first 4 seasons in the show (1999-2002). In 304 IP over those seasons, Koch had a 265/127 K/BB, 275 HA, and a 3.49/1.32 ERA/WHIP. But there would be no more bounty for Billy Koch. He drifted for 2 seasons throwing 102 innings with a 5.12/1.65 and 19 SV. When Koch was released by the Blue Jays on March 17, 2005, he was so upset with the team that he said, "I'm going to make Toronto pay every cent of my salary!" At the age of 30, Koch never appeared in the majors again. From 2007-2009, Jonathan Broxton held opposing hitters to a .203 BA and a .565 OPS. But his 2010 numbers, particularly in the 2nd half, were nothing like that. Opposing hitters had a .270 BA with a .718 OPS. And his fastball lost some mileage, going from an average of 97.5 MPH in 2009 to 95.3 in 2010. And, as you can imagine, strike outs were down as well, going from 13/5 K/9 in '09 to 10.54 K/9 in '10. Broxton was 2.02/1.06 ERA/WHIP in the 1st half, which included 0 ER in April. But, Zach Duke inhabited Broxton's body in the 2nd half and he slid to a 6.77/2.03. He also had a 21/21 K/BB over that time. Whether it's conditioning, a change in mechanics, overuse, or he's hiding an injury, something was definitely wrong in the 2nd half. You'll have to wait until the spring to see if he's regained any luster on his fastball before making any decisions on Broxton. Let's give Broxton credit for 4 1/2 years of meritorious service. hey, I'll even nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize! Because that's more than most of us have in a lifetime!

January 5, 2011: Adam LaRoche gets $16-mil guaranteed over 2-yrs by the Nationals!
Getting to be that time of year again. The Hall of Fame selection. The year is just flying by! Last year, in his 13th turn on the ballot, Bert Blyleven came up 5 votes short of election. His Hall of Fame candidacy has been profiled ad nauseum on this site but to keep you up to speed, Blyleven has the 5th most strike outs (3701) all-time, he's 27th in wins (287) and he also threw 60 shut outs. Blyleven never had consecutive great seasons (like Sandy Koufax), but put together many very good seasons. The only other guy that I would say qualifies as a no-brainer is Roberto Alomar, who came up 8 votes short of immortality in 2010, his 1st year on the ballot. A few things about Alomar: the reason why voters may not have voted for him could be two-fold. The spitting incident with the umpire, John Hirschbeck, and the natural bias of some voters not to vote a guy into the Hall on their first try. Is he any better on his 2nd try? Alomar was a 12 time All-Star, a 4 time Silver Slugger and 5 times was in the top 6 in the AL MVP. Alomar also won 10 Gold Gloves, the most ever for his position. He was a lifetime .300 hitter with 2724 H, an .814 OPS, 1508 R, 210 HR, 1134 RBI, 474 SB, and 504 doubles. Also a fine performer in October. In 11 post-season series, Alomar batted .313 with an .829 OPS, 4 HR and 33 RBI. After the age of 33, Alomar was only a .262 hitter in 1277 AB and was out of baseball at the age of 36! I'm on the fence about Jack Morris (52.3% of the vote in 2010) and Barry Larkin (51.6%). I think for Morris to get in, Blyleven will have to be in already. Morris did have 254 wins and was known as a big-game pitcher. Larkin was a lifelong Red and the NL MVP of 1995. Larkin also had 12 All-Star selections, 3 Gold Gloves and 9 Silver Sluggers. He had 1329 R, 2340 H, 960 RBI, and 379 SB. Lee Smith (478 SV), Edgar Martinez, and Tim Raines (808 SB) had great careers but I don't think that I would check the box here. Others like Fred McGriff (493 HR, 1550 RBI) and Harold Baines had great numbers and longevity. I'm shocked that Baines only received 6.1% of the votes in last year's election. Baines had 2866 H with 384 HR and 1628 RBI. By any traditional measure, Rafael Palmeiro is a HOFer with over 500 HR and 3000 H. He also added 1835 RBI and 1663 R. It's just that one positive drug test that gives me pause. Another guy that I think is a HOFer but have heard the steroid talk about is Jeff Bagwell. Playing his whole career for the Astros, Bagwell was twice a 30/30 guy and hit 449 HR while driving in 1529 over his career. He had a .297 BA, 1517 R and even managed 202 SB. With both Palmeiro and Bagwell, I'd like to wait until reports come out either way. I'd rather do the right thing by waiting instead of regretting a bad decision. Both, in my mind, if clean, are no-doubt HOFers. McGwire has 583 HR but didn't have the overall numbers of some of the others and Juan Gonzalez (434 HR, 1404 RBI, .904 OPS) may have also been on the steroid trail! I'll be interested to see who, besides Blyleven and Alomar, gets in.

January 4, 2011: Tim Redding should be sitting on the dock of the bay!
Certain people should just be shot. Osama, Saddam, both George Bushes, and Adam LaRoche's agent--if such a person exists. I mean, who is LaRoche to turn down a 3 yr/$21-mil deal to play with the Orioles. Yet, from reports, he'll take a 2 yr deal to play a few miles away, in the nation's capitol. The last I heard, LaRoche is still holding out for 3 years. The one thing with Washington is that they have to overpay to attract free agents. And by a lot. See: Jayson Werth! LaRoche has said that he would be interested in playing for the Nationals. Yes, and for a multi-year deal worth $9-mil per, I would play in Hell! I'd like to take you back to January 5, 2010, if I could. On that day, LaRoche turned down a 2 yr/$17-mil deal to play with the SF Giants. Yes, the same Giants that won the 2010 World Championship. And how different Adam LaRoche's life would have been had he accepted that deal. It would have been LaRoche, and not Aubrey Huff, on national TV after the series, shirtless, no hair on his chest, holding a can of beer, and sporting a body only a mother could love! On January 14, 2010, LaRoche did sign a 1 yr/$4.5-mil deal with the D'Backs (they came in last) with an option for a 2nd year. When that option wasn't picked up, LaRoche did pocket a cool $2-mil. What is this guy thinking? I liken it to a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, someone is left standing. Teams are running out for LaRoche and the Nationals may be his last chance. If he doesn't take this deal my feeling is that he could be left standing. LaRoche has really been around the country, too, in his last 2 seasons starting in Pittsburgh, going to Boston, back to his original team, the Braves and on for a season in Arizona. And it's not like he's been all that bad either averaging 39 doubles, 26 HR, and 89 RBI the last 5 seasons. He's also accrued a 695/288 K/BB in that time with 4 SB in 11 att. But when we look back on the totality of LaRoche's career when all is said and done, what are we going to see? I may see a guy that's a little better than mediocre who has a grandiose idea of his worth. I definitely see a poor man's Adam Dunn who seems to play better in the 2nd half. And maybe a guy that just should have been more thankful for his God-given ability and accepted his limitations with a little more humility!

January 3, 2011: Shoe fly pie is a delicacy in Amish country!
I was watching the show Jeopardy the other night with my wife and the category "Ballpark Franks" came up. Apparently it was a category about baseball players named Frank. Of course, I answered all 5 questions before Alex Trebek could even read them, including Frank Howard, Frank Thomas, Frank Robinson, and, of course, the Fordham Flash, Frankie Frisch. The 5th question was the most interesting asking about the former Angel pitcher who threw in the 90's in the 1970's and in the 70's in the 1990's. And I was right there with the answer, or in this case, the question, "Who is Frank Tanana, Alex?" Of course I had to feel good about myself for getting those easy "Frank" questions and a little sense of accomplishment but the reality is, it doesn't mean squat in the overall scheme of life. It's a New Year and, hopefully, you will see a new and improved and more compassionate me! A more helpful and caring me. Then again, it's only been a couple of days so anything can happen and usually does! I'm sure, now that fantasy football has ended or is ending today, your thoughts are on, "Who will be 2011's R.A. Dickey?" There's been some talk on the site of Charlie Haeger, the knuckleballer who was signed on by the Mariners about a month ago. That transaction went way under the radar as you might expect and rightfully so. He did flash some brilliance in his first GS of the season with the Dodgers in 2010, going 6 IP, 3 ER, 3 HA, and a 12/4 K/BB. He also become a popular pick-up over the next few days but, I reasoned, these knuckleballers have no set of rules to follow and this game, when we look back long after his career is over, may be the best game of Haeger's life. His Dodger numbers over the '10 season may be a check mark in my camp as he finished with 30 IP (6 GS), an 0-4 record, an 8.40/2.07 ERA/WHIP, 36 HA, and a 30/26 K/BB. Even though I'm the new, improved and compassionate me, I still think it would be right to call him "Haeger the Horrible." He was optioned to Triple-A in June with all his belongings tied up in a kerchief on a stick and went 53 2/3 IP, a 5.53/1.62, 45 HA, and a "horrible" 41/42 K/BB. He did have a modicum of bounty with the Dodgers at the end of 2009 going 19 innings, 13 HA, 15 K's and a 3.32/1.05 ERA/WHIP. Coming into 2010 drafts, R.A. Dickey wasn't even an afterthought. Dickey has wallowed in relative obscurity since 1997 never having posted and ERA/WHIP better than 4.62/1.47 in the majors. With more velocity on his knuckleball, Dickey became the Mets' best SP in the 2nd half (2.95/1.15 ERA/WHIP). Overall, in 174 1/3 IP, Dickey had an 11-9 mark, a 2.82/1.19, 165 HA, and a 104/42 K/BB. His best year since the 7th grade. This has all the makings of a made-for TV movie starring Kevin Costner.

January 2, 2011: The lamb may lay down with the lion but he's not going to get much sleep!
It's a new year and I have to get used to writing the year 2011. Usually I'm writing checks until mid-April with the previous year attached. Hopefully, 2011 will be a different year. Just when I thought Yunesky Maya was a terrible SP, I get the news that he's been named Pitcher of the Year in the Dominican Winter League. Now what do I do? Do I move him up on the depth charts. That's the problems with guys that come from countries where you have no information on them. Sometimes they're just too good to be true! Or, they're too bad to believe! Maya was 4-2 in the Dominican with an 1.32 ERA, 41 IP, a 42/9 K/BB, and a .193 BAA. This was a far cry from the work that Maya put up during the 2010 season which started in A-Ball and then progressed to Triple-A. In 21 1/3 IP at those 2 levels, he showed a 3.38/1.31 ERA/WHIP, 18 HA, and an 18/10 K/BB. The 29 year old received 5 starts with the Nationals hurling 26 innings with a 5.88/1.58, 30 HA, and a 12/11 K/BB. Maya will be given a chance for a job in the Nationals rotation which may include stalwarts Jason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann, Livan Hernandez, and John Lannan. My advice concerning Maya is to keep an eye on his role come spring. He may have a shot to win the #4 or #5 spot in the rotation! In other news surrounding the Nationals, OF Eury Perez was named the Dominican Winter League's ROY. He was 40 for 116 (.345) with a league-leading 21 SB. In A-Ball, Perez batted .298 in 439 AB with 3 HR, 42 RBI, 88 R, 64 SB, a 74/23 K/BB and a .724 OPS. He'll be 21 in May and will be a guy to keep in the back of your mind for the 2012 season. You hear about guys with potential every year. And some guys finally live up to their billing. Others never find their way. Some, like Justin Masterson, just seem to confound every year. Of course, the question he a SP or a RP? Stats do show him to be a much more dominant pitcher for his first 25 pitches. The Indians have toyed with the idea of moving Masterson to the pen but given the dearth of quality SP's in Cleveland, the club has no choice but to keep him in the rotation for now! You decide for yourself: as a SP (54 GS) he has a 4.57/1.50, a .744 opp OPS and a 1.7 K/BB rate. As a RP, Masterson has a 3.30/1.16, a .652 opp OPS, and a 3.3 K/BB rate. He's also had some troubles vs LH batters over the past 2 seasons with a .290 BAA in '10 and a .323 BAA in '09. His career has been something only a mother can love with a 16-28 record in 397 2/3 IP, a 4.30/1.42 ERA/WHIP, 393 HA, and a 327/173 K/BB. There is some risk involved but I'm taking a chance on him again for a 3rd consecutive year. Hey, at least I have to be right one of these years.

January 1, 2011: You can't fix stupid!
Every year I peer at my television and look at the crowds gathered to watch a ball drop in Times Square. The whole time, I continue to scratch my head. No, it’s not a case of dandruff. It’s the incomprehension of what the hell we’re celebrating. One year closer to the final curtain? The passing of time we can never have back? The end of last year’s problems? That last one sounds promising, but to an eternal pessimist like myself, the devil you know is always better than the devil you don’t know. I have a complete understanding of the highs and lows of last year; next year…not so much. It isn’t just the optimist who seems misguided at best; even the guy who is looking to put one of the worst years of his life behind him and focus on the future could be dead wrong. After all, if there’s one principle that life teaches every human being before he can illegally down a jello-shot, it’s that, no matter how bad things have been, they can always get worse. The English poet A.E. Housman put it best in his poem, “Terence, This is Stupid Stuff:”  “Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure.” But hey, who am I to throw a wet blanket on the festivities? Just the voice of reality, dude. When I hear arguments that Curt Schilling is not a Hall of Famer, I have to pull out some numbers. Yes, he won "only" 216 games in his 20 year career (against 146 L). He had a 3.46/1.14 ERA/WHIP, 2998 HA, and a 3116/711 K/BB in 3261 IP. At the time of his retirement, Schilling was 15th all-time in K's. And I don't care if it was paint or blood on his sock, he was one of the premier post-season pitchers of all-time. He had an 11-2 record with a 2.23/0.97, 104 HA, and a 120/25 K/BB in 133 1/3 IP. In the 2001 World Series for the D'Backs, Schilling had a 26/2 K/BB. Overall, he sported a 2.06/0.90, 33 HA, and a 43/10 K/BB in 48 IP of World Series competition. I know, I hear that teammates had this to say about Schilling: "On every 5th day, he was a horse and on the other 4 days he was a horse's ass!" I also point to 2 of the best two season runs in recent history, both right in the heart of the steroid era. In '97-'98 with the Phillies, Schilling had 70 GS, 522 IP a 32-28 record, a 3.12/1.08 ERA/WHIP, 444 HA, and a 619/119 K/BB. If it's possible, he was even better in '01-'02 for the Diamondbacks. Also, in 70 GS, Schilling was an amazing 45-13, 3.10/1.02, 455 HA, and a remarkable 609/72 K/BB. He was a 3-time 20 game winner, a 6-time All-Star and a 3-time Cy Young runner-up. I'm a Schilling supporter and if you don't think that his numbers are good enough, consider the time that he pitched in when steroids were rampant!

December 31, 2010: Have a great New Year's and see you next year!
Haven't we all had two different forces tugging on our heart-strings? That’s the problem with a true dilemma: there are as many items on the plus side of the page as there are in the negative column. No matter how long and hard, Andy Pettitte considers his place in the Yankees’ pitching predicament, he’s still facing a situation that is as much of a win-win as it could be a lose-lose. First there’s the money: probably not a major consideration to a man who places family and faith as the major priorities of his life. Second, there’s the talent: going out on top or facing the kind of proving ground that comes as much with age as it comes with early youth in the athletic arena. Third, there’s the lack of down time with the kids; everyone knows you never get back those growing years. So should the begging and pleading on the part of the Yankees be part of the equation? Certainly the desperation appeals to vanity, but Pettitte seems capable of rising above that. But what about the fact that his team needs him? Well, he walked away from the Yankees once; maybe he can do it again, preserve a stellar reputation before it begins to tarnish, and spend that irreplaceable time with his family. Or not. If it's indeed over for Pettitte, he goes to the corral with a 240-138 (.635) record, a 3.88/1.36 ERA/WHIP, 3185 HA and a 2251/962 K/BB in 3055 1/3 IP. He was selected to 3 All-Star teams and had 5 top-10 Cy Young finishes. His cumulative post-season mark was 19-10, a 173/72 K/BB, 271 HA, and a 3.83/1.30 in 263 IP. A pretty good day's work! Joe Beimel has gone public with the fact that he has received "a few offers." He added that he is willing to be patient. Joe Beimel has been around for what, 10 years, 11 years? I've been playing fantasy baseball for 21 years now and have played in 100+ leagues. Since Beimel has been in the majors, I don't remember him being drafted in any league that I've played in. There was a rumor a number of years ago that he was going to get the closer's job somewhere, I forget where exactly, and droves of guys put in a bid. That's fantasy baseball where your $10 or $20 bid for a guy like Beimel won't come hopping back to bite you in the ass! But, in real baseball, Beimel has reinvented himself as a LH specialist and a decent one! In this climate, Beimel will probably go for close to $3-mil. MR's are like gold where everyone has to stockpile them in case there's a run on the bank. To retire 35 LH hitters the whole season! Why are teams afraid that they're not going to get a guy like Beimel? Is it the end of the world if a team doesn't ink him? If my math is correct that comes out to $85,714 and change per batter that he retires. But, does he pay the team when he doesn't retire a batter? You could be looking at a break even situation if that were the case. I would give the right of first refusal to a young LHP in your bullpen already because $85,000 per retiree is just too much of a price tag. That could house communities of people in underprivileged countries. It doesn't make sense to sign Beimel, at this point, from a business sense or a moral sense as well!

December 30, 2010: The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning baseball season since 1992!
Octavio Dotel signed with his 11th major league team yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays. I had a lot of fun trying to name the 10 teams that Dotel has already pitched for and, when I came up with the Royals, I completed my mission. Dotel has been mostly a set-up guy in his career who came up as a SP when dinosaurs roamed the earth. But, after 34 career GS, Dotel decided that the bullpen was his lot in life. His 105 SV and 1015/379 K/BB in 834 1/3 IP make you think that he made the right decision. You don't see this type of pitcher strike out over 1000 batters very often. Arthur Rhodes with 1131 and Mariano Rivera with 1051 are 2 that come to mind. But they've been around before there was dirt and water! We've been together a long time ourselves, Octavio Dotel and I. And like most long-term relationships, there have been good times and bad. In 2001, I drafted Dotel in my $360-NL for $2 and he rewarded me with 145 K's in 105 IP, with 7 W, 2 SV, and a 2.66/1.20 ERA/WHIP. And another lifetime ago, in the AL with the A's in 2004, Dotel gifted my AL-only team with 36 SV, a 122/33 K/BB and a 1.19 WHIP. Last year, Dotel amassed 20 SV with the Pirates before being dispatched to the Dodgers at the trade deadline for OF prospect Andrew Lambo and P, James McDonald. Dodger fans are still sticking pins in Ned Colletti voodoo dolls as we speak! On September 18, he was moved to the Rockies. He didn't make the Boulder area proud either as he had a 6.23/2.08 in 7 appearances. The Blue Jays appear to have cut all ties with closer Kevin Gregg so Dotel will probably get the first crack at the job. James McDonald might have made the Dodgers' need for Jon Garland a moot point but he's now the #1 man for the Pirates. Don't forget, 2010 for the Pirates was McDonald's first legit chance to be a SP. He didn't disappoint with a 3.52 ERA in 11 GS for the team. In '09 for the Dodgers, he did excel in relief with a 48/20 K/BB and a 2.72 ERA in 49 2/3 IP. But being the #1 SP for the Pittsburgh Pirates is like being the leading scorer on your high school JV basketball team as a junior! It could be a no-win situation! Throw a modest bid on the 26 year old Long Beach, California product in your NL-only. A $5 bid could turn you a $10 profit. Tomorrow I'd like to touch on the Andy Pettitte situation. Is he or isn't he? Not even his hairdresser knows for sure!

December 29, 2010: Dusty Baker is not a good pitcher's manager!
A conceptually dyslexic person once said, “Tis better to give than receive.”  This was the same person who then gave us the saying “Good Dog!” when he really meant “Good God!” after Fido let loose from both ends on the brand-new living room rug. Of course he meant that it is much better to receive than give. Just ask the kids home from college for the holidays or the wife who’s been anticipating the silver anniversary, not for sentimental reasons but for all those precious stones that can be set in silver. In fantasy baseball, to receive without giving much in return makes us feel like the woman in the IKEA commercial who is so impressed with her good buys that she yells to her husband to start the car so they can abscond before the store folks realize their “mistake.” But a good fantasy deal is also tricky. After all, if you’re really maneuvering to get something for nothing, you run the risk of transparently assuming that your opponent is an idiot. And you know what happens when you assume—you alienate a potential trader for life! In my $360-NL, a few days ago, I was offered Jon Garland ($12), Hong-Chih Kuo ($10), and Jon Lucroy ($6) for Scott Rolen ($15). I told the other owner, in a nice way, that he wanted something for nothing. After all, I reasoned, Garland and Lucroy are probably priced where they're going to go for in that league (if not more) and that Kuo doesn't have a job as of now! My opponent mentioned that he thought Garland would fetch a $20 bid and if Broxton was traded, Kuo would be a 30-SV guy. I agree on Kuo and if he becomes the closer, I made a bad decision. But, it's all about maximizing your options and minimizing your risks! Homer Bailey knows a thing or 2 about big finishes and being a risky proposition the past couple seasons. He was considered a big-time sleeper coming into the 2010 season but started the season being more asleep! From August 23, 2009 until the end of the season, Homer Bailey went 58 1/3 IP, with a 6-1 record, 53 HA, a 53/23 K/BB and a 1.70/1.30 ERA/WHIP. That did get some tongues wagging this spring! The bounty that Bailey gave us in those glorious 6 weeks didn't carry over to 2010. He couldn't get out of May without landing on the DL with shoulder inflammation. When Bailey came back in August, 2010, it was if he never left the 2009 finish. He once again went 58 1/3 IP, with a 59/19 K/BB, 55 HA, and a 3.55/1.27. Bailey had a 3-1 record in 10 GS with a 47% GB rate! Still, Bailey is a leap of faith for next season. He has proven that he can pitch in stretches. Now Bailey has to prove that he can stand the test of time. Investing in these pitching prospects is tough business. So much is expected of these guys. And, in this case, it's risky business! All this and he won't be 25 years old until May.

December 28, 2010: LHP sometimes mature later and I have no idea why!
Takashi Saito signed a one year $3.2-mil deal with the Brewers. He had 39 SV for the Dodgers in 2007 with a 1.40/0.72 ERA/WHIP, a 78/13 K/BB, and 33 HA in 64 1/3 IP. He had 81 SV in his first 3 big league seasons and a career 366/94 K/BB (5 seasons) in 299 1/3 IP with a 2.19/1.02. He's now past the golden age of 40. So, while me say that life begins at 40 (41 in February), pitching usually ends around the same time. At this age the body betrays you before the skills do! Saito has struck out 11 batters over 9 IP in his major league career and will set-up for John Axford in 2011. Third baseman, Pedro Alvarez, is one of the reasons that the Pirates feel they can have their first .500 season since 1992, or Barry Bonds last season in the Iron City. Alvarez ended the season for the Bucs 89 for 347 (.256) with 16 HR, 64 RBI, 42 R, a 119/37 K/BB and a .789 OPS. But, it was his last week of the season that was pretty special for his fantasy owners. Alvarez was 11 for 25 with 5 R, 3 HR and 8 RBI. Alvarez also maintained a .938 OPS in September. One black mark on his season, along with the K/BB ratio, was that the LH hitter batted only .228 vs LHP. Alvarez was called up by the Pirates from Triple-A after hitting .277 in 242 AB with 13 HR, 53 RBI, 42 R, a 68/32 K/BB and an .896 OPS. After 10 games for the Pirates, Alvarez was 4 for 35 (.114) with a 17/2 K/BB. There was talk about giving the 23 year old (24 in Feb) more seasoning back on the farm. Alvarez righted the ship, of sorts, and the Pirates did the smart thing by sticking with him! I really like Alvarez coming into the 2011 season. I can see him hitting in the vicinity of 27 HR with 90 RBI and a .265 BA. Two seasons ago, Jason Kipnis was just another benign OF in the Indians organization. He's now at 2B for the Tribe where he's made great strides defensively and may even get a shot at the 2B job come spring. The 24 yeaar old (in April) Kipnis split the 2010 season between A/AA hitting .307 in 518 AB with 16 HR, 74 RBI, 96 R, 9 SB, a 107/55 K/BB and an .878 OPS. He may need some Triple-A time so keep an eye on Kipnis and the Cleveland second base job come the spring, which, for now, seems like a life time away!

December 27, 2010: I love shoveling snow for fun and profit!
I’d really like to know, who was the sadist who said, “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!” Some credit Frosty the Snowman, others Santa himself, but I think it was an extreme-skier playboy-type who never worked an honest day in his life. On the day after Christmas, I’m sitting here watching the white stuff pile up, while my whole family is on high alert for heart-attack conditions. My whole family, that is, except for the able-bodied youngest son home from college, who has a high degree of confidence that good old dad will—no pun intended—weather the storm in tip-top shape without a single ache or arrhythmia. I, on the other hand, am not so sure. We won’t even get into white-knuckle conditions on the road; after all, everyone has the option of simply staying at home. But shoveling is not optional; if you don’t want to be sued by the ninety-year-old woman down the street who happened onto your property because she just got lost after putting out the garbage, you’d better keep that sidewalk clear. Because nobody wants to hear that she had one foot in the grave before the other slid out from under her in your driveway. Wind? Let it blow. Rain? Let it flow. Sun? Let it glow. But snow? Please, don’t let it snow. My oldest son is 7-0 in Bowl picking not knowing a damn thing about sports. My youngest son is running the pool and let the oldest in after 6 games. There is now wonderment if there was any cheating involved. This is just stuff you do during the dead of winter when there's no hope of it ever being warm again! Watching the snow pile up to feet, not inches, makes it seem that baseball is years away and not months. Averaging 232 IP from 2005-2008 apparently did Brandon Webb in as he's pitched only 4 innings the last 2 seasons. But what a 4 seasons it was in Arizona! Webb averaged 17 1/2 W's per season, winning the Cy Young in '06 and going 22-7 in '08. He also enjoyed a 727/246 K/BB during that bountiful time with a 61% GB rate. With the loss of Cliff Lee to the Phillies, the Rangers inked an agreement with Webb. Terms haven't been released but it could be a good low risk/low cost addition to the rotation.

December 26,2010: Fritz Peterson was the greatest Yankee wife-swapper ever!
Talk on the site has centered on Hall of Fame legitimacy for some pretty darn good hurlers. Jack Morris, Orel Hershiser, Andy Pettitte, Bert Blyleven, David Wells, Dave Stieb. Pettitte has a 240-138 record (.635) that compares to Hall of Famer, Whitey Ford (236-106, .690) Pettitte, along with Jon Smoltz, has been one of the very best pitchers in the modern play-off format. He's 13-5 in division and league series and 6-2 in deciding games. With a 2251/962 K/BB in 3055 1/3 IP, I'd like to see another year or 2 of counting stats. I'm not a big fan of the 3.88/1.36 ERA/WHIP. I'm on the fence about Pettitte. And if we put Pettitte in, what becomes of David "Boomer" Wells? He was 239-157 (.604), 4.13/1.27 and a 2201/719 K/BB. I have no problem with Jack Morris getting in the Hall. Morris' 3.90 ERA is a bit high, having spent his career in the AL and, his last 2 seasons of '93 and '94 consisted of a 5.91/1.65 and 352 HA in 294 IP which didn't help matters! I am surprised though that Hershiser was dissed by the voting crowd with a 4.4%. That's almost David Segui-like. Yes, Hershiser was a very good major league pitcher and didn't deserve the ignominy of having the floor open up from under him and swallow him up like that! Morris had 254 wins and, like Blyleven, didn't always pitch for great teams. But I do have this feeling that Morris was a bit above Hershiser. Not a bad K/BB for Hershiser of 2014/1007. A 23-8 season (1988), with 8 shut outs, a 2.26/1.05 make fine dinner table talk. 19-3, 2.03/1.03 in 1985 will open up some eyes too. Just the 50 more wins for Morris over Hershiser makes him more deserving. Bert Blyleven is the best pitcher ever born in Zeist, the Netherlands, one of those areas of the world that seems sketchy. What countries, for example, comprise the Netherlands? And just why are they in the "nether" part of the world? Aren't the nether regions someplace down THERE (and I don't mean down under). Do the kids leave out wooden shoes for Kris Kringle to fill with candy? Or are they cashing in on legalized pot? As with Native Americans, the Netherlander is fraught with stereotypes that obviously don't apply, but people still seem to hold. Is Bert Blyleven someone who fits that mold or breaks it? You know 13 more wins in a 22 year career and we wouldn't be having this conversation. He would have been enshrined, and rightfully so, a decade ago. The negatives of course are only 2 All-Stars, 4 top-10 Cy Young finishes, and one 20 win season. His 3.31/1.20 ERA/WHIP over that long career speaks volumes for his greatness, mostly done in the AL. For some reason, the court of public opinion never realized the greatness of Blyleven. Hey, all the pitchers, Wells, Pettitte, Stieb, Hershiser, Morris, listed upstairs had their own greatness but numbers speak louder, specifically for Hall enrollment. Once you're in they can't take it away from you. The tough part is getting in but we should be seeing Mr. Blyleven at the podium in the next few months at Cooperstown. 60 shut outs and 3701 K's, those are great numbers. In fact, when Blyleven retired, he had the 3rd most K's of all-time. Let's right this terrible wrong this year.

December 25, 2010: Merry Christmas and have a good and healthy holiday!
The most wonderful time of the year! No other day of the year is so full of possibilities, hope, and expectations as the day that a star appeared over Bethlehem and signaled the concept that from humble beginnings could come great things. Christmas breeds a positive outlook that can't help but infect every aspect of one's life. It certainly is a great day to be a fantasy player. With every draft in front and all mistakes behind, the new season looms large with the prospect, no, the likelihood, that this will be the year everyone stays healthy, avoids scandal, sidesteps head-case issues, and does the job that he was born to do. It might just be fantasy, but hey, it's Christmas and the stars are aligned. Matt Kemp only hit .249 this past season, down from the .297 and .290 marks of the previous 2 seasons. He also had 19 SB (with 15 CS), after seasons of 35 and 34 SB in '08 and '09! For the season, Kemp did have 82 R, 28 HR, and 89 RBI for the season in a league high 162 games. But it was a season where Kemp got called out for lack of desire and not performing up to "standards." And also being told that he didn't have the "grit" or veteranship of Scotty Podsednik! He started the season like gangbusters in his first 15 games of the season, going 20 for 60 with 19 R, 7 HR and 20 RBI. He finished the year like gangbusters, as well! In his last 5 games, Kemp was 6 for 19 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. The thing about baseball that we sometimes forget is that it's a marathon and not a sprint. And, it's the other 142 games that the Dodgers may be a little worried about! Kemp was a .237 hitter over that time, in 523 AB, with 58 R, 16 HR, and 57 RBI. He may come as a little bit of a buying opportunity in 2011. He's just too good to be satisfied with this kind of season and the new management should see him through any potholes! I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and I'll be back with some pertinent fantasy information soon.

December 24, 2010: It's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with Pedro Alvarez!
Next to "true 3 outcome hitter" in the dictionary is a picture of Russell Branyan. Rumor has it that the Padres are interested. Branyan is one guy that may think Petco is a bandbox. He's a fellow that can hit it out of any park, Petco, Safeco, Comiskey, Yellowstone, or Jurassic. A guy that you can always depend on to carry you for at least a week or 2 at a time. Unfortunately, a guy that you can also count on to go into dismal slumps. Branyan's first major league game was in 1998, but it wasn't until 2009 that Branyan received some regular playing time. And in the AL's most known pitcher's park in Seattle. For the M's, Branyan would get 431 AB and hit 31 HR with 76 RBI and a 149/58 K/BB. He didn't play after August 28 of that year because of a balky back. More of the same in 2010 when he split the season between the Indians and Mariners. Branyan, in 376 AB, had 25 HR, 57 RBI, and a 131/46 K/BB. He didn't play after September 15 because of the back issues. So, to roster Branyan is to take on risk. If you could get him for a low price, it's something you should consider because there's nothing like cheap power. For his career, in 2807 AB, Branyan has a .234 BA with 189 HR, an .820 OPS and a 1077/385 K/BB. He has a career .841 OPS vs RHP. If you do roster him please make sure that you have some guys that can absorb his BA. Back in the day, Australia was a colonial dumping ground for criminals and ne'er-do-wells who weren't quite up to snuff enough to dwell amidst British propriety and decorum. Consequently, through the generations, Australia has produced some pretty tough stock. This rough-and-tumble start to Australia as a colony might account for their love of Foster's beer, their propensity for kangaroo wrestling, and their enthusiasm for hiking in the bush. Trent Oeltjen's minor league numbers are awe-inspiring but he's yet to translate that "Down Under" largess into major league bounty. In other words, he's not going to make anyone forget Crocodile Dundee. But, I have to admit after his first 5 games in the majors, from Aug. 6-Aug 11, 2009, I had to look up if the Hall of Fame minimum was 10 years or 10 games. I picked up Oeltjen before that first game in one of my NL fantasy leagues and he rewarded my faith and trust by going 12 for 24 over those wonderful and unforgettable 5 games with 2 doubles, a triple and 3 HR. Just to show off, Oeltjen also stole 2 bases! My hands hurt from patting myself on the back. Of course, he couldn't stand prosperity. Over the rest of the month, Oeltjen was 5 for 44 with an RBI. And the rest, as they say, is history. I still think that he can be as helpful on the big club as Tony Gwynn!

December 23, 2010: Hey give a guy a break, he enjoys feet!
I'm not usually a guy that likes to give $26.5-mil over 3 years to a pitcher with ERA's of 5.06 and 4.51 the past 2 seasons. And a 4.31 ERA over the last 3 seasons. But that's exactly what the Marlins did with SP, Ricky Nolasco. It's weird because with that 4.31 he has numbers like a 1.20 WHIP and a 42-26 record. What's more amazing is that, over that time, Nolasco has a 528/119 K/BB! Only two pitchers have accomplished the following over the past 3 seasons, an 8.50 K/9 and a K/BB rate better than 4.40. Our man, Nolasco, and Dan Haren. Yes, ladies and gentleman, Ricky Nolasco is a pretty good SP. Good deal for the Marlins (and Nolasco) to lock him up through his final 2 years of arbitration and his first year of free agency. This is becoming more of a common practice in baseball. Teams locking up their up-and-coming stars through their arbitration seasons and early years of free agency. The Rockies did it on a larger scale with Troy Tulowitzki adding a 6 yr/$119-mil extension to his present deal. Jay Bruce had 15 HR, 29 RBI and a .338 BA in his last 43 games. A few weeks ago, the Reds gifted Bruce with a 6 yr/$51-mil deal by the club with a club option for $12-mil in the 7th year. He batted .281 in 509 AB over 2010 with 25 HR and an .846 OPS. Bruce is a lifetime .257 hitter with 68 HR in 1267 AB. He won't be 24 until April and the Reds felt that they could build around him! Believe me, I thought the same about Dodger minor-leaguer, Trayvon Robinson, yes, a switch hitter, as some of the other guys on the site. I like the .401 OBP and the 73 BB's. Not bad for a 10th round pick in '05. Went to the same High School (Crenshaw) as such luminaries like Darryl Strawberry, basketballer, Darwin Cook, rapper/actor/reality star/no talent, Ice Cube (or is it Vanilla Ice?), and former Met/Expo, Ellis Valentine. He had 37 SB in 2010 and 141 in his minor league career. Good guy, good athlete, willing to learn. And that's the "knock" on Robinson is that his athleticism exceeds his baseball playing ability. I remember that was said about Matt Kemp a number of seasons ago, great athlete, decent shot at a major league career. You gotta love scouts! Last year was Robinson's first full sojourn to the Double-A and his best of seasons so far. Yeah, he's learning the ropes and half a season at Triple-A may be the potion he needs before taking the CF job. I'm almost wondering if he can wrest the job in the spring moving the aforementioned Kemp to RF and Andre Ethier to LF. And, one of my bloggers mentioned something that is almost borderline genius, even for him. Taking chances produces a winner. The Giants sure took a chance on Pat (the Bat) Burrell in 2010 when it looked like he was ready for the glue factory. They gave a young kid by the name of Buster Posey a shot and we all know how that worked out. Trayvon Robinson between Kemp and Ethier. Has a ring to it! Like it was meant to be. That would take guts from the Dodgers and a great spring by Robinson. Tomorrow I really would like to talk about the greatest hitter ever out of Australia!

December 22, 2010: Trent Oeltjen is the greatest hitter ever out of Australia!
When Peter, Paul, and Mary sang, "All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go," they may have been talking about Orlando Hudson. After all, for the 4th time in 4 seasons, Hudson has to pack his luggage for greener pastures! The O-Dog also will be bringing his mat along that says "Home Sweet Home." Or should we just call this another temporary residence. And it's funny that, at the ripe old age of 33, Hudson has the "security" of a 2 year deal. Funny because he's coming off career lows with 37 RBI and a .268 BA. He does go from the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and most of them frozen) to the great Southwest of SD, where a bad day is 65 degrees and a touch overcast! After the production that David Eckstein has given the Padres offensively the last 2 seasons, Hudson will seem like Rogers Hornsby. And that's even though Hudson's own offensive numbers have been on the decline. Orlando Hudson is a great clubhouse guy, friend, neighbor. He tells a joke with the best of them. A regular Shecky Greene. And he's a winning player who will complement the other middle infield addition, Jason Bartlett as the Padres strive for good pitching and defense, which has become a staple in the NL-West. And all those intangibles are great from a real team's perspective. But we play fantasy baseball here and, from a fantasy standpoint, he doesn't do a lot of anything. Some might say that he just doesn't do much of anything at all! And, if you look at him from that angle, he doesn't go for much in your fantasy drafts. That doesn't mean he's not valuable to a real team. But, as we all know, the bottom line in fantasy is what does he do for you? And I did learn a little math lesson today: defense + a good clubhouse guy = no fantasy points. You know, I thought it wasn't like the Yankees to take a player's feelings into account. After all, the Yankees are about as sensitive and subtle as an atomic bomb! When I heard that the Yankees turned down Zack Greinke for Jesus Montero and Eduardo Nunez, I thought it kind of strange! Supposedly, the Yankees said that they were concerned with Greinke's mental state vis-a-vis pitching in the Big Apple. But, I'm thinking if that's all the Royals wanted for Greinke, a minor league C, albeit a good one, and a guy that's probably a hair better than a utility infielder, the Yankees would normally jump on that! Then they'd try to rehabilitate Greinke. And maybe only pitch him on the road. During the day! But, now I find out through friends that the Yankees were willing to overlook Greinke's anxiety issues. The Royals not only wanted Montero and Nunez, but the choice of minor league P's, Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos and a Triple-A pitcher. Banuelos will be 20 years old in March and, across 3 levels, he went 64 2/3 IP, a 2.51/1.22 ERA/WHIP, 54 HA, and an 85/25 K/BB. Those numbers included 3 GS at Double-A. Betances will be 23 in March and between A/AA had 85 1/3 IP (8-1), a 2.11/0.88, a 108/22 K/BB and 53 HA. The Yankees were right in drawing the line over that package. because of the questions involving the mental make-up of Greinke, it was for the best to not explore that package from the Yankees end. And, what if they had to take back Yuniesky Betancourt? That would be enough of a deal-breaker for me, anyway!

December 21, 2010: If I don't see you in the spring, I'll see you in the mattress!
You may not be all that familiar with Michael Pineda. But by this time next year, he could be an AL-only fantasy staple.  Pineda will be 22 in January and the 6'5" RH SP had an 11-4 record this season for the Mariners' AA/AAA teams. In 139 1/3 IP, he had a 3.36/1.11 ERA/WHIP, a 154/34 K/BB and 121 HA. His minor league career consists of a 31-14 record, a 2.49/1.08, 345 HA and a 396/93 K/BB in 404 1/3 IP. Pineda did have a 76/17 K/BB in his first foray at Triple-A (4.76 ERA in 62 1/3 IP) so another 1/2 season on that level could be recommended. He does have a mid to upper 90's fastball and a plus slider. Keep an eye on this kid in spring training as he could make the Mariner rotation out of training camp. We've been talking about RH hitting free agent OF on the site today. Scratch Austin Kearns off the list as he signed a 1 yr/$1.3-mil deal with the Indians plus incentives. My favorite Kearns story involving fantasy baseball is when I had him on my $360-NL team in 2003 and he was leading the NL in RBI's in June. I traded him and received back 3 decent guys. Two weeks later, Kearns went out for the season with an injury. It's all about timing in life! Andruw Jones was on a Hall of Fame path right through 2006. But that road became littered with potholes when his work ethic came into question. He was well on his way to 300 career hits and now will be lucky to get 2000 (he has 1840). he does have 407 HR, 1212 RBI, and a .256 BA in 7176 AB. He did have a .931 OPS vs LHP in 2010 and even belted 19 HR in 278 AB. Hopefully, he's still not on the Matt Stairs work-out regimen! Lastings Milledge is out there, too. Good player, Milledge, a toolsy guy, yes, but an underachiever. Sure that push comes from inside because the talent is going to get you to the door. For the rest, Mr. Milledge is going to need a little more intestinal fortitude before I call him a player. I traded for Milledge in my $360-NL this summer for Kosuke Fukudome and, after the first week, it looked like a great trade for me. He was named the starting RF by the Pirates on July 16. That didn't last long and Milledge was shut down in September. This "5-tool player" finished with 4 HR and 5 SB. I'm just not ready to take that "leap of faith" with him. The problem with Scott Hairston is that he just can't stay on the field. He's a muscular guy and always seems to have hamstring woes or calf and leg issues or shoulder problems. Why pay that kind of money to throw a guy out there that's always on the verge of breaking down? A .210 BA in 295 AB will give you a bad feeling. Throw in the everyday aches and pains and you have a guy that's almost undraftable, even in NL-only. Marcus Thames can mash the ball. He's had seasons of 26 HR in 348 AB (2006) and 25 HR in 316 AB (2008). But he gives OF's who pride themselves on defense a bad name. He plays the OF like Helen Keller operates heavy machinery. Thames did hit .302 vs LHP in 2010 and would be better served remaining in the AL where he has the DH at his disposal. There has to be a reason why Thames has never had more than 348 AB in a season. My feeling is that he would get exposed with regular AB's anyway, especially vs RHP!

December 20, 2010: Those who can do, those who can't don't!
The Milwaukee Brewers could have folded the tent for the coming season. They realize that Prince Fielder will be leaving after the 2011 season for greener pastures. Green like more money! Rickie Weeks will also be free after the season, although the Brewers will try to retain him. They will join Ryan Braun, Casey McGehee, and Corey Hart to give the Brew Crew a formidable offense. But it's starting to look like their SP could set them apart in the Central. The Brewers traded Alcides Escobar, whose .614 OPS was the 3rd lowest of all qualifiers, Lorenzo Cain, and 2 pitching prospects to the KC Royals for Zack Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner, and SS Yuniesky Betancourt. A rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf, Shaun Marcum, and Greinke gives the Brewers their best starting staff in years. Gallardo had a 5.77/1.53 ERA/WHIP in the 2nd half but kept up the same peripherals as the 1st half with some bad luck thrown in. Marcum was 13-8 in 195 1/3 IP, after missing the 2009 season with Tommy John surgery. He had a 3.64/1.15 and that came in the tough AL East. Randy Wolf won 13 games and gave the team 215 2/3 IP, a career high. His walks have incrementally increased over the last few seasons to 87 in 2010. It's something that he'll have to work on in 2010. Betancourt, one of the worst offensive shortstops in baseball, is a prime example of how pawns are used on the chessboard known as the trading block. He's like the ugly friend of the hottest girl in the class, who for some reason known only to the gods, gives you a shot at a date, if you can find a go-along for the ugly friend! Betancourt is one of those ball players who seals the deal by establishing some equilibrium. Betancourt has OPS's of .692, .628, and .693 the past 3 seasons. What gives Yankee fans and NY sportswriters the feeling that the team can acquire any player in a trade? Yeah, these people feel that the Yankees should go after 2010 AL Cy Young recipient, Felix Hernandez. I think this notion has been shredded a bit by the Cliff Lee dismissal of the Yankees recently. Don't forget that King Felix is locked up through 2014 and the team is building around him. Apparently, that fact doesn't hold much water to the people demanding for Hernandez. Of course the Yankees could do what the Dallas Cowboys did in the early 90's. They dealt Herschel Walker to the Vikings for 5 NFL players, 3 first round picks, 3 second round picks, and 2 other picks. Some of these picks turned out to be Emmett Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland. But why would the Yankees put that kind of package together that would have to include at least Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, and 3 or 4 of their better prospects. Not even for Hernandez, albeit the best pitcher in the AL, who's one guy and goes out there every 5th day. What I would tell Yankee fans and the sportswriters demanding for a SP, be careful what you wish for! Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about the scenario where the M's trade King Felix for a "king's" ransom and a minor league pitcher who may be ready to take over the tiara!

December 19, 2010: Dana Eveland is the LH version of Chad Gaudin!
The Phillies may have gotten lucky (again?) with the Dennys Reyes deal falling apart. It was probably an injury that set him back or the fact that he's pitched on 10 clubs in 14 years with a declining K rate! The Phillies have a LH RP on their 40-man roster named Antonio Bastardo, a 25-year old fastballer who threw 18 2/3 innings for the club in 2010. Bastardo had a 4.34/1.54 ERA/WHIP, 19 HA, and a 26/9 K/BB. At Triple-A Bastardo had 17 1/3 IP with 3 SV, a 2.08/1.04, 12 HA, and a 27/6 K/BB. The Phils may bring in another LH and the ancient Arthur Rhodes is the best one still out there. Bastardo does have a career 5.53/1.49 ERA/WHIP for the Phils but sometimes LH's mature later than RH's. I know, it makes no sense to me either but history bears it out! I have a feeling that the latent brilliance will bear out for Bastardo and, hopefully, it will be 2011. With Kerry Wood moving into a set-up role for the Cubs, there's been talk of moving 24 year old RH, Andrew Cashner, into the rotation. He wasn't as prosperous as the Cubs expected in 2010 pitching 54 1/3 innings out of the pen. He had a 4.80/1.57, 55 HA, and a 50/30 K/BB. As a SP between AA/AAA, Cashner, in 57 IP, was 6-1, 39 HA, 59/15 K/BB, and a 2.05/0.95. So, there is profit potential here for a short investment. He was drafted in the June amateur draft 4 different times starting in the 20th round by the Braves in 2005, the Rockies in the 18th round in 2006, the Cubs in the 29th round in 2007, and the Cubs, again, with the 19th pick of the 1st round in 2008. A closer in college, Cashner was turned into a SP by the Cubs and, in his 1st full season (2009), between high-A and Double-A, in 24 GS and 100 1/3 IP, he gave up 76 hits, a 75/42 K/BB and a 2.60/1.18. Keep an eye out to see if he wins a rotation spot in the spring. Chad Gaudin signed a minor league contract with the Nationals. I asked 2 guys at work what they thought about Gaudin. One said that he's a good fill-in guy who can spot start and the other said, "He's nothing to me but a familiar name." That's the thing about Gaudin, no one really knows what to make of him. Besides having the toughest last name to pronounce in baseball, Gaudin also has the worst stuff in baseball......or is it the best stuff? It's hard to tell because he can reel off a string of great games at any time. However, you pay for the whole package! And that package basically makes him undraftable in fantasy leagues. He's just too volatile, contents under pressure, slippery when wet, you know what I mean! Gaudin has a 518/308 K/BB in 661 2/3 IP, 694 HA and a 4.61/1.51 in the majors. I did pick up Gaudin in my $360-NL in June 2009. In his first GS for me, he went 7 IP, with 4 HA, 2 ER, and an 11/1 K/BB. In his 2nd GS for my team, Gaudin went 8 IP, giving up 1 hit, 0 ER, and a 9/2 K/BB. And, he received the W in both of those starts. I thought that I died and went to heaven with that pick-up and pitching his home games in SD. I was some genius. Well, you probably know the ending of this story. And it's not happy! Although over his next few GS, Gaudin didn't win a game, he was decent. That was until his last 2 GS for me when he went a combined 5 IP, a 5/4 K/BB, 9 ER, and 15 HA. I was the happiest guy in the world when he was traded to the Yankees! But sometimes you really do get what you pay for!

December 18, 2010: Not all baseball players are greedy, it just seems that way!
Before signing with the Astros for 1 yr/$3-mil, Bill Hall was rumored to be going anywhere from the darkness of Siberia to Mandalay to Cherry Hill, NJ and back again. Just on rumor alone, Hall could rack up enough frequent flier miles to put a major airline out of business. And you know what, Bill Hall is a good looking guy in a ruggedly handsome sort of way! Could be a double for the guy that plays Derek on Criminal Minds. Probably hits better than the actor, too. Hall, though, may get exposed with regular time. I'd prefer to see him as a "floater" in multiple positions. But, no, the Astros seem hell-bent on making Hall their regular 2B. He did hit 35 HR a number of seasons ago with the Brewers and a lot was expected of him. Much was always needed from him too but, deep down, he just wanted to be the good kid from Tupelo, Mississippi that he always was. Good friend and good neighbor and just all-around good guy. He's not the kind of guy that police will come knocking on his door for a murder committed 46 years before. That's not in his nature. And, I know for a fact that Hall wants to go out there and give it his all! But, please, don't expect greatness in 550 at bats from Mr. Hall. Let's promise him 300, maybe 350, just to get his feet wet. Because he's not the savior that some of us want him to be. But he's a damn sight good at what he does as long as we keep it in perspective. Don't forget that Hall has had a BA under .255 in each of the last 5 seasons! The Astros also signed one-time prospect, 1B Brian Dopirak to a minor league deal. He was a second round pick by the Cubs in the 2002 draft. He batted .277 for the Blue Jays' Triple-A team in 339 AB with 11 HR, 53 RBI, a 57/15 K/BB and a .768 OPS. He had 27 HR, 102 RBI in '09 between AA/AAA and 29 HR, 101 RBI in '08 between A/AA. As a 20 year old in A-ball in 2002, Dopirak had 39 HR and 120 RBI. As you can see, there is a history of power here and he just might get the chance to unseat Brett Wallace as the Astros' starting 1B. Of course, there's the rumor that Carlos Lee will be moving in from LF! I was very high on this man coming into the 2010 season. Sammy Gervacio is back in the only organization that he's ever known, the Astros on a minor-league deal. And, yes, I did project Gervacio, who's violent delivery makes Kevin Appier look like a Little Leaguer, as the Astros' closer last year. I would like to give Gervacio a mulligan on his 2010 season and harken back to 2009 when, in 21 IP, he had a 25/8 K/BB, 16 HA, and a 2.14/1.14 ERA/WHIP. I actually still have him on my reserve in my $360-NL for $6 and when he's named the Astros' closer coming out of spring, I'll have a great keeper on my club. I know, I also said that Pablo Sandoval would be the NL Player of the Month in September!

December 17, 2010: If I don't see you in the future, I'll see you in the pasture!
With the signing of Cliff Lee to the Phillies, I actually heard the talk of a staff with a possible four 20 game winners. 4? That's only been done twice in the whole history of baseball. In 1971, the Baltimore Orioles boasted Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, and Pat Dobson, all 20 game winners. We have to go all the way back to 1920 to find the other staff, the Chicago White Sox. But, after that season, 2 of them, Lefty Williams and Ed Cicotte were suspended for life for their involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series. They would later be known as the Black Sox and the subject of such films as "Eight Men Out" and "Field of Dreams." In fact, the last team to have even three 20 game winners was the 1973 Oakland A's when Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue, and the second best Jewish pitcher of all-time, Ken Holtzman, achieved the feat. Don't forget, all three of these instances were during the days of the 4-man staff! In the last 60 years, the Phillies have had only three 20 game winners, Steve Carlton, Chris Short and Roy Halladay. Where's 224 game winner and Hall of Famer Jim Bunning you ask? From 1964-1966, Bunning was a 19 game winner for the Phils. He had one 20 game season (1957) for the Tigers and another 19 win season for them (1962). On September 21, 1964, the Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL with just 12 games to play. What followed was one of the biggest meltdowns in history as the Phillies lost 10 in a row and finished in 2nd place, a game behind the Cards. From Sept. 1st-Oct. 4th, Bunning and Short made 19 starts for the Phillies in 33 games! What happened to Alcides Escobar? Much was expected of him coming into the 2010 season. He was high on a lot of lists as a cheap source of SB's. And isn't that all we really look for in a guy? My wife often says that the first thing she noticed about me was my footspeed. I try to tell her that it was from trying to stay one step ahead of the police! During the last 7 weeks of 2009 for the Brewers, Escobar batted .304 in 125 AB with 20 R, 11 RBI, and 4 SB. This was after a .298 BA and 42 SB in 430 AB at Triple-A. He was handed the starting SS job for the Brewers in 2010, but was quite the disappointment. Escobar hit .235 in 506 AB with 4 HR, 41 RBI, 57 R, 10 SB, a 70/36 K/BB, and a .614 OPS. That last number is almost Juan Castro-like. Escobar, who turned 24 yesterday, is presently struggling in Winter Ball with a .211 BA and a .248 OBP in Venezuela. He's the perfect kind of now under-the-radar type of guy that may go for less than he should in your NL-drafts this spring. Not many are expecting too much from him and his terrible 2010 presents a nice buying opportunity. In my $360-NL, my friend Pat has him for $12 and, as he said, "Escobar isn't going anywhere!" Tomorrow I'd like to revisit a reliever that I was very high on coming into the 2010 season and where my heart lies now!

December 16, 2010: Don't acquit just 'cause the glove doesn't fit!
Mark Prior signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees for $750,000. He pitched 1 inning at Triple-A in 2010 and 11 relief innings in Independent ball. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2006. I don't think that this was the former Ranger SP that the Yankees were hoping for! But, on a one-year deal and for the money they put out, this may not be a bad gamble. I know that other teams have kicked the tires here for naught. Back in 2003, for the Cubs, Prior was 18-6 as a 22 year old, with a 2.43/1.10 ERA/WHIP, 183 HA, and a 245/50 K/BB in 211 1/3 IP. Those are Hall of Fame numbers. The problem is, the only other time Prior was over 120 IP in the majors was in 2005 when, in 166 2/3 IP, he was 11-7, a 3.67/1.22, 143 HA, and a 188/59 K/BB. In 106 GS in the bigs, Prior has a 757/223 K/BB in 657 IP. Prior turned 30 years old in September and will be reunited with former Cub pitching coach, Larry Rothschild in NY. As part of his new contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ronny Cedeno will earn another $125,000 for winning the NL MVP. You may as well give him another million if he discovers a cure for cancer because neither one of those events is going to happen for Cedeno. He batted .256 in 468 AB with 8 HR, 38 RBI, 42 R, 12 SB, a 106/23 K/BB and a .675 OPS. Cedeno is also a .245 lifetime hitter in 1713 AB with 31 HR and 32 SB. I'll tell you, though, I like to live dangerously and I may just invest $1 on Mr. Cedeno in one of my NL-only! If you don't already know, I've been blogging on an LA Dodger site for the past couple months and have spent some of these blogs ranting on about the team! I'd like to continue in that tradition and talk about the Dodgers' signing of RP Matt Guerrier. I personally don't like the move of a 3 yr/$12-mil deal to a middle reliever who may be a tad better than mediocre. My take on this whole off-season for the Dodgers is that management wants to build a big house, even a mansion, let's say. They have all the variances in place and the plans are done. The architect has signed off on the whole job and we have an extra bit of cash laying around. We're ready to go! The only problem is to build this house, you are supplied with only match sticks! Because that's what the GM, Ned Colletti is doing. He's building his dream house with match-sticks and scotch tape! Guerrier had a 4.1 K/9 IP in the 2nd half of last year with the Twins. At the age of 32, Guerrier's K rate has dropped in each of the last 3 seasons. He does have the distinction of having exactly 1 SV in each of the last 5 seasons. And, if nothing else, we can look at that as some sort of record. But $12-mil over 3 years when no one else was offering more than 2 is an overpay for this guy. His career K average per 9 innings is 5.8. He's not the shut-down RP you want in when the games' on the line in the 7th or 8th inning. I would have given Belisario a chance to right the ship and can Blake Hawksworth be much worse? I'm starting to like the Angels deal if 3 yr/$15-mil to Scott Downs just a wee bit better now. I'm even looking at their 2 yr/$8-mil signing of Hisanori Takahashi with renewed vigor. If the Dodgers had to get a Twins RP so badly, I would have rather had them make a play for Jesse Crain. Or even Frazier Crane!

December 15, 2010: Cliff Lee is now the 2nd best LH in Philly to Michael Vick!
Contrary to what Thomas Wolfe says, it is possible to go home even when it's not really your home. Also, contrary to folklore, money doesn't always talk and people sometimes walk. Both truisms must have come as a shock to the New York Yankees. However, when one is already in triple-digit millions can we really put altruism and family values in the same sentence? I mean, after all, the Cliff Lee deal may not be what it seems on the surface. Lee agreed to a 5 yr/$120-mil deal with the Phillies and a 6th year option that can bring the total package to $135-mil. Maybe money wasn't the only thing. Other considerations went into this decision and I'm sure the biggest of which was that Lee and his wife enjoyed their few months in Philly. And, if you're married, you know that wives do play a big part in this type of life-altering decision. I may have also overrated their friendship with the Sabathias. The Yankees swung and missed with Lee who was obviously their Plan-A, B, C, and D. They had no real fall-back option! The Yankees will now have to put billboards out for long lost son, Andy Pettitte, and even do some Jewish foreplay in the process with him. You know, hours of pleading! The best free agent SP's still on the market are Millwood, Penny, Bonderman, Freddy Garcia, and Jeff Francis. That wouldn't even be a good Triple-A rotation! Of course there's Jarrod Washburn, Pedro Martinez, and Brandon Webb. Oh, wait, those guys didn't even pitch in 2010. There's also perennial injury candidates in Rich Harden and Chris Young. Of course, there's always Carl Pavano. But the Yankee management would probably rather poke its eye out with dull sticks than revisit that catastrophe! But, with the Yankees, you never know! And don't say that the Yankees haven't done something big to counter-act the Lee signing. They did ink C, Russell Martin to a deal, pending a physical. That physical will not be a matter of the doctor saying "Cough!" while holding one of his testicles. Martin is coming off a serious hip fracture sustained in August. We all know that Martin was an NL All-Star in '07-'08 but is coming off a .248 BA in 2010 in 331 AB with 5 HR, 26 RBI, 45 R, 6 SB, and a .679 OPS. That followed a down '09 when Martin hit .250 in 505 AB, 7 HR, 53 RBI, 63 R, 11 SB, and a .669 OPS. Martin turns 28 in February. If the deal goes through, it probably keeps top prospect, Jesus Montero, at Triple-A for half a season. Or, what probably will happen is the Yankees packaging Montero in a deal for a much-needed SP. At Triple-A in 2010, Montero batted .289 in 453 AB with 21 HR, 75 RBI, 66 R, a 91/46 K/BB and an .870 OPS. The important number for Montero is that he turned 21 two weeks ago! Ryan Braun signed a minor-league deal with the Angels today. No, not THAT Ryan Braun, the old KC RP who pitched for them in '06-'07. In 50 IP, Braun brings to the table a career 6.66/1.68 ERA/WHIP, 59 HA, and a 30/25 K/BB. In 57 1/3 IP at Triple-A in 2010, Braun had 18 SV, a 2.20/1.38, 45 HA and a 61/34 K/BB. He may have a chance to win a job in the Angels' bullpen but will more than likely have no fantasy value!

December 14, 2010: It's beginning to look a lot like Philly!
Clearly, someone high up in the Dodger organization inherited J. Edgar Hoover's wardrobe, including the naughty nighties. And Juan Castro must have the pictures to prove it! What else could get him a non-roster invitation to spring training? Yes, there's the old glove. But, that's the problem, the glove is old and the fielding has become suspect. But nothing can justify giving the 39 year old Castro yet another chance to prove something he doesn't have, never had, and can't possibly develop. But let's assume that there are no lacey under things that someone wants to keep under wraps. Does that mean that nice guys do get the opportunities? That earnest and humble can sometimes win the day? You wouldn't think so in the dollars and sense world of baseball, but we'll never know. Because if Juan Castro possesses those nice-guy qualities who would know? No one has ever taken their eyes off his abysmal BA and OPS to take a look. Perhaps the final answer can be found in human psychology: Juan Castro is like a car accident and the Dodgers are like the spectators on the side of the road. They just can't look away. Just for the nuts and bolts "offensive" numbers and these should be enough to make even a grown man cry are a .228 BA in 2613 AB. That includes 36 HR, 233 RBI, 251 R, a 468/148 K/BB, and a .595 OPS. That OPS is one of the lowest in the history of all of baseball for someone with so many plate appearances (2834). We're talking about the whole history of the game that goes back to even before my time! Yes, Castro has been fooling them for that long! Since the turn of the century (2000), Castro has only 202 AB in the minors (all at Triple-A). In 2010, he batted .194 in 129 AB with the Dodgers and Phillies with 13 RBI and a .470 OPS. In this case of de ja vu all over again, this will be his 4th go-round with the Dodgers. I'm still trying to wrap my head around these contracts given out to middle relievers/set-up guys. Scott Downs hurled 61 1/3 innings with 5 W, a 2.64/0.99 ERA/WHIP, 47 HA, and a 48/14 K/BB. While those are good numbers, Downs registered 0 SV's. In fact, he has only 16 SV for his career, the last 6 years spent in the North country, Toronto. I'm just saying that I think 3 yr/$15-mil is a large contract for a guy that may be part of a committee of closers with LH Takahashi and RH's Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden and Fernando Rodney. Not that I'm without affinity to Downs. After all, he was drafted #246, by me, as part of my Championship AL-only team that I assembled in March! The 23 year old Walden is an interesting guy. In 15 1/3 IP for the Angels during the last 5 weeks of the '10 season, Walden had 1 SV, a 2.35/1.30, 13 HA, and a 13/7 K/BB. He spent most of the season at Double-A (6 2/3 IP at AAA), and over both levels went 49 2/3 IP, 8 SV, 52 HA, a 41/24 K/BB, and a 3.44/1.53 ERA/WHIP. The 6'5" 240 lb. Walden still has some work to do, especially in getting his walks down. He didn't hold up as a SP, being shut down for the 2nd half of the '09 season. He does have a high-90's heater that translates well to relief work and does have a chance to be the Angels' closer of the future. Keep an eye on his role/destination come spring. A small investment in Walden could turn a tidy profit. And that's how winning fantasy teams are made!

December 13, 2010: Never hit your mother over the head with a shovel; it leaves a dull impression!
I wonder if long time Met fans were happy that the first acquisition by the club was C, Ronny Paulino, from the Marlins who still has to sit out the first 8 games of the season as part of his 50 game suspension for testing positive for PED's. Or if Philly fans, whose team has gone to the World Series twice and the NLCS once in the last 3 years, were happy with not only losing RF, Jayson Werth to the Nationals, but whose only transaction was signing LH reliever Dennys Reyes, a guy that really looks like he should be having a lawsuit with Weight Watchers! The Phillies will be Reyes' 11th team in his 14 year career. LH hitters also hit .307 vs Reyes in 2010! And, I'm not saying that the Phillies should have kept Werth. The Nats offer was $60-mil more than the final offer of the Phils. What's a guy to do? I know that the Nationals have to overpay to get clients but, please, by $60-mil? I'm glad that some of you guys noticed the perfectly symmetrical face of Jay Gibbons. Sometimes, I think that I'm the only guy in the world that notices such things. For $675,000, the Dodgers didn't make a bad signing, securing the services of Gibbons for another season. I know that you can't read anyone's mind but, I just got to thinking that when Gibbons lays his head on the pillow at night, does he realize that he may have gotten a big break here! I mean, after all, his name is in the Mitchell Report of 2007, which is available for public viewing. Gibbons was suspended for the first 15 days of the 2008 season. After receiving the suspension, Gibbons manned up and both acknowledged and apologized for his use of PED's. Gibbons performed so badly in spring training 2008 that he was cut by the Orioles, his organization for the past 9 seasons, despite being owed $12-mil for the last 2 years of his contract! The O's stated at the time that it was a baseball decision and had nothing to do with his steroid involvement. I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. He did play independent ball and in the organizations of the Brewers and Marlins in '08-'09 before signing a minor league deal with the Dodgers prior to the 2010 season. Jay Gibbons was never a big slugger but did put together a couple of credible big league seasons in the early part of the decade. His career slugging is nothing to write home about at .455. His last major league season (2007), Gibbons had a .348 SLG in 270 AB before missing the final 6 weeks of that season. He only hit 6 HR and had 28 RBI. He'll be 34 in March. So why am I even writing about the guy? Fast forward to 2010: At Triple-A Albuquerque, Gibbons hit .347 in 352 AB with 19 HR, 83 RBI, 60 R, a 30/19 K/BB, and a .969 OPS. He was named to the Triple-A All-Star team and followed that up with 5 HR and 17 RBI in 75 AB for the Dodgers. That included a .280 BA and an .820 OPS. He does have 126 HR in 2862 AB in the majors. Let's give the man with the symmetrical face a chance in the spring. After all, for the $675,000 layout, this is how championship teams are made. Not everyone can be $5-$10-mil superstars! Gibbons did have prosperity once and has also tasted adversity both on and off the field. Here's hoping for one more chance with Gibbons because it's one more chance than a lot of us get!

December 12, 2010: A midget soothsayer running from the police is really a small medium at large!
Jack Cust is a good low-cost/low-risk (1 yr/$2.5-mil) signing by the Seattle Mariners. He did hit a career high .272 in 349 AB for the A's in '10 but that came with a career low 13 HR and 52 RBI. Still, for a power-starved team like the M's, who finished last in the AL in BA (.236), R (513), HR (101), and OBP (.298), Cust could be a useful bat in the middle of the line-up. Cust did have a real good .395 OBP in 2010. Over his 4 full major league seasons, this true 3 outcome hitter was a .247 hitter in 1738 AB, with 97 HR, 281 RBI, 276 R, and a 673/377 K/BB. From 2007-2009, Cust's OBP were .412, .375, and .356. Don't forget Jack Cust in your AL-only drafts next spring. Winston Abreu just signed a minor league deal with Cust's former team, the Oakland A's. And he'll be 34 years old in April. And he has a 7.31/1.71 ERA/WHIP in 44 1/3 major league IP, with 57 HA, and a 38/19 K/BB. The last major league stop for this itinerant worker was an unimpressive 6 inning stint with the Rays and Indians in 2008 featuring a 10.50/2.33. In 2010, pitching for the Rays Triple-A team in Durham, Abreu had 55 1/3 IP with 23 SV, an 82/21 K/BB, 35 HA, and a 2.28/1.01 K/BB. Those are some pretty good numbers. He's spent most of the last 7 seasons at Triple-A with a 23-15 record in 353 2/3 IP, 59 SV, a 462/152 K/BB, 254 HA, and a 3.36/1.15 ERA/WHIP. Keep an eye on Abreu in the spring as he could muscle his way into the A's bullpen. My rule of thumb is that if I don't know much about a player or there is some mystery surrounding that player, the reality rarely matches the intrigue. But I'll say this: that I am a bit intrigued by a Cuban defector by the name of Leslie Anderson, who signed a 4 yr/$3.75-mil deal with the Rays in March, 2010. He'll turn 29 (supposedly) this March and hit .302 across 3 levels in the minors in 387 AB. Not much of a power hitter for a 1B, Anderson hit 11 HR, 49 RBI, 51 R, a 54/27 K/BB and an .801 OPS. He did hit .328 at Triple-A in 122 AB with a .777 OPS. The Rays do have openings at OF and 1B so Anderson will be given a chance. Leslie Anderson is not to be mistaken with "the once and future first baseman" for the Boston Red Sox, Lars Anderson. The addition of Adrian Gonzalez has made this Anderson about as useless as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest! The 23 year old Anderson did spend some time with the Bosox in '10 and was 7 for 35 (.200) with 4 R, 4 RBI, and an 8/7 K/BB. Anderson did have a 1.085 OPS at Double-A in 62 AB when he was promoted to Triple-A. In 409 AB there, he hit .262 with 10 HR, 53 RBI, 49 R, a 109/44 K/BB and a .768 OPS. This was Anderson's first go-round at Triple-A. He will be better served in another organization unless the Red Sox keep him around as a back-up at 1B and the OF. The problem for Anderson is that Gonzalez, if he's fully healthy after shoulder surgery, rarely misses a game. He's played at least 156 games in his last 5 seasons with SD!

December 11, 2010: Everybody is en-"titled" to a day off!
Cliff Lee has to make a choice between money and lifestyle because there's no correlation between Arkansas and New York. Presumably, because of the family trauma, quality of life is important to him. Cliff Lee can live anywhere he wants, but it seems like he and his wife have clearly settled for the Arkansas lifestyle. So far! But, then again, how much money is enough when your son has been battling leukemia? Luckily, he's now in remission. Does Lee want to uproot his family and move them to NY? There's so many questions that can be asked about this situation. Do we really know what Lee is thinking right now? I, personally, don't know much about the guy. I do know that he takes the ball every 5th day and is more than top-notch come post-season time. But, do we really know Cliff Lee? And I have a feeling that we're going to find out the answer to one of the biggest questions since "Who shot J.R?" shortly as Lee must decide between the Rangers and the Yankees. You do know one thing, the Yankees would rather give out a 4 yr/$48-mil contract to Jeff Suppan or give a 3 yr/$36-mil deal to Oliver Perez than give one buck to Carl Pavano, the 2nd best pitcher on the market right now. The club might even give a 7 yr/$126-mil deal to Barry Zito. And, unfortunately, all of these guys would be the #3 SP on the Yankees' staff as we sit here right now! The Yankees have stuck their toes in the shark-infested waters of Pavano and only have 2 toes to show for it! I'm also saying that the emotional price for Greinke in NY may be too high. The Yankees need Cliff Lee more than ever and won't be outbid. Especially after the hated Red Sox added LH hitters Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to their line-up. That doesn't mean that he's going to be fitted for pinstripes. He could still decide to take the Rangers money and be very happy in the Lone Star State. People will say that he's greedy but if he can get the money and teams are willing to pay him, what should he do? The old saying is that you have to make hay while the sun shines! I guess it's the whole process that frustrates people where the rich, in this case the Yankees, can buy anything they want. And, will it all come down to money? There's more money in NY but it's taxed at a higher rate. Does the Player's Association lean on Lee to take the bigger offer? To me, the bigger offer doesn't necessarily mean more money! Do you also think that Commissioner Selig is secretly rooting for the Rangers? Because, after all, the Yankees and the Red Sox have enough money to start their own division and let everyone else play to see who will meet them in the playoffs! The biggest question could be, having said all this, is Cliff Lee the magic elixir to success? His regular season numbers since the start of 2008 are 667 1/3 IP, a 48-25 record, a 2.98/1.12 ERA/WHIP, 654 HA, and a 536/95 K/BB. He also has 93 GS, 65 QS, 17 CG, and 5 SH.O. His post-season numbers are stuff of legend: 7-2 record, a 2.13/0.82, 54 HA, and an 80/8 K/BB in 76 IP. When you read this, we may already have a resolution. But, gun to my head, I say that the Yankees get him. And, if they do, think ahead to 2017 when the Yankees will be paying a combined $55-mil to a 42 year old A-Rod and a 39 year old Lee. That's the way the Yankees do business and, like it or not, they'll probably have a few more pennants under their belt by then!

December 10, 2010: Marriage isn't a's a sentence!
This is a great country when someone with a .283 OBP can get a 2 yr/$7-mil contract. Yes, Miguel Olivo signed that deal with the Seattle Mariners. If you look at the overall picture of Olivo's 2010 season, it would seem like a success. After all, at the All-Star break, Olivo was hitting .325 with 11 HR and 42 RBI for the Rockies and was the 2nd most valuable catcher in the NL to Brian McCann. After the break, Olivo fell of a cliff, hitting .193 with 3 HR and 16 RBI. He ended up at .269 with 14 HR, 58 RBI, and a .764 OPS. And, don't forget the career 800/125 K/BB. I hear that the Mariners are going to throw a party for Olivo on the occasion of his 150th career walk. The problem is that they only signed him for 2 years. Let's hope there's an option! Speaking of guys that aren't prone to take the walk, Jeff Francoeur signed a 1 yr/$2.5-mil deal with the Royals. There's also a $3-mil mutual option in place. I wouldn't call Francoeur's season of 2010 a rousing success as he batted .249 with 13 HR, 65 RBI, and a .683 OPS. In fact, since the start of the 2008 season, Francoeur has a .690 OPS. He doesn't turn 27 until January but time has a way of turning into the enemy if you're not careful. Sometimes, you have to re-tool your whole hitting approach to keep up with the "times." Frenchy currently holds a career 603/168 K/BB but did have two 100 RBI seasons a lifetime ago for Atlanta in 2006 and 2007! I did find out that Pittsburgh's deal with SP, Scott Olsen, was for $500,000 with a chance to make another $3-mil in incentives. The Bucs have a team option in 2012 for $4-mil. Please, here's hoping that the Pirates rip up that option before spring training. Of 2011! I haven't always agreed with every move the Mets have made the last 6 seasons. Yes, the R.A. Dickey signing last season and holding on to Angel Pagan were things of beauty. And, of course, my connection to the Mets is that I graduated from the same High School as asst. GM, John Ricco (I'm a bit older) and even gave him the nickname "Spider." That was named after the boxer in the first Rocky movie when Burgess Meredith spouted, "Spider Rico's a bum!" And, I was the guy standing out on your local street corner calling for Minaya's job after that 3 yr/$36-mil deal to Oliver Perez. That's all past history and it's a new regime and a new rebuilding plan. But I want you to remember this day, this paragraph, this next sentence as a life-changing moment! The Mets, with the 11th pick of the Rule-5 draft took 2B/3B Brad Emaus from the Blue Jays. And, if you've ever read this site, you know that I've been enamored with this guy since he graduated 6th grade! I actually started noticing Emaus toward the end of '07. By 2008, he was ripping with a .302 BA in 473 AB, 12 HR, 71 RBI, 87 R, 12 SB, a 56/60 K/BB and an .843 OPS. he regressed a bit at Double-A in 2009 but put himself back on the map with a strong 2010. Between AA/AAA, Emaus batted .290 in 445 AB with 15 HR, 75 RBI, 79 R, 13 SB, a 69/81 K/BB and an .874 OPS. He was an 11th round pick by the Jays in 2007. With the Mets 2B situation in flux, Emaus has a chance to wrest that job from Luis Castillo and/or Daniel Murphy. I just want you to remember the name, Dan Uggla! Because when he was a Rule-5 pick by the Marlins, I do remember you guys saying, "Who the #@*&! is that?"

December 9, 2010: She makes a proper cup of coffee in a copper coffee pot!
I always love the "best shape of my life" statements by players looking for a contract this time of year. Reports are that Bartolo Colon has lost 40 pounds and is ready to return to the majors. The 40 pound dropping of weight by Colon, to me, is kind of like dropping a deck chair off the Titanic. I shouldn't talk as I've had problems with weight (and especially height) as well. The Pirates (of course) have expressed interest but he hasn't pitched in the majors since 12 GS for the White Sox in 2009. He had 62 1/3 IP for the Pale Hose with a 4.19/1.45 ERA/WHIP, 69 HA, and a 38/21 K/BB and will be 38 years old in May. In fact, from 2006-2009, Colon made just 47 GS in the majors. He did win 135 games from 1998-2005 including two 20-win seasons ('02, '05) and an AL Cy Young trophy in '05 when he was 21-8, a 157/43 K/BB, 215 HA, and a 3.48/1.16 in 222 2/3 IP. He is currently 3-0 with an 0.91 ERA in 5 GS in the Dominican Winter League and should get a spring training invite. I have been on the site saying that the worst signing this off-season has been the 1 yr/$4.25-mil bestowed upon Zach Duke by the Arizona Diamondbacks. I can never forgive them for that, or forget, for that matter, but the team did take a small step toward credibility with the signing of J.J. Putz to a 2 yr/$10-mil deal with a 3rd year option. Putz got fewer years and less money than Joaquin Benoit received from the Tigers to set up Jose Valverde. Putz was 7-5 in 2010 with 3 SV in 54 IP, a 2.83/1.04 ERA/WHIP, 41 HA, and a 65/15 K/BB. Don't forget, Putz was a lights-out closer for the Mariners in '06-'07 with a 10-2 record, 76 SV, a 186/26 K/BB, 96 HA, and a 1.86/0.81 in 150 IP. Those are Hall of Fame numbers, my friends. Until the '10 season, he ran into a few land mines, career and health wise, and even spent some time last season on the DL with a left knee injury. He's back to full health and should have an inside track on the D'Backs' closer job. Juan Gutierrez had 15 SV with a 5.08 ERA and 13 HRA in 56 2/3 IP for the club in '10. It looks like active career minor league HR king, Mike Hessman is taking his show on the road. it's reported that he will sign a deal with the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese majors. He does have 219 HR at the Triple-A level and 329 total. His overall minor league stats in 1621 games includes a .231 BA in 5854 AB, 842 R, 329 HR, 952 RBI, an 1885/612 K/BB and a .773 OPS. Hessman will be 33 in March and has accrued only 223 AB in the majors with 14 HR, 33 RBI, a 79/21 K/BB, .694 OPS and a .188 BA. For the Tigers in '07-'08, Hessman was 20 for 78 (.256) with 13 R, 9 HR, 19 RBI, and a .958 OPS. He was released by the Mets after the '10 season batting .127 in 55 AB. I think there would have been a certain notoriety in getting close to 500 HR in the minors (he needs 171) which may actually open more doors for him than a few seasons in the East. That's being selfish, of course. Hessman should just be happy and, if playing in Japan where he may not know the language or culture, makes him feel better, than I'm happy for him. And, of course, I'm sure that the money he's being offered is more than he's ever seen stateside!

December 8, 2010: Scarlet Begonias is the best song ever by the Grateful Dead!
You just never know what to expect at the Winter Meetings One minute you hear that the Washington Nationals will make a 7 year/$125-mil offer to free agent SP, Cliff Lee, and the next minute, the Brewers and the Dodgers are working on a trade that would send Prince Fielder west for James Loney and Jon Broxton. I guess you just have to take those news bite with a grain of salt. Or in this case, a pound of salt. You may even see a team like the Rockies pay a utility player like Ty Wigginton, $7.5-mil over 2 years with an option for a 3rd. That may even be a good deal as he's a RH hitter who can play all over the field and is eligible in your fantasy league at 1B, 2B, and 3B. As you know, both Rockie corner men, Ian Stewart and Todd Helton are LH hitters. Plus Helton hasn't been the picture of health the last couple seasons! I like the deal that the Dodgers made with pitcher, Vicente Padilla, a simple 1 year/$2-mil. Over the course of the 2010 season, Padilla was OK, but there was an 8 start stretch in the middle that was special. From June 25-August 4, Padilla went 4-2 in 8 GS (that was due to lack of run support), 54 IP, 30 HA, a 1.33/0.78 ERA/WHIP, and a 48/12 K/BB. Of course, Padilla couldn't stand prosperity and was hurt down the stretch. He was Walter Johnson for those 8 wonderful starts and Arte Johnson the rest of the season! Kevin Correia inked a 2 year deal with the Pirates for a cool $8-mil. He was 10-10 with a 5.40/1.49, 152 HA, and a 115/64 K/BB in 145 IP over 26 GS. Correia had a tough season as he had to deal with the death of his younger brother back in May. He was even stricken form the rotation down the stretch and banished to the bullpen as the Padres were trying to get back to the post-season. His first year in SD was a bit more fruitful as he went 198 IP, went 12-11 with a ERA/WHIP, 194 HA, and a 142/64 K/BB in 33 GS. Correia did post a 5.36 ERA at Petco in 2010 and is now going to the woeful Pirates which gives me pause! The Pirates didn't stop there, signing the enigmatic Scott Olsen to a 1-yr deal. I don't know the terms but, if it's for more than a million, you will here from me. His 2 seasons in the nation's capitol should be all you need to know. In 26 GS and 143 2/3 IP, Olsen went 6-12 with a 5.76/1.59, 176 HA, and a 95/52 K/BB. Please, not even for a buck at your fantasy draft. I always bring up this story when talking about Olsen. At my $360-NL draft in 2009, I bought up the name Scott Olsen in the first round of the draft for $1. A bidding war ensued between the 2 weakest owners in the league, culminating in an $18 buy. It's a dangerous thing that I did because you don't want to be stuck with a guy like Olsen, even for a buck! That's why it's always good to know the other owners, and what their trends are, in your fantasy leagues. In 2006, for Florida, in 180 2/3 IP Olsen was 12-10, with a 4.04/1.30, 160 HA, and a 166/75 K/BB, He hasn't found fantasy nirvana since. Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about, what I think, is a real good signing at these meetings.

December 7, 2010: It's so cold that I wouldn't send a night out on a dog like this!
First day of the Winter Meetings and a lot of action. One move that didn't get a lot of ink but, to me, could have fantasy ramifications for both sides involved the Milwaukee Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays. Shawn Marcum, who, along with Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and Brandon Morrow gave the Blue Jays one of the best young staffs in baseball, was traded to the Beer Capitol of the country for prospect Brett Lawrie. Marcum, who missed the entire '09 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was better than expected in 2010. In 31 GS and 195 1/3 IP, Marcum was 13-8 with a 3.64/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 181 HA, and a 165/43 K/BB. Pre-surgery ('07-'08), Marcum wasn't bad either going 21-13 for the Blue Jays with a 3.77/1.21, a 245/99 K/BB and 275 HA in 310 1/3 IP over 63 games (50 GS). Maybe the Jays are in the hunt for Greinke and felt they could trade the solid SP for a blue chip prospect like Lawrie, who'll be 21 years old in January. Lawrie, a Canadian, heads back to his home country and the great indoors. Here's hoping that he likes Canadian bacon. My wife had me eating pizza with Canadian bacon and pineapple a number of years ago but that novelty wore off after a few months, like all good things do! Lawrie, on the other hand is no novelty as he was the 2nd youngest player in the Double-A Southern League in 2010. All he did at that level was bat .285 in 554 AB with 8 HR, 63 RBI, 90 R, 30 SB, 35 doubles, 16 triples, a 118/47 K/BB and a .795 OPS. I'd like to see him work on the number of K's and try to walk more but that seems to be a problem with a lot of young players. Looks like a good trade for both teams. The Blue Jays could have had Alcides Escobar or Mat Gamel instead of Lawrie but, I have a feeling that they made the right decision with this kid! The Baltimore Orioles needed a RH bat and went out and got Mark Reynolds, who just turned 27 in August, from the D'Backs for 2 RP with upside. In 2010, Reynolds became the first player in baseball history with as many AB's (498) to have a higher number of K's (211) than BA (.198). Reynolds is a bit of a mixed bag who should flourish in the more hitting-oriented AL. He does have a 638/223 K/BB rate from 2008-2010, but, in the same time, is the #6 HR hitter in the NL with 104. Reynolds went from a .260 BA, 44 HR, 24 SB, and an .892 OPS in '09 to a .198 BA, 32 HR, 7 SB, and a .753 OPS in '10. I think that the D'Backs did the right thing to trade Reynolds before he got too expensive and they did get back 2 intriguing RP's in David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio. Hernandez was 8-8 with a 4.31/1.44, 72 HA, and a 72/42 K/BB in 79 1/3 IP for the O's in 2010. It's his Triple-A numbers from '09 that jump off the page. Hernandez had an 83/19 K/BB, a 3.23/1.03, and 44 HA in 61 1/3 IP. Hernandez was even named the closer for a time in Baltimore but only managed 2 SV. Mickolio has the stuff to succeed in the back of the D'Back bullpen, it's just that he's never been gifted with the best luck health-wise. In 25 major league IP over the past 3 seasons, Mickolio has a 26/14 K/BB and a 4.32/1.52 ERA/WHIP. His numbers at Triple-A this season were also something that only a mother could love! In 35 1/3 IP, Mickolio had a 6.37/1.73 with 44 HA and a 48/17 K/BB. He did have an 18/2 K/BB and an 0.75 ERA over 12 IP in the Arizona Fall League. We should know in early June who got the better of this trade as the D'Backs had one of the worst bullpens in baseball in 2010. Tomorrow we'll follow some more Winter Meetings activity!

December 6, 2010: Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son!
Is it a trade or isn't it a trade? The Red Sox and Padres struck up a deal this week involving 1B, Adrian Gonzalez, for 3 prospects and a player to be named later. When the Red Sox couldn't reach an extension with Gonzalez by the deadline, there were reports that the deal was dead and Gonzalez was still property of SD. Or was he? It's like the famous 1970's Clairol commercial when the announcer asks, "Does she or doesn't she?" Then he answers his own question by stating, "Only her hairdresser knows for sure!" Some reports have the deal still hanging on by a thread but I guess we won't really know until the dust settles. With a line-up that included the likes of David Eckstein, Chris Denorfia, Everth Cabrera, Tony Gwynn, Jerry Hairston, Jr., Chase Headley, Yorvit Torrealba, Nick Hundley, Scott Hairston and later Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick, it's a wonder that Adrian Gonzalez ever saw a pitch near the plate much less coming within the last day of the season of going to the post-season. It all seems unbelievable to me that this guy, at Petco Park, no less, can go 31 HR, 101 RBI, 87 R, 93 BB, a .297 BA, and a .904 OPS. If he ends up at Fenway Park, imagine the numbers that he could put up surrounded by that park and by guys that can hit the ball! In fact, Gonzalez has averaged 34 HR, 105 RBI and 88 BB in his last 4 seasons at SD. For his career, he has an .808 OPS at home as opposed to a .973 OPS on the road! In 321 games at home, Gonzalez has 47 HR, 163 RBI, 156 R, and a .260 BA. On the other hand, his road numbers are 90 HR, 256 RBI, 225 R, a .306 BA in 324 games. Don't forget that A-Gon won't start swinging a bat until March because of his surgically repaired right shoulder! If the Red Sox decide to hold on to him, they may wait before committing a big contract to him. I read that he was looking for an 8-year deal from the Red Sox and that the club wouldn't budge past 6. My feeling is that, if that report is true, Gonzalez will have a little trouble signing a deal! He could look for a contract similar to the 6 yr/$123-mil that Ryan Howard signed a number of years ago. Gonzalez won't be 29 years old until May. Stay tuned! The Jayson Werth deal with the Nationals is a 7 yr/$126-mil, tied for the 3rd highest deal for an OF ever (with Vernon Wells) behind only the $160-mil given to Manny Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano's $136-mil. Carl Crawford should be licking his chops right about now. Unfortunately for the Nationals, it's the only way that they can get a high profile free agent to come to the nation's capitol. Overpay! In his 3 full years with the Phillies, Werth has averaged: .279, 29 HR, 84 RBI, 92 R, 18 SB, and a 141/77 K/BB. The Phillies, in those 3 seasons, have 3 playoff appearances, 2 World Series, and 1 World Championship! He'll be 32 in May and 38 by the time the contract is over. I think that the Nats will regret this deal about 4 months into the 4th year, or when there's about $59-mil left!

December 5, 2010: Cats are really autistic dogs!
Some achieve fame for their accomplishments, others for their failures. Take Susan Lucci, possibly the most famous soap opera star to ever flub a line. Lucci took a lifetime to win an Emmy, a fact that became a running joke in the entertainment industry. Sally Kellerman played Hot Lips in the movie, M*A*S*H*, but turned down the TV role. We all know that the Korean War lasted another 11 seasons on the small screen. Some are famous for both. Like Bobby Murcer who was supposed to be the next Mickey Mantle. He failed in that quest but did achieve fame as an all-around good egg. Everybody loved Bobby Murcer. Not so fortunate was the case of Steve Chilcott, the 1st overall pick buy the Mets in the 1966 amateur draft (Reggie Jackson was drafted 2nd by the K.C. Athletics). Chilcott, a catcher, played 6 seasons in the minors for the Mets and the Yankees, never reaching the majors and playing just 17 games in Triple-A. He was a .248 hitter over 983 AB. He did hit 17 HR in Class-A in 1971 with a .265 BA in 291 AB, 59 R, 68 RBI, a 95/48 K/BB, and an .863 OPS. Injuries hastened his retirement at the age of 23 after the 1972 season. In the first amateur draft, 1965, the Mets took LHP, Les Rohr, as the #2 overall pick (behind Rick Monday). As a 21 year old in 1967, Rohr was 2-1 with a 2.12/1.29 ERA/WHIP, 13 HA, and a 15/9 K/BB in 17 IP for the Mets. But, Rohr pulled a tendon in his pitching arm early the next season and would pitch only 3 more games in the majors. He was out of baseball at the age of 24. But, like Tinker to Evers to Chance, the saddest story ever told could be the one of Brien Taylor, the first overall pick by the Yankees in 1991, a quarter century after Chilcott. Scott Boras called Taylor the greatest high school pitcher that he had ever seen in his life. In fact, in Taylor's senior year, he had a 213/28 K/BB in 88 IP and overall in his high school career, he was 29-6, a 1.25 ERA and 476 K's in 239 IP. Baseball America named Taylor the #2 prospect in baseball (behind Chipper Jones) before he had even thrown a pitch as a professional! He made his debut at Class-A in 1992 going 6-8, a 2.57 ERA, 187 K's and 121 HA in 161 IP. The kid was on his way! As a 21 year old at Double-A in 1993, Taylor was 13-7 with a 3.48/1.41 ERA/WHIP, a 150/102 K/BB and 127 HA in 163 IP. He did regress a bit but was at a young age for his level. Life, as Taylor knew it, ended for him on December 18, 1993, he suffered a dislocated left shoulder and torn labrum while defending his brother in a fight. Renowned surgeon, Dr. Frank Jobe, called the injury one of the worst he had ever seen but that he would be able to pitch again. He tried coming back in 1995 but, with the loss of 8 MPH on his fastball and not being able to throw his curve for strikes, Taylor was never the same again! For the next 4 seasons, mostly in Class-A ball, Taylor managed 41 games (28 GS), 108 2/3 P, 107 HA, an 86/175 K/BB, and a 10.85/2.60 ERA/WHIP. He tried a comeback in 2000 in the Cleveland system but gave up 11 R and 9 BB in 2 2/3 IP. It was over for the kid who, and probably a million times over, wished he had that December night in 1993 to do over again.

December 4, 2010: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!
I just read something that made me sick. That the Arizona D'Backs signed Zach Duke to a one year deal for $4.25 million big ones! I guess that he can thank God and his parents that he's a LHP. This is by far, to me, the worst deal of the off-season, and makes me want to apologize to the Marlin organization. This deal smacks of the Astros picking up the $3-mil option on Brian Moehler coming into the '10 season. That deal also had me wanting to throw up in my mouth! And it's not just the 8-15 record and 5.72/1.65 ERA/WHIP, 212 HA, and a 96/51 K/BB in 159 IP in 2010. It's the total body of work. Duke has given up 1168 hits in 964 1/3 career IP with an accompanying 1.48 career WHIP. My over/under when the D'Backs will regret this deal is May 1. Don't forget that Duke made the All-Star team in 2009 which goes to my argument that maybe not all teams should have a representative in the Mid-Summer classic. I'm not quite done pulling my hair out on bad contracts for the day. Originally, it was reported that the deal for Hisanori Takahashi and the Angels was 2 years and $5.5-mil. I wasn't a big fan of the deal but I could live with it. Then, I find out it was for $8-mil over 2 years! You can knock me over with a feather! Takahashi pitched well for the Mets in 2010 in a variety of roles, going 10-6 with 8 SV in 122 IP (including 12 GS) a 3.61/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 116 HA, and a 114/43 K/BB. For a guy that will pitch primarily in long relief and will be 36 years old in April, that's a lot of money to commit. I do like the Carlos Villanueva trade from the Blue Jays end. Villanueva travelled a little to the North country from Milwaukee for the famous player to be named later. Like Takahashi, Villanueva can fill a variety of roles. In 52 2/3 IP, he went 2-0 with 1 SV, a 4.61/1/33, 48 HA, and a 67/22 K/BB. He has a career 381/151 K/BB in 425 IP with a 4.34/1.31 ERA/WHIP and 406 HA. I would like to see the Blue Jays leave Villanueva in one role, even as a SP, and just let him go. I know that variety is the spice of life, but Villanueva's career has had more ups and downs than a victim of food poisoning! You have to like Aaron Harang now that he's in SD pending a physical. Harang's peripherals have been steady even though his overall stats have been in decline. Harang was 6-7 in 111 2/3 IP for the Reds in 2010, with a 5.32/1.59 ERA/WHIP, 139 HA, and an 82/38 K/BB. In '06-'07, Harang averaged a 217/54 K/BB and a 3.75/1.21 while winning 32 games. In '08-'09, Harang was 12-31 with a 295/93 K/BB, 391 HA, and a 4.52/1.40 in 346 2/3 IP. This SD native will have his flyball tendencies neutralized in Petco Park and makes a good sleeper in NL-only!

December 3, 2010: As the ancient Greeks said, count no man lucky until he's dead!
You know it's been a tough off-season for your team so far when your best contract is the minor league contract given to Ruben Gotay. But, the Florida Marlins have had an off-season from Hell, what with trading Dan Uggla for Infante and Mike Dunn and signing John Buck to a 3 year, $18-mil deal. The one year deal given to Javy Vazquez qualifies as the second best move this off-season. Gotay has played in the majors with the Royals, Mets and Braves, but has spent the majority of his career in the minors. At Triple-A in 2010, Gotay was 135 for 473 (.285) with 13 HR, 70 RBI, 84 R, a 116/95 K/BB, and an .846 OPS. He hasn't played in the majors since a 102 AB stint with the Braves in 2008 when he hit .235. Overall the 27 year old Gotay (he'll be 28 on Christmas) is a .255 hitter in 726 AB with 12 HR, 77 RBI, a 161/60 K/BB, and a .685 OPS. Maybe if the Marlins realize that Infante is better suited for a utility role instead of as a starting 2B, Gotay will get a shot. But, if truth be told, Ruben Gotay is also better suited for a utility role. Unless something really clicks during the spring! I just read something that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Charlie Morton will get a crack at the Pirate rotation in 2011. Don't forget that the Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992 or Barry Bonds' last season there. For 2010, Morton was 2-12 with a 7.57/1.73 ERA/WHIP, 112 HA, and a 59/26 K/BB in 79 2/3 IP. He did have 9 K's in 6 IP and 4 HA in his last GS on October 2. Morton also had a 3.00 ERA in the Winter Dominican League with a 14/2 K/BB in 15 IP. His minor league numbers were something that only a mother could love. In 80 IP at Triple-A, Morton had a 3.83/1.41, 83 HA, a 53/30 K/BB, and a 4-4 record in 14 GS. In my $360-NL this past season, in a moment of weakness, I called out to Morton to try to right my fantasy ship. In the requisite 15 day that I was required to roster him, Morton rewarded my generosity with 8 IP, 7 ER, 14 HA, a 5/6 K/BB and a 7.88/2.50 ERA/WHIP. Sometimes when you try to catch lightning in a bottle, you get struck by the same lightning! I remember last winter being very upset by the A's signing of Ben Sheets to a one year $10-mil deal. I mean, yes, in the middle part of the decade, he was a top-5 pitcher in baseball. But the fact was that his medical report was a longer read than War and Peace! And he hadn't pitched in the majors since 2008. The Oakland A's doled out a 1/2 million bucks for each one of Sheets' 20 GS in 2010! Sheets managed to remain upright for 119 1/3 IP (4-9), with a 4.53/1.39, 123 HA, and an 84/43 K/BB. But before we go for the day, I would like to talk about the good times with Sheets, In 2004, for Milwaukee, Sheets had a 2.70/0.98 ERA/WHIP in 237 IP, with 210 HA, and a 264/32 K/BB. That's Roy Halladay like! From 2005-2008, Sheets made only 94 starts. He did have a great 521/120 K/BB in 602 1/3 IP during that time including an incredible 2006 season when his K/BB was 116/11 in 106 IP. That's Hall of Fame like! It's something to remember for both real and fantasy teams alike that these pitchers with extensive injury histories on the wrong side of 30 don't suddenly become healthy. Ask Erik Bedard. Ask Brandon Webb. And ask Chris Young. And I'm not saying that they can't come back and pitch meaningful games. It's the meaningful seasons that I'm talking about!

December 2, 2010: A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into 9 innings!
I'm still reeling from my oration to Dodger nation imploring them to talk to Bengie Molina about a one year deal to be their catcher in 2011. I feel like a pariah as I've alienated myself from 2 web sites! My house is getting egged as we speak. Just, thank God that the eggs are scrambled! Molina can still handle the glove, is a great clubhouse guy, and played for not one, but two league championship teams last season. And Lincecum and Cain give him ringing endorsements on the successes they've had in the majors. But, these Dodger fans like their organizational guys like Russell Martin and are not taking too kindly to the Juan Uribe signing. I might not be too thrilled with that signing, either, come 2012. Getting back to Molina, he's a little sweet and savory; he's slow as molasses yet he's the salt of the earth. He's slow afoot, but has cat-like reflexes behind the dish. I just think for a cheap one season of Molina is better than 2 or 3 years of A.J. Pierzynski. Of course, that other OBA champ, Miguel Olivo is also available. And while he has more foot speed than Molina, I know some octogenarians that can make that same claim! After Juan Uribe signed a 3 year deal with the Dodgers, the Giants didn't let any grass grow under their feet as they signed Miguel Tejada to a one year/$6.5-mil deal. He's been remarkably consistent over his long career, having played in at least 156 games in every season but 2007 when he played in 133 due to injuries. And, if you like numbers, check this out. In his last 12 seasons, Tejada has at least 13 HR, 66 RBI, and 71 R. Only 2 other players, Alex Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu can make that claim! I like the one year deal from the Giants' end. While he's not the MVP caliber player that he was at the turn of the century, he still makes good contact. The Giants have to hope that he can at least attain his career .339 OBP in 2011. One proviso with Tejada is that he did lose 44 points of BA from 2009 to 2010 (.313-.269) and 15 RBI (86-71). He's a .287 career hitter in 7956 AB with 300 HR and 1256 RBI. I have Tejada for $9 in my $260-NL and will have some decisions to make. He is eligible at both 3B and SS. Taking a page out of the successful conversion of RP, C.J. Wilson, into a SP, the Rangers may look to do the same with another bullpen arm, Alexi Ogando. He was dominant out of the pen last season and was able to give the Rangers multiple innings. In 41 2/3 IP, Ogando had a 4-1 record, a 1.30/1.13 ERA/WHIP, 31 HA, and a 39/16 K/BB. In 30 2/3 IP across AA/AAA, Ogando had 1 SV, 14 HA, a 42/11 K/BB and a 2.05/0.82. Pretty impressive! Ogando added 6 IP in the post-season with a 1.50 ERA and an 8/1 K/BB until coming up lame with a left oblique strain during game 4 of the World Series. Of course these plans are contingent on where Cliff Lee ends up. Talk around the Rangers also have them considering former minor-league SP and present Rookie of the Year closer, Neftali Feliz, in a starting role. They could also make a play for Royals SP, Zack Greinke, who's currently on the market.

December 1, 2010: Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness!
Chris Young, the 6'10" Padre pitcher, may be close to signing a one year deal with the Mets. There's reported interest on both sides. Young, as has become the norm, was sidelined most of the season with a strained right shoulder. Young returned in the final weeks, finishing the season 2-0 with an 0.90 ERA in 4 GS, 20 IP, a 15/11 K/BB and 10 HA. If the Mets could get Young at the right price, it would be a nice risk/reward signing for the club. Just visions of the 1 year/$10-mil signing by the A's of Ben Sheets keep dancing in my head. Young has never pitched more than 180 innings in any season and has thrown only 198 1/3 innings from '08-'10. The Padres, in the no-brainer of no-brainers, declined Young's $8.5-mil option for '11. I know this isn't the sexiest name in baseball, but the Rangers signed catcher, Yorvit Torrealba to a 2 year/$6.25-mil deal. In 2010, for SD, Torrealba was 88 for 325 (.271), 7 HR, 37 RBI, 31 R, 7 SB, a 67/33 K/BB, and a .721 OPS. Ranger catchers combined to hit .212 with a .605 OPS in '10. Torrealba also threw out 37% (22 for 60) of runners trying to steal. The Rangers are spending 1/3 of the money here that the Marlins are spending on John Buck. You could look at it this way, too; Torrealba goes from the worst hitting park in the majors (Petco) to one of the best in Texas. Over the past 2 seasons, in 538 AB, he has a .279 BA, with 9 HR, 68 RBI, 58 R, and a .725 OPS. He will make a good C in AL-only leagues next season! The other day, we talked about the conversion of Brian N. Anderson from hitter to pitcher. Today, let's visit a guy that's going the opposite route. He was the #4 overall pick by the Orioles in the 2002 draft, the highest Canadian draft pick ever by the name of Adam Loewen. And he's trying to re-invent himself as a hitter. He was released by the O's after the 2008 season and signed by the Blue Jays. It was during July of that season that Loewen, who developed a stress fracture in his surgically repaired elbow, decided to give up pitching for the wide open spaces of the OF. Overall in the minors for the O's, Loewen was 21-19 in 339 1/3 IP, with 291 HA, a 3.61/1.43 ERA/WHIP, and a 343/193 K/BB. With the Toronto organization, he's 192 for 794 (.242) with 117 R, 17 HR, 101 RBI, a 256/116 K/BB, and a .734 OPS. His major league career consists of parts of 3 seasons with the O's ('06-'08), an 8-8 record, 164 IP, 163 HA, a 5.38/1.64, and a 134/106 K/BB. Loewen was taken off the 40 man roster after this season making it harder for him to make the big club out of spring. He's also eligible for the Rule-5 draft! The 26 year old Loewen is making a case for himself in winter ball, batting .333, with a .667 SLG, an 1.104 OPS, with 5 HR, 19 RBI. Keep an eye out to see if Loewen ends up in another organization.

November 30, 2010: NCIS is the best show on TV right now!
The big signing yesterday was the Dodgers signing of Juan Uribe to a 3year/$21-mil deal. No, the Dodgers weren't getting him for 1 year/$5-mil. Just like Lindsey Lohan straightening out or a comeback by the TV show, Without A Trace, that was never going to happen. Now that the Dodgers have him, they have to hope that Uribe doesn't become a missing person! I picked Uribe up in one of my NL-only fantasy leagues during the 2001 season when, as a 21 year old (yes, he was a little thinner), he was called up to play SS by the Colorado Rockies. And, I wasn't disappointed. He went on to hit .300 in 273 AB with 15 doubles, 11 triples, 8 HR, 53 RBI, and an .849 OPS. I kind of overlooked the 55/8 K/BB, thinking he was young and the walks would come. I could have gotten 3 guys for him in a trade that off-season but I was steadfast. And stupid! Maybe even more stupid then the Dodgers. The next year, Uribe hit .240 in 566 AB in a career high 155 games. He did "improve" the walks with a 120/34 K/BB but added just 6 HR and 49 RBI for his troubles. The rest, as they say, is history as the Dodgers sit here with a bit of an obese middle infielder and $21 million out the window! The Dodgers should make the best of it and, at least for 2011, it could be a worthy deal. As the deal picks up time and tide, it may come back to bite the team in the butt, something that Uribe will have to work on to get in shape. Because anyone who asks me how my lawsuit is going with Weight Watchers should look no further than Uribe! I have mentioned that with the whole new Dodger mid-management team, i.e. Mattingly and a revamped coaching staff, the team would have made a fortuitous move in showing Colletti the door as well. Because the thinking from the GM's office is sure to be a drain on the mindset of some sound baseball guys like Hillman, Wallach, and Mattingly, just to name a few. I would like to see a more forward thinker in the chair in that great office where pictures of "Sweet" Lou Johnson, Jim Barbieri, and Wes Parker adorn the walls! Yes, and Uribe to look at will never make you the forget the figure that Ronnie Belliard cut out there on the diamond. I think that Dodger fans will have to make the best of this signing. Like I've also said, I would have waited until a market was established for Uribe. It didn't look like teams were salivating at the gills to secure his name on a 3-year contract or, maybe even, a 2-year deal. I do enjoy the winning pedigree of Uribe, in fact, one in each league. And, when push comes to shove, that's a nice legacy, and, I'm sure he will have something to tell his grandkids. Because the grandfathers of some of these guys may be rolling over in their graves at the thought of $21 million. That can, on the positive side, buy a lot of burritos for Mr. Uribe.

November 29, 2010: Your everlasting summer, you could see it fading fast!
The quintessential Renaissance man is the poet-businessman, the painter turned stock market analyst, the man who sculpts out of marble the beautiful twenty-years-his-junior heiress he just married. Rarely are Renaissance men to be found on the baseball diamond. After all, single-minded focus is the ticket that brought them to the show in the first place. Yet, every once in a while, an all-round athlete comes along who isn't afraid to be that jack-of-all-trades. Like the Babe, who went from Hall of Fame pitcher to one of the greatest hitters of all time, he takes well-roundedness to the ultimate level. Consider Brian N. Anderson. Of course, comparing Anderson to the Babe is like saying that Rod Barajas has foot-speed. What would make a quasi-competent hitter lay down his bat to pick up the ball at the age of 29 for another go-round at a new career in baseball? Well, what makes the businessman compose his poem? What makes the stock market analyst work in water color? You have to have a passion for what you love and a belief in the power of that passion to make it happen! After 355 major league games in the OF, Brian N. Anderson shifted from the OF this season to get a better view of the game from the comfort of the pitcher's mound. He was a .227 hitter in 799 AB with 22 HR and 80 RBI for the Sox, White and Red. Anderson went 17 1/3 IP across 3 levels to the tune of a 2.08/0.87 ERA/WHIP, a 17/5 K/BB, and 10 HA. At Triple-A, he had 7 IP, a 2.57/0.71, 4 HA and a 6/1 K/BB. The Yankees signed Anderson to a minor-league deal. This is the kind of chance that a team like the Yankees take. And it could turn out to be a good thing. The club also added former Rule-5 pick, Andrew Sisco to a minor-league deal. At Double-A in 2010, Sisco went 66 2/3 IP, 1 SV, a 4.19/1.37, 55 HA, and a 75/36 K/BB. His ability to miss bats is only equal to his putting men on first base via the free pass. As a Rule-5 player in 2005, the 28 year old Sisco (in January) had a 76/42 K/BB in 75 1/3 IP with a 3.11/1.46 ERA/WHIP and 68 HA. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 14 IP in '07 with the White Sox. Sisco will more than likely be used as organizational depth by the Yankees in 2011. Juan Pierre is a .298 career hitter in 6184 AB with 900 R and 527 SB. He's coming off a season in which he led the AL in SB with a career high 68. You know what you're getting with Pierre, kind of what you see is what you get! He added 96 R and a .275 BA in 651 AB. He's another guy that answers the bell every day. Let's call him a rich man's Scott Podsednik!

November 28, 2010: Don't tell me that the band, Men At Work, is the best band ever out of Australia!
We now know that the Minnesota Twins won the posting bid for the right to negotiate with infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka with a bid of $5.3-mil. That seems a little low to me compared to what Daisuke Matsuzaka fetched in 2006. He went for the princely sum of $51-mil to the Red Sox. Even the great Ichiro Suzuki went for $13-mil back in 2001 and Kazuhisa Ishii fetched $11-mil from the Dodgers. The Oakland A's recently "won" a posting bid for pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma at $19.1-mil. Iwakuma is trying to hold up the A's for a Barry Zito like deal in the neighborhood of $126-mil over 7 years. That's an expensive neighborhood! And, at first glance it seems like a fair deal: if a major league team can't come to an acceptable agreement with a Japanese player, that team gets its posting fee returned in full. A GM can pay for the right to wheel and deal and if nothing comes of it, well, then nothing comes of it! It does seem a little silly. Where's the suspense? I mean, no one does baseball like America, right? And, you know it would be just like me to espouse on one of the great playwrights of all-time, George Bernard Shaw, who said that, "youth is wasted on the young!" But saying that Tsuyoshi Nishioka is young is like saying that Warren Buffet made something of his life. For the Nishioka deal, I would rather use some of the quotes of the late Sparky Anderson, the best of which was when he said that Mike Laga would make us all forget every power hitter that ever lived. Or that Kirk Gibson was the next Mickey Mantle! And sometimes hype is the best thing to add a few zeroes to your contract. I'm from the old school and foolishly use history as a barometer. I just can't get the visions of Kazuo Matsui from dancing in my head no matter how hard I try. And wonder if Nishioka will be the next Kaz Matsui or something better. But I never heard in my baseball life that the next guy is worse. That would just be too honest so every new guy that comes along is the next version of Ichiro Suzuki. And it would be easier to believe if you could actually see them first. The Twins seem to have more middle-infielders on their roster then were extras in the movie, Ben Hur. One or both of Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy will have to go to make room for this kid. Hudson has been a good 2B in his career but has kept his furniture in storage the last few years as he's moved around more than a serial killer on the lam. Hudson brushes his teeth everyday, says his prayers, and is a good guy in the clubhouse. Hardy did his usual work in 2010 accruing 340 AB while dealing with the usual injury bug. Once upon a time, Hardy was a pretty good hitting SS for the Brewers but that now seems like a lifetime ago, totaling 50 HR and 154 RBI in '07-'08. I guess we'll just have to see what position the Twins place Nishioka in, 2B or SS. There are reports that his arm is better suited over the long haul at 2B. And then the problem may be to get the kid's name on the dotted line! I just love the suspense of it all.

November 27, 2010: I may digress but, please, don't call me Shirley!
The only "real" offensive free agents out there are Paul Konerko, Lance Berkman, Adrian Beltre, Juan Uribe, Derrek Lee, Adam LaRoche, Carlos Pena, Jayson Werth, Jason Kubel, Vlad Guerrero, Carl Crawford, and Hideki Matsui. All these gentleman will be looking at, maybe, one last big pay day! But, what about the most prolific HR hitter out there, Adam Dunn? Reports are out that Dunn is looking for 3 yrs/$45-mil. And there is a question on some sites if Dunn is really anything more than a one-dimensional player. Someone even went so far as to say that would be like saying that Bill Gates is a "one-dimensional rich guy!" I'm not so sure that, in theory, buying dinner for a group of moguls is the same thing as a guy that can hit HR's but has no position on the diamond. Dunn, of course, is more than one-dimensional because, coming from the sabermetric school of baseball, I can appreciate a guy that likes to take a free stroll down to first. He could even run at one time, stealing 19 bases back in 2002. But, I'm thinking that there's a reason why this prolific HR hitter has never been to the post-season. The Washington Nationals made the mistake of thinking that Dunn was the go-to guy! With a team like the Dodgers, in a line-up featuring the likes of Kemp and Ethier, and even Furcal and Loney, Dunn would just be one of the boys. And maybe the harsh reality is, that's all he ever wanted to be. Not some big oaf that's expected to carry the franchise on his back, but a contributor who can share a can of Heineken with the boys after a hard-fought win! And to answer a question from a poster, it excites me so when you guys know your baseball history. Paul Konerko did indeed come through the Dodger chain when dinosaurs roamed the earth. He even played 6 games there back in 1997. But, surely, I digress. Over the past 7 seasons, Dunn has averaged 49 HR, 101 RBI, 107 BB, and 158 games. So, yes, Dunn answers the bell everyday and is always ready to put on a show. Kind of like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the 1930's. Because, that's what baseball is, a show! Jon Garland (no relation to Judy, as far as I know) left the sanctity of the best pitcher's park in baseball in SD to sign a 1 yr/$5-mil deal with the Dodgers. If Garland reaches 190 IP, the contract vests to $8-mil in 2012. Of course, Garland has reached that figure in each of the last 9 seasons. And Garland did have 6 GS of largess for the club in '09 featuring a 26/9 K/BB and a 2.72 ERA in 36 1/3 IP. So there is some history there, albeit, in a small sample size! The truth about Garland is he's the kind of maddeningly consistent mediocre #5 SP that makes a championship team. Garland does know the highs of a post-season having given up 4 ER in 16 IP during the 2005 championship run! Just don't forget that Garland is what he is, a guy that you'd like to strangle every few starts and, on the flip side, a guy that you want to give a hug to every once in a while. Because, if truth be told, you get what you pay for with Garland, no more, no less. Tomorrow I'd like to talk about our latest japanese import, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, and see where he fits in to baseball, as we know it, in 2011.

November 26, 2010: I'm not a big fan of the whole holiday season!
It's that time of year to give thanks for the cornucopia of blessings that we've sown and harvested in our lives. And I for one am thankful beyond words that the Thanksgiving holiday is finally over. The turkey came all the way from a smokehouse in Texas (it tasted like ham), the green bean casserole had the requisite amount of crumbled onion rings on top, the stuffing came in sausage and chestnut varieties, and the number of desserts roughly matched the number of place settings at the table. And speaking of the table, the football games were in clear view with audible volume throughout the meal. We ended the holiday as most Americans do, in a food coma! So why so much thankfulness for the passing of the holiday? The answer lies in the true meaning of what the holiday is all about, family. Consider the son home from college. He insists on driving all over the place till all hours of the night, even though he left his license at the college dorm. We never know where the keys are because we keep trying to hide them, a dangerous move given the fact that the memory isn't what it used to be! "When's he going back?" my wife keeps asking, not in words but by the look on her face. Then consider the other son, the jobless one who lives in the city. We can tell he's casing the joint to see what he can take from home so he doesn't have to dig any deeper into his own savings. You can't have the conversation you really want to have with him, the one that starts with "McDonald's is always hiring," and ends with "You don't want to be a burden on your old parents, do you?" But the one who takes the cake, yes she insists on bringing home hand-picked leftovers, is dear old mom. She pointed to everything in her dish to ask my wife, "And what am I eating now?" When she got thirsty, she asked, "Where do you keep the ice?" This is the same woman who once asked, "What kind of cheese has holes in it?" and the real classic, "How do I fax a box of chocolates?" All the stupefying stupidity might be endearing if she'd been the kindly old mom who actually took an interest in her kids. But this one was the original Mommie Dearest who would have lost to Joan Crawford in a run-off for Mother of the Year. While my wife and her sister reminisce about the good old days of their childhood, before we all had kids, my brother-in-law confines his comments to "hell yeah" and "f**k no." I sneak off for a nap, but my snoring gives me away and eventually my wife hunts me down to force me back to the "gathering." Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. And I'm thankful for my family-----my wife, my two sons, and my loyal dog. I'm thankful that I hung in for another year and lived to tell this tale. But I'm also a little jealous of that last family member, Ed the cross-eyed cat. He found a comfortable spot on a living room couch and bedded down for the duration. Now that would have made for an ideal Thanksgiving!

November 25, 2010: Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
If this were a soap opera, we'd be calling it All My Children or As the World Turns. But it's not, it's the unseemly side of baseball, a baseball of business, fading production, and past performances! Coming off a 10-year, $189-mil contract, including $21-mil in 2010, Derek Jeter is making his last foray into free agency, home of the big Major League contract. Give a ball player excessive adulation, more money than Fort Knox, and an entourage, like all entourages, of idiots, and what do you get? A guy who's forgotten not only the cardinal rule of baseball, but also the cardinal rule of life: no one is indispensable. There was someone to step into the spikes of the Babe, the Mick, and the Iron Horse. Those players, if they lived long enough, discovered what Jeter might find out the hard way: aging might be tragic but not as tragic as the alternative; pride goeth before a fall; and, oh yes, the game is bigger than the guy. It'll go on with or without 45 million. Yankees' GM, Brian Cashman, offered Jeter 3 years/$45-mil. When the Jeter camp felt "slighted," they were told by Cashman to peddle their wares on the open market and, if Jeter found a deal to his liking, he should take it. After all, that's what free agency is all about. But it would be a damn shame if Jeter were to get the 74 hits needed to reach 3000 in another uniform. That's not only baseball and a chase to the Great American Dream. That's the harsh reality called business! Oh, I have a feeling that the Yankees will relent a little, adding a few zeroes and maybe even an option year because the truth is that these 2 need each other! But someone has to be the first to admit that fact. And maybe they will because, as sure as heck, Jeter belongs in Pinstripes. On another front, maybe the Yankees aren't always good businessmen. After the 2006 season, a season in which Kei Igawa had a 14-9 record, a 2.97 ERA and 194 K's in his last season in Japan, the Yankees paid a $26-mil posting fee and added another $194 ($1 for every strike out), to have the exclusive negotiating rights to him. Who knows if anyone else even posted. I did hear that the Red Sox were also interested. Igawa received a 5-year/$20-mil deal to pitch here in the west for the tradition-rich Yankees. The problem was, early on, the Yankees realized what the rest of us were noticing. That Igawa just wasn't that good. He was sent to minor league camp for a tune-up and oil change but the engine still wasn't running right. After all, this guy was pretty good in Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun featuring shorter clean-up hitters and even shorter parks! He was 86-60 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1174/395 K/BB in 1244 IP. He was a 3-time K leader ('02, '04, '06), an ERA leader ('03) and a wins leader ('03). But, sadly, Igawa would only, so far, pitch 16 games for the Yankees, going 2-4 in 71 2/3 IP, 89 HA, a 53/37 K/BB, and a 6.66/1.76 ERA/WHIP. 2010 was his 4th season at Triple-A where he's gone 33-23 in 456 IP, 462 HA, a 367/126 K/BB and a 3.83/1.29. He did have a 68/23 K/BB and a 4.32 ERA in 77 IP at Triple-A in 2010 and will be paid $4-mil for 2011, the last year of his contract to do the same. Then the Yankees should take that extra $194 and use it toward passage back to Japan, where Igawa could enjoy his twilight years in relative anonymity!

November 24, 2010: The Giants re-signed Aubrey Huff to a 2 yr/$22-mil deal with a club option for 2013!
The Tigers declined arbitration on Jeremy Bonderman yesterday. He had been in the organization since his first season (2002) in pro ball and was 6-19 as a 20 year rookie in 2003. Bonderman was 8-10 in 2010 in 171 IP with 187 HA, a 112/60 K/BB and a 5.53/1.44 ERA/WHIP. The Tigers could bring him back on a lesser deal but, as of now, that doesn't look good! In 8 seasons with the Tigers, Bonderman is 67-77 with a 4.89/1.40, 1245 HA, and a 929/404 K/BB in 1176 IP. The Tigers now have $52-mil coming off the books and have already made a splash in the market by signing Victor Martinez to a 4-yr/$50-mil deal. It looks like V-Mart will see a lot of his time at DH and be the back-up to Alex Avila behind the dish! Martinez hit .302 in 493 AB for the Red Sox with 20 HR, 79 RBI, 64 R, a 52/40 K/BB, and an .844 OPS. He's been over 100 RBI three times and 5 times has hit 20 or more HR. That's pretty good production out of your catcher spot. Martinez will be 32 years old in December. The Tigers aren't done as the names Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth have been bandied about! This was a weird signing: Sean Burroughs was signed to a minor-league deal by the D'Backs yesterday. Yes, that Sean Burroughs who hasn't played in the majors since a 4 for 21 (.190) gig with the Rays in 2006. After being optioned by the club to Triple-A, Burroughs went 28 for 131 (.214) and was released on June 22, 2006. He gave it the old college try and signed with the Mariners organization in 2007. He played 4 games at Tacoma (AAA) and was released in June after going 2 for 12. He, believe it or not, just turned 30 in September. Burroughs is reunited with Kevin Towers who signed him in 1998 for what was at that time the largest amateur signing bonus ($2.1-mil). He was the 9th overall pick of that draft and started the 2002 season as the 3B for the Padres. I'll always remember the bidding war on Burroughs that spring in my $360-NL when he ended up going for $35. I just stayed on the sidelines and was, of course, the first to congratulate the "winner." Burroughs, the son of former AL MVP, Jeff Burroughs, hit .271 with 11 RBI in 192 AB that season and spent a good part of the season in the minors. He did have some "salad" days with the Padres, accumulating 1040 AB in "03-'04 with a .292 BA, 50 doubles, 9 triples, 9 HR, 105 RBI, 138 R, 12 SB, a 127/75 K/BB and a .724 OPS. I guess that you might say that he took his salad to go! If Burroughs notches another AB in the majors, I will look for another profession! Maybe. Wily Mo Pena hasn't played in the majors since a 195 AB stint in 2008 for the Nationals that saw him hit .205. His season ended early that year with shoulder surgery in June and he's since bounced from the minors to Independent ball and back to Triple-A with the Padres last season. Pena did find a little bounty there batting .324 in 142 AB with 9 HR, 34 RBI, and a .946 OPS. Well, it's now reported that Pena has no less than 5 suitors for his services. It seems like he's been around since the Kennedy administration but he only turns 29 in January. Pena did have a 26 HR season for the Reds in '04 as a 22 year old and followed that up with 19 more in '05. He has 77 HR and 225 RBI with a .253 BA in 1590 AB over his major-league career. Keep an eye out (from a distance) to where he ends up.

November 23, 2010: My wife starts her Christmas shopping in February!
Dontrelle Willis signed a minor-league contract with the Reds and will be used as a reliever. While this is a good low risk signing by the club, Willis' stats since the beginning of 2007 don't look much like a major-league pitcher! In 328 2/3 IP, Willis has allowed 368 hits, a 5.81/1.75 ERA/WHIP and a 228/206 K/BB. Those numbers are Russ Ortiz-like! He kind of hit rock bottom in 2010 with the D'Backs and Tigers in 13 GS and 65 2/3 IP going 2-3 with a 5.62/1.95, a 47/56 K/BB and 72 HA. This is not to say that Willis hasn't enjoyed any prosperity in the show. He won the Rookie of the Year in 2003 with a 14-6 record and a 3.30 ERA and was runner-up to Chris Carpenter in the Cy Young voting in 2005 with a 22-10 record and a 2.63/1.13 ERA/WHIP. Normally I would say to keep an eye on Willis, but he looks cooked even as organizational depth at this point! The Oakland A's reportedly paid a $19.1-million posting fee for the rights to negotiate a contract with Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. In fact, the A's have already offered Iwakuma a 4-yr $15.25-mil deal. That contract was turned down and if Iwakuma does return to Japan, the A's will get their posting fee returned. A funny thing happened in Iwakuma's move west. He wants a contract similar to the one that the Giants gave Barry Zito, 7 years and $126-mil! In case you forgot, Zito is the same guy that couldn't make any of the post-season rosters of the World Champion SF Giants. Iwakuma's best season was 2008 when he went 21-4 with a 1.87/0.98, 161 HA and a 159/36 K/BB. This past season the 29 year old (30 in April) was 10-9 in 28 GS and 201 IP with 184 HA, a 2.82/1.09 and a 153/36 K/BB. Iwakuma's career numbers are a 101-62 record in 208 GS (46 CG, 5 SHO), 1422 IP, 1408 HA, a 3.32/1.22 ERA/WHIP and a 1085/323 K/BB. Seeing how "close" the 2 camps are in money ($3.8-mil/yr. vs $18-mil/yr.) it's a wonder that nothing is getting done. Oakland has until December 8th to negotiate a deal with Iwakuma. I have a feeling that he will head back to the Land of the Rising Sun! The Dodgers' signing of pitcher Dana Eveland yesterday to a split contract wasn't met with my usual cynicism. Yes, he's been terrible in the majors with a 16-22 mark, a 5.74/1.74, 95 games (54 GS), 330 2/3 IP, 401 HA, and a 222/174 K/BB. His "best" season was with Oakland in 2008 when he was 9-9 in 168 IP with 172 HA, a 4.34/1,48 and a 118/77 K/BB. Yes, this LHP has a lot of work to do to get back to the show especially with the pitching-rich Dodgers. Plus, I'm always a little skeptical of guys, especially pitchers, that are released by the Pirates! And his '10 numbers were God-awful with a 24/32 K/BB and a 6.79/1.91 ERA/WHIP. He just turned 27 in October and his minor league numbers haven't been bad with a career 3.34/1.27 and a 545/188 K/BB in 584 2/3 IP. At worse, he'll be the #3 SP with Las Vegas, the Dodgers' Triple-A team. Joey Votto was named the NL MVP and deservedly so. He received 31 of 32 first-place votes! He was in the top 3 in the league in BA (.324), OPS (1.024), HR (37), RBI (113), OBP (.424) and SLG (.600). He was tied for 4th in R. Albert Pujols took home 2nd place and now has been in the top 3 in the voting 8 times or one shy of Barry Bonds' record. Today the AL MVP will be announced with the candidates including Josh Hamilton (.359, 32, 100), Robinson Cano (29, 100, 200 H) and Miguel Cabrera (38, 126). I'd like to see my guy, Jose Bautista (54, 124) sneak in but he'll probably take a 4th place!

November 22, 2010: It's like shooting turkeys in a barrel!
I've been taking on a lot of reclamation projects lately. These guys like Juan Miranda and Dallas McPherson, the quintessential Quad-A players. Always so close, yet so far! Some might call them just a bunch of over-achieving under-achievers. Others would call them unlucky! I have more kinship to the former group, though the latter group provides a life-time of excuses. Like when I was all ready to start for my freshman baseball team and a fight the day of the game got me suspended. There went my High School baseball career! Bryan LaHair must know those feelings. He's spent the last 5 seasons at Triple-A, save for 136 AB for the Seattle Mariners in 2008 when he batted .250 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 15 R, a 40/13 K/BB and a .661 OPS. LaHair signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs this week. The Cubs, at the moment, don't have a first baseman. At Triple-A, in 2010, LaHair was 130 for 422 (.308), with 25 HR, 81 RBI, 71 R, a 94/51 K/BB and a .942 OPS. Almost a carbon copy of his 2009 season when he batted .289 in 457 AB with 26 HR, 85 RBI, 72 R and an .883 OPS. LaHair may have a very outside shot with the Cubbies but we all know what he is, the quintessential Quad-A player! Dustin Ackley will be 23 in February and his future with the Mariners is looking bright. In his first pro season, Ackley, the 2nd overall draft pick behind Strasburg, didn't put up what one would call the greatest numbers. Between Double-A and Triple-A, Ackley hit .265 in 501 AB with 7 HR, 51 RBI, 79 R, 10 SB, a 79/75 K/BB and a .775 OPS. He added 33 doubles and 8 triples so the power could be on the way! It was his work in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) that made Mariner officials stand up and take notice. Ackley was named the MVP of the recently completed AFL with league leading figures in BA (.424), OBP (.581), SLG (.758), OPS (1.339), and runs (28). He also had 5 SB (in 5 att.), 4 HR and 15 RBI and added an 11/26 K/BB. Ackley played first base and OF in college and the Mariners shifted him to second base early in the season. He has a chance to be the starter at second with Jose Lopez heading out of town! Which brings us to the story of the 2009 AFL MVP, Grant Desme who was coming off a break-through season across 2 levels of the minor-leagues with 98 R, 31 HR, 89 RBI, 40 SB, a 148/54 K/BB a .933 OPS and a .288 BA in 486 AB. Desme's AFL stats included 11 HR, 27 RBI and a .315 BA in 27 games. After that season Desme went to what he felt was a higher calling than even that of the major leagues, to enter the priesthood! He said that becoming a priest was like re-entering the minor-leagues!

November 21, 2010: Matt Diaz has a lifetime .335 BA and .906 OPS vs LHP!
He was a 2nd round pick by the Angels in 2001 (57th overall). A can't miss kid with unabashed power and a good fielding third baseman. Yes, Dallas McPherson had it going for him. It was just a matter of time before he started hitting HR's in the show. But something happened on the way to the forum! The powers that be discovered he had trouble with the curve. He had chances. He had injuries. McPherson was signed to a minor-league deal by the White Sox this week. At Triple-A in 2010, McPherson hit 22 HR, 75 RBI, a .267 BA, an .880 OPS and a 101/31 K/BB in 318 AB. And that's what it's been all about for McPherson. Good minor league numbers and just 371 AB in the majors. Not that he's been terrible in those 371 AB, with 53 R, 18 HR, 45 RBI, 5 SB a 126/27 K/BB and a .756 OPS. So much more was expected. Called up at the end of 2004 by the Angels, McPherson received 40 AB in September and then 9 more in the ALDS. He was given the 3B job out of spring training in '05 but, after 61 games and 205 AB (.244) with 8 HR and 26 RBI, McPherson missed the rest of that season with injury. His 11 AB with the Florida Marlins in 2008 constitutes his last major league action. He'll be 31 in July and in his 9 year minor league career (he missed '07 with back surgery), McPherson is 758 for 2591 (.293), with 485 R, 172 HR, 573 RBI, 79 SB, an 809/339 K/BB and a .959 OPS. He had a 40-HR season in '04 and added 36 doubles, 14 triples, 107 R, 12 SB and 126 RBI! He had a 42-HR season in '08 with 98 RBI, 94 R, and 14 SB. The White Sox have Brent Morel, Dayan Viciedo, Omar Vizquel, and Mark Teahen on their roster, all capable of playing 3B. If Paul Konerko leaves via free agency, Viciedo is slated to move across the diamond and Morel has the inside track at third. Morel will be 24 in April and is coming off a .322 season at AA/AAA in 490 AB with 10 HR, 64 RBI and an .839 OPS. Morel added a .231 BA and 9 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI, and 2 SB in 65 AB for the White Sox in September. If McPherson can impress in the spring and stay on the field, he could lay claim to part of the job. But, more than likely, he will make himself available to the other major league teams! I like this kid, Chris Archer, who pitched at Single-A and Double-A for the Cubs in 2010. In 27 GS and 142 1/3 IP, Archer was 15-3, with a 2.34/1.17 ERA/WHIP, 102 HA and a 149/65 K/BB. He just turned 22 at the end of September and is someone to keep an eye on, even if he starts the '11 season at Triple-A. He seemed to add velocity to his fastball in '10, able to reach the mid-90's. For his minor-league career, Archer has a 449/257 K/BB in 444 1/3 IP with 352 HA and a 3.67/1.37. He must cut down on the free passes if he's to have any success at the next level. I hate when Yankee fans make the blanket statement that Javier Vazquez stinks! Yes, he's had some trouble pitching in NY as his '04 and '10 seasons can't be considered successes. And I won't sugarcoat it. Vazquez had a 10-10 record in '10 with 155 HA, a 121/65 K/BB and a 5.32/1.40 ERA/WHIP in 157 1/3 IP. And, no matter how I brush-stroke those numbers, they're not something pretty to look at. Like Don Mossi! But, I did discover something. In every even year since 2002, Vazquez is 57-61 with 1013 HA, an 834/291 K/BB and a 4.68/1.31 in 996 2/3 IP. In every odd year since 2001, Vazquez is 70-56 with 996 HA, a 1092/241 K/BB and a 3.53/1.12 in 1106 IP. Next year is 2011, an odd year, and you can bet, if I'm still alive, I will be making a play on this odd-year odd ball! Then, hopefully, he'll retire after the season. Just some numbers for you to crunch!

November 20, 2010: Steve Dalkowski had a 262/262 K/BB in the minors in 1960!
It's interesting to see what the D'Backs are doing, putting their young RF, Justin Upton, on the market to see what they can fetch for him. The Diamondbacks are coming off 2 consecutive last place finishes in the NL-West, so why not! Upton was an All-Star in 2009 hitting .300 with 20 SB, 84 R, 26 HR and 86 RBI and didn't turn 22 that season until the end of August. Upton didn't enjoy that prosperity in 2010, missing most of the last month with injury. When he was healthy, Upton batted .273 with 73 R, 17 HR, 69 RBI, and 18 SB in 495 AB. The team should be able to get a couple of top prospects and a major league ready player for Upton. I don't understand why more teams, like the Pirates, that are mired at the bottom of the standings, don't explore this option! Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young award in 2009 with a 16-8 mark, a 2.16 ERA and 242 K's in 229 1/3 IP. In 2010, Greinke had his problems going 10-14 with a 4.17/1.25 ERA/WHIP, and 181 K's in 220 IP. The team just couldn't seem to score enough runs for him. The Royals have also let it be known that they are willing to deal their #1 SP for the right haul. It will be interesting to see what these teams get for their star player(s). The Pirates did make some financially sound moves by not picking up the contracts of Delwyn Young, Andy LaRoche and, especially, Zach Duke. A couple of trades that have been made have gone under the radar. I thought that the D'Backs made a great move by picking up Juan Miranda from the Yankees for a minor-league pitcher. Miranda has 4 HR, 14 RBI, a .253 BA and .788 OPS in 83 major league AB, but has been blocked at his natural position, 1B, by Mark Teixeira. He hit .285 with 15 HR, 43 RBI, 53 R and an .866 OPS at Triple-A this season. He's always been a decent hitter in the minors and, with the D'Backs letting Adam LaRoche walk and only Brandon Allen standing in the way, Miranda has a chance to be a part of the team's plans in 2011. If Miranda can hit .275 with 17 HR and 75 RBI, the team made a good cost-effective move. Because, truth be told, for $7 or $8 more million, LaRoche will give better numbers, but not so much so. The D'Backs have to use this savings to put toward other areas! I know that most web sites see the Miranda trade as organizational depth but I'm not so sure about that! The Rockies and Astros pulled of an under-the-radar trade as well this week. SP, Felipe Paulino, went to Colorado with SS-2B, with Clint Barmes being sent the other way. Barmes immediately becomes the 2nd best mid-INF on the team (to Keppinger) and was already named the starting SS by the team for the 2011 season. Barmes bugaboo, besides a weak BA, is his career .300 OBP. Barmes also had only a .656 OPS in 2010, but the Astros have to hope that he regains his '09 form that saw him hit 23 HR, 76 RBI, 69 R, and 12 SB in 550 AB. Still, Barmes batted only .245! He hit .235 in '10 with 8 HR, 50 RBI, 43 R, and 3 SB and will turn 32 in March. Paulino was pitching pretty well before he went on the DL with shoulder problems. He does have a 187/90 K/BB in 208 1/3 IP over his career with a 5.83/1.60 ERA/WHIP and 243 HA. If Paulino can keep the ball in the park, the Rockies may have found themselves a gem. He was 1-9 with a 5.11/1.54 and an 83/46 K/BB in 91 2/3 IP for the Astros in '10. I did draft Paulino in 2 NL-leagues this past spring. Drew Stubbs K'd in 32.7% of his AB this past season and only walked in 9.4% of his AB. Keep an eye on these numbers as Stubbs did hit .255 in 514 AB with 22 HR, 77 RBI, 91 R, 30 SB, a 168/55 K/BB and a .773 OPS. Yes, he gives fantasy owners some good numbers, just don't overpay. Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about a former 2001 draft pick by the Angels, who, although a prolific minor league power hitter, has failed in numerous trips to the majors.

November 19, 2010: Does Mel Gibson's ex-girlfriend's name sound like she should be a retired figure skater?
He's a guy that made Yankee RP, Ryne Duren, look like a control pitcher. A guy that legend has, threw 106 MPH. Of course, that was in the days before radar guns. A guy that was so wild, he regularly threw pitches into the stands. He couldn't find home plate with a GPS. And this isn't urban legend. There really was a guy named Steve Dalkowski and this is a cautionary tale of failed promise and dark longing! In Dalkowski's 1st pro season, on August 31, 1957 in the Appalacian League, he K'd 24 batters, walked 18 more, hit 4 batters and threw 6 wild pitches, losing the game, 8-4. The next year, in the Northern League, Dalkowski threw a one-hitter, striking out 15, walking 17, and losing 9-8. In 1960, in the California League, Dalkowski threw a 4-hitter, striking out 19 and losing 8-3! That 1960 season saw Dalkowski go 170 innings, with 105 HA, a 262/262 K/BB and a 5.14/2.16 ERA/WHIP. 262 walks is a minor league record for a season! In an extra-inning game in 1962, he struck out 27, walked 16 and threw 283 pitches. Under the tutelage of his minor league manager, the legendary Earl Weaver, Dalkowski seemed to find his way in 1962, going 160 IP, 117 HA, a 192/114 K/BB and a 3.04/1.44 ERA/WHIP. But, like the rest of his life, there was a sad ending! He was having a good spring training in 1963 and on his way to making the Baltimore Orioles, when he felt "something pop" in his left elbow while pitching vs the New York Yankees. He returned later that summer to the minors but his velocity was never the same. Dalkowski bounced around for a couple of seasons but was out of baseball by the age of 26! He was unable to find any gainful employment because of his raging alcoholism and spent most of his adult life as a migrant field laborer. He currently lives in his home town of New Britain, Connecticut, unable to remember much after the mid-'60's. Dalkowski did put up these numbers: in 236 games (152 GS), he had 38 CG, 995 IP, 682 HA, a 46-80 record, a 1396/1354 K/BB, and a 5.59/2.05 ERA/WHIP. He also allowed 37 HR. Dalkowski would only throw 24 innings at Triple-A over his career and had a 7.13/1.96 there. During his career, Dalkowski was throwing batting practice in Miami when Ted Williams stepped in to see what he could do against the fast-baller. Don't forget, Williams' eyes were so sharp that he could count the stitches on a baseball as it rotated toward the plate. Williams took one pitch saying that he never saw it and that Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher that he had ever seen! Williams also said that he would be damned if he ever faced Dalkowski again if he could help it! I feel that the AL voters got this one right in naming Felix Hernandez the Cy Young winner. It's funny that Cy Young himself won 511 games in his career and it was Hernandez's lack of wins (13) that may have kept him from winning. The only time a SP won the award with as little as 13 W's was in the strike-shortened season of 1981 when Fernando Valenzuela garnered the hardware. Tim Lincecum had the fewest over a full season with 15 W's in 2009. In Hernandez's 9 no-decisions, he had a 1.92/1.04 ERA/WHIP. In CC Sabathia's 6 no-decisions, he had a 4.03/1.21! In 2000, Kevin Brown, in 230 IP, gave up 181 hits, had a 2.58/0.99, and a 216/47 K/BB, yet could only come in 6th in the Cy Young voting. I wonder if it was because his record was "only" 13-6? Back in 1977, Frank Tanana had 201 HA in 241 1/3 IP with a 2.54/1.09 and a 205/61 K/BB yet could only garner a 9th place finish with a 15-9 record. I think we're definitely seeing a change of philosophy among the voters where they're looking more at overall numbers than just wins. I like it! Still, one voter placed Hernandez 4th and another had him as the 5th best SP in the AL!

November 18, 2010: At this time next year, Starlin Castro could be one of the top-4 SS in the NL!
I was very surprised that when the NL ROY was announced that John Axford received 0 votes. Axford atarted the season at Triple-A and joined the Brewers in mid-May after going 13 1/3 IP, 3 W, 2 SV, a 2.03/1.43 ERA/WHIP, 14 HA, and a 19/5 K/BB. No one knew what to expect from Axford as he was just being called up to help a beleaguered Brewer pen. In fact, he had never been a full time closer in his career! Axford received a few SV chances in May for the struggling Trevor Hoffman, the all-time SV's leader with 601. He took the ball and ran with it recording 24 SV on the season in 27 chances, an 8-2 record, a 2.48/1.19, 42 HA, and a 76/27 K/BB in 58 IP. In 239 1/3 minor league IP, Axford has a 264/161 K/BB. He has to keep the walks down in order to be successful. As of right now, Axford is entrenched in the closer's role for the Brewers as they let the venerable Hoffman go after the season! I just felt that Axford should have received some votes for NL ROY as no less than 8 guys received at least one vote! In a rare good move by the Royals, the club signed veteran minor league RP, Steven Shell to a minor league contract. Shell, like Yorman Bazardo, has been on my radar for the last 4 seasons. The 28 year old (in March) Shell has thrown 55 innings in the majors with a 2-2 mark, 2 SV, a 46/22 K/BB, 39 HA, and a 2.45/1.11. So the seeds are there. At Triple-A in 2010 (Seattle org.), Shell had 72 2/3 IP (including 9 GS), a 3-2 record, a 3.59/1.31, 76 HA, and a 51/19 K/BB. In 5 seasons at Triple-A, Shell has a 4.90/1.43 ERA/WHIP, 420 HA, and a 266/99 K/BB in 364 IP. So, he still has a way to go! The former 3rd round pick in 2001 by the Angels, Shell hasn't appeared in a major league game since April, 2009 with the Nationals. He's a control pitcher who pitches to contact and, if the Royals can play defense behind him, Shell may be a guy to keep an eye on come spring. Just watch his role. From a distance, of course. If Shell can somehow break into the Royals rotation he would make a good #6 SP in your AL-only. Free agent pitchers must be licking their collective chops right now after Joaquin Benoit inked a 3-year deal from the Tigers yesterday at $16.5-mil. Benoit did enjoy a great season with the TB Rays, enjoying the 3rd lowest WHIP of all-time for a pitcher in over 60 IP to Dennis Eckersley and Mariano Rivera. That's pretty good company! Coming into the 2010 season, Benoit had to settle for a minor league deal with the Rays after missing the whole 2009 season because of rotator cuff surgery. He opened the season at Triple-A but, when the call went out for bullpen help, Benoit was summoned at the end of April. He didn't disappoint going 60 1/3 IP, with 1 SV, a 1.34/0.68 ERA/WHIP, a remarkable 30 HA, and a 75/11 K/BB. The contract was considered high given his injury history. He's been known to make Nick Johnson look like an everyday player! In fact, Benoit has had only one good season to speak of, in 2007 with the Rangers. That season, in 82 IP, Benoit had 2.85/1.17, 68 HA, an 87/28 K/BB and 6 SV. If both Benoit and closer Jose Valverde (26 SV, 1.16 WHIP) can stay healthy, the Tigers will have a formidable back of the bullpen. Tomorrow I'd like to talk about a pitcher that we covered, a guy that Ted Williams said that he'd never want to face again. I'd also like to talk about the AL Cy Young winner, announced later today, and see if Felix Hernandez gets jobbed or gets what he deserves!

November 17, 2010: What a long, strange trip it's been!
The NL got one right, unanimously voting Roy Halladay to the NL Cy Young Award yesterday. He becomes the 5th pitcher to win the award in both leagues joining Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Gaylord Perry, and Roger Clemens. Halladay led the NL in wins (21), IP (250 2/3), CG (9), and shut outs (4). Halladay was 21-10 with a 2.44/1.04 ERA/WHIP, 231 HA, and a 219/30 K/BB. He pitched a perfect game in May, the 20th in MLB history. Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, and Roy Halladay; the only pitchers with multiple Cy Youngs and multiple no-hitters. That's it! At 33, Halladay seems to be getting better. Just watch out for the 272 IP by Halladay in 2010, including his first post-season ever. From '08-'10, Halladay has a 633/104 K/BB in 735 2/3 IP with a 2.67/1.07. He should be the #1 pitcher off the board in your NL-drafts. The Braves have a new 2B and his name is Dan Uggla. The club needed a RH bat who could also hit 30 HR and they went out and got Uggla. I am surprised that the Marlins acted so quickly and that they traded Uggla to an intra-division rival! Personally, I thought that the marlins could have done better than utility INF, Omar Infante and LH set-up man, Mike Dunn. Didn't the Marlins just receive 2 RP for Cameron Maybin? Granted, Infante batted .321 in his best season to date and was a shaky All-Star but, when asked to play everyday down the stretch, he only batted .264 with 9 RBI and a .640 OPS. The good news about Dunn is he K'd 27 batters in 19 IP and had a 1.89 ERA. The bad news is Dunn walked 17 and had a 1.68 WHIP. The Marlins could have offered Uggla arbitration and gotten more for him at the trade deadline. I don't know much about him but Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been posted by his Japanese team, meaning that every major league team has a chance to bid on him. He's a 26 year old (27 in July) switch hitter who batted .346 in 596 AB (his first 500 AB season) in 2010. Nishioka had 206 H, 121 R, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 22 SB and a .905 OPS. For his career in Japan, Nishioka is a .293 hitter in 3111 AB with 518 R, 55 HR, 300 RBI, 174 SB and a .790 OPS. He does have the reputation as an injury-prone player. Sound familiar, Kaz Matsui? John Buck parlayed his first 20 HR season into a 3 year-$18 mil contract with the Marlins. Buck had 53 R, 20 HR, 66 RBI, 115 H, a .281 BA (in 409 AB), and an .803 OPS, all career highs for the Blue Jays after 6 seasons with KC. He also had a terrible 111/16 K/BB. Let's not forget that Buck's lifetime BA coming in to the 2010 season was .235. Just from what I've seen so far, I'm going to say that the Marlins haven't had a good off-season! Tomorrow I'd like to talk about a rookie RP who took over for the most prolific closer of all-time, yet didn't get a single vote for NL ROY. I'd also like to explore the career of a minor leaguer who's been on my radar for the past 4 seasons.

November 16, 2010: George Brunet logged a lot of frequent-flyer mileage over his 33 year pitching career!
When Lefty Grove, one of the greatest pitchers of the 20th century, finally got the call to the majors, he had spent 5 full seasons in the minors. You may ask, "How can that be?" Grove was a member of the Baltimore Orioles, a minor league team that was unaffiliated to any major league team. So that gave the greedy owner, Jack Dunn, the right to sell his players to a team, at his price. He had earlier sold Babe Ruth to the Red Sox. And it wasn't for lack of major league offers. Dunn had received a few but was waiting for the right offer to come along. So, Grove toiled in the minors, to the tune of a 109-36 record in his 5 seasons with the O's. He led the league in strike outs each season. After the 1924 season, Connie Mack, owner of the Philadelphia A's, bought Grove for the princely sum of $106,000, the most ever paid for a player at that time. In 1925, Grove had some arm problems and was only 10-13, the only losing record of his great career. He did lead the AL in strike outs that season. From 1928-1931, Grove was 108-23. That 1931 season included a 31-4 record with a 2.06 ERA. He led the AL in wins, K's, CG, shut outs and ERA! Grove won 20 or more games every year from 1927-1935 (except '34 when he was injured). He was a 9-time ERA leader, 7-time strike out leader, and 5-time WHIP leader. He was rightfully elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. Yorman Bazardo will be 27 in July and is now in his 5th organization after signing a minor-league deal with the Twins yesterday. He's had some success in his 9 year minor league career going 63-60 with a 3.89/1.33 ERA/WHIP, a 652/299 K/BB and 1151 HA in 1091 IP. It's the majors that have given Bazardo some adversity. In parts of 4 seasons with Florida, Detroit and Houston, Bazardo has appeared in 25 games (8 GS), 60 1/3 IP, 68 HA, a 6.86/1.69, and a 37/34 K/BB. He did find some bounty with the Tigers in '07 going 23 2/3 IP with 19 HA, a 15/5 K/BB and a 2.28/1.01 ERA/WHIP. But that's been the extent of any major league success. Bazardo has good stuff but his control issues make it hard for a major league manager to give him the ball in key situations. The Twins have a way of making something out of these reclamation projects. You may think that I'm crazy, but I'm going to keep an eye on him come spring! When Clint Hurdle was given a 3-year contract to become the 39th manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the first thing he said was, "We have a lot of work to do!" That's what I like, a prognosticator. It's a little like O.J. Simpson saying that he won't stop until he finds the real killers! Hurdle has a 534-625 record as a major league manager. He did take the Rockies to the '07 World Series, his only winning season in Colorado. Don't forget that the Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1992! The Pirates were last in the NL in 2010 in ERA (5.00), K's (1026) and team defense. The Pirates were also last in team BA (.242) and runs scored (587). They also gave up the most runs (866). They were 17-64 on the road, had their 6th straight 90 loss season, and their 105 losses were the most for the team since 1952. A lot of work, indeed! They do have some offensive building blocks in McCutchen, Alvarez, Walker and Tabata but when James McDonald is your #1 pitcher, you're in a lot of trouble! The first move the Pirates should make is to non-tender Zach Duke and his 5.72/1.65 in 159 IP. Duke also had a 96/51 K/BB, 212 HA and a .321 BAA! I think that I've said enough for one day.

November 15, 2010: A prostitute with low self-esteem gives it away for free!
Cameron Maybin was the 10th overall pick by the Tigers of the 2005 draft. Florida handed him the CF job out of spring training but, after batting .202 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB and 31 K's in 84 AB, Maybin was sent packing to Triple-A. He came back in the last 5 weeks of the season to hit .293 with an .853 OPS with 3 HR, 10 RBI, and 19 R in 28 games. The Marlins apparently felt it wasn't enough so they traded the toolsy OF to the Padres for set-up men, Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. Over his major-league career, Maybin is hitting .246 in 548 AB with 13 HR, 45 RBI, 19 SB, and 93 R. He's made strides with plate discipline at Triple-A the last 2 seasons, batting .325 in 428 AB with 7 HR, 62 RBI, 65 R, and an .878 OPS. He's also had an 82/51 K/BB in that time. To me, the Marlins are taking a chance that may backfire, trading Maybin for 2 set-up men, no matter how good. Don't forget that Maybin won't be 24 until April. The Marlins should have just thrown him in CF and given him 550 AB and then made a determination! In 69 2/3 IP for SD, Mujica had a 3.62/0.93 ERA/WHIP, 59 HA, and a 72/6 K/BB. In 2009, in 93 2/3 IP, Mujica had a 76/19 K/BB. So, while on the surface, Mujica's stats are good, he did give up 14 HR while pitching half his games in Petco Park. It will only get worse pitching for the Marlins. In 59 IP, Ryan Webb had a 2.90,1.41 ERA/WHIP, 64 HA, and a 44/19 K/BB. He's a GB pitcher who can dial it up to the mid-90's. At Ttriple-A in 2010, Webb had a 23/5 K/BB, 12 HA, and an 0.87/0.82 in 20 2/3 IP. He could be a bit of a sleeper as the eventual closer for the Marlins so keep an eye on him come spring. Hiroki Kuroda is close to signing a 1 year/$12-mil deal with the Dodgers. He was 11-13 in 2010, in 196 1/3 IP with a 3.39/1.16, 180 HA, and a 159/48 K/BB. He also had 21 QS, to me, the most useless stat in sports! Kuroda also had a 48/11 K/BB in his last 8 GS. He'll be 36 in February and is not known as a workhorse. $12-mil is a bit high but getting Kuroda on a one year deal is a good move by the Dodgers. I do own Kuroda in my $360-NL for $24 and will put him with Ubaldo Jimenez ($25) to head my staff. So, I don't really care what the Dodgers sign him for, as long as they get his name on the bottom line. I have unearthed the winningest LHP in minor league history, Tony Freitas, with the little help from some friends. Overall, Freitas was 348-243 in 748 games and 4996 IP. He allowed 5183 hits, 969 BB's and had a 3.14/1.23 from 1928-1953. From 1937-1942, Freitas won 20 or more games in each season. He saved some of his best work for after the war and was 20-7, as a 42 year old in 1950 with a 2.91/1.14 ERA/WHIP. In 1951, he was 25-9 with a 2.99/1.13. His last season (1953), Freitas was 22-9 with a 2.39/1.10. He was also 25-33 in the majors. Tomorrow, I would like to talk about one of the greatest pitchers of all-time, majors and minors!

November 14, 2010: 85% of the pills that old people take is to help them take the other 15% of their pills!
Edwin Encarnacion was let go by the Blue Jays the other day and immediately picked up by the A's. The A's hope that he can provide offense to a power-starved line-up. In 2010, Encarnacion hit .244 with 21 HR and 51 RBI, 47 R, a 60/29 K/BB and a .787 OPS in 332 AB. The A's already have a 3B in Kevin Kouzmanoff, a better defensive player. Kouzmanoff made 12 errors in 142 games but only hit .247 with a .679 OPS. Encarnacion made 18 errors in 95 games. Both men are due for raises through arbitration, Kouz from $3.1-mil and Encarnacion from $4.75-mil. Personally, if I'm the A's, I would non-tender both of them and try to get one back for cheaper. Neither fit the A's profile as good contact, high on-base guys! Encarnacion did have a big final 4 games of the 2010 season, going 8 for 14 with 5 HR, 10 RBI, and 6 R. Encarnacion, who will be 28 in January, has 100 HR, 337 RBI and a .258 lifetime BA in 6 seasons. Keep an eye on him because, if he can ever play a full season, he could put up some helpful fantasy power numbers! But, right now, as it stands, Encarnacion has to be considered a bust. You probably remember George Brunet as the flaky LHP in Jim Bouton's book, "Ball Four." That book was a revealing look at the players from the '69 expansion Seattle Pilots and, in it, Bouton revealed that Brunet never wore underwear! It was also later revealed on the web that, while playing in the Mexican League, Brunet married the madam of a local brothel. I remember Brunet as a guy that pitched 33 professional seasons (1953-1985) and the holder of the strike out record all-time (3175) in minor league ball. He also holds the Mexican League record for most shut outs with 55. Some of you may remember Brunet as a serviceable major league pitcher. In his MLB career, Brunet was 69-93, pitching for mostly 2nd division teams, with a 3.62/1.32 ERA/WHIP, a 921/581 K/BB and 1303 HA in 1431 2/3 IP. He pitched in 324 games (213 GS), 39 CG, 15 shut outs and even 4 SV. In fact, Brunet did have some good seasons with the Angels in the '60s, ranking 6th all-time in ERA (3.13) and 4th in WHIP (1.20). In the US affiliated minors, Brunet went 112-115 with a 3.95/1.47 and 1018 BB with 1755 HA in 1890 IP and 342 games. By the time his US career was over in 1973, Brunet had pitched for 27 different teams! Talk about a pitching vagabond! Of course, he wasn't finished pitching yet, going 13 more seasons, until 1985, in the Mexican League. His record down south was 132-127 and he had 3 full seasons in that offensive environment with an ERA less than 2.00. In 1983, at the age of 48, Brunet had an ERA of 1.93! By the time he retired in 1985, at the age of 50, Brunet's overall record in organized baseball was 313-335. Unfortunately, Brunet passed away from a heart attack in 1991. He was elected posthumously into the Mexican League Hall of Fame in 1993. Andrew Miller was the 6th overall pick by the Tigers in the 2006 draft. But, so far, Miller's career has been anything but bountiful. He was traded to the Marlins as part of the Miguel Cabrera trade but never lived up to his earlier promise. This week he was dispatched to the Red Sox for a journeyman pitcher in hopes of reviving his career. Unfortunately, the Red Sox have more SP's than a Cecil B. DeMille film classic! In 2010, Miller went 32 2/3 IP for the Marlins with an 8.54/2.36, 51 HA, and a 28/26 K/BB. In Double-A he was pretty bad, too, going 85 1/3 IP (1-8) with a 6.01/1.86, 98 HA and a 66/61 K/BB. His major league career, to date, looks like this: 294 1/3 IP (15-26), a 238/174 K/BB, 337 HA, and a 5.84/1.74 ERA/WHIP. He'll be 26 in May and I would have to consider Miller a bust! Tomorrow, I would like to talk about the "rise and fall" of another part of that trade, Cameron Maybin, and see if there's enough time for him to establish himself as a major-leaguer.

November 13, 2010: Don Mossi is still the ugliest man that ever lived!
James Hoey hasn't pitched in the majors in the majors since 2007. The Orioles purchased his contract from Triple-A this week and put him on their 40-man roster. He split the season Between Double-A and Triple-A in 2010 and posted a 3.25/1.33 ERA/WHIP in 42 appearances and, in 52 2/3 IP, allowed 36 H and had a 70/34 K/BB. Like Kam Mickolio, he's always been able to strike guys out. It's just that he can't keep the walks under control! In 2009, he had a 4.50 ERA in 36 games at Double-A. Hoey missed the entire '08 season after shoulder surgery. In parts of 2 seasons with the Orioles ('06-'07), Hoey was 3-5 in 35 1/3 IP, an 8.13/1.81, 39 HA, and a 24/23 K/BB. The 28 year old RH is running out of time! Keep an eye on his health in the spring. Did I read this right? Geoff Blum is on the verge of signing a 2-year deal with the D'Backs. Yes, I'm scratching my head too! After all, he did hit 2 HR in 202 AB for the Astros in '10 while batting .267 with a .677 OPS. The Astros declined Blum's $1.65-mil option, but I'd be shocked and disappointed if Blum will receive more than that per season. Blum did have 24 HR and 102 RBI for the Astros in '08-'09 with a .244 BA in 706 AB. He'll be 38 at the end of April. Maybe I really am missing something! On the site, we've been talking about many old-time minor league players who just don't get the recognition of their major league counterparts. I'd like to mention quickly a SP named Joe Martina, who's 2nd all-time (in the minors) in both W's (347) and K's (2770). Martina's nickname was "Oyster" Joe! The word, oyster, is a common name for a distinct group of bivalve mollusks which live in marine habitats. The valves are highly calcified. Calcification is the process in which calcium salts build up in soft tissue, causing it to harden. More about that later. Martina was 28-13 in 1919 with a 2.14/1.14 ERA/WHIP. In 1920, he was 20-14 with a 2.92/1.23. Martina won 20 or more games 7 times and even spent an entire season in the majors. At the age of 34, in 1924, pitching for the Washington Senators, Martina was 6-8, with a 4.27/1.48, a 57/56 K/BB and 129 HA in 125 1/3 IP. He made 24 appearances, including 14 GS and 8 CG. During his long minor league career (1910-1931), Martina was 349-277 with a 2770/1868 K/BB, 4950 HA, and a 2.32/1.26 ERA/WHIP in 5417 IP and 834 games. What I'd like to talk about is the fact that Martina was picked as the ugliest player in the decade of the 1920's in the Bill James Minor-League Handbook. Someone even said that Don Mossi was regal looking in comparison. I did see a very old black and white of Martina and, while I admit that I was sickened at what I saw, Mossi has him beat in overall ugliness! The Colorado Rockies are looking to take the next step in 2011. Troy Tulowitzki hauled in his first Silver Slugger as the best offensive player at SS in the NL and also won the Gold Glove. Tulo led NL SS's in fielding pct, DP's, total chances per 9 innings and putouts/game. Teammate, Carlos Gonzalez also won the pair, his first of each, in his first full season as a starter in the majors. If Ian Stewart can stay healthy, Dexter Fowler can continue his progress and they add another SP to their stable of Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin, you may be seeing the Rockies later into October in 2011. Tomorrow, I'd like to explore if Edwin Encarnacion is just misunderstood or if he just stinks!

November 12, 2010: Albert Pujols has won the Silver Slugger award at 3 different positions (3B, OF,1B)!
Over his final 212 AB of 2009, Jermaine Dye batted just .179 with a .590 OPS. He had a .302 BA and a .942 OPS in the 1st half. In mid-January, 2010, Dye turned down a $3.3-mil one year deal with the Cubs. He obviously felt that he was worth more but, as the weeks turned into months, no other team agreed and Dye sat out the whole 2010 season. Now he's saying that money doesn't matter (it always does) and he would accept anything but a minor-league deal. He's even gotten a nibble from the Phillies to be part of a platoon in RF. Don't forget that Dye is one of the worst fielding OF's in baseball! He ended the '09 season with a .250 BA in 503 AB, 27 HR, 81 RBI, 78 R, a 108/64 K/BB and a .788 OPS. Dye has a career 325 HR, 1072 RBI, 984 R, and a .274 BA. I was standing outside, watching a lone leaf drift its way to the ground. The chill in the air sifted through my lightweight sweater as the twilight settled in along with a sinking feeling. Glancing at the brown-boughed tree, I knew it was time. Time to rake, time to get the wires untangled to put up lights for the holidays, time to take the wife shopping, time to start dreading the credit card bills. But all that wasn't the real reason for that sinking sadness. The boys of summer had gone, leaving autumn and winter in their wake. Is it time for pitchers and catchers to report yet? This is a time when Managers of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards, and the occasional Oakland A's/KC Royals trades become something to hold on to! We all know about his 14-7 season with a 3.84/1.37 ERA/WHIP, 178 HA, and 200/75 K/BB in 185 IP. But what about his hitting? Yovani Gallardo was named the top offensive player in the NL at his position for the first time. He clubbed 4 HR's to lead NL pitchers. He was 16 for 63 (.254) at the plate and added 4 doubles, 10 RBI, 32 TB, 5 BB and an .837 OPS. Maybe we can get him to the AL as a DH when his pitching days are over! Gallardo is the only pitcher to ever hit a HR off Randy Johnson. Bet you didn't know that! Reports out of the Arizona Fall League are that Kam Mickolio, the perennial closer of the future for the Orioles, has given up 1 ER in 9 IP with 7 HA and a 12/2 K/BB in the early going. He's a big kid, at 6'9" and 255 lbs and won't turn 27 until May 10th. What's not to like? After pitching 3 2/3 innings for the O's in '10 with a 7.36/2.18, 5 HA and a 4/3 K/BB, Mickolio was dispatched to Triple-A by the O's. His numbers there weren't awe-inspiring either as he went 35 1/3 IP with a 6.37/1.73, 44 HA, and a 48/17 K/BB. Yes, he does strike out guys but his control has been mediocre. He does possess a good fastball/slider combo and, if he can stay out of the trainer's room, you may be on to something for the 2011 season. His major league career consists of 25 IP (0-3), a 26/14 K/BB, 24 HA, and a 4.32/1.52 ERA/WHIP. Maybe you can sneak him by your friends in your AL-draft next spring! If worse comes to worse, Mickolio can always try out for the Knicks. Because dunking a basketball is a lost art for baseball pitchers and one that I've never perfected! Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about another Baltimore pitcher. This one hasn't pitched in the majors since 2007 and, like Mickolio, comes with many risks attached!

November 11, 2010: Objects in this mirror are not as close as they appear!
Kaz Matsui began the season as the Astros starting second baseman. He was in the 3rd and final year of a $16.5 mil contract. It took less than a week for him to end up in a platoon. On May 20, with Matsui starting the season 10 for 71 (.141), with 1 XBH and 1 SB, the Astros released him! It opened up a spot for Jeff Keppinger, who was the Astros most consistent hitter (that's how bad they were early on), hitting .288 in 514 AB with 6 HR, 59 RBI, 62 R, 4 SB, a 36/51 K/BB and a .744 OPS. When Matsui came from Japan to the Mets in 2004 there was talk about putting Matsui at SS and moving Jose Reyes to second base. That talk was quickly tabled when the Mets realized that Matsui didn't have the requisite arm strength for SS and he was moved to second. Matsui had been a star in Japan from 1995-2003 going 1433 for 5034 (.285) with 150 HR (including 69 in '02-'03), 569 RBI, 762 R, and 306 SB. Pardon the Mets if they think they got stuck with So Taguchi! For his major league career, Matsui is 615 for 2302 (.267) with 32 HR, 211 RBI, 330 R, 102 SB, and a 403/179 K/BB. And, that's when he was healthy enough to play! His litany of injuries reads like a career criminal's rap sheet. In 2009, in 476 AB (career high) with the Astros, Matsui scored only 56 R, while enjoying most of his time at the top of the order. His best season was in 2007 with Colorado when he had career highs in BA (.288), SB (32), R (84), and triples (6). He helped the Rockies get to the World Series that year, losing to the Red Sox in 4 games. The Rockies did sign Matsui when he was released in May and he spent the rest of the '10 season at Triple-A, Colorado Springs. There, he went 79 for 301 (.262) with 2 HR, 29 RBI, 54 R, 7 SB, a 50/31 K/BB and a .680 OPS. Keep an eye on where he ends up in the spring as Matsui could make a good $1 play at the end of your NL draft. Hey, all fantasy owners love cheap speed. Jayson Nix has been playing third base in the Puerto Rican Winter League with an eye on being the primary 3B for the Indians in 2011. Nix was 74 for 331 (.224) with 14 HR, 34 RBI, 32 R, 1 SB, an 87/20 K/BB and a .677 OPS in 2010. He had 12 HR, 10 SB and a .224 BA in 255 AB for the White Sox in 2009. Nix made 11 errors at 3b, in 40 games for the Indians down the stretch. Just what they need, a third baseman that not only can't hit but can't field! Nix did put up some decent power/speed numbers in the minors, with a high of 21 HR and 24 SB (twice) and just turned 28 years old, so there may be a little time. Just not much! Jayson's brother, Laynce Nix, declared free agency yesterday after refusing an outright assignment by the Reds. Laynce hit .291 in 165 for the Reds in '10 with 4 HR and 18 RBI and will try to find a bench job for 2011. He did have 26 doubles and 15 HR for the Reds in '09 while batting .239 in 309 AB. As you probably know, Derek Jeter won his 5th Gold Glove award for his play at SS. I heard about diminishing range but Jeter did lead AL SS's with a .989 fielding pct. and made only 6 errors on the season. How many errors 1B, Mark Teixeira, saved him is anyone's guess. Jeter has also won the last four AL Silver Slugger Awards for a SS. If Jeter wins another when the voting is announced today, it could be a long off-season for the Yankees. What's next, the AL MVP award? Hey, Jeter did score 111 runs, steal 18 bases and knock in 67!

November 10, 2010: Derek Jeter won his 5th Gold Glove as the SS for the Yankees!
Some might say, "What was he thinking?" I mean $48 mil isn't a bad piece of change. I think that I can muddle by with that amount of money. Obviously, Dan Uggla doesn't agree with me, turning down a 4 year/$48 mil deal to stay with the Marlins, the only major league team that he's ever known, and avoid arbitration! Now, Uggla may have a point. In 2010, Uggla became the first second baseman in history to record 4 consecutive 30 HR seasons. He was 169 for 589 (.287) in 159 games with 100 R, 33 HR, 105 RBI, 4 SB, a 149/78 K/BB, and an .877 OPS. The BA, HR, RBI, and OPS are all career highs for Uggla. He's also proven very durable, averaging 155 games/season in his 5 years with the Marlins ('06-'10). He's also averaged 31 HR, 93 RBI, 100 R, a 152/73 K/BB, an .837 OPS, and a .263 BA. In 2010, Uggla was 5th in HR, 7th in R, 11th in SLG (.508), 5th in RBI, 10th in BB, and 11th in OPS. So, yes, he's put up some good numbers over the years, while his defense has never caught up with his offense! By the end of 2005, Uggla had the makings of a minor league journeyman. He had been in the D'Backs organization for 5 years, never advancing above Double-A. The Marlins took Uggla off the scrap heap, selecting him in the Rule-5 draft in '06. In fact, Uggla became the first Rule-5 player to be named to the All-Star team the same season ('06). He can be a free agent after the 2011 season and it will be interesting to see if the Marlins offer Uggla arbitration. Or if the team will add another year and $1 mil per season. That would be more than fair, let's call it a compromise, but anything else would be pure greed on Uggla's part! Has pitching become that thin in baseball? The Twins signed career minor-leaguer, Eric Hacker, to a major league contract yesterday. Hacker will be 28 years old in March and has accumulated 3 IP in the majors, with the Pirates in 2009, to the tune of 2 ER, 4 HA and 2 BB's. Hacker pitched for Fresno, the Giants Triple-A team, in '10 and had a 16-8 record. But that came with a 4.51/1.46 ERA/WHIP (I know that it's a hitter's league) with 180 HA and a 129/62 K/BB in 165 2/3 IP. He's also had a history of arm injuries. In 7 minor league seasons, Hacker is 52-30 with a 3.50/1.32, 704 HA and a 498/212 K/BB in 696 2/3 IP. Maybe the Twins know something that I don't know. Hey, it wouldn't be the first time! There's been a lot of talk on the site about the greatest minor league HR hitters of all-time. But what about the greatest minor-league pitcher of all-time, Frank Shellenback? He did pitch briefly in the majors, 1918-1919 for the White Sox (who became the Black Sox), going 10-15, with 220 HA, a 3.06/1.42, and a 57/90 K/BB in 217 2/3 IP. But it's his minor league career that is stuff of legend. Pitching in the bushes until 1939, Shellenback would go 316-191 in 4515 1/3 IP with 1024 BB (K's weren't made available) and a 3.56/1.32 ERA/WHIP. His best pitch was the spitter which was made illegal in 1920 by major league baseball. Still legal in the minors, Shellenback had five 20-win seasons, including 3 seasons of 26 or more. He was elected to the PCL Hall of Fame in 1943. He also helped discover one of the greatest hitters of all-time, a pitcher/OF named Ted Williams, who signed with San Diego in 1936. And the rest, as they say, is history!

November 9, 2010: Derek Jeter will be the richest 37 year old SS in the history of baseball!
There have been some reports circulating that Jarrod Washburn may want to pitch again in 2011. Of course, maybe because of lack of interest or off-season knee surgery, Washburn chose to sit out the 2010 season. His 2009 season wasn't bad when you look at the final numbers, a 9-9 record in 176 IP, a 3.79/1.19 ERA/WHIP, 160 HA, and a 100/49 K/BB. But, when we peek under the hood, how good was that season? In the pitcher's haven in Seattle, Washburn was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA before going to the Tigers in August. For Detroit, Washburn had a 7.33 ERA in 8 GS. He did turn down a 1-year, $5 mil deal from the Twins in January, 2010. I would say that Washburn was looking for a multi-year deal that wasn't to materialize. Washburn is 107-109 in a career that included an 18 win season with the Angels in 2002. In 206 IP that season, he had 183 HA, a 3.15/1.17 ERA/WHIP, and a 139/59 K/BB. The 139 K's represent a career high in a season that would be as good as it gets for Washburn. For his career, he has a 4.10/1.30, 1855 HA, and an 1103/569 K/BB in 1863 2/3 IP. If he could land in a place like San Diego, he would put up, at least, league average numbers. Because anyone on the SD starting staff becomes someone of interest, fantasy-wise! Jon Garland had a 3.00 ERA in 18 GS at Petco. Garland's road work produced a 4.01 ERA which is more indicative of the Garland that we all know and love! He turned down his $6.75 mil option to search for nirvana, and a multi-year deal, somewhere else. Reports out have the Mets kicking the tires on a deal with Garland. I just hope that the team remembers a guy named Oliver Perez. Though, Garland would be Tom Seaver compared to Perez. And maybe you're thinking, who wouldn't? Brandon Belt will be 23 years old in April and has a lot to live for. He's knocking on the door for a job with the World Champion SF Giants. Over 3 levels in 2010, all Belt did was hit .351 in 493 AB with 23 HR, 112 RBI, 99 R, 22 SB, a 99/93 K/BB and a 1.073 OPS. He was only 11 for 48 (.229) at Triple-A but that included 4 HR, 10 RBI, 11 R, a 15/13 K/BB and a .956 OPS. My feeling is that Belt needs a month or 6 weeks in Triple-A to start the season, then he should be up for good. Aubrey Huff was 165 for 569 (.290) for the club in '10. He added 26 HR, 86 RBI, 100 R, 7 SB, a 91/83 K/BB and an .891 OPS. Plus, Huff enjoyed the 1st post-season of his career. Huff is now a free agent but has expressed interest in coming back to the club. It will be interesting to see what kind of contract, if any, the Giants offer to Huff. He has had, to put it kindly, a roller-coaster career. From 2004-2009, his season BA are, .297, .261, .267, .280, .304, and .241! His HR totals over the same time are 29, 22, 21, 15, 32, and 15. If Huff would take a one year deal with an option, that's something that the Giants should consider. Huff did have career highs in R and BB in 2010 so, at this point in his career, Huff would like to maximize his earnings potential. It's called the Great American Way! Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about a guy that may have left $48 million on the table!

November 8, 2010: Hector Espino is the all-time minor league HR hitter with 484!
There are 3 things that you can count on in life: death, taxes, and Andy VanHekken spending another full season in the minors! He was drafted by the Mariners in the 3rd round of the '98 draft and traded to the Tigers in '99. In September, 2002, VanHekken got the call from the Tigers that minor leaguers dream of. And, in his first major league start, on September 3 vs Cleveland, VanHekken tossed an 8 hit, complete game shut out! You'd have to go all the way back to 1933 for the last Tiger pitcher, Schoolboy Rowe, to accomplish that feat. 5 days later, Van Hekken would give up 1 ER in 6 IP vs the Yankees in an eventual 6-4 Tiger loss. He finished that month with 5 GS, a 1-3 record, 30 IP, 38 HA, a 5/6 K/BB, and a 3.00/1.47 ERA/WHIP. As hard as this is to believe, that would be the only month of VanHekken's career spent in the majors. In his long minor and Independent league career (1998-2010), VanHekken is 113-80 in 1670 IP, 1768 HA, a 3.98/1.33, and a 1146/454 K/BB. He pitched for the Round Rock Express in 2010, going 8-8 in 177 1/3 IP, 184 HA, a 4.36/1.32, and a 114/50 K/BB in 27 GS. VanHekken has spent parts of 8 seasons at Triple-A. Here's hoping that VanHekken gets one more chance in the sun! I read on line that VanHekken looked like actor James VanDerBeek (Dawson's Creek) and I will also vote for that. I also learned that George Zuverink, who pitched in the majors from 1951-1959, graduated from the same high school in Holland, Michigan, as VanHekken. Zuverink was 32-36 in 265 games (31 GS). In 642 1/3 IP, he gave up 660 hits, a 223/203 K/BB, a 3.54/1.54 ERA/WHIP and 40 SV. He led the AL (with Baltimore) in SV in 1956 with 16. At Triple-A, in 1950, Zuverink was a 20 game winner and, after a 2-week hold out in the spring of '57, he received a $1000 raise. Oh, the days before free agency! Zuverink had success against Ted Williams over his career with the latter just 2 for 19 vs the RP. Years later when they met at a function, Williams said, "George, you can probably still get me out!" Scott Olsen capped off 2 disappointing seasons with the Nationals by declaring free agency after being waived by the club. Olsen is 37-49 with a 4.85 ERA in his 6 major league seasons. During his 2 seasons in the nation's capitol, Olsen was 6-12 in 132 2/3 IP, 176 HA, a 95/52 K/BB and a 5.76/1.59 ERA/WHIP. His only good season was with the Marlins in 2006 when, in 180 2/3 IP, Olsen had a 4.04/1.30, 160 HA, and a 166/75 K/BB. He had 2 GS this year, in August and September where he gave up 16 R in 3 1/3 IP. Ouch! Tomorrow, if you'll let me, I'd like to talk about the SF Giants first base situation and a guy that may come out on top!

November 7, 2010: I know that the clubs are weapons of war, I know that diamonds mean money for this art!
There's been one major league team throughout the history of baseball that's had three 40 HR hitters in the same season. That, of course was the '73 Braves. We talked about Davey Johnson (his only season of even over 20) and Hank Aaron (his last 40 HR season at the age of 39). But who was the other? He was a guy that had a .248 lifetime BA in 8973 AB, so he enjoyed a long career. Give up? It was Darrell Evans who hit a career high 41 that year for the Braves. He would later hit 40 for the 1985 Tigers, at the age of 38, becoming the first player in history to enjoy 40 HR seasons in both leagues! Evans would have a career of 414 HR, 1354 RBI, 1344 R, a 1410/1605 K/BB, and a .792 OPS. Evans did like to take a walk and was a 2-time All-Star over his long career. The last few days on this site, and others, I've been talking about career minor-leaguers and the story of the fictionalized "Crash" Davis, played by Kevin Costner in the movie, "Bull Durham." The real Crash Davis was an infielder who played for the Philadelphia Athletics during the war years, 1940-1942. This Davis was a .230 hitter in 444 AB with 43 R, 2 HR, 43 RBI, a 56/35 K/BB and a .568 OPS. When the war called (Davis stayed stateside), he did his duty and never returned to the majors. He did hit .281 in 3252 AB upon his return with 51 HR. The "movie" Crash Davis would go on to break the minor league HR record! When John Lindsey was called up by the Dodgers this season, after 16 years in the minors, the name, Crash Davis, came to mind again. Lindsey had accrued 5597 AB in the bushes to hit .284 with 219 HR and 1035 RBI. He was the oldest non-Asian player, at 32, to start a major league career since Alan Zinter, at 34, in 2002. Zinter had been the 24th overall pick by the Mets in the 1989 amateur draft. He spent time with Houston in '02 and Arizona in '04, compiling 67 games and 78 AB. His counting stats were 7 R, 13 H, 3 HR, 9 RBI, a 34/5 K/BB, a .548 OPS and a .167 BA. But, at least, he can tell his grandkids that he appeared in the show for not one, but two, cups of coffee! Over Zinter's long minor league career, he was 1507 for 5842 (.258) with 263 HR, 969 RBI, 910 R, a 1622/859 K/BB, 46 SB, and an .815 OPS. Zinter spent 13 seasons at Triple-A! Talk about waiting until they rip the uniform off your body! And tear the uniform off his body is what they'll have to do to Mike Hessman. After belting 18 HR, 58 RBI in 268 AB at Triple-A this year, the Mets called up Hessman at the end of July. He stayed in the majors for the rest of the season going 7 for 55 (.127) with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R and a 23/8 K/BB. Hessman had cups of coffee with the Braves ('03-'04) and the Tigers ('07-'08) before this call-up with the Mets, totaling 109 games, 223 AB, 29 R, 43 H, 14 HR, 33 RBI, a 79/21 K/BB, a .694 OPS and a .188 BA. Hessman's minor league career has been more bountiful. In 1621 games, he's 1355 for 5854 (.231) with 842 R, 329 HR, 952 RBI, 37 SB, and 1885/612 K/BB and a .773 OPS. I think he needs about 60 HR to get into the top 10 minor league HR hitters of all-time! Hessman has played 9 seasons at Triple-A. He won't be 33 years old until March, so there's time. Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about my favorite minor league journeyman of all-time, a pitcher who hurled a shut-out in his very first major league game!

November 6, 2010: Despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage!
As promised, I've unearthed the next Ben Zobrist. Don't forget, Zobrist spent most of 5 seasons in the Houston and TB systems, never hitting more than 7 HR in any minor league season. He came up for good in '08, belting 12 HR in 198 AB. In '09, it got even better for Zobrist with 27 HR, 91 RBI, 91 R, and a .297 BA in 501 AB. He regressed a bit in '10, batting just .238, with 10 HR, 75 RBI, 77 R, a 107/92 K/BB and a .699 OPS in 541 AB. He did add a useful 24 SB for TB, a team that thinks run first and ask questions later. Elliot Johnson was added to the TB 40 man roster this week. He'll be 27 in March, the same age as Zobrist when he was called up for good. Johnson is best remembered by Yankee fans as the guy that fractured Francisco Cervelli's wrist in a home plate collision during a 2008 spring training game. Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, called the play uncalled for and TB management said it was good hard baseball! Johnson made the team out of spring that year but, after going 3 for 19 (.158) with a 7/0 K/BB, he was dispatched back to Triple-A where he has spent most of the last 4 seasons. The switch hitting Johnson batted .319 in 427 AB at Triple-A in '10 with 11 HR, 56 RBI, 72 R, a 92/37 K/BB and an .851 OPS. He even threw in 30 SB for good measure. His minor league career consists of a .263 BA in 3317 AB with 487 R, 75 HR, 365 RBI, 196 SB, an 802/318 K/BB and a .736 OPS. And, like Zobrist, Johnson can play all over the infield and outfield. I'm not asking you to fall in love with Elliot Johnson. Just keep him in mind in the spring and remember that his minor league numbers to date are better than Zobrist's. Andy Marte has been a prospect, seemingly, since the late 50's. All he has to show for parts of 6 major league seasons is a .218 BA in 838 AB with 20 HR, 96 RBI, 85 R, a 177/67 K/BB and a .635 OPS. In 2010, Marte was 39 for 170 (.229) with 5 HR, 19 RBI, 18 R, a 35/17 K/BB and a .680 OPS. Before the 2005 season, Marte was rated the #9 prospect in all of baseball. He was always able to master minor league pitching as his 131 HR and 500 RBI will attest! Marte was sent outright to Triple-A by the Indians and can now become a free agent. A change of scenery can only help! Can Charlie Sheen do anything wrong? After the "hooker" debacle when Sheen trashed a hotel room in New York City, his TV show, Two and a Half Men (or the CC Sabathia story), is still the #1 comedy on TV, up 7% from last year. Sheen makes an A-Rod-like $30-mil per year for that series! He also has 3 new movies coming out. Just goes to show that talent goes a long way. Just ask Steve Howe! We've been hearing about Japanese pitcher, Yu Darvish for 5 years now. It looks like his team in thte East will post him for the 2012 season. He's staying in his home country this season because, supposedly, he's going through a divorce. Here's hoping that his former wife gets half his future earnings. Darvish's 6 year career consists of a 75-32 record, 136 GS, 45 CG, 12 shut outs, 1036 1/3 IP, 760 HA, a 974/297 K/BB and a 2.12/1.02 ERA/WHIP. His ERA in his last for seasons ('07-'10) are 1.82, 1.88, 1.73, and 1.78. Dice-K Matsuzaka, who was posted and signed for $51.1-mil, never had an ERA below 2.13 in Japan. Just imagine what this kid, not yet 24 years old, can get on the open market. Are you listening, Yankees? The D'Backs have supposedly set a figure of $80-mil for both the posting and contract! I just worry about the workload on someone so young! Time has run out for today, but tomorrow, I'd like to talk about a guy that makes Crash Davis look like Cal Ripken and the 3rd guy in the 1973 Atlanta Brave troika that was the only team in major league history to have 3 guys with 40 or more HR's in the same season.

November 5, 2010: Coco Crisp's real name is Covelli Loyce Crisp!
The Oakland A's picked up the $5.75-mil option on the contract of Coco Crisp yesterday. This wouldn't be so bad but Crisp just can't seem to stay on the field. He made the call for 75 games in '10 and, while he went 32 for 35 in SB and scored 51 R, he played only a combined 124 games in '09-'10! He hit .279 with 8 HR, 38 RBI and a 49/30 K/BB in 290 AB. Crisp's career high in games in the 145 he played in both '05 (Cleveland) and '07 (Boston). His 32 SB in '10 also mark a career high! I know that the A's like to run but how much can be expected of Crisp, who just turned 31? He's a lifetime .277 hitter in 3396 AB with 514 R and 169 SB. Keep an eye on his health come spring as he could be a great source of speed in your AL-only. The gloves are off in the Derek Jeter contract negotiations. A day after Yankee owner, Hal Steinbrenner said that negotiations could get ugly, Jeter's agent, Casey Close, had this to say. "Baseball is a business and Derek's impact on the sport's most valuable franchise cannot be overstated. No athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more than Derek Jeter." Let the games begin! I was enamored with Sean Gallagher entering the '09 season. After all, as a 22 year old in '08 with the Cubs and the A's, Gallagher had a 103/58 K/BB in 115 1/3 IP, a 5.15/1.53 ERA/WHIP and 118 HA. Not that it was great but as a young pitcher getting his feet wet, he seemed to be on his way. He ended up pitching out of the pen in '09, when he was healthy enough to pitch. A trade to the Padres that summer seemed to give him a new lease on life, in fantasy circles! But injuries and ineffectiveness caused his '10 season to be less than I expected. With the Padres and Pirates, Gallagher posted a 5.77/1.79 in 57 2/3 IP with a 43/41 K/BB and 62 HA. Gallagher was sent to Triple-A by the Pirates yesterday and his future is uncertain! Still, see his role/destination in '11 before making a final decision. We lost one of the greats in Sparky Anderson, a baseball lifer who lived 24/7 baseball. Anderson was a 3-time World Series winner ('75-'76 Reds, '84 Tigers) in a managerial career that ended in 1995. He's the 6th winningest manager of all-time with 2194 W's in 26 seasons. Anderson's only season in the majors ('59, Phillies) wasn't as prosperous. He played 152 games at 2B with 477 AB, 104 H, 34 RBI, 42 R, a 53/42 K/BB and 6 SB (in 15 attempts). He added a .218 BA and a .531 OPS. In the minors, Anderson was 1303 for 4949 (.263) with 19 HR and 366 RBI. He was also prone to hyperbole, once stating that Kirk Gibson was going to be the next Mickey Mantle and that Mike Heath had the best arm for a catcher that he'd ever seen! Don't forget that Anderson had managed Johnny Bench for 9 seasons in Cincinnati! His best one was when he opined that Mike Laga, who played for him in '84, would make us forget every power hitter that ever lived. Of course, if foul HR's counted, Anderson may have been on to something. Laga went on to hit a career .199 in 423 AB with 16 (fair) HR, 55 RBI, 39 R, a 115/22 K/BB and a .595 OPS. Laga did hit 220 HR in the minors and was the 17th overall pick in the 1980 draft. Tomorrow, I'd like to talk about the next Ben Zobrist which may be a little hyperbole in its own right!

November 4, 2010: Am I the only one sickened by the new TV series in the works, Skating With the Stars?
The AL champion, Rangers, have declined the $9-mil option on DH, Vladimir Guerrero. He faded a bit down the stretch but still finished with a .300 BA in 593 AB, 29 HR, 115 RBI, 83 R, a 60/35 K/BB and an .841 OPS. This culminated in Guerrero being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. I'm sure that the Rangers will try to get him back for less, maybe on another one year contract with an option. Guerrero may try to ink a multi-year deal with another AL club. He's the best "bad ball" hitter since the days of Yogi Berra! I hope that I didn't confuse people with minyans being involved in the fraternal order of Freemasonry. This is an esoteric art and, as I found out, most aspects of its work is not revealed to the general public. I think that if they told you, they'd have to kill you! There is no degree in Freemasonry higher than the master mason. The organization is organized into independent Grand Lodges which consists of subordinate lodges. I don't even know how you can be a mason. Do you get invited? Is that part of the junk mail that we throw out every day? And don't be confused by the fact that Ralph Kramden was a member of the Raccoon Lodge and that Fred Flintstone was in the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes! Just don't ask women to be part of the meeting as both Ralph and Fred found out. The guy in front of them asked that question about involving women and was summarily dismissed from their respective lodges. Of course, both Fred and Ralph forgot the question their wives (Wilma and Alice) wanted them to ask. Mason Reese is a former child actor who appeared in numerous commercials in the 70's Reese liked the idea that bringing home Underwood Deviled Ham would give him less bags to carry in. And, I do remember one thing. Reese wasn't a pretty sight to look at! The most famous mason, of course, was Perry Mason, the defense attorney that never lost a case. The actor, Raymond Burr, passed away in the 90's and word of his closet homosexuality came out almost immediately. Go figure! I made a list of 5 Perry Mason "things:" 1. he had no idea that a wheelchair was in his future, 2. always the focused attorney, he never realized that his secretary, Della Street, was in love with him, 3. he had 20 black suits in his "closet", 4. didn't Perry's mother know that all androgynous names turn to female?, and 5. my wife thinks that Tim Lincecum is androgynous! Speaking of Perry Mason, we did get to the bottom of this mystery. Elvis Andrus wasn't the only Elvis ever to play in the majors. Elvis Pena played in 25 games for the Rockies and Brewers in 2001-2002. He was 12 for 49 (.245) with 6 R, 3 doubles, 7 RBI, 3 SB, a 7/7 K/BB, and a .651 OPS. Pena hung around the minors until 2006 finishing with a .268 BA in 4652 minor league AB, 778 R, 26 HR, 402 RBI, 366 SB, an 851/635 K/BB, and a .715 OPS. I hope that you had him on your minor league fantasy team! Tomorrow I'd like to talk about the "fall" of pitcher, Sean Gallagher. Some might say that you have to be on a certain level to fall but maybe this fall wasn't as far as it could be and could there be a way to stop it?

November 3, 2010: One of these things is not like the other!
One thing that I noticed yesterday, the day after the last baseball game for 4 months, was that Jon Garland declined his $6.75-mil player option and has elected to become a free agent. Am I missing something here? Yes, Garland did have a good season pitching half his games in the friendly confines of Petco Park in SD. Plus the climate's great. I also hear that the school systems are pretty good! Garland went 14-12 with a 3.47/1.32 ERA/WHIP, 176 HA, and a 136/87 K/BB in 200 IP. Garland's agent had to look at the free agent SP's available and figures that Garland would be one of the better ones for a multi-year Carlos Silva-type contract. In fact, if it were last year at this time, the Mets may go 3 years and $36-mil on him! His agent better be good because having the security of almost $7-mil in your pocket is a tough thing to pass up. Garland had a career low ERA, a career high K's, and his best WHIP since 2005 (1.17). In this year's free agent market, Garland may represent a good catch. Personally, I think of Garland as a poor man's Joel Pineiro. Yesterday, I found out was the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday much like our All Saint's Day. It's a celebration of deceased ancestors and is also celebrated in U.S. communities with a large Mexican population. I wonder if the guy's that work on this golf course celebrate! The "living dead" is an oxymoron even if my career's on life support! I got a note that one of our "esteemed" members has passed away and that a minyan will be held at his son's residence. I had to look up the definition of the word, minyan. In Judaism, a minyan refers to a quorum of 10 male Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations. The most common activity requiring a minyan is public prayer. This is something to think about if your fantasy baseball team gets off to a sluggish start in 2011! Jose Bautista and Joey Votto won their league's respective Hank Aaron Award which recognizes the outstanding offensive performer from each league. And, I know, a lot has been said about Bautista's 54 HR which came out of nowhere in '10. I looked at other "strange" offensive seasons and found that Aaron's teammate, Davey Johnson, hit 43 of his career 136 HR in 1973. Johnson would only hit 27 more HR's the rest of his career. I would say that Johnson's season was just a fluke as this was a full 25 years before we even heard of steroids. But can you ever be sure? Brady Anderson, of course, is the poster-boy for the "fluke" season. Anderson hit 50 HR's in 1996 while his next highest total was the 24 that he hit in 1999. After battling injuries for most of the 3 previous seasons, Mark McGwire hit 52 HR in 1996. I wonder if that was the start of the "steroid era." From 1991-1997, Luis Gonzalez hit 84 HR total. In 1998, Gonzalez hit 23 HR and then all Hell broke loose. From 1999-2001, Gonzalez hit 114 HR and had 367 RBI. His '01 season included 57 HR, 142 RBI, a .325 BA, a .688 SLG and a 1.117 OPS. His next highest totals were 31 HR, 114 RBI, a .549 SLG, and a .952 OPS. Hmmm! Steve Finley his 47 HR over the first 7 years of his career. In 1996, at the age of 31, Finley belted 30. Finley would hit 304 HR with 1443 R, 2548 H, 1167 RBI, and a .271 BA in 9397 AB. After the age of 30, Finley hit 257 HR! Color me skeptical.

November 2, 2010: Good pitching and defense beats good hitting!
The greatest pitching match-up in World Series history, part 2! The last team to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series was the 1985 KC Royals vs the Cardinals. The last team to come back from 3-1 to win the last 2 games on the road was the '68 Tigers, also vs the Cards. So, history isn't on the side of the Rangers. (Except, maybe, if they were playing St.Louis). The 5th hitter for the Rangers, Nelson Cruz, came into this game this post-season at .321, 5 HR, 7 doubles, and 10 RBI, while the Giants' 5th hitter, Juan Uribe, was at .140, with 6 H, 2 HR and 9 RBI coming in! I think my wife was right about Ozzie Guillen. Aaron Rowand, and his lifetime .429 BA in Arlington is batting 9th for the Giants. The top of the Rangers' order just isn't getting it done in the Series as evidenced by their 1 for 14 in game 4. Tim Lincecum sets down the Rangers in order in the 1st. The first called strike that Cliff Lee got was to the 6th batter, Aubrey Huff. The Giants are really coming out swinging. 6 pitches for Lincecum to retire the side in the 2nd inning and he K's the side in the 3rd around a walk to Moreland. Lee is looking good as well with 0 R and 2 HA through 3! I learned that the minimum salary in 1963 for major leaguers was $6000. The minimum in 2010 was $450,000. I don't think that my oldest son is even making $6000 now. Thank God his parents have money! Michael Young leads off the bottom of the 4th with the Rangers' first hit. But, nothing comes of it. After 5 innings, both teams have a total of 3 H, 0 R, and a 10/1 K/BB. This was the pitcher's duel that we were expecting in game 1, where Lee/Lincecum went a combined 10 1/3 IP, 16 HA, and 10 ER. Posey almost hits one out in the 6th that is caught by Cruz at the wall. Cruz had just let a low line drive go off his glove. The Rangers, at this point, haven't scored a run since the 5th inning of game 3. Back to back singles by Ross and Uribe and the first sac-bunt by Aubrey Huff since American Legion puts runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Lee K's Burrell for Pat the Bat's 10th K in 12 AB. Pat may have a hole in his bat! Edgar Renteria then hits a 3-R HR to make it 3-0 SF. With 1 out in the bottom of the 7th, Nelson Cruz hits his 6th post-season HR to make it 3-1 Giants and ending 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings for the Rangers. Cruz also extends his single post-season record to 13 XBH's. After a Kinsler walk, Lincecum K's the next 2. At this point, Neftali Feliz is bought in. Cliff Lee ends his evening with 7 IP, 3 ER, 6 HA, and a 6/0 K/BB. In 2 post-seasons, Lee now has an 80/8 K/BB. Feliz does go 2 IP with 1 HA and 2 K. Lincecum finishes up his night with 8 IP, 1 ER, 3 HA and a 10/2 K/BB. He throws 101 pitches and probably could have come out for the 9th. The bearded one, Brian Wilson, comes out for the 9th and K's Hamilton (looking, he's 2 for 20 in the series), Guerrero grounds to SS (1 for 14), and K's Cruz (swinging). The Giants are the World Champions. Lincecum is the first pitcher to get at least 10 K's in a clinching game since Bob Gibson in 1967. When the Giants were last World Champions in 1954, they played in NY and there were no teams West of the Mississippi. The last team before the 2010 Giants to throw at least 2 shut outs in the World Series was the 1966 Orioles, who shut out the Dodgers 3 times! I'll always call that the Moe Drabowski series. Free agent, Edgar Renteria, was named the World Series MVP. He's talking retirement and, if that was indeed Renteria's final AB, it would be some way to go out! Just finishing up a 2 year/$18 mil contract, maybe the Giants will bring Renteria back for a couple million for one more season in the sun. Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe are also free agents for the Giants.

November 1, 2010: Tommy Hunter looks like a bigger version of Colby Lewis!
Tommy Hunter was given the keys to the city by the Rangers to even the series at 2. Hunter had a 12/0 K/BB in 7 1/3 IP coming in. But that came with a 6.14 ERA and a .333 OPP BA! He was 13-4 on the season with a 3.73/1.24 ERA/WHIP, 126 HA and a 68/33 K/BB in 128 IP. The Giants counter with 21 year old, Madison Bumgarner and start Travis Ishikawa at first and Nate Schierholtz in RF. Aubrey Huff shifts to DH. Ishikawa hadn't started a game since August 14 and Schierholtz hadn't been in the starting line-up since September 15. My wife mentioned to me that Ozzie Guillen was ridiculous and you had to see it to know! She thinks that the whole Fox pre-game show should be a Saturday Night Live bit! I thought that the kid who had the Ron Washington "disguise," Liam Roybal, looked like someone with a premature aging disease. It's also hard to believe that Lyle Lovett ever got Julia Roberts and that he had a nose that Jimmy Durante would be proud of! It's also the first time that Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Schierholtz started in the same OF all season for SF. A terrible call on the Ishikawa DP grounder and a Renteria single puts runners on the corner in the top of the 2nd but Josh Hamilton saves the day with a great diving catch to keep the game scoreless. It was also noted that Bumgarner and Buster Posey are the first rookie battery to start a World Series game since Spec Shea pitched to Yogi Berra in the '47 Series. The Giants start the scoring in the top of the 3rd with a Torres double and a Huff HR down the RF line. 2-0 Giants! Freddy Sanchez has a great bottom of the 4th in the field and Posey guns down Hamilton on a steal attempt for the final out of the inning. Hunter is out of the game going 4 IP, 2 ER, 5 HA and a 1/1 K/BB. Rookie, Alexi Ogando is bought in. Ogando had a 1.30 ERA in 41 2/3 IP during the season. Ogando retires 5 straight and comes up lame, holding his left side. If Ogando is out for the rest of the Series, it would be a big blow to the Rangers' bullpen. In 6 IP in the post-season, Ogando has a 1.50 ERA in 6 IP with an 8/0 K/BB. Darren Oliver comes in and gives up Renteria's 3rd hit of the game and an RBI, 2 out, double to Torres to make it 3-0 SF. The Rangers get a break in the bottom of the 7th on a rare error by Juan Uribe. Vlad Guerrero K's for the 3rd time and, after a Nelson Cruz single up the middle. Kinsler is retired on a soft fly to left. Inning over! Buster Posey makes it 4-0 with a HR in the top of the 8th of Darren O'Day. By the way, Posey is the first rookie C ever to bat clean-up in a World Series game. Bumgarner, the 10th overall pick in the '07 draft, leaves with 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 HA and a 6/2 K/BB. Brian Wilson pitches a 1-2-3 9th with 2 K's and SF leads the Series 3 games to 1. Only 4 rookies have pitched complete game shut outs in the World Series, the last being Cleveland's, Gene Bearden, in 1948. Bumgarner also became the 4th youngest SP to win a game. Joe Bush (1913), Jim Palmer, and Fernando Valenzuela were younger. The Series continues in Texas tonight with a re-match of the greatest pitcher's duel of all time, Tim Lincecum vs Cliff Lee.

October 31, 2010: Madison Bumgarner is starting to look a little bit like Herman Munster!
For now, there's a new king of the Texas staff and his name isn't Cliff Lee. But fear not, Rangers' fans, the monogrammed towels in the locker room can stay the same. It's Colby Lewis, the refugee from 2 seasons in the Far East! Lewis had 196 K's on the season, the most for a Rangers' pitcher since Nolan Ryan's 203 back in 1991, when he was 44 years old. Nolan Ryan threw out the first pitch before game 3, a 68 MPH "change-up" to Pudge Rodriguez. I was a little disappointed until I realized that Ryan will be 64 in January. I think that Pudge will be 57! I got some conflicting numbers before the game. The Giants have won 15 of their last 20 games on the road overall. The Rangers were 51-30 at home during the regular season. And, Colby Lewis had the only 2 wins at home in Ranger post-season history, both vs the Yankees! We didn't have to wait until the 5th inning this time for any action. A first pitch, lead-off double in the bottom of the 2nd by Nelson Cruz. A 2 out walk. Runners on the corner for rookie 1B, Mitch Moreland. After fouling off 4 tough pitches, Moreland hits the 9th pitch off the AB for a 3-R HR. It was the LH Moreland's first major-league HR off a LHP. Terrible strike calls to Edgar Renteria in the top of the 3rd, the only SS to play for 3 different teams (Fla., St. L., SF) in the World Series. And, a rare sight was to see the quiet and classy Renteria get upset with the home plate ump! After a great around-the-horn DP in the bottom of the 5th, Josh Hamilton unloads a solo HR to make it 4-0 Texas. It was the 5th HR of the post-season for Hamilton and his 4th off a LHP! A walk to Guerrero and Jonathan Sanchez's night is over. LH had hit only .181 with 5 HR during the regular season. Sanchez has this line: 4 2/3 IP, 6 HA, 4 ER, and a 3/3 K/BB. In the top of the 7th, that man again, Cody Ross hits his 5th HR of the post-season to make it 4-1. The Giants turned 3 DP's through the first 7 innings. Watching Juan Uribe in the field this post-season has been a treat. As his former manager, Ozzie Guillen, said before game 1, Uribe will be your best 3B, your best 2B, and your best SS! And he wasn't kidding! Andres Torres hits a solo HR in the 8th, his first of the post-season to make the score 4-2. The next batter, Freddy Sanchez, scalds a line drive directly over the head of Nelson Cruz, who makes a great catch moving back. it had to be the hardest ball that Sanchez ever hit! I thought, as the few of you that could watch the game on TV did, that there would be a pitching change as the tough LH, Aubrey Huff, was due up. But, no, and after a quick 0-2 count, Lewis hits Huff in the leg with a pitch. Lewis out, O'Day in (Neftali Feliz wasn't ready!). O'Day gets Posey on a full-count GB to Andrus. Lewis goes 7 2/3 IP, 5 HA, 2 ER, and a 6/2 K/BB. There's something in that water in Japan! Feliz goes 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th, including 2 K's, for the SV. Feliz, at 22, becomes the 2nd youngest ever to notch a World Series SV. Bob Welch (not the singer) for the Dodgers, was 21 in 1978. Pat Burrell has become a real black-hole in the middle of the Giants' line-up going 0 for 4 with 4 K's. I think they call that the Golden Sombrero. Burrell is now 0 for 9 in the Series with 8 K's. I enjoyed the "early" 6:57 start time for the game. Tonight's game 4 will begin at 8:20 ET with 21 year old Madison Bumgarner facing the Rangers' Tommy Hunter. There was some talk about Cliff Lee but that has been tabled for now!

October 30, 2010: The Toronto Blue Jays picked up the $1.2-mil option on Jose Molina!
Game 3 in Texas this evening and a must-win for the home club vs LH, Jonathan Sanchez. The Rangers are hitting .306 with an .821 OPS vs LHP during the post-season. Colby Lewis and his 1.45 ERA in 3 GS in the playoffs will go for Texas. The Giants/Rangers played the 1st inter-league game ever on June 12, 1997. Current Ranger RP, Darren Oliver was the SP for Texas. Before the first pitch, the home plate umpire told lead-off hitter, Darryl Hamilton that the first pitched ball would be saved for the Hall of Fame. Hamilton was in a bind as he couldn't swing at that pitch. The pitch was low and Hamilton later singled in the AB. Hamilton was a .291 career hitter in 4577 AB with 51 HR, 454 RBI, 707 R, 163 SB a 494/493 K/BB and a .746 OPS. He had 41 SB and 62 RBI (both career highs) for Milwaukee in 1992. While leading off for the Giants that night, Hamilton had played for the Rangers in 1996 when he had 184 H, 94 R, and 15 SB while hitting .293. In my opinion, the Chicago White Sox made a good decision when they picked up the $3-mil option on RP, Matt Thornton for the 2011 season. Thornton had 60 2/3 IP, a 2.67/1.01 ERA/WHIP, 41 HA, an 81/20 K/BB and 8 SV. From '08-'10, the LH Thornton has 200 1/3 IP, 147 HA, a 245/59 K/BB and a 2.70/1.03. He added 13 SV. Except for the SV's, if you put his numbers up against the best closers, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference! I mentioned Chad Ogea as the last pitcher in the AL to record an XBH before Cliff Lee hit a double on Wednesday night. Ogea was a member of a fantasy team of mine every year that he was a major leaguer, 1994-1999. He came up with an 8-3 record in '94 with a 3.05/1.16 in 106 1/3 IP. That was the extent of Ogea's "greatness." But, being the stubborn sort that I am, I kept him, even following him to the NL in 1999, when he went 6-12 for the Phillies with a 5.63/1.51 in 168 IP. He gave up 192 H and had a 77/61 K/BB. I knew then that it was time to cut bait with Ogea. Obviously, major league baseball figured out the same thing! He did have success in the 1997 World Series for Cleveland with 2 GS vs Kevin Brown, winning both and giving up 2 ER in 11 2/3 IP! My son bought home a couple of his friends last night to spend the night on their way to Washington D.C. One was a seemingly intelligent and articulate Northwestern graduate. Striking up a conversation, I asked who he favored in the World Series. He asked me which countries were playing! I knew then and there that Chuckles the Clown, that refugee from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, needed a comeuppance. While he was smiling smugly, I shot back, yeah, the World Series. With teams from the country that created the fine game of baseball. The country that considers the game its national pastime. The country that actually has boys of summer. The country that every talented player from every other country comes to in order to make it the only Majors in the world! Yeah, that country, with its World Series. Ain't it great to be a patriot? And I'm not talking about football. One of those players, Hisanori Takahashi is looking to sign a new contract with the Mets. Takahashi had 12 GS among his 53 games, going 10-6 in 122 IP with 8 SV, a 3.61/1.30 ERA/WHIP, 116 HA and a 114/43 K/BB. I don't know how much or for how many years Takahashi is looking for but, keep in mind, that he'll be 36 years old in April. He did do some good work for the Mets in 2010 and, hopefully, a fair agreement can be worked out! The key word there is "fair."

October 29, 2010: Matt Cain looks like a chubbier version of Dennis the Menace!
I don't think that game 2 SP's, Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson, received the memo that this wasn't supposed to be the series' big pitching duel. That was supposed to take place in game 1. An interesting pre-game mention was that both the Rangers' Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz had hit safely in the first 12 post-season games. Andrus was 18 for 54 with 8 R and 7 SB and Cruz was 16 for 45 with 5 HR, 10 RBI and 11 R. I also learned that every first name in the Andrus family started with the letter "E." Andrus' mothers first name is Elvira (no, not the mistress of the dark). In fact, after 4 innings and the game still scoreless, the most important facts that I found out was that Matt Treanor's wife, Misty May, is a 2-time Olympic Gold Medal winner in beach volleyball and that Michael Young is the only player in major league history to have 150-game seasons at 2B, SS, and 3B! The excitement started in the top of the 5th when Ian Kinsler led off with a drive off the very top of the wall that came back into the field of play. Baseball really is a game of inches. The pizza delivery guy arrived and thought that my oldest son was still at Syracuse University. My wife and I had to mention that he transferred from Syracuse 5 years ago and graduated from Fordham last December! This guy has been delivering pizza for Domino's for at least 10 years and will be eligible for the Hall of Fame 5 years after he retires! Moreland, who's hitting .351 in the post-season is intentionally walked with 2 outs to face Wilson, who's 0 for 4 on the season. Wilson is summarily dismissed on a ground ball to Huff. Edgar Renteria (!) takes Wilson deep in the bottom of the inning for a 1-0 Giant lead. Renteria hadn't hit a HR in SF since July. With one out in the top of the 6th, back-to-back singles by Young and Hamilton and a wild pitch puts runners on 2nd and 3rd. A pop out and a fly out end the inning and Cain is still unscored upon in the playoffs. That man again, Cody Ross, leads off the bottom of the 7th with a walk and  C.J. Wilson is taken out because of a blister. Uribe hits a one-out single off Darren Oliver to score Ross and make it 2-0 Giants. Wilson goes 6 IP, with 3 HA, 2 ER, and a 4/2 K/BB. Not a bad night's work! Andrus walks and steals 2nd base (his 8th SB of the playoffs) and, with 2 outs, Cain is removed from the game. Javier Lopez comes in and gets Josh Hamilton for the 3rd out. Cain goes 7 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 4 HA and a 2/2 K/BB. Cain now has 21 1/3 scoreless IP in the post-season! The bottom of the 8th starts innocently enough with Darren O'Day setting down the first 2 batters. A Buster Posey single brings on Derek Holland. 13 pitches and 12 balls later, Holland probably wishes he was in the Netherlands as a R is forced in and it's 3-0 SF. Mark Lowe gives up a walk and a 2-R single by Renteria and Kirkman finished the gas-pouring by allowing a 2-R triple to Rowand and an RBI double to Torres. 9-0 Giants. Britney Spears' first marriage didn't last as long as that half-inning! The Rangers are now 0-11 at AT&T Park. This was the first Giant post-season shut out since game 2 of the 1962 World Series when Jack Sanford hurled a 2-0 CG gem. Jack later started a salvage business with his oldest boy and called it Sanford and Son! Game 3 will move to Texas tomorrow evening and, in a must-win for the home team, Texas will trot out Colby Lewis vs the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez. The SF LH had a little melt-down in game 6 of the NLCS when he and Chase Utley couldn't agree on home-decorating ideas. Let's hope that Sanchez could put that incident behind him and give the Giants more than 2 IP. Lewis gutted out 8 IP vs the Yankees for the W in game 6 of the ALCS.

October 28, 2010: Tim Lincecum is now 39-0 when his team gets him at least 4 runs!
I think someone forgot to tell Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum that this was supposed to be the greatest World Series pitching duel of all-time. Lee had never lost a post-season GS, going 7-0 in 8 GS and Lincecum was the 2-time NL Cy Young award winner. Only the greats, Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson, had a lower post-season ERA than Lee in SP with more than 5 GS. I was getting ready for some game! Bruce Bochy was interviewed before the game and I couldn't get over how much he sounded like the Western actor, Sam Elliott. In fact, if there's ever a Bonanza remake, I'd be comfortable with Bochy playing the part of the oldest brother, Adam Cartwright. Pablo Sandoval could play the part of middle brother, Hoss! To me, Bonanza was always a show about a 50 year old man with two 46 year old sons and a 26 year old grandson! And standing next to Andres Torres on the baseline during pre-game introductions, Bochy looked like Robert Wadlow, the tallest man that ever lived! I also love the graphics before the game. An interesting one stated that, against Lincecum this season, opponents have stolen 27 of 30 bases. We all know Texas likes to run as evidenced by Elvis Andrus' 7 SB in the post-season already! And when Andrus stepped up in the top of the 1st, a question I always had was answered right away. Andrus is the 1st player in a World Series named Elvis. His middle name isn't even Aron and he wasn't born in Tupelo. Thanks to a Guerrero RBI off Lincecum's left leg and an Andrus sac-fly, the Rangers led 2-0 going into the bottom of the 2nd. Cliff Lee even hit a double in the 2nd making him the 1st AL pitcher with an extra base hit since game 6 of 1997 off the bat of the immortal Chad Ogea! And the only way that Bengie Molina scores from first base on that ball is if Lee hit a HR! At 2-0, I actually thought that the game was over. I was ready to watch a tape of the Good Wife. Lee gives up a rare 2 R in the bottom of the 3rd featuring an error and a hit-batter while throwing 32 pitches in the inning. A good graphic is that, back in 2003, Cody Ross, then with the Tigers, hit his 1st major league HR off Cliff Lee. In the bottom of the 5th, Freddy Sanchez hits his 3rd double off Lee (the 5th 2-bagger that he gave up). Sanchez became the 1st player ever to start his World Series career with 3 doubles! Cody Ross adds a single to make it 4-2 and Aubrey Huff hits another up the middle to make it 5-2, ending Lee's night. Juan Uribe would add a 3-R HR off Darren O'Day to make it SF 8, TEX 2. Lee ended up with 4 2/3 IP, 6 ER, 8 HA, and a 7/1 K/BB. Except for the command, we could have been watching Jeff Suppan! Not to be outdone, Texas scores 2 in the top of the 6th with Molina and Murphy (PH single) doing the damage and ending Lincecum's evening. Lincecum's line is 5 2/3 IP, 4 ER, 8 HA, and a 3/2 K/BB. And I'll never understand my wife's fascination with Tim "The Freak" Lincecum. I think that she just loves his hair and the fact that he has none on his face! The Giants added 3 R in the bottom of the 8th and the Rangers made it a little interesting by scoring 3 in the top of the 9th. Final: SF 11, TEX 7. The greatest pitching show of all time, my ass! The last time a Giants team had scored 6 runs in an inning was during the 1937 World Series which was even before my time. The game featured 25 hits and 6 errors, including 2 by RF, Vlad Guerrero. The hitting star was former NL batting champion, Freddy Sanchez who went 4 for 5 (3 doubles) with 3 RBI and 2 R. I just want to know, what did the Giants do with the real Cliff Lee and how did they substitute Zach Duke for him without us knowing? The Series continues tonight at SF with C.J. Wilson going against Matt Cain in what could be billed as the greatest pitching match-up of all time. At least the greatest in this series!

October 27, 2010: Overture, dim the lights, this is it, the night of nights!
Unless you've been sleeping for 4 days, you know that tonight is the 1st World Series game between the AL champs, Texas Rangers and the NL champs, San Francisco Giants. And, on the strength of the NL's first win in the All-Star game since 1996, the NL will have the home field advantage! Cliff Lee, with his 3-0 record, 0.58 ERA and 34/1 K/BB this post-season will do battle against Tim Lincecum, who hasn't been too bad himself, going 2-1, with a 1.93 ERA and a 30/5 K/BB in 23 1/3 IP. The one thing that I pointed out on the Home Page is the Lincecum/Posey combination is only 1 for 13 in throwing out base-stealers. The Rangers have stolen 15 for 17 so far in the playoffs. Just something to keep an eye on! One guy's a winner even before he steps onto the field. Yes, Bengie Molina, who was traded from the Giants to the Rangers on July 1 stands to get a ring no matter who wins. Can we call it "what comes around, goes around?" From 2005-2009, Molina averaged 133 H, 18 HR and 76 RBI while playing 129 games per season. He played in 61 games for the Giants and another 57 for the Rangers totaling 5 HR, 36 RBI, 27 R and a .249 BA in 377 AB. Molina is leaning toward retirement after the World Series. If he does, the classy Molina will leave with 144 HR and 711 RBI. He's also been credited with the maturation of Giants' SP's Matt Cain and Lincecum and helping Brian Wilson become the dominant closer that he is! Molina already has a World Series ring with the '02 Angels and, in 38 post-season games, Molina is hitting .281 with 5 HR and 19 RBI. He even stole a rare base in the '10 ALDS vs the Rays. On a day when the Walkman was taken off the market by Sony, the Yankees may have saved themselves $31.5 mil by declining the options of Kerry Wood ($11-mil.), Lance Berkman ($15), and Nick Johnson ($5.5). Johnson and Berkman are no-brainers and if the club could get Wood back for less, they should try. Wood had a good 2nd half and may get "closer money" from another club. In 46 IP, Wood put up 8 SV, a 3.13/1.39 ERA/WHIP, 35 HA, and a 49/29 K/BB. He also gave up 2 H in 6 post-season IP with 4 K's. Wood is just 2 years removed from a 34 SV season with the Cubs where, in 66 1/3 IP, he had a 3.26/1.09, 54 HA and an 84/18 K/BB! Is this a Derek Jeter situation? The A's have decided to pick up the $6-mil option on long-time 2B, Mark Ellis. I guess the A's want to see Ellis get his 1000th hit in an A's uniform. He needs 32 more! Ellis was 127 for 436 (.291) for the A's this season with 5 HR, 49 RBI, 45 R, 7 SB and a 56/40 K/BB. He's been in the organization since 2001 so I would guess this is a case of not what you know but who you know! His career year was 2007 when Ellis, in 583 AB, hit .276 with 19 HR, 76 RBI, 84 R and 9 SB. Do the A's think that another team would offer Ellis more than $6 million for 2011? These are some of the decisions that I don't understand. But it's nowhere near as bad as the Astros picking up the $3-mil option on Brian Moehler heading into 2010! That was a sin and the decision-maker should have been fired on the spot!

October 26, 2010: "She's got a way about her, don't know what it is!"
A few of us fantasy baseball types were sitting around on Sunday night watching the former Mets and Astros SP, Mike Scott, dominate the Mets in the 1986 NLCS. This is a guy that came into the 1985 season with a lifetime record of 29-44. Before the '85 season, Scott was taught the split-finger fastball by Tigers' pitching coach, Roger Craig. Scott became an 18 game winner with the Astros that year and was rewarded with a 3-year $2 million deal. But, it's the 1986 season that Mike Scott became one of the best, if not the best SP, in the NL. In 275 IP that year (37 GS), Scott had a 2.22/0.92 ERA/WHIP, 182 HA, and a great 306/72 K/BB. He was accused of scuffing the ball that season but, like a great thief or, in this case, pitcher, was never caught doing so. It's his work in the NLCS vs the Mets in '86 that I most remember. In 18 IP that post-season, Scott had 2 GS, 2 CG, 1 shut out, 8 HA, 1 ER, a 19/1 K/BB, a 2-0 record (the only 2 Astros' wins) and an 0.50/0.50 ERA/WHIP. Has to remind you a little of Cliff Lee! He had 233 K in 247 2/3 IP in 1987, an 0.98 WHIP in 1988, and his only 20 win season in 1989. He was a 3 time All-Star ('86-'87, '89), won the Cy Young in '86 and was 2nd in the voting in '89. For his career, Scott was 124-108 in 2068 2/3 IP, 1858 HA, a 3.54/1.20, and a 1469/627 K/BB. Injuries became too much for Scott and he retired after the '91 season. During that Scott retrospective, we saw a commercial that always gets to me. And, we can all relate! We don't know his name. Could be Horace or Buster, or Killer or a slew of other fitting monickers. But, he's definitely no Fifi. He's a terrier mix with shaggy eyebrows and soulful eyes. And he's got troubles......trouble, trouble, trouble, as the bluesy performer, Ray Lamontagne sings. Unable to find a hiding spot for his prized bone, he roams from backyard burial plot to safe deposit box, worriedly heading up the bank steps, tossing and turning while nightmares invade his sleep, doggedly (no pun intended) bringing his bone home, and finally finding relief under the protection of the Travelers' Red Umbrella that hovers just above his food dish. It's an ingenious commercial, not because it sells us on the idea of insurance, but because it touches on the angst of an age. We all have our bones. We all toss and turn. Too bad there's no umbrella around when you really need it. Just ask Joe Girardi! I've been asked on the site about reserve Yankee OF, Greg Golson. Why would we want to talk about anyone who was 6 for 23 (.261) this year with 2 RBI, 3 R, and a 3/0 K/BB? His Triple-A numbers this year weren't that inspiring either. He batted .263 in 415 AB with 10 HR, 40 RBI, 51 R, 17 SB, a 99/25 K/BB and a .727 OPS. This was better than his first full AAA season of '09. Golson is a guy like Andres Torres was at one time. Stuck in the wrong organization. The 25 year old Golson has already been through the Rangers and Phillies organizations. If he can get a new chance with another club, he will be someone to keep an eye on. Torres went through 6 different organizations until, at age 32, he found fantasy nirvana in 2010 with the NL champion Giants. In the meantime, Golson will be best remembered for throwing Carl Crawford out at 3rd base on Sept. 14th to end the TB game and preserve an 8-7 Yankee win.

October 25, 2010: We don't serve espresso just 4 day old coffee!
Andres Torres started the playoffs 3 for 25, including an 0 for 4, 4 K game in game 2 of the NLCS. He found himself on the bench for game 3 to get his thoughts together. He returned in game 4 to finish the series 6 for 10 with 2 BB's in his last 3 games. Don't forget, this is a guy that came out of seemingly nowhere to record 67 XBH's for the Giants this season. The team surely needed his contributions and still do if they're going to call themselves the World Champions of 2010. Torres gave fantasy owners a glimpse at what he could do in 2009. In 152 AB for the Giants, Torres had 6 doubles, 8 three baggers, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 30 R, 6 SB, an .872 OPS and batted .270. Not bad for his first extended look in the majors since 2003. Still, Torres went unnoticed in most drafts this spring. He went undrafted in my $360-NL and was a late reserve pick in my $260-NL. This is, after all, a guy that had been through 6 different organizations and had gotten 409 AB in the majors and 3732 AB in the minors. No one could expect the playing time that Torres would receive in 2010. In 507 AB, Torres batted .268 with 16 HR, 63 RBI, 84 R, 26 SB, a 128/56 K/BB and an .822 OPS. He added 43 doubles and 8 triples. This included playing with a faulty appendix for most of September and some missed time! What a find Torres was for fantasy owners with the foresight to pick him up early on! In other baseball news, Brandon Inge stayed with the Tigers, the only organization that he's ever known, by signing a 2 year/$11-mil contract. The 33 year old Inge was 127 for 514 (.247) with 13 HR, 70 RBI, 47 R, 4 SB, a 134/54 K/BB and a .718 OPS. Word out of Detroit is that the team loves his defense at the hot corner. He did have a career high (tying) 27 HR and 84 RBI in 2009 with a .230 BA. Inge came up as a catcher and then was moved to CF for a time. That's the sign of a great athlete and, if you can get him late in your AL-drafts in '11, I would recommend it. Just make sure that you draft a couple of guys that will help Inge's poor BA. Inge's partner on the left side of the Tiger infield, Jhonny Peralta may also be due some love from the team. Here's hoping from me that his $7.25-mil option is declined by the club. Peralta hit .249 in 551 AB with the Indians and Tigers with 15 HR, 81 RBI, 60 R, a 103/53 K/BB and a .703 OPS. His SS eligibility will tempt but see where he ends up! He did enjoy a fine season in 2008 with 104 R, 23 HR, 89 RBI and a .276 BA in 605 AB. I just have a feeling that Peralta is going to be one of those guys that we overlook coming into 2011. Durability, relative youth and past performance may force us to give him a 3rd chance! He could surprise in 2011. I wanted to give a quick mention to Eduardo Nunez, the player that the Yankees replaced Mark Teixeira on their post-season roster with. First off, keep an eye on the Derek Jeter contract situation in the Bronx. It's highly unlikely, but if Jeter goes elsewhere, Nunez could be the next Yankees SS. Nunez batted .280 in 50 AB with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 12 R, 5 SB, and a 2/3/ K/BB. If the Yankees package Nunez in a trade, keep an eye on where he ends up. All owners are fans of cheap steals!

October 24, 2010: "The future ain't what it used to be!"
Well, we now have both dance cards filled for the big dance. And you may be surprised about who was invited! The battle was billed as a good one with heavyweights, Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Sanchez, taking the hill. Sanchez was on the ropes in the 1st giving up 3 hits and a walk, good for a 2-0 Philly lead. It would stay that way until an odd top of the 3rd for the Giants. A single by the pitcher, a 400 foot single by Torres, a single up the middle for 1 R and Torres getting thrown out at the plate, and a 35 foot single by Posey featuring an error and a run scored! Jon Sanchez put the first 2 men on in the bottom of the inning, including a little misunderstanding between he and Utley. Players met on the field and there was text messaging back and forth with some players telling others that "Your mother wears combat boots!" When order was restored and all players received the 12-step program, Sanchez was asked to leave the game. That request came from his manager, Bruce Bochy. Deep down, he knew Bochy was right but that one day he would return! Sanchez, in 2 plus IP, had 3 HA, 2 ER, and a 1/2 K/BB. The LH, Jeremy Affeldt, was bought in to face Ryan Howard. Affeledt struck out Howard, got Werth on a short fly, and Victorino on a grounder to first. At this point the graphic on the TV read that the Giants have never won a best of 7 when leading 3-2 and playing the last 2 games on the road. Affeldt did yeoman's work going 2 IP with 0 HA and 2 K. I had to see what they did with the real Jeremy Affeldt because I didn't remember him having this kind of stuff during the season. But, as you know, the great ones step up when it matters most, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Cliff Lee, and Jeremy Affeldt! For the season, Affeldt had 50 IP (4-3), with 4 SV, a 4.14/1.60 ERA/WHIP, 56 HA, and a 44/24 K/BB. '09 was his best work, also with SF, when, in 62 1/3 IP, he had a 1.73/1.18, 42 HA, and a 55/31 K/BB. That being said, the great work of Affeldt in game 6 couldn't be overlooked! I didn't like Renteria batting in the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out. I liked bringing Pablo Sandoval into that spot vs Oswalt. Renteria swings and misses at 2 nasty curves, fouls off a 3rd and, on a 2-2 pitch, Utley makes a good 4-3 DP. Inning over! Oswalt went 6 IP, 1 ER, 9 HA, and a 5/0 K/BB. Not his best effort but he gutted it out as best he could. After a lead-off double by Ibanez in their half of the 6th, 21 year old, Madison Bumgarner shuts the door. Ryan Madson is asked to go 2 innings, something he hasn't done all year. He K's the first 2, giving him 6 straight K's, and gets out of the inning with a couple runners on! Uribe takes Madson deep in the 8th to give the Giants a 3-2 lead. Tim Lincecum makes his 2nd relief appearance ever and, after Werth K's, he gives up 2 hits. Closer Brian Wilson gets a line drive DP to first and gets out of the inning. The closer, with the shoe-polish beard, makes it exciting in the 9th with 2 walks. With 2 on and 2 out, it's power vs power. Wilson vs Howard. Mano y mano! Howard works the count full but takes a called 3rd strike. The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant! Howard finishes the season with 0 HR in 56 straight AB and 0 RBI in his last 37! Kudos to Brian Wilson in the series, pitching 5 innings, with 3 SV, 2 HA and a 7/2 K/BB. He could have easily won the MVP but that went to Cody "Babe" Ross, who was 7 for 20 with 3 doubles, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R, a 5/2 K/BB and a 1.400 OPS. The NL won their 1st All-Star game since, believe it or not, 1996, and will enjoy home field advantage. The World Series opens Wednesday night, at SF, with Cliff Lee vs, probably Lincecum. Or it could be Matt Cain who would be pitching on, seemingly, a fortnight's worth of rest. My wife is happy about one thing. No baseball for 3 days!

October 23, 2010: It's only fun and games until someone loses an eye!
It began as a rainy night in Texas. And, though Brooke Benton couldn't be on hand, fittingly, B.J. Thomas ("Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head") sang the National Anthem. The first stat that I heard from the announcers was that in his last 68 AB in Arlington, Alex Rodriguez had hit only 1 HR. I said to myself, "How can this be?" I mean, after all, A-Rod had 156 HR and 395 RBI in his 3 seasons (2001-2003) in Texas. I know that he had mother's little helpers, but still! Of course, the Rangers pushed a run across in the 1st inning on an RBI grounder by Guerrero, his 1st RBI of the series. That came off Yankees SP, Phil Hughes. I like it when people tell me that Hughes is a great pitcher because he won 18 games this year. I took a look under the hood and saw that Hughes had a 4.19/1.25 ERA/WHIP on the season. While that's not bad, it doesn't put him in the upper crust of AL SP's. And, don't forget that the Yankees averaged 7.5 runs/game in Hughes' starts! In comparison, Texas SP, Colby Lewis got 4.6 runs of support and had 14 GS with 2 R or less! Terrible ball/strike calls early on, especially the called 3rd strike to Murphy in the 2nd. It seemed like the umps got a mandate from the league to just get the game in! At the expense of the integrity of the game. The score remained 1-0 into the 5th when another terrible call tied the game for the Yankees. With A-Rod on 3rd, it was clear that Swisher got hit by a pitch, but the home plate ump missed it, resulting in a wild-pitch and a run. Hughes couldn't get out of the 5th as the Rangers plated 4 R's including a 2-R HR by Nelson Cruz off RP, David Robertson. Hughes went 4 2/3 IP, with 4 HA, 4 ER and a 3/4 K/BB. Of course, compared to his 2nd game debacle where he gave up 13 H/BB in 4 IP, he was like Sandy Koufax tonight! He looked like a 2nd-string batting practice pitcher in that game. After Cruz's HR, Kinsler doubles and they keep showing a guy in the stands that looked like a cross between Cheech Marin and Fernando Valenzuela! Just something that I noticed. The Rangers plated 1 more run which made the final: Rangers 6, Yankees 1. The Yankees batted a shameful .201 in the series in 189 AB compared to the Rangers' .304 in 207 AB. The Yankees also were outscored in the series 38-19. They were just outplayed by the better team (Rangers) the whole series! The Rangers will go to their first World Series in the 50 years of the franchise, starting out as the new and improved Washington Senators in 1961. Series MVP, Josh Hamilton was intentionally walked 3 times and had a .350 BA in 20 AB with 4 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R and 8 BB's. Kudos also to Rangers' 9th place hitter, rookie Mitch Moreland, who hit .389 in 18 AB with 3 R and 3 RBI. He also accomplished the rare feat of getting 2 H's in the series vs Mariano Rivera. At least Moreland has something that he can tell his grandkids! He's really made something of his life! The real star of the game was Rangers' SP, Colby Lewis, the import from Japan, who went 8 IP, 3 HA, 1 ER and a 7/3 K/BB. He actually seemed to get better in the later innings when the Yankees were facing him for the 3rd time. Neftali Feliz pitched a 1-2-3 9th and, in an act of poetic justice, K'd A-Rod for the last out! Rodriguez hit .190 for the series with 4 R and 2 RBI. The biggest thing that Colby Lewis did was get the ball to Cliff Lee for the 1st game of the World Series. We'll see tonight if the Rangers will face the Giants or if the NLCS will go to a game 7 on Sunday. Tonight is a re-match of game 2 with Oswalt vs Sanchez. Oswalt did lose game 4 in relief so we'll see what he has in game 6. I'm sure that Oswalt will bring his A game as he's undefeated at Citizen's Bank Park!

October 22, 2010: I always wanted to say this, "The loveliness of Madson!"
Another team facing elimination, this time the Phillies, playing game 5 in SF. My friend, "Hammer" called me Thursday morning to point out that the over/under of the game is 5 1/2 and that you don't see a line that low too often. I point out that it's out of respect for the great pitching match-up of Halladay and Lincecum. After 20 seconds of silence, I realize that he knows that fact! He asks me my opinion and I tell him that I like the over. He states that everyone is pounding the over and he's leaning toward the under. You can't be wrong too often with these guys or your nickname will soon be "Lefty." Hammer calls me back at 11:15 to tell me the over/under goes to 6 and he's going under. He mentions to me that I should root for him and I was happy to do so! The Phillies score 3 runs in a weird 3rd inning that included a foul sac-bunt and a 2-R error by Huff. Polanco added an RBI to make it 3-1 and the Giants make it 3-2 in the bottom of the 4th on a hit by that man again, Cody Ross. The score stayed that way until Jayson Werth led off the top of the 9th with a HR to make it 4-2. Halladay went 6 IP with 2 ER, 5 K, and 6 HA. The much-maligned Philly bullpen went 3 innings, 1 HA and 5 K's. Ryan Madson struck out Posey, Burrell, and Ross in the top of the 8th. I saw an interesting stat during the game that, during the regular season, the Phillies had won 3 or more consecutive games 15 times to lead the majors! I had to walk the dog during the middle of the game and left my wife in charge of telling me exactly what happens. When I returned 15 minutes later, my wife says that the baby-face guy got on, the guy with the "great series" struck out but it took a while and some fat guy got a hit. I mention that the fat guy in question is nicknamed the "Kung Fu" Panda and my wife stated that he weighs more than a panda. My wife also notes that the baby-faced guy is slow. I say that he's (Posey) a catcher. I immediately tell her that the record for most steals by a catcher in a season is the 36 that John Wathan had for KC back in 1982. He also stole 28 in 1983. During his 10 year career for KC ('76-'85), Wathan was a .262 hitter in 2505 AB with 105 SB. Not to be done with this info, I point out that the oldest player to steal a base was Julio Franco. Yes, on June 1, 2007, Franco was 48 years and 9 months! Not impressed, my wife wanted to know who the guy with the funny hair was. I told her that it was 2-time NL Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum. My wife says that he looks like he's half-way through a sex-change operation but ran out of money to finish the job! Lincecum, by the way, a victim of shoddy fielding and bad luck, went 7 IP, with 7 K's, 4 HA and 2 ER. My wife and I were like 2 kids during parallel play as she asked me about the "necklaces" some of the guys were wearing and I said at half-time it was Oregon 32, UCLA 3. Brad Lidge finished the game with a 1-2-3 9th for a 4-2 final. The Phillies head back to the City of Brotherly Love for a date with these Giants on Saturday night. I don't know how my friend, Hammer, feels about a push in the over/under. But, if I were Jayson Werth, I might hire a food taster for the next few days!

October 21, 2010: I left my heart in Ben Francisco!
With the Yankees backs to the wall, they called on $161-million dollar man, C.C. Sabathia, to stop the bleeding, at home. Sabathia labored through 6 IP, giving up 11 H, but only 2 ER with a 7/0 K/BB as the Yankees staved off elimination with a 7-2 victory. The Yankees will head off to Texas for Friday's game 6. What else can you say about Robinson Cano. Batting 3rd because of the absence of Teixeira, Cano blasted his 4th HR of the ALCS, becoming the 10th player (Josh Hamilton is also included) to hit 4 HR's in an LCS. Cano has put the Yankees on his back, hitting .421 in 19 AB with 5 R and 5 RBI. C.J. Wilson struggled from the outset going 5 IP, giving up 5 ER, 6 HA, and a 2/4 K/BB. It's a far cry from his game 1 performance. The 4-6-3 DP off the bat of Hamilton with 2 men on and 1 out was a big "mood" swinger for the Yanks when the Rangers looked like they were threatening. Matt Treanor had led off the inning with a HR down the LF line. You may be asking who the hell Treanor is. I know that if I wasn't in this business, I would be thinking the same thing. Treanor had 5 HR and 27 RBI with a .211 BA on the season and has become the personal C for Wilson. For his career, Treanor is a .227 hitter in 973 AB with 13 HR, 97 RBI and 85 R. He's a career .244 hitter in the minors in 2841 AB with 64 HR, 353 RBI, and 393 R. All told, the Rangers catchers in this ALDS are a collective 7 for 18 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, and 5 R. They may make you forget Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra! Future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, pitched the 9th. Rivera has an 0.72 ERA and 42 SV in the post-season and has given up only 1 ER in his last 43 1/3 IP at home in the playoffs. Amazing! I'd also like to give kudos to Kerry Wood for his 2 scoreless, 1 H IP with 3 K's. How important was game 4 for the Phillies? They had Roy Oswalt pitching in the 9th inning. Oswalt, of course, gave up the game winning sac-fly to Juan Uribe and are now down 3-1 in the series that continues today in Tony Bennett's kind of town, SF. Buster Posey was 4 for 5 with 2 doubles and is now 11 for 32 in his 1st taste of post-season action. He was only the 3rd C to have 4 H's in a game. The others are Javy Lopez and Rich Gedman. The game 4 SP, Blanton and Bumgarner, both failed to make it through the 5th inning. You don't see this often with one of your regular players, but Raul Ibanez was benched for the game in favor of Ben Francisco who had a hit and scored a run. Ibanez is 0 for 11 in the series with 5 K's. Game 5 will be today with a re-match of game 1 SP's, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum. The Phillies will have to run the table to get to the World Series but Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels could get them there! I'd like to talk about one of my favorite closers of all-time, Matt Capps. I've owned him in different leagues for the last 4 seasons. After posting a 5.80/1.66 ERA/WHIP in '09, no one knew what to expect form Capps heading into the '10 season. When Capps opened the season as the Nationals closer, it was only a matter of time before that job was usurped by rookie Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard. Well, Capps held the closer job until he was traded to the Twins where he made the post-season. All told, Capps, in 73 IP, had 5 WS, 42 SV, a 2.47/1.26, 75 HA and a 59/17 K/BB. Where he'll be next season is anyone's guess, but with Joe Nathan due back in Minnesota, Capps will have to look for another closer's job. That's easier said than done so keep an eye on where Capps ends up!

October 20, 2010: "Don't look back, something may be gaining on you!"
Can we add Matt Cain to that list of great SP in the post-season. The often over-looked Cain looked great yesterday in the Giants 3-0 victory over the Phillies, in SF. Cain gave the Giants 7 strong IP, allowing 0 ER, 2 HA, and a 5/3 K/BB. In fact the Phillies, as a team, hadn't been shut out in the post-season since game 5 of the 1983 World Series a span of 49 games! Hamels wasn't all that bad, either, going 6 IP, with 5 HA, 3 ER and an 8/1 K/BB. Timely hitting by the offensively-challenged Giants was the name of this game. And, there goes that man again, Cody Ross, who drove in the first R with a line single. Ross is now 4 for 9 in the NLCS with 3 HR and 4 RBI. Brian Wilson nailed down his 2nd SV in the series and now has a 5/0 K/BB, 2 HA in 2 1/3 IP. Raul Ibanez is now 0 for 11 and rapped into a key 4-6-3 DP when the Phillies needed him to step up! I was, honestly, a little chagrined when I saw Edgar Renteria and his .332 OBP in the lead-off spot. Renteria looked like a borderline Hall of Famer 5 years ago. After his age 30 season in 2005, Renteria already had 1595 hits and seemed on his way to 3000. But now, at the age of 35, Renteria has 2252 H, 290 SB, and 1166 R. Renteria's last 3 seasons ('08-10) produced 136, 115, and 67 hits. I know, I see the pattern too. And as a free agent, Renteria may be hard pressed to find a job! San Francisco, a city built on 43 hills, and crooked roads galore, will be the setting, once again, for game 4 tonight. Joe Blanton will square off vs Madison Bumgarner. The Yankees face elimination, at home, today vs the hot-hitting Rangers. A.J. Burnett gave the Yankees 6 IP but couldn't get the out that he needed. Bengie Molina took him deep for a 3-R HR making the score 5-3 in the eventual 10-3 win for the Rangers. Mark Teixeira came up lame in the 5th and will be lost to the Yankees for the rest of the playoffs. Teixeira was 0 for 14 in the ALCS at the time of his departure. He's not the only culprit offensively as A-Rod is 2 for 15 and Swisher is 1 for 15. Right after Teixeira's demise, A-Rod rapped into an inning-ending DP with 2 men on. The 4th and 5th innings of this game seemed to drag on for what seemed like 2 days and BAM, one pitch and it was over! Josh Hamilton has come up big in the series going 5 for 15 with 5 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI, and 5 BB. Bengie Molina has added 5 RBI in 12 AB. The real hero of the game was Texas' RP, Derek Holland, who went 3 2/3 IP, 1 HA, and a 3/2 K/BB when the Rangers most needed him. For the season, Holland had 57 1/3 IP, 55 HA, a 4.08/1.38 ERA/WHIP and a 54/24 K/BB. He was a member of my 2009 AL-only team and gave me 138 1/3 IP, with 160 HA, a 6.12/1.50, and a 107/47 K/BB. No kidding, he wasn't ready! Holland was a member of my 2009 AL-Only and, in 138 1/3 IP, had a 6.12/1.50 and gave up 26 HR. I have a feeling that he'll be a big part of the Rangers' plans in 2011. As the Yankees face packing up for the season today, I had a problem with one decision last night! RH, David Robertson came on for the 7th and got the first 2 Rangers on 8 pitches. Josh Hamilton was due up. I know that Hamilton is 141 for 352 (.401) vs RHP this season. But, in quickly looking up Hamilton's numbers vs Robertson in his career, I see that he is 0 for 5 against him with 4 K's. Don't forget, this is still a 5-3 game with 2 outs in the 7th. So, what does Girardi do? He brings in LH specialist, Boone Logan, to face Hamilton. Logan had given up a double to Hamilton on the previous night, and proved not to be so special here as Hamilton deposited Logan's 2nd pitch into the seats. That put the Rangers up by 3 R, a deficit that the Yankees weren't able to come back from! And, like they say, 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. Sabathia vs Wilson today in the Bronx. Let's see what the Yankees have! The Yankees face a daunting task, even if they somehow win the next 2 games. The Rangers have Cliff Lee looming for game 7, in Texas!

October 19, 2010: Cliff Lee doesn't put his pants on one leg at a time!
Where was Jim Leyritz when the Yankees needed him? What else can you say about Cliff Lee? "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" comes to mind! Lee was masterful in the Bronx last night going 8 IP, with 2 HA, 0 ER, and a 13/1 K/BB. For the 2010 post-season, Lee has 24 IP, 2 ER, 13 HA and a 34/1 K/BB. He's 3-0 with an 0.75/0.58 ERA/WHIP. Move over Jack Bauer and the Caped Crusader, Batman, there's a new super-hero in town and his name is Clifton Phifer Lee from Benton, Arkansas. Give Lee a brush because he paints every corner and doesn't leave a pitch over the middle of the plate. And, when he came out for the bottom of the 1st, Lee already had a 2-0 cushion courtesy of a 2-R HR off the bat of Josh Hamilton. What would a Ranger game be without a 1st inning HR by Hamilton? That's all that Lee would need. Lee set down the first 11 Yankees with 7 K's. The Rangers did score 6 in the 9th off an assortment of Yankee RP but, by then, the outcome had been decided. Andy Pettitte, as usual, was a warrior, going 7 IP, giving up 5 hits, 2 ER, with a 5/0 K/BB. But you kind of felt that Cliff Lee was a man playing against Little Leaguers. And the Yankee hits were a broken bat single to RF and a roller up the middle. Yankee fans were even cheering 3-2 pitches and an earlier 10-pitch AB from Nick Swisher. So, you say this guy, Cliff Lee, is not the new Mr. October. My ass! His overall post-season numbers are 64 1/3 IP, 9 ER, 40 HA, a 67/7 K/BB and a 1.56/0.82 ERA/WHIP. That's accompanied by a 7-0 record in 8 GS! The Yankees trot A.J. Burnett (we think) out to the mound for game 4 tonight. You never know what to expect from Burnett (it's usually bad), but he is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in 3 GS vs the Rangers this season. The off-season in fantasy baseball is a time when, if you're in a trading league, trades are done more liberally. Owners are bandying about trade offers to try to "steal" your best keepers for their "garbage." And, my $360-NL is no exception. My 4th place team isn't looking that great right now with 3 guys that I would call "good" keepers. Brain Wilson ($29), Ubaldo Jimenez ($25), and Shane Victorino ($30)! Don't forget this is a $360 league (most are $260). The commissioner of that league called me at home yesterday to "kick the tires" on a deal for Jimenez. He was talking about guys like Miguel Montero ($12) and the Rockies' Eric Young ($15). I love it when owners espouse stats of their players and prognosticate future stats. According to the other owner, Eric Young will steal 60 bases next year. Never mind that Young will probably have to battle for a roster spot, much less a spot in the starting line-up, next spring. "Yeah, but Young stole 17 bases in 172 AB this year!" Like I say, sometimes it's best to throw out September stats! Why I bring this up is because it reminds me of an offer I received in this same league back in 2003. Another owner called me and said that he would "give me" Brian L. Hunter for a cheap Ryan Klesko and a SP who's name escapes me. That owner mentioned to me that Hunter will definitely steal 40 bases in '03. Never mind that he hadn't played regularly in 3 seasons, this guy was going to steal 40 bases. I told that owner that if Hunter is a definite for 40 steals, you're not getting enough back for him and I wouldn't want to "rip you off!" I mentioned to that owner that he should keep him. He did and Hunter was released on July 27th of that year. With 0 SB and 98 AB. He did lead the AL in SB's in '97 (74) and '99 (44) and scored 114 R in '97 for the Tigers. He was a .264 hitter over 3347 career AB with 500 R and 260 SB. Brian L. Hunter is not to be confused with Brian R. Hunter, a 1B who played at the same time, who finished with 67 HR and a .234 BA in 1555 AB!