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Thursday, May 31, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BILLY BUTLER 1B KANSAS CITY ROYALS

If you were to look up "Perennial Fantasy Baseball Tease" in the dictionary before the 2012 season got underway, one of the first pictures you would see would be of Kansas City Royals 1B/DH Billy Butler.  The rotund Butler no doubt has been a decent fantasy baseball bat since coming to the big leagues at the very young age of 21, supplying a .300 batting average with around 90 RBI since becoming a mainstay.  At 6-1 and 240 pounds, Butler had the look of a classic slugger and it seemed like only a matter of time until he reached the hallowed 30 home run mark which separates the good power hitters from the top level in that discipline.  Butler really got the excitement ratcheted up when he hit 21 home runs at 23 years old back in the 2009.  The next spring Butler was right at the top of fantasy baseball sleeper lists everywhere as those 30-HR projections seemed like a given but that anticipation sank with a loud thud as Butler knocked only 15 balls out of the park in a very high 595 at-bats.  The letdown was felt big time but considering Butler was still very young, many owners gave him a mulligan and went back to the well the next drafting season hoping this would be the year he busted out.  Butler did improve in the power department in 2011 but only to the point of hitting 19 home runs in 597 at-bats.  Once again Butler was being ridiculed as a big guy who somehow could not hit for consistent power.  The name of Sean Casey began to get attached to his name, with the former Cincinnati Red being a guy who routinely hit .300-plus but with little in the way of home runs. 

So once drafts got going this past winter, the now 26-year-old Butler saw his draft stock fall heavily and to spell that out, yours truly was able to snag him in the 12th round of the Fantasy Sports Boss Experts Draft.  It seemed like Butler was being cast aside as another guy who couldn't live up to the hype. which actually presented a very good buying opportunity for shrewed owners.  When examining Butler the player before 2012, two things were a given.  One was that he Butler was a lock to hit around .300 along with supplying 90-plus RBI and around 75 runs.  Those are very solid fantasy baseball numbers and with his draft stock price, it actually made Butler into one of the better values going.  I wrote a post suggesting you give Butler another shot and invoked the names of Adam Jones, Alex Gordon, and Matt Wieters as post-hype sleepers who made good once everyone gave up on them.  If Butler didn't hit his power surge, at least you were still assured of getting good production with the rest of his stats.  If he did hit his power prime, than you have a steal 1B/UTIL option. 

Fast forward to the end of May and the latter scenario has so far been the case as Butler goes into June with 11 home runs and 35 RBI to go with a .289 average.  Butler is on a pace to hit 33 home runs with well over 100 RBI and is zeroing in on being a classic slugging 1B.  So with those two tremendous months in the bag, where do we go from here?  Will Butler continue to mash or will he settle back in as a good but not great bat?  Lets' take a look.

First let's get the obvious out of the way.  The batting average and RBI are not the issue here as Butler has already proven himself in both regards.  While Butler will not drive in 140 RBI which is his current pace, 100 is looking like a sure lock and a small improvement in runs is also a given.  Butler could also improve on his batting average as he is anywhere from a .285 to a .315 guy.  That brings me to his home runs.  Looking at Butler's advanced stats, his fly ball rate is only a bit higher than it has historically been.  That means even if his fly ball rate drops to his more normal levels, he still is going to sail past his previous high of 21 home runs.  The million dollar question is whether Butler will hit the 30-HR mark and the answer is that it will be close.  While I see Butler slowing some in his home run pace, I project him to land somewhere in the 27-30 range which no doubt validates him as a major fantasy baseball value this season.  Those who did take a shot with him again have been reaping majors rewards from picking Butler and that alone makes him a major money stock. 

Overall, I feel that Billy Butler has in fact taken the next step in his development as a big time fantasy baseball hitter.  Its easy to forget that he is still only 26 years old since it seems like he has been around forever and a hitters power prime begins right around at this age which seems a good reason for the rise in pop.  I would absolutely hold onto Butler the rest of the season as his stats are not volatile and he very well could continue to get even better the rest of the season. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ROCKIES PLACE SS TROY TULOWITZKI PLACED ON DL WITH SORE GROIN

Updating an earlier item, the Colorado Rockies have placed SS Troy Tulowitzki on the DL with a strained right groin.  It was thought that the Rockies would wait a day to DL him but Tulowitzki apparently wasn' feeling any better. 

Analysis:  This is what I expected all along as there was no chance Tulowitzki was going to be able to play with a strained groin.  Stash him and hope he is only out 15 days.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ROCKIES SS TROY TULOWITZKI (GROIN STRAIN) NOT PLACED ON DL YET

Updating an earlier item, Colorado Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki will not be placed on the DL Thursday as the team wants to wait a day to see how his injured groin responds.  Tulowitzki hurt his right groing late in Wednesday night's game and it was assumed he would be placed immediately on the DL.  An MRI is likely to be conducted in order to see how bad the strain is.

Analysis:  Its only a matter of time before Tulo is placed on the DL so I don't see this as any sort of good news.  Groin strains and infielders don't go together so still prepare like he will be out if you are an owner. 

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY MAYHEM: MATT KEMP, TROY TULOWITZKI

It was a rough night Wednesday when it came to big name players getting injured as both top five overall studs Matt Kemp and Troy Tulowitzki both came down with ailments that will likely result in DL-stints.

As far as Kemp is concerned, he appeared to re-aggravate the hamstring injury that he just returned from the 15-day from as he was removed from the game after the first inning after scoring on an Andre Ethier double.  Kemp was spotted in the dugout breaking a bat over his knee and the consensus is that he will go right back on the DL to get the hamstring right.  The big issue here is the fact that 15 days obviously wasn't enough to fix Kemp's hamstring and so a stint of longer duration is likely.  Kemp could miss anywhere from three weeks to more than a month which could be a fatal blow for many fantasy baseball owners.  His All-World April start to the season is quickly being forgotten due to the injuries.

With regards to Troy Tulowitzki, the rub on him is that despite his greatness, he always frustrates his owners with one DL stint a season which prevents him from maxing out his numbers.  Well Tulo is about to keep that streak going as he will be placed on the DL Thursday after straining his left groin.  Tulowitzki stole a base in the game and went 1/4 but was forced to exit after suffering the injury.  The real frustrating part is that Tulowizki was just starting to heat up with three home runs in the last week after getting off a bit of a slow start but this obviously will derail his progress some.  We all know shortstop is extremely tough to fill so it will be tough to deal with his loss while he is out.

As always check back later for the full diagnosis on each injury.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL INJURY FALLOUT: ROY HALLADAY SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

By now the news is just starting to sink in for unfortunate Roy Halladay owners, who are being forced to digest the fact their ace pitcher will be on ice for the next 6-8 weeks with a strained right lat muscle.  Hallday injured the muscle in his last start on Sunday and the subsequent MRI revealed the strain.  No doubt the loss is huge for Halladay's fantasy baseball owners and this unlucky lot is in need of some reinforcements who can hold things over until he gets back.  With that in mind, here are some names to check out to help bridge the gap. 

1.  Jeff Samardzjia:  I was shocked to see how Samardzjia is still available in a decent amount of leagues despite the fact he now has a 3.09 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched.  Many have forgotten about the guy due to the the fact he was a sketchy starting option when he first came up and than was banished to the bullpen to serve in setup which doesn't help many leagues.  He has smoothed out his previously high walk rate which was the only thing that was holding him back from becoming a major pitcher. 

2.  Vance Worley:  Worley is slated to return shortly from a balky elbow and he was cut by a decent amount of owners by last check.  His over 9.00 K rate is very fluky to go with a lucky BABIP but Worley was still very decent last season as a rookie.  His elbow is a decent concern but he is worth checking out.

3.  Max Scherzer:  I am not a fan of the guy and never have been due to his wildly inconsistent pitching over the years but the one thing he excels at is striking out opposing batters.  A major loss when it comes to Halladay is his strikeouts and Scherzer can certainly help keep you competitive there for awhile.  Just beware that it could be a rocky ride.

4.  Daniel Hudson:  Hudson just came off the DL and has been forgotten in many leagues after spending a month out of action.  Since breaking in with the White Sox, Hudson has been tremendous with very low WHIP's and a mid-3.00 ERA.  That's borderline number 2 fantasy baseball starter numbers.

5.  Trevor Bauer:  The Trevor Bauer watch is already on as June 1 is only a few days away which is the big day for prospect promotions.  Bauer has silly stuff and a massive K rate that could have a Stephen Strasburg-lite impact when he does get called up.  My over/under on the promotion is two weeks.  Make the add today.

There you have it.  Sure none of these guys can hold a candle when it comes to comparing to the best pitcher in baseball but they all can also help minimize his loss for a few weeks until he returns.  Keep checking back for more injury news daily here on the Fantasy Sports Boss.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Alfonso Soriano:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .271.  This is Soriano's present fantasy baseball role in a nutshell:  he filled in for me very well when Matt Kemp hit the DL and now I will cast him aside despite the fact he is on one of his power runs.  Yeah its tough getting old.

Jeff Samardzjia:  1 ER in 7 IP with 8 K's with an ERA of 3.09.  I picked up both James McDonald and Jeff Samardzjia after their first few starts this season and have been swimming in shizz ever since.  Amazing what the elimination of walks can do to your overall bottom line.

Jeff Russell:  got the last two outs for his first save.  I guess this means Russell is the guy to own for saves as Shawn Camp came before him.  Russell has had a nice season with a 1.61 ERA but his WHIP is 1.34 which shows you trouble is on the horizon.  I still think its Carlos Marmol by default when he gets off the DL.

Mike Moustakas:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .273.  Steady as the come, Moustakas has officially graduated to an every day fantasy baseball third baseman. 

Homer Bailey:  complete gave four-hitter with 1 ER with an ERA of 3.73.  Ahhhh here we go again,  Its seems like at least once a season Bailey strings some good outings together and you get the urge to pick him up.  Sorry but I still have the third-degree burns as evidence as to how risky this can be.

Adam Jones:  3/3 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .317.  I said back in mid-April that Jones' over 30.0 fly ball rate was way higher than anything he had ever done before which smelled fluky but I put in the caveat that he could be hitting his power peak.  Go with the latter.   2nd round pick next season?  You better believe it.

Chris Davis:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .315.  All those people who dropped Davis after his recent cold spell just picked him back up since he is tearing the cover off the ball.  Rinse and repeat the rest of the way.

Hanley Ramirez:  2/3 with his 8th HR and 10th SB while hitting .265.  Ramirez with another Hit and Run as he continues to swing a hot bat.  All is forgiven Hanley if you keep up the focus and stay out of the manager's office.

Prince Fielder:  2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .315.  Fielder doesn't get enough credit for being a .300 hitting slugger.  Many thought he would be at around 12 home runs at least at this point but going to Comerica you had to figure he would be off his Milwaukee pace. 

David Ortiz:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .319.  I think Ortiz and Paul Konerko go to the same offseason day spa to get themselves ready for the season.

Justin Verlander:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 2.55  No that is not a misprint.  Verlander really does have red blood in his veins, proving he is human.

Dayan Viceido:  3/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .280.  Viceido all of a sudden stopped striking out and then he went bonkers.  Ride it out people.  Ride it out. 

James Shields:  5 ER in 6 IP with 8 K's for an ERA of 3.95.  Call this the James Shields Special where a pitcher strikes out more guys than innings pitched but gets his ass handed to him.

Yadier Molina:  4/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .337.  Damn I should have ranked him as the top fantasy baseball catcher.  He has been all that and more in 2012.

Michael Bourn:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .300.  I am shocked by all the home runs lately from Bourn and I wonder if he has been hanging out with Ryan Braun.

Dan Uggla:  1/2 with his 8th HR while hitting .262.  Just give him 30 home runs with a .250 average and be done with it.

Josh Hamilton:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .365.  Hamilton wanted to hit a home run since he saw Matt Kemp just came off the DL.  The race for the top 2012 fantasy baseball outfielder is on.

Brian Fuentes:  3 ER in .2 IP with an ERA of 4.12 for the blown save.  Yup that's the Brian Fuentes we all loath.  Welcome back.

Albert Pujols:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .238.  Mark Trumbo (9th HR. 4th SB) enjoy having more home runs than your teammate for the next day or so.

Dan Haren:  1 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 3.52.  All is right in the fantasy baseball realm of Dan Haren.

Ryan Braun:  2/3 with his 14th HR and 10th SB while hitting .315.  The real shame is that I just can't look at Braun the same way anymore after the whole steroids fiasco.

Santiago Casilla:  scoreless ninth for his 14th save with an ERA of 1.17.  You may never see Brian Wilson in a Giants uniform again.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RED SOX 2B DUSTIN PEDROIA HAS TORN MUSCLE IN THUMB, COULD MISS 3-4 WEEKS

Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia could miss the next 3-4 weeks with a torn muscle in his thumb.  The diagnosis was given late Tuesday after an MRI was performed.  Pedroia tore the muscle in Monday's game and at this point he will be given the option to try and play through it.  Manager Bobby Valentine indicated Pedroia will likely get the chance to deal with the pain but is prepared to place him on the DL at the first sign of trouble.

Analysis:  Forget about playing through it and count on Pedroia hitting the DL.  I can't imagine him being effective swinging a bat with a torn thumb muscle and even if he does give it a go, expect his results to be ugly since the thumb is such an important part of griping the bat.  Tough break for Pedroia's fantasy baseball owners who should immediately look to see if Allen Craig was dropped once he hit the DL a few weeks ago. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILLIES SP ROY HALLADAY OUT 6-8 WEEKS WITH STRAINED LAT

Philadelphia Phillies ace SP Roy Halladay is out 6-8 weeks after an MRI revealed a strained lat muscle in his right side.  One of the most durable pitchers in the majors, Halladay is out for up to two months which is a major problem for the Phillies as far as getting back into the race for a spot in the playoffs this season.

Analysis:  Terrible for Halladay owners who have as big a void to fill in their rotation as you can get.  With Vance Worley also on the DL, the Phillies themselves are in big trouble. 

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JON LESTER SP BOSTON RED SOX

Boston Red Sox SP Jon Lester is having what many are considering a crossroads season here in 2012.  Once a 200-plus K power pitching machine, Lester has the explosive stuff to full fulfill the role of a staff ace on any fantasy baseball roster.  Despite having the tendency to walk a few too many batters, Lester was as tough to hit as they got in the majors and his place in the top end of the rankings was more than secure.  Than the epic Red Sox 2012 Collapse occurred last September and one of those swallowed up in the chaos was Lester himself who did his part to make sure Boston went down in shame.  For that month, Lester pitched to a disgusting 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.  Overall Lester still finished with a very good 3.47 ERA but there were some troubling signs underneath the surface that are rearing their ugly head again this season.  The biggest one was that Lester's K rate plummeted as he racked up only 182 K's.  That is still a very good number indeed but the previous two seasons Lester struck out 225 batters in each.  His fastball looked a bit flatter than usual and his velocity on that pitch was down some.  Flash forward to May 29, 2012 and what we have now is the Lester of last September pitching the first two months of the season as he has compiled a very ugly 4.72 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.  Once again Lester's K rate is down and even more so than 2011 as he has only 41 K's in 61 IP.  He has gotten hit around in almost all of his starts and his velocity continues to lag.  So what exactly is going on?  Is Lester just off to another slow start (his worst month has always been April) and is aiming for a big finish?  Is he on the downside of his career at the still young age of 28?  Let's dig in and find out.

Going back to last season, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse about how Lester has let himself go physically.  He reportedly gained weight and was not putting in the requisite time on the side honing his pitches.  With an offseason to digest his failures, Lester vowed to come back in better shape and be the pitcher we are used to seeing.  However 2012 has been awful and his lack of strikeouts continues to serve notice that something is wrong.  So what happened to all those mph?  Where did the K's go?  One thing to look at is the very heavy usage Lester has had since recovering from cancer and becoming a mainstay in the rotation.  With all of the long postseasons the Red Sox have played (including two World Series victories), Lester has pitched a ton of innings with high strain on his shoulder.  Thus it wouldn't be surprising at all to see him having a tired arm.  Eventually a pitcher's shoulder can't take the stress of all those throws and that's where the drop in velocity comes in.  I truly think this is the biggest issue when it comes to Lester's struggles.  Some correctly point out how horrible he has been in April which is true but we are a few days away from June and he continues to pitch terribly.  I think his arm is tired and this he has lost some bite on his pitches.  The question is will it return?  The answer to that is unknown as all pitchers react differently to this.  Lester's control is below average and with the drop in velocity, his pitches are more hittable than ever.  Never a WHIP asset (career 1.29), Lester's ERA is on the rise now too which makes him a very ugly option to be throwing out there.  I would not buy low by any means as all the signs are looking bad when it comes to Lester and until he gets the digits back on his fastball, the struggles should continue.  If you have him on the roster, I would spot start him for the time being, with a special emphasis on avoiding the Yankees and Rays.  You can't trade him since you won't get anything for him but if he somehow does spin a game in the next few starts, see if the name value gets you something in return.  Failing that, it could be a very long season for Lester the remainder of the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: DODGERS OUTFIELDER MATT KEMP TO BE ACTIVATED TUESDAY

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp will be acivated and will play Tuesday night for the team.  Kemp went on a tear in his two rehab games with two home runs and 5/7 hitting overall as he looks to pick up on the torrid pace he set before hurting his hamstring.

Analysis:  Get Kemp back in there as he is already scorching with the bat.  He clearly has been the fantasy baseball co-MVP with Josh Hamilton and will continue to put up huge numbers this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: ANGELS SP JERED WEAVER HEADED FOR X-RAYS/MRI ON BACK

Los Angeles Angels ace SP Jered Weaver is heading for x-rays and an MRI on his ailing back, which forced him out of Monday night's titanic matchup against the New York Yankees.  Weaver was upset at being pulled from the game but he also was in quite a bit of pain in the locker room. 

Analysis:  This smells like a DL situation as backs usually do for starting pitchers.  The caveat is how serious the injury is and for that its hold your breath time if you are an owner.  Weaver is a sure fire top five starter in fantasy baseball and his absence would be a big one.

Monday, May 28, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RED SOX 2B DUSTIN PEDROIA EXITS WITH APPARENT WRIST INJURY

Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia was forced out of Monday's game with an apparent wrist injury and was replaced by Nick Punto.  Pedroia hurt the wrist after making a diving stop in the fifth inning defensively.  He will be re-evaluated after the game.

Analysis:  All Pedroia owners are holding their breath right now and for good reason.  Pedroia has a history of injuries and his overall fantasy baseball game is tough to replace.  Watch for more details later. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Carlos Gonzalez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (10 for season) while hitting .302.  When talking about the very best fantasy baseball outfielders in the game, the knee-jerk names to come up are Matt Kemp and steroid boy Ryan Braun.  Expand your minds a bit and include this power/speed stud.

Troy Tulowitzki:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .278.  A week ago I told you all that Tulo was looking ready to explode.  Yesiree Bob.

Joey Votto:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .325.  Votto is like Miguel Cabrera in that you feel like they are slumping at times but than you look up and they are hitting .325.  That my friends is called "Quiet Excellence."

Jay Bruce:  1/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .255.  I don't even have to tell you all the dealio here.  Bruce was red hot hitting a home run every day, than went into a massive Adam Dunn/Carlos Pena funk, and now is likely going to hit 80 home runs the next week. 

Mat Latos:  5 ER in 7.1 IP with an ERA of 4.58.  Eventually like a parent letting their kids go off to college, I have to just stop telling you all to stay far away from the overrated Latos and just hope you learned something from me. 

Melky Cabrera:  4/4 with his 4th HR and 9th and 10th SB while hitting .369.  Cabrera has proven to be a very toolsy fantasy baseball player along the lines of Angel Pagan.  Won't blow you away with excitement but will help keep you afloat in all the hitting stats.

RA Dickey:  7.2 IP 3 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.06.  That's now back-to-back double-digit K's for the knuckler.  I won't claim to know what the deal is but Dickey said after the game he is now perfecting a knuckleball that rises at the last minute.  Sure looks like its working to me.  Again we can't discount him anymore based on the pitch he throws and so do yourself a favor and stop reading this so you can go pick him up in all your leagues.

Frank Francisco:  scoreless ninth for his 13th save with an ERA of 6.41.  Francisco has pitched very well his last four outings which means he is now a top ten closer.

Billy Butler:  1/2 with his 11th HR while hitting .303.  Don't look now but Billy Butler is on fire with three home runs in four games.  The man boob hitting machine seems to have finally figured out this whole hitting the ball over the fence thing.

Starlin Castro:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .312.  Haven't talked about him a lot lately after his scorching start and have been getting "what's wrong with him?" e-mails but the guy is still hitting .312.  Patience friends.  He is a major star in the making.

Andrew McCutchen:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .342.  Its amazing that he had zero home runs in April.  McCutchen quite possibly is the most naturally gifted player in the game, and unlike a Hanley Ramirez, actually knows how to use his skills.

Matt Garza:  5 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 4.22 That's two dreadful starts in a row against two awful hitting teams (Houston last time out).  This is why I have forever sworn off Garza who is as big an enigma as you can get as far as pitching goes.

Adrian Gonzalez:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .269.  Welcome back to the Fantasy Baseball Wrapup Mr. Gonzalez.  It's been awhile. 

Paul Konerko:  2/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .399.  Move over David Wright.  You got a new challenger for a run at .400. 

Matt Adams:  2/4 with his first HR while hitting .345.  Yes you should pick him up......and it should have been done last week when he first came up.  Adams hit over 30 home runs last season in the minors and he already has four doubles and the dinger. 

Carlos Beltran:  1/4 with his 15th HR while hitting .290.  Nothing more to say here than "SELL."

Adam Wainwright:  1 ER in 6 IP with 2 K with an ERA of 4.45.  Wainwright was never as bad as pitching looked early on as he dealt with poor BABIP luck and so what he is doing now is no shock.  Its nice to see him looking strong after TJ surgery.  Just be aware of the fatigue which will arrive in late summer that I incessantly feel the need to keep metioning.

Roy Halladay:  4 ER in 2 IP before exiting with shoulder injury.  So that was it!!!!!!!  Halladay looked mortal the last week or so and now there is legitimate concern that all those innings he has thrown over the years has caught up with his shoulder.  Cross your fingers.

JP Arencibia:  2/4 with 2 home runs (9 for season) while hitting .245.  Would you sign off for a .245 average and 25 home runs in the winter?  Yeah I think you would.

Ian Kinsler:  2/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .289.  Kinsler has been a little light on both the steals and the home runs but that's nitpicking. 

Adrian Beltre:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .318.  Beltre falls through the pub cracks in Texas with Josh Hamilton going all Hank Aaron this season.  Still who has been a better third baseman this season?  Keep thinking.

Hiroki Kurda:Kuroda is a no-go and he should only be spot started when the matchup is good as it was in this game.

Kendrys Morales:  3/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .290.  Morales has had two issues so far in his return from injury.  He has been sitting versus lefties and his power has been non-existent to this point.  I will be fully on board when both correct themselves.  The latter looks to be coming around but the former needs to be watched.

Mark Trumbo:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .324.  Trumbo's average has been inflated by a lucky BABIP but this is a big guy who hits for power and likes to run.  As a bonus he qualifies for first, third, and the outfield.  Yes a lot to like.

Chris Capuano:  7 IP 2 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.14.  Amazing.  Is there any other word to use here?  Yes he had gotten somewhat lucky with his BABIP and strand rate but pitching in that ballpark negates this to a point.  I would hold him until he falls off a cliff but the way this is looking that is not looking like it will happen.

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: MORE CHAOS IN SEATTLE, CHICAGO

Happy Memorial Day everyone.  Monday of course is Fantasy Baseball Closing Time day and as always there are a few items to discuss.  Let's get to it.

-The Chicago Cubs finally gave up on the farce that was Rafael Dollis as their closer.  Dollis had the exact opposite of what you would want in a closer as he doesn't strike people out and he walks a bunch of batters.  His ERA shot past 5.00 and so the team now will turn to either Shawn Camp, James Russell, or both to finish games.  Manager Dale Sveum talked about how he wants his closer to have good control and that means there is little chance at this point of the injured Carlos Marmol getting the job back which was he first rumor.  Both Camp and Russell are having good seasons but again we are talking about guys who don't have the classic closer stuff.  If you had only one roster spot to use, I would pick up Russell since he was mentioned as a possible guy when Marmol was pushed aside.  Either way this is a gigantic mess.

-The Seattle Mariners demoted Brandon League, who got off to a tremendous start, only to suffer a massive slump in May.  The options behind him are even worse than what Chicago has, with Tom Wilhelmsen being the best bet due to his high K rate.  He has an ERA of almost 4.50 however and that right there is a major cause for concern.  I think League could get his job back if he works things out in setup and even more than Chicago, I would avoid this completely.

-It looked like the Los Angeles Angels had finally settled on Ernesto Frieri as their closer when the fireballer got two saves last week.  Sunday brought chaos again however as Frieri pitched in the eighth inning, with Scott Downs getting the save in the ninth.  Manager Mike Scoscia is likely using a lefty/right matchup situation right now which is beyond frustrating as a committee is the worst situation for fantasy baseball owners.  Frieri is clearly the best option for the job, but it looks like a chaotic situation for awhile. 

-Tyler Clippard is finally getting an extended look to close games after Henry Rodriguez got demoted last week.  He promptly went out and finished off three saves in three days and looked dominant in doing so.  Clippard has the classic high-K stuff needed to be a major force in the ninth but Drew Storen will get the job back when he returns in July.  Until than, enjoy Clippard while it lasts as he could supply some nice numbers for your the next month or so.

There you have it,  As always check back for the latest closer news daily.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL WEEKLY ADDS

There are a score of trendy fantasy baseball options that have presented themselves as solid top very good pickups for this week.  Here are the key names to add to your squad if needed.

Dayan Viciedo:  Viciedo homered in three straight games this past week and he is now up to 10 bombs with 23 RBI.  He strikes out a bunch so his current .264 average is likely to drop when he starts to cool off but the power is real and in this day and age of the pitcher, Viceido needs to be picked up for those looking for home runs.

Alex Rios:  Staying with the White Sox theme, old reliable Rios is really heating up as he now stands at five home runs with 5 stolen bases.  Rios has been incredibly streaky in his career but his awful 2011 season was struck down by a very unlucky BABIP which should be overlooked.  He is still only 31 years old and still running when given the chance. 

Shawn Camp/Jeff Russell:  Rafael Dollis lasted a bit longer than I thought he would as closer but his awful K/BB ratio finished him off for good.  Up next is Camp and Russell, with neither guy clearly ahead of the other going into the week.  If you had to made a hedge on one guy, I would go with Russell who was mentioned when Carlos Marmol lost the gig. 

AJ Ellis:  Ellis is up to five home runs now for the Dodgers and playing every day.  Catcher is a spot where any hot hitter is looked at with an enticing eye and despite not having done much of anything in his past, Ellis should be ridden until the wheels come off the track.

Justin Morneau:  Morneau is available in a ton of leagues and rightfully so after his derailment the last season-plus.  Still he is hitting home runs again and so far he is staying healthy. 

Tyler Clippard:  Has already converted saves in three straight games since Henry Rordriguez yielded his closer gig and despite Davey Johnson saying Sean Burnett would get chances, Clippard is the guy to own there.  He has the chance to be tremendous until Drew Storen gets back in a month or so.

Steve Cishek:  This is a proactive move since Heath Bell is an absolute disaster who will lose the job probably for good with one more blown save.  Cishek has been lights out most of the season and has the stuff to succeed there immediately.  He will get the nod over Edward Mujica and it could arrive this week.

Matt Adams:  Adams hit over 30 home runs in the minors last season and hit his first MLB dinger Sunday to go with an average well over .300.  His power is immense and Lance Berkman is likely out until August. 

There you have it.  Check in next week for more fantasy baseball adds.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: CUBS DEMOTE CLOSER RAFAEL DOLIS

The Chicago Cubs have removed Rafael Dollis from the closer role, which is the second such move in that regard for manager Dale Sveum over the last month.  James Russell and Shawn Camp will share the role until one emerges.

Analysis:  Dollis was doing it with smoke and mirrors with a terrible walk and K rate.  Russell and Camp have pitched well but neither guy is worth much at this point. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: PHILLIES SP ROY HALLADAY EXITS WITH SORE SHOULDER

Philadelphia Phillies ace SP Roy Halladay was forced out of Sunday's start with a sore pitching shoulder.  Halladay only was able to get through two innings before coming out.  The team says it is for precautionary reasons.

Analysis:  It is never a good thing when a shoulder is involved with a pitcher and Halladay has not looked great his last few starts.  Wait for more info on this but I wouldn't be shocked if he hits the DL.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SATURDAY

Hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend.  Here is what went on in Saturday night fantasy baseball.

Johan Santana:  9 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.75.  I would have to say that Johan Santana is all the way back from his previous shoulder surgery.  This was vintage Santana and the most amazing thing about his comeback is the fact he is in the top five in baseball in K rate.  Quite possibly the best pitching fantasy baseball value in the game.

Justin Morneau:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .248.  This isn't your daddy's Justin Morneau due to batting average issues and major injuries curtailing a major chunk of his recent seasons.  However the guy knows how to hit the ball out of the park and so that alone has a spot on any team in all formats.

Colby Rasmus:  1/6 with his fourth HR and third SB while hitting .215.  Once upon a time Rasmus was a buzzy prospect who many forecasted greatness for.  This fairy tale opening certainly didn't have a live happily ever after at the end of it.

Josh Hamilton:  2/6 with his 20th HR while hitting .376.  It staggers the imagination how much money this guy has already made himself this upcoming free agency.

Nelson Cruz:  1/6 with his sixth HR while hitting .272  Cruz is in a special class of sluggers who go ice cold for long stretches but when they get hot, they hit a home run every day of the week.  Think Adam Dunn, Luke Scott, and Carlos Pena as part of this fraternity. 

Mitch Moreland:  3/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .309.  Don't look now but Moreland just realized that I classified him as a fantasy baseball sleeper this past winter and so he made it a point recently to start hitting balls out.  All is forgiven friend.

Billy Butler:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .301.  The Sean Casey comparison as a big guy with man boobs who can't hit for power are slowly starting to fade away.

JJ Hardy:  3/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .262. Hardy's got his average right about where it should be so all is good in this world.

Chris Davis:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .305.  Add Davis to the Nelson Cruz when I'm hot I'M HOT grouping.

Bryce Harper:  2/4 with his 3rd HR while hitting .278.  He is 19 folks.  It staggers the mind to picture what he could be like in five years.

Dan Uggla:  1/3 with his 7th HR while hitting .257.  Uggla seems to always hit more home runs when his average plummets.  Strange but yet effective.

Tyler Clippard:  scoreless 2/3 IP for his third save.  Davey Johnson said before the game the closing duties will be split between Clippard and Sean Burnett.  Yeah ok Davey.

Robinson Cano:  3/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .302.  Cano seems determined to get all the home runs he should have hit out in April under his belt in May.

Mark Texeira:  4/5 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .248.  That gigantic DISCOUNT sticker attached to his name at your local fantasy baseball store has mysteriously vanished.  With three home runs in his last two games, Big Tex is making a Big Dick out of me for ripping him apart the other day.  Maybe I should try the same thing with Jon Lester in order to finally get his overrated ass in gear. 

Josh Reddick:  1/4 with his 13th HR while hitting .271.  Reddick has arrived as a nice fantasy baseball outfield bat as Billy Beane takes yet another bow. 

Jason Kipnis:  2/4 with 2 home runs (8 for season) while hitting .272.  I should have spoken up more about him this past winter but I was too busy pushing comeback stories on David Wright and sleeper posts on Brandon Beachy.  Hey no one is perfect.

Alex Rios:  3/5 with his fourth HR while hitting .275.  Basically everyone in a White Sox uniform hits a home runs these days, including their balding head groundskeeper.  Rios is a proven commodity wgho can hit home runs and steal bases and he has three taters in the last week.  Add him.

Dayan Viciedo:  3/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .264.  Holy cow is this guy hitting the cover off the ball.  By all means add him pronto as anyone with this type of pop in that ballpark is a must have to see where this takes you.

Jake Peavy:  7 ER in 6.1 IP with 9 K's with a 3.07.  Believe me when I tell you this:  Peavy actually pitched very well in this game.  He got stung by the long ball but he was generating swing and miss stuff all afternoon.  Hold him.

Heath Bell:  removed from save opportunity after walking two and giving up one hit as Randy Choate got the last two outs.  Contract or not, this almost has to be it for Bell after back-to-back rough outings.  He clearly looks shot and Steve Cishek once again is the add.

Alfonso Soriano:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .263.  Soriano has pretty much lost everything but home runs which is the one stat that can keep a player fantasy baseball worthy very late into his career like is the case with this guy. 

Albert Pujols:  2/5 with his 7th HR while hitting .232.  It wouldn't surprise me if Pujols

Justin Smoak:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .217.  Come on bro just hit at least .250 so someone can own you.

Ernesto Frieri:  scoreless 1.1 IP with 3 K's for second save.  Ladies and gentleman we finally have our 2012 Los Angeles Angels closer and damn is he sweet.

Kyle Kendrick:  complete game shutout with an ERA of 4.17.  Proof positive that just about every major league player gets at least one mention in the Wrapup all season no matter how miserable a performer he is overall.

Fernando Rodney:  2 ER in .1 IP for blown save with an ERA of 1.12.  It wouldn't surprise me of Rodney has an ERA of over 3.00 in another month and the just returning Kyle Farnsworth is closing games again.

AJ Ellis:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .317.  This screams fluke to me since he has been nothing but a caddy since coming up but ride it out since there is no harm in that.

Zack Greinke:  7 ER in 2.1 IP with an ERA of 3.66.  Owning Greinke is like being in a bad marriage.  The good times are great but the bad times make you want to peel your skin off.

Justin Upton:  2/5 while hitting .261.  Things are looking up for Upton and even if there were a buy low opportunity, that bubble will burst in the next few days I predict.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARINERS REMOVE BRANDON LEAGUE FROM CLOSER ROLE, WILL GO WITH COMMITTEE

The 2012 closer jinx finally hit Brandon League as Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge officially removed him from the role after his latest blown save.  Wedge said the team will go with a committee based on matchups going forward.

Analysis:  League was pretty miserable after a good start to the season but there is no one here that stands out as a good alternative.  Tim Wilhelmsen has gotten a bunch of strikeouts but he has an ERA over 4.00 and in any other situation wouldn't even sniff the ninth inning.  I would stay far away from this mess and not even try to guess what could go on.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: INDIANS CATCHER CARLOS SANTANA COULD HIT 7-DAY DL WITH NECK INJURY

Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana cound hit the 7-day DL after experiencing dizziness from a neck injury suffered Friday.  Santana will be re-evaluated Saturday when the determination will be made.

Analysis:  Santana has been decent this season but so far has not taken another step in his development as expected.  Still catcher is nortoriously barren with hitters so he remains a top three option.

2012 FANTASY BASEBALL UPDATED SHORTSTOP RANKINGS

Let's check in on the lastest shortstop rankigns for 2012 fantasy baseball with the season two weeks complete.  Here is how they shape up at this point.

1.  Troy Tulowitzki
2.  Hanley Ramirez
3.  Jose Reyes
4.  Asdrubal Cabrera
5.  Starlin Castro
6.  Mike Aviles
7.  Derek Jeter
8.  Ian Desmond
9.  Elvis Andrus
10. Jimmy Rollins
11. JJ Hardy
12. Emilio Bonifacio
13. Kyle Seager
14. Rafael Furcal
15. Dee Gordon

-Not much changes right at the top as Troy Tulowitzki is still the top guy despite a slow start.  We all know he really gets going when the weather warms up and with his home run swing showing up this past week, things could get nutty.  Hanley Ramirez' batting average meanwhile continues to plummet but at least he is still being very aggressive when it comes to steals.  Its stating the obvious that his 30-HR season will never return but Ramirez at least is supplying numbers which he didn't do in 2011.  Finally Jose Reyes himself has come around after a slow start.  His batting title last season was beyond fluky and the drop there in 2012 is no shock.  However he continues to steal bases and score runs which is his best attribute. 
-Two big time values have been Mike Aviles and Ian Desmond.  Both guys were failed sleepers the past few years but both are showing huge breakthrough signs.  Aviles and Desmond both could hit the 20/20 mark which is a tremendous value from where they were drafted, if they were drafted at all.
-You can't ever count out Derek Jeter as his 2012 season proves.  Its amazing what he is doing and in that ballpark, there is no doubt he can keep it up.  Call him the Paul Konerko of shortstops. 
-On the other end of the spectrum, Jimmy Rollins looks washed up with only 1 home runs and his average continues to be an issue.  His days as a force clearly are in the past.

So there it is.  As always let's hear your thoughts.

Friday, May 25, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: BRANDON BEACHY SP ATLANTA BRAVES

Back in the winter, when the first 2012 fantasy baseball forecasts and guides began to trickle out, much was made about noted stathead Bill James claimed that none other than Atlanta Braves second-year SP Brandon Beachy would be the second best pitcher in the National League behind Clayton Kershaw this season.  It was a bold statement for sure and if James' goal was to draw attention to his predictions, he certainly achieved his objective.  And with two months of the 2012 season in the bag, James looks like a prophet as Bechy has pitched to a splendid 1.77 ERA and 0.90 WHIP to go with 44 K's in 61 IP.  At this point Beachy is right there with any pitcher in the NL as far as the Cy Young is concerned and those fantasy baseball owners who used a middle round pick on the guy expecting a step up from his superb rookie season (3.68 ERA, 169 in 141.1 IP) have been handsomely rewarded.  The past however is the past and now is the time to look forward in order to determine whether or not Beachy can keep this up or if his numbers will start coming back to the pack.  Let's dig in and find out where we go from here.

There is no doubt that Brandon Beachy has a ton of talent as he was a major pitching prospect in the Braves organization before coming up last season.  The Braves know pitching better than just about any organization in the majors and on that alone, Beachy had instant credibility.  The fact he beat out Mike Minor last spring and than proceeded to strike out a ridiculous amount of batters with those 169 K's in 141.1 IP spoke volumes about Beachy's stuff and how he could blow opposing hitters away.  For a rookie to produce such solid results at the age of 25 was very impressive.  It was Beachy's debut that got the juices for fantasy baseball owners who were looking for a top starting pitcher sleeper for this season and a step up in performance as he further matured could easily turn him into a star was line of thought there.  Since he struck out so many more batters than innings pitched in 2011, the easy assumption as well was that Beachy was going to be hitting the 200-K level. 

With two months of stats to digest, let's break things down a bit.  For one, its obvious to see that Beachy has been in total command throughout almost all of his starts this season.  Even in his one lackluster outing, where he gave up four earned runs against the Reds, Beachy was the victim of the ball carrying out that day and otherwise got plenty of swings and misses.  The fact of the matter is that Beachy is one of the more tougher pitchers to hit in baseball, which is backed up by him giving up only 40 hits in 61 innings.  Walks were the only blemish he had last season but he has already made inroads there as well.  Going back to his control, Beachy was inefficient with his pitches last season, which caused him to exit games earlier than he should have based on his stuff, which cost him wins.  However that has not been an issue in 2012 as he already has five victories.

Another thing that stands out is the fact Beachy has seen a drastic drop in his K rate, with only 44 K's in 61 IP.  You can look at this one of two ways.  The first is that this is another sign of Beachy's maturity as he no longer is trying to blow everyone away.  He is now trying to pitch to contact more and trusting his defense to make plays behind him.  The other side is that maybe Beachy's 2011 K rate was fluky due to the fact he was new on the scene and opposing hitters are now better prepared to wait for their pitch.  Either way, 200 K's are not going happen unless he starts to go nuts in that area.

Now for the good stuff.  Like with all players, we will delve into their advanced stats in order to determine whether or not luck has played a role in their performance.  With Beachy pitching so dominantly, its easy to say he benefited from some luck on the batted ball and that is just the case as he comes in with a .209 BABIP.  That is a very lucky figure and its born out in his adjusted 3.84 X FIP ERA.  That means Beachy could be headed for some rough times ahead as his luck begins to correct.  In addition, the fact his K rate has dropped means that Beachy's won't have as much control over his performance like he would have if he were striking out so many guys.  Finally, Beachy is going to be in uncharted innings territory soon enough and either the Braves will shut him down or he will see his stats go the wrong way due to fatigue as it did with Michael Pineda the second half of 2011.  It stands to reason that Beachy is a solid SELL guy as his value should never be higher than where it currently is.

All in all, I really like Brandon Beachy as a pitcher and was championing him just as much as James this past winter.  However I am disappointed in the drop in K's and the advanced stats all spell out correction. I also worry about his second half performance without those K's and begrudgingly consider him a SELL HIGH.  If he goes past the Verducci Rules innings increase, than his outlook is even murkier than before. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: CARDS 1B LANCE BERKMAN OUT 8-10 WEEKS AFTER KNEE SURGERY

St. Louis Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman is out 8-10 weeks after undergoing knee surgery Thursday.  Berkman had a torn meniscus repaired in the knee which was the second time he was injured this season, with the first being a calf problem. 

Analysis:  Basically Berkman's entire first half of the season is shot and some of the second as well.  He was one of the more popular bust candidates this season due to his age and for his out of leftfield 2011 campaign.  Cut him lose in shallow formats. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Shin-Soo Choo:  1/3 with his third HR while hitting .268.  It took awhile but Choo is living up to my prediction he would be a solid bounceback candidate.  At only 31 years old, Choo was too young to fall off the wagon as steeply as it looked last season when injuries and the DUI bust clouded things. 

Justin Verlander:  2 ER in 8 IP with 7 K's with an ERA of 2.15.  I get bored writing about Verlander because he is so damn consistently great, even in defeat. 

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .284.  Stanton still has plenty of time to get to 40 home runs which seemed like a given before a no-show April.  I believe he gets there.

Anibal Sanchez:  5 ER in 5.1 IP with an ERA of 2.87.  This was just one bad start and nothing more.  If it were after the All Star break however, than this would be the start of his annual second half slide.

Michael Bourn:  1/4 with his fourth HR while hitting .315.  What the heck has gotten into Bourn?  It used to take Bourn four seasons to get four total home runs.  Enjoy whatever you can get there because there may only be one more the rest of the year.

Drew Stubbs:  2/4 with his 6th HR and 9th SB while hitting .250.  Stubbs broke a lot of hearts last season but he is doing his power/speed thing again.  You know the drill with the guy:  make sure you got his ugly average covered.

Logan Ondrusek:  scoreless ninth for his second save.  Nothing to see here as Aroldis Chapman was taking the day off.  The team barred him from taking a pleasure cruise with his car however.

David Wright:  3/5 with his 5th HR while hitting .405.  I am very fond of Wright as I have stuck with him through thick and thin and yes I am enjoying the renaissance that was easy to predict as like with Choo, he is still too young to be dropping off.  While he won't hit .400 or even .350, the drastic cut in his K rate has gotten Wright back to his 2007-2009 days as a .300-plus guy.

Joe Mauer:  2/4 with his 2nd HR while hitting .301.  Mauer now has one less home run than Nick Hundley.

Justin Morneau:  3/5 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .248.  Morneau is looking locked in for the first time in two seasons and by all means pick him up while it lasts.  His injury clock has about 2 weeks and change to go on it.

Alfredo DeAza:  1/5 with his fourth HR while hitting .283.  DeAza is doing a nice Drew Stubbs impression with a better average which means you should add him.

Paul Konerko:  2/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .384.  I think I have said every single nice thing you could possibly say about someone when it comes to this slugger.  I love you Paul. 

Alex Rios:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .274.  Rios has been a big disappointment yet again and really his entire career should have been better than it has been.  Still the guy can run and the power is starting to show.  Do it.

Matt Holliday:  1/3 with his 10th HR while hitting .271.  Yeah he is doing all right without a certain Mr. Pujols. 

David Freese:  2/5 with his 10th HR while hitting .270.  Freese still has a crazy fly ball rate which will come down but kudos for him to bouncing back from his first stretch of adversity.

Dan Haren:  9 IP 4 H 0 ER 0 BB 14 K with an ERA of 3.76.  Great sign here for Haren as he looked ridiculously great.  I see your 14-K outing Mr. Scherzer and I raise you two more innings along with a shutout.

Albert Pujols:  3/4 with his 5th HR and 2nd SB while hitting .224.  Buckle up as this one is about to blow.  Look out.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: MARLINS OUTFIELDER EMILIO BONIFACIO NEEDS THUMB SURGERY, OUT 4-6 WEEKS

Miami Marlins outfielder Emilio Bonifacio will miss the next 4-6 weeks after being told he needs surgery on his broken thumb.  Bonifacio is already on the DL and just received the news Thursday. 

Analysis:  Bonifacio is really a one-trick pony as he led the majors in steals before he got hurt so I would cut him loose unless you are in a deep format.  You can find steals all over the wire and so his value is not as high as many think.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: WHITE SOX PLACE SP JOHN DANKS ON DL WITH SHOULDER ISSUE

The Chicago White SOx placed SP John Danks on the DL Thursday with a shoulder injury.  Danks was complaining of soreness behind his left pitching shoulder and so the team felt it was the right move to DL him at this point.

Analysis:  Danks is a backend starter in fantasy baseball and he never has lived up to some early hype.  He should be cut in shallow formats and held in deeper leagues.

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ALEX RODRIGUEZ 3B NEW YORK YANKEES

There has been a great deal of debate in New York and in the fantasy baseball community about whether or not Yankees Hall of Fame 3B Alex Rodriguez is losing power.  After Rodriguez seemingly powered into a ball Wednesday night that landed at the warning track, the talk heated up tremendously on the local talk radio circuit.  Rodriguez of course go the last laugh after he homered twice Thursday night, giving him 7 for the season.  Be that as it may, Rodriguez' overall numbers are still way below his usual standards at .281 with those 7 home runs and 18 RBI.  At the age of 37, Rodriguez will never revisit his Texas Rangers and even Yankees numbers when he first came to town.  However despite the inevitable dropoff that comes with age, along with numerous injuries the last three seasons which have landed him on the DL in each campaign, some are wondering what this version of Rodriguez really can produce if he stays healthy for the most part.  In our latest Fantasy Baseball Status Report, we dig into Rodriguez' start and try to forecast where he could go from this point on.

Let's take another look at Rodriguez' early season stats one by one.  As far as the average is concerned, his .281 mark is right where I expected him to be.  That's actually an improvement on the .270 and .276 marks the last two seasons Rodriguez put up and since his K rate is rising and his fly ball rate is dropping, this is about as good as you can expect. 

Now for the power.  There is no doubt that Rodriguez is a shell of his former 50-homer self.  Many point to the fact he no longer is on steroids but since I am not a scientist, I can't conclusively determine how much of an impact that had.  Age to me is the biggest issue and like I said earlier, his fly ball rate dropping is a major reason for the fall in home runs.  Rodriguez is in a great position to hit home runs playing his home games in Yankee Stadium but that didn't help him to hit more than 16 home runs last season.  Sure he had only 373 at-bats, but that amount of plate appearances used to generate at least 25 for him in the past.  Even though he hit two the other night, which was a burst he is fully capable of producing a few times a season now but not as often as in the past, Rodriguez had failed to generate pop on a consistent basis.  At his age and with his rate stats going the wrong way, 25 is about the most you can expect based on what he has shown so far.

Taking a look at the rest of the package, Rodriguez is scoring a bunch of runs with 24 which is a given in this lineup but the RBI are light which goes with the lack of power.  The most surprising aspect of all is the fact he has five steals.  The thought was Rodriguez' speed was shot after all his leg injuries he has had but five steals is nothing to sniff at.  While I don't ever seen him going back to his 20-steal days, Rodriguez could threaten the 15 mark if he keeps it up. 

Overall Alex Rodriguez is still an effective player and will have stretches of his past excellence but overall he is a shadow of his former self and will remain a major injury risk the rest of the way.  Age is something no one can avoid and that includes Rodriguez which we are seeing this season.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: TIGERS OUTFIELDER AUSTIN JACKSON (ABDOMINAL) OUT AGAIN THURSDAY

Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson is out again on Thursday with a sore abdominal.  Jackson hasn't played since May 17th and he will be placed on the DL Friday retroactive to that date if he is not ready tomorrow.

Analysis:  Jackson likely will go on the DL but he could be back quickly.  He has been tremendous when in the lineup this season so hold onto him until he returns.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BRAVES C BRIAN MC CANN OUT AGAIN WITH FLUE

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is out again on Thursday with the flue.  This marks the third straight game McCann has missed with the illness but he is expected back Friday at the earliest.

Analysis:  McCann should be back soon so there is nothing to worry about.  He remains one of the best hitting catchers in the game. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: METS WON'T SEND 1B IKE DAVIS TO MINORS

The New York Mets won't send struggling 1B Ike Davis to the minors, despite a terrible slump to start the season.  Davis has been nothing like the promising slugger he has been his first season and a half in the majors and some blame the Valley Fever he contracted in the spring.  Either way Davis is going to remain with the team.

Analysis:  Nothing major here as those few who still own Davis aren't playing him.  I still like his long-term potential but admit that maybe I was a bit to high on him to start the season.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Nick Johnson:  2/3 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .206.  Its basically a requisite to mention anyone who hits two home runs in a game, even a washed up veteran who has gauze and ace bandages on every inch of his body.  That's about all I want to say about this.

Alfredo Aceves:  scoreless 1.1 IP for 11th save and 4.15 ERA.  Aceves has actually been really solid since the middle of April and so those few who are holding onto Daniel Bard can move on.

Jose Bautista:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .230.  I said in the middle of April when Bautista looked like he was back to being the hanger-on he used to be that by the end of May no one will remember his early problems.  How is that turning out?

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .269.  Encarnacion's average has been sinking noticeably since the start of May but he keeps hitting a home runs every few days which keeps his breakout season on track.

James Shields:  7.1 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.63.  Shields is a headcase fantasy baseball stock as he was off the charts unlucky in 2010 and than went the other way in 2011.  Split the difference and this is what you get.  Can shut down anyone with double-digit K's or get bombed for 6 ER in 3 IP.  It will be a roller coaster ride but overall he remains a sure thing number 2 guy.

Ricky Romero:  6 IP 2 H 4 ER 7 BB 7 K with a 3.86 ERA.  People have been asking me what is wrong with Romero but if you were paying attention you would have known I told you all to stay away from his this season off is BABIP-fueled 2011 campaign.  Flat out Romero was never duplicating last season's ERA without more luck since he walks way too many batters which we saw here.  In the AL East that is like holding gasoline in one had and a lit match in the other. 

Jonathan Lucroy:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .349.  Look another catcher I could possibly put ahead of Joe Mauer in the rankings.

Ernesto Frieri:  earned first save with scoreless ninth with a 0.00 ERA.  Frieri is striking out guys at a Aroldis Chapman rate and I would be shocked if he doesn't get save chances moving forward.  We all know Mike Scoscia beats to his own drum but Frieri could end up with more strikeouts than some starting pitchers this season.

Adrian Beltre:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .308.  Beltre has quietly been doing his thing while Josh Hamilton takes all the accolades.  Steady as it gets.

Chris Perez:  scoreless ninth for his 15th save with an ERA of 2.95.  Seems like such a long time ago when we thought Perez was one more blown save from the Vinny Pestano era.

Shane Victorino:  2/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .267.  Victorino has been tremendous this season as he is running all day and night and supplying his 3-4 home runs a month.  Yet once again I didn't own him.  Don't you just have guys who are really good but for whatever reason you never get to own them?  Victorino is that guy for me.  Anyone else want to share?  Post below.

Cole Hamels:  8 IP 4 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.17.  Hamels is Public Enemy Number 1 at this point in my darkhorse pick of Gio Gonzalez winning the Cy Young.

Billy Butler:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .299.  Keep it up big guy.  Only 19 more to go. 

Eric Hosmer:  3/4 with his 2nd SB while hitting .191.  Amazing that I am mentioning Hosmer here at the end of May in a game where he didn't homer and his average improved to .191.  Yeah that's not how we had drawn it up.  Still to channel my inner Brokeback Mountain, I just can't quit him.

Curtis Granderson:  2/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .256.  Forget the average as Granderson has never Edgar Martinez in that regard but once again he is hitting home runs at a Jose Bautista clip. 

Alex Rodriguez:  2/4 with 2 home runs (7 for season) while hitting .281.  Proving you still can't write him off.  Great game and Rodriguez is fully capable of doing this often enough the rest of the season if he stays healthy. 

Andy Pettitte:  7 IP 7 H 2 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.53.  I am shocked at all the strikeouts as Pettitte has never been a big producer there but the guy is fresh after a year off so maybe there is something to that.  That year off though could show up in August when he does his Bartolo Colon 2011 second half plunge so sell high if you can or else.

Troy Tulowitzki:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .268.  Someone has the look like they are about to go all Home Run Derby on the league.  In the case of Tulo, he is clearly overdue.  This could get crazy.

Carlos Zambrano:  7 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 2.85.  It was fun while it lasted.  No truth to the rumors that Zambrano punched out Jose Reyes and an injured Emilio Bonifacio

Dan Uggla:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .263.  See Tulowitzki, Troy above.

Wandy Rodriguez:  7 IP 8 H 1 ER 0 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.14.  I have been really hard on the guy in the past for good reason (can't pitch on the road, history of elbow trouble, won't win on a bad team) but give credit where its due.  He has been terrific.  Still if someone offered him to me let's just say I wouldn't be doing cartwheels.  The best he has to offer this season is already in the rearview mirror.

Paul Konerko:  3/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .381.  The guy should get a lifetime fantasy baseball achievement award or something as its remarkable how he has never failed to turn a profit for his owners.  Forget preserving Ted Williams' body.  Let's iced up Konerko after he kicks it in order to study how someone could possibly get the better as they get older.

Chris Sale:  7 IP 2 H 0 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.50.  Yeah that whole let's make Chris Sale a closer thing was pretty silly in hindsight.  His owners also have the urge to send Addison Reed a gift as a gesture of thanks for finally being the guy to step up in the bullpen.

David Freese:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .265.  Welcome back from your mini-vacation Mr. Freese.

Carlos Beltran:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .292.  All right Beltran has re-established his value with the home run so if you are foolishly still owning the guy after his latest knee scare, than I don't know what else to say.

Lance Lynn:  6 IP 8 H 3 ER 3 BB 3 K with an ERA of 2.54.  The hits are starting to pile up and the ERA is heading north as I said it would.  GET OUT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: GIANTS 3B PABLO SANDOVAL (BROKEN HAND) TAKES SWINGS OFF TEE

San Francisco Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval swung off a tee Wednesday, which was his first extensive work since undergoing surgery for a broken hand last month.  Sandoval was off to a roaring start to the season before suffering the second straight broken hand in two seasons and he remains about three weeks away from returning.

Analysis:  Good news as Sandoval has really elevated himself the last season-plus after losing weight.  He can't get back soon enough for his fantasy baseball owners and it should be less than a month away.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: YANKEES 1B MARK TEXEIRA BATTING THIRD WEDNESDAY

New York Yankees 1B Mark Texeira is in the number 3 spot Wednesday night after batting 7th Tuesday.  Texeira has been mired in a season-long slump that is somewhat blamed on a viral condition where he coughs incessantly.  The coughing drains his energy which could be seen in having 5 home runs thus far in the season.

Analysis:  There is no doubt that Texeira has been a huge fantasy baseball bust this season and things don't seen to be getting better.  May used to be one of his best months in his career but nothing has gone right.  Hold onto him if you are an owner since you won't get a market for him at this point but be ready to get out from under this if he gets hot. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: TUESDAY

Ian Desmond:  1/3 with his 8th HR and 5th SB while hitting .280.  Desmond has been very solid this season finally after two years of being a letdown.  His average can drop at a moment's notice but the power/speed combo could get close to 20/20.

Roy Halladay:  5 ER in 6 IP with an ERA of 3.58.  Listen everyone gets old at some point and even though it sounds like I am blaming his very high for him 3.58 ERA on age, I am not completely ready to go there yet.  Still we haven't seen Halladay's rate stats this high since his early Blue Jay days which gives you pause don't it?

Tyler Clippard:  scoreless ninth with his first save with an ERA of 3.15.  Clippard has the goods to be one of the best closers in the game and he could be getting an extended look here with Henry Rodriguez out of the role.  Still Davey Johnson doesn't say things he doesn't me and so when he spoke of a committee, you have to assume Sean Burnett will get a look when lefties are up in the ninth.

James McDonald:  7 IP 4 H 1 ER 2 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.51.  McDonald has been filthy since the middle of April and is showing no signs of slowing up.  His strikeouts have been nutty and its proof positive of how everything can come together for a guy with explosive stuff when he doesn't walk guys.

R.A. Dickey:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.45.  I have grossly underreported on Dickey since he arrived with the Mets and that's clearly because I don't trust knuckleballers due to the volatility of their starts from outing to outing.  Still Dickey is different in that he throws it so hard that he can rack up strikeouts like he did here.  We have reached the point some time ago where he is an every day starter.

Alex Avila:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .224.  Avila has not been nearly as good as last season which I told you would be the case but at catcher you can have more forgiveness with a poor average if he smacks the ball out of the ballpark.

Shin-Soo Choo:  2/4 with his 7th SB while hitting .274.  I told you to be patient with Choo and he finally is paying off with his average up to .274 and the fact he is running at a greater frequency at the top of the lineup.

Robinson Cano:  1/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .304.  Cano finally has his average back up over .300 but the power is still waning.  You can forget the 30 home runs we all speculated on for this season.

Phil Hughes:  2 ER in 6 IP with 7 K's with an ERA of 4.94.  Hughes has turned the corner his last few starts but he should not be trusted.  Potential can only take you so far.

Kevin Youkilis:  1/3 with his 3rd HR while hitting .224.  Ten bucks says Bobby Valentine immediately thought to himself after Youkilis hit the home run that he just made it easier to trade him.

Jim Johnson:  scoreless ninth for his 16th save with an ERA of 0.87.  Amazing.  That's all there is to say.

Brian Matusz:  1 ER in 6.2 IP with 9 K's with an ERA of 4.86. The theme of the night is Redemption as Matusz joins Hughes, Youkilis, and Choo as guys who are coming back from oblivion.  Like with Hughes, Matusz can't be take seriously pitching in that division.

Hanley Ramirez:  3/5 with 2 SB's (9 for season) while hitting .250.  Hanley just realized that it wasn't spring training anymore.

Carlos Pena:  2/5 with his sixth HR while hitting .215.  Of course only Joe Maddon would think that putting the slower than molasses Pena in the leadoff spot would be just the thing to get him going.

BJ Upton:  2/5 with his 4th HR while hitting .288.  In some ironic news, brother Justin was seen calling up BJ for hitting advice.

Luke Scott:  2/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .241.  Since I am in a betting mood tonight after making a ten dollar bet with you on Youkilis, let's do 20 bucks saying that Scott will hit a home run tomorrow.

Matt Moore:  4.2 IP 3 H 2 ER 4 BB 6 K with an ERA of 5.07.   Enough already.

Michael Bourn:  3/4 with 2 home runs (3 for season) while hitting .323,  The planets no doubt were aligned last night with Bourn going deep twice.  He may not hit another home run the rest of the season.  Still after seeing a game like this, you have to wonder how awesome he would be if he hit even 15 home runs a season to go with all those steals. 

Brandon Phillips:  2/4 with 2 home runs (4 for season) while hitting .266.  It's amazing how ordinary the guy looks due to simply losing his stolen bases the last few seasons.

Brandon Beachy:  7 IP 6 H 4 ER 1 BB 5 K with a 1.77 ERA.  Beachy was actually solid last night despite the 4 earned runs as he gave up a bunch of home runs.  He is still a stud but I would like the guy to call up Madison Bumgarner to find out how he found his K's.

Aroldis Chapman:

Jose Altuve:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .315.  Now has three home runs and 9 steals.  Doing a very fair Ian Kinsler impression I would have to say.

Buster Posey:  2/4 with his 6th HR while hitting .300.  Posey is staking his claim to re-take the top hitting catcher honors in fantasy baseball.

Matt Cain:  4 ER in 7 IP with an ERA of 2.94.  Loving seeing Cain strike out all these batters this season and its interesting that this has come out of blue after not seeing this type of K rate since he was a rookie. 

Adam Wainwright:  complete game shutout with 9 K's with an ERA of 4.78.  Great start by Wainwright but it was against the Padres.  Need to see more before I change my opinion on this being a season or recovery before I go back in heavily on him next winter when the drafts get going.

JJ Putz:  third blown save with 2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 7.20. Putz now decides that its his turn to try and lose his job and truth be told he has been miserable most of the season.  David Hernandez proved himself in the role last season and he has been money to this point.  Do what you have to do.

Albert Pujols:  1/4 with his 4th HR while hitting .213.  He is on fire!

CJ Wilson:  8 IP 1 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.90.  Off his worst start of the year, Wilson has his best.  There was never any reason to worry in the first place.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: HENRY RODRIGUEZ OUT AS WASHINGTON CLOSER, COMMITTEE IN PLAY

Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson has removed Henry Rodriguez from the closer role starting for Tuesday's games and instead the team will go with a committee.  Johnson mentioned Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, and Sean Burnett as guys who will be in the mix based on matchups.

Analysis:  Ughhh.  This whole situation is one big mess right now and any of the three mentioned above could run with the gig.  My best guess would be that Clippar stays in the eighth since Johnson has mentioned numerous times in the past how much he likes him there, so that leaves Stammen (righty) and Burnett (lefty) as options based on matchups.  Pick up Burnett if you have only one available slot but this situation could change daily until Drew Storen gets back.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: BREWERS OUTFIELDER RYAN BRAUN (GROIN) ACTIVE FOR TUESDAY

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is in the lineup Tuesday, despite coming out of Monday's game with right groin tightness.  Braun removed himself from Monday's game but apparently is feeling fine.

Analysis:  Braun has habitually been a guy who has had a bunch of nagging injuries without ever going on the DL and this is no different.  Get him in the lineup. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RAYS OUTFIELDER DESMOND JENNINGS (KNEE) EXPECTED TO RETURN SUNDAY

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday from his injured knee.  Jennings has not started in over two weeks but he is already doing on-field work and has pronounced himself ready to go.

Analysis:  Jennings is as naturally gifted a player in the game as there is and his aim at a 15/40 season has been derailed a bit.  Still I would do whatever I could to try and steal him from an impatient owner. 

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: MARK TEXEIRA 1B NEW YORK YANKEES

It was only a few short years ago when New York Yankees 1B Mark Texeira was a first round fantasy baseball bonanza.  Combining a .280-.300 batting average with nearly 40 home run power, to go with 100 runs and RBI, Texeira was as good an offensive weapon as you could get in the game.  Signing on with the Yankees and hitting in their launching pad of a ballpark, especially for a lefty like Texeira is.  Despite getting off to a rousing start in his new home back in 2009 with 39 home runs, 122 RBI, and .292 average, Texeria has disturbingly found himself on a very noticeable decline.  Let's take a look at his numbers in the two complete seasons since than, along with his very ugly 2012 stats.

2010:  33 home runs/108 RBI/.256 average
2011:  39 home runs/111 RBI/.248 average
2012:  5 home runs/20 RBI/.227 average

As far as the home runs are concerned, Texeira has actually remained very steady in that department......that is until this season.  His lefty swing almost guarantees that he will hit 30 home runs a season which no doubt has very good value in today's pitching era.  The RBI's go hand-in-hand with the home runs too as he continues to shoot past the 100 mark.   However it is the batting average where Texeira really is leaking numbers as it has gone on a seep drop from 2009's .292 all the way to his current .227 mark.  The fact Texera has hit under .260 the last two full seasons and is at only .227 now is more than a trend and many point to the fact he is getting too pull happy at Yankee Stadium.  At 32 years old, its also likely that Texeira is losing it a bit at the plate as he ages.  Whatever it is, there is no doubt he is becoming a liability in that area.

The second troubling aspect of Texeira's 2012 season is his health.  Texeira has had a type of whooping cough that he has been dealing with since the beginning of spring training and its the type of cough that drains a player of his energy which in turn could be showing up in his batting stats.  Doctors have failed to come up with a good diagnosis and so there is worry that this will be a season-long affair. 

Overall, Mark Texeira has turned into a better version of Adam Dunn right now.  His average is a negative which takes away some of the good he does in home runs.  He does score a lot of runs and drive in RBI like Dunn is doing once again in Chicago this season but the interesting thing is that Texeira was on average a fourth round pick this past winter, while Dunn went undrafted in some leagues.  They both could have very similar stats this season which is a clear example of how Texeira continues to slip.  With regards to the rest of the 2012 season, I surely wouldn't be buying low unless it was an absolute steal due to the sickness and his sinking average.  If you are an owner you have to stay the course and hope for a rebound.  Either way, Texeira is falling fast in the first base rankings and in the eyes of the fantasy baseball community.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS RED SOX 1B ADRIAN GONZALEZ TO PLAY OUTFIELD TUESDAY

Boston Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez will play in the outfield on Tuesday night, with the newly activated Kevin Youkilis playing at first.  This will mark the third start for Gonzalez in the outfield this season, which means he is two more away from gaining eligibility there. 

Analysis:  It is shocking to see Gonzalez sitting here at the end of May with just three home runs and a .271 average.  He also has only 22 RBI which is light years behind where he was at this point last season.  Like with Albert Pujols, we all know Gonzalez' bat will turn around but rumors are that he is already unhappy in Boston.  In the spring we were all talking about Gonzalez hitting 40 home runs with 120 RBI.  Now he will be lucky to hit 30 with 100. 

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RED SOX ACTIVATE KEVIN YOUKILIS, WILL PLAY HIM AT FIRST BASE

The Boston Red Sox have activated Kevin Youkilis from the DL and will play him at first base Tuesday night.  The ramifications are that hot-hitting rookie Willie Middlebrooks will continue to man third base and keep his stick in the lineup.

Analysis:  The big news is not Youkilis coming back as he has looked washed up for more than a year now.  Its the fact that Middlebrooks is staying in the majors for now.  Yes Youkilis will get first base eligibility back but no one would even think of playing him there.

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: MONDAY

Willie Middlebrooks:  3/5 while hitting .297.  This was Middlebrooks saying "don't you dare think you are taking me out of the lineup for that old geezer walks guy with the ugly goatee."  With Cody Ross on the DL with a busted foot, Middlebrooks is likely to play in the outfield.  Hey defense doesn't count in fantasy baseball.

David Ortiz:  1/4 with his 10th HR while hitting .333.  Adrian Gonzalez would kill to have half of Ortiz' numbers.

Johan Santana:  4 ER in 6.1 IP with an ERA of 3.24.  Ragged start for Santana but the key is the fact he struck out 7 which means he is fooling hitters like he used to, albeit with a bit less in the overall K department. 

Drew Stubbs:  2/3 with 2 home runs (5 for season) while hitting .244.  Just call Stubbs the white Chris Young.  And no not the tall weird-looking pitcher who is always hurt.

Sean Marshall:  got the one out save due to the fact Mr. Chapman was a bit bust with some police matter last night. 

BJ Upton:  1/4 with his third HR while hitting .283.  Who woulda thunk it that BJ would be having the much better season than little bro Justin with half the at-bats.

Kyle Drabek:  6 IP 3 H 2 ER 6 BB 3 K with a 3.27 ERA.  Wouldn't shock me at all for this guy to have a 4.50 ERA by the end of June.

Ian Desmond:  2/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .280.  Like with so many ugly average hitters in fantasy baseball who can do nice things elsewhere, they only have to hit around .260 to really elevate themselves.  So far so good.

Gio Gonzalez:  6 IP 3 H 0 ER 3 BB 9 K with an ERA of 1.98.  My goodness I love this guy and after being the one who named him the darkhorse NL Cy Young winner this season, I wound up not being able to get my hands on him in both Experts Leagues.  Its the only time I am disappointed about not getting my hands on a man.

Sean Burnett:  got his second save with a scoreless .2 IP in relief of Henry Rodriguez who gave up a hit, a walk, and two wild pitches before Davey Johnson saw enough.  This situation is red hot and Burnett very well could be out there again to start the inning tonight if a save is in play.

Mike Moustakas:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .295.  Moustakas really is starting to look a bit like a more healthy version of Ryan Zimmerman.  If he keeps this up, I will draft him over the chronically-injured Nats 3B next season.

Felipe Pualino:  6 scoreless inning with 8 K's with an ERA of 1.42.  It seems like at least once a season I get the "should I pick up Paulino" e-mails after he puts together some good outings with high K's.  We have seen this show too many times to trust it so he remains a streamable asset to this point.

Troy Tulowitzki:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .262.  Tulo has been very quiet this season so far which worries me since we haven't even gotten to his annual DL stint yet.

Giancarlo Stanton:  1/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .277.  No doubt there are many former Stanton owners who feel pretty stupid about now after trading him for pennies on the dollar off his miserable April.  Its a marathon people not a sprint.

Jed Lowrie:  3/4 with his 7th HR and 2nd SB while hitting .288.  Former top prospect at shallow hitting position making good finally?  CHECK.  Pick him up.

Bud Norris:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 3 BB 8 K with an ERA of 3.14.  This has a very James McDonald feel to it I think.

Matt Garza:  7 ER in 3 IP with an ERA of 3.72.  This is Matt Garza in a nutshell.  Pitches a bunch of awesome games and than throws in one like this to remind you why he drives you so crazy.

Buster Posey:  1/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .294.  Steady as she goes for Posey who has done nothing to disappoint his owners.  His power is back to its reasonable levels after his fluky 2010 debut but the rest of his game is still very appealing no doubt.

Ryan Braun:  2/5 with his 12th HR while hitting .333.  Braun left early with right groin tightness which could be a side effect from the so-called STD he got which supposedly triggered his positive steroids test.....which was than recanted when the loophole over how the test was stored came to his attention.  Pathetic.

Madison Bumgarner:  7.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 1 BB 10 K with an ERA of 2.85.  We would like to finally welcome Madison Bumgarner's K's to the 2012 season.

Andre Ethier:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .314.  I don't want to take too much credit for talking up Ethier as a bounceback guy this past winter because this one was too obvious.  Ethier was much too young to completely fall apart the way he supposedly did last season and so this should not be a surprise.

Chris Capuano:  6 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.25.  I wouldn't be so quick to sell for a profit here in that ballpark.

Monday, May 21, 2012

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS OUTFIELDER RYAN BRAUN EXITS WITH RIGHT GROIN TIGHTNESS

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun exited Monday's loss to the San Francisco Giants with right groin tightness.  Braun will be evaluated on Tuesday according to the team.

Analysis:  Braun has a history of nagging injuries that don't land him on the DL.  Of course all of those nagging injuries could be attributed to his positive steroids test that he got lucky to skate on.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RANGERS SP NEFTALI FELIZ LIKELY OUT UNTIL ALL STAR BREAK WITH ELBOW INFLAMMATION

Updating an earlier item, Texas Rangers SP Neftali Feliz will be shut down for a month before he begins to get himself back in shape, which means he should be out until the All Star Break.  Feliz was placed on the DL earlier in the day Monday with elbow inflammation.

Analysis:  Tough blow for Feliz and his fantasy baseball owners but the big worry I had with him was his arm not being able to stand up to the rigors of starting.  You could actually see a scenario where Feliz could be returned to the closer role down the road if this keeps up but for now stash him away. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS 1B LANCE BERKMAN HAS TORN MENISCUS AND NOT ACL

Updating and earlier report, St. Louis Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman has a torn meniscus in his knee and not a torn ACL.  Berkman will now miss 6-8 weeks instead of the rest of the season but its still a major blow nonetheless.  Power prospect Matt Adams will handle first base in his absence.

Analysis:  Berkman is still waiver fodder after the injury because there is no guarantee he will even make it back in the 6-8 week timetable.  At least his career is not finished which is what was first feared.

FANTASY BASEBALL NEWS: RED SOX PLAY OUTFIELDER CODY ROSS ON DL WITH FRACTURED FOOT

The Boston Red Sox injury woes continue as the team placed sparkplug outfielder Cody Ross on the DL Monday with a broken bone in his left foot.  There is no word yet on how long he will be out but it certainly will be more than the 15 day minimum.  Kevin Youkilis will take his spot on the roster.

Analysis:  Ross has been pretty good as a power hitting outfielder with not a lot of pub attached to his name.  Its solid production out of guys like this that can win leagues for you but he is not big enough a name to hold onto after the injury.  The fact Youkilis will take his spot could open up a shot for Willie Middlebrooks to take Ross' spot in the outfield but that is a longshot. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: RANGERS PLACE SP NEFTALI FELIZ ON DL WITH ELBOW SORENESS

The Texas Rangers have placed SP Neftali Feliz on the DL Monday with right elbow inflammation.  Feliz first experienced elbow pain in his last start on Saturday and the Rangers quickly moved to place him on the DL so as not to further the issue.

Analysis:  Feliz was a guy I avoided at all costs this season in draft, even if he fell far due to a hard innings cap and issues about whether his arm can hold up under all those innings.  So far his health has been sketchy this season despite some solid pitching results and the jury is still out as to whether he can be a long term starter in the majors. 

FANTASY BASEBALL CLOSING TIME: ADDISON REED STAKES HIS CLAIM

Monday as always is Fantasy Baseball Closing Time where we check in on all the latest news in the closer world.  Let's get right to it.

-The Chicago White Sox have been the best example of how chaotic the ninth inning has been around baseball this season, what with manager Robin Ventura throwing out Hector Santiago, Matt Thornton, and rookie Addison Reed as guys who have or who were going to get ninth inning duties.  After Santiago bombed out, Ventura turned to Reed who has done a fairly good Aroldis Chapman impersonation as far as not giving up any earned runs in April and striking out more than a batter per inning.  Just when Reed seemed like he was immersing himself into the role, he goes out and gives up 6 runs in .1 IP to cast doubt on his ability to get the job done.  However to Ventura's credit,. he didn't let the one poor outing cloud his judgement and Reed has gone on to earn two more saves with scoreless appearances as he got himself back on track.  Reed is now the clear ninth inning closer for the White Sox and overall he should be a very good option going forward.

-Frank Francisco continues to walk a tightrope when it comes to holding onto the closer role for the Mets and it seemed like another blown save was imminent Sunday when he put the first two Blue Jays on base in a 6-5 game.  Much to his credit though, Francisco ramped up his fastball to strike out the next three hitters to close things out and earn some more rope from Terry Collins.  For now this situation has cooled as far as Francisco being on the hot seat but if he goes out and blows his next chance, the talk will begin again about whether Collins should use Jon Rauch or Bobbby Parnell instead.

-The Angels have been just as annoying as the White Sox when it comes to closer turnover.  Jordan Walden really got no leash at all from Mike Scoscia and after he blew his first save of the year, he was shunned aside for veteran lefty Scott Downs who has been perfect thus far.  The wild card is Ernesto Frieri who has done his best Kenley Jansen impression when it comes to striking everyone out.  Frieri earned a save last week and pitched in the ninth Sunday night but Scoscia did say in a press briefing that Downs was still the guy.  Long term Frieri could and should be the guy, much like what happened with the Dodgers and Jansen setting up for the incompetent Javy Guerra.  If you have an extra spot on your roster, pick up Frieri as he will be an asset in your K/IP numbers for those in innings capped leagues, while also putting up a minuscule ERA and WHIP.

-Just wanted to say how I suggested drafting Jim Johnson this season as the perfect guy to fallback on when you waited to draft closers.  The other guy was Jason Motte.  How did those two work out?

-Finally Aroldis Chapman finally moves into the closer role over the awful Sean Marshall which should have been to start the season.  Arms like Chapman's don't get any more special than that and kudos to those who held onto him all season waiting for this opportunity.  He should instantly move into the top five at the position, with the chance to finish first overall like Neftali Feliz did a few years ago.

There you have it.  As always check back for all the latest closer news as it happens.

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: CARDS 1B LANCE BERKMAN DONE FOR 2012 WITH TORN ACL

St. Louis Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman is out for the remainder of 2012 and could even retire after suffering a torn right ACL in his knee.  Berkman tore the ACL while stretching for a throw during Saturday's game and Matt Adams was called up as his replacement. 

Analysis:  Terrible news for Berkman and his fantasy baseball owners who may have seen the last of the guy.  Its very sad to think his career could be finished from this point on as he has been a class act since coming into the league. 

FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: SUNDAY

Raul Ibanez:  2/4 with his 9th HR while hitting .273.  Ibanez is enjoying his late career revival in New York and no doubt the man knows how to choose the right locales for his last few years in the league from a hitting standpoint (Philly, New York).  I said in the spring the guy was a very good add in deeper formats and he has exceeded expectations thus far. 

Aroldis Chapman:  perfect inning for his first save.  Although I would love to see what Chapman could do as a starter, there is no doubt that he is the most dominant reliever in the game and instantly is a top five closer with the potential to finish on top.  That's how awesome his stuff is.  Anyone still holding onto Sean Marshall has likely already given up on their team this season.

Josh Johnson:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 4.82.  The guy's shoulder is put together with scotch tape but Johnson is much too good a pitcher to continue struggling like he was before being very good his last four starts.  Although I doubt he can hold up the rest of the way, Johnson looks like he has harnessed his stuff.

Heath Bell:  scoreless .2 IP for his 5th save with an ERA of 8.16.  Steve Cishek we hardly knew you. 

Neil Walker:  1/4 with his 2nd HR while hitting .261.  Walker's long long twin Chris Coghlan just got brought up with Emilio Bonifacio's elbow injury.  The common family trait in the baseball portion of the family is highlighted with a solid average with not much else to show for it. 

Alex Avila:  1/3 with his 2nd SB while hitting .221.  Remember it was me who said in the winter when I told you Avila's average was due for a fall after his BABIP-fueled 2011 number.  I honestly don't know why you would read any other fantasy baseball advice site.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 4 H 2 ER 1 BB 15 K with an ERA of 5.73.  Let's get this out of the way before my Inbox gets flooded with "should I pick him up queries."  The fact that a very talented starter like Scherzer would be available in so many leagues is that after this gem his ERA was still 5.73 and his WHIP and ugly 1.58.  Sure this start is beautiful to look at but Scherzer is a complete mess from week who has proven he can be depended on for anything but short spurts.

Joaquin Benoit:  1 ER for his first save with an ERA of 3.06.  At least you know its Benoit and not Octavio Dotel who would be next in line for saves.  Valverde sat out with back spasms and so Benoit took upon himself to fit right in with the rest of the closers this season in giving up an earned run before finishing things off.  When I look at Benoit by the way I see another Sean Marshall as an excellent setup man who can't stomach closing.

Jose Bautista:  3/5 with his 11th HR while hitting .217.  Bautista would still hit 40 home runs if he started August with 1.

Henderson Alvarez:  6 ER in 5 IP with an ERA of 3.30.  No doubt a bunch of fantasy baseball owners took this one hard in the ERA and WHIP column after finally bringing this guy aboard.  I advised against it since he doesn't strike guys out and when that happens, even a light hitting team like the Mets can eat you up on any given day.

Frank Francisco:  scoreless ninth for his 10th save with an ERA of 7.56.  Call him the white Joe Borowski.

Mike Aviles:  2/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .275.  I get annoyed seeing how good Aviles is playing since I don't own him this season after being a major proponent of the guy for awhile.  Them's the breaks.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia:  1/4 with his 7th HR while hitting .282.  Way back when Salty was coming up with the Braves, we heard talk he could be the next Mike Piazza.  Although that statement was absurd even back then, he is starting to look the part of a sure fire every day starter in mixed leagues which no one would have said in the 17080218 seasons its took for him to fully develop.

Stephen Strasburg:  5 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 8 K with an ERA of 2.21.  Strasburg even his his first major league home run in this game which doesn't count for you but is still neat to see.  His innings are clearly being capped which is annoying but he could strike out 200 batters no problem in his expected 160 frames which speaks to how awesome the kid is.

Tim Hudson:  7.2 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.03.  Hudson could push his walker to the mound at 70 years old and still generate outs with is sinker.

Colby Lewis:  8 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.30.  Lewis is tough to trust due to his fly ball tendencies while pitching his home games in Texas but you can't argue with the results.  Your team/your risk. 

Corey Hart:  3/5 with his 9th HR while hitting .268.  Hart was cold for awhile but this home run signals that he is ready to go on a huge tear.  Really this is probably the reason Hart is underrated each season which is a riddle I have been trying to figure out for awhile.  Guys who go up and down more than an elevator like Hart does tries the patience of fantasy baseball owners and those who are quick to dump underperforming players.  Stay the course with Hart as things even out when you look back at things in October.

Jonathan Lucroy:  3/5 with 2 home runs (4 for season) with 7 RBI while hitting .342.  Lucroy has a very good stick but his light pop has relegated him to fill-in duty or two catcher formats.  Same deal this season despite the huge game.

Zack Greinke:  6.2 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.70.  Greinke is on a major run right now and once again is fulfilling all the grand expectations I had of him.  He has been a guy who I have liked more than others the last two seasons but his stuff is awesome and truly unhittable when he is on, which has been the case for the better part of a season and a half.

Justin Upton:  1/3 with his 8th SB while hitting .239.  Hey at least he is stealing bases.  Yeah it hasn't been so great to own Upton this season as his K rate has gone back up.  Still I would give my left arm and maybe my right one to get my hands on the guy.

Adam Dunn:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .247.  I would sign up right now for a .245 average if it came with 40 home runs and 110 RBI.  So would you Dunn-haters.

Jake Peavy:  6.1 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with a 2.39 ERA.  His first and only rough outing last time out against Detroit has already faded from memory. 

Carlos Gonzalez:  3/5 with his 8th HR while hitting .304.  Its funny how Cargo has kind of slipped into the cracks with Ryan Braun, Bautista, Matt Kemp, and Justin Upton getting all the attention.  The guy is a stud no matter how you look at it who can continue to put up monster numbers this season. 

Jesus Montero:  1/3 with his 6th HR while hitting .261.  A day off did Montero's bat wonders I would have to say as evidenced by his weekend results.

Brandon League:  2 ER in 1 IP with an ERA of 3.93.  League is making it easy for the Mariners to trade him at the deadline.  Take note League owners and move him now before he loses his entire value.

Josh Reddick:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .270.  Reddick's average was never going to stay near the .300 mark but the power should stay around.  This is what makes Billy Beane such a genius.

Tim Lincecum:  5 IP 5 H 4 ER 3 BB 5 K with an ERA of 6.04.  I sound like a broken record when I talk about Linceum and none of it is good this season.  I said not to BUY LOW and this is why as he continues to walk everyone and put up short outings.  His arm is still good in that he is getting the K's but his mechanics are everywhere.  Yuck.