The general consensus amongst Mets’ fans is that when they trade for or sign a star player, said star player will either get injured or lose his ability to play at a level which justified the aforementioned acquisition. There is a long list of examples dating back many years to justify this feeling – from George Foster, Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray, Vince Coleman, Bret Saberhagen, Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez (sans 2005), Carlos Beltran (sans 2006-2008), Johan Santana (he has pitched well when healthy), etc. True, there have been some that panned out such as Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, and Mike Piazza. But for the most part, big name acquisitions haven’t been the Mets specialty over the years.
Generally speaking, it comes as a surprise when these star players fail to live up to their hype and expectations. I admittedly supported almost every acquisition that was made involving these big names. That brings me to the topic at hand. In the winter of 2009, there were two big name free agent hitters on the market – Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. Everyone knew Holliday would be worth more money and wanted to stay in St. Louis, so it came as no surprise when he re-signed with the Cardinals. Bay was available and was the perfect match for the Mets who were in desperate need of a left fielder and powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. Bay had experience playing in a big market environment with the Red Sox the previous year and a half, and he had a great reputation of being a hard-working player and a positive clubhouse guy. The Mets inked Bay to a 4-year, $65 million contract that was generally well-received by fans and the media. He would solifiy left field and provide a presence in the middle of the Mets’ lineup while also taking some pressure off of David Wright.
As it turned out, the only impact Bay really had was in a Sunday Night game against the Yankees where he hit two homeruns off of C.C. Sabathia. Check that, the other impact he had was with the outfield wall which gave him a concussion and ended his season in late July 2010. His final statistics for his first year on the Mets were a .259 batting average, 6 homeruns, and 47 RBI. In his previous six full seasons, he had never hit less than 21 homeruns or driven in less than 81. He clearly hit rock bottom, right?
Coming into 2011, Bay was fully recovered and ready to make up for the lost season that was 2010. However, just before Opening Day, he suffered an oblique injury during batting practice that would land him on the disabled list for most of April. By the time he came back, it was almost 9 months since he had seen a pitch from a big league pitcher in a regular season game. The Mets got off to an awful start, but Bay’s return coincided with a six-game winning streak that brought the Mets back to respectability. However, since the beginning of May, Bay has been non-existent in terms of production with the bat. In 39 games, he is hitting .207 with 2 homeruns and 10 RBI. Yes, 10 RBI. Ruben Tejada has 9 RBI thus far – just for comparison. He only has 4 doubles along with those 2 homeruns giving him a slugging percentage of a whopping .279. And this is supposed to be the Mets’ cleanup hitter?
As bad as those statistics are, it is even worse when you watch him play everyday as I do. He looks completely lost at the plate with no idea how to approach each at bat. He cannot catch up to average fastballs, and he is consistently fooled by off-speed and breaking pitches away. When he does make contact, he either softly grounds out to the left side of the infield or pops up to the outfield. He has become an automatic out and makes Rey Ordonez look like Willie Mays.
Given the Mets’ injuries, they have been relying on Bay more than ever to anchor their lineup that consists of Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and a bunch of minor leaguers. Instead, Bay has been outplayed and outperformed by guys like Jason Pridie, Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, and Ruben Tejada. It reached the point where Bay has become a liability to the Mets because he is contributing nothing from an offensive standpoint. Manager Terry Collins has moved Bay down in the order to try and take some pressure off of him, but that didn’t work. Now, C0llins has benched Bay on several occasions and almost looks like he is creating some sort of platoon in left field.
Granted, if Bay starts hitting then he plays everyday – no questions asked. But I must give Terry Collins credit for proactively dealing with Bay’s lack of production because he was hurting the team by being in there. Collins wants to win, and despite having a banged up roster, he is going to put a lineup together that gives the Mets the best chance to win. Right now, Jason Bay does not give the team the best chance to win. Kudos to Collins for ignoring Bay’s contract and the back of his baseball card. To his credit, Bay seems like a class act and has handled all of this with dignity. He doesn’t have any history of selfish behavior, so there shouldn’t be concern over that. Bay has to straighten himself out, and then he will be right back where he should be. But until then, he cannot continue to hurt the team by being in the middle of that lineup producing absolutely nothing.
What could help Bay resolve his issues? Perhaps a two-week trip down to the minors to work on his mechanics and timing would serve him well. It has worked in the past for pitchers Steve Trachsel and Bobby Jones. But Bay would have to agree to the demotion and buy into the theory that it will help him. He is just going to have to keep working on his swing and his approach, and somehow regain the stroke that netted him a $65 million contract. If he cannot do this, than Mets fans are going to have fonder memories of Mo Vaughn than Jason Bay.
It is hard to believe, but Tuesday has once again come and gone which means it is time for the Top Ten list of newsworthy fantasy baseball happenings. The calendar has turned to June and the fantasy baseball season has entered its tenth week. Time seems to fly by when you are having fun or checking the waiver wire to fill the void left by an injured player. That being said, let’s dive right into the June 7, 2011 edition of the Tuesday Top Ten list and see what is crack-a-lacking.
10. On the Mark – The Yankees and Red Sox have one of the most storied and dramatic rivalries in all of sports. The two AL East powerhouses are at it once again as they battle for first place in a mid-week series at Yankee Stadium. Sure enough, it didn’t take very long for the drama to rear its ugly head again as Jon Lester hit Mark Teixeira in the knee with a pitch in the first inning. Teixeira would ultimately leave the game and will undergo x-rays and tests during the night. This could be devastating for Teixeira owners if he has to miss any significant time. After an uncharacteristic hot start to the season, Teixeira has been pedestrian at best through most of May but started showing signs of hearing up on the Yankees’ recent west coast road trip. The Yankees will be cautious with Teixeira no matter what, so carefully monitor the situation and have some backup plans in place.
9. It Burns When I Peavy – Ok I will admit that I did not come up with that slogan. It is actually my friend’s team name in one of my fantasy baseball leagues, and arguably one of the funniest ones I have seen over the years. Speaking of funny, it is hilarious to think that Jake Peavy could last more than five games in the major leagues without a stint on the disabled list. Well, after missing the beginning of the season recovering from an arm injury, Peavy returned to Chicago which then employed a six-man starting rotation. Peavy went 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in five starts since coming back. Sure enough, he injured his groin which will likely land him on the disabled list. If you want to send a “Get Well Soon” card to him, please send it to Jake Peavy c/o The Disabled List since that seems to be his primary residence. If you are looking for a headline about this, it can read “Peavy lands on DL with another injury. In other news, man invented fire.”
8. Future Jackass of the Year – This doesn’t necessarily affect much in terms of current fantasy baseball, but it has to be included in today’s update. Nationals’ prospect Bryce Harper, the #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, continues to prove why he has a reputation of being an assclown. In a game against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Harper hit a homerun off Zachary Neal who glared at him as he rounded the bases. Cameras caught on film Harper blowing a kiss at Neal before he crossed home plate. While some may interpret this as a harmless romantic gesture, others are probably insulted. Harper may be a very talented player and will likely end up a successful major league hitter. But his reputation and antics are going to attract a lot of fastballs heading between the numbers on his back.
7. Wright is Still Not Alright – Mets third baseman David Wright got some bad news from doctors saying that the stress fracture in his lower back hasn’t healed as quickly as they thought and have prescribed another three weeks of doing nothing. This means that the earliest Wright could start resuming some form of baseball activity is the end of June, which puts him in line for a return around the All-Star break. Wright was having an abysmal year before the injury anyway, but historically he was going to end up with his standard numbers (.285, 25 HR, 90 RBI). There are not many great options on the waiver wire for third base. You will need a stop-gap option that is dispensable once Wright comes back later on.
6. Paying for Failure – There are no guarantees in the game of baseball or fantasy baseball. Players commonly sign ludacris free agent contracts with teams desperately looking to rebuild and contend for the playoffs with high priced talent. However, things don’t always work out that way. Some glaring examples are Jason Bay, Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth. In terms of fantasy baseball, these players probably cost a middle round draft pick or a decent amount of auction dollars. And all you have gotten in return is absolute crap. At some point, you will have to consider benching these players because they are essentially a waste of a roster spot. Of course these veterans may turn things around, but for over two months these three players have been guilty of stealing a salary for pretending to be a baseball player.
5. Know Your Role, Jabroni – Brad Lidge, who is still waiting for Albert Pujols homerun from six years ago to land, is currently rehabbing and working his way back to the Phillies. The former closer had graciously indicated that he has no expectations to close games when he does make his return. The success that Ryan Madson has had since being anointed the closer in April is no longer considered a fluke. Lidge’s addition to the bullpen should provide added depth and insurance should Madson falter at some point. But kudos must be given to Lidge who understands the nature of the business. Not such great news for those of you who drafted Lidge on the cheap and have stashed him away. But great news for those of you who have Madson (and a special kudos to those of you who have Madson as a result of my closer profile on him from two weeks ago).
4.Uh oh for Brett Anderson – Not that many people have a burning desire to go to Birmingham, Alabama, but there is especially one reason why Major League Baseball pitchers do not enjoy going there. Of course, that would be Dr. James Andrews, the noted surgeon who specializes in performing Tommy John surgery. A’s young pitcher Brett Anderson will be visiting with Dr. Andrews to get an opinion on his elbow, which has currently landed him on the disabled list. If you can stash him on the DL, do it in case he doesn’t need surgery. If he does have to go under the knife, he will be gone the rest of this year and likely most of next season as well.
3. Edinson’s Light Bulb Went On – Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez made his return from the minor leagues to defeat the Cubs 8-2. He threw seven innings and allowed only one run on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven. This is a step in the right direction for the former ace of the staff who was sent to the minors to work on the command of his pitches. He may be available in some leagues, so grab him if he is. Rumor has it that Tigers’ legend Billy Chapel taught Volquez how to “clear the mechanism.” Get the reference???
2. Summer Lovin’ in San Diego – Padres prospect Anthony Rizzo is expected to be recalled very shortly once he receives a clean bill of health on this thumb. Rizzo is a strong first baseman who will be immediately be relied upon to inject some power in the middle of San Diego’s lineup. He is one of the top prospects in baseball and should be added if he is available.
1. Flash 2.0 – Dee Gordon, the son of former major league pitcher Tom “Flash” Gordon, made his big league debut on Monday night as a pinch runner. On Tuesday, he made his first start and proceeded to go 3-5 with a run scored and a stolen base. With Rafael Furcal back on the DL and likely out a month, Gordon should get plenty of playing time to show off his skills. He could be a big boost to your roto team if you need stolen bases from the weak middle infield position. If he plays especially well and doesn’t seem overmatched, it would not be surprising to see Gordon supplant Furcal as the starter when he comes back. For now, keep an eye on his playing time and definitely add him if available.
It’s Tuesday which means it is time for another edition of the Top Ten list. Without further adieu, let’s dive right into the Top Ten fantasy baseball headlines for this last day of May.
10. Better Late Than Never – Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants has come full circle in his career to finally fulfill the expectations placed on him almost a decade ago. Vogelsong, initially drafted by the Giants, was the top prospect included in the trade that brought Jason Schmidt to San Francisco from Pittsburgh. The Pirates, who seem to always be in the business of providing other teams with key pieces to their puzzles, were in one of their rebuilding modes and traded away their ace pitcher who was facing free agency. The Bucs acquired Vogelsong with the hopes that he would become the anchor of their rotation for many years. However, Vogelsong sustained an injury and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2002. He would never attain any success with Pittsburgh through the 2006 season. He then kicked around Japan and had minor league stints with the Phillies and Angels until the Giants re-signed him before the 2011 season. After Barry Zito got injured, Vogelsong got the call to replace him and has been tremendous. He is currently 3-1 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts in 40 innings. The Giants will be hard-pressed to take him out of the rotation when Zito returns. He has done enough to warrant a pickup in your league, either NL-only or mixed, but monitor the situation in case he hits a wall or gets bumped when Zito returns.
9. Un-bereavable! – Jose Reyes was placed on the Bereavement List on Monday after the passing of his grandmother. Initial reports were that Reyes might miss the entire week to be with his family. It is now being reported by the Mets that they expect him back by Thursday, which is good news for fantasy owners. The announcement that he was going to be out was made on Monday morning, which may not have been enough notice for owners to replace him in their lineups. At least now it looks like the Mets and fantasy owners will get four games out of Reyes for the week. He has been extremely hot lately, so hopefully this family situation does not throw him off track.
8. Another Soriano Gets Hurt – Last week, the New York Yankees announced that relief pitcher Rafael Soriano would be out another 6-8 weeks with an arm injury that apparently does not require surgery. Now, Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been placed on the disabled list with an injury to his left leg. The Cubs outfield has already been depleted with Marlon Byrd’s injury stemming from his beaning against the Red Sox. Tyler Colvin has been recalled to replace Soriano on the roster. Colvin played very well in 2010 and should have an opportunity to contribute while Soriano and Byrd are out. Other outfield options such as Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukudome do not provide much in terms of power or run production. Colvin is the guy to add if you are looking for a temporary fix.
7. Mauer’s Not Moving – Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said that when Joe Mauer returns from the disabled list, he will go right back behind the plate as the team’s primary catcher. This decision was made for the purposes of 2011, but going forward, it would be foolish for Minnesota not to start planning ahead for Mauer to find another position. His draft value was completely overrated, as with all other catchers, simply because of their tendencies to get hurt and the fact they cannot play everyday. If you own him on your fantasy team, see what you can get for him in a trade. Relying on Mauer for the remainder of the season will only leave you with disappointment and heartache – much like your 8th grade dance.
6. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Zimmerman! – Nationals star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is set to play in some extended spring training games as he begins his journey back to the big leagues. Zimmerman has missed most of the season and will be a welcome addition to both the Nationals’ lineup and fantasy owners’ rosters. In a year when third base has been as weak a position as there is in fantasy baseball, Zimmerman was arguably the second or third best option. He was drafted quite early in many drafts, so his injury put a lot of owners in a pinch. When healthy, Zimmerman will contribute in all roto categories. His presence in the lineup should also help Jayson Werth who has struggled mightily to carry the Nationals’ offense and justify his ridiculous contract.
5. Saved by the Bell – Padres’ closer Heath Bell had a frustrating start to the season with very few save opportunities through the middle of May. This was because the Padres didn’t have many leads in games, or when they won games it was by a very large margin. Now Bell has picked up three saves in the last four games and appears to be on track, along with the Padres’ propensity for playing in very close games. Bell is playing for a contract this year, and could be a potential trade candidate. He would obviously like to remain a closer, but it is distinctly possible he gets dealt to a team needing 8th inning help. Continue to ride Bell’s wave as he accumulates saves, but I would recommend you explore trade options for him in case he is traded out of his closer’s role.
4. Ike…Yikes – Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis has been on the disabled list for several weeks with a bone bruise and calf strain as a result of a collision with David Wright in Colorado. Initially the Mets thought Davis would be back relatively quickly, but a recent MRI has shown that the bone bruise has not healed as quickly or as well as they would have liked. The Mets anticipate Davis being in a walking boot for another three weeks, which means he will not be doing any rehab or baseball activities until the end of June at the earliest. This is not good news for the Mets or fantasy owners who have come to rely on Davis as a viable option at first base in both NL-only and mixed leagues. His replacement, Daniel Murphy, is too inconsistent to consider as a worthwhile replacement on your fantasy team.
3. Mo’ Injuries, Mo’ Problems for Morneau – Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said that he has been playing with a pinched nerve in his left shoulder and neck that will likely linger for the rest of the season. He clearly hasn’t been the same since he suffered a concussion in July 2010, and most people attributed his struggles and lack of power to the effects of his head injury. However, this revelation of a pinched nerve could easily be the reason why Morneau looks like a shell of his former self. Either way, this does not bode well for fantasy owners who were relying on power production from him. I would recommend exploring trade options for an upgrade at first base because it is questionable what kind of production you can expect from Morneau for the rest of the year. With the Twins so far out of playoff contention, Ron Gardenhire is smart enough not to unnecessarily expose Morneau to any additional risks or injuries.
2. Nothing Worse Than an Injured Johnson – Marlins’ ace pitcher Josh Johnson is eligible to come off the disabled list on June 1, but manager Fredi Gonzalez does not believe that is likely. Johnson is still not 100% but is scheduled to throw a bullpen session later this week. He will need sevetal bullpen sessions and possibly some minor league rehab starts before he comes back. The Marlins don’t need another starter until June 7, but it is not likely that Johnson can be relied on for his return on that day. Fantasy owners should keep him stashed on the DL and try and ride this out until he comes back. He has a history of injuries so this is not all that surprising. But if he misses any extended period of time beyond June 7, it may be wise to start exploring some trade opportunities for a starting pitcher.
1. Bruce is The Boss – Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds is the hottest player in baseball right now. Manager Dusty Baker moved him into the cleanup spot for today’s game against the Brewers. Bruce was named National League player of the week after batting .354 with four home runs and 13 RBI over a seven game stretch from May 23-29. During the entire month of May, Bruce is batting .346 with 12 homers and 32 RBI. I was very high on him coming into the season as I thought he would put it all together after a few years of learning how to hit big league pitching. Bruce has tremendous power and could be a 40-homerun guy. He hits in a loaded lineup and in a great hitter’s park. While he will not likely maintain this torrid pace for the entire season, he is arguably one of the top fantasy players in the entire league and someone that you should target in trade discussions. Lock him up in all keeper leagues.
If you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hours, then you should know that Giants’ catcher Buster Posey suffered a horrific injury on May 25, 2011 when he was run over by Scott Cousins of the Marlins trying to score the go ahead run in extra innings on a sacrifice fly. Posey, the budding superstar and key component of their 2010 World Series championship, suffered a broken fibula and potentially serious ligament damage. He will require surgery and could miss most, if not the rest, of the season. From a pure competitive standpoint, this is devastating to the Giants to lose their catcher, cleanup hitter, on-field leader, and one of the best young players in all of baseball.
Clearly the team and manager Bruce Bochy are upset that they will be without Posey for quite some time. But after the game, Bochy stated that he thought there should be some modification to the rules in order to help protect defenseless catchers from being bulldozed in a collision at home plate. Bochy, a former catcher himself, said he understands that this is part of the game. But his comments and suggestions seem a little self-serving. First of all, Scott Cousins did nothing wrong in his physical confrontation with Posey. Cousins’ job is to find a way to score, including doing whatever he can (within the rules) to knock the ball away from the catcher. Posey was rightfully and appropriately trying to block the plate waiting to catch the one-hop throw from right field.
In a sport that does not contain much contact outside of inadvertent touching, it is perfectly legal for a baserunner to plow directly into the catcher in his attempt to score. Of course there are situations where a baserunner goes beyond the scope of fair play and plows into the catcher with the sole intent of inflicting injury. Those are rare instances and should be dealt with accordingly. But here, Cousins clearly had no intent to inflict injury. His initial reaction after touching home plate was to express concern for Posey who was laying on the ground in obvious pain. Cousins has since said he couldn’t sleep that night knowing he had inadvertently injured Posey.
This was a legal and fair baseball play that had an unfortunate result. Catchers are taught at an early age how to block the plate on incoming throws to prevent a baserunner from scoring. The rationale is simple…don’t let the other guy score. Of course there is an inherent risk of injury any time there is fierce contact at that rate of speed and with a catcher’s attention also focused on receiving the throw. Posey knows that. Bochy knows that too. No one was complaining about the rules regarding contact at home plate before this happened, but hindsight is always 20/20. Protecting players from injury is always a primary concern and priority for any major sport. But injuries can happen anywhere and anytime. Remember, Luis Castillo injured himself walking down the dugout steps. Does that mean that all dugouts should be equipped with escalators to prevent such further injuries?
Collisions at home plate are a part of the game and always have been. Catchers assume that risk, as well as a myriad of other risks, simply by playing the position. There is a reason that catchers’ equipment is called the “tools of ignorance.” The position itself leads to more injuries because of how physically demanding it is on the human body. The plethora of injuries to catchers, especially superstar catchers, seems to be at an all-time high. Joe Mauer is constantly injured and he is being considered for a position change in the near future. Victor Martinez has played a lot of first base and DH over the last few years to keep his bat in the lineup. When Posey eventually comes back, it is highly likely he will exchange his catcher’s mitt for a first base glove. The Washington Nationals and Bryce Harper deserve a lot of credit for recognizing these risks by grooming Harper as an outfielder. If he remained behind the plate in his professional career, he would be more at risk for frequent injuries and a lesser impact with his bat. The trend of moving good-hitting catchers from behind the plate has started and will now really pick up steam.
What happened to Buster Posey is unfortunate. The primary concern is that he is able to fully heal after surgery and regain the full range of motion and use in his leg. He is young enough where his body is more apt to recover. But anyone who complains about the legality of the play or the rules that govern it is missing the point. I understand why Bochy is so upset and why he questions the rules. But was he questioning a pitcher’s ability to throw inside fastballs when Matt Cain hit David Wright in the head in 2009? The answer is no.
For the May 24, 2011 list of newsworthy fantasy baseball events and happenings, I have truncated it down to five for this week. Before I delve into this week’s list, I must disclose something to you loyal readers. I am a lifelong Mets fan (hold your laughter and tears). This week has been even more embarassing to admit that, even after the last few years of collapses, disappointments and failures. If you haven’t heard, Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon was recently quoted in an article written by Jeffrey Toobin for the New Yorker where he essentially threw his three best players under the bus. He said Jose Reyes will never get Carl Crawford-type money in free agency, David Wright is not a superstar, and that he was a schmuck for signing Carlos Beltran to the 7 year/$119 million contract solely based on the 2004 playoffs (oh and that Beltran is now only 65-70% the player he once was). The disclosure I want to share with you is that Wilpon also said that my writing skills are mediocre at best and that I am as humorous as the German Funnybot from South Park. Thanks Mr. Wilpon. Onto the news.
5. No Way Jorge – Rockies starting pitcher Jorge de la Rosa suffered a tear of his ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow which means he is likely headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery. De la Rosa felt discomfort early in his start tonight in the first game of a double-header against the Diamondbacks. The Rockies received the news no organization wants to to hear, especially when it comes to a valuable and successful left-handed starter. De la Rosa was already having a solid 2011 campaign as he was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Now he is headed for the DL and will likely miss the remainder of the season assuming he does go for the surgery. If you are in a keeper league and have the space, hold onto him as he should be back by the July 4 holiday in 2012 (assuming he has surgery in the very near future).
4. Concussion Discussion – Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will be out at least several more weeks due to experiencing concussion-like symptoms as a result of a head-first slide he made. Head injuries are difficult to evaluate in terms of severity and ability to overcome. But this is just the next injury in a long line of injuries suffered by Roberts. Once considered one of the top options at second base in fantasy baseball leagues, Roberts has fallen into oblivion due to missing so much time over the past few years. His days of 50 stolen bases and 100 runs scored appear to be over, mostly because he cannot stay healthy. If you have DL spots on your roster, you should stash him. In all likelihood, Roberts will be back at some point unless his symptoms persist. If he is available on the waiver wire, he is definitely worth a pick up.
3. The Grandy Man Can – Yankees’ outfielder Curtis Granderson is having an MVP-type season as he has carried the Yankees through the first quarter of the season. After a four-hit night on Tuesday, Granderson is batting .275, 16 homeruns, 35 RBI, 37 runs scored, 6 stolen bases, an OPS hovering around .950, and a sudden ability to hit left-handed pitchers. He has been a fantasy stud thus far, and hitting in between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira should provide him with great protection, lots of strikes to hit, and plenty of RBI chances. He will likely slow down his insane homerun pace, but in the end he should end up with 30-35 homeruns and 90 RBI depending on where he is in the lineup.
2. Go Back to Canada – Mets’ outfielder Jason Bay is the highest paid Canadian baseball player…ever. After putting up huge numbers for years with the Pirates and Red Sox, Bay signed a lucrative 4 year/$66 million contract.with the Mets prior to the 2010 season. In the year+ that he has been in the Mets organization, he has been nothing short of horrendous. Of course there was going to be a learning curve for him to readjust to National League pitching and deal with the unfriendly confines of Citi Field. Generally speaking people were patient with Bay in 2010, which ended early due to a concussion. Now in his second year with the Mets, Bay has been injured and unproductive the entire season. He left tonight’s game with a stiff right calf and a lingering .230 batting average, two homeruns, and under ten RBI. Keep an eye on Bay when and if he returns. He is quickly reaching the point where dropping him is a viable consideration.
1. Catcher in the Rye – Twins superstar catcher Joe Mauer should be starting to play in live games this week as he works his way back from bilateral leg weakness. Mauer is clearly a great hitter and someone the Twins will be banking on for many years to come. In order to preserve Mauer’s bat and career, he may be given a shot at a new position as the Twins start the process of getting him out from behind the plate. This makes sense on all levels. The rumors are that Mauer will be slowly transitioned to third base. If that is the case in 2011, then next year Mauer could actually be worth spending an early round pick on because he will still qualify at catcher yet be at a position that can keep him healthy and on the field everyday.
As if there hasn’t been enough drama surrounding the Mets with their pending lawsuit in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme, employing two people who were caught distributing steroids in their clubhouse and stealing team memorabilia, and their epic failures on the field since the end of the 2006 season, owner Fred Wilpon has certainly created more. In an article for the New Yorker (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/30/110530fa_fact_toobin?currentPage=all), Wilpon spoke to Jeffrey Toobin about Bernie Madoff and their history. While that topic in itself is controversial, it was the more casual words spoken by Wilpon about three of his premiere players that has garnered a lot of attention.
Wilpon provided three honest but critical assessments of his players. Regarding the Mets’ prized possession and pending free agent shortstop, Jose Reyes, Wilpon said he “He’s a racehorse. He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” (referring to the Red Sox’ signing of the former Tampa Bay player to a seven-year, $142-million contract. “He’s had everything wrong with him,” Wilpon said of Reyes. “He won’t get it.” Then David Wright, the face of the Mets, was assessed. “He’s a really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.” Finally, it was Carlos Beltran’s turn – the same Beltran who still has his bat frozen on his shoulder as Adam Wainwright’s curveball crossed the plate for strike three to end the 2006 NLCS. The same Beltran who parlayed a magical playoff run with the Hosuton Astros in 2004 into a seven year, $119 million contract before the 2005 season. Wilpon, clearly exhibiting regret about this decision, said referring to himself: “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
It was a busy and eventful day in baseball, both real and fantasy. Every Tuesday night, I write a column for Fantasy Alarm (www.fantasyalarm.com) doing a Top Ten list of newsworthy events happening in baseball and analyzing any potential fantasy impact. You can view the full article at http://www.fantasyalarm.com/may-17-2011-fantasy-baseball-tuesday-top-ten/. Here are some of the headlines that I selected with my writeups:
Jose, Can You See? – I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. I have been dead wrong about Jose Bautista since the 2010 All-Star Game. At that time, I bet my father that Bautista wouldn’t even end up the season with 30 homeruns because I felt he was a fluke and the law of averages would catch up. I ended up taking my father for a nice dinner because Bautista would go on to hit 54 homeruns. Coming into 2011, I didn’t even put Bautista on any of my draft lists, scout teams, or draft room queues. I figured he had a Brady Anderson-type season and would revert back to being the pedestrian hitter he always was. But I was wrong again. Bautista is coming off a weekend where he hit five more homeruns, including three in one game. He currently leads all of baseball with 16 homeruns and is on pace to shatter his record from last year. Whether it’s steroids, human growth hormone, maturity, or even just natural talent, Bautista is a fantasy stud and can be relied upon for maximum production across the board.
Vin-dictive – Royals pitcher Vin Mazzaro redefined what it means to take one for the team. On Monday, Mazzaro entered the game against the Indians in the first inning after Kyle Davies was removed due to injury. Mazzaro proceeded to give up 14 runs in two and a third innings. According to STATS LLC, he has the distinction of being only the third pitcher since 1947 to allow that many runs in a game. As a result of this historic performance, Mazzaro’s ERA ballooned to 22.47. To reward him for his efforts, the Royals promptly demoted him to Triple-A following the game. If Mazzaro was on your fantasy team in the first place, then you probably have many other problems to worry about. Just remember, the next time a pitcher has to take a beating for the good of the team, you can say he is taking a “Mazzaro.”
There’s Something About A-Rod – When he is not having popcorn shoved down his throat by Cameron Diaz, Alex Rodriguez moonlights as the third baseman for the New York Yankees. A-Rod has been struggling since he returned from his oblique injury a few weeks ago, and as A-Rod goes, so go the Yankees. On Tuesday night, A-Rod slugged two solo homeruns in helping the Yankees end their six-game losing streak. Could this be the beginning of a hot streak for A-Rod? He is certainly due, and if he is feeling more comfortable at the plate, then he could be on the brink of a major tear. Buy low on A-Rod and expect first class results.
Hanley’s Horrors – The proverbial god of roto baseball players, Hanley Ramirez is consistently one of the top five fantasy players drafted due to his unique combination of high average, power, and speed. However, none of that is working for him in 2011. He is currently hitting .204 with two homeruns, fourteen RBI, twenty runs scored, and eight stolen bases. This is not the production anticipated with such a high draft pick. He looks lost at the plate and is letting his emotions get the best of him at times. Fantasy owners should start inquiring with fellow league members what trade possibilities may exist for Hanley. Granted, he is slumping mightily, but just mentioning his name in trade talks should elicit some real offers. It is surprising that he has struggled so much given the firepower in the Marlins’ lineup, including Chris Coghlan, Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton.
Save the Drama for Posada – They don’t call baseball players the “boys of summer” for no reason. Yankees’ designated hitter Jorge Posada pulled a cardinal no-no in baseball acumen by asking out of the lineup on Saturday when he was scheduled to bat ninth in Joe Girardi’s lineup. Posada, a 16-year veteran, came into that game batting .165 and without any indications of being able to find his stroke. Posada apologized to Girardi the next day, but the damage was done as the Yankee veteran suffered from some impulsive and momentary Little League-like tantrum. Posada was viewed as a steal in fantasy drafts this year because he was eligible at catcher but would be a full-time DH in a powerful lineup. Things haven’t worked out that way thus far. Girardi has demonstrated his loyalty to the man who ironically took Girardi’s starting catcher job in 1998. Posada was used as a pinch hitter on Sunday, and then he was back in the lineup on Tuesday night where he collected two hits. Maybe he needed to hit rock bottom before getting back to the Mendoza Line. Buy low on Posada and bank on some of that Yankee magic.
We’ll be Wright Back – As if things couldn’t get any worse for the New York Mets, it was revealed on Monday that all-star third baseman David Wright has a stress fracture in his lower back. It does make sense considering how poorly Wright has performed thus far in 2011. While he refuses to use the diagnosis as an excuse for his lack of production, the reality is that it likely affected every facet of his game. Wright’s batting average has been uncharacteristically low and he has struck out at an alarming rate (even compared to his strikeout totals from 2009 and 2010). He will spend some time on the disabled list doing absolutely nothing, so at a minimum he will be out for a month, and maybe longer. This does not bode well for fantasy owners who spent a lot of auction dollars or a high draft pick on the second best third baseman on the board. Stash Wright on your disabled list and start looking for a replacement because it is possible you aren’t going to get much out of Wright the rest of the year.
Remembering a Legend – This isn’t relevant to fantasy baseball, but I would be remiss as a baseball fan if I didn’t acknowledge the unfortunate passing of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. “The Killer” lost his battle with cancer today just days after he announced he was stopping treatment for his esophageal cancer. The former Minnesota Twin was always one of the most popular players of his time and all future generations. He was a great ambassador for the game of baseball and will be greatly missed. In his career, he produced statistics commensurate with a first round pick in any fantasy baseball draft format. RIP Harmon Killebrew.