Greetings and salutations to the fantasy baseball universe. It is everybody’s favorite day of the week (and by everybody I mean nobody), so that means it is time for the Tuesday Night Top Ten list of newsworthy fantasy baseball happenings. We are now in Week 11 of the season which is hard to believe because it feels like just last week was Week 10. So without further adieu, here are your headlines for this Tuesday night.
10. Captain Crunch – For Yankees fans, the news that Derek Jeter was placed on the disabled list just six hits shy of 3,000 was akin to telling Ashton Kutcher that Twitter has been destroyed by Skynet. For everyone else, no one really cares unless Jeter was your starting shortstop on your fantasy team. Nonetheless, it is newsworthy that Jeter will be out for at least two weeks as he closes in on 3,000 hits for his career. He has regressed in terms of offensive production, which is not surprising given his age and the position he plays. However, Jeter is still a valuable fantasy player at a weak position so his injury could be significant in your league. His replacement, Eduardo Nunez, is only worth a pickup if you get points for at bats or throwing errors.
9. Happy Holliday – The Cardinals are expected to activate Matt Holliday in time for Thursday’s game this week. Holliday has been sidelined since the end of May with a left quadriceps tear, which came only six weeks after he returned from an emergency appendectomy. It has been a frustrating season for fantasy owners of Holliday who has put up huge numbers in the limited time he has played. With Albert Pujols finally heating up and Lance Berkman still producing, Holliday should fit right in the middle of that and continue to maintain a batting average well above .300 along with impressive power numbers and run production. He is an elite outfield option in any fantasy format, but he is an injury risk this year so be cautious and keep Allen Craig and Jon Jay close by in case Holliday suffers a relapse.
8. No More Morneau – As if it can’t get any worse for the Minnesota Twins, now Justin Morneau has landed back on the disabled list with a left wrist injury. The former MVP has not been the same player since he sustained a concussion in July 2010 that ended his season and clearly still affects him today. The Twins are hopeful that this will resolve itself within the 15 days that Morneau is out. However, even if Morneau does come back quickly, what exactly are you getting from him in fantasy baseball at a premium power position. Morneau is only batting .225 with 4 homeruns and 22 RBI, so his value has already plummeted. Stash him on the disabled list if you have the room, but look for other options at first base under the assumption you won’t start Morneau even when he comes back. The guy is too talented to struggle this bad, so once he is able to heal from all of his injuries, then Morneau will be More-Yes.
7. Yo Adrian! – When the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego this past winter, the general consensus was that we would finally get to see how truly great A-Gone is when hitting in a potent lineup and a hitter-friendly ballpark. What we have seen thus far from Gonzalez goes beyond any of those expectations. Gonzalez currently leads the American League in batting at .347 as well as RBI with 60. He has anchored Boston’s lineup and thrived hitting behind Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia who both always seem to be on base for him. Gonzalez hasn’t homered as much as one would have predicted, but that shouldn’t matter because as hot as he has been, some of those flyballs and laser beams will start finding their way over the fence. Right now, Gonzalez is the best first base option in fantasy baseball.
6. Niese to Meet You – In a shocking turn of events, there is actually a reason to covet a Mets starting pitcher on your fantasy team. Jonathon Niese has quietly put together a very solid season thus far in earning the right to be owned in mixed fantasy leagues. Niese won his sixth game of the year tonight against the Braves making this the sixth straight start where he has allowed two earned runs or less. He is commanding his deadly curveball which has led to an increase in strikeouts and a decrease in walks. If he is available, you should add him immediately and ride the wave of his success.
5. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Jason Bay has been one of the most disappointing players in all of baseball for the last year and a half. After signing with the Mets for huge dollars prior to the 2010 season, Bay has produced as much offense as a backup middle infielder. He has essentially become an automatic out at the plate with his poor pitch selection, lack of discipline, and inability to have a good at bat. Mets manager Terry Collins has finally seen enough to make the decision that Bay was hurting the team by being in the lineup. As a result, he has ridden the bench several times over the past 10 days. This does not appear to be a permanent thing, or even a strict platoon. However, it is apparent that Bay will not be playing every day unless and until he starts hitting the ball like a $16 million/year player should. If Bay is in your fantasy team’s starting lineup, then you might as well start Henry Blanco too.
4. Philling Better – Amidst all of the Yankees injury problems lately, they actually have received some good news. Phil Hughes, on the disabled list since early April, threw 49 pitches during an intrasquad game where he consistently hit 92 mph with his fastball. The plan going forward is to have Hughes slowly extend himself and build back his endurance before he inevitably returns to the rotation sometime in July. Fantasy owners who have stashed him on the disabled list will be rewarded when he returns and likely assumes the #2 spot in the Yankees rotation. If for some reason Hughes is floating around your league’s waiver wire, grab him…but not in THAT way, sicko.
3. Return of the Zimm – Nationals star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman finally made his return to the lineup after missing over two months due to surgery repairing an abdominal tear. Zimmerman was thought to be the second or third best option at third base heading into this fantasy baseball season, so owners have been anxious to receive a return on their investment. Zimmerman’s return should also help the production of Jayson Werth who has struggled mightily to anchor Washington’s lineup in his absence. When healthy, Zimmerman is a solid candidate for .290, 25 HR, and 90 RBI. He will need some time to readjust, but your patience will be rewarded.
2. Good News for the Steals Category – Those of you who drafted Hanley Ramirez have been sorely disappointed by his .210 batting average, 4 homeruns, 17 RBI and multiple week stint on the disabled list. Now not only is he back in the lineup, but he is back in his old leadoff spot in the Marlins lineup. This is good news for Hanley owners who have been craving that deadly combination of power and speed. Not that Hanley was doing much when he was healthy, but batting third in the order severely limited his stolen base attempts. Now that he is leading off again, look for him to start doing a Mike Leake impression and stealing quite a bit. There is still time to justify why you drafted him second overall.
1. The Justin Verlander School for Pitchers Who Aren’t Good – Justin Verlander was already in the upper echelon of pitchers in both real and fantasy baseball. With two no-hitters already on his resume, Verlander nearly tossed his third tonight against the Indians. He would have been the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to throw two no-hitters in the same regular season, but it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, Verlander had to settle for a two-hit, complete game shutout compiling 12 strikeouts on his way to his eighth win of the season. Verlander has firmly entrenched his position as one of the elite pitchers in the game and can be relied on as the anchor of your fantasy team’s pitching staff.
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.
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.
Tuesday Night Top Ten – May 3, 2011
According to reliable sources such as the internet and high school students, Tuesday is the least popular day of the week. In an effort to bring some respect, credibility and entertainment back to Tuesdays, I will be paying homage to David Letterman and provide a weekly Top 10 list for newsworthy fantasy baseball events that take place. Each event will have a brief description including what, if any, impact it has on fantasy baseball. The ranking is completely subjective so do not even think of challenging my authority. In fact, in the words of Eric Cartman, you will respect my authority! Without further adieu, here is the debut of the new Tuesday Top Ten List (as of 10:15 PM EST):
10. Phil is ill, but with what? – Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes apparently doesn’t have thoracic outlet syndrome, which is good news, but it also leaves many questions unanswered. Doctors and experts are still trying to figure out what is ailing the Yankees’ young hurler. Regardless, it doesn’t look like Hughes is going to contribute much to the Yankees or fantasy owners this year. His velocity is down and his stuff is flat. There is very likely a physical reason why, but thus far no one can provide an answer. For now, stash him on the DL if you have the room. But don’t expect anything from him in 2011. On a side note, going back to all of the trade discussions between the Mets, Yankees and Twins for Johan Santana in 2008, it is sadly bizarre and ironic that former Mets prospect and current White Sox starter Philip Humber is likely to be the best pitcher of them all this season.
9. D-Choo-I – Yet another major league baseball player has been arrested for driving while under the influence. Indians outfielder Shin Soo Choo is the most recent drunk driver pulled over in what seems like a weekly occurrence. Choo had one too many Cheongju before he got behind the wheel. No one ever accused baseball players of being smart, but come on…this is getting a little ridonculous. Assuming his situation is like every other offender, he shouldn’t miss any time so there will not likely be any effect on his fantasy status. That is, unless, he shows up drunk at a game and starts referring to himself as Kim Jong Il.
8. Oh Jenrry – Mets prospect Jenrry Mejia will likely need to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair an injured ligament in his elbow. Mejia was being groomed to become a starter in the Mets rotation of the future, but this will have to be put on hold for at least a year assuming he goes under the knife soon. Mejia has electric stuff and is a popular keeper in roto fantasy leagues due to his potential to either start or relieve. If recent history is any indication, there is no reason Mejia can’t come back and be an effective pitcher within 18 months of the operation. He is only 22 so there is still plenty of time for him to make an impact. But those of you who are stashing him in keepe leagues, you might as well clear the roster space.
7. Not Werth the Money – Jayson Werth made his long awaited return to Philadelphia in a Nationals’ uniform and was met with a mixture of ovations and boos. This is not surprising because Werth’s decision to sign with Washington is understandable, but his comments after he left were unnecessary. No one could argue with Werth agreeing to that ludacris contract, because let’s be honest, any one of us would take the money and run. But when Werth later came out and made some disparaging remarks about the Phillies and their lack of attempts to bring him back, it soured the fans’ feelings towards him. Werth should thank the Phillies for giving him the opportunity to put up great numbers as the team’s fourth offensive weapon. Now he is the focal point of the Nationals’ lineup and will soon realize Adam LaRoche is not Ryan Howard and Danny Espinosa is not Chase Utley.
6. Goose Eggs and Hamels – It is common knowledge at this point that the Phillies have the greatest starting pitching in baseball, and arguably one of the greatest staffs in the history of baseball (the 2005 Mets are in that conversation as well with Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson). Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee seem to get most of the attention, and deservingly so. But Cole Hamels is on the brink of becoming truly an elite pitcher in real and fantasy baseball. There has never been an issue with his talent. The biggest question mark with Hamels has always been his maturity and mental strength. After what he pulled in the 2009 World Series, he has clearly grown up and emerged as a potential Cy Young candidate. He threw a complete game gem against the Washington Nationals and continues to make people vomit at the thought he is the Phillies number three or four starter.
5. Pain in the Neck – Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista will miss some time this week with an injured neck. He must have strained it from looking up at all the homeruns he has hit since the beginning of 2010. I will admit that I was wrong about him being a fluke. He will probably not come close to hitting 54 homeruns again, but he is clearly an established slugger who knows how to hit. It seems as though he is consistently befelled by nagging injuries. I recently had a nagging injury. My wife wouldn’t stop nagging me, so I hit my head against the wall and sustained a laceration to my forehead. I looked like Ric Flair in a steel cage match.
4. Bay-bee Daddy – Mets outfielder Jason Bay is on paternity leave for a couple days to be with his wife who is expected to give birth to the couple’s third child. Bay sustained a concussion in July 2010 and missed the rest of the season. Then, just days before Opening Day, he sustained a strain to his oblique muscle requiring him to miss the first three weeks of the 2011 season. After playing in 10 games, it was clear he needed some time off. Oh calm down, I am kidding. It is great the MLB has implemented a new paternity leave program for players so they can be with their wives when children are born. Given the baby is due in the beginning of May, that means it was likely conceived in July or August 2010. Hmmm, didn’t Bay sustain his concussion around that time? I guess he wasn’t injured enough to knock up his wife when he clearly couldn’t knock any balls over the fence.
3. Celebrity Rehab – American League MVP Josh Hamilton is in rehab once again. No silly, not for smoking crack or building meth labs. Hamilton is recovering from a fractured arm when he inexplicably was sent home to score on a foul popup and dove into home plate. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to swing a bat for the first time since the injury which means he is at least one week ahead of schedule in his recovery. It was originally anticipated that Hamilton would miss 6-8 weeks and not swing a bat for the first four weeks. He was injured three weeks ago, so do the math. What? You were told there would be no math? Just use a calculator. In fact, type the number 55378008 and turn your calculator upside down. The result answers the question “How would you describe Gwyneth Paltrow?”
2. Battle of Wounded Knee – Chase Utley may not be far from returning to the Phillies. The all star second baseman has been bothered by an ailing knee for months and has yet to see any game time in spring training, the minor leagues, or the major leagues. Reports out of Philadelphia are that Utley may be sent to Clearwater to play in some extended spring training games which would enable him to face live pitching for the first time since 2010. This bodes well for fantasy owners who drafted Utley and have stashed him on the DL in the hopes he would return sooner than later. If he is healthy, the Phillies should look into possibly trading him because they clearly can win with the “talented” duo of Wilson Valdez and Pete Orr playing second base. Just FYI, the quotation marks were meant to indicate sarcasm font.
1. LIRIANOOOOOO! - Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano pitched a no-hitter against the White Sox in Chicago tonight. There is no debating Liriano’s talent, but he has been atrocious thus far in 2011 and his starting job was in jeopardy with Kevin Slowey being considered to take his place in the Twins’ rotation. That debate has been quelled for now as Liriano threw his first career complete game in the no-hit effort. He walked six and only struck out two which indicates he relied on his defense instead of trying to strike every batter out. Perhaps this is a sign that he has turned the corner and is on his way to reclaiming his status as a top tier fantasy pitcher. Or it could just be a fluke and he will get bombed in three innings next time out. That is the problem with Liriano – he is so inconsistent and almost impossible to predict. Those of you in points leagues where no-hitters are credited had a good night if Liriano was in your lineup.