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Spring Training Fantasy: Brian Wilson, Brad Lidge, Shaun Marcum Updates and More

More closer news is coming out as we inch closer to the start of the season.  We have one officially named, and one going out with injury.  We have more injury news as always, some good, some bad, some that shouldn’t surprise you at all.

There is news of some old top prospects who might be finding their way back on to the fantasy radar and so much more. 

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Brian Wilson will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Monday regarding a strained oblique he suffered in an outing on Thursday.  The Giants are still hopeful that he will be ready for Opening Day, but it is too soon to give an exact timetable.

This is the second injury that he suffered this spring, as he complained of a stiff back earlier, and the concern for him grows slightly.

As of right now, I wouldn’t treat him any differently during drafts because of this, but if you do pick Wilson, you might want to handcuff him with Sergio Romo just to be on the safe side.

I don’t know if it is because of the fact that he is having a pretty good spring, or just the condition of the Yankees’ pitching staff, but A.J. Burnett has been named the No. 2 starter for the Bronx Bombers.

Burnett has a 2.77 ERA this March with 11 strikeouts in 13 innings, but the best news is that he has not walked a batter. I think that Burnett could be a nice pick this year in fantasy drafts, as he has fallen so far in drafts so far this year.

According to Mock Draft Central’s Expert ADP, Burnett is being selected with the 315th overall pick, and well after A.J. Pierzynski, for crying out loud!  I am not a huge fan of his, but he is being selected in the 26th round? 

The guy can whiff 200 batters if he is right.  I’m not saying use a 10th round pick on Burnett, but once you slip by the 18th, 19th, or 20th round it is worth taking a shot on a guy who is on one of the best teams, and has a history of racking up the strikeouts.

There was positive news on the condition of Brewers’ new acquisition Shaun Marcum after he had left Thursday’s start with tightness in his shoulder.

There doesn’t seem to be any sort of significant injury, and he is likely just going to miss a couple of days of side throwing sessions and perhaps a start this spring, but this doesn’t appear to have any effect on his availability once the season starts.

Marcum is one of the players a lot of fantasy managers are targeting with his move to the National League.

This news just reaffirms that he should be fine and you can go ahead and draft him where you had originally planned. No need to bump him down the rankings.

Brian Roberts is scheduled to play in his first game in nearly two weeks on Sunday as the second sacker tries to recover from back spasms. With me personally, it is getting to the point that you could almost not pay me to select Roberts.

The past few years, he has just been dealing with too many injuries with his back and obliques, and I just can’t trust him to stay healthy.  There are too many other reasonable options at second base this year to trust a 33-year-old guy with a run of injuries.

Give me a young guy with some upside at this point.  I wouldn’t want Roberts to be any more than my middle infielder.

Speaking of a guy you couldn’t pay me to draft, Carlos Beltran had a cortisone injection into his right knee, which has been suffering from tendinitis and will be set back a few more days.

The Mets are still hopeful that Beltran will be ready for Opening Day, but the guy hasn’t even really played in a meaningful game yet, and both of his knees are a mess. 

There is an outside chance that he could put up some decent numbers this year, but to me unless it is the last round or two, he is not worth the risk.

Brad Lidge threw a 35-pitch bullpen session and came out of it pain-free. Lidge could return next week to game action as he tries to heal from bicep tendinitis, and right now things appear to be on track. 

He is a very risky option this year because of his health as well as his penchant to melt down completely on the mound, but as a low-end second closer, he is a reasonable player to have, as he is on the best team in the National League.

Don’t look now, but Cameron Maybin is actually having a pretty good spring. The former top prospect of the Florida Marlins, Maybin had two more hits for the Padres, including his second home run of the exhibition season.

He is now hitting .394 in March, and will be the starting center fielder for San Diego. It might seem like a long shot at this point, but some guys just take a little longer to figure it out in the majors, and perhaps that is the case with Maybin.

He has only stolen one base so far, but the kid has talent.  I wouldn’t draft him unless you are in an NL-only league, but he is definitely a name to keep on your radar to start the season to see how he comes out of the gate.

Speaking of guys who fell off the radar, Lastings Milledge is doing very well for the White Sox in spring training. Unfortunately, unlike Cameron Maybin, he does not have a starting job waiting for him, but he has given himself a chance to make the team.

But with Alex Rios, Juan Pierre and Carlos Quentin entrenched, it will take an injury to get him an opportunity. After his one hit today, Milledge is batting .326 and has driven in 10 runs to go with his four home runs.

Again, definitely not some one to draft, but Quentin isn’t exactly the picture of health, so maybe at some point, Milledge gets a chance.

Jake Peavy has been suffering from a terrible stomach virus. He came out and threw 86 gritty pitches in a spring game against the A’s, and even though he wasn’t sharp, it now seems that he will be ready to be a part of the White Sox rotation from the start of the season.

He is coming back from a really tough injury and isn’t the pitcher he once was, but I think that Peavy is worth a look at the end of drafts.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but Matt Thornton was officially named the closer for the Chicago White Sox, beating out Chris Sale. Chicago just gave Thornton a contract extension, and he had a much better spring than Sale.

I am actually higher on Thornton than I was earlier in the month and now think that he is a higher-end second closer. Look for him to get plenty of opportunities with the White Sox and record a good number of strikeouts.

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Man Crushes: Feeling the Love in Fantasy Baseball

OK, so this article has nothing to do with Charlie Sheen, but the following players are guys that will be on WINNING fantasy baseball teams in 2011. They are also players that I have a total man crush on, but hey Mr. Sheen is topical so you have to capitalize on pop culture.

But like he seems to have a crush on hookers and blow, man crushes are a big part of fantasy drafts, and everyone has them. So feel free to shout out your favorite players to the tune of “It’s Raining Men” because you will not be judged.

Hopefully you don’t have man love for someone like Joe Saunders or even Xavier Nady. Below you will find my own personal man crushes, some because of the incredible talent that they possess, others are because of the value that they offer in drafts and still others are for the potential that they have for the future.


Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays

So how long are restraining orders good for?  Because I am wondering how much longer I am not able to go within 500 yards of Longoria. The order was placed in June of 2007 when I was able to watch Longoria perform in the minor leagues, and I was immediately smitten.  In fact, I made him a mix CD that I believe to this day that he still listens to.

There’s just nothing this kid can’t do.  He hits for a good average, has a sweet swing that produces power and his stolen bases have risen each year in the majors. Some are concerned about how Longoria will do without the protection of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, but first of all Crawford hit in front of him and how much protection was Pena providing with his .196 batting average and 158 strikeouts?  Seems like a perfect guy to pitch around Longoria to get to.

Longoria is going to be an absolute beast and should be a middle of the first round pick.  I’m sorry Evan, I won’t ever barge in your bedroom again if you just give me a second chance!


Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

I have officially dug a tunnel underground from my house in New York all the way to Cincinnati and the Votto residence.  And every so often I will crawl through that thing like Andy Dufresne from Shawshank just so I can catch a glimpse of the Reds’ first baseman.

He has made a marked improvement each season in the majors in either power or batting average numbers, and he was the National League MVP as he put it all together with a tremendous average and some of the best power numbers in baseball. I don’t think that Votto’s numbers will get much better, but I also don’t think that his production last season was a fluke by any stretch and he should be a middle of the first round pick. 

I hate getting the sixth or seventh pick in drafts and having to decide between Longoria and Votto.  How do you decide between two things near and dear to your heart?  I usually just flip a coin, it is so hard to disappoint one of them into thinking I love the other one more.


Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

This is a new one for 2011, but my love for McCutchen is quickly catching up to some of my biggest favorites. You can just see McCutchen continue to improve as he matures more and now not only do I see his numbers getting better, but he is poised to be a leader of the young Pirates team which should only add to his moxie and success.

Some might be surprised when McCutchen’s power numbers improve this season, but he is going to be moved to the three-hole this season, which means he will be trying to drive the ball more, which should lead to more baseballs in with the people.

And with no important batter behind him , there’s no reason to think that McCutchen won’t continue to try to steal bases like he has in the past.  I can easily see him being a 20/30 guy with a chance at 25/30.


Colby Rasmus, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

Yes, he is on my favorite team, but this crush has nothing to do with him being a Cardinal. Take a look at Rasmus’ rookie season, and then the numbers he put up in 2010 and you will see a nice improvement across the board.

This kid is a five-tool superstar waiting to happen, and it is going to happen in 2011. He should be put in the most favorable spot in any batting order in baseball, which is directly in front of Albert Pujols.  No pitcher is going to want to walk Rasmus and bring up Pujols with a minimum of one guy on base. 

Rasmus has power to all fields and is a very smart baserunner who is capable of swiping 20+ bags. As of right now I just have a small shrine built to Colby in my office, but by the end of the year there COULD be police involvement.  If I don’t post an article for a couple of days and the Cardinals are on a road trip in New York, I could be in hiding in the Cardinals’ dugout, or in the holding cell at Citi Field!


Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pittsburgh Pirates

One of the top prospects in all of baseball last season, Alvarez came to the majors and, aside from a less than impressive batting average, I thought his rookie season was pretty good.

He hit 16 homers and drove in 64 runs in just over a half a season. Sure he struck out way too much, but so many power hitters do now, so that isn’t as much of a strike against him as it used to be. 

There were reports that he came to camp fat and out of shape, but the team denied it and he is having a very good spring.  He is still falling on draft boards from where I thought he would be in 2011, but I am drafting him every chance I get. 

Look for a big season in 2011 where Alvarez hits a minimum of 25 homers and drives in no less than 90 runs. He is a great option at a thin third base position.


Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals

Where else can you nearly guarantee yourself 25 home runs and nearly 90 RBI with a .270 batting average in the 18th round outside of LaRoche? 

I am not entirely sure why this guy gets no fantasy attention, I guess because he has pretty much played for every armpit franchise in the major leagues, but he also plays one of the deepest positions in fantasy.  But this guy is the PERFECT corner infield player and is incredibly consistent. 

He isn’t a sexy name and he isn’t going to break out and hit 40 homers, but he is nearly automatic for the numbers I listed above. He is on all of my teams and he comes through for me every time.


Sean Rodriguez, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays

Looking for a power hitting middle infielder that could hit 25 home runs in the 20th round of your draft?  Impossible, right?  Oh no my friends, I introduce you to Sean Rodriguez. 

One in a long line of awesome Los Angeles Angels’ prospects that were never given a chance to flourish at the major league level, Rodriguez toiled in the minor leagues for years and wore out the pitching on the farm. This kid hit 21 homers in just 248 at-bats in 2008 at AAA Salt Lake and then followed that up with 30 bombs in 108 games the following season. 

He now all but has the starting second base job wrapped up and will be getting his first extended look at everyday playing time. He is an absolute steal in drafts this year and has a current average draft position of 245 according to Mock Draft Central’s new Expert ADP. 245!!!!!  Behind Fernando Rodney who saves about one game out of every five it seems! 

Rodriguez will be a monster in your middle infield spot and he should be a household name before too long.


Gio Gonzalez, SP, Oakland Athletics

Even after his 15-9 year with 171 whiffs last year, Gonzalez still seems to be flying under the radar in 2011 on draft day with an average draft position (thanks again Mock Draft Central) of 163, and he is being drafted after guys like Rafael Soriano, who isn’t even a closer, and Jorge Posada, who has half of one good knee left and I think a quarter of one shoulder still intact.

Gonzalez might not be on the best offensive team, but the Athletics’ should be better this season. He will again win 15 games and I can see him even striking out 190 this year. He is a work horse who goes deep into games and if he can just keep the walks down a little bit his 3.23 ERA won’t look like a fluke either.


Brandon Morrow, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

A starter, a closer, an eighth inning guy, a closer, middle relief, back to starting. The Seattle Mariners could never decide what to do with Morrow and his production suffered because of it.

However, the Blue Jays saved him from what was certain arm surgery waiting to happen and made Morrow a starter. Morrow flourished as a starter and unleashed his incredible strikeout potential. He struggled at times, but he was still adjusting to his new role and hadn’t thrown nearly as many innings the previous season.

Now with a full offseason of rest and knowing his role, look for Morrow to improve. I love him to win 15 games and strikeout 200 batters and he should get his ERA under 4.00.


Aroldis Chapman, RP, Cincinnati Reds

I know he looks like he is going to start the year in the eighth inning, that is all but a given.  However, Chapman is so good I don’t care what his role is with the Reds, I think he will have fantasy value.

Right now his average draft position is 216, which is pretty much after every closer is off the board. I still can’t see Francisco Cordero holding on to his job all year, and with Chapman’s AMAZING fastball you would think he is the perfect fallback plan in the ninth inning in Cincinnati.

If he were to gain that job for the Reds I believe that he would put up numbers similar to what Neftali Feliz did last season, that is how dominating he could be.

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Spring Training Fantasy Report: Zack Greinke, Neftali Feliz and More!

Injuries continue to dominate the news, but today it is far from all bad.  We have multiple pieces of good news concerning injuries tonight as well as some bad as one of the top pitchers in baseball suffers a tough injury. There is also news of the AL Rookie of the Year and what his role will be this season, along with news and notes from today’s games from Arizona and Florida on some players that you surely have questions about heading into your drafts. As always you can email me at for all of your predraft questions along with advice throughout the year.

Zack Greinke suffered a hairline fracture of a rib playing basketball and it doesn’t appear that he will be ready to start the season.  The preliminary timeline is for him to miss four to six weeks, which could stretch out another week or two as he prepares for the season.  That being said I don’t see this being a huge injury in which you should really downgrade Greinke in your rankings.  Say he misses six weeks, with three weeks left before the season starts, that means he might miss three or four starts. In a normal season a starting pitcher gets 30-35 starts. If he misses three or four is that worth downgrading him down your rankings? Personally I don’t think so and feel you should still be taking Greinke in the first 14-17 pitchers.

Twins’ first baseman Justin Morneau finally got back on the field today and he made the most of his opportunity.  Morneau didn’t play the whole game, but he did get two at bats, and in the second one he hit a bases clearing double. It is great to see him on the field with three weeks before the season starts, but I am still concerned about Morneau.  He has had two concussions in his career, and I am worried that he is one collision at home plate or with a teammate away from missing a month again or potentially more.  Don’t forget his concussion last season was suffered in the beginning of July, and today was his first game back.  I still love Morneau, but am very concerned about him this season.

The Rangers are going to have Neftali Feliz finish out the next game he pitches by throwing in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, and right now all signs are pointing to him being the Texas closer again in 2011.  The team has not made it official yet, but it is just a matter of time.  Other starters such as Matt Harrison, Tommy Hunter, and Derek Holland are all looking like they are ready for a rotation spot, as well as the Rangers hoping for the return of Brandon Wood.  This all makes it easier for them to put Feliz back in the bullpen and you should draft him accordingly. He will again be one of the best closers in baseball and should be drafted as such.

Carlos Beltran will miss the next week or so of spring with tendonitis in his knee. The good news is that it is not his surgically repaired knee, but the bad news is that now both of his knees are tender. The team is trying to downplay the situation, but you can’t help but be concerned with the fact that this guy has missed most of the last two seasons and he doesn’t even make it to the regular season without a setback. I am not going to touch Beltran in drafts this year as he is so injury prone, and even if he is able to stay healthy you can best believe that he will be taking days off all season long in an attempt to keep him on the field.  That kind of player isn’t worth it to me.

Orioles’ first baseman Derrek Lee is going to have an MRI on his wrist, as he is experiencing some lingering soreness that is not going away. Lee had offseason surgery on his thumb so this is slightly different, but there is still concern about Lee who has been dealing with injuries more and more as he gets older. I think Lee can have a fine season for Baltimore if he is ready for Opening Day and right now it still seems like he will be just that. Unless the news on the MRI is bad, I would continue to draft Lee as a corner infielder or utility player, but he is no longer a good starting first baseman in fantasy baseball.

Brian Roberts is dealing with back spasms, and the injury concerns continue to mount with Roberts.  He missed a lot of last season with back and neck issues and the fact that he is having more issues is a concern.  He is 33 years old, but likely has the body of a 45 year old with all of the wear and tear he has suffered in his career.  Right now with the plethora of good second baseman out there I am staying totally away from Roberts.  There are just too many issues with him and the season hasn’t even started yet.

Josh Beckett took the mound in a game for the first time since his concussion and was pretty good.  He allowed one earned run over 3.2 innings and struck out four while only walking one.  I don’t see this concussion as being an issue that affects Beckett during the season and you can feel free to draft him as if that baseball never cracked him in the dome. Whether he can rebound from last season’s disaster is a different discussion, but the injury concern should be behind him.

Arizona’s Daniel Hudson won his first spring game as he allowed just one earned run over three innings and struck out four against the Indians. He now has a 2.57 ERA in the spring, as he attempts to continue his great rookie season.  This was against the Indians and early in spring training, but Hudson looks like he will be a great fourth starter on your fantasy team, but don’t stretch too far for him following his 2010 breakout.

Apparently Alcides Escobar’s infected bug bite isn’t that big of a deal as he returned to the field on Tuesday, went 2-2 and even stole a base.  Even though he had a very disappointing rookie season, I really like Escobar in Kansas City and as a late round option at shortstop if you don’t get one of the better guys at the position. He is sure to run more with the Royals and he has to improve on his stats. Don’t let this slight blip on the radar prevent you from taking a chance on him.

More good news for the Red Sox on injured players is Jacoby Ellsbury was 3-4 on Tuesday and not only drove in his first spring run, but also stole a base. Ellsbury had a nightmare 2010 after an outfield collision with Mike Cameron, but he appears to be fully healthy and should be able to return to his pre-injury form and should be a great source of steals for your fantasy team.

Andy LaRoche continues to tear up Spring Training as he had two more hits, including his third homer already and drove in his fifth run in March. LaRoche was always a high ranking prospect for the Dodgers, but he has bounced around and has been a total flop to this point in his career.  Andy actually projected to be much better than his older brother Adam, but so far he has been unable to even hold a starting job. I am still not even thinking about drafting the younger LaRoche at this point because of his struggles so far in his career and there also doesn’t appear to be a place for him to play in Oakland.  However, I am going to continue to monitor him this spring as he does have incredible talent and has potential to be a good player.

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2011 MLB Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Rankings

Third base hasn’t been one of the deeper positions in a while, and 2011 is no different.  There are a number of questions coming into the position including what David Wright will show up? The power hitter who was back last year, or the guy who hit ten homers in 2009? 

Will Jose Bautista get anywhere near 50 home runs again? Can Adrian Beltre produce at all if he isn’t playing for a contract? Will the Kung Fu Panda hit for any power? Can Mark Reynolds hit over .200? 

There are a few young options this year that could become reliable fantasy starters to make your choices at third base even more interesting. You can email me with questions or comments at and I guarantee an answer in 18 hours.

(2010 Final Statistics in Italics)

1. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
.294 average, 22 homers, 104 RBI, 15 SBs, 96 runs

My heartthrob at the position, Longoria caught my attention from the day he stepped foot on the baseball field. There just isn’t anything this kid can’t do. His batting average has gone up each year in the league, he hits for more than enough power and his stolen bases have also increased every season he has played. 

Sure his power numbers declined last season and he lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, but it doesn’t matter. Longoria is just a guy who can get it done regardless. Look for him to hit around .300 with 28-30 homers and another 105 RBI. His stolen bases might fall back, but he still should stay around ten. 

2. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
.270 average, 30 homers, 125 RBI, 4 SBs, 74 runs (135 games)

A-Rod has missed 25 or more games in three straight seasons, but there is another interesting stat linked to him. He has also had at least 30 home runs and over 100 RBI for 13 straight seasons.

I know he is 35 years old and no longer on any performance enhancing drugs (probably), but A-Rod is still a masher. 125 RBI in 135 games? That is nasty! And I hate the Yankees. 

You might have to deal with some time without him in your lineup, but overall he is still one of the best fantasy players in all of baseball. I have witnessed him being drafted in the second round, and that would be an absolute steal for a guy capable of his production and at a position that is pretty shallow. It might not be a popular pick, but A-Rod still gets it done. 

3. David Wright, New York Mets
.283 average, 29 homers, 103 RBI, 19 SBs, 87 runs

Wright was an amazing all around fantasy player until 2009 when his power seemed to disappear and he started striking out more than the dorky kid in high school. Well, those who kept the faith in 2010 were rewarded, as even though his batting average dropped, Wright’s power stroke returned in a big way and he nearly stole 20 bases. 

Even with the cavernous dimensions of Citi Field, expect Wright to continue to top 25 home runs a season and run enough to keep you happy. I believe his batting average will get even closer to .300 and Wright will have another big year for the Mets. He should be drafted in the first two rounds and should pay big dividends for his fantasy owners. 

4. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
.307 average, 25 homers, 85 RBI, 4 SBs, 85 runs

Zimmerman has somehow been in the majors for six seasons now and has been a pretty solid contributor throughout, but somehow seemed to get more fantasy respect in 2010. His batting average is great, and he hits for a solid amount of power. The Nationals lineup continues to improve a little bit at a time and he is the heart and soul of the team.  

I would like to see him steal a few more bases in order to be a top flight fantasy player, but he is still one of the best at his position and you can feel comfortable drafting him in the first four rounds. At age 26, there is still room for him to improve. 

5. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
.307 average, 19 homers, 62 RBI, 4 SBs, 77 runs (102 games)

Youk is a nice fantasy option even though he seems to miss 15-20 games a year due to injury. He missed 60 games in 2010 due to injury, but in 2008-2009 Youk averaged 28 homers and 105 RBI. 

He will go back to third base with the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, and considering the current state of the position he is a great option for fantasy at the hot corner. He should be healthy in 2011, and given the way he has been performing the past three seasons there is no reason you can’t expect a .300 average with 25 homers and 95 RBI. 

6. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
.321 average, 28 homers, 102 RBI, 2 SBs, 84 runs

Beltre had an MVP caliber season for the Red Sox, and kept them in contention even with all of the key injuries they had in 2010. He hit for the highest average, the most homers and RBI since his (likely steroid induced) career season of 2004. 

I have a hard time believing that he will match his .321 average from last year, considering most of the rest of his career he has consistently been in the .260s and .270s. But he has always been around the 25-28 home run range and there is no reason to think that he won’t be back there again. 

He now goes to Texas so he will be in the middle of a very impressive offensive lineup and his home ballpark is a hitter’s dream if you want to hit home runs. I think he will hit around .290 and be between 27-30 home runs on the season and is a fine option as your starting third baseman.

7. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
.260 average, 54 homers, 125 RBI, 9 SBs, 109 runs

From 2004-2009, Bautista hit 59 home runs in his career. Somehow, and I won’t speculate how, he managed to hit 54 in a single season. Based on that, and his career .244 average, I have to say that I don’t expect him to get anywhere near the numbers he had last season. 

In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the home runs and RBI numbers were slashed by half. Guys just don’t usually break out when they are 30 years old, and while he might be better than what he was previously in his career, I can’t see Bautista being a monster masher again. 

Based on the position he plays he still should be a viable fantasy option, but if you pick him in the first three rounds you will be very disappointed by the value you get out of him by the time the season is over. 

8. Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates
.256 average, 16 homers, 64 RBI, 42 runs (95 games)

This is the guy that I expect to take the biggest jump this year. Alvarez was one of the top rated prospects for the past couple of years, and outside of his batting average, he delivered big time when he came to the pros. He showed all the tools we have heard rumors of all this time, and outside of the strikeouts he went through early, there was nothing to complain about with this kid. 

He isn’t going to run, but other than that he should help you out across the board and be a great fantasy contributor in 2011. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he hit 30 homers and drove in 100 runs. 

9. Casey McGehee, Milwaukee Brewers
.285 average, 23 homers, 104 RBI, 1 SB, 70 runs

McGehee had a respectable minor league career, but he didn’t put up numbers that suggested that he would be this good in the major leagues. After a more than solid rookie season, McGehee took the next step towards fantasy stardom with a breakout year in 2010. 

Not only does he play a fairly shallow position, but he put up numbers that would get him drafted no matter where he played. I am not sure that I expect him to do quite this well again, but I would be surprised if his numbers dropped by more than say ten percent. He still should be a solid contributor and a guy that you can feel comfortable with as your starting third sacker. 

10. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants
.268 average, 13 homers, 63 RBI, 3 SBs, 61 runs

The Kung Fu Panda waddled his fat ass to a horrible season where his stats dropped across the board and frustrated fantasy owners like few others have in quite a while. 

His average dropped over 60 points and his home run numbers were nearly cut in half.  Sandoval was always a very good hitter in the minors, but I don’t think he is quite as good as his 2009 suggests. However, I do see a nice bounce back from Sandoval this year as he should be near a .300 average and 20 home runs. 

Unless catchers in the National League go blind or lose their throwing arms, I don’t see him stealing bases even though he reportedly lost 20 pounds in the offseason. 

11. Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles
.198 average, 32 homers, 85 RBI, 7 SBs, 79 runs

You have to love Reynolds for his power numbers, but the batting average and strikeouts are just downright embarrassing. In points leagues where you lose points for strikeouts his value falls even farther. However, you can’t argue with the number of baseballs he parked in the seats in the past two years. 

You have to figure that he will hit for a better batting average this season, but .240 is a reasonable expectation. I think that there are better options than Reynolds, but he still at least is a guarantee to help you in home runs and RBI. 

12. Ian Stewart, Colorado Rockies
.256 average, 18 homers, 61 RBI, 5 SBs, 54 runs (121 games)

Stewart was a dynamic hitter in the minor leagues, and in short spurts in the majors he has shown some brilliance with the bat. He is a little fragile and has dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career, but if Stewart ever puts together a full season and stays healthy he could be a lethal hitter. 

I really like Stewart and think that he is a guy that I am definitely targeting if I fail to get a top third baseman early in drafts. His batting average will likely never be in the .300s but he has a real shot at 25 homers and 90 RBI which would be an incredible value coming from the hot corner in the middle rounds of drafts. 

13. Chone Figgins, Seattle Mariners
.259 average, one homer, 35 RBI, 42 SBs, 62 runs

Figgins’ average has been all over the map in his career, from a high of .330 all the way down to his career low of .259 last season. His value really depends on that batting average.

Figgins is always going to steal about 40 bases, and he is always going to hit about three home runs and drive in 40 runs, so that you can write in the books. But how many runs he will score and his batting average could be a huge spectrum. 

If you have no other speed on your team you can live with Figgins as your starting third baseman, but I would much rather have him as a corner infielder or utility player on my team. 

14. Chris Johnson, Houston Astros
.308 average, 11 homers, 52 RBI, 3 SBs, 40 runs (94 games)

Johnson came to the majors just before the All-Star Break and gave Astros fans something to cheer about. He hit for a great average, which could have been even higher if not for a three week rough stretch. And while he wasn’t Babe Ruth, he hit with enough power to keep you happy. 

Based on what he did in the minor leagues there is no reason to think that Johnson’s success was a fluke and he should be a good fantasy player again in 2011. There is a chance that he will be very good and worthy of being a starting fantasy third baseman, but I would feel better about him being on the corner or the bench. 

15. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
.296 average, 4 homers, 36 RBI, 1 SB, 28 runs (70 games)

Freese was having a pretty decent rookie season before an ankle injury cut it short. He wasn’t hitting for the power that the Cardinals were expecting, but as usual his batting average was pretty good. Freese did have a season of 26 home runs in AAA so there is a chance that his power numbers will improve. 

He was a .308 career hitter in the minors, so the average he was hitting last season was no fluke. He will likely still be more of a doubles hitter than a home run hitter in 2010, but he should have an opportunity to drive in more runs with the caliber of hitters in front of him in the lineup. 

He should hit .300 this season with about 15 home runs and 85 RBI. He is supposed to be ready for Spring Training, but keep your eye on his work as he did come off multiple offseason surgeries. 

16. Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds
.285 average, 20 homers, 83 RBI, 1 SB, 66 runs

If you look at Rolen’s numbers for the year you would say that it looks like he had a pretty good year for a guy at this stage of his career. However, if you note that 17 of his 20 homers came before the All-Star Break, as well as two-thirds of his RBI, suddenly it doesn’t look so hot. 

He is 35 years old and has an injury history a mile long. Rolen has been a great player in his career, but he is certainly coming to the end. He is still a very good defensive player, but for our purposes that doesn’t matter much. He is another guy that it is when he gets injured, not if so if you draft him be sure you have a competent backup. 

And if he gets off to another good start, trade him like there is no tomorrow, because it is guaranteed that it won’t last. 

17. Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox
.308 average, 5 homers, 18 RBI, 1 SB, 17 runs (38 games)

Viciedo defected from Cuba at age 19, and now looks like his best shot to grab a starting job with the Pale Hose. He got his first audition late last season and did pretty well with the at-bats he was given. 

He isn’t a big speed guy, and while he isn’t a power monster, he does hit enough long balls to keep you pretty happy, as he could be in the 20-22 range with a full season in the majors. He is going to have to battle Brent Morel for the job at third or find a home in the outfield or DH (although they all seem filled), but if Viciedo gets regular playing time he will earn this ranking. 

Keep a close eye on him in Spring Training to see where his fantasy fortunes lie at the beginning of the year. My guess is he will play well enough to force himself into the lineup somewhere. 

18. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
.264 average, 11 homers, 58 RBI, 17 SBs, 77 runs

Headley actually put together a pretty decent season last year for those of you in roto leagues with the modest power and decent speed. He could possibly improve in the power department as he continues to mature and get more experience in the league, but there is absolutely no way I see his base stealing improving for the third straight year. 

His 17 swipes from last year NEARLY equaled his total from the rest of his major league career and ALL of his minor league career combined. I have always expected him to hit for a higher batting average in the majors, but it appears he has forgotten all of his plate discipline. 

If you are drafting him expecting a repeat of 2010 with hopes for a little bit more power you could be OK, but if you are expecting a larger increase in home runs and counting on him for speed, I think you need to look in another direction. Headley is a decent guy to put at your corner infield spot, but he is not someone that should be starting in standard sized leagues. 

19. Matt Dominguez, Florida Marlins
.252 average, 14 homers, 81 RBI, 61 runs (in minors)

The 12th overall pick in the 2007 draft appears to be poised to be the starting third baseman for the Marlins this season and could make an early fantasy splash. He likely won’t hit for too much power at age 21, but the tools are there for him to grow into being a decent power hitter. 

He has awesome gap power right now, and over time those balls could easily clear the fences. He didn’t have a ridiculous strikeout rate in the minors, but many players struggle in the jump from AA right to the majors. Dominguez is a guy that I could see you taking later in the draft for a guy with a high upside. 

20. Danny Valencia, Minnesota Twins
.311 average, 7 homers, 40 RBI, 2 SBs, 30 runs (85 games)

Valencia wasn’t a highly touted draft pick back in 2006, but he has been pretty successful every step that he has made. He isn’t a huge power hitter, but Valencia has always hit for a pretty good average, and his gap power is very impressive.

He finished last season very strong as he hit .310 with five taters and 17 RBI after September 1, and goes into the year all but a lock to be the starter at the hot corner for the Twinkies.

He is a very intriguing player this season and could be a good sleeper for those of you looking for value late in drafts. He’s never really going to run enough to help you in the stolen base categories, but the batting average should stay strong and the power numbers should improve as he gets more experience. 

21. Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs
.241 average, 25 homers, 83 RBI, 61 runs

This guy has had an amazing career and could have been so much better if it wasn’t littered with injuries in what seems like every season. His .241 batting average was the worst since he left the prison known as Pittsburgh, but he still was able to mash 25 homers even though he played just 124 games. 

I have lost faith in Aramis a few years ago, and I think at this point of his career I would just avoid him. He does bring some value in the power department, but it isn’t worth the risk of him going down for an extended period of time. 

Having Ramirez as a corner infielder or injury insurance (ironic, don’t ya think?) is a much better plan. 

22. Alberto Callaspo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.265 average, 10 homers, 56 RBI, 5 SBs, 61 runs

He has shown the ability to drive in some runs over the past couple of seasons in Kansas City, and now he goes to a much better situation in Anaheim, but don’t expect him to all of a sudden be a solid fantasy contributor. 

He has more doubles power than actually being a home run hitter, but if he can get his average up another ten to fifteen points he could put up decent fantasy numbers.  Callaspo will turn 28 right when the season starts, so he is just entering the prime of his career, but if you expect his stats to improve greatly with the move to Anaheim I think you are setting yourself up to be disappointed. 

23. Casey Blake, Los Angeles Dodgers
.248 average, 17 homers, 64 RBI, 56 runs

Blake has been pretty consistent throughout his career…..consistently average. He has generally hit between .270 and .280 with 17-23 home runs just about every season.

However, last season his batting average dropped to an alarmingly low .248 and his RBI total was his lowest since 2005. He still should be the started in Los Angeles, but he is now 37 years old and definitely in the twilight of his career. 

At this point Blake is not someone that you want in any prominent role in your lineups, but could get you through if you have an injury hole that you need filled. 

24. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Oakland Athletics
.247 average, 16 homers, 71 RBI, 2 SBs, 59 runs

I have always loved Kouzmanoff’s potential, but he has played in the two worst hitter’s ballparks in the major leagues in San Diego and Oakland. Even more alarming, his batting average has dropped every season that he has been in the major leagues and his homers have dropped the past two seasons. 

He had some great numbers in the minors, so the potential is there, but until he learns to take a walk and stop swinging at every pitch that comes his way he will never be a viable fantasy player. He could improve on his 2010 numbers, but at this point I have given up on him being a big time talent. 

25. Brandon Inge, Detroit Tigers
.247 average, 13 homers, 70 RBI, 4 SBs, 47 runs

Inge has had a couple of big seasons in his career, however 2010 was not one of them.  People will look at his 2009 season when he hit 27 home runs, but 21 of them were in the first half of the season and he hit .230 that year. 

Inge is capable of having great spurts of production in small doses, but over a full season he is never going to carry your team. He will turn 34 years old in May and has had a good deal of injuries throughout his career. Unless it is way at the end of the draft and you aren’t counting on him for much, I would just stay away from Inge. 

26. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves
.265 average, 10 homers, 46 RBI, 5 SBs, 47 runs (95 games)

Oh Chipper, Chipper, Chipper. Let me count the ways that I loathe you. Always disappointing us when we need you most. Jones missed 67 games last year after suffering a knee injury that required surgery, and the worst part is that he will turn 38 shortly after the season starts. 

He has missed a good chunk of nearly every season of his career, and his once proud batting average (he won the 2008 batting title), has shrunk to a mediocre level by his standards. His power has been declining over the past few seasons as well and his fantasy value is as low as it has ever been. 

Someone will draft him based on his name and the news that he should be ready for Spring Training, but he should also be ready for his first trip to the DL by the middle of May. Steer clear of Jones and I guarantee you that you will be happy you did. 

27. Jayson Nix, Cleveland Indians
.224 average, 14 homers, 34 RBI, 1 SB, 32 runs

For the first time in his entire career, Nix looks like he is in line for regular at bats in the major leagues.

His batting average has always been a huge concern, but Nix has put up decent power numbers in the majors and minor leagues. He should see a good number of pitches to hit since most games that the Indians will be in will be over by the third inning.

Nix isn’t someone I would even consider drafting, but keep him on your radar in case he gets off to a fast start. 

28. Melvin Mora, Arizona Diamondbacks
.285 average, 7 homers, 45 RBI, 2 SBs, 39 runs

Since a career resurgence in 2008 when he hit 23 homers and drove in 104 runs, Mora has absolutely fallen off a cliff. Of course, he is 38 years old so this should be no surprise, but the severity of the fall is still a bit unnerving. 

He now goes to Arizona which isn’t the best lineup in the majors by a LONG shot, so the chances of Mora being successful are even more strained. And I still haven’t even taken into account that he has played more than 125 games just once in the last four years. 

You are grasping for straws if you expect too much from Mora, and he is no better than a guy to fill a hole for a week or two if you are desperate. 

29. Placido Polanco, Philadelphia Phillies
.298 average, 6 homers, 52 RBI, 5 SBs, 76 runs

Polanco has never really hit for power except for a couple of seasons where he got near the 15 homer mark, but he has generally hit for a pretty decent average and driven in his fair share of runs.  

I have never been a Polanco fan as I have never really been big on guys who just hit for average and never really help you in either power or speed categories. There is something to be said for a player like him in roto leagues, but I still feel you need to hit about .325 for it to be really worth it if you aren’t driving in at least 80 runs. 

Polanco will likely be drafted because of the team he plays for and the ball park he plays in, but I suggest unless you are looking for some depth at third base, I would look in other directions. 

30. Wilson Betemit, Kansas City Royals
.297 average, 13 homers, 43 RBI, 36 runs (84 games)

I really can’t believe a major league team is going into the season planning on starting Wilson Betemit in their infield. I mean the guy is ok and isn’t a total drain on your lineup, but he is not someone that should be starting on a daily basis. Hell, he spent over 70 games in the minors just last year, and he turned 29 in the fall. 

The good news for Royals fans is that Betemit is likely only keeping the seat warm for a mid-season call up for Mike Moustakas, so you shouldn’t have to put up with him for long. Oh, and fantasy players you can avoid him. 

31. Brent Morel, Chicago White Sox
.231 average, 3 homers, 7 RBI, 2 SBs, 9 runs (21 games)

Morel is more of a defensive player than he ever will be swinging the bat, but he could be starting at third base for the White Sox this season. He did have an impressive year in 2009 in the Arizona Fall League with 16 home runs, but that is by far the best pace he had ever been on. 

His batting average in the minors was always fairly impressive, but I wonder how his bat will carry over to the majors. There is no reason to consider Morel unless you are in a deep AL-only league to start the season. 

32. Brooks Conrad, Atlanta Braves
.250 average, 8 homers, 33 RBI, 5 SBs, 31 runs

You might not have ever heard of Conrad, but that doesn’t mean he is a young man. He just turned 31 and might be getting his first real chance to get regular playing time in the major leagues. 

He has been a pretty good player in the minor leagues throughout his career, but three different organizations have decided that he hasn’t been worthy of a regular position.  He is behind Chipper Jones on the depth chart, which means he could be starting soon.  He could be someone that could gain value as the season moves along. 

33. Jeff Baker, Chicago Cubs
.272 average, 4 homers, 21 RBI, 1 SB, 29 runs

Baker had a .300/20/100 season in 2006 at AAA and that made people slightly excited about his prospects as a major league hitter, but he has never been given a full time chance or really performed at a level that suggested he deserved a full-time chance. 

However, he sits behind Aramis Ramirez on the depth chart which means he could be in line for fairly regular time at the conclusion of any play so keep a wandering eye on Baker. He does have a little bit of power and could be an intriguing guy to watch if something were to happen to Aramis. 

34. Brandon Wood, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
.146 average, 4 homers, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 20 runs (81 games)

I think we are all sick of waiting for this guy to pan out by now, but that power is still oh so inviting. Wood can’t seem to hit major league pitching, but wears out guys in the minors giving him that dreaded 4A tag. 

We will forever be longing for Wood to replicate that one season that he had in the minors, but it was so long ago now that it is hard to hold on to. Keep him on your radar always, but don’t expect him to ever pan out. 

35. Mat Gamel, Milwaukee Brewers
.309 average, 13 homers, 67 RBI, 3 SBs, 54 runs (82 games at AAA)

Gamel is a total trainwreck with a glove, and with Casey McGehee establishing himself as a solid offensive weapon, his history at third base could be a thing of the past. 

Gamel played some outfield and first base in the minors and could be anticipating the departure of Prince Fielder if it comes to that. He has shown the ability to hit 20-25 homers in the minors with a strong batting average, but it is his defense that has kept him out of the majors. 

2011 will be a big season for him as he needs to find a place in Milwaukee or perhaps his bags will be packed for a team that can find a place for him. Don’t think about drafting him, but it is a name that you need to know. 

Don’t forget to visit Fantasy Alarm for all of your pre-draft needs.




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Rounding The Bases: June 16th

 Aubrey Huff is on an incredible tear over the last six days, but there is absolutely no way that this can last.  With his home run on Wednesday, Huff now has four over the last six games, and he has driven in 10 runs over that span.  He has been a reasonably good fantasy player in spurts throughout his career, but he is definitely fading and there is no way that you can trust him on a long term basis.  On his own he won’t have any trade bait, but maybe as part of a deal someone might see him as having value and could help complete a deal.  He is going to fade so you would be wise to try to capitalize on this any way you can. 


After a rough three weeks, Tim Lincecum has definitely snapped back and is looking like the guy you expected when you drafted him.  On Wednesday he struck out 10 over just six innings and gave up two runs against the Orioles as he collected his seventh win of the season.  I hope to everything holy that you didn’t do anything crazy when he was struggling and trade him away, because while he isn’t Cy Young, he is still one of the top three or four pitchers in fantasy. 


The word on the street is that the Philadelphia Phillies are considering signing Pedro Martinez for another second half run.  Pedro was more than decent last year for the Phillies, but this time I would not consider him if/when he does return to the majors.  I didn’t expect him to bring anything to the table in 2009 and now he is another year older and the Phillies aren’t scoring runs like they did last year.  Sure the National League is more of a cake walk than the AL, but I would want to see two or three solid starts from Pedro before considering adding him to my roster in anything but an NL-only league. 


Joel Pineiro has been completely feast or famine this year and for a guy who doesn’t get too many strikeouts, he is tough to own. This was Pineiro’s 14th start of the year and in six of them he has given up two runs or less, and in five of them he has given up four runs or more.  That leaves just three starts this year he has had an average game.  He is also averaging nearly a strikeout every other inning, which is not good at all in fantasy baseball for a guy with a .500 record and a near 5.00 ERA.  At best I would have him on my bench and would consider dumping Pineiro. 


Jonathan Niese continues to pitch well and continues to be a guy I like a little more every time he takes the ball.  He got his fourth win of the year as he allowed just two runs over seven innings.  Niese struck out just three but hasn’t given up more than two runs since May 11.  He is a young guy so you have to expect he is going to get bombed from time to time, but overall I like the future of Jonathan Niese and expect him to turn into a very good pitcher.  Having a home ballpark like Citi Field doesn’t hurt him at all either. 


Yesterday it was Gordon Beckham that seemed to get back on track (although he was 0-4 today), and now it is Carlos Quentin who had a good game for the White Sox which is hopefully the first of many more to come.  Quentin had two hits and two RBIs, and while he is hitting just .205 he still has driven in 35 runs.  I know that it is easy to give up on a guy like Quentin, but I wouldn’t do it just yet.  The guy was a possible AL MVP not too many years ago and has a ton of talent.  I know it has been over two months of struggling, but hopefully you have a bench spot that you can keep him on until he heats up.  I wouldn’t move him into the starting lineup yet, but one or two more good games and I would do just that.  Stay patient with Quentin and it will pay off. 


Congratulations to Jose Tabata for connecting on his first major league home run.  His drive came off of John Danks and while he hasn’t been spectacular to this point, Tabata is at least hitting in most games.  He has hit safely in five of his first six games and does have two stolen bases already, numbers that you shouldn’t be complaining about.  I wouldn’t expect him to top 10 homers on the season, but he could steal 20 bases giving you a nice second half player. 


Mike Leake has now had two straight rough starts, but I have to tell you that you shouldn’t be too concerned about the kid.  Every starting pitcher goes through this kind of period during the year.  I have written this before but I think it bears repeating.  Most starters make 33-35 starts during the year and a Cy Young caliber season is 20 wins.  That means there are 13-15 starts during the year that the pitcher doesn’t win and potentially pitches badly.  Leake is still a young guy who is going to have some bumps along the way.  The fact he has given up five earned runs in two straight starts isn’t a reason to drop him.  If he does it three or four more times than you can be concerned.



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Rounding the Bases: June 12th

Have you been playing fantasy baseball long enough to remember when Delmon Young was supposed to be the next big thing?  How about when he threw his bat at the umpire?  Well, it is looking more and more like he is just a mild bust now and not a complete bust.  There is also plenty of news on hitters that have gotten hot, and some pitchers that are definitely not.  The last day of the week is upon us, make those last second moves to give you the weekly win. 

Delmon Young continues to hit and drive in runs as he looks to shed the bust label that he has been carrying around for the past few years.  He drove in his tenth run in the last seven games, and now has 37 RBI on the season.  At this point it is time to pick him up and hope that he starts to hit for a little more power, but his average is fine at .286 and the ribbies are looking good. 

Have you officially lost faith in Wandy Rodriguez?  I have been preaching patience all year long, and I know he lost to the Yankees today which is nothing to be ashamed of, but I think I am starting to lose faith myself that he is going to turn it around.  The Magic Wand fell to 3-9 with a 5.60 ERA in 2010 and he has just been unable to have too many effective starts.  I didn’t think he would match last year’s numbers, but he hasn’t even been anywhere close to them, and I wonder if he will finish anywhere close to a .500 record.  If you decide to cut Rodriguez for a reliable second option I would be fine with letting him go from your team.

Are you jonesing for football already?  Want to know what we at Fighting Chance think of the upcoming season?  Well, pick up the USA Today’s Pro Football 2010 magazine and you will find an article with ten predictions for the 2010 season written by Fighting Chance’s own Ryan Hallam.  There are regional cover boys including Mark Sanchez in the Northeast, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Patrick Willis, Ricky Williams, Tony Romo, and Kevin Kolb.  Please be sure to pick up the magazine for all of your preseason needs as we prepare for the upcoming football season. 

Sean Rodriguez is showing what he is capable of now that the Rays are giving him fairly regular playing time.  Over his past ten starts, S-Rod has 16 hits, including his third home run over that stretch on Saturday although he has driven in just three runs.  Rodriguez is getting more time on the field with the injury to Jason Bartlett, so I don’t think this is going to be something that lasts the whole year.  You can pick him up and enjoy the production while it lasts, but just be aware that when Bartlett is ready to return, Rodriguez is going to go back to being a very skilled part-time player.

Sometimes I feel like I am a kiss of death.  It seems like sometimes I will write something about a player being finished or at least not going to turn it right around and then the next thing you know he is hitting the ball, or in this case pitching better.   Mark Buehrle threw 6.2 shutout innings and struck out a surprising seven batters.  Buehrle is still probably not worth the trouble he has been this season and is probably better served as a pitch and ditch guy right now until he can prove he is more consistent. 

Congratulations to rookie Carlos Santana who connected on his first major league home run on Saturday, which should be his first of many.  He also doubled for the first time and drove in his first three runs of his major league career.  This should be just the beginning for the young catcher as I mentioned yesterday the sky is the limit for him.  He should be owned in every format, regardless of who your catcher is. 

Jose Reyes is on another one of his hot streaks over the past four or five games.  Since June 8th, Reyes has four multi-hit games, two home runs and two stolen bases.  He is certainly rewarding those who drafted him in March when his status was up in the air as he has begun to run well again as well as hit for a little bit of power.  Keep Reyes in your lineup on a daily basis.    

Johnny Gomes is somehow among the league leaders in RBI and is still hitting over .300.  How is this possible?  Gomes is a guy who has been bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors over the past couple of seasons, but now is closing in on a possible All-Star berth.  I really can’t believe that this is going to last more than the next few days, but apparently he has a little bit of a run left in him.  If it is at all possible, I would be selling high on Gomes as he doesn’t have a chance of keeping this up. 

Chris Coghlan is on an even bigger tear than Gomes.  Since May 31st, Coghlan has nine multi-hit games and has raised his batting average from .227 all the way up to .282.  He also has six ribbies in the last ten games and has worked his way back on to the fantasy landscape.  I am still not a Chris Coghlan fan though, and you might want to ride a little bit of a hot streak, but I have a feeling that this one is going to be ending soon, so jump on the bandwagon quickly and be ready to jump off when he goes cold. 

Carlos Pena homered for the sixth straight game and it is still safe to say that he is going to hit at least 30 home runs.  However, like I said a few days ago when I wrote about him the first time, Pena is never going to hit for a good average but will definitely give you solid numbers in the power categories.  I still wouldn’t want him as my starting first baseman, but is a great utility or corner infielder. 

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Rounding The Bases: June 11th MLB Rundown

Another day, another big time prospect comes to the majors.  Today it is Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians who was perhaps the best hitting prospect left down in the farm.  I wont start gushing too much about him, you will have to read the article to see the rest.  There is some injury news on one of the best players in the game, and also some of the more interesting pitchers of the night. 

Carlos Santana was FINALLY called to the major leagues by the Cleveland Indians and was third in the batting order in his first game.  He was 0-for-3 with a walk in his first action, but there is no doubt that the team has nothing but confidence in him and he will be their everyday catcher or at least DH if they think he needs a day off from behind the plate. 

There is absolutely nothing not to like about this kid.  He is just 24 years old and has hit at every level of the minors.  In 57 games in AAA in 2010, Santana was hitting .316 with 13 homers and 51 RBI. 

I think that he will have similar numbers to that of Buster Posey, but I think that he is going to hit more homers than his National League counterpart.  Santana is a good pick-up for any fantasy team, even if you have one of the top catchers in the league. 


The “groin injury” that caused Alex Rodriguez to come out of yesterday’s game turns out to be a hip problem after all, although according to his manager it is not in the area that caused him to have surgery and miss the first month of last season (although I don’t believe that for one second). 

He did not play on Friday and the team says that he is day to day.  If I had to guess, I would say that he probably won’t play until Sunday, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he was back with the team on Saturday.  It might cause him to miss some games sporadically over the next couple of weeks, but it appears that this won’t be  major. 


Austin Kearns is having a nice little bounce back year as he attempts to actually have a season that he can actually stay healthy.  Kearns has only played more than 90 games once in the last five seasons.  He had two home runs on Friday, bringing his season total to seven in just 40 games. 

If you are considering adding Kearns, allow me to offer these words of advice.  I can see you adding him to your roster if you are a little weak in the due to injury or other factors.  However, just know that this is probably going to be short lived because he has never proven to be consistent or able to stay on the field. 


For those of you who have been worried about Francisco Liriano regressing after his hot start, how are you feeling now? 

Liriano absolutely dominated the Atlanta Braves on Friday as he gave up just one run over eight innings and struck out a very impressive 11 batters.

This is now back to back games in which he has double digit strikeouts and has allowed only one run, so any concern coming off that little rough stretch should be gone.  His ERA is under 3.00 and he has more than a strikeout an inning for the season. 


R. A. Dickey got his fourth win in just five starts for the New York Mets, but I don’t see any way that you can possibly trust this journeyman knuckleballer to be a consistent contributor for you.  There is no way that you can take away today’s performance though as he allowed just one run over seven innings and struck out eight. 

Most of the time with knuckleballers it is either feast or famine.  Either the ball is jumping all over and it is hard to hit, or it just isn’t moving much at all and it is batting practice for the offense.  So far, so good for Dickey, but I think you are grasping at straws if you are expecting a 35 year old pitcher with a career record under .500 and a ERA of 5.31 to pitch well throughout the season. 


Granted it is easier to pitch when your team gives you nine runs of support in the first two innings, John Lackey had a strong outing today regardless of his cushion.  He gave up just two runs over seven innings and struck out three. 

Like I wrote last time he took the mound, I think the days of the John Lackey in Anaheim with the good strikeout numbers might be gone, but I still think he is a very viable fantasy pitcher.  He has gone from a possible staff ace to a very solid third starter on your team; but on the Red Sox he should really be able to pile up some wins as he got number seven on Friday.  It has been an uncharacteristic season for Lackey, but perhaps he can get back on track. 


Speaking of getting back on track, hopefully tonight’s game will do just that for David Ortiz .  Big Papi was starting to turn back into a pumpkin again as he had just one hit in his previous eight games—but he broke out big time on Friday as he collected three hits and drove in four runs to bring his season total to 39 RBI.  Looks like it is going to be similar to last year for Papi with a good number of homers and RBIs and a pretty putrid batting average. 


James Shields has hit a major bump in the road lately, a bump that hopefully is temporary.  He had a streak from April 22nd to May 25th in which he did not allow more than three earned runs, and now two of his last three outings he has coughed up at least seven.  He gave up a whopping ten earned runs on Friday in just 3.1 innings, but at least he struck out four (like that is any consolation to his owners!).

At least Shields is still getting exceptional strikeout numbers for his career, as he now has 82 whiffs in just 85 innings pitched, which is well above his career rate.  If you have Shields, you have to continue to start him no matter the opponent and hope that this is short lived. 

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Rounding The Bases: June 6th

Week number nine is in the books here in fantasy baseball and tonight we cover a lot of today’s starting pitchers. 

There is talk of a rebounding hurler in the Bronx, a Cy Young winner who can’t seem to get back into form, and another former Cy contender who I doubt will ever get back into form. At the end, there are a few quick hitting items on some injuries and a slugger who can’t make contact. 

It is hard to believe that we are just a month away from the All-Star game and the news is more important every day for you to maintain your lead or make the move on first place.  


Tim Lincecum was better today, but still wasn’t dominating and it came against the freakin’ Pirates!  Lincecum hasn’t been the same electric pitcher over the last month and his fantasy owners must be shaking in their boots.

However, I have a message for you…..RELAX!!! It is a long season and every single pitcher goes through some rough spots. 

I know you want your ace to mow through the Pirates lineup and thrown one of these perfect games that are going around, but Lincecum is in a little funk right now and needs to work his way out of it. 

He might not win his third straight Cy Young Award, but Lincecum is going to be a dominant fantasy starter and will be one of the top three pitchers to have when all is said and done. 


Ubaldo Jimenez finally gave up a couple of runs, but he made himself the majors’ first 11-game winner as he beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

Baldy gave up two runs over seven innings and struck out eight as his ERA rose to a still eye-popping 0.93. 

For those of you who own him and don’t know what to do, I might take him and try to trade him for Mr. Lincecum whom we talked about in the last paragraph. 

I mean, think of it this way: there is no way that Jimenez will be able to finish the year with a 1.00 ERA right?  And there is no way that Lincecum doesn’t rip through the Pirates the next time out.  Buy a little low on Lincecum and sell way high on Baldy.  It might not work, but I think it is worth a try. 


Javier Vasquez is getting back on track with another great performance, even if it wasn’t against one of the powerhouses of the American League. 

Vasquez allowed just two runs over seven innings against the surprising Toronto Blue Jays and he struck out nine. 

This is on the heels of his great start against the Orioles and hopefully a couple of quality starts was what Javy needed to get his confidence back on track and he can go back to being the quality pitcher he has been.

He won’t be the guy he was in Atlanta last season, but Vasquez is better than he showed in the first two months of the year and hopefully you’ve held on to him through his incredibly rough beginning. 


Brandon Morrow dueled Vasquez pitch for pitch as he had another great start and kept the Yankees in check over seven innings.

Morrow allowed just a single earned run, walked just one, and struck out eight. He has now allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts, but I do continue to worry about the fact that he nearly has the same number of innings pitched in 2010 as he did in all of 2008 and 2009 when he was a relief pitcher for the Mariners.

The Blue Jays got him ready to be a starter since the beginning of training camp so hopefully the arm strength is there. 

I just hope that there isn’t a time during the season in which his arm starts to get fatigued, he stops missing bats, and needs to rest and ends up on the DL.  I know that sounds bad, but I really do like Morrow. 


Brian Matusz had a little problem with the walks, but other than that, had his second straight pretty good start, this time against the Boston Red Sox.   Matusz wasn’t able to finish the sixth inning, but he gave up just two earned runs and struck out seven in his 5.2 innings worth of work. 

I know a lot of you jumped off the bandwagon, and it is understandable, but you have to remember that the kid is a rookie and most young pitchers will have peaks and valleys along the way.  I am not saying that Matusz is going to be an All-Star caliber pitcher by the end of the year, but I do believe that he will continue to pitch well in more starts than he does pitch poorly. 

Right now, he might be a pitch-and-ditch kind of option or a guy that you don’t start but stash on your bench, but I do think he is talented enough that he does still belong on fantasy rosters. 


John Lackey didn’t get the win on Sunday, but he was better than he has been for most of the season for the Red Sox. 

The biggest surprise to me is the sharp drop-off in strikeouts for Lackey, which is telling me that he probably isn’t going to be the pitcher I thought he was coming into the year. 

Lackey had been a bulldog for most of his career, pitching 200+ innings and striking out 180+.  Well, this year, he has struggled to make it more than six innings most of the time, and he hasn’t struck out more than six batters in any start this season. 

I am not saying that Lackey isn’t worth owning in fantasy baseball anymore, but it is time for me to come to the realization that he isn’t a top of the rotation fantasy starter anymore, more of a third or fourth guy in your rotation. 


Brett Myers continues to exceed expectations by a huge margin as he collected his fourth win of the year on Sunday. 

Myers kept the Cubs in check as he gave up two runs over 6.2 innings and struck out six. 

This is now seven of his last nine starts that Myers has given up two earned runs or less, and in six of those he struck out at least six batters.  Even though he is on a subpar team in Houston, there is no doubt that Myers is now worthy of being on your fantasy roster if you are looking for some help on the mound. 

He was always a highly touted prospect who had some trouble keeping his head straight, but it appears that Myers is locked in so far in 2010. 


Since throwing eight shutout innings on May 21st , Mark Buehrle has hit quite the rough patch. 

In his last three starts he has been ejected from the game in the third inning, and then gave up six earned runs in each of the next two, including Sunday. 

Buehrle is having a pretty bad season as he has a 3-6 record and an ERA of 5.40.  He isn’t a guy who gets a lot of strikeouts (30 in 70 IP this year so far), so right now Buehrle is offering nothing to your fantasy team. 

If you are a very forgiving owner you might put him on your bench based on his history and hope he gets hot, but I couldn’t blame you at all if you send him to free agency. 


A day after striking out a whopping five times in a game against the Blue Jays, Mark Teixeira took another O-fer on Sunday, but at least he did walk once and didn’t strikeout any more. 

He did go on a short hot streak before cooling back down, but I am telling you a wicked hot streak is in the near future for Tex and, if anything, now is the time to try to acquire him, not deal him away.  His track record is impeccable. The numbers are there in September every year, and there is no reason to think they won’t be again in 2010. 


Josh Hamilton was out of the lineup on Sunday after taking a cortisone injection in his right knee.  

Hamilton has been pretty good this year, but this is what always has to be in the back of your mind: the possibility—no the probability—of him being injured. 

They say that he should be back in the lineup on Monday, but when a guy like Hamilton misses a game and needs a cortisone shot, I am always worried even though he did pinch hit. Keep tabs on this situation and hopefully he will miss just the one game. 


Doug Fister is going to the Disabled List with a fatigued shoulder, a move to try to get him back into the rotation and healthy for the rest of the season. 

Seattle had been noticing a drop in velocity and finally got the pitcher to admit that he had some discomfort since before his previous start. 

Fister is one of the more pleasant surprises in fantasy, but this really puts up a big red flag for me and I only hope that it is a minor speed bump, but I have a feeling it may be more. 


Orlando Hudson looks like he is headed to the 15 day DL after a collision with teammate Denard Span that reinjured his surgically repaired wrist. 

Hudson said that he would only have to miss a few more days, but the team took the conservative approach and sat their second baseman down for two weeks. 

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like it should be a long term thing, so hopefully if you play Hudson he should just miss the minimum time but again, keep your eye on the news surrounding Hudson over the next two weeks. 


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Rounding The Bases: June 5

It is time to take a moment to appreciate the kind of start that Miguel Cabrera is off to, among many other things. 

There is some talk about a couple of top prospects making their way to the Major Leagues; one is actually based on a report while the other is speculatory.

That is far from all the news for your Saturday, however, so dive into another version of Rounding The Bases.   


David Wright might not be hitting for the batting average he did in 2009, but the power is back and he is still stealing a decent number of bases.  Today, Wright connected on his 10th homer of the season, which is the exact number he had in all of last year.  He is also more than halfway to his RBI total for 2009, and he also has ten stolen bases. 

As much of a bust as Wright was last year, he appears to be as much of a draft day surprise as he fell a few rounds in 2010.  However, I think that he is going to top 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases. 


Jonathan Niese returned from his latest hamstring injury for the Mets and pitched very well on Saturday against the Marlins.  Niese gave up just one run over seven innings and struck out six. 

Outside of a few bumps in the road, he has been a very good pitcher and is just 23 years old.  There is going to be a concern about Niese’s hamstring and him suffering another injury, but when he is on the mound, he is proving that he has a bright future. 

At 6’4” and 215 pounds, Niese is a commanding presence on the mound and pitching in Citi Field doesn’t hurt either. 


Colby Rasmus is on another nice hot streak, and he should absolutely be in your lineups at this point.  He now has five multiple-hit games in the last seven, including three home runs and nine RBI. 

This kid has a world of potential and is going to be a multiple-time All-Star in his career.  There might be some growing pains and cold streaks during the season for Rasmus, but I still think he is a guy who can be your third outfielder or a solid option for your utility spot.

Put him in your lineup and just leave him there; in September, you will be glad you did. 


Those of you who picked up Chris Narveson and were riding his hot streak, it is officially time to jump off that bandwagon.  He didn’t take the loss on Saturday, but Narveson gave up four earned runs and walked five in just six innings. 

That is now four of his last five starts that Narveson has allowed four earned runs or more and that is enough for me to send him to free agency where he belongs. 


Aramis Ramirez decided to show up at the ballpark today and that was the first time in quite a while that he decided to do that.  Before his three hit game on Saturday he had just two hits in the last 10 days. 

He has driven in 22 runs this season, but Aramis is hitting just .171 on the year.  Is it worth holding on to him?  That is an interesting question and doesn’t have an easy answer. 

Personally, I think that the Cubs are a total train wreck for 2010, and I am not sure that they will get it together. 

Put that together with the fact that Ramirez isn’t a young pup anymore (he’s about to turn 32 later in the month) and the career full of injuries seems like it is catching up with him. 

I still think it might be a hair too early to drop him, but I am getting close to pulling the plug on him. 


Neil Walker continues to tear up National League hitting since being inserted into the Pirates’ starting second base spot, replacing Akinori Iwamura .  Walker had his sixth multi-hit game in his last ten contests and has driven in six runs in those games. 

A first-round pick of the Pirates six years ago, Walker projects to be a guy who could hit for a pretty good average in the majors, and probably top off at about the high teens as far as home runs are concerned. 

With second base eligibility, he becomes someone worth picking up, especially if your league requires a middle infield spot. 


Todd Wellemeyer possibly took a big step towards the promotion of stud prospect Madison Bumgarner when he was tattooed by the Pirates today lowering his record to 3-5. 

Wellemeyer’s ERA is now near 6.00 and I have thought that his first bad start after June 1 would be the day that Bumgarner gets the call. 

He doesn’t make a lot of money and nearly lost the job to Bumgarner in the spring, so there should be no surprise when Wellemeyer is put in the Giants’ bullpen where he belongs. 

There is absolutely no reason to have Wellemeyer on your team, and those of you who play the rookie game should be monitoring the news for when young Mr. Bumgarner is coming to San Francisco. 


Speaking of top prospects, I have read reports that Marlins’ superstud Michael Stanton will be called to the majors on Tuesday and those of you looking for any sort of outfield help should be making the move RIGHT NOW to get this kid. 

Stanton has massive power potential and could hit 30 bombs in a full season as soon as now.  The dude is 6’5” and 240 pounds and is just 20 years old.  He will be terrorizing National League pitching from the start and is keeper league GOLD right now. 


Speaking of National League pitching, on the Sunday night Fighting Chance Radio podcast, my co-host Jeff Mans said that if Dontrelle Willis comes to Arizona and becomes a viable fantasy pitcher again that they should cancel the National League considering how bad he was for Detroit. 

Well, attention Bud Selig, you might want to consider cancelling the National League!  The D-Train threw six shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies. 

He even walked four batters but the Rockies couldn’t even push one run across the board and Willis earned a win in his D’Backs debut. 

I need to see another good start before I consider adding Willis, I am just not buying that all of a sudden he is going to be worthwhile, even in the National League. 


I would like to just take a second to spell out the kind of season that Miguel Cabrera is having as he is the MVP of the American League for the first half of the season.

In just 53 games, Cabrera is still hitting .358 and has 17 home runs (nearly one every three games) and has now driven in 52 games. 

Cabrera was under the microscope in the spring because of his admission that he was playing under the influence of alcohol, but I told you then, it didn’t matter. 

The guy is a professional hitter and while I think I might sell high on Cabrera because he has to slow down, Cabrera is one of the better hitters in all of Major League Baseball.  Those of you who own him, enjoy the ride. 


Luke Hochevar continues to frustrate fantasy players as he has a hard time putting a string of good starts together, and every time you think he is going to go down the wrong path, he has an outing like Saturday. 

Hochevar took his fourth loss of the season, but he deserved so much better.  He struck out 10 over seven innings and gave up just one earned run.

Hochevar was the No. 1 overall pick in 2006 and one of these days he is going to put this together and be a great Major League pitcher. 

For now he might not be a guy you should have on your roster regularly and might be better as a pitch-and-ditch option, but I am telling you at some point he is going to turn the corner and you will want him on your team at that point. 


Jhoulys Chacin had a little bit better outing on Saturday, which is good, considering he has struggled his past couple of times to the mound.  Chacin gave up just three earned runs (four total) over 5.2 innings, but made up for that by striking out nine batters. 

I think that at some point Chacin might end up back in the minor leagues, but even if he doesn’t, there will definitely be some growing pains with the young Rockies’ pitcher. 

That being said, I would continue to start him while he is with the big club and hope that he does turn things around a little more and becomes an even better fantasy option. 

He is going to be a stud one day, I just wonder if that day will be in 2010. 


Hey, did you notice that Delmon Young has 32 RBI, because I didn’t.  The No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft has certainly had an interesting career since he threw that bat at the umpire a number of years ago. 

Young has never come close to fulfilling that enormous potential that we were promised. 

He is still hitting just .270 and only has five home runs so it isn’t like he is someone that you have to run out to add, but if he is available in your league and you can use some help in the outfield, Young might be a guy to consider.

If he ever really does put it together, Delmon could be special. 


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Rounding The Bases: May 31st Fantasy Update

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> Happy Memorial Day everyone, we hope you had a good day doing whatever it was that you did.  It was an absolutely gorgeous three day weekend here in upstate New York with perfect weather every day. 

However, please don’t lose sight of why we celebrated this weekend.  Take a moment to thank those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this great country of ours, and thank those who are currently serving.  I have the utmost respect for every single person who has ever been in the armed forces as well as their families who have the difficult job of carrying on with their loved ones away. Thank you for all that you do! 

And now, back to baseball.

Wow, talk about hot!  Ubaldo Jimenez outdueled Tim Lincecum and ran his record to 10-1 on the season with another complete game shutout on Memorial Day.  Jimenez scattered four hits over nine innings and struck out nine. 

I would imagine that he has to cool off eventually, there is no way that Baldy can go 26-2 and have an ERA under 1.00 for the entire season.  Even though it is inevitable that he will have some bad starts on the horizon, he certainly has become one of fantasy’s finest this year and should be treated that way.


Yunel Escobar looks like he finally might start hitting as he had back to back multi-hit games on Sunday and Monday and drove two runs today. 

Escobar was a guy that I liked coming into the season as a possible guy to have as a backup or in your middle infield position if your league requires that spot.  He has averaged 12 homers and 68 RBI with a near .300 batting average the past couple of seasons. 

He is going to have to start doing some work to get to those numbers again, but I feel fairly confident that he will have a few nice hot streaks during the season and is someone that is at least worth being injury insurance for your middle infield. 


Cody Ross has been an underrated source of power the past few seasons, but through the first two months of 2010, he hadn’t really done much. 

His batting average has been hovering around .300 which is a nice change for Ross, but a guy who has averaged 23 homers and 81 RBIs over the past two years had just four coming into today and two of those were in the same game. 

Well, Ross pounded out his fifth tater of the season on Monday and maybe this will get him going.  If you drafted Ross you might want to keep him on your bench, although like I said his batting average hasn’t been bad. 

I would definitely give him more time to turn this around, and hopefully he will go on a tear and cross that 20 homerun plateau again this season.

Rickie Weeks is still healthy and is still swinging a hot bat here in 2010—and while I am not a Weeks believer it is hard to argue with what he is doing. 

After a two homer game on Sunday Weeks was at it again with another two hit game and he drove in two more runs.  Weeks is already getting close to his career high in most categories, although he is hitting just .251. 

Ride the hot streak as long as you can with Weeks at a premium position, just don’t be surprised if he slumps badly or gets hurt. 


Stephen Strasburg is now supposed to make his major league debut on June 8th against the Pittsburgh Pirates (I almost typed Steelers, ha ha). 

I am not sure why they gave him the extra start in AAA, maybe they wanted him to face the worst possible team so instead of Cincinnati he will now mow down the Pirates in his first start. 

Mark your calendars, this should be exciting. 


Garrett Jones hit his sixth homer of the season on Monday, and although he still isn’t hitting for the power he did in 2009, he is doing better than I thought. 

I would like to see his batting average improve, but he did hit just .207 in April, so the fact that his average is now .261 is an encouraging sight.

The thing that I am liking about Jones is that he is actually driving in runs this season.  Somehow with 21 homers in just 81 games last year he managed to drive in just 44 runs.  This season, although the home runs are down, he already has 31 RBIs and that is with a disappointing start. 

I think if someone let him go in your league I would scoop him up and stash him on the bench for a while, I have a feeling that Jones is going to get hot with the power sometime soon. 


Brad Lidge was activated off the 15 day DL after missing 18 games with elbow stiffness.  He came into a lopsided game and pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out one. 

He might get eased back into the closer’s role a little, but I would say by the end of the week at the latest he should be back closing out the end of games for the Phillies.  How he will do, or when he will get hurt again is anyone’s guess. 

If you are running with Lidge this season (and going forward for that matter) you are playing a risky game, and could roll craps at any time.  He is one of the ultimate high risk/high reward type of players.  Jose Contreras likely works into the 8th inning role for the time being, but if you picked him up I would hold on to him.  He was three for three in save opportunities and will become valuable again if something happens to Lidge.


Derek Jeter left the game on Monday in the seventh inning with tightness in his hamstring, a few innings after being hit by a pitch. Manager Joe Girardi just said that it stiffened up on him after a base hit in the seventh and he would be evaluated tomorrow to see the extent of the injury. 

Throughout his career Jeter has proved over and over that it takes nearly amputation of a limb for him to miss a game due to injury so I would be surprised if he missed any more than one game, and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he was in the Yankee lineup tomorrow.


Somehow the Blue Jays are being very successful when two of their stars from 2009, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are both disappointing.  However, both have started to show some signs of breaking out recently. 

Hill had two hits and drove in his 18th run of the year, but in the last ten days he hit four home runs with six RBIs.  Unfortunately, he is still batting in the .170s, but I believe that has to improve. 

Lind hit his eighth home run, his second in the last ten days, to go with five RBIs.  His batting average is also a horrible .226 but he is another one that I think has to turn it around.  Opportunities

I have more faith in these two Blue Jays than I do in Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez —the two hitters that have carried Toronto offensively for the first two months of the year.

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