Tag: Garrett Jones

Pittsburgh Pirates: Analyzing the Contributors Who Came Out of Nowhere

The 2012 Pirates have relied on first-round picks such as Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez to carry the offense. These guys had been groomed in the system and unlike many other first round picks of the Pirates, made it to the big leagues and have been highly productive.

Yet, the success of the 2012 Pirates is also largely due to players who came out of nowhere to start producing for the Bucs, and it is those players who I want to take a closer look at.


Garrett Jones

Jones had a long path to reach the major leagues, let alone be a successful player. Garrett was drafted in the 14th round of the 1999 Draft by the Atlanta Braves. He played three seasons in their minor league system before being released and signed by the Minnesota Twins.

He would remain in the Twins organization all the way until the 2008 season, yet he would only play in 15 games with the Twins during that time as he was blocked at first by Justin Morneau.

In the winter of the same year, the Pirates signed Jones to a minor league deal, one that received relatively little attention. Jones had a strong spring, but didn’t make the club. The 2009 Pirates were so bad, however, that eventually he would get his chance, and he made the most of it.

Jones would go on to hit 21 home runs in just over half a seasons worth of games and earned a starting spot the next year. Yet, 2010 was not the kindest to Garrett. While he did top 20 home runs and 80 RBI receiving everyday at bats, his weaknesses, such as his inability to hit lefties, were exposed, and his batting average plummeted as a result. 2011 brought a platoon in right field with the highly unsuccessful Matt Diaz, and Jones’ numbers dropped again. 2012 brought about another platoon, this time with Casey McGehee, and for most of the first two months, it looked as if Jones was playing his way out of the starting lineup yet again.

In June however, things began to change. As the Pirates offense improved, so did Jones, who is now putting up his best numbers since his original call-up in 2009. This has allowed him to stay in the lineup more vs. lefties, who he is also hitting far better as of recently. The man who became the Pirates everyday cleanup hitter was destined to be a career minor leaguer until the Pirates took a flier on him, and if the Bucs make it to October, he will be a large reason why. 

Drew Sutton

Utility man Drew Sutton’s story is one that deserves its own piece, so I will try and give the shortened version of this man’s success story.

Sutton bounced around between the Astros, Reds, Red Sox, Braves and Rays organizations before coming to the Pirates (Actually, he was on the Pirates before the Rays, but only for a day). Playing for four organizations in one calendar year would challenge the mental toughness of any athlete, and Sutton was no exception.

Once arriving in Pittsburgh, though, Sutton played himself into more regular at-bats, and hit one of the most memorable game winning home runs in PNC Park history against the Astros, an emotional time for both Sutton and the Bucs.

Sutton recently scored the game winning run vs. the Astros in Houston, and keeps bringing the magic day in and day out. Championship teams have utility men such as Sutton amongst them.


Jeff Karstens

Jeff Karstens was essentially the sixth most valuable player in the deal that sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and himself. After pitching poorly in the Bronx, Karstens got himself a spot in the Pirates putrid 2008 rotation, and showed from the onset that maybe he had what it took to be a big league starter.

He nearly pitched a perfect game vs. Arizona in one of his first outings, yet, after a couple unsuccessful years, he was dropped from the 40-man roster and essentially was free to go sign with any other team. He ended up coming back to the Bucs and making the team as the fifth starter in 2011, where he would go on to post a sub-3.50 ERA and become the most valuable pitcher during the year.

Posting similar success in limited time this year, Karstens is proving to be a very valuable fourth starter as well as a leader on the staff. 

Jason Grilli

Surprisingly, Jason Grilli actually was a first-round pick way back in 1997, yet, didn’t have a full-time major league job until 2006. By 2011, Grilli was out of the big leagues after producing mediocre numbers and bouncing around several different teams.

He was with the Phillies Triple-A squad in Lehigh Valley when the Pirates signed him after his contract set him free if he wasn’t in the big leagues by a certain date. For the first time in his career, Grilli began pitching lights out and racking up strikeouts.

He has been one of the premier set-up men in the game this year, on pace for over 100 strikeouts, and is the bridge to getting to Joel Hanrahan. One of the most valuable pieces on the team, it is amazing that Grilli was wilting away in the minor leagues just one season ago. 

Michael McKenry

The only reason the Bucs even have the Fort at the moment is due to injuries from a season ago. Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit were both injured within a week of each other, and the Bucs were left with Dusty Brown posting terrible numbers behind the plate.

They decided to make a low risk acquisition in trading for McKenry from the Boston Red Sox where he was in Triple-A. Soon, McKenry’s style of play became a hit in the Burgh, yet, his numbers weren’t exactly awe-inspiring. This year, McKenry took it upon himself to become a better hitter, and that he has. McKenry has his nine home runs so far in under 125 at-bats. That is a Ryan Braun level of power, and it is coming from the short, backup catcher on the Bucs.

With his hot-streak carrying over from June to July and hopefully August, it will be just a matter of weeks before McKenry becomes the starting catcher.

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Pittsburgh Pirates’ Platoon Potential: Looking At the Team’s 1B Options

When 2010 came to an end it appeared that Garrett Jones would open the 2011 season as the Pirates starting first baseman.  Given the options on the roster, it was a fair assessment, but the Pirates have not stood pat.  They have signed a pair of players this offseason who can man first base and potentially appear headed for a timeshare:

Lyle Overbay
The left-handed hitter enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in 2010, hitting 20 HR with 67 RBI and 75 R in 534 AB.  However, hitting for power as part of the Blue Jays lineup really was nothing special in ’10, nor was his total actually overly impressive.  He’s never hit more than 22 HR in a season, so if it is punch that the Pirates were looking for, Overbay certainly isn’t the answer.

Many people may want to think of him as a good average hitter, but since hitting .312 in 2006 he’s posted the following marks:

  • 2007 – .240 (.271 BABIP)
  • 2008 – .270 (.316 BABIP)
  • 2009 – .265 (.305 BABIP)
  • 2010 – .243 (.285 BABIP)

In those four seasons he watched his strikeout rate go from 18.4% in ’07 to 24.5% last season.  Once again, there really is just nothing to get excited about.  Throw in that he has failed to surpass 75 R or RBI in the past four seasons and you have to wonder exactly how Overbay fits into their plans offensively.  He does little to strengthen a lineup that desperately needs a boost.

Garrett Atkins
He was once a vaunted source of power, but Atkins simply hasn’t been the same player the past few years.  A right-handed hitter, it has been a steady decline since slugging 29 HR in 2006.  In fact, he failed to stick with the Orioles in 2010, hitting just .214 with 1 HR and 9 RBI in 140 AB.

It’s nice that he doesn’t strikeout much (2010 was the first time he was above 16.4% since 2004) and maybe he can regain a decent stroke and hit for a good average.  I’m not talking over .300, because when he did that he was swinging with power, but maybe in the .270-.280 range.  Solid production for sure, but nothing to brag about.

Atkins was a much lower risk financially.  He signed a minor league contract that, if he makes the major league team, will pay him just $800,000.  Overbay, meanwhile, was handed a one-year, $5 million contract.

From a fantasy perspective you really can’t expect to get much out of either one, especially if they do split time.  Watch them on the waiver wire and if they look decent, then strike.

I have to believe that the Pirates are hoping one of them proves worthy enough that they can trade them towards the deadline for prospects that actually fit into their long-term plans.  They did it well with Octavio Dotel in 2010, so why not try again?  With Atkins the contract is perfect for that type of gamble.  For Overbay?  I’m not quite so sure.

Regardless of the Pirates plans, this is a situation that should be avoided.

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think will get the bulk of the playing time?  Will either prove usable in 2011?

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

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Pirates of the City of Pittsburgh: Curse of the Last 18 Years

Alright, kicking off my 30-team preview, we’re starting in the wonderful city of Sixsburgh. A city of rich sports tradition, and champions all around.

Whether you’re on the frozen pond, or on the gridiron, Pittsburgh knows what it takes to win championships. Even the dismal Pirates were once synonymous with success back in the early 1900s as well as the entire 1970s.

Since their last postseason appearance in 1992 the Pirates have had no winning records, and two 100-loss seasons. The Pirates ship sank a long time ago, and with any hope of bringing it back, well…not even Johnny Depp could produce a winner out of this one. A modern tragedy over 18 years in the making.

The 2010 Pirates were one of two teams in all of baseball with more than 100 loses, and trading away Zach Duke early in the offseason sent a message—that this franchise is in a long, drawn out rebuilding process. But how long does it take to rebuild? 

The hiring of manager Clint Hurdle was a great move in my opinion, he’s someone who can help the Pirates immediately. Hurdle is going to put his best lineup on the field every day, and he is a winner.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to work with. Here’s what the Pirates’ lineup and starting rotation looks like right now.

C: Chris Snyder

1B: Lyle Overbay

2B: Neil Walker

3B: Pedro Alvarez

SS: Ronny Cedeno

LF: Jose Tabata

CF: Andrew McCutchen

RF: Garrett Jones


SP: Paul Maholm

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

SP: Charlie Morton

SP: James McDonald

SP: Kevin Correia

CL: Joel Hanrahan


The Pirates were relatively quiet this offseason and that should come as no surprise, but I like the move they made by signing Lyle Overbay. He’s an experienced first baseman who brings a consistent bat to a very inconsistent lineup. 

Jones and McCutchen are the best players on this team though, without question, and it will be interesting to see what happens with both of these player throughout the course of the regular season.

This is McCutchen’s team, and he is an emerging superstar. Leading the Pirates with a .286 AVG last season, as well as 33 stolen bases. There is no doubt in my mind that McCutchen is an all-star talent, but as Pittsburgh has proven in the past. They simply are not willing to pay up in order to keep their talent.

If Pittsburgh manages to hold onto both of them, the rebuilding may be over sooner rather than later…unfortunately, the Pirates are also in one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out.

Pitching is the key concern for the Pirates, as their “ace” Paul Maholm won a total of nine games last season and had an ERA of 5.10. However, their is no lack of talent, or prospects in this rotation.

Ross Ohlendorf has solid stuff, a high 90s fastball and a nasty sinker, he was the only Pirate’s starting pitcher with a winning record during his first full season in 2009. If this club wants to climb out of the cellar of the NL Central, they will be needing a big year from Mr. Ohlendorf.

An interesting position battle surrounds this team heading into spring training as well. That is the battle for the full-time closer between Hanrahan, and Evan Meek. Hanrahan was the closer during the 2010 campaign, but I expect his duties to be handed over to the surprisingly dominant Meek.

As the setup man in 2010, Meek posted impressive numbers for a less than impressive bullpen with a 2.14 ERA, as well as 15 holds for a team that only won 57 games. Meek was also selected to the NL All-Star team and is one of the few bright spots on a team that has not been able to hold on to their talent for over a decade.

Although the Pirates still have many questions, including the middle of their batting lineup, as well as the bottom half of their starting rotation. This is a team who has more potential than the rest of the bottom feeders.

But as for this season, well…the 2011 Pirates may not win any Oscars (or more than 60 games), but this sequel should be an improvement on an atrocious 2010.

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Who Woke up the Pirates Bats?

Who woke up the Pirates offense after the all-star break? Whoever it was, what took you so long? The Pirates entered the break with pretty much the worse offense in baseball. It looked like it would be another long and dreadful summer, but the Bucs have come out swinging the sticks to begin the second half of the season.

So far, in six games after the all-star break, the Pirates have scored 50 runs on 77 hits, going 4-2 in that span. That averages out to a major league best 8.3 runs per game and 12.8 hits per game. Looking just at the wins after the break, the Pirates are averaging 11.75 runs and 16.25 hits. While I’m not suggesting we are looking at the 1927 Yankees, it has been a nice change of pace from what we’ve been used to seeing from the Pirates bats of late.

What’s the reason for the hot streak? I don’t want to hear that they have been playing bad teams. They have, but those same two bad teams (Houston and Milwaukee) have owned the Pirates up to this point of the season.

The main reason for the success is the approach. We haven’t seen hitters chasing many balls out of the zone. They’ve been waiting for good pitches and when they get them, they are putting good swings on the ball. Another thing I like is that the Pirates have been more aggressive early in the count. They haven’t been digging themselves into an 0-2 hole every at bat. They’ve been jumping on fastballs early, which is a good approach to have for a young team.

Even more impressive is the fact that the Pirates have been hitting well, without the services of Andrew McCutchen, who has missed the last three games nursing a shoulder injury.

Let’s take a look at some numbers through the six games after the all-star break.

McCutchen- 4-12 (.333), 3 RBI’s before he got hurt.

Jose Tabata- 10-27 (.370), 6 RBI’s.

Neil Walker- 14-26 (.538), 7 RBI’s.

Garrett Jones- 6-24 (.250), 1 HR, 5 RBI’s.

Pedro Alvarez- 10-24 (.417), 4 HR’s, 10 RBI’s.

Lastings Milledge- 9-24 (.375), 4 RBI’s.

Ronny Cedeno- 10-24 (.417), 2 RBI’s.

Delwyn Young- 5-7 (.714), 1 HR, 6 RBI’s.

As you can see, everyone other than the catcher platoon of Eric Kratz and Ryan Doumit (combined .192) are hitting well coming out of the break. Not only that, but they are driving in runs and hitting for power. The Bucs have combined for 29 extra base hits in the six games, something that has bee a huge problem all season.

I’m not suggesting that this torrid streak will continue, but it gives you a glimpse at what the Pirates could be capable of. Two things stick out at me. One is the fact that Lastings Milledge is playing everyday. Having a guy hitting a respectable .285 in the middle of the lineup is a major upgrade over a platoon with Ryan Church (currently hitting .190).

The other thing is that the rookies are starting to become legit major league ball players. They’ve made the lineup deeper and more effective. It was just 14 games ago that Alvarez was hitting .065. He has quietly got the average up to .259 with seven HR’s and 20 RBI’s in just 29 games.

Tabata looks like he is becoming a guy that will be a fixture in left field. He’s hitting .266 and has a great approach and a knack for getting on base.

Walker’s bat has been the biggest surprise for me, hitting .319. If the youngsters can keep getting on base and coming up with big hits, the rest of the lineup will prosper. All three of the rookies should see their numbers go up during the final few months of the season.

They still have a few holes, but at least for a few game stretch, we may have seen a glimpse of what could be a productive Pirates offense in the future. If they’ve done anything this last week, they saved John Russell’s job for the near future.


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MLB Trade Deadline 2010: 10 Potentially Available Bats

Nearing the midway point of the season, the differences between the “haves” and “have nots” have become relatively clear. With this, comes the debate of which players from the latter group could help teams in the former.

This season, pitchers seem like the rage in the trade market, with various ideas for Roy Oswalt, Kevin Millwood, and the rejuvenated Brett Myers. However, many of the contenders, such as the Red Sox, Phillies, and Angels, could use assistance in the field and lineup.

While Oswalt is considered the top prize on the market by the media and fans, here are 10 potentially available hitters who could help teams win in 2010.


10) Lance Berkman – 1B, Astros

“Big Puma” is having one of his most forgettable seasons in 2010, currently sporting a mere 103 OPS+. A no-trade clause and relatively high salary (albeit with a $2 million dollar option in 2011) make him a difficult move for Houston, as well.

This all being said, Tampa Bay, Texas, Colorado, and Los Angeles (both of them) might be in the market for a first baseman at the trade deadline.

Berkman has a rest-of-season projection of .272/.384/.492, and a “Grade B ” hitter (according to John Sickels) should be enough to wrestle Berkman from Houston.


9) Ty Wiggington – 2B, Orioles

Lost in the mess that is the 2010 Orioles is a bit of a revelation: Ty Wiggington. Receiving additional playing time due to the loss of Brian Roberts, Wiggington has excelled with the bat, posting a .270/.356/.480 hitting line.

With the struggles of Luis Castillo and Clint Barmes, Wiggington seems like a perfect match for the Mets and Rockies, respectively.

Once again, a “Grade B” hitter should be enough to grab Wiggington in this instance.


8) Austin Kearns – LF, Indians

Remember Austin Kearns? He was a sensation in his rookie year, coming into 2002 as Baseball America’s No. 11 prospect, and hitting .315/.407/.500 for his hometown Reds once he was called up. He looked like a star in the making.

Time has not been nice to Kearns, though, and from 2003-09, he hit for only a 99 OPS+. After two poor seasons in Washington, he looked like he was down to one more chance.

He received this chance in Cleveland, and has so far performed in it. Kearns sports a .279/.359/.438 batting line with 7 home runs, good for a 120 OPS+.

Also attractive about Kearns is that not only is he under contract for just this season (making him an attractive low-risk option), but he is only making $750,000 in 2010.

A deadline deal for him would result in a $250,000 investment for a club, for a guy who is looking to be well worth that money.

Who could use Kearns? The Red Sox have seen their outfield decimated, and their initial low-risk fourth OF investment of Jeremy Hermida has not worked.

Raul Ibanez has struggled in Philadelphia, and the Phillies should be in the market for a role-player at the position.

The Giants could also use some help in right field, as Nate Schierholtz is simply not an MLB starter (it is a shame the Giants do not have a guy like Fred Lewis on their roster, right?).

If the Indians play this right, they could land a top 100 pitching prospect for the services of Kearns.


7) Jose Guillen – DH, Royals

Guillen is finally playing like someone who was signed for 3 years / $36 million, or at least close to it. The career free-swinging problem child is finally making some contact in 2010, and this has helped him to achieve a 118 OPS+. 

The problems with trading Guillen, however, are his high salary, his back-to-back bad seasons, his positional limitations, and his reputation.

However, Seattle has already traded for Branyan and has shown that it will not give up on its 2010 season if the price is right. Could Guillen potentially find himself DH’ing at Safeco?


6) Derrek Lee – 1B, Cubs

Has struggled to the tune of a 86 OPS+/92 wRC+. This being said, Lee is projected to OPS .829 from this point forward, which is certainly a respectable number. 

Lee shares the same problems as Berkman, minus the no-trade clause, and generally the same market.

I rate Lee at No. 6 because I feel he is easier to trade, and comes with less risk than Berkman.


5) Garrett Jones – RF, Pirates

Why is a pre-arbitration player listed on here? Why would a team want to give up on a good hitter with under two years of MLB service time?

When you are the Pirates, however, it is a different story.

The Pirates have been on a mission to fix their farm system, apparently at the expense of the MLB team. If they really want this strategy to work, then they should be willing to part with anyone not named Andrew McCutchen on their roster.

The problem with Jones, however, is his defense. Despite his .882 OPS in Pittsburgh, he has only been good for 1.5 WAR.

His bat might be a bit light to be a long-term DH solution, and his glove is too weak to be a starter in the field. That being said, any team that wants to have him, may still have to part with a top 75 hitting prospect to get him.

Jones shares the same market as Kearns, and is rated higher due to being a more prized bat. Outside of center field, and maybe catcher, the Pirates should be all ears.


4) Jhonny Peralta – 3B, Indians

Probably the “most balanced” of all the men listed here, Peralta brings a slightly above-average bat (104 OPS+) and an average glove, with a reasonable 2010 salary of $4.85 million (and nothing owed after 2010).

He has the off-chance of playing himself into Type B FA status, which could also provide value to whatever destination he ends up heading, and the Indians would likely look for a top 100 pitching prospect to trade away Peralta.

Shares a similar market with Wiggington, and is rated higher due to being younger, and more established as a starter at this stage of his career.


3) Josh Willingham – LF, Nationals

We now hit the prized commodities of the potential deadline deals. We will start with Willingham.

The Nationals are slipping out of contention, and with Strasburg, and soon-to-be Harper in the mix, are likely not desperate to win in 2010.

Willingham, however, has been fantastic, with a .277/.408/.498 batting line in a mediocre hitting park.

While his glove is nothing compared to the aforementioned Austin Kearns, he has by far the best bat out of the group, and is also not hitting his first big payday until 2012, likely due for about $6.5 million in 2011.

Essentially, Willingham will be worth about 5 WAR in his next season and a half, and be paid $8.8 million to do it. For a fringe team, this has to be around a $15-$20 million surplus.

Because of this, the Nationals should be asking for a top pitching prospect, or a top 75, maybe top 50 hitting prospect. 


2) Adam Dunn – 1B/LF/DH, Nationals

The Nationals sure do have plenty of trade chips, don’t they?

Dunn, to the chagrin of many a geek like myself, has seen a dip in his walk rate (an 11.4% BB rate would be a career low). It is hard to cry too much, though, when a 147 wRC+  would be his career best, and is looking like a 35-40 home run guy again.

While Dunn has expressed a desire to not be a DH (to his credit, his defense has, so far in 2010, been not the typical badness we have come to expect from the man), I am sure a chance to finish 2010 with a contender would change his mind quickly.

With no money due to him beyond 2010, Dunn is easily one of the best targets this summer.

Would 2-3 months of Dunn be worth a top 50 prospect? Given the size of the 1B market, and the large amounts of tight races going on in MLB, I would say that the Nationals could wrangle a player of this caliber away, or at least a top 100 hitter and pitcher.


1) David DeJesus – LF, Royals

Probably a surprise to see him at No. 1, but for a team looking for a player that will just help them win, I think this is the guy.

Perpetually underrated, due in part to being a balanced player with good defense in a power position, partly due to losing his youth in Kansas City, DeJesus is finally getting the attention he deserves with a .326/.394/.479 batting line.

In addition to his fine batting line, DeJesus continues to perform at a high caliber in the outfield, and has a 2011 club option which could add even more value to him.

Able to play all three outfield positions, DeJesus should be attractive to almost everyone on the market, like the Red Sox, Rays, White Sox, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Padres, and Rockies.

Given the potentially high amount of buyers, and the relative worth of DeJesus, it is imaginable that the Royals could come away with a top 10 pitching prospect, top 50 hitter, or a combination of two high-level prospects in both groups. 

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Previewing The Upcoming Pirates-Giants Series

Whenever the San Francisco Giants come to town, I always ask my parents if I can get tickets. I do this for these three reasons:

  • Tim Lincecum
  • Tim Lincecum
  • Oh yeah, did I mention Tim Lincecum?

As you may have assumed, Lincecum is my favorite pitcher. He has the nastiest stuff in the majors by far. Plus watching his funky motion come from that small body is something that every baseball fan should do before they die.

But, contrary to popular belief, the Giants do have some other notable players. Pablo Sandoval and Aaron Rowand are always fun to watch. Rowand can take quite a few runs away with his kamikaze defense, and Sandoval is a colorful character who puts on great displays of prowess at the plate.

This ought to be a good series filled with pitching. The Giants have one of the best, if not the best, pitching staffs in the majors. Jonathan Sanchez, noted for throwing his no-hitter last season, is a very respectable 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Sanchez will start against Zach Duke tomorrow night. Both pitchers have had little run support in their past few outings, the main cause to their losing records.

On Saturday, journeyman Todd Wellemeyer will start for the Giants against the Pirates’ potent lefty, Paul Maholm. Wellemeyer has had little success in PNC Park, going 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA in eight career outings at the Bucco’s ballpark. Maholm has also been a victim of low run support, but he has been effective in his past few starts. Against the Braves on Sunday, Maholm gave up just two earned runs on a scattered 10 hits and walked away with a no decision.

Sunday, the game I am looking forward to the most, has Giants ace Lincecum on the hill. Ross Ohlendorf is starting for the Pirates. Lincecum has struggled as of late, and his ERA has ballooned to an un-Lincecum like 3.14. He hasn’t been Lincecum-esque dominant on the mound lately, and he hasn’t had a double-digit strikeout game since the beginning of May. Ohlendorf hasn’t lived up to his potential this season, but he pitched a good game against the Cubs on Memorial Day. Slowly but surely, Ohlendorf is making progress, and he should get better with each start he makes.

The Giants have finally started to come around at the plate, after Lincecum won the NL Cy Young with only 15 wins last season due to a big lacking of run support. The Giants are fifth in the NL in hitting this season, but they haven’t dominated games with the long ball. The Giants have only 40 dingers, just two more than the light-hitting Pirates. The Giants have some power potential with Sandoval, Rowand, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff, and prized prospect Buster Posey. Posey has done a fine job since being called up to play first base for the Giants this season, hitting .474 in 19 at bats.

The Pirates offense has been sad to say the least.

They are 15th in hitting, and nobody has really given the Pirates much hope besides prospect Neil Walker, power-hitter Garrett Jones, catcher Ryan Doumit, and local icon Andrew McCutchen. When the bulk of your offensive production comes from four guys, it’s going to be hard to win ball games. The Pirates have learned that the hard way, as they are currently in 5th place in the NL Central Division.

Prediction for the series: Giants take 2 of 3 from Pirates

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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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